The Deity of Christ, Part 2

By Ronnie Campbell

In the first part of our two-part series, we explored Jesus’s own claims regarding His divine status. In this second part, we’re going to focus on other New Testament claims surrounding Jesus’s deity. In what follows, we’ll consider three lines of evidence: (1) Christ’s Preexistence and involvement in creation; (2) Christ’s unique relationship to YHWH; and (3) Christ called “God.”

Christ’s Preexistence and Involvement in Creation

To begin with, there are numerous places within the New Testament that speak of the Son’s preexistence. As we’ve already seen in the previous article, Jesus taught his own preexistence (John 6:38, 51; 10:36; 16:28; 17:5), but the New Testament writers also taught this important doctrine. But more striking is how often the New Testament writers often link the Son of God’s preexistence to His involvement in creation.

One of the clearest passages linking Christ’s preexistence to His involvement in creation comes from Colossians 1:15-19, in which Paul makes some startling claims about the Son. First, in v. 15 we are told that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” The reference to “firstborn” may sound prima facie pre-Arian (i.e., Jesus as a creation of God); however, this is not the view, since it is followed by a clear statement attributing all of creation to the Son, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (1:16). Instead, the “first born” language is inheritance language, making a link between Jesus as Messiah and His inheritance as the “first born” Son who inherits creation. Moreover, later, in speaking of the Son’s incarnation, Paul tells us that “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (1:19), which he repeats later in the epistle, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (2:9). Not only is Jesus the creator of all things, but “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (1:17). The “before all things” linked with “by Him all things were created” clearly stress Jesus’s preexistence.

The writer of Hebrews makes a similar claim regarding the Son’s preexistence and involvement in creation. First, he tells us that it is through the Son that God has spoken to us in these last days and that he is “heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”  He goes on to tell us that the Son is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” and that “he upholds the universe by the word of his power. The language here bears similarity to Paul’s in Colossians and John’s in the prologue to his Gospel (which we’ll return to below).

Another passage linking the Son of God’s preexistence to creation is 1 Corinthians 8:6, which says, “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.” Earlier in the chapter, Paul addresses the Corinthians regarding “things sacrificed to idols” (v. 1). In v. 4 Paul informs them “that there is no such thing as an idol in the world,” reminding them that there is “no God but one.” This is a clear reference to monotheism, particularly the Shamaʿ of Israel (Deut. 6:4-5). But Paul moves from there to suggest that there are many “so-called” (false) gods in the world. What’s interesting about Paul’s next statement is that he goes from “gods” and then makes a distinction between the various false “gods” and “lords” in the heavens and the earth. This sets up his next point, namely that creation is mediated through “one God, the Father” and the “one Lord, Jesus Christ.” By doing this, Paul is alluding back to his earlier monotheistic statement “no God but one,” and applying the language of the Shamaʿ (i.e., “God” and “Lord”) to both the Father and the Son.

Regarding the Son’s preexistence, Paul writes elsewhere, “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4:4-5, ESV). What’s significant about this passage is that the creedal-like formula links God’s sending of the Son with human redemption. The “so that” clause provides for us the reason why God “sent forth His Son.” The sending of the Son is intricately linked to our salvation. The mention of the Son’s being “born of a woman” and “born under the Law” has significance in that it suggests that the Son entered into human history, and therefore became like all other humans, “born of a woman” and “born under the Law.” Paul says something similar in Romans, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). Because it was God who sent the Son into such common experiences of human history—as these passages inform us—it implies that the Son existed prior to God’s sending. Paul’s language of God sending forth his Son is reminiscent of Jesus’s own claims to having been sent from the Father (John 10:36; 16:28).

Christ’s Unique Relationship to YHWH

Another line of evidence for the divinity of Christ stems from the New Testament writers linking the Son directly to YHWH. Perhaps, one of the more fascinating passages is Philippians 2:5-11. Here, Paul writes:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

There are several points of interest in the passage regarding our study of Christ’s deity. Not only does this passage emphasize Christ’s preexistence, but it also includes incarnational and exaltation language, as well as placing emphasis on Jesus’ rulership over all creation. Moreover, in his exaltation, Jesus is given the “name above all names,” which identifies Jesus with the God of Israel and places him as co-ruler over all of creation. Striking is the parallel between the Philippian hymn and Isaiah 45:22-23, a passage which emphasizes the exclusivity of YHWH, who alone is to be worshiped. Yet, Paul is applying that same language here to Christ.

Paul does something similar in Romans 10:9-10. Many of us are familiar with this passage because it is so often used in our Gospel presentations. But often missed is Paul’s connection of Jesus to YHWH. In Romans chapters 9-10 Paul takes a similar theme found in the Psalms (118:22), Isaiah (Isa. 8:14; 28:16; 49:23), and Joel (Joel 2:26-27)—the “stone of stumbling,” “rock of offense,” and not being “put to shame”—and connects this language to Jesus in various ways. In Romans 9:32-33, Paul tells us that the Jews “stumbled over the stumbling stone,” which in the Old Testament context, refers specifically to YHWH. Then in Romans 10:9-10, Paul reminds his readers that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul continues by giving Old Testament support.  Regarding believing, as he did with Romans 9:33, he combines Isaiah 28:16; 49:23; and Joel 2:26-27, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Contextually, in these Old Testament passages, it is through belief and trust in YHWH alone that one will not be put to shame. Regarding confessing Jesus as Lord, Paul then quotes Joel 2:32 as support, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” which again is in reference to YHWH in the context of the passage. But here Paul is applying it to Jesus, who is “the same Lord” for both Jew and Greek.

Christ Called “God”

 Our final line of evidence comes from those passages that call Jesus “God.” One of the clearest examples of this is from John 1:1-3,14,18. John begins his prologue by telling us that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That the Word “was with God” implies distinction. That the Word “was God” implies sameness and identity. John then discloses to us in v.14 that the Word “became flesh and dwelt among us,” which is a reference to Jesus’s incarnation. Finally, in 1:18 John tells us that no one has ever seen God, but that “the only God, who is at the Father’s side,” He has made the Father known to us. Here, “the only God” and “at the Father’s side,” indicates distinction from the Father, yet implies that He is God. Not only does John’s prologue claim Jesus’s deity, but it also affirms the connection between Jesus’s preexistence and involvement in creation, themes we’ve explored earlier.

Space does not permit us to consider each of these, but there are several other instances in the New Testament where Jesus is called “God.” Some instances have textual issues, which renders them unclear on whether they have Jesus in mind or not. But some of the more plausible candidates include John 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8,; and 2 Peter 1:1.


 This article examined three lines of evidence within the New Testament for the deity of Christ—Christ’s preexistence and involvement in creation, Christ’s unique relationship to YHWH, and Christ’s being called “God.” There are other areas of evidence that could have been considered, but the ones presented in this article are some of the strongest pieces of evidence. Given Jesus’s own claims about Himself, along with the various lines of evidence given in this paper, Christians are warranted in their belief that the Bible teaches the divinity of Jesus.

Published June 14, 2024

Ronnie Campbell

Dr. Ronnie Campbell has been involved in higher education since 2006, teaching courses in theology, philosophy, and apologetics. His research interests include God’s relationship to time, the problem of evil, the doctrine of the Trinity, and religious doubt. He is the author of For Love of God: An Invitation to Theology (Emeth Press) and Worldviews and the Problem of Evil (Lexham Press). Dr. Campbell enjoys playing guitar, reading science fiction, and drinking coffee. He and his wife, Debbie, live in Gladys, VA, with their four children.