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The Lord Jesus Christ – The God of the heavenly assembly! Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We continue with our discussion of the Biblical witness to Christ being vastly superior to all of the heavenly host (and to creation itself).

The Lord Jesus expressly demanded that all must worship him in the same exact way that they worship the Father!

“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.” John 5:22-23

Notice that the reason Christ gives here for all judgment being entrusted to him is so that all may honor him just as they honor the Father. The Lord doesn’t say that a person must honor him as they do a prophet or their own parents. Rather, he emphatically says that all must honor him the same way that they honor the Father. Yet the way in which individuals are expected to honor the Father is by loving him unconditionally, obeying him perfectly, and praising him ceaselessly through prayers, songs etc.

Jesus’ point is simple and clear. Since the Son is the Judge who will determine the eternal destiny of all individuals every single person must therefore embrace the Son as the object of their unconditional love and devotion if s/he wants to be saved.

The Father even commands his entire heavenly host to worship his unique and beloved Son in the same way that they worship God:

“So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’” Hebrews 1:4-6

The author of Hebrews applies to Christ an OT text where the angels or the gods of the nations are commanded to worship Yahweh!

Since it is not completely certain whether the inspired writer is citing from the Greek version of Deuteronomy or the Psalms we have decided to include both passages so that the readers can see the connection with the gods worshiping Yahweh and to the worship given to Christ:

“Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.” Deuteronomy 32:43 LXX (see also the Dead Sea Scrolls [DSS])

The Lord reigns, let the earth exult, let many islands rejoice. Cloud, and darkness are round about him; righteousness and judgment are the establishment of his throne. Fire shall go before him, and burn up his enemies round about… Let all that worship graven images be ashamed, who boast of their idols; worship him, all ye his angels... For thou art Lord most high over all the earth; thou art greatly exalted above all gods.” Psalm 96[Heb.97]:1-3, 7, 9 LXX

There are other passages which exhort the heavenly host to praise and worship Yahweh:

“Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty (beney elim), Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array.” Psalm 29:1-2 NASB

“Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts.” Psalm 148:1-2

“You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” Nehemiah 9:6

What all of the above passages show is that the members of the heavenly council are expected to worship the Lord Jesus in the same way that they worship Yahweh!

In fact, God expects every created being to worship the Lord Jesus:

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:8-14

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! 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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

In this citation, the Apostle Paul has adopted the language of a specific OT passage concerning worshiping and glorifying Yahweh and applied it to Christ!

According to the prophet Isaiah, a time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess to Yahweh in acknowledgement that he alone is God and a righteous Savior:

“Declare what is to be, present it—let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.” Isaiah 45:21-23

Paul, however, believed that this prophecy would be fulfilled on the day when every knee bows to and confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

The very fact that every created thing worships Christ proves that he is not a creature, but is personally separate and distinct from all creation. The above texts clearly depict Jesus as being on the Creator side of the Creator/creature divide! Noted NT scholar Richard Bauckham helps to put this in its historical and theological perspective:

5.5. Worshipped by angels and all creation

A series of texts concerned with Jesus’ enthronement in heaven portray the worship given him specifically by all the heavenly beings (Heb. 1:6; Ascen. Isa. 10:15; 11:23-32; Ap. Jas. 14:26-30). That this worship is due to God ALONE is clear from the context of Jesus’ enthronement on God’s own heavenly throne, the symbol of the unique divine sovereignty over all things. It should be noted that it goes further than the very limited worship accorded the Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch, who is worshiped by neither angels nor by any other part of the non-human creation, but only by the wicked at the day of judgment. The Christian texts draw out the full consequences of Jesus’ exaltation to the divine throne, AND DELIBERATELY DEPLOY THE STRONGEST JEWISH THEOLOGICAL MEANS OF PLACING JESUS EMPHATICALLY ON THE DIVINE SIDE OF THE LINE BETWEEN THE ONE GOD OF ISRAEL AND THE REST OF REALITY, HIS CREATION. It is worship by the angels that differentiates God absolutely from them; it is worship by the whole creation that differentiates God absolutely from all other reality. However we may evaluate the evidence adduced for some kind of veneration of angels in some parts of Second Temple Judaism, NO ANGEL is worshiped by other angels in Second Temple Jewish literature.

