Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus Christ – He who is over all, God blessed forever! [Part 1]

Sam Shamoun

In one of the earliest NT writings the blessed Apostle Paul refers to Jesus Christ as the eternally blessed God who reigns over all:

“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh (kata sarka), is the Christ, who is /the One being over all (ho on epi panton), God blessed forever (theos eulogetos eis tous aionas, amen). Amen.” Romans 9:4-5

There is another way of rendering the last phrase of Romans 9:5:

“To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”

Yet there are certain scholars and translators that do not believe that this verse refers to Jesus as God. They take the position that Paul has two distinct Persons in view, namely Christ and the Father, and that he is praising God the Father here for the privileges he has shown to his covenant people. These individuals would propose the following translations which they feel actually captures Paul’s intended meaning:

“… Christ. God who is over all be blessed forever!”


“… Christ, who is over all. God be blessed forever!”


The Grammatical and Contextual Evidence

However, the grammatical and contextual data strongly supports the first two renderings, with the evidence pointing towards the translation, “Christ (ho Christos), who is (ho on) over all, God blessed forever. Amen,” since ho on agrees grammatically with ho Christos. This means that “who is over all” is saying something concerning Christ, namely, that he is supreme over all creation by virtue of being the risen and exalted Lord of all:

“As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all [houtos estin panton kyrios]),” Acts 10:36

We will have more to say concerning Jesus’ supreme rule and authority over all creation later in our discussion. For now we want to look at the other data that supports the view that the inspired Apostle is calling Jesus the eternally blessed God.

One other reason which strongly suggests that Jesus is being called God or theos comes from what Paul wrote earlier in Romans 1:3-4, a reference which is somewhat similar to Romans 9:5. 

“concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh (kata sarka)and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:3-4

Jesus is David’s Son according to the flesh, or in relation to his human nature, and shown to be God’s Son in power which God displayed by raising Christ from the dead by the Holy Spirit.

Now compare this with Romans 9:5:

“To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh (kata sarka), is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever (theos eulogetos eis tous aionas, amen).”

Since Romans 1:3-4 uses the same phrasing that is found in Romans 9:5 to refer to Jesus’ human ancestry, and since in the first passage the Apostle contrasts Christ’s humanity with his Deity, we would expect that a similar contrast appears in the other reference. After all, Paul does mention the eternally praised God right after speaking of Christ’s humanity.

In other words, just as we find Paul in the first example contrasting Jesus’ human ancestry with the fact of his being God’s Son we would expect to see a similar contrast in Romans 9:5 since this also mentions Christ’s human ancestry; and this is precisely what we have if we allow the verse to read as an explicit witness to Christ’s Deity. The contrast would then be between Jesus being an Israelite in respect to his humanity and the eternally praised or blessed God in relation to his Divine Sonship.

Second, both in the Holy Bible and also in Semitic inscriptions doxologies are differently constructed from what we find in Romans 9:5. The verb or verbal adjective (i.e. the word “blessed”) always precedes the name of God and never follows it, as with the example of Romans 9:5. In other words, in cases of doxologies Paul (as well as the other Bible writers) places the word for blessed (eulogetos) in the first position, before the word God, not after it, just as we find in the following verses:

Blessed be the God and Father (eulogetos ho theos kai pater) of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,” 2 Corinthians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father (eulogetos ho theos kai pater) of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 1:3

This seems to further support the view that Romans 9:5 does not contain an independent doxology to God the Father, but rather to Christ, being a descriptive doxology, i.e. a declaration of who Christ is, namely “God, who is blessed forever.”

Moreover, every time Paul gives a doxology (and this is true for the others as well), it’s tied to the immediate context (cf. Romans 1:25, 11:36; Galatians 1:4-5; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 2 Timothy 4:18). In fact, one does not find Paul diverting from the topic by introducing an independent praise to God (unless we assume that Romans 9:5 is the exception). Yet the doxology in Romans 9:5 is found in the middle of a lament for Paul’s nation. In the context Paul has been speaking of his heart’s desire to see his countrymen come to saving faith in Christ, yet they refused to do so despite all that God has blessed them with. In light of this, an outburst of praise to God makes little sense.

However, since Paul has been discussing the privileges that God has granted to Israel it makes more sense that the inspired Apostle would speak of the eternal praise that Jesus deserves and receives when he happens to be the greatest blessing that Israel has ever been given. After all, what greater honor and blessing could be shown to Israel than to have the eternal Son of God who is praised forever become an Israelite? Thus, the context fits a doxology to Christ much better.

