The Bible teaches us that Jesus is both God and Man, two natures in a single person without any confusion of the two1 (Is. 7:14, 9:6-7, Micah 5:2, Matt. 6:16, John 1:1, 14, 10:30-31, 20:28, Gal. 4;4, Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, 1 John 5:20).
© June 2006 By D. Eric Williams
John's gospel reprises the creation account and tells us that "in the beginning, the Word was with God and the word was God" (John 1:1). John goes on to clearly acknowledge who the "Word" is when he says that the "Word became flesh and dwelt among us," identifying the Word made flesh as the One whom John the Baptizer bore witness to; Jesus Christ (John 1:14-15, cf. Rev. 19:13). Consequently John is referring to Jesus, when he says "all things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:1, 3, 14, cf. Rev. 19:13). Likewise, the Apostle Paul confirms John's witness when he says that Jesus is:
The image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things and in Him all things consist (Col. 1:15-17).
Jesus Himself maintained that He and the Father are One (John 10:30), that to know Him is to know the Father (John 8:19, 14:7), and that the only way to know the Father is through the Son (John 14:6). He went so far as to claim that He is the great I AM, the very God who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt (John 8:58). Paul connects Jesus to the Israelitish Exodus as well, telling the Church in Corinth that the Rock of the Exodus was Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 10:4, cf. Deut 32:3-4).2
At the same time, Jesus is fully man. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ "was born of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3), having been conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit; and so the Son of God (Matt. 1:18-23, Luke 1:35). Although the eternal Son took on human flesh, He was without sin (Heb. 2:9-18, 4:15). (The genealogical records of Jesus' mother and "foster" father in the Bible provide for us an interesting confirmation of Christ's humanity as well.)
This Jesus, fully God and fully Man, died on the cross to pay the full penalty for the sins of His people, taking the sins of the world upon Himself - indeed - being made sin that we might be clothed in His righteousness (Luke 22:9, Rom. 5:8, 1 Cor. 15:3, 2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18). His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins and His death was the final and perfect sacrifice; no one can add anything to it through their own efforts (Matt; 26:27-28, Eph. 1:7, 2:8-10, Col 2:131 Peter 1:18-19).
Although Christ's death is sufficient to save all of mankind, it is applied only to those whom He foreknew - those whom the Holy Spirit enables to confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Rom. 9:1-33, 10:9, 2 Cor. 5:19, 1 Tim. 2:6, 4:10, 1 John 2:2).
This same Jesus, after His death on the cross, was buried and then rose again - a bodily, physical resurrection witnessed by hundreds (Matt. 28:1-10, 1 Cor. 15:1-20). After forty days He ascended to God's right hand and is there today continually representing His people as our Prophet, Priest and King (Acts 1:9-11, Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20-23, Phil 2:9-11, Heb. 1:3, 4:14-16, 7:25, 9:24, 10:21-22, 1 John 2:1-2)
The church has long affirmed that Jesus Christ is the true Prophet (Acts 3:22), true Priest (Heb 5:5-6), and True King (Ps. 2:6, Luke 1:33, 69).3 As prophet, He is the One who defines and fulfills all prophecy (Luke 24:27, 44-49, John 5:39). Additionally, He completes and renews the office of priest and mediator (Heb. 7:11f), and rules and reigns as King of all creation (1 Cor. 15:24f).
Jesus is also the true Seed of Abraham. For instance, in Matthew 1:1 we read that Jesus is "the Son of Abraham." Luke 3:34 also points out that Jesus is a descendent of Abraham. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that God gives help not to angels but to the seed of Abraham, meaning Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:16). Then, in no uncertain terms, Paul tells us that:
...to Abraham and to his Seed were the promises made. He does not say 'And to seeds' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ"(Gal. 3:16).
This takes us back to Genesis 15:9-21 when God made covenant with Abraham and passed between the severed animals alone. In so doing God was saying that He would temporarily uphold both ends of the covenant agreement until the Seed came as a representative of Abraham and his house. In Jesus, God upheld Abraham's end of the covenant. Neither Abraham nor his descendants previous to Christ were able to perfectly obey the terms of the covenant. Had Abraham passed between halves of the animal bodies, he would have been liable. Yet, one descendent of Abraham, the Seed to whom the promise pointed, and really with whom the covenant was made, was able to keep the terms of the covenant and so secure its blessings. Jesus, the true Seed of Abraham, the true Son and representative of Abraham said "let it be done to Me as is done to these sacrificial animals" instead of Abraham (Matt. 1:1, Gal. 3:16, Is. 53:5). This was no mystery to Abraham. The Genesis account does not tell us specifically that he was told all of this by God, but Jesus and Paul do. Jesus said that Abraham "rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (Jn. 8:56). Paul tells us that the gospel was preached "beforehand" to Abraham (Gal. 3:8), and the book of Hebrews says that Abraham saw the promises "afar off and (was) assured of them" (Heb. 11:13).
As we have mentioned, Jesus is also the true Davidic King. According to Matthew 1:1, Jesus is the "Son of David." Luke 1:32 and 69 tell us that God gave Jesus "the throne of His father David" and that God through Jesus "raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house (dynasty) of His servant David." Jesus was recognized as the Son of David even in His own time by faithful Jews (Matt. 9:27). His followers took pains to make it known that Jesus fulfilled the promise of the Davidic dynasty (Acts 13:23, Rom. 1:3).
Acts 5:31 says that God exalted Jesus to be "Prince and Savior" for Israel.
