The God-man: Fully God (According to the Apostles)
The following is an enhanced transcript of the TheoTalk episode with the same title.
Though it’s impossible to fully grasp this beautiful mystery of the incarnation: God becoming one of us in order to make us his, the Old Testament, together with the words and deeds of Jesus affirm he was and is the one-and-only God-man: fully God and fully man; one person existing in two natures, without confusion or compromise of either nature.
And that ought to make our hearts sing, because it means the God who had every right to condemn us for our rebellion against him, chose instead to become one of us and suffer immensely in order to make us His. This not only guarantees the redemption he offers is certain, since he’s the one who brings it, it affirms God’s intentions toward us are immeasurably good, which means we can trust him with our lives.
In this lesson, we’ll see how the New Testament apostles affirm Jesus Christ was and is the one-and-only God-man, Savior-King. There are many places we could go in the New Testament to do this; but we’ll focus on John 1, where the Apostle declares:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4, ESV)
Echoing Genesis 1:1, in John 1:1, the apostle refers to the absolute beginning of all created things. In this context, it’s important to know that the word, “Word” in verse 1 is the Greek word, “Logos,” which, for the Hebrews referred to God’s creative power. But for the Greeks, it referred to the rational principle under all things. John captures both meanings when he assigns the title, “Logos” to the pre-incarnate Son of God, who, as we will see in verse 14 became flesh at a specific point in time in the person of Jesus Christ.
But in John 1:1, John is telling us about the Son of God’s existence before he became a man, saying of him, “In the beginning was the Word.” The Greek tense of the verb, “was,” in this phrase, is the imperfect tense, which communicates the idea of continuing through a point of time in the past. This means John is saying that the Word, the Logos, the pre-incarnate Christ, before he became a man, was continuing to exist at the beginning of all things, in the same way God the Father was continuing to exist at the beginning of all things. In other words, he’s saying the Logos or pre-incarnate Christ had no beginning, just as God the Father had no beginning.
John confirms this in the next phrase in 1:1, “and the Word was with God,” that is, he was with the one commonly referred to as God the father. In fact, John says, the Word was God. It’s important to understand that the Greek grammatical construction of that last phrase, “and the word was God,” points to a thing’s nature. Not surprisingly, in the Greek text, the word order is reversed and reads, “God was the word.” John has gone out of His way to make sure we understand that, the Word, the Logos, the pre-incarnate Christ was and is God by nature.
By putting those two phrases together, “and the word was with God and the word was God,” John affirms that both the Father and the Son is the one God, even though, in some sense they are distinct, hinting at God’s triune nature. But John clearly wants us to understand that, the Logos, who is God by nature, was in the beginning with God the father.
This is why he says in verse 3, “all things were made through him” (the Logos), “and without him was not any thing made that was made.” In John’s mind, there are two categories of being: things which are made, and the uncreated God. The Logos, John says, belongs to the uncreated God category, which is the only way he could say of him in verse 3, “all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Indeed, John says in 1:4, in him was life itself, and his life was the light of men.
Later, in John 1:14, the apostle says the Logos became flesh. In that verse, John uses the aorist verb tense to indicate a point in time; affirming that, at a point in space-time history, the eternal, uncreated Son of God became flesh to become the one-and-only God-man.
The Apostle Paul affirms this in Colossians 2:9, where he declares, “In him, the whole fullness of deity dwells.” Again in the New Testament book of Hebrews, before affirming Jesus is fully human, the author says of him,
“Your throne, Oh God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore, God, “your God has anointed you.” “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” They will perish, but you will remain. They will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed but you are the same, and your years will have no end.
But who is the everlasting creator of heaven and earth? God alone. Yet here we see the Son of God created all things, affirming that He, the pre-incarnate Christ, the Logos is God by nature.
Again and again throughout the New Testament, the apostles affirm with the Old Testament, together with the words and deeds of Jesus, he was and is the one-and-only God-man, Savior-King. In his deity, he is coequal with the Father, together with the Holy Spirit. This is why, in Matthew Chapter 28, Jesus calls his disciples to baptize new disciples in the name (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, affirming that Father, Son, and Spirit share a common nature as the one-and-only God.
In the next two lessons, we’ll see how Jesus, though fully God, was also fully man. We’ll also see why being God and man was the only way Jesus could become our Savior-King.