Jesus is God/ Yahweh (Matthew)[1]

Immanuel, “God with Us” (Matthew 1:22 – 23).

John the Baptist: “Prepare the way for Yahweh” (Matthew 3:3; 11:10; Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1).

Jesus as Judge of the world (Matthew 3:11 – 12).

Jesus has authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:1 – 8; cf. Mark 2:1 – 12).

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8).[2]

See below “The Son of Man.”

Baptism into “the name” (singular) of the Triune God (Matthew 28:18 – 20).

Jesus is “the Son of God”

23 times Jesus is referred to as “the Son of God” in the Gospels[3], and 10 times God calls him “my son” either directly, or in a parable[4].

Only a human being can be a son of God. The title “Son of God” doesn’t mean the same thing as saying Jesus is God. A son of God is one who has the right (being his image) to rule over God’s creation as vicegerent.[5]

And God blessed them and God said to them, “Bear fruit and be numerous and fill the land and subdue it, and rule the fish of the sea and the bird of the sky and every living thing that creeps on the land.” (Genesis 1:28)

“Son of God” as head of humanity: Adam initially held this office (Luke 3:38), but rebelled and handed his dominion over to Satan (Luke 4:5 – 7). He became a vassal of Satan and so an enemy of God.

God promised the woman a son who would bring God’s people back under his lordship, and out from under that of Satan, sin and death (Genesis 3:15).

And I will put the line separating enemies between you and the woman, and between her offspring and your offspring. He will hit you on the head and you will hit him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15)[6]

That is to say that God will bring people back onto God’s side, leaving those loyal to Satan on the other side as their enemies. The way to kill a snake is to crush its head. The offspring of the woman will destroy Satan’s regime. In the process, the snake will strike his heel. This is a picture of a man getting bitten by a snake in the process of stomping on its head. The man will die. The man who fulfilled this promise is Jesus. Those who sought to kill him (and his people) are later identified, in cartoon form, with the snake/ dragon (Revelation 12).

God identified Israel as his firstborn son.[7] The king who would come through the line of Abraham, Israel, Judah,[8] and David,[9] is identified as God’s son.

The terms “my son”, “my king” and “my anointed one” identify the same office and person in Psalm 2.

Jesus was the son of the woman who fulfilled God’s promise to Eve. He inherited the throne of David. He is the Israel of God.[10] He took back Adam’s place as vicegerent and head of a new humanity. He is the last Adam.[11] All who repent and put their faith in him are entitled to be called “children of God.”[12] When speaking to his disciples Jesus repeatedly referred to God as “your Father”[13] and “our Father.”[14] When speaking to his enemies he identified Satan as “your father.”[15]

The title “Son of God” is used polemically throughout the Bible against the fraudulent claims of other powers and authorities. Thus:

Polytheism: e.g., Canaanite myths: the gods on Mt Hermon are depicted as having sex and producing more gods and families of gods. “The council of the gods”[16] included El, his wives, one of whom is Asherah, and their offspring, which included Mot (death), Baal etc. Jesus’s transfiguration probably occurred on the Mt Hermon ridge that rises from Caesarea Philippi,[17] a significant place for God to affirm “This is my son.”

Divine kings: ancient dynasties claimed absolute rule on the basis that they were offspring of the gods, including the Pharaohs of Egypt (Rameses means “offspring of Ra;” Thutmosis means “offspring of Thoth”); Syria (Ben Hadad means “son of Hadad”), so also the kings of Babylon,[18] Tyre,[19] Alexander the Great, the Caesars, Herod,[20] through to the modern Emperors of China and Japan (“Son of Heaven”).

Ancient Near Eastern mythology: Stars were thought to pre-exist creation as spiritual powers in the heavens, called sons of God.[21]

Essenes: Believed that angels are sons of God: some were the originators of sin,[22] others would save the elect of the last days. It didn’t work. When the Romans advanced the angels didn’t turn up in AD 70. Their teachings were discredited.

Jesus is the Anointed One/ the Christ/ the Messiah.

Matthew goes to a great deal of trouble to affirm Jesus’s legal title to the throne of David. He could not inherit it by being the biological son of Joseph because if he were, he would have inherited Adam’s sin. He had to be a new man, created by God from the flesh of a woman. To inherit the throne of David, he needed David’s heir to legally take him as his heir. Joseph did that when he took Mary into his house as his wife.

Luke refers Theophilus to the census records where Joseph’s family confirmed his place in the line of David, and the Romans recorded it (Luke 2:1 – 7). He then traces his line of inheritance all the way back to the first son of God, Adam (3:23 – 38).

Anointing involved pouring perfumed oil on a person’s head. This oil represented the Holy Spirit.[23] Kings and priests were anointed to confirm their appointment.[24] There were several stages in appointing a king.

Prophecy –           The prophet is told to prepare to install the king: Saul (1 Samuel 9:15); David (16:1); Jesus (Matthew 3:1 – 12).

