Jesus is God in the Epistles of Paul By the…
Jesus is God in the Epistles of Paul
By the time Paul was writing, the traditions were already well known; he speaks of Jesus, not only in the same breath with the one God, but within such statements. Once the point is grasped there is repeated evidence in Paul’s writings.
Key passages are:
1 Corinthians 8:1–6, “… God, the Father, from whom are all things …; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him…”
This stunning adaptation of the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4 (Hear O Israel the Lord our God the Lord is One…) emphasizing creation and redemption as equally originating in the Father and equally implemented through Jesus encapsulates—at the earliest stage of Christianity—for which we have hard evidence, sums up everything that later generations would struggle to say about Jesus and God.
Philippians 2:5–11, “He existed in the form of God, …”
This Philippians text is on the mark. The Greek word that is translated ‘nature’ is morphe’ and there is no reason why that is a bad translation. Morphe’ means: an outward expression that embodies the inner essential substance so that the form is in harmony with the essence. It is the word we get amorphous and metamorphosis, anthropomorphism, and polymorphous and other such words from.
It does translate as form, or shape, or appearance, but “nature” is not a bad paraphrase of the idea of it in the English. The idea is that Jesus was in essence God; and changing from God to human required at least a partial change to that essence and not just a change of appearance. That is extremely significant theologically. It means he was genuinely human while he was on earth.
The rest of the phrase, “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” uses harpagmos, which does mean a prize grasped as plunder, but it does not explicate as others have indicated because it can only be properly understood as a whole. Separating it from verses 9-11 contextually alters the meaning. After Jesus humbled himself as a man, he is to be highly exalted and will be worshipped by all, as it says in verses 9-11, which is taken from Isaiah 45:23 where God the Father is receiving such praise and glory.
Romans 9:5 is especially clear; when speaking of his fellow Israelites, Paul says: “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”
One of the responses others have given to this is that in Greek there is no punctuation so it can alter the meaning of the verses if the words are arranged differently. Here are the various alternates for Romans 9:5:
New American Standard Bible
whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
King James Bible
Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen.
International Standard Version
To the Israelis belong the patriarchs, and from them, the Messiah descended, who is God over all, the one who is forever blessed. Amen.
To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And the Patriarchs; and from them The Messiah appeared in the flesh, who is The God Who is over all, to Whom are praises and blessings to the eternity of eternities, amen.
GOD’S WORD® Translation
The Messiah is descended from their ancestors according to his human nature. The Messiah is God over everything, forever blessed. Amen.
King James 2000 Bible
Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
All arrangements of the Greek say Christ is either over all or God over all; and the huge defining theological difference for a first century Jew like Paul—who would have to consider someone other than God who could be “over all”—would be supportable by what in scripture or history—or anything at all?
Rearrange every one of them however you will, the conclusion will remain the same.
In Colossians 1: 15–20 he says: “He is the image of the invisible God… for in him all things were created… He is before all things…” and in chapter 2 verse 9 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form.”
Paul was absolutely the most Christ centered of people: his eschatology is Christ based and his theology is Christ focused and his teachings are Christ founded and pretty much everything about Paul is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Trying to prove Paul didn’t think Jesus was Lord—his complete master who could only BE God in Jewish theology—and God is like trying to prove grass isn’t green.
(References: Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary; “Strong’s Concordance” with Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries; “The English-Greek Dictionary” by S.C.Woodhouse, Oxford, George Rutledge and Sons Ltd.)