Did Jesus Have to Be God to Save Us?

Did Jesus Have to Be God to Save Us? March 24, 2015

On September 4, 2013, I posted “Jesus Had To Be Made Like His Brothers To Die For The Sins Of All Us Others.” (See below.) But I keep getting comments to the contrary, so I will now blog about this again.

Christians who believe Jesus is God sometimes assert, “Jesus had to be God to save us.” I hear this argument from them more than any other, including offering any particular Bible verse to support their belief. Yet they are not able to offer any rationale for this argument or scriptural support for it.

The author of Hebrews says just the opposite, that Jesus had to be totally man, and thus not God, to save us. He writes, “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers’. . . . For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God” (Heb 2.11-12, 17). But if Jesus was a God-man, he was not like other men. Thus, how could any of them be his brothers since they are not both God and man?

So, the author of Hebrews says Jesus was totally human “in every way.” Yes, Jesus had a Virgin Birth due to his virginal conception, but that doesn’t make him God. It merely allowed him to come into this world without sin, as Adam did. That is why the Apostle Paul calls Jesus “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15.45; cf. Romans 5.14). And Jesus being without sin doesn’t make him God either; rather, it makes him the archetypal human being that God intended humans to be when he made the first two.

Furthermore, Jesus could not have been God because he was tempted. All three synoptic gospels record that Jesus was genuinely tempted by Satan at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry (Matt. 4.1-11; Mark 1.12-13; Luke 4.1-13). And the author of Hebrews again says of Jesus, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb 2.18). And this author soon adds, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (4.15; cf. 7.26). By being sinless, Jesus was qualified to go to the cross to bear our sins and thus become the Lamb of God who can save us. But if Jesus was tempted to sin just as we are, how could he have been God? For Jesus’ own brother in the flesh, James, writes, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1.13).

Not only is this concept–that Jesus had to be God to save us–not in the Bible, it is not in the writings of the earliest post-apostolic church fathers. It appears in the writings of fourth century church father Athanasius, known as the foremost defender of the Nicene Creed of 325 CE. I do not know if it originated with him. But in my opinion, Athansius was not a model Christian with his very caustic rhetoric against Arius, constantly calling him an “ariomaniac” and other degrading words. Sir Isaac Newton (discoverer of gravity) and William Whiston (translator of Josephus’ works)—both brilliant men, friends, and devout Christians who lived mostly in the seventeenth century—wrote a book apiece about Athanasius in which they were extremely critical of him to the point that they did not believe he was a genuine Christian.

So, Jesus had to be fully man to save us. If he was God and man, a God-man, he was not fully man.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kermitzarleyblog/2013/09/jesus-had-to-be-made-like-his-brothers-to-die-for-the-sins-of-all-us-others/#ixzz3VLxw9V7X


To see a list of titles of 130+ posts (2-3 pages) that are about Jesus not being God in the Bible, with a few about God not being a Trinity, at Kermit Zarley Blog click “Chistology” in the header bar. Most are condensations of my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. See my website servetustheevangelical.com, which is all about this book,  with reviews, etc. Learn about my books and purchase them at kermitzarley.com. I was a Trinitarian for 22 years before reading myself out of it in the Bible.

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  • David Kemball-Cook

    Totally agree. I had this argument recently from a trinitarian on CARM.

    I asked him to justify it from scripture, eg Hebrews, but he could not. The best he could do was Melchizedek (I said, “Come back when you have proved that Melchizedek is God”). He had to keep going away from the Bible to make his case.
    In the end, no reply from him.

    They cannot prove it from scripture.

  • Most Christians believe that in Acts 2:21 and Rom. 10:13 (“Those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”) “the Lord” means Jesus. They don’t bother to find out that this is a quote from Joel 2:32, “Those who call on the name of the LORD (Yahweh) will be delivered.”

