“Does the Bible specify that Jesus is God?” “What verse can I use to explain?”
This question came up during an online debate among Israeli Messianic Jewish believers over the hot button issue, “Is Jesus God?”
For Jews, who for thousands of years in their daily prayers have recited “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One,” the concept of a trinity is foreign and anathema. “How can a man, even Jesus, be God? This goes against everything the Jewish people and faith in one God represents?” they say.
Most Messianic Jews in Israel adhere to the conservative Christian belief in the trinity. Anything less than saying “Jesus is God” is considered grounds for excommunication in many Messianic Jewish congregations in Israel.
One Messianic Jewish leader wading into the debate pointed to Hebrews 1:8 as evidence that Jesus is God:
“To the Son He says, Your throne O God is forever.”
However, Messianic Jews who are looking for a position on the divine nature of Messiah that is more recognizable to Jewish people note that the sentence “Jesus is God” is immediately and correctly misunderstood by Jewish people to mean that God is a man. One Messianic believer reminded everyone of what Jesus asked Peter in Matthew 16: “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” For this individual, no more explanation was necessary: “If Simon Peter’s answer was good enough for Jesus, then it is good enough for me,” he said.
Other Israeli Messianic Jewish believers pointed to the fact that “the word trinity cannot be found in Scripture.”
One response from Dr. Halvor Ronning, Co-founder and Co-director of the Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators, grabbed attention.
“When one exalts one’s own mental powers, as rationalist theologians tend to do, you have only two alternatives: 1. Jesus is God and is not fully man; 2. Jesus is man, and divine son, but not God. Looks to me like the Bible requires a humbler view of the value of our intellects. The Bible does not suppose that we ‘understand’ Him, but that we are challenged to respect and trust and adore Him.
“We are praying that the narrow rationalism of extreme conservative theologies and their boxes of intellectually-manageable ideas will not bring down our colleagues in ministry. We are praying that they will return to a humble biblical adoration of God’s identity and His ways as Creator and Redeemer and Sanctifier – without getting hung up on the fact that the later word ‘trinity’ does not occur in the Bible.”
I was reminded of the answer God gave to Moses when he asked Him “Who shall I say sent me? What is your name?” God responded with, “I am who I am.” God defines Himself. He chooses to reveal to us what we can know. It is a mistake to think we can define God or squeeze the Almighty to fit in our manmade categories. We end up worshipping our own image of Him who cannot and will not be described.
Perhaps a better question might be “Who am I to Him? To the One who has redeemed me with the blood of His son?”
Israel Today Membership
Save 18% Per Month.
Six Months Membership
Save 9% Per Month.