Is Jesus Jehovah?
Could there be a reason why the name YHWH is absent in the New Testament? Is it possible Jehovah stepped down from His lofty position in heaven as God to be born as a man like us? The jaw-dropping answer to that question is found when we compare Jesus’ words and those of the apostles with the Old Testament claims of Jehovah.
Jesus Christ made some earth-shaking statements that stunned the Jewish religious leaders. Once, after Jesus stated to them, “I am the light of the world,”27 the Pharisees challenged his authority of making such a “blasphemous” claim. Jesus answered by telling them he was sent by God, whom he called his Father. Furthermore, Jesus told them that the patriarch, Abraham, looked forward to seeing him (Jesus).28
What a stunning claim! In these religious scholars’ eyes, Jesus was an uneducated carpenter who should stay out of their exclusive world of interpreting the Scriptures and preaching about God. Yet here he was, not only speaking intimately about God as his Father, but also claiming to be the object of Abraham’s adoration.
Incredulous, the Jewish leaders rebuked him, saying,
You have never seen Abraham! You are not even fifty years old.29
What Jesus said next not only shocked the Pharisees, it infuriated them. Jesus boldly told them,
I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!30
Jesus had just broken a cardinal rule of the Jewish belief, one that was punishable by death. He had used the holy name that God had given to Moses for himself, “I AM.”
Did they misunderstand Jesus? We can determine that by their reaction to his words. Shocked and incensed, these PhDs in religion immediately took up stones with the intent to kill Jesus for blasphemy.
But wait a minute! Since the New Testament presents Jesus as a man, like us, who felt pain, and eventually was crucified on a Roman cross, how could he claim to be Jehovah of the Old Testament?
As we’ve seen, Jesus referred to God as his Father. However, Jesus also claimed to have existed with his Father before time began.31 And, he claimed to be the exact image of his unseen Father.32 (See Did Jesus Claim to Be God?)
Furthermore, in several New Testament passages, Jesus is referred to as the Creator.33 Jesus’ apostles not only called him, “Lord,” but they worshiped him as God.34 Since worship is reserved for God alone, Jesus’ acceptance of their worship speaks volumes about his claim to be Jehovah. (See Did the Apostles Believe Jesus Is God?)
However, do the claims of Jesus and his followers truly parallel the claims Jehovah made for Himself in the Old Testament? To find out, we need to examine several biblical passages where Jehovah made exclusive claims, and compare them with the claims of Jesus Christ.
In the following Old Testament passages, the word “Lord” refers to Jehovah. So, let’s compare these Old Testament and New Testament passages to see if Jesus Christ is truly the Lord spoken of in the Old Testament.
|Jehovah of the Old Testament||Jesus of the New Testament|
|“God, the LORD, created the heavens and earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” “He stretched them out. He created the earth.” Psalm 8:3; Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 40:22||“Lord, in the beginning you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” Hebrews 1:10|
|“The LORD, your Redeemer and Creator, says: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. By myself I made the earth and everything in it.” Isaiah 44:24||“Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see…. Everything has been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16|
|“I am the LORD; there is no other God.” Isaiah 45:5||“Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.” Philippians 2:5|
|“Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name.” Isaiah 45:23||“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 2:10, 11|
|“There is no other God; there never has been and never will be. I am the LORD, and there is no other Savior.” Isaiah 43:10, 11||“For Jesus is the one…. There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.” Acts 4:11, 12|
|“This is what the LORD, Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty, says: I am the first and the Last; there is no other God.” Isaiah 44:6||“This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who died and is alive….” Revelation 2:8|
Do these Scriptures reveal that Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament? Let’s review the parallels. Both Jehovah and Jesus are called by the following titles:
- Beginning and End
A thoughtful examination of these passages reveals that the creation of the universe, the saving and redemption of man, the reigning King in the kingdom to come, and God’s eternal existence are attributed to both Jehovah in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament.
Furthermore, the Old Testament tells us that we are to only bow our knees to Jehovah, whereas the New Testament tells us that everyone who has ever existed will bow their knees to Jesus.
Zechariah the prophet speaks of Jehovah returning to Jerusalem in the last days, when he will save Israel from her enemies. As the Jews watch Jehovah descending upon Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives35 there will be something very unusual about His appearance. Zechariah tells us what will be so remarkable about that future scene.
They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.36
When Jesus was crucified, huge nails were driven through his hands and feet. After he was dead, a Roman soldier pierced his side with a sword, leaving a trail of blood and water. Later, Jesus appeared alive to his followers in his resurrection body. But on his body were the visible wounds he had suffered for us. Are those the very wounds that will be visible on Jehovah when He returns to earth? Is that why the Jews will weep bitterly in sorrow when they see Him?
When he left earth, Jesus told his disciples that in the last days he would return as King, to judge the world and reign with full authority. This exactly parallels what Zechariah tells us about Jehovah:
The LORD (Jehovah) shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD (Jehovah), and his name one.37
His name one! How can that be if both Jehovah and Jesus return as King? We are told here that we will see them as one!
It won’t be Jesus and Jehovah returning to earth as two Gods; it will be Jesus––who is Jehovah—returning to set up His kingdom!
What an amazing God we have! He is the One who created us. And He is the Redeemer who saves us. Our Creator became our Redeemer! Although such a mystery is beyond our comprehension, it is true. The apostle Paul reveals that we are to bow and worship Jesus as the name above all names!
Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.
He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross. So God raised him to the highest place.
God made his name greater than every other name so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.38
Jehovah is the One who stepped down from His lofty position as Lord of the universe to pay for our sins on the cross. He took on humanity in the person of Jesus Christ to become our Savior and Redeemer. The name, Jesus, actually means Savior.
It pleases God the Father when we give Jesus first place in our lives and worship Him. His death on the cross makes it possible for us to be freely forgiven by His grace. Although His gift is free, it’s our choice to receive Him into our lives as Savior and Lord. What is your decision?
To read more about God’s amazing gift, and what it means to you personally, read Is Jesus Relevant Today?.
1 Clarke’s Commentary, cited in GodVine, http://www.godvine.com/bible/psalms/8-1.
3 Called The Tetragrammaton
4 C. I. Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible, Notes to Genesis 2, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 6.
5 Isaiah 42:8, NCV.
6 Ibid., en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovah.
8 Isaiah 45:18, NCV.
9 Exodus 6:3, NCV.
10 Psalm 139:1-6, NCV.
11 R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible, “God’s Covenant of Grace” (Phillipsburg, NJ: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 30.
12 Isaiah 44:24, NCV.
13 Isaiah 30:18.
14 Isaiah 44:6, ASV.
15 Psalm 67.
17 Jeremiah 31:33, NASB.
18 Isaiah 9:6, NASB.
20 Luke 2:10-11, NCV.
21 New World Translation.
24 Luke 11:2-4.
25 John 17:5-6, ESV.
27 John 8:12, NCV.
28 John 8:56, NCV.
29 John 8:57, NCV.
30 John 8:58, NCV (emphasis added).
31 John 17:5.
32 John 14:9.
33 John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1: 1-3.
34 John 20:28; Matthew 2:11, 28:19; Revelation 19:9-10.
35 Zechariah 14:4, NASB.
36 Zechariah 12:10 (emphasis added).
37 Zechariah 14:9, NASB, (emphasis added).
38 Philippians 2:5-11, NCV (emphasis added).