Is Jesus God? – A Response to Hebrews Chapter 1

“And that doctrine that denies the absolute Godhead of Jesus Christ, denies also the Godhead of the Father; for no man knoweth the Son but the Father.” — Ellen White {ST June 27, 1895, par. 3}

Hebrews 1:1, 2 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”

First of all, we see in this passage that “God”—the Father—is the Speaker to men, Who “in time past spake unto the fathers by the prophets” but who “hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”

Regarding the Son and His Father it is written:

“…whom He [the Father] hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He [the Father] made the worlds.” (bracket supplied)

Thus, before Christ is spoken of as our High Priest, He is introduced here as being the co-partner in the work of creation—“BY whom [Christ] also He [the Father] made the worlds.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the co-Creator Himself, became the living Word to speak to men.

Appointed Heir

Verse 2 also reveals Christ as an “appointed heir” of all things. An heir is defined as a person who is legally entitled to inherit the property or rank of another on that person’s death or at the appointed time when the person is to receive his recognition. In this case, Christ the Son received an “INHERITANCE” from His Father.

If Jesus was the heir, then whatever he received as the rightful heir, He did not possess it before He received the inheritance. This more “excellent name” therefore is the very name of His Father-“God,” which, in the 8th verse of the same chapter, is given by the Father to the Son:

“Unto the Son He [God] saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

Please note here that the speaker is God the Father and that He is addressing His Son and calling Him “God.”

When people have children, the child not only inherit the name of their parents but they also inherit the nature of the parents, which of course is human nature. In like manner, Jesus also inherited the same name as His Father (“God”) and not unlike a human offspring, Christ also inherited the nature of His Father, which is His infinite, divine nature.

Jesus being the one and only begotten Son of the living God, received by virtue of His birthright all of the attributes that His Father possessed.

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“All that is attributed to the Father Himself is attributed to Christ.”

— Ellen White, Daughters of God pg. 61{DG 61.3}

And so this name “He has by “INHERITANCE.” It is not a “NAME” that was bestowed but a “NAME” that was “INHERITED” from His Father.

Next (verse 3), we again read about the Son of God:

“Who being the brightness of His [God’s] glory, and the express image of His [God’s] person [“the very impress of His substance,” margin R.V.], and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Christ is further described as (verse 4):

“Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

Christ not only inherited His name but other things as well. The name also connotes authority (Mark 11:9, John 5:43), and it also conveys character and nature (Exodus 33:18-19, Exodus 34:5-6; For example, the name “Adam” means mankind or human)

In speaking of Christ’s inheritance, take a look at what one of Adventist’s pioneers, A. T. Jones, had said:

“Thus, He is “so much” better than the angels as God is better than the angels. And it is because of this that He has that more excellent name –the name expressing only what He is in His very nature.” A. T. Jones, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection pg. 14.4 {CWCP 14.2}

And this name “He hath by inheritance.” It is not a name that was bestowed but a name that is inherited. {CWCP 14.3}

Now it lies in the nature of things, as an everlasting truth, that the only name any person can possibly inherit is his father’s name. This name, then, of Christ’s, which is more excellent than that of the angels, is the name of His Father, and His Father’s name is God. The Son’s name, therefore, which He has by inheritance, is God. And this name, which is more excellent than that of the angels, is His because he is “so much better than the angels.” That name being God, He is “so much better than the angels” as God is better than the angels. {CWCP 14.4}

Next, His position and nature, as better than that of the angels, is dwelt upon: “For unto which of the angels said He [the Father] at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?” This holds the thought of the more excellent name spoken of in the previous verse. For He, being the Son of God—God being His Father, thus hath “by inheritance” the name of His Father, which is God and which is so much more excellent than the name of the angels as God is better than they. {CWCP 14.5}

This is dwelt upon yet further: “And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, and let all the angels of God worship Him.” Thus He is so much better than the angels that He is worshiped by the angels: and this according to the will of God, because He is, in His nature, God. {CWCP 14.6}

The attributes described here of Christ being an heir, harkens back to pre-incarnation. The writer of Hebrews is clearly contrasting the pre-incarnation with the incarnate Christ. The Man Christ was the pre-incarnate Son of God, Who was the co-creator of this world, who was “made so much better than the angels” and was called by His own Father as “God” and yet He humbled Himself, became a Man, not unlike us, and dwelt among us. He was Emanuel-God with us.