As Evangelical NT scholar Murray J. Harris puts it:

“Opinions differ dramatically concerning the appropriateness of a doxology to God the Father at the end of Romans 9:1-5. H. A. H. Meyer believes that Paul was impelled ‘by the recital of the distinctions of his nation to devote a doxology to God, the Author of these privileges, who therefore was not responsible for the deeply-lamented unbelief of the Jews’ (Romans 361). But this tends to overlook the fact that the recital of Israelite privileges was prompted by Paul’s desire ‘to emphasize the grievousness of the Jews’ disobedience’ (Cranfield, Romans 468); in verses 1-5 he is basically expressing sorrow over Jewish disobedience rather than joy over Jewish privilege, so that an ascription of praise to God the Father would seem out of place. How could an ever-deepening sorrow. As Israel’s privileges are detailed, give rise to praise? The climactic privilege – hosting the Messiah – also prompted the deepest anguish, for those dignified with this incomparable honor had in general failed to embrace their Messiah. E. H. Gifford poignantly asks (169), ‘How could the Apostle bless God that Christ was born a Jew, in his high anguish that the Jews had rejected him?’

“If Romans 9:5b is an independent doxology, one would have expected de to be used, if not to mark a contrast, at least as a sign of transition (‘now’; cf. Rom. 16:25; Jude 24) from one subject (ho Christos) to another (theos). Again, an asyndetic doxology to God following a reference to Christ would tend to reflect adversely on the person of Christ: ‘But he who is over all is not Christ, but God the Father who alone is blessed for ever!’ (Lyonnet 28). On the other hand, if verse 5b is a doxology describing Christ, there is a natural climax that elevates the person of the Messiah as well as an antithesis that complements the limitation signified by to kata sarka (see above E2). Not only did the Messiah come from Jewish stock, he is a universal monarch who will be eternally worshiped as God. To refer theos to Christ accords perfectly with the immediate context. What is more, one should entertain seriously the possibility that the wording of Psalm 45 is echoed in Romans 9:5b: the king of whom it is said eulogetos se ho theos eis ton aiona (Ps. 44:3c LXX) is himself addressed as ‘God’: ho thronos sou ho theos eis ton aiona tou aionos (Ps. 44:7a LXX).” (Harris, Jesus as God – The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus [Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI: first paperback edition, 1992], Chapter VI. God Blessed Forever (Romans 9:5), E. Christ as the Referent of theos, 5. eulogetos eis tous aionas, amin, pp. 164-165)

Fourth, there are two other places where Paul uses the expression “blessed forever.” In these particular passages the subject of the doxologies precedes, not follows, the ascription of praise:

“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (hos estin eulogetos eis tous aionas). Amen.” Romans 1:25

Clearly, the One who is blessed forever is the Creator God. And:

“The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever (ho on eulogetos eis tous aionas), knows that I am not lying.” 2 Corinthians 11:31

Again, contextually the One who is blessed forever must be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, consistency would suggest that we understand that Jesus Christ is being referred to as “God, who is blessed forever,” i.e. the eternally blessed God, since we find the same word order in Romans 9:5 that we do in the above examples.


Early Patristic Witness

The other line of evidence comes from the testimony of the early Church Fathers. Throughout the early centuries of Christianity certain authors applied this text to Christ, seeing it as an explicit witness to his absolute Deity. It is their statements which we now turn to.  All bold, italicized and underline emphasis will be ours.



3. Paul, when writing to the Romans, has explained this very point: Paul, an apostle of Jesus, predestinated unto the Gospel of God, which He had promised by His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was made to Him of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was predestinated the Son of God with power through the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ. And again, writing to the Romans about Israel, he says: Whose are the fathers, and from whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all, blessed for ever. And again, in his Epistle to the Galatians, he says: But when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption; plainly indicating one God, who did by the prophets make promise of the Son, and one Jesus Christ our Lord, who was of the seed of David according to His birth from Mary; and that Jesus Christ was appointed the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, as being the first begotten in all the creation; the Son of God being made the Son of man, that through Him we may receive the adoption,— humanity sustaining, and receiving, and embracing the Son of God. Wherefore Mark also says: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets. Knowing one and the same Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was announced by the prophets, who from the fruit of David's body was Emmanuel, the messenger of great counsel of the Father; through whom God caused the day-spring and the Just One to arise to the house of David, and raised up for him an horn of salvation, and established a testimony in Jacob; as David says when discoursing on the causes of His birth: And He appointed a law in Israel, that another generation might know [Him,] the children which should he born from these, and they arising shall themselves declare to their children, so that they might set their hope in God, and seek after His commandments. And again, the angel said, when bringing good tidings to Mary: He shall he great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David; acknowledging that He who is the Son of the Highest, the same is Himself also the Son of David. And David, knowing by the Spirit the dispensation of the advent of this Person, by which He is supreme over all the living and dead, confessed Him as Lord, sitting on the right hand of the Most High Father. (Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 16)



