Summary: Does the Bible plainly state the divinity of Jesus?
Doctrine of the Trinity
Why didn’t the apostles plainly state doctrine such as the Trinity? In epistles, we only get a snapshot of doctrine. The apostles spent most of their energy planting and building churches and discipling leaders. Their primary method of teaching doctrine was personal instruction. If you look at the epistles of the New Testament, you see that their primary purpose was to address issues that arise in the church and to affirm doctrine that was challenged. Epistles were written when something needed to be addressed and the church planter could not be there in person. The epistles and the entire Bible affirm the Trinity as we will see, but we must keep in mind that the doctrinal foundation was laid by the apostles in person. Therefore, the issues addressed are not intended to re-lay the foundation, but to affirm and remind the churches what has already been taught. We can also tell a lot about the doctrine the apostles taught in the church by the beliefs of those who were been taught by them. Most of these quotes were used earlier in ‘What the Early Church Believed’, but I feel the need to repeat these quotes along with scripture.
In this last part, I will break it up into three main sections: the Deity of Christ, the three Persons of the Trinity and the doctrine of the Trinity from both the Old and New Testaments.
Deity of Christ
The Bible testifies to the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh. Many critics argue that the 3rd century church added this doctrine. It is also argued that scripture was altered to reflect this doctrine as well. Because of this, I am going to finish this study in a slightly different fashion. I will present the biblical evidence and include pre-3rd century writings that confirm that what we see today is what was accepted as scripture from the beginning. These writers are all respected church leaders and have never been classified as teachers of heresy.
Jesus the Creator
The early church affirmed Jesus Christ’s active role in creation. To review, look again at these two quotes from Barnabas who served with the apostle Paul and Iranaeus who was taught by the disciples of the Apostle John:
74 AD in The Letter of Barnabas, he says,
“And further, my brethren, if the Lord [Jesus] endured to suffer for our soul, he being the Lord of all the world, to whom God said at the foundation of the world, ’Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness,’ understand how it was that he endured to suffer at the hand of men” (Letter of Barnabas 5).
Iranaeus 190 AD
"For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, ’Let us make man after our image and likeness’".( Against Heresies, 4:10)
The Church fathers affirmed the deity of Christ, the personhood of Christ, His being of the same substance as the Father and also His active role in creation. The Bible also affirms Jesus’ active role in creation. There are so many scriptures that testify to the deity of Christ that I had difficulty deciding which to exclude. Let’s begin with Hebrews 1.
Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son"?
8 But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions."
10 And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
11 They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment;
This is a powerful testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ. ‘To the Son’ God says, “Your throne, O God is forever and ever…”. Still speaking to the Son, God says in verse 9, “Therefore God, Your God has anointed You…”. The Son is called LORD by God and credited with the creation as the works of His hands. This agrees with John 1:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.