Location –           The prophet finds the one the LORD has chosen: Saul (1 Samuel 9:17; 10:1); David (1 Samuel 16:1 – 13); Jesus (Matthew 3:13).

Anointing –         The prophet anoints him with the perfumed oil:[25] Saul (1 Samuel 9:17; 10:1); David (1 Samuel 16:1 – 13); Jesus (Matthew 3:13 – 17).

Demonstrating     The power of the Spirit is with the king – the Holy Spirit comes upon the anointed one and he performs works of miraculous power in defeating the enemies of God and his people Saul (1 Samuel 10:10; 11:1 – 10); David (1 Samuel 17); Jesus (Matthew 3:16).

Acceptance –       The people of God acknowledge that he is the rightful king and pledge their loyalty, Saul (1 Samuel 10:20-21); David (18:5 – 7); Jesus (Matthew 4:25; 21:1 – 11).

Enthronement –   The anointed one takes office and starts to rule as king, Saul (1 Samuel 11:15); David (2 Samuel 2:4; 5:1 – 3); but not Jesus (Matthew 27:1 – 37). His enthronement on earth will come when he returns (Matthew 25:31—46).

Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Jesus’s baptism was about his preparation to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was the first person to receive this gift. The gift of the Holy Spirit is God’s seal[26] identifying a person as a member of his family. Having God, the Holy Spirit dwelling in and with us is the down payment[27] or first fruits of all the blessings God has in store for his people in New Creation.

We may wonder why Jesus would need the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We are very aware that Jesus is God. It is harder to imagine how, as God and man, he chose not to use his prerogatives as God[28] but to work within the same limitations as his people. Jesus’s capacity to be tempted and the integrity of his faithfulness would be violated were he to do otherwise. Jesus did no mighty works prior to his baptism with the Holy Spirit. Just as God’s Spirit empowers his people after Jesus’s ascension. He also empowered Jesus during his public ministry.

At his baptism Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit.[29] He then went out and defeated Satan who tempted him to surrender his rule.[30] He demonstrated his authority by signs and wonders, healing the sick, commanding the wind and waves, and expelling demons. Instead of accepting him as king, the people killed him. He rose and ascended. He is now enthroned in heaven as lord. He will return to judge the world and rule on the earth in New Creation.

Jesus is “the Suffering Servant”

(Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; see Isaiah 42:1). Hebrew ‘ebed Yahweh [servant of Yahweh]; LXX pais kurios [child, servant, houseboy]. At Jesus’s baptism and transfiguration. God the Father identified Jesus as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah’s prophecies (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12) by quoting Isaiah 42:1. Matthew translated “child/ servant/ houseboy” as “son.” The original term “servant” is used of a vassal king. Jesus is the loyal vassal of Yahweh who would suffer and die to pay for the guilt of God’s people who rebelled under Adam.

Jesus is “the Son of Man”

This was Jesus’s preferred title.[31] He is the first person to speak of “the Son of Man.” No-one else used the title when referring to him. In Hebrew, “a son of man”[32] was a way of speaking of any individual man. “The Son of Man” referred to a specific man. Jesus used this title to identify himself with the figure Daniel saw in his vision at Daniel 7:13 – 14. In contrast to the succession of four murderous regimes, pictured as wild beasts,[33] Daniel saw the rise of the Kingdom or regime of God.[34]He saw a figure resembling a human being ascended into heaven on a cloud to be enthroned at the right hand of God. From there he would rule all nations forever. This human figure exercised privileges that belong to God alone. He rides on the clouds of heaven (Isaiah 19:1), and he accepts the worship of the nations (Deuteronomy 6:13; Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8). Jesus identified himself as that Son of Man. As the Son of Man, Jesus claimed the right to forgive sins, which only God can do (Matthew 9:1 – 8; Mark 2:1 – 12). This title confused people (John 12:34).

After his resurrection Jesus fulfilled the vision of Daniel 7:13 – 14 by ascending on the clouds of heaven to be enthroned at the right hand of God the Father.[35] In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter marked this transition. Until his ascension, Jesus was the anointed king (the Christ) but not the enthroned king. Peter said, “Therefore all the house of Israel, know for certain that God has made him Lord, as well as Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”[36]

From that point on Jesus is proclaimed as Lord. Only once is he called “the Son of Man” by someone else (Acts 7:56). In Revelation John saw “one like a son of man” in his vision.[37] This figure was Jesus. His appearance was the same as that of Yahweh whom Ezekiel saw enthroned above the cherubim.[38] Jesus is pictured as the Son of Man returning, as promised, on the clouds of heaven to judge the world.[39]

How can he be all three? (Matthew 16:13 – 20; 17:1 – 13)

The Son of God is king on the earth, ruling over the nations (Psalm 2).

The Suffering Servant dies in the place of sinners (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12).