Chapter 13. The Force of Sundry Passages of Scripture Illustrated in Relation to the Plurality of Persons and Unity of Substance. There is No Polytheism Here, Since the Unity is Insisted on as a Remedy Against Polytheism

Well then, you reply, if He was God who spoke, and He was also God who created, at this rate, one God spoke and another created; (and thus) two Gods are declared. If you are so venturesome and harsh, reflect a while; and that you may think the better and more deliberately, listen to the psalm in which Two are described as God: Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Your kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness. You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You or made You His Christ. Now, since He here speaks to God, and affirms that God is anointed by God, He must have affirmed that Two are God, by reason of the sceptre's royal power. Accordingly, Isaiah also says to the Person of Christ: The Sabæans, men of stature, shall pass over to You; and they shall follow after You, bound in fetters; and they shall worship You, because God is in You: for You are our God, yet we knew it not; You are the God of Israel. For here too, by saying, God is in You, and You are God, he sets forth Two who were God: (in the former expression in You, he means) in Christ, and (in the other he means) the Holy Spirit. That is a still grander statement which you will find expressly made in the Gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. There was One who was, and there was another with whom He was. But I find in Scripture the name Lord also applied to them Both: The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on my right hand. And Isaiah says this: Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Now he would most certainly have said Your Arm, if he had not wished us to understand that the Father is Lord, and the Son also is Lord. A much more ancient testimony we have also in Genesis: Then the Lord rained upon and upon brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. Now, either deny that this is Scripture; or else (let me ask) what sort of man you are, that you do not think words ought to be taken and understood in the sense in which they are written, especially when they are not expressed in allegories and parables, but in determinate and simple declarations? If, indeed, you follow those who did not at the time endure the Lord when showing Himself to be the Son of God, because they would not believe Him to be the Lord, then (I ask you) call to mind along with them the passage where it is written, I have said, You are gods, and you are children of the Most High; and again, God stands in the congregation of gods; in order that, if the Scripture has not been afraid to designate as gods human beings, who have become sons of God by faith, you may be sure that the same Scripture has with greater propriety conferred the name of the Lord on the true and one only Son of God. Very well! You say, I shall challenge you to preach from this day forth (and that, too, on the authority of these same Scriptures) two Gods and two Lords, consistently with your views. God forbid, (is my reply). For we, who by the grace of God possess an insight into both the times and the occasions of the Sacred Writings, especially we who are followers of the Paraclete, not of human teachers, do indeed definitively declare that Two Beings are God, the Father and the Son, and, with the addition of the Holy Spirit, even Three, according to the principle of the divine economy, which introduces number, in order that the Father may not, as you perversely infer, be Himself believed to have been born and to have suffered, which it is not lawful to believe, forasmuch as it has not been so handed down. That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement which at no time proceeds out of our mouth: not as if it were untrue that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and each is God; but because in earlier times Two were actually spoken of as God, and two as Lord, that when Christ should come He might be both acknowledged as God and designated as Lord, being the Son of Him who is both God and Lord. Now, if there were found in the Scriptures but one Personality of Him who is God and Lord, Christ would justly enough be inadmissible to the title of God and Lord: for (in the Scriptures) there was declared to be none other than One God and One Lord, and it must have followed that the Father should Himself seem to have come down (to earth), inasmuch as only One God and One Lord was ever read of (in the Scriptures), and His entire Economy would be involved in obscurity, which has been planned and arranged with so clear a foresight in His providential dispensation as matter for our faith. As soon, however, as Christ came, and was recognised by us as the very Being who had from the beginning caused plurality (in the Divine Economy), being the second from the Father, and with the Spirit the third, and Himself declaring and manifesting the Father more fully (than He had ever been before), the title of Him who is God and Lord was at once restored to the Unity (of the Divine Nature), even because the Gentiles would have to pass from the multitude of their idols to the One Only God, in order that a difference might be distinctly settled between the worshippers of One God and the votaries of polytheism. For it was only right that Christians should shine in the world as children of light, adoring and invoking Him who is the One God and Lord as the light of the world. Besides, if, from that perfect knowledge which assures us that the title of God and Lord is suitable both to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, we were to invoke a plurality of gods and lords, we should quench our torches, and we should become less courageous to endure the martyr’s sufferings, from which an easy escape would everywhere lie open to us, as soon as we swore by a plurality of gods and lords, as sundry heretics do, who hold more gods than One. I will therefore not speak of gods at all, nor of lords, but I shall follow the apostle; so that if the Father and the Son, are alike to be invoked, I shall call the Father God, and invoke Jesus Christ as Lord. But when Christ alone (is mentioned), I shall be able to call Him God, as the same apostle says: Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever. For I should give the name of sun even to a sunbeam, considered in itself; but if I were mentioning the sun from which the ray emanates, I certainly should at once withdraw the name of sun from the mere beam. For although I make not two suns, still I shall reckon both the sun and its ray to be as much two things and two forms of one undivided substance, as God and His Word, as the Father and the Son. (Against Praxeas)