Moreover, Christ also inherited His Father’s life. “For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself.” John 5:26. If Jesus had always existed alongside the Father as how the Trinity doctrine claims, then God could not have given life to His Son as He would have always had the life. But Scripture reveals otherwise.

Thus there is only “ONE” true God (the Father). Jesus is not “THE” God (in personality) but He is the Son of that God and He carries the “NAME” of God (the Father) by virtue of His “INHERITANCE.” And because He is the Son of God, He is “EQUAL” with God.

“God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ HAS BEEN GIVEN an exalted position. He HAS BEEN MADE equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son.” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 268)

Note that Ellen G. White endorsed what this Adventist pioneer wrote below who also explains very clearly.

“This name [God] was not given to Christ in consequence of some great achievement, but it is His by right of inheritance.
Speaking of the power and greatness of Christ, the writer to the Hebrews says that He is made so much better than the angels, because “He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Heb. 1:4.
A son always rightfully takes the name of the father; and Christ, as “the only begotten Son of God,” has rightfully the same name.
A son, also, is, to a greater or less degree, a reproduction of the father; he has, to some extent, the features and personal characteristics of his father; not perfectly, because there is no perfect reproduction among mankind. But there is no imperfection in God, or in any of His works; and so Christ is the “express image” of the Father’s person. Heb. 1:3.
As the Son of the self-existent God, he has by nature all the attributes of Deity.
It is true that there are many sons of God; but Christ is the “only begotten Son of God,” and therefore the Son of God in a sense in which no other being ever was, or ever can be.
The angels are sons of God, as was Adam (Job 38:7; Luke 3:38), by creation; Christians are the sons of God by adoption (Rom. 8:14,15); but CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD BY BIRTH.
The writer to the Hebrews further shows that the position of the Son of God is not one to which Christ has been elevated, but that it is one which He has by right.” — (E.J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, p. 11-12)

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” Hebrews 1:3

An image is never the original but always a likeness or duplication of the original. Christ is the Son of God and therefore the express image of His Father. It would be incorrect to say that the Father is the image of His Son because the Father is the original. In the same manner it would be incorrect to refer to Christ as the true or original God since He is the image of the True God. In this sense the Father is the Only True God as Christ Himself has declared in John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

“Who [Christ] is the image of the invisible God” Colossians 1:15

Again, an image is a reflection or a reproduction of something original… An “express image” means a perfect or a precise reproduction. Christ is the perfect reproduction of His Father, who is the true and original God.

Notice what Ellen White says about the Son’s personality,

“I saw a throne, and on it sat the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. I gazed on Jesus’ countenance and admired his lovely person. . . . I ASKED JESUS IF HIS FATHER HAD A FORM LIKE HIMSELF; HE SAID HE HAD, BUT I COULD NOT BEHOLD IT.” (Letter From Sister Harmon, Day-Star, March 14, 1846, par. 7)

“A complete offering has been made; for ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,’—NOT A SON BY CREATION, as were the angels, NOR A SON BY ADOPTION, as is the forgiven sinner, but a SON BEGOTTEN IN THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF THE FATHER’S PERSON, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection.” (Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895 par. 3)

“From eternity there was a complete unity between the Father and the Son. THEY WERE TWO, YET LITTLE SHORT OF BEING IDENTICAL; two in individuality, yet one in spirit, and heart, and character.” (The Youth Instructor, Dec. 16, 1897 par. 5)

“The Son of God was next in authority to the great Lawgiver. He knew that his life alone could be sufficient to ransom fallen man. He was of as much more value than man as his noble, spotless character, and exalted office as commander of all the heavenly host, were above the work of man. He was in the express image of his Father, NOT IN FEATURE ALONE, BUT IN PERFECTION OF CHARACTER.” (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 91)

“Before Christ left heaven and came into the world to die, HE WAS TALLER THAN ANY OF THE ANGELS. He was majestic and lovely.” {2SP 39.2}

Interesting to note that in Revelation 14:9, we read,

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,”

The enemies of God will worship the beast and his image whereas the saints will worship God and His Express Image-Jesus.