    • kzarley

      You are not making yourself clear. Are you implying that makes Jesus Yahweh? There are other NT texts that do likewise, such as Phil 2.11/Isa 45.23. People who bend the knee and swear allegiance to Jesus do it also to the one who sent him–Yahweh/God. So, neither of these NT texts say Jesus is Yahweh/God. This phenomenon occurs sometimes even in a single OT text. E.g., Yahweh says “they will look on me, the one whom they have pierced” (Zech 12.10 NIV). Yet it is Jesus (John 19.37). Also, “Then the LORD will go out and fight … On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zech 14.3-4). This is Jesus (Acts 1.9-12), but Zechariah doesn’t mean he is Yahweh. Rather, Jesus is Yahweh’s agent par excellence. All of this and much more of it is in my RJC book.

      • “Are you implying that makes Jesus Yahweh?”
        I was trying to be clear that Jesus is definitely NOT Yahweh. Notice I refer to the two NT verses as QUOTING Joel 2:32. When English Bibles say “the LORD,” the capitalized LORD is Yahweh in the Hebrew, so Yahweh is the ultimate savior, which, by the way, He is called more often in the Bible, OT and NT combined, than Jesus is.

        In the Zechariah quote, again, notice that it is Yahweh himself – NOT Jesus – who will stand on the Mount of Olives. Jesus will return as he went – as a man ascending into the clouds. If he were to stand, as a man, on Olivet, it couldn’t separate very far, could it?

        Phil. 2:11 says that – to the glory of God – every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord – not that he is God. Jesus WILL BE King of kings and Lord of lords, but not until he comes for his kingdom. I think you’d agree that not many kings of the earth would bow to him right now.
        As for Is. 45:23, the Hebrew doesn’t seem to make a distinction that would make that apply only to Yahweh or that it might refer to the Son, so that in Philippians it could apply to either Father or Son.

        • kzarley

          Jesus is the “beginning of the creation of God” (Rev 3.14). “Beginning” translates arche in the Greek text. Arche can mean “ruler,” “source,” or “origin.” See Koester for “ruler” and Osborne and Aune for “origin.” This phrase means that when God planned creation, he had Jesus in mind to be its head, not that Jesus was literally created first or is literally “firstborn” (Col 1.15), which latter refers to him being the first to be resurrected (v. 18). Thus, “all things were made through him” (Jn 1.2), that is, all things were made with him in view as the chosen head of humanity in accordance with God’s plan. He is preeminent in rank. None of it refers to literal preexistence to his physical birth.

    • Guest

      Not so fast. A student of the Bible WOULD absolutely know that Joel 2:32 is quoted in Romans 10:13, and can see no contradiction. Jesus is Yahweh manifest in the flesh – Timothy 3:16. Also, John 1 states that “in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God.’ It then goes on to say that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among men). Romans 10 clearly identifies Jesus as the Lord, hence, to call upon Jesus IS calling upon the Lord. That’s pretty clear. Just because the Old Testament does not ever expressly ascribe the name ‘Jesus’ to the Lord does not negate the full revelation as laid out in the New Testament that Jesus is in fact, The Lord, manifest in the flesh.

      • Strange how some scriptures can be used to identify a doctrine that is otherwise not substantiated by scriptures.
        If you had walked, talked, and lived with a person who you thought was “God in the flesh” ( a phrase not in scripture), wouldn’t you shout it from the rooftops? But none of the writers of the NT died.
        Jesus called himself a man. John called him a man. Paul wrote, “There is one mediator between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus.” THAT’S PLAIN.
        Jesus claimed to be “the beginning of creation.” (Rev. 3:14) HE was the first thing created. “And God SAID, ‘Let there be light.'” God SPOKE and the Word was created. THAT’S how “in the beginning … the Word was with God and the Word WAS God” – as the very sound which God made.

        Paul said (Col. 1:15), Jesus was the “IMAGE of the invisible God, the FIRSTBORN of every CREATURE (created thing).”
        An “image” is not the original. http://webbpage.cwahi.net/HNPV/footnotes.html#image .

  • Virginia

    I’m giving up trying to write a comment, it