2. Now they seek to exhibit the foundation for their dogma by citing the word in the law, I am the God of your fathers: you shall have no other gods beside me; and again in another passage, I am the first, He says, and the last; and beside me there is none other. Thus they say they prove that God is one. And then they answer in this manner: If therefore I acknowledge Christ to be God, He is the Father Himself, if He is indeed God; and Christ suffered, being Himself God; and consequently the Father suffered, for He was the Father Himself. But the case stands not thus; for the Scriptures do not set forth the matter in this manner. But they make use also of other testimonies, and say, Thus it is written: This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. He has found out all the way of knowledge, and has given it unto Jacob His servant (son), and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. You see, then, he says, that this is God, who is the only One, and who afterwards did show Himself, and con-versed with men. And in another place he says, Egypt has laboured; and the merchandise of Ethiopia and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto you, (and they shall be slaves to you); and they shall come after you bound with manacles, and they shall fall down unto you, because God is in you; and they shall make supplication unto you: and there is no God beside you. For You are God, and we knew not; God of Israel, the Saviour. Do you see, he says, how the Scriptures proclaim one God? And as this is clearly exhibited, and these passages are testimonies to it, I am under necessity, he says, since one is acknowledged, to make this One the subject of suffering. For Christ was God, and suffered on account of us, being Himself the Father, that He might be able also to save us. And we cannot express ourselves otherwise, he says; for the apostle also acknowledges one God, when he says, Whose are the fathers, (and) of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever

6. Let us look next at the apostle's word: Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. This word declares the mystery of the truth rightly and clearly. He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, All things are delivered unto me of my Father. He who is over all, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man, He is (yet) God for ever. For to this effect John also has said, Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. And well has he named Christ the Almighty. For in this he has said only what Christ testifies of Himself. For Christ gave this testimony, and said, All things are delivered unto me of my Father; and Christ rules all things, and has been appointed Almighty by the Father. And in like manner Paul also, in setting forth the truth that all things are delivered unto Him, said, Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For all things are put under Him. But when He says, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. Then shall He also Himself be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. If, therefore, all things are put under Him with the exception of Him who put them under Him, He is Lord of all, and the Father is Lord of Him, that in all there might be manifested one God, to whom all things are made subject together with Christ, to whom the Father has made all things subject, with the exception of Himself. And this, indeed, is said by Christ Himself, as when in the Gospel He confessed Him to be His Father and His God. For He speaks thus: I go to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God. If then, Noetus ventures to say that He is the Father Himself, to what father will he say Christ goes away according to the word of the Gospel? But if he will have us abandon the Gospel and give credence to his senselessness, he expends his labour in vain; for we ought to obey God rather than men. (Against the Heresy of One Noetus)

It is interesting to see from Hippolytus that even heretics such as Noetus not only used Romans 9:5 to prove that Christ was God, but that he was God the Father! Being a Modalist Noetus didn’t believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were three eternally distinct Persons, but three different modes of a single Divine Person. Hippolytus, however, cited the passage to support his own view that Christ is indeed “God over all,” but not the Father. Thus, both Trinitarians and certain heretics quoted this text to prove that Jesus is the eternally blessed God!



