When you are done reading this portion of the text proceed to Part Two by clicking on the appropriate link.
CHRISTOLOGY IN THEOLOGY
Whenever we talk about
theology we are generally referring to the study and the understanding of God, specifically being the orthodox and traditional
Christian identification of God in the Holy Bible. In its restricted sense theology means the Doctrine of God. That study and understanding is in theory divided in categories that include but are not limited to; who God is as an equal
member of the Godhead Trinity, what He has done, what He is doing and what His intentions are.
As we further dissect
our theological studies we would obviously come to the study of the Christ or a branch of Christian theological studies called
“Christology”. In common Christian study and discussion we refer to “the Christ” as Jesus, Jesus Christ
or even Christ Jesus.
theology (straight and truthful doctrine) is generally defined as Trinitarian in nature. That means that the Godhead is made
up of three distinct persons operating mutually together in complete compound unity. A functional Trinitarian assessment would
be to say that God the Father is our Creator, God the Son is our Redeemer and God the Holy Spirit is our Sustainer. They are
all one in purpose and function but work in compound unity as three distinct persons.
The opposing viewpoint
of such a Trinitarian belief would be Modalism, or its contemporary twist called the “Oneness” doctrine often
found in some Pentecostal / Charismatic denominations which holds that there is only one God (one person) which appears in
three modes or has three varying aspects to His existence as one person.
Let us examine more
closely the Trinitarian Godhead through an orthodox perspective and look at the theology of Jesus the Christ, the “Second
person of the Trinity” as He is commonly referred to in theologically descriptive terms. The person of Jesus Christ
is the central focus of the entire canon of Scripture, both the Old Testament and the New Testament. To know Jesus the Christ
personally and intimately is to know God the Father personally and intimately. To experience the person of Jesus the Christ
inwardly is to be filled with (His) the Holy Spirit.
One might ask why I have referred to the
Lord Jesus Christ as “Jesus the Christ”. It is because He is the Christ, (Strong’s Concordance Greek word
# 5547) “Christos”  which means He is the anointed One, or from a Jewish prophetic Old Testament vantage point, the “Messiah”.
The term “Christ” is not a surname or as we in the Western culture would perceive a family identification name
such as “Miller” or “Smith” or “Jones”. Benjamin B. Warfield says “ ‘Christ’
is not a personal name, but the Greek rendering of the Hebrew title
‘Messiah’ ” .Theoretically we should refer to Him as “Jesus the Christ”, because
Christ is His positional title. He is the Christ, the anointed “One”, the “Messiah” of God. However,
we have commonly referred to our Savior as Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus, or the Lord Jesus Christ. This is because of the
various English translations of Scripture we have become familiar reading and studying from have typically omitted the article
“the” for ease of reading. Warfield goes on to say of the earliest Christians that “They had made so much
of His Messiahship in speaking of Him that the title “Christ” had actually usurped the place of His personal name,
and He was everywhere known simply as “Christ”. 
There are actually
many descriptive titles or names given for Jesus the Christ in the New Testament canon of scripture. Let’s examine some
of the most predominant ones found in our Christological studies.
TITLES FOR JESUS THE CHRIST
In Luke Mary the mother of Jesus is confronted by an angelic appearance
and told that her “holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” (NASB). This descriptive title literally means
that Jesus Christ is the Son (descendent) of God the Father. This is a relational description between God the Father and God
the Son (Jesus the Christ).
In Matthew Jesus refers to Himself in a descriptive title
when He says “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
He calls Himself the “Son of Man”, not to be confused with an Old Testament identification of prophets “son
of Man”. By this descriptive title Jesus is referring to His divine conception in the Virgin Mary, saying that He is
born of humanity, but conceived of God.
In John Andrew proclaims to his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah”. The use
of this descriptive title shows us that His disciples recognized Him as a “messianic” figure in His day, even
thought they might not have understood the depth of that recognition at the initiation of His earthly ministry when this statement
was made. The word “Messiah” is only used four times in the entire Bible,twice in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament. Yet, there are over 320 Messianic prophecies found in the
One of the most important
descriptive titles is the one we have already been discussed to some extent. We see it in a passage often referred to as the
Messianic proclamation in Matthew & 16. Peter has been asked
by Jesus who he (Peter) thinks He (Jesus) is. Peter promptly responds by saying “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the
living God.” This is where the reality of Christ actually being recognized as the “Messiah of God” is very
clear. The use of Greek word “Christos” as we previously discussed is an obvious transliteration from the Hebrew
word (Strong’s Concordance Hebrew word # 4899) “Mashiyach”. Both bear the same definitive language in their two separate languages. A transliteration simply means that
the words of one language are transferred into the symbols or alphabet of another language for easier understanding. Thus,
we come to understand that “Christos” and “Mashiyach” are one in the same definitively. The obvious
English transliterations are Christ and Messiah.
