The early Christians were accused by the Romans of stealing glory from Caesar, and by the Jews of robbing glory from God (Yahweh). Christianity is criticized by some as being “too Jesus focused.” But is that what the apostles thought? Let’s hear from Paul as he writes to the Colossians about Jesus.
“He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19 ESV).
Paul writes that God is pleased to have Jesus as the preeminent person in the universe. But the Old Testament clearly teaches that God will never relinquish his preeminence to a created being (Deut. 6:4, 5; Ps. 83:18; Prov. 16:4; Is. 42:11). Isaiah speaks clearly of God’s (Yahweh’s) preeminence.
“Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. I have sworn by my own name, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name.” (Isaiah 45:22, 23 NLT)
But how can both Jesus and Yahweh be preeminent? There may be a clue in Genesis, where the Hebrew word used for God the Creator is plural (Elohim). And, when Isaiah states that God alone created everything, the Hebrew word for God (Yahweh) is also plural. Dr. Norman Geisler concludes, “Biblically speaking, there is more than enough evidence to conclude that the fundamental nature of God is portrayed by the Scriptures as a plural oneness.”¹
Paul attributes to Jesus the same words of honor Isaiah attributes to Yahweh:
“Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross.
Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11 NLT)
This passage reveals that before Jesus became a man, he had the full rights of the Godhead. Paul also tells us, “that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Over seven hundred years before Christ, God tells us through Isaiah that He alone is God, Lord, and Savior:
“Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Savior” (Isaiah 43:10,11).
We are also told in the Old Testament that Yahweh alone created the universe. That “every knee shall bow to Him.” That He is “the Lord, the King of Israel.” “The Redeemer.” “The First and the Last.” Daniel calls Him “Ancient of Days.” Zechariah speaks of God as “the King, the Lord of Hosts who will judge the earth.”
But in the New Testament we hear John call Jesus “Savior,” “The Alpha and Omega,” “The First and the Last,” “The King of Kings” and Lord of Lords.” Paul tells us “every knee will bow to Jesus.” It is Jesus alone who the apostles tell us will judge our eternal destiny. Jesus is the preeminent Lord of the universe.
¹Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2001), 297.
The above article is excerpted from “Did the Apostles Believe Jesus is God?”