Chapter 13

And thus also John, describing the nativity of Christ, says: The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. For, moreover, His name is called the Word of God, and not without reason. My heart has emitted a good word; which word He subsequently calls by the name of the King inferentially, I will tell my works to the King. For by Him were made all the works, and without Him was nothing made. Whether says the apostle they be thrones or dominations, or powers, or mights, visible things and invisible, all things subsist by Him. Moreover, this is that word which came unto His own, and His own received Him not. For the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. Moreover, this Word was in the beginning with God, and God was the Word. Who then can doubt, when in the last clause it is said, The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, that Christ, whose is the nativity, and because He was made flesh, is man; and because He is the Word of God, who can shrink from declaring without hesitation that He is God, especially when he considers the evangelical Scripture, that it has associated both of these substantial natures into one concord of the nativity of Christ? For He it is who as a bride-groom goes forth from his bride-chamber; He exulted as a giant to run his way. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His return unto the ends of it. Because, even to the highest, not any one has ascended into heaven save He who came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven. Repeating this same thing, He says: Father, glorify me with that glory wherewith I was with You before the world was. And if this Word came down from heaven as a bridegroom to the flesh, that by the assumption of flesh He might ascend thither as the Son of Man, whence the Son of God had descended as the Word, reasonably, while by the mutual connection both flesh wears the Word of God, and the Son of God assumes the frailty of the flesh; when the flesh being espoused ascending thither, whence without the flesh it had descended, it at length receives that glory which in being shown to have had before the foundation of the world, it is most manifestly proved to be God. And, nevertheless, while the world itself is said to have been founded after Him, it is found to have been created by Him; by that very divinity in Him whereby, the world was made, both His glory and His authority are proved. Moreover, if, whereas it is the property of none but God to know the secrets of the heart, Christ beholds the secrets of the heart; and if, whereas it belongs to none but God to remit sins, the same Christ remits sins; and if, whereas it is the portion of no man to come from heaven, He descended by coming from heaven; and if, whereas this word can be true of no man, I and the Father are one, Christ alone declared this word out of the consciousness of His divinity; and if, finally, the Apostle Thomas, instructed in all the proofs and conditions of Christ’s divinity, says in reply to Christ, My Lord and my God; and if, besides, the Apostle Paul says, Whose are the fathers, and of whom Christ came according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for evermore, writing in his epistles; and if the same apostle declares that he was ordained an apostle not by men, nor of man, but by Jesus Christ; and if the same contends that he learned the Gospel not from men or by man, but received it from Jesus Christ, reasonably Christ is God. Therefore, in this respect, one of two things must needs be established. For since it is evident that all things were made by Christ, He is either before all things, since all things were by Him, and so He is justly God; or because He is man He is subsequent to all things, and justly nothing was made by Him. But we cannot say that nothing was made by Him, when we observe it written that all things were made by Him. He is not therefore subsequent to all things; that is, He is not man only, who is subsequent to all things, but God also, since God is prior to all things. For He is before all things, because all things are by Him, while if He were only man, nothing would be by Him; or if all things were by Him, He would not be man only, because if He were only man, all things would not be by Him; nay, nothing would be by Him. What, then, do they reply? That nothing is by Him, so that He is man only? How then are all things by Him? Therefore He is not man only, but God also, since all things are by Him; so that we reasonably ought to understand that Christ is not man only, who is subsequent to all things, but God also, since by Him all things were made. For how can you say that He is man only, when you see Him also in the flesh, unless because when both aspects are considered, both truths are rightly believed? …

Chapter 30

In Fine, Notwithstanding the Said Heretics Have Gathered the Origin of Their Error from Consideration of What is Written: Although We Call Christ God, and the Father God, Still Scripture Does Not Set Forth Two Gods, Any More Than Two Lords or Two Teachers.