The Son of Man rules in heaven at the right hand of God the Father (Daniel 7:13 – 14; Acts 1:8 – 10; Revelation 1).

The answer is the resurrection, as Jesus explained to the three as they came down from the mountain (Matthew 17:9), a concept they did not grasp until after it happened.


[1] See “Jesus is Yahweh” at Jesus is YAHWEH – Training for Life Redeemed. In John’s Gospel his identity as Yahweh is expressed in other ways, including, Jesus is “the Word” (John 1); “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58; see also Exodus 3:14); Jesus came down out of heaven into the world (John 6:51; 9:39; 16:28).

[2] Yahweh says that they are “my sabbaths” (Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 19:3, 30; 26:2; Isaiah 56:4; Ezekiel 20:12 – 13, 16, 20 – 21, 24; 22:8, 26; 23:38; 44:24).

[3] Matthew (8 times) 4:3, 6; 8:29; 14:33; 26:63; 27:40, 43, 54; Mark (3 times) 1:1; 3:11; 15:39; Luke (6 times) 1:35; 3:38; 4:3, 9, 41; 22:70; John (6 times) 1:34, 49; 5:25; 11:27; 19:7; 20:31.

[4] Matthew 2:15; 3:17; 17:5; 21:37; Mark 1:11; 9:7; 12:6; Luke 3:22; 9:35; 20:13.

[5] A vicegerent rules in the presence of the king; a viceregent (like our state governors or the governor-general) rules in the absence of the king. God is never absent.

[6] See also 1 Timothy 2:13 – 15 “For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived but the woman, being deceived, crossed the line, but she will be saved through the childbearing, if they remain in faith a love and holiness with wise thinking.”

[7] Exodus 4:22.

[8] Genesis 49:10.

[9] Psalm 2; 2 Samuel 7:14.

[10] Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15.

[11] Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15:45.

[12] Matthew 5:9; John 1:12.

[13] Matthew 5:16, 45; 6:1, 4, 6, 8, 15, 18; 7:11; 10:20, 29; 18:14; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 2:48; 6:36; 12:30, 32; John 8:19, 42; 20:17.

[14] Matthew 6:9.

[15] John 8:38 – 44.

[16] See Psalm 89:6 – 7.

[17] Luke 9:28; Matthew 17:1.

[18] Isaiah 14.

[19] Ezekiel 28.

[20] Acts 12:20 – 23.

[21] Job 38:7; Kokabel. Note that in Genesis 1 stars are objects, not persons, and they were created on Day 4.

[22] 1 Enoch 1 – 17.

[23] See Zechariah 4:1–6.

[24] See Exodus 28:41; 1 Samuel 9:16; 15:1; 16:3, 12.

[25] The recipe is found in Exodus 30:22 – 38.

[26] John 6:27; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30.

[27] 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14. The word is various translated as “earnest” (KJV), “guarantee” (NKJV, ICB, NLT, ESV), “pledge” (NRSV, NASV), “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (NIV), “down payment” (CSB). The NIrV captures the idea well: “The Spirit marks us as God’s own. We can now be sure that someday we will receive all that God has promised.” (Ephesians 1:14).

[28] Philippians 2:5 – 8, noting that Jesus didn’t empty himself of being God. Rather he stepped into experiencing the vulnerability of his people. See also Matthew 26:53; Hebrews 4:15.

[29] See Isaiah 42:1; Luke 3:21–22; John 6:27. See also 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30.

[30] Luke 4:1–14.

[31] Used by Jesus on 49 occasions; appears 83 times in the Gospels. Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40; 13:37, 41; 16:13, 27-28; 17:9, 12, 22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18, 28; 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44; 25:31; 26:2, 24, 45, 64; Mark 2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33, 45; 13:26; 14:21, 41, 62; Luke 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8, 31; 19:10; 21:27, 36; 22:22, 48, 69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13-14; 5:27; 6:27, 53, 62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23, 34; 13:31.

[32] Numbers 23:19; Job 25:6; 35:8; Psalm 8:4; 80:17; 144:3; Isaiah 51:12; 56:2; Jeremiah 49:18, 33; 50:40; 51:43; Dan. 7:13; 8:17. It was God’s way of addressing the prophet Ezekiel (53 times).

[33] Babylon (Daniel 2:31 – 32a; 36 – 38; 7:4, 17), Persia (2:32; 39; 7:5), Greece (2:32, 39; 7:6), and Rome (2:33; 40 – 43; 7:7 – 8).

[34] Daniel 2:34 – 35, 44 – 45; 7:13 – 14, 18 – 27.

[35] Acts 1:8 – 10.

[36] Acts 2:36.

[37] Revelation 1:9 – 18.

[38] Ezekiel 1.

[39] Revelation 1:4 – 8; 14:14.

Grab your notes for this episode by completing the form
and we will send you the link to all our notes.

Follow the podcast

* indicates required