Defending the Deity of Christ (part three)

In the last couple of posts I have written about verses that people use to deny the deity of Christ, and when we have looked at these verses more carefully we discover they actually prove He is God.

Defending the Deity of Christ (part three)

We are going to look at another one here.

For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth – as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” – yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6, ESV)

The thrust of the argument against the deity of Christ is quite simple – there is one God, the Father, and this therefore excludes Jesus from being God. Now that might seem sensible and simple, but let’s just see what happens if we read the rest of the verse and follow that logic. If the statement “there is one God, the Father” means that Jesus Christ is not God, then the statement that there is “one Lord, Jesus Christ” means that God the Father is not Lord, but that is just nonsense. On many occasions in the New Testament the Father is designated Lord (e.g., Luke 2:26; Acts 4:29; Rev. 4:11; 22:5), so this passage no more excludes Jesus Christ from being God any more than it excludes the Father from being Lord.

So what is going on here? Paul is drawing from the Israelite daily confession of absolute monotheism, the Shema:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD (Deuteronomy 6:4)

In 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 Paul is taking this confession and showing that it incorporates (at least) two persons – the Father and Jesus Christ. He takes the name of Yahweh (LORD) and attaches that to Jesus Christ, and he takes the title of God and attaches that to the Father. So, Paul is teaching monotheism but showing that monotheism does not mean unitarianism. The Father and Jesus Christ are both included in the identity of the one true God of Israel – Yahweh.

All the Greek words of the Shema in the Greek translation of the Bible used by the earliest Christians are repeated by Paul in [1 Corinthians] 8:6. The “God” and “Lord” of the Shema which both identify the one God of Israel are now split between “God” the Father and the “Lord” Jesus Christ.[1]

So, once again, a text that people point to undermine the deity of Christ actually undergirds it and identifies Him as the possessing the name and nature of Yahweh, the one true God.


[1] Chris Tilling in How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature – A Response to Bart D. Ehrman, Zondervan, 2014, loc 2607-2615.

For more in this series, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5