And now, indeed, concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, let it be sufficient to have briefly said thus much, and to have laid down these points concisely, without carrying them out in a lengthened argument. For they could be presented more diffusely and continued in a more expanded disputation, since the whole of the Old and New Testaments might be adduced in testimony that thus the true faith stands. But because heretics, ever struggling against the truth, are accustomed to prolong the controversy of pure tradition and Catholic faith, being offended against Christ; because He is, moreover, asserted to be God by the Scriptures also, and this is believed to be so by us; we must rightly — that every heretical calumny may be removed from our faith — contend, concerning the fact that Christ is God also, in such a way as that it may not militate against the truth of Scripture; nor yet against our faith, how there is declared to be one God by the Scriptures, and how it is held and believed by us. For as well they who say that Jesus Christ Himself is God the Father, as moreover they who would have Him to be only man, have gathered thence the sources and reasons of their error and perversity; because when they perceived that it was written that God is one, they thought that they could not otherwise hold such an opinion than by supposing that it must be believed either that Christ was man only, or really God the Father. And they were accustomed in such a way to connect their sophistries as to endeavour to justify their own error. And thus they who say that Jesus Christ is the Father argue as follows:— If God is one, and Christ is God, Christ is the Father, since God is one. If Christ be not the Father, because Christ is God the Son, there appear to be two Gods introduced, contrary to the Scriptures. And they who contend that Christ is man only, conclude on the other hand thus:— If the Father is one, and the Son another, but the Father is God and Christ is God, then there is not one God, but two Gods are at once introduced, the Father and the Son; and if God is one, by consequence Christ must be a man, so that rightly the Father may be one God. Thus indeed the Lord is, as it were, crucified between two thieves, even as He was formerly placed; and thus from either side He receives the sacrilegious reproaches of such heretics as these. But neither the Holy Scriptures nor we suggest to them the reasons of their perdition and blindness, if they either will not, or cannot, see what is evidently written in the midst of the divine documents. For we both know, and read, and believe, and maintain that God is one, who made the heaven as well as the earth, since we neither know any other, nor shall we at any time know such, seeing that there is none. I, says He, am God, and there is none beside me, righteous and a Saviour. And in another place: I am the first and the last, and beside me there is no God who is as I. And, Who has meted out heaven with a Span, and the earth with a handful? Who has suspended the mountains in a balance, and the woods on scales? And Hezekiah: That all may know that You are God alone. Moreover, the Lord Himself: Why do you ask me concerning that which is good? God alone is good. Moreover, the Apostle Paul says: Who only has immortality, and dwells in the light that no man can approach unto, whom no man has seen, nor can see. And in another place: But a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. But even as we hold, and read, and believe this, thus we ought to pass over no portion of the heavenly Scriptures, since indeed also we ought by no means to reject those marks of Christ’s divinity which are laid down in the Scriptures, that we may not, by corrupting the authority of the Scriptures, be held to have corrupted the integrity of our holy faith. And let us therefore believe this, since it is most faithful that Jesus Christ the Son of God is our Lord and God; because in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. The same was in the beginning with God. And, The Word was made flesh, and dwelt in us. And, My Lord and my God. And, Whose are the fathers, and of whom according to the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for evermore. What, then, shall we say? Does Scripture set before us two Gods? How, then, does it say that God is one? Or is not Christ God also? How, then, is it said to Christ, My Lord and my God? Unless, therefore, we hold all this with fitting veneration and lawful argument, we shall reasonably be thought to have furnished a scandal to the heretics, not assuredly by the fault of the heavenly Scriptures, which never deceive; but by the presumption of human error, whereby they have chosen to be heretics. And in the first place, we must turn the attack against them who undertake to make against us the charge of saying that there are two Gods. It is written, and they cannot deny it, that there is one Lord. What, then, do they think of Christ? — that He is Lord, or that He is not Lord at all? But they do not doubt absolutely that He is Lord; therefore, if their reasoning be true, here are already two Lords. How, then, is it true according to the Scriptures, there is one Lord? And Christ is called the one Master. Nevertheless we read that the Apostle Paul also is a master. Then, according to this, our Master is not one, for from these things we conclude that there are two masters. How, then, according to the Scriptures, is one our Master, even Christ? In the Scriptures there is one called good, even God; but in the same Scriptures Christ is also asserted to be good. There is not, then, if they rightly conclude, one good, but even two good. How, then, according to the scriptural faith, is there said to be only one good? But if they do not think that it can by any means interfere with the truth that there is one Lord, that Christ also is Lord, nor with the truth that one is our. Master, that Paul also is our master, or with the truth that one is good, that Christ also is called good; on the same reasoning, let them understand that, from the fact that God is one, no obstruction arises to the truth that Christ also is declared to be God. (Treatise concerning the Trinity)



6. That Christ is God.

In Genesis: “And God said unto Jacob, Arise, and go up to the place of Bethel, and dwell there; and make there an altar to that God who appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of thy brother Esau.” Also in Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord, the God of Sabaoth, Egypt is wearied; and the merchandise of the Ethiopians, and the tall men of the Sabeans, shall pass over unto Thee, and shall be Thy servants; and shall walk after Thee bound with chains; and shall worship Thee, and shall pray to Thee, because God is in Thee, and there is no other God beside Thee.  For Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, our Saviour. They shall all be confounded and fear who oppose Thee, and shall fall into confusion.” Likewise in the same:  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. Every channel shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and all crooked places shall be made straight, and rough places plain; and the glory of the Lord shall be seen, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God, because the Lord hath spoken it.” Moreover, in Jeremiah: “This is our God, and no other shall be esteemed beside Him, who hath found all the way of knowledge, and hath given it to Jacob His son, and to Israel His beloved. After this He was seen upon earth, and He conversed with men.” Also in Zechariah God says: “And they shall cross over through the narrow sea, and they shall smite the waves in the sea, and they shall dry up all the depths of the rivers; and all the haughtiness of the Assyrians shall be confounded, and the sceptre of Egypt shall be taken away. And I will strengthen them in the Lord their God, and in His name shall they glory, saith the Lord.” Moreover, in Hosea the Lord saith: “I will not do according to the anger of mine indignation, I will not allow Ephraim to be destroyed: for I am God, and there is not a holy man in thee: and I will not enter into the city; I will go after God.” Also in the forty-fourth Psalm: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: wherefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” So, too, in the forty-fifth Psalm: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.” Also in the eighty-first Psalm: “They have not known, neither have they understood: they will walk on in darkness.” Also in the sixty-seventh Psalm: “Sing unto God, sing praises unto His name: make a way for Him who goeth up into the west: God is His name.” Also in the Gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word.” Also in the same:  “The Lord said to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands: and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.” Also Paul to the Romans:  “I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren and my kindred according to the flesh: who are Israelites: whose are the adoption, and the glory, and the covenant, and the appointment of the law, and the service (of God), and the promises; whose are the fathers, of whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is God over all, blessed for evermore.” Also in the Apocalypse: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end: I will give to him that is athirst, of the fountain of living water freely. He that overcometh shall possess these things, and their inheritance; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Also in the eighty-first Psalm: “God stood in the congregation of gods, and judging gods in the midst.” And again in the same place: “I have said, Ye are gods; and ye are all the children of the Highest: but ye shall die like men.” But if they who have been righteous, and have obeyed the divine precepts, may be called gods, how much more is Christ, the Son of God, God!  Thus He Himself says in the Gospel according to John: “Is it not written in the law, that I said, Ye are gods? If He called them gods to whom the word of God was given, and the Scripture cannot be relaxed, do ye say to Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, that thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God? But if I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, and ye will not believe me, believe the works, and know that the Father is in me, and I in Him.” Also in the Gospel according to Matthew: “And ye shall call His name Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us.” (Three Books of Testimonies against the Jew, Book II)