It is Peter’s proclamation
of Jesus as the Christ that Jesus declared on this revelation His church would be built. Matthew Henry comments “The
church is built upon a rock; a firm strong and lasting foundation.” This is not a person, as it has been interpreted by the Roman Catholic tradition regarding the apostle
Peter, but a revealed truth that Peter received from God the Father and proclaimed.
In John Jesus revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman at the well who immediately went into
town and shared her miraculous experience. These Samaritan converts responded in faith with another descriptive title when
they said “and we know that this One is the Savior of the world.” This title of Savior and in specific “of
the world” opens wide the possibilities that Jesus the Christ is the Savior of all mankind, not just a Jewish Messiah.
This concept has a very broad theological implication not only to the “looked-down-upon” Samaritans, but also
the rest of the known world of Gentiles.
Jesus identifies Himself in yet another descriptive title during the week of His passion. He sends His disciples into
Jerusalem to retrieve the donkey that He will make His entry
into Jerusalem on. He gives authority to His disciples by
telling them that they should say to the owner of the donkey that “The Lord has need of Him”. The word Lord is
another word for the word “Master”. This is a positional authority used as a descriptive title by Jesus for Himself.
Jesus is indeed our Lord (master). He is later referred to as the Lord of lords, a
master of all earthly masters, two other
times in the New Testament writings.
The final descriptive
title we will discuss is the title “King”. In I Timothy
Paul describes Jesus as “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings”. This was actually a political title
given to the Caesar of the Roman Empire. In this context it places Jesus the Christ on and
above any earthly kings, giving Him in effect not only all authority over the earthly kingdoms of mankind, but also over all
THE DIVINITY OF JESUS THE
Noted theologian Thomas
C. Oden says “Four elementary scriptural teachings are essential for understanding the distinctive personhood of Christ;
Christ is truly God; He is truly human; He is one person; There are in him two rest of the world, we have a lifelong love
based obligation to fulfill this commission in our own lives as He so empowers us to do so.
The virgin birth of Jesus
is a key doctrine to the understanding of His divine nature. Though the actual doctrine is not explicitly taught in the New
Testament, the factual implication is testified to twice in the gospel accounts. Both in Matthew and in Luke Mary, the earthly mother of
Jesus is identified as a virgin. These plural accounts both testify of her miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, thus
proclaiming the divinity of Jesus.Wayne Grudem comments on the virgin birth
by saying “The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person. If we think for
a moment of other possible ways in which Christ might have come to the earth, none of them would so clearly unite humanity
and deity in one person.”
The faultless and sinless mortal life of Jesus also indicated His divinity in that God is righteous and completely
holy and has absolutely no darkness in Him at all (see: I John 1:5). The apostle Paul testifies to this also in his second
letter to the church at Corinth. Therefore, we are ambassadors
for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who
knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. II Corinthians 5:20-21
An interesting quote
from the Roman Governor Pilate at the trial of Jesus, found in John
rehearses him saying of Christ, “I find no guilt (fault) in Him”. It is just another testimony of the sinless
life of Jesus the Christ.
The very foundational
basis of our faith in Jesus for our salvation is found in the reflection of His divinity in His resurrection from the dead.
In the book The Faith – A History of Christianity, author Brian Moynahan
states “The Resurrection was the beginning of a new religion, for it was the evidence of Christ’s divinity.”The Apostle Paul goes on to say in I Corinthians 15: 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Paul also
tells the church at Rome that they must “believe in
your heart that God
raised Him from the dead” as a mandate
for personal salvation. So the resurrection is not only indicative of the divinity of Jesus, but it is also something that
we must believe took place in order to be recipients of its eternal benefits.
Finally, the divinity
of Christ is displayed clearly in His ascension. To understand His ascension we must also use the descriptive word “exaltation”.
That is the ultimate end and purpose of our Lord’s ascension. We see this clearly implied in Paul’s letter to
the church at Ephesus;These are in accordance with the working of the
strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand
in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in
this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things
to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:19-23
Paul also portrays this
same theme in his epistle of joy to the church at Philippi. In the Fortress Press book titled
Introduction to the New Testament, author Gerd Theissen speaks of Paul’s
statements about Christ’s exaltation in this way; “The fact that Jesus was a man and that he was crucified is
of decisive importance in the letter: here a divine being enters and leaves the human world.” And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death
on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name
of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11
This passage, sometimes
thought to be the earliest hymn of the newly forming Christian church, is clearly used by Paul to show us the incarnation,
act of atonement and ultimate exaltation of Christ in heavenly and supreme importance over all as God.
 George P. Pardington Outline Studies in Christian Doctrine
(Camp Hill PA, Christian Publications 1951)57
 James Strong The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(McLean, VA,McDonald Publishing 1988) 78
 Benjamin B. Warfield Christology & Criticism
(New York, Oxford Press 1932) 149