The person and work of Jesus Christ is central to all Christian denominations and churches, and the Baptist tradition is not different. Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Is he a mere man who said and did extraordinary things, or does he have a divine identity that exists alongside his humanity?
Baptists believe that Jesus of Nazareth is God and exists as the second person of the Holy Trinity, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Baptists believe in the deity of Christ because they are persuaded that the Bible directly teaches it and because Jesus possessed the attributes of God.
What Bible verses do Baptists cite that teach that Jesus is God? Do Baptists believe that Jesus possessed all the attributes of God, even omniscience and omnipresence? What do their historic belief statements say exactly Keep reading to learn more.
Baptists believe Scripture identifies Jesus as God
Baptist denominations and churches have always affirmed that the Old and New Testament testify to Jesus’ divinity. As a tradition rooted in doctrines such as the inspiration and authority of Scripture, Baptist confessions, i.e. belief statements have always expressed unwavering belief in the deity of Christ. (Also see Do Baptists Believe Baptism Is Necessary for Salvation?)
Below are examples of Bible passages and verses in which Baptists see the Godhood of Jesus of Nazareth. The verses are a starting point for readers to understand the Baptist tradition’s centuries-long conviction that he was much more than a mere man. Jesus was fully human, according to Baptists, as well as fully divine. (Also see Do Baptists Believe in Original Sin?)
Baptists see Jesus’ divinity in the Gospel of John
One of the words translated “God” in English Bible translations comes from the Greek word theos. The word theos means “God” as in the sovereign, all-powerful Creator of the universe. Baptists emphasize that John 1:1 refers to Jesus of Nazareth as theos.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (ESV, emphasis added)
Who is the Word who was at the beginning, who was with God the Father, and was God himself? Baptists believe, based in part on John 1:14, that the Word was Jesus of Nazareth.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV, emphasis added)
John 1:18 encapsulates Jesus’ identity as God, according to Baptist theology.
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (ESV, emphasis added)
John not only teaches that Jesus is God in the narrative of his Gospel, but he also records the testimony of others who believed in his divinity.
For example, Thomas, who was nicknamed “doubting Thomas” because of his reluctance to accept the teachings of Christ exclaimed to Jesus “My Lord and my God” (ESV) when he realized the true identity of the Nazarene.
Paul calls Jesus God
According to Baptist interpretations of Scripture, all New Testament writers teach the divinity of Christ. The Apostle Paul, who wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament, teaches the deity of Christ in several passages. For example is Romans 9:5:
“To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (ESV, emphasis added)
Another example from the writings of Paul is Titus 2:13. In that verse, Jesus is called “our Great God” and “Savior” in parallel descriptions.
“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (ESV, emphasis added)
Scripture calls Jesus Lord
Historically, Baptist teachings have recognized that although there is a formal sense in which one person calls another “Lord,” such as a dignitary, there is another sense in which the title is used that has much greater implications. In certain passages, Jesus is called “Lord” as a reference Yahweh in the Old Testament. This points to Jesus’ deity to Baptists. (Also see What Bible Translation Do Baptists Read?)
Example verses in which Jesus is called Lord as a reference to God:
- Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (ESV, emphasis added)
- Matthew 3:3, “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.”’” (ESV, emphasis added)
- 1 Corinthians 8:6, “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (ESV, emphasis added)
- Hebrews 1:10, “And, ‘You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands.'” (ESV, emphasis added)
Jesus’ other divine titles
Further indication of Jesus identity as God is seen in titles that he used to describe himself as well as ones that other writers, like Paul, used to describe him. (Also see Do Baptists Believe in Cremation?)
- Son of Man: Matthew 16:13, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’” (ESV) Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man dozens of times in the Gospels. Baptist teaching argues the title is rooted in Daniel 7:13-14 where it is used as a title of divinity.
- Son of God: 1 Corinthians 15:28, “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.” (ESV)
Jesus possessed the attributes of God
In addition to direct statements that teach that Jesus is God, Baptists believe that the attributes Jesus’ has also revealed his deity. Bible scholars and Christian theologians of every denomination discuss how, when, and if Jesus’ divine attributes were ever limited or hidden. (Also see Do Baptists Believe in the Holy Spirit?)
Baptist theologians are not different. Though orthodox scholars discuss each of the attributes listed below, there is sometimes disagreement about how Jesus expressed these characteristics when he became human.
|Example: Matthew 8:26-27|
|“He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, ‘What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'” (ESV)|
Omnipotence: Still the raging sea is an often-cited example of Jesus’ omnipotence. Yet there are other examples, too, such as when he multiplied fish and healed people from diseases and ailments. The judgements Jesus carries out in Revelation also reveal his supernatural power.
|Example: John 8:58-59|
|“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’ Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” (ESV)|
Eternality: Baptists point out that when Jesus said “I am,” he is referencing the story of the burning bush from the book of Exodus when God communicated with Moses. Jesus is identifying with the God of the burning bush in John 8:58-59, evidenced by the fact that his enemies attempted to stone him, which was the punishment for blasphemy.
|Example: John 16:30|
|“Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” (ESV)|
Christian theologians, including Baptist ones, debate the omniscience of Jesus. Did he possess all knowledge when he became human or not? John 16:30 is cited as an example by those who say he did. Matthew 24:26 is often cited by those who say he didn’t:
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (ESV)
|Example: Matthew 18:20|
|“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (ESV)|
Like Jesus’ omniscience, his omnipresence is also the subject of much debate. He was human and traveled from town to town, for example, and therefore wasn’t in two towns simultaneously. Yet there are other verses that allude to him being in two places at once, such as John 1:48:
“Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’” (ESV)
|Jesus is Worthy of Worship|
|Example: Hebrews 1:6|
|“And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.'” (ESV)|
The Bibles teaches that only God is worthy of worship. Worshipping anything or anyone other than God is blasphemy. Jesus himself said this to the devil when tempted in the wilderness:
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”‘” (ESV)
Baptist confessions express belief that Jesus is God
Baptist “confessions,” like those in other Christian traditions, are basically belief statements. Baptist denominations and churches have been articulating confessions since the 17th century. In every significant Baptist confession, from the 17th to 21st century, from Europe to America to Brazil, Jesus’ divinity is acknowledged and defended.
The Thomas and Helwys Confessions was written by Baptist Arminians.
|Thomas and Helwys (1611)|
|That JESUS CHRIST, the Son of GOD the second Person, or subsistence in the Trinity, in the Fullness of time was manifested in the Flesh, being the seed of David, and of the Israelites, according to the Flesh, (Romans 1:3 and Romans 8:5) … being thus true Man was like unto us in all thing, sin only excepted. Hebrews (4:15) being one person in two distinct natures, TRUE GOD, and TRUE MAN|
The London Baptist Confession was written by Baptist Calvinists.
|1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)|
|Of Christ the Mediator: “The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, of one substance and equal with him who made the world, who upholdeth and governeth all things he hath made, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin…”|
The Baptist Faith and Message was written by the Southern Baptist Convention, which includes Arminian and Calvinist Christians.
|The Baptist Faith and Message (2000)|
|Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin… He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man…|
The Baptist tradition, like other branches of the Christian faith, has a variety of expressions. The different names of denominations and churches within the tradition reflect this. Understanding...