Chapter 1. Introduction. Reason for writing; certain persons indifferent about Arianism; Arians not Christians, because sectaries always take the name of their founder…

10. Which of the two theologies sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Son of the Father, this which you vomited forth, or that which we have spoken and maintain from the Scriptures? If the Saviour be not God, nor Word, nor Son, you shall have leave to say what you will, and so shall the Gentiles, and the present Jews. But if He be Word of the Father and true Son, and God from God, and 'over all blessed for ever,' is it not becoming to obliterate and blot out those other phrases and that Arian Thalia, as but a pattern of evil, a store of all irreligion, into which, whoso falls, 'knows not that giants perish with her, and reaches the depths of Hades ?' … (Athanasius, Discourse 1 Against the Arians)

1-5. The substantiality of the Word proved from Scripture. If the One Origin be substantial, Its Word is substantial. Unless the Word and Son be a second Origin, or a work, or an attribute (and so God be compounded), or at the same time Father, or involve a second nature in God, He is from the Father's Essence and distinct from Him. Illustration of John 10:30, drawn from Deuteronomy 4:4.

1. The Word is God from God; for 'the Word was God,' and again, 'Of whom are the Fathers, and of whom Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.' And since Christ is God from God, and God's Word, Wisdom, Son, and Power, therefore but One God is declared in the divine Scriptures. For the Word, being Son of the One God, is referred to Him of whom also He is; so that Father and Son are two, yet the Monad of the Godhead is indivisible and inseparable. And thus too we preserve One Beginning of Godhead and not two Beginnings, whence there is strictly a Monarchy. And of this very Beginning the Word is by nature Son, not as if another beginning, subsisting by Himself, nor having come into being externally to that Beginning, lest from that diversity a Dyarchy and Polyarchy should ensue; but of the one Beginning He is own Son, own Wisdom, own Word, existing from It. For, according to John, 'in' that 'Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,' for the Beginning was God; and since He is from It, therefore also 'the Word was God.' And as there is one Beginning and therefore one God, so one is that Essence and Subsistence which indeed and truly and really is, and which said 'I am that I am,' and not two, that there be not two Beginnings; and from the One, a Son in nature and truth, is Its own Word, Its Wisdom, Its Power, and inseparable from It. And as there is not another essence, lest there be two Beginnings, so the Word which is from that One Essence has no dissolution, nor is a sound significative, but is an essential Word and essential Wisdom, which is the true Son. For were He not essential, God will be speaking into the air, and having a body, in nothing differently from men; but since He is not man, neither is His Word according to the infirmity of man. For as the Beginning is one Essence, so Its Word is one, essential, and subsisting, and Its Wisdom. For as He is God from God, and Wisdom from the Wise, and Word from the Rational, and Son from Father, so is He from Subsistence Subsistent, and from Essence Essential and Substantive, and Being from Being. (Discourse 4 Against the Arians)


10. For this reason they also will henceforth keep silence, who once said that He who proceeded from Mary is not very Christ, or Lord, or God. For if He were not God in the Body, how came He, upon proceeding from Mary, straightway to be called 'Emmanuel, which is being interpreted God with us ?' Why again, if the Word was not in the flesh, did Paul write to the Romans 'of whom is Christ after the flesh, Who is above all God blessed for ever. Amen?' Let them therefore confess, even they who previously denied that the Crucified was God, that they have erred; for the divine Scriptures bid them, and especially Thomas, who, after seeing upon Him the print of the nails, cried out 'My Lord and my God !' For the Son, being God, and Lord of glory, was in the Body which was ingloriously nailed and dishonoured; but the Body, while it suffered, being pierced on the tree, and water and blood flowed from its side, yet because it was a temple of the Word was filled full of the Godhead. For this reason it was that the sun, seeing its creator suffering in His outraged body, withdrew its rays and darkened the earth. But the body itself being of mortal nature, beyond its own nature rose again by reason of the Word which was in it; and it has ceased from natural corruption, and, having put on the Word which is above man, has become incorruptible. (Letter 59. To Epictetus)

