Jesus of Nazareth was Yahweh

FullSizeRenderMichael Horton discusses an aspect of Jesus that made him distinct from all the other preceding prophets. Jesus used titles of God from the Old Testament, an act which no prophet had done. To use or take the name or title of God as your own was considered a blasphemous act, a charge that came with the penalty of death. And the writers of the epistles knowing this stated in no uncertain terms, that Jesus was yahweh. They do this in a few different ways but one of them was by considering the titles and names given to Jesus.

Jesus was properly understood as God when he was understood as the fulfillment of the divine titles in the Old Testament. Some examples are:

“But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8 ESV)

This is a well known New Testament text where the writer of Hebrews writes to show the magnificence of Jesus. As a support he demonstrates how the Father addresses the Son as God. The writer of Hebrews interprets Psalm 45 as being fulfilled in Jesus. And therefore discourages the Jewish Christians from leaving the faith and going back to the types and shadows. Hebrews 1:8 cites Psalm 45:6, vs 7 is helpful to consider along with 6

“you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;” (Psalms 45:7 ESV)

Consider how Paul writes in Romans 10 that Jesus is the Lord. He cites a few different Old Testament passages here but one from Joel is of interest for this point. What is contained in the confession of faith now in the New Testament? How has it changed?

“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”” (Romans 10:8–13 ESV)

A reference to what the prophet Joel in the Old Testament writes

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” (Joel 2:32 ESV)

Paul has interpreted Joel more clearly. The one “who calls on name of the Lord will be saved”, writes the Old Testament prophet. Paul writes to clarify that the name of the Lord is Jesus. Therefore all of those who confess that Jesus is Lord will be saved.

One more to consider is the title “first and last” used by Jesus in the book of Revelation

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,” (Revelation 1:17 ESV)

Jesus again is claiming a title that is used in the Old Testament by the King of Israel yahweh

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6 ESV)

There are many more but the point is made. Keeping in mind the Jewish context that this was revealed in shows the magnitude of the statements. Horton puts it succinctly, “Jesus of Nazareth was none other than Israel’s Great King, Yahweh, whose name alone was to be invoked.”