The Divinity of Christ

Of all the doctrines of the Catholic Faith, the divinity of Jesus Christ is at the very heart of everything. Our belief that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became a man, Jesus Christ of Galilee, some 2,000 years ago, lived among us, died on the cross for our salvation, and rose from the dead three days later, is known as the Incarnation.

That God himself would condescend to “take flesh” and live among us as a man is a mystery beyond our ability to fathom. But Scripture helps us penetrate at least some distance into this august mystery, allowing us to see that Christ is true God and true man. Keeping in mind that some aggressive proselytizing groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, vehemently deny the divinity of Christ and attack the Faith of Catholics and other Christians who believe in this great truth, let’s concentrate on several passages that reveal Christ’s divinity in order to deepen our own understanding of this doctrine and become better prepared to respond to arguments against it.

Christ’s divinity was foretold in the Old Testament. Once example is Isaiah 9:6 -- “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

John 1:1-5, 14 -- “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” The statement, “the Word was God” makes it clear that Jesus Christ was not a mere creature, neither an angel nor a super-man, but God himself who, at the Incarnation, was (and is) one divine person who fully possesses two natures, divine and human.

In John 1:18 we read: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”

When the Apostle Thomas doubted that Christ had indeed risen from the dead, as the other Apostles had told him, the resurrected Christ appeared to him, inviting him to probe the wounds in his hands and feet. At that, Doubting Thomas exclaimed in wonder, “My Lord and my God,” identifying Jesus as divine (Jn 20:28).

Romans 9:4-5 -- “to [the Jews] belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed forever.”

1 Timothy 1:15-17 -- “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”

Titus 2:11-14 -- “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.”

Hebrews 1:5-9 -- “For to what angel did God ever say, ‘Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee’? Or again, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son’? And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’ Of the angels he says, ‘Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.’ But of the Son he says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades.’”

St. Peter begins his First Epistle with these words of salutation: “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:1).

1 John 5:20 -- “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” Notice that this reference to Jesus Christ as “the true God and eternal life,” is a perfect fit with Christ’s own teaching, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (cf. Jn 14:6).

And finally, recall that when Moses encountered God in the burning bush (Ex 3:1-22) he asked God what His name was. “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “I Am has sent me to you.’”

Now compare this with John 8:56-59 where Christ was addressing the Jews saying, “‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they took up stones to throw at him.” Jesus was declaring himself to be God by saying “I Am.” And the Jews understood this very clearly, as they sought to kill him for what they regarded as blasphemy.

Similarly, in John 10:30-33, we read that Jesus declared: “‘I and the Father are one.’ The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?’ The Jews answered him, ‘It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God.’” It’s clear that Jesus not only claimed to be God, but that his audience just as clearly understood his meaning.

Copyright 2004, Patrick Madrid, all rights reserved.

Additional passages:

Colossians 2:9, (compare Isaiah 43:10-12 and 44:6-7 with Revelation 1:17, 2:8, and 22:13).