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Are YAHWEH and Jesus the same?

07-01-2012 - Posted by Andre Piet

Last week I was approached, by different people, about the belief that YAHWEH and the Messiah would be the same Person. Is that true or false? That’s what this blog is about.

YAHWEH speaks to the Messiah

Let me, for the most obvious answer to this question, refer to Psalm 110. There is no passage to be found in the entire Hebrew Bible that is so often quoted in the “New Testament” as this psalm. This eminently Messianic psalm begins with:

The averring of YAHWEH to my Lord (adoni): Sit at My right Until I should set Your enemies as a stool for Your feet. Psalm 110:1 (CLV)

Here we read of the invitation of YAHWEH to “my Lord”, to sit at His right-hand. “My Lord” here is none other than the Messiah, the Son of David, as is abundantly evident from, e.g., Matt.22:42-45; Acts 2:34; Eph.1:20; 1Cor. 15:25; Heb.1:13, 10:12,13. Later in Psalm 110 (:4), Yahweh swears that this exalted Messiah will be priest after the order of Melchizedek. This last name takes us back to Genesis 14:18-20, where we read of the king of Salem, who was also a priest of God, the Most High. So will be the Messiah: not only king, but also priest of the Most High. All this would just be nonsense, if we would have to assume that YAHWEH and the Messiah are the same Ones. The distinction in Psalm 110 between YAHWEH God, and on the other hand, the Lord, is consistently maintained in the NT. Just think of the salutation in virtually all of the epistles, where we read, “grace and peace from GOD our FATHER and of the LORD JESUS Christ“. And concisely, Paul explains in 1 Cor 8:6:

nevertheless for us there is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is, and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ

image of God

If Scripture is so clear in distinguishing between the one God and the Lord Jesus Christ, why is it that people identify these two Persons to be the same? At first sight, the strange answer is that the Scripture, itself, sometimes precedes us into this identification. The problem is that most people have no idea what is hiding behind this. The Son of God, according to Scripture, is the “image of the unseen God” (Col.1:15). The word for “image” in Greek is icon. An icon is a presentation or representation. So we say, pointing to a coin: that is the Queen (cp Mat. 22:20), even though everyone understands that this is not literally true. It is a picture of the queen. Such a figure of speech is correctly called a metaphor. Is the Lord Jesus Christ God? Yes, but not literally. He is the image of God. In theology, ignorance about this has led to the most complex reasoning; with the result that we are stuck with concepts that no one understands. Terms that Scripture does not know, but are the ABC in orthodox theology. Just think of expressions such as ‘trinity’, ‘one being and three persons’, ‘God the Son’, ‘two natures’, etc. However much these terms are canonized, they, nevertheless, merely are all “words of human wisdom”.

the Name above every name!

Because the Son is the “image of the unseen God”, we should also expect metaphorical language in Scripture. So we read on the one hand, that in the future, the Messiah will appear to the tribes of Israel on the Mount of Olives (Rev.1:7; Acts 1:11). But when we turn to Zech.12:10 and to 14:3,4, we read that it is YAHWEH Who will appear to them. Is that a contradiction? No, because the Messiah is the image of God. To Him is given “the Name above every name” (Phil.2:9); the Name of YAHWEH! So can Paul in Philippians 2, boldly quote Isaiah 45:23, where YAHWEH declares that every knee will bow and every tongue will swear to Him. But note how Paul shows this:

… that in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean, and every tongue should be acclaiming… Philippians 2:10-11

Isn’t that amazing? Isaiah speaks of YAHWEH, before Whom every knee will bow, while Paul speaks about the name of Jesus. Why? Answer: The name of Jesus refers to YAHWEH. After all, Jesus means YAHWEH saves! How does Yahweh save? Through the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, at the consummation of the eons, from every mouth will sound forth the song of praise:

Jesus Christ is Lord, FOR THE GLORY of God, the Father! Philippians 2:11

——————————— translation: Peter Feddema