There is a fine balance to be drawn between those passages which
emphasise the degree to which “God was in Christ”, and those which highlight
his humanity. The latter group of passages make it impossible to justify
Biblically the idea that Jesus is God Himself, “very God of very God”, as
the doctrine of the Trinity wrongly states. (This phrase “very God of very
God” was used at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., where the idea of God
being a ‘trinity’ was first promulgated; it was unknown to the early
Christians.) The word ‘trinity’ never occurs in the Bible. Study 9 will
delve further into Christ’s total victory over sin, and God’s part in it. As
we commence these studies, let us remember that salvation depends upon an
acceptance of the real Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:36; 6:53;17:3). Once we have come
to this true understanding of his conquest of sin and death, we can be
baptised into him in order to share in this salvation.
One of the clearest summaries of the relationship between God and Jesus is found in 1 Tim. 2:5: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. Reflection upon the highlighted words leads to the following conclusions.
• As there is only one God, it is impossible that Jesus could be God; if the Father is God and Jesus is also God, then there are two Gods. “But to us there is but one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:6). ‘God the Father’ is therefore the only God. It is therefore impossible that there can be a separate being called ‘God the Son’, as the false doctrine of the trinity states. The Old Testament likewise portrays Yahweh, the one God, as the Father (e.g. Is. 63:16; 64:8).
• In addition to this one God, there is the mediator, the man Christ Jesus - “...and one mediator...”. That word “and” indicates a difference between Christ and God.
• As Christ is the “mediator” it means that he is a go-between. A mediator between sinful man and sinless God cannot be sinless God Himself; it had to be a sinless man, of sinful human nature. “The man Christ Jesus” leaves us in no doubt as to the correctness of this explanation. Even though he was writing after the ascension of Jesus, Paul does not speak of “the God Christ Jesus”.
Several times we are reminded that “God is not a man” (Num. 23:19; Hos. 11:9); yet Christ was clearly “the Son of man” or, as he is often called in the New Testament, “the man Christ Jesus”. The Greek text calls him “son of anthropos”, i.e. of mankind, rather than “son of aner” [husband, man]. In Hebrew thought, “the Son of man” meant an ordinary, mortal man (Is. 51:12). “For since by man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:21). Yet He was also “the Son of the Highest” (Lk. 1:32). God being “The Highest” indicates that only He has ultimate highness; Jesus being “the Son of the Highest” shows that he cannot have been God Himself in person. The very language of Father and Son which is used about God and Jesus, makes it obvious that they are not the same. Whilst a son may have certain similarities to his father, he cannot be one and the same person, nor be as old as his father.
In line with this, there are a number of obvious differences between God and Jesus, which clearly show that Jesus was not God himself.
“God cannot be tempted” (James 1:13). Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are” (Heb. 4:15).
God cannot die - He is immortal by nature (Ps. 90:2; 1 Tim. 6:16). Christ died and was in the grave for three days (Mt. 12:40; 16:21). He was once under the “dominion” of death (Rom. 6:9).
God cannot be seen by men (1 Tim. 6:16; Ex. 33:20). Men saw Jesus and handled him (1 Jn. 1:1 emphasises this).
When we are tempted, we are forced to choose between sin and obedience to God. Often we choose to disobey God; Christ had the same choices, but always chose to be obedient. He therefore had the possibility of sinning, although he never actually did. It is unthinkable that God has any possibility of sinning. We have shown that the seed of David promised in 2 Sam. 7:12-16 was definitely Christ. Verse 14 speaks of Christ’s possibility of sinning: “If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him”.
The Centurion reasoned that because he was under authority, he therefore had authority over others; and he applies this very same logic to the abilities of the Lord Jesus. Because He was under God’s authority, therefore and thereby He would have the power to have other things under His authority. And the Lord commended the Centurion for that perception. Clearly the Lord Jesus is to be understood as under the Father’s authority; and it is only because He is in this subordinate position, that He has authority over all things now.