In Second Temple Judaism, there was not a continuous spectrum of reality through which a developing Christology could gradually move Jesus until he eventually shared the divine identity. There was a gulf that Christology could cross only by seeing that Jesus surpassing all at once every heavenly creature and, seated on the throne of God, receiving their worship as God does. These texts place Jesus unequivocally within the unique divine identity. (Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel – God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], 5. The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus, pp. 178-179; capital and underline emphasis ours)


Examination of the New Testament texts that offer theological rationale for the worship of Jesus thus confirms our argument. Worship is given to Jesus precisely as recognition of characteristics of the divine identity that were regarded in Second Temple Judaism as distinguishing the uniqueness of the one God. The worship of Jesus serves to focus in conceptuality, as well as making most obvious in religious practice, the inclusion of Jesus in the unique identity of the one God of Jewish monotheism. It was not only the natural religious response of Jewish Christians to the status they perceived the exalted Jesus to have and the role he played in their religious experience and life. It was also reflectively understood in the context of Jewish monotheistic understanding of God. (P. 181; underline emphasis ours)

This not only explains why all creation is expected to glorify and honor the Son in the same way they exalt the Father, but also helps us understand why the NT writers could apply to Christ specific OT passages which refer to the Person and work of Yahweh. These authors must have believed that Jesus is actually Yahweh God the Son who is identical to the Father in essence.

Jesus’ superiority over the heavenly council is further seen from the fact that he shares in God’s own unique rule over all creation.

The Scriptures teach that angels are created to serve God and those who inherit salvation. The Son, however, is depicted as the God who rules forever from the Father’s right hand, with all of creation being subject to his power and dominion!

“… After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven … In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.’ But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’ … To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Hebrews 1:3, 6-9, 13-14

“Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.” Hebrews 8:1-2 – cf. 10:12; 12:2

“and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ 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 name that is invoked, 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 1:19-23

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21

He is the head over every power and authority … Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 2:10, 3:1

“… It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” 1 Peter 3:21b-22

The NT further claim that Christ is actually ruling from the heavenly throne of God!

“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth … She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.’ And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne … Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.’” Revelation 12:1-2, 5, 10

This explains why the inspired Scriptures state that every created thing is subject to Christ’s authority since to be seated at God’s right hand is to be seated on God’s very own throne. In other words, Christ has been exalted to the highest position of authority in all of reality, an authority which belongs to God alone!

As Bauckham explains:

3.4. Conclusion

In Second Temple Judaism, then, the throne of God in the highest heaven became a key symbol of monotheism, representative of one of the essential characteristics definitive of the divine identity. While a few traces of other enthroned figures associated with God’s rule can be found, the subordination of such figure to God’s rule is almost always stressed, while the overwhelming trend of the literature is towards emptying heaven of all thrones except God’s. There is no indication that this was controverted issue, as it was later in rabbinic discussions of Daniel 7:9 and of Metatron. The uniqueness of the heavenly throne of God belongs to the logic of the monotheism that dominated common Judaism in the Second Temple period. (Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, 5. The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus, 3. The Heavenly Throne of God, p. 164; underline emphasis ours)


5. Jesus on the heavenly throne of God

When New Testament Christology is read within the context of the understanding of the Second Temple Jewish monotheism we have sketched, it can be readily seen that EARLY Christians applied to Jesus all the well-established and well-recognized characteristics of the unique divine identity in order, quite clearly and precisely, TO INCLUDE JESUS IN THE UNIQUE IDENTITY OF THE ONE GOD OF ISRAEL. Primary among these characteristics was the unique sovereignty over all things. From the EARLIEST post-Easter Christology that we can trace, Jesus’ exaltation was understood as his sharing the divine rule over the cosmos. Other uniquely divine characteristics followed logically and SWIFTLY, notably Jesus’ participation in the work of creation. Worship of Jesus, as his inclusion in the monotheistic worship DUE EXCLUSIVELY TO THE ONE GOD, followed as the NECESSARY recognition of his inclusion in the divine identity, again primarily in recognition of his exercise of the unique divine sovereignty from the heavenly throne of God. In the present context, we must restrict our interest to the main features of the New Testament’s understanding of Jesus’ exaltation to the divine throne. (Ibid., p. 172; capital and underline emphasis ours)

5.3. Divine sovereignty over all things

That it is on God’s own heavenly throne itself, the throne of glory, that Jesus sits beside God is explicit in some of the texts (Heb. 8:1; 12:2; Rev. 3:21; 5:6; 7:17; 22:3) and should probably be assumed for all. Partly with the exegetical help of Psalm 8:6, this participation in God’s cosmic rule is frequently expressed by the formulae ‘all things’ or ‘heaven and earth’ (or fuller cosmic formulae) or, for emphasis, both. This language, constantly used of God’s relationship with his creation in Second Temple Jewish texts, is significant because IT IS THE WAY THAT JEWISH MONOTHEISM DISTINGUISHES GOD FROM ALL OTHER REALITY (‘all things’), AS CREATOR AND RULER OF ALL. By including Jesus in the full cosmic scope of God’s sovereignty, New Testament terminology places Jesus CLEARLY ON THE DIVINE SIDE OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND ‘ALL THINGS.’ While Daniel 7:14 and Psalm 2:8 provided the basis for thinking of a universal rule on earth of the Messiah (Sib. Or. 5:416; 1 En. 62:6), it is the cosmic scope of Christ’s sovereignty which places it in that unique category which his enthronement on the divine throne in the highest heaven symbolizes. OF NO PRINCIPAL ANGEL OR EXALTED HUMAN IN SECOND TEMPLE JEWISH TEXTS IS IT SAID THAT HE HAS AUTHORITY OVER ALL THINGS OR OVER HEAVEN AND EARTH.

