by Alessandro Lima

English version by Bruno Valadão.

Was Jesus God?

 

That Jesus was a man, that is, born of a woman, as St. Paul also said (cf. Gal 4: 4) I believe that no one disagrees.

 

The Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ is expressed in the Scriptures in several places. Let us first take a look at the Gospel of St. John:

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were done by him, and without him nothing was done of what was done. […] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten son of the Father, full of grace and truth. ” (Jo 1,1-14).

 

Here St. John writes very clearly that the Word, that is, Jesus, became incarnate and dwelt among us and that this same Word was with God and was God. Here Christ’s eternity is expressed, his pre-existence before time and created things, and these only came to be through Him.

 

The Word was with God not as something foreign to Him and with Him, but in Him, in a community of life and love. In fact, Christ himself also confirms this by saying: “I left the Father and came into the world: now I leave the world and return to the Father” (Jn 16:28).

 

Jesus on some occasions also speaks of his pre-existence in Eternity. In conversation with the Jews he said: “Truly, truly, I assure you: before Abraham existed, I am.” (Jn 8,58). John the Baptist confesses: “This was the one I said: what will come after me is greater than me, because it existed before me” (Jn 1,15).

 

Paul on several occasions wrote about the Divinity of Jesus:

 

“Christ [who is descended from the Patriarchs], according to the flesh, who is above all things. Blessed God for all centuries. Amen ”(Rm 9,5).

 

“Have the same feeling in you that Jesus Christ had; He, precisely because he was equal to God, did not consider this equality as usurpation, but annihilated himself by taking on the aspect of a servant, becoming similar to men, and being recognized by condition as a man ”(Phil 2,6-7).

 

The above excerpt from the Letter to the Philippians has a great parallel with the prologue to the Gospel of St. John, since it confesses the Divinity of Christ, the Word of God, equal to God, therefore God himself and despite all this, became incarnate and made become a man. Still:

 

“Many times and in many ways, God once spoke to our parents through the prophets; but lately he spoke to us for his Son, who was heir to everything, for whom he also created the world ”(Heb 1,1-2).

 

Another parallel of the Paul’s text with John’s Gospel is that all things were done through Christ. There, St. John says that “All things were done by him [Jesus] and without him nothing was done” (cf. Jn 1,3) and here St. Paul says that Jesus “created the world” (cf. Hb 1.2). Now, we read in Genesis that creation is the work of God (cf. Gen 1: 1-28) and if all things were made through Jesus and without Him nothing was done, therefore Jesus is God.

 

St. Paul also says:

 

“Because the grace of God, the source of salvation, was manifested to all men. It teaches us to renounce impurity and worldly lusts, to live in the present century with all sobriety, justice and piety, in expectation of our happy hope and the glorious manifestation of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ ”(Tit 2,11 -13).

 

The biblical testimonies above prove not only the Divinity of Christ, but his distinction from the Person of the Father.

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, refuse the divinity of the Son because of the following words from Christ to the Apostles: “I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than me” (Jn 14,18). Now, Jesus was on earth as a man, emptied as St. Paul said of himself (cf. Phil 2,7), but he should return to Eternity, where the Father is. It is in this sense, merely human, that the Father is greater than the Son. The Scriptures cannot contradict itself, nor can an exception be taken as a rule. In the same way, St. Paul explains that the Son was smaller than the Angels (cf. Heb 2,7), but this according to his humanity. And in another place, according to his divinity, he places him above them (cf. Heb 1,5-14).

 

In the same way, Christ himself defines himself as Lord of David and Son of David when he says:

 

“What do you think about Christ? Whose son is it? They answered him: David. And Jesus answered them and said: How then David, under inspiration, calls him Lord, saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand’ [Ps 109,1] ”(Mt 22,42-44) .

 

Here Jesus refers to the prophecy of King David, where he confesses that the Messiah is his Lord. But only God is Lord! So how could the Messiah be God and son (descendant) of David? Now, God according to his divine nature, son according to his human nature!

 

The error of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not original, but is taken from the ancient doctrine of Arius, and which, because it is so contrary to the doctrine received from the Holy Apostles, was fought and banned by the first Christians as heresy: Aryan heresy [1].

 

Is Mary the Mother of God?

 

Well, being the Person of Jesus divine and human, that is, a single person, but endowed with two distinct natures, it follows that she is Mary Most Holy Mother of God. Not the mother of divinity, not the mother of the Father or the Holy Spirit, not the Mother of the Divinity of Christ, but the mother of the man Jesus who is also God.

 

We read in the Prophet Isaiah:

 

“Thus, the same Lord will give you a sign: behold, a virgin will conceive, and bear a son, and his name will be Emmanuel [God with us].” (Is 7.14).

 

The Prophet clearly declares that the virgin’s child will be divine, hence, the Virgin’s motherhood is also divine, which makes her a Mother of God, as she is the mother of the divine Son of God. She is the mother of the man Jesus Christ who is also God.

 

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Izabel greeted Maria, saying: “Where do you say that the mother of my Lord will come to me”? (Lc 1.43). Now, Mother of my Lord means Mother of my God, therefore, Mother of God.

 

One could say that the Risen Jesus does not have the same body as before he was crucified, so Mary is not the Mother of Jesus, since after being resurrected he was again of an entirely divine nature. This is the opinion of Jehovah’s Witnesses that repeats the ancient error of Christian Gnostics. For them, matter is essentially bad, because it was created by a bad god, called demiurge, who aims – according to them – to enslave God’s creatures in the material world. Therefore, they did not believe in the incarnation of the Word and consequently neither in its resurrection in the material body. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century) wrote an extensive work entitled “Against Heresies” [2] where he brilliantly combats this doctrine strange to that received from the Holy Apostles. This work is divided into 5 books and in the last one he makes a defense of the flesh created by God and given to the creatures, especially to men dealing with Adam created in the flesh and being perfect, speaks of the Prophet Elijah who was raised to the heavens in his flesh (figure of the risen Christ?) and other examples until reaching the incarnation and resurrection of Christ.

 

To deny that Christ was resurrected in his material body is to deny his incarnation and the redemption of mankind. For if Christ did not rise in the flesh, he did not return to humanity its lost dignity. However, Our Lord adopted for Himself our fragile nature to uplift it, to overcome death in it.

 

Christ is resurrected as the first among those who will be resurrected (cf. Col 1,18) and all are resurrected in their bodies:

 

“So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable and rises imperishable; If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body; it is sown in dishonor and is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness and is raised in power; a natural body is sown and a spiritual body is resurrected. ” (1 Cor 15,42-44)

 

With the expression “spiritual body” St. Paul means “glorified body”, “body that will no longer suffer death or illness or aging”, because a spirit has no body. Indeed, even after being resurrected, Jesus could be touched (cf. Jn 20,27) and could hold things (cf. Lk 24,30).

 

Thereafter, the Resurrection of Christ did not annihilate His human nature, but made it even more excellent, just as Faith does not nullify reason, but elevates it, just as Grace does not nullify nature but leads it to perfection!

 

In this way, just as we receive the human nature of our mothers (and fathers) and even after the resurrection we will continue to be their children, so it is with Christ and his Holy Mother, where this is even after the resurrection of his Divine Son, it remains the Mother of Emmanuel (cf. Is 7,4), Mother of the Lord (cf. Lk 1,43), finally Mother of God.

 

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] We recommend the book “History of Heresies” by Roque Frangiotti, Ed. Paulus.

[2] Available in Portuguese at the Patristic Collection Vol. 4. Ed. Paulus.

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