Then, in Acts 15:15?18 we read the interpretation that James, brother of Jesus applies to Amos 9:11?12. James says that through Jesus Christ, God rebuilt the "tabernacle of David, which (had) fallen down." Clearly, Jesus Christ fulfilled the promise given to David that his dynasty would be like the sun before God "established forever like the moon" (Ps. 89:36?37). Jesus was at the same time the Seed of David and the Son of God (1 Chron. 17:11?14).
In addition, Jesus said to His disciples, "I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My father bestowed one upon Me" (Luke 22:29). And the kingdom that He bestowed is none other than the promised Davidic kingdom that He fulfilled. Thus He said to the Apostles, "you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28b). Jesus meant that the Apostles would be the foundation for a new Israel and rule or judge the entire New Covenant age through their inspired, authoritative teaching (Eph. 2:20). They were that remnant of true Israel from whom the Church sprang.
Acts 15:17 says that when the dynasty of David was re?established, it
brought under its umbrella the "Gentiles who are called by "God's name (cf. Amos 9:12). In other words, the kingdom of David as fulfilled in David's Seed is not limited to ethnic Jews in the land of Palestine. Instead, the everlasting kingdom that God promised David is a world embracing kingdom made up of all races and nations. Therefore, we are "a kingdom" (Rev. 1:6), citizens of the Davidic dynasty in Jesus Christ. And this kingdom shall overcome the very gates of hell (Matt. 16:18), before Christ returns to earth (1 Cor. 15:24?28).
The fulfillment of the Davidic dynasty does not come by physical nor political means (John 18:36, 1 Cor. 4:20), but is manifest in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). It is part of the inheritance of the elect to be delivered from the power of darkness into this Davidic "kingdom of the Son" (Col. 1:13). "The kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God is the saving rule of God, exercised in fulfillment of all the promises of salvation in the Old Testament."4
Jesus is also the true Israel. For instance, in Matthew's account concerning the first years of Jesus life, we read that when Jesus and His parents returned from Egypt after fleeing Herod's revenge, the "exodus" of Jesus fulfilled a certain prophecy. In 2:15 of his book, Matthew says that Jesus was in Egypt "until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet saying, "Out of Egypt I called My son." Now if we turn back to Hosea 11:1 where this is originally found, we see that Hosea gives no indication that he is talking about anything other than the nation of Israel. Nonetheless, Matthew interprets the prophecy for us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he tells us that it was a prophecy about the Person Israel, Jesus Christ.5 In truth, the nation of Israel was a type of Christ that was fulfilled in the anti-type, Jesus, the true Son of God the true Israel and Christ. For this reason the nation of Israel was called the firstborn son of God (Ex. 4:22?23) and the Messiah was called Israel (Is. 49:1?6).
Christ is also the true Temple. In John's gospel we read that the "word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). The Greek word translated here as "dwelt," is eskhnwsen, and comes from the root word skhnh which means "tent" or "dwelling" and so carries the idea of a temporary abode. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX or Septuagint), this term was used of the tabernacle of God. Thus it seems that John is telling us that Jesus came and tabernacled among us: He was the tabernacle of God, the place for God's name and where God dwelt among His people.
Jesus said these very things about Himself. He said that He and the Father
were One (John. 10:30), and to see Him was to see the Father (14:9). Jesus said that rather than worship God at the temple, true worshipers must worship God in spirit and in truth (4:23?24): Jesus is the truth (14:6) and He provides the Spirit (16:7). We are told that Christ came as a High Priest, "with the greater and more perfect tabernacle" (Heb. 9:11).
Jesus also declared that He is greater than the temple (Matt. 12:6), hence its fulfillment. He declared that He was the true temple, and that when destroyed He would be raised up in three days (John 2:19).
Like the temple, Jesus is the house of God and the gateway to heaven (Gen. 28:12, 17, John 1:51). He is the place of cleansing and forgiveness (Matt. 8:1?4, 9:2), and the place were God's name and presence are (Matt. 1:23). Truly something greater than the temple had entered human history, and the end of the temple could not be long delayed.
The temple and it sacrifices were a sign pointing to 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29). When the Lamb appeared and atonement in fulfillment of the sign was accomplished, the significance of the sign was at an end. Fulfillment implies no disrespect for the sign, and Jesus showed no disrespect of the temple. ...Jesus' entire public ministry is actually a fulfillment of what the temple symbolized.6
Jesus is also the true Land of Israel. When Paul tells the Galatians that Jesus is the true seed of Abraham, "the central phrase on which Paul's entire argument rests, 'And to your offspring' (Galatians 3:16), is found only in promises that contain the promise of the land."7 In other words, when Paul affirms that Jesus is the true Seed of Abraham, he does so with an eye toward making it clear that the land and its promised blessings are realized in Christ. As we can see from the land promises in the Old Testament, they depend on the offspring of Abraham actually residing in the land. Now, however, in Christ, the offspring do not reside in the land in order to receive the promise, but the land resides in the Offspring and He - the ultimate dwelling place of God8 - is where the promised blessings are experienced.
Jesus provides the peace and security of the land (Phil. 4:6-7). He provides the abundant life of the land of promise (John 10:10), which is simply a promise of the blessings of covenant relationship (cf. Gen. 3:22-23).
Jesus provides the health - the healing - that was formerly associated with
the land (Luke 7:22). In Jesus is fulfilled the promise of leadership of nations (Matt: 28:19). In Him are found abundant possessions (Matt. 6:25?34, Mark 10:29-30), and treasures that will dazzle the eyes of even the most jaded miser (Matt. 6:19-21, 13:44-46, John 14:2-3). Also like the old land, the new land (Jesus Christ), will vomit out (dispossess), apostates who refuse to repent (Rev. 3:16). In Christ the entire world is transformed into the land of promise. There is no longer any geographical boundary to God's blessing nor to His dispossession of the apostate.