Another way in which the fully cosmic rule of the exalted Christ is stressed is by reference to the subjection of all the heavenly powers to him. The texts portray the submission both of the rebellious angelic powers (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Ascen. Isa. 11:23) and of the obedient ones (Eph. 1:20-21; 1 Pet. 3:22; Ascen. Isa. 11:24-32; cf. Rev. 5:11-14; Ep. Apos. 3). It is noteworthy that specific ranks of angels are those in high authority in the heavens: ‘principalities’ (archai: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21), ‘authorities’ (exousiai: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:22), ‘powers’ (dunameis: Eph. 1:21; 1 Peter 3:22) and ‘dominions’ (kuriotetes: Eph. 1:21).

5.4. In the heights of heaven

The imagery of height, which we have seen to be important in depictions of the divine throne, also reinforces the New Testament picture of Jesus’ participation in the unique divine sovereignty. He ascended ‘far above all the heavens’ (Eph. 4:10), ‘far above every principality and authority and power and dominion and every name which is named’ (Eph. 1:21). He ‘sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs’ (Heb. 1:3-4). God ‘highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name’ (Phil. 2:9). These three passages are linked by the motif of height applied both to the divine throne which is higher than all the heavens and to the name which is higher than all other names. Probably in all three cases, it should be understood that Jesus, seated on the divine throne above every angelic authority, also receives the divine name, which is far superior to all the names by which God alone names all the host of heaven. These various ways of stating Jesus’ absolute supremacy over all the angels need not be understood as polemical in any way. They simply apply to Jesus the well-recognized ways in which God himself on his heavenly throne was understood as absolutely supreme over all his angelic creatures. (Ibid., pp. 176-178; capital and underline emphasis ours)

The God-breathed Scriptures further testify that God sent Christ to destroy and disarm the powers of darkness in order to set men free from the oppression and condemnation brought upon by Satan and his hosts:

“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.” Matthew 4:24 ESV

“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’ Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, ‘There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.’ The Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’ When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.” Luke 13:10-17

“You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” Acts 10:37-38

“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” Acts 26:15-18

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:13-15

“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:8

Hence, Jesus does what Psalm 82 exhorts God to do, namely, to rise up in judgment against the so-called gods and destroy them for their wickedness and corruption!

The risen Lord has even taken possession of the entire earth, in fact of all creation, so as to insure that the world to come will no longer be subject to angels but to the ransomed believers of God!

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: ‘What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.’ In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again he says, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’ Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:5-18

Concluding Remarks

It is abundantly clear from our discussion that, as far as the inspired Scriptures are concerned, Jesus Christ is not a mere spirit creature whom God has exalted above his fellow created spirit “brothers.” Rather, Jesus Christ is the unique divine Son of God who is infinitely superior to all creation. According to the Holy Bible, Christ is fully God in nature and therefore identical to the Father in relation to the Divine essence. The risen Lord is the divine King of all creation and the Agent who created and sustains all things by his powerful word. The NT writings even go so far as to proclaim that all creation exists for God’s beloved Son! The Scriptures also affirm that God expects every creature to worship and glorify his unique Son in the same way that they honor and praise him. Such an honor could never be given to a mere creature, no matter how exalted, since this would be blasphemous and idolatrous, i.e. worshiping a creature in the same exact way that God is to be worshiped is to rob God of the glory which he alone deserves and is to receive.

Thus, even if Psalm 82 was referring to the so-called gods of the divine council this still wouldn’t establish that Jesus is just like them, another created spirit son who has been given the privilege to rule over the rest of the council members. Therefore, the anti-Trinitarians need to come up with a far better argument than this one since this fails to establish their heretical and unbiblical position.

Jesus Christ is Yahweh to the glory of God the Father forever! Amen.

Unless stated otherwise, all scriptural quotations were taken from the 2011 updated edition of the New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible.

Continue with the Appendix: The Lord Jesus Christ – The God whose glory the OT saints beheld

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