Jesus Christ the Exalted Lord
Not just a god but the Most High God of all
Since we have already discussed the issue of Jesus exaltation in several articles:
This current discussion will be brief and to the point.
Many attempts have been made by Muslim dawagandists to show that, even though the NT calls Jesus theos, this should be more properly translated as god since Christ is not the Almighty God but subject and inferior to him. They further reason that the Father alone is THE God, being the very God of Jesus. Here are some links to certain Muslim writers who employ this type of reasoning, or who argue along similar lines: 1, 2
This means that if Jesus is only a god, but not THE God, then he cannot be as highly exalted as the Father but must be underneath him in terms of glory and honor.
To state this in a different way, if the Father alone is THE God then he alone is the Most High, being far more exalted than any other so-called god, since the OT Scriptures make it emphatically clear that Yahweh is highly exalted above all of the gods:
"For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods." Psalm 95:3
"For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods." Psalm 97:9
"For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods." Psalm 135:5
This would obviously include Jesus as well if he were merely a god.
But the problem is that this is not what the NT teaches. The Christian Greek Scriptures actually claim that Jesus has been exalted high above every rule and authority, having the name that is above every name there is, both in this age and in the age to come:
"and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, FAR ABOVE all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Ephesians 1:9-23
"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is ABOVE EVERY NAME, 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." Philippians 2:9-11
What Paul is saying here is that Jesus has been exalted to the very status and glory of Yahweh, something which would have been blasphemous for any monotheistic Jew to say of any creature, no matter how exalted!
And it will not help for the anti-Trinitarians to argue that God chose to grant Jesus this exalted position, thereby making him share in his glory, since the Scriptures expressly say that Yahweh alone will be exalted and that he will not share this glory with any other so-called god:
"The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD ALONE will be exalted in that day. The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD ALONE will be exalted in that day," Isaiah 2:11-17
"I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. Isaiah 42:8
"For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I AM he; I am the first and I am the last." Isaiah 48:11-12
As Evangelical scholars Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski explain in regard to Philippians 2:6-11:
"Paul then tells us that Gods response to Jesus was that he highly exalted him (v. 9). This word, which we might translate super-exalted (huperupsosen), is used of Yahweh, the Lord God, in a similar context in the Greek translation of Psalm 97:9.
"In the light of this Old Testament background and the context of Philippians 2:6-11, it is evident that Paul is not saying that Christ enjoyed a lesser position prior to his Incarnation than he has now as a result of his exaltation. As [Richard] Bauckham puts it,
The verb does not indicate that God has exalted Jesus to a higher status than he had previously occupied (whether in pre-existence or in mortal life), but that God has exalted him to a higher status than that of anyone or anything else, i.e., to the pre-eminent position in the whole cosmos.
"We see here, then, that Jesus Christ shares the seat of Gods universal throne.
"Paul also says that God gave Jesus the name that is above every name (v. 9). In light of the allusion to Isaiah 45:23 in verses 10-11, the title Lord in verse 11 almost certainly represents the name Yahweh. Here, then, we have explicit statements that Jesus shares the names of God.
"As we jus mentioned, Paul also alludes even more directly than to Psalm 97:9 to Isaiah 45:23, where Yahweh declares, Surely every knee will bow to me, every tongue will solemnly affirm (NET). In Philippians 2 every knee will bow and every tongue confess (NET) that Jesus is Lord. Larry Hurtado observes that texts like these show that worship was given to the exalted Jesus, not because early Christians felt at liberty to do so, but because they felt required to do so by God. N. T. Wright notes the astonishing application of divine prerogative to Jesus:
Paul is quoting a monotheistic text from the Old Testament. Not just any text, either. This comes from Isaiah 40-55, where we find the clearest and most sustained scriptural exposition and exaltation of the one true God over all false claimants, and at the same time the stoutest declaration of the sovereignty of the one God. The whole point of the context is that the one true God does not, cannot, and will not share his glory with anyone else. It is his alone. Paul, however, declares that this one God has shared his glory with Jesus. (Bowman & Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007: http://deityofchrist.com/], Part 5: The Best Seat in the House: Jesus Shares the Seat of Gods Throne, Conclusion. The Case for the Deity of Christ, 279-280; comments within brackets ours)
Why, then, did the Father permit Jesus to partake of his Divine glory and status if the Son is nothing more than a god? And how could Jesus dare say that he dwelt with his Father in the same glory before the creation of the world?
"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." John 17:5
And how can he further dare to apply the very names and titles of Yahweh to himself, specifically I AM he,
"I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I AM He (ego eimi), you will indeed die in your sins. So Jesus said, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM He (ego eimi) and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. Truly, truly I say to you, Jesus answered, before Abraham was born, I AM He (ego eimi)!" John 8:24, 28, 58
"I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I AM He (ego eimi)." John 13:19
And the First and the Last?
"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." Revelation 1:17-18
"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again." Revelation 2:8
The answer is obvious. Jesus is not merely a god, but is God Most High, God the Son, the Son of God who is co-equal with the Father in essence and nature, and is therefore deserving of the very same glory and honor that the Father receives:
"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him." John 5:22-23
This proves that when the inspired NT writers call Jesus theos they mean he is God with a capital G!
In conclusion, we bear witness that Jesus Christ is the exalted Lord of glory, the Most High God, and the eternally beloved Son of the Father for ever and ever. Amen!