With the foregoing in the background it is fair to say that as early as the second century Christians took Romans 9:5 as a text referring to Jesus as God, and placed this citation in contexts replete with other Biblical acclamations to Christ’s Deity. The fact that some of them such as Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Novatian, and Cyprian – individuals who wrote and thought in Koine Greek, the language of the NT – quoted Romans 9:5 to establish Christ's Deity carries very strong weight since they used the language everyday and would therefore understand what the verse meant.

We now turn to the next section where we will use the argument of those who deny that Paul taught that Jesus is God in Romans 9:5 to show how this objection adversely affects the sovereignty of God the Father.


Is the Father Lord? How the objections of scholars and critics prove too much

Throughout his letters Paul typically calls Jesus Lord or kyrios. Rarely does this blessed Apostle apply this title to God the Father. In fact, Paul expressly says that there is one Lord, namely Jesus Christ:

“… and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6b

Since Paul’s habitual pattern is to use Lord for Jesus, and not for the Father, we should therefore take the following texts as places where the Apostle further calls Jesus both Lord and God: 

“David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.’” Romans 4:6-8

Jesus is the Lord God who justifies.

“What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath —prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea: ‘I will call them “my people” who are not my people; and I will call her “my loved one” who is not my loved one,’ and, ‘It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” they will be called “sons of the living God.”’ Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.’ It is just as Isaiah said previously: ‘Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.’” Romans 9:22-29

The God who chose to save the Gentiles and show them mercy by making them his people is the Lord Jesus.

“I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah – how he appealed to God against Israel: ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me’? And what was God's answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’” Romans 11:1-4

The Lord Jesus was the God who spoke to Elijah and informed him that he had reserved a remnant of seven thousand Israelites who did not worship the false god Baal.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36

Jesus is the Lord whose mind cannot be fully known, and he is the God whose wisdom, knowledge and judgments are beyond tracing out. In fact, Paul quotes this very same OT text in relation to believers being given the mind of Christ in order to know the things that God has in store for them:

“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,’ God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-16

Here are some additional examples where God and Lord are used together:

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

The Lord Jesus is the God who repays the wicked with wrath.

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’” 1 Corinthians 3:18-20

Jesus Christ, the Lord God, makes the wise foolish and catches them in their craftiness.

“Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.” 1 Corinthians 7:17

Christ the Lord is the God who calls people to perform specific tasks by assigning them their respective ministries. 

“For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: ‘“As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.”’ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:7-12

In light of Paul’s consistent usage of the word Lord for Jesus one can argue that the Apostle is again referring to Jesus as both Lord and God here, especially when in this very same context he expressly calls him the Lord of the living and the dead. The plausibility of this explanation becomes more clearly evident when we take into account that Paul elsewhere mentions that all will appear before Christ’s judgment seat:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

And that everyone will bow before Jesus and confess him as Lord:

“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

With that just said, it is apparent that Paul in Romans 14 is referring to both God the Father and Jesus Christ, and is therefore applying the title Lord to both of them. It is also obvious that in all the rest of the examples we referenced the inspired Apostle was using the word Lord in relation to the Father since he is the God whom Paul was speaking of, not Christ.  

What the preceding verses show is that the context is crucial in determining the meaning of words and their precise application. One cannot simply overturn the plain meaning of any given text by an appeal to a writer’s normal usage of a given word, i.e. Paul could not be calling Jesus theos when he normally uses that term for God the Father. After all, if this principle is to be applied consistently then we would have to conclude that in all of the above citations Paul could not have been using the word kyrios or Lord for the Father since he normally uses this term for the risen and exalted Christ. And since Paul expressly stated that there is one Lord, namely Jesus Christ, with the NT further saying that Jesus is our ONLY Sovereign Master and Lord:

“For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (kai ton monon despoten kai kyrion hemon ‘Iesoun Christon).” Jude 1:4

We must therefore conclude that the blessed Apostle was identifying Christ as both Lord and God in all of these verses. Hence, this overturns the objection that, apart from Romans 9:5, the Apostle never used theos in respect to Christ in any of his undisputed letters since all of the foregoing passages are examples where Paul applied this very word to the risen and exalted Lord of glory!  

We now come to the conclusion of the first part of the discussion. Please move on to the second part since we will spend the entire article further addressing this main objection that Paul never calling Jesus theos.