Jesus: Man, God, or Both?

Christians from the very beginning worshiped Jesus as Lord. But did they mean, “God?” Early church fathers stated that the apostles taught that Jesus was fully man and fully God. But is that what the New Testament really teaches? Let’s look closer at how the apostles regarded Jesus.

Peter, James, John, and the others knew he was “from God” by his godly life, miracles, and words, but they didn’t at first regard him as God”. When they looked at Jesus they saw a man like us, not some supernatural Being shining with brilliant glory (except when Jesus was transfigured before their eyes).

In fact, Jesus prayed to God. He spoke of his Father in heaven as the “one true God,” who alone was worthy of worship and glory. Jesus prayed and depended upon his Father while he was a man on the earth. Never once did Jesus attempt to rob God of the glory due only to Him; Jesus always gave glory to his Father.

But after Jesus rose from the dead, his chosen apostles began to speak differently about Jesus. When his close disciple Thomas saw Jesus in his new resurrection body he worshipped him as his “Lord and God.” The apostles proclaimed him as the man who by his death had become the mediator between God and man. Yes, they spoke of Jesus as a man, but not merely a man.

After his resurrection and ascension the apostles wrote of Jesus as “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). If Jesus has always been the same, it must mean that he never had a beginning. Yet God is the only being who never had a beginning. How could Jesus be a created being if he has always existed?

The apostles also taught that Jesus created the universe and existed as God before coming to earth to die for our sins. This is the clear message of the New Testament (Philippians chapter 2, Colossians chapter 1, Hebrews chapter 1, and John chapter 1). The apostle John tells us that not only did Jesus create everything that exists, but he is also “God.” Here is what this close personal follower of Jesus said:

“In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him….

“The Word was in the world, and the world was made by him, but the world did not know him. He came to the world that was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to all who did accept him and believe in him he gave the right to become children of God. They did not become his children in any human way—by any human parents or human desire. They were born of God.

“The Word became a human and lived among us.”

The apostle Paul says that Jesus put aside his divine rights in order to become a man and die for us. Yet he also says (Phil. 2:5-11) Jesus is the preeminent Lord of the universe, and that ultimately every knee will bow to him. Paul, being a Jew, knew that only God is worthy of worship. By stating that Jesus is worthy of worship, he is clearly revealing Jesus is God.

In Revelation Jesus is called the “Alpha and Omega,” the “First and the Last,” “King of kings and Lord of lords,” who will judge all mankind, and who is worthy of worship. And to all who are victorious He says, “I will be God to him and he shall be My son” (Rev. 21:7).

So how is it possible for Jesus to be both God and man? The Bible reveals a God who is infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, and eternal. God in His infinite nature is totally beyond our comprehension. We can only understand what He reveals to us about Himself. And God has revealed Himself in the persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Bible unmistakably tells us in many places that Jesus is fully man and fully God. The fact that He is beyond human understanding only makes our Creator all that more amazing. How could we expect Him to be simple to understand?