“This closing message is to test the church and the world upon “the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” The worship of the beast and his image is in opposition to these; and the danger is that the beast and his image will be honored by obedience, instead of the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.” — R. F. Cottrell, “The Last Message”, Review and Herald – May 25, 1875

Notice what the Scriptures reveals about God’s bodily features:

“And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” — Exodus 33:20

“And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” — Exodus 33:23

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD’S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” — Number 11:23

“But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.” — 1 Samuel 13:14

“Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” — Isaiah 40:2

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? — Isaiah 66:1

“But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” — Luke 11:20

“The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” — Psalm 11:4

1 Samuel 8:21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.

Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” — Daniel 7:9

Note: The Bible describes God as a personal being, having a distinct bodily features, i.e face, mouth, hands, feet, etc. He is not a formless entity. Moreover Christ bears His Father’s image not in feature alone, but also in character.

Thus, when we think of God having created man in their (Father and Son’s) own image, after their likeness (Gen. 1:26, 27; 5:1); we understand that to mean that we bear God’s likeness (though marred by sin), not only in physical features but also in character:

Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”

“In the beginning, man was created in the likeness of God, NOT ONLY IN CHARACTER, BUT IN FORM AND FEATURE. Sin defaced and almost obliterated the divine image; but Christ came to restore that which had been lost. He will change our vile bodies and fashion them like unto His glorious body. The mortal, corruptible form, devoid of comeliness, once polluted with sin, becomes perfect, beautiful, and immortal. All blemishes and deformities are left in the grave. Restored to the tree of life in the long-lost Eden, the redeemed will “grow up” (Malachi 4:2) to the full stature of the race in its primeval glory. The last lingering traces of the curse of sin will be removed, and Christ’s faithful ones will appear in “the beauty of the Lord our God,” in mind and soul and body reflecting the perfect image of their Lord. Oh, wonderful redemption! long talked of, long hoped for, contemplated with eager anticipation, but never fully understood. {DD 50.2}

“As Adam came forth from the hand of his Creator he was of noble height and of beautiful symmetry. He was more than TWICE AS TALL AS MEN NOW LIVING UPON THE EARTH, and was well proportioned. His features were perfect and beautiful. His complexion was neither white nor sallow, but ruddy, glowing with the rich tint of health. Eve was not quite as tall as Adam. HER HEAD REACHED A LITTLE ABOVE HIS SHOULDERS. She too was noble, perfect in symmetry, and very beautiful. Man came from the hand of God perfect in every faculty of mind and body
; in perfect soundness, therefore in perfect health. God endowed man with so great vital force that he has withstood the accumulation of disease brought upon the race in consequence of perverted habits, and has continued for six thousand years…. IF ADAM, AT HIS CREATION, HAD NOT BEEN ENDOWED WITH TWENTY TIMES AS MUCH VITAL FORCE AS MEN NOW HAVE, the race, with their present habits of living in violation of natural law, would have become extinct.” {ML 126}

While Jesus is the “express image” (a perfect reproduction) of the Father, our original parents also bore the image and likeness of the Father (though not quite the “express image” as the begotten Son). And when the redeemed are recreated, man’s character will once again be restored in the likeness of God’s character in righteousness and true holiness:

Ephesians 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Servant of the Lord also said,

“The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, IS TRULY GOD IN INFINITY, BUT NOT IN PERSONALITY.” (Ellen G. White, Manuscript 116, Dec. 19, 1905, ‘An Entire Consecration’)

Waggoner, an Adventist pioneer, explains in words that are easier to understand making what Ellen White said above easier to comprehend.

“Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He was begotten, not created. He is of the substance of the Father, so that in his very nature he is God; and since this is so “it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” Col. 1:19 … While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time. He is also greater in that he had no beginning, WHILE CHRIST’S PERSONALITY HAD A BEGINNING.”  (E.J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889)

Many non-trinitarians tend to believe that Waggoner’s statement above is echoing what Ellen White has said and thus have concluded that since Christ was begotten, then that would make His Personality to have “begun” at some point in time in eternity past and that He may not have existed until such a “time” when He came forth from the Father, etc. That being the case, some may conclude that, since the Father’s existence is without beginning, then the duration of time in which He existed all alone in the universe (pointing to the past before Christ was begotten), would have been longer than Him having existed with His Son (pointing forward to future).

<——Eternity—FATHER ALONE?—>Father begets a Son—>Creation of angels—>Lucifer’s rebellion—>Creation/fall of man—>PRESENT—Eternity——>

Another way to think about Waggoner’s quotation is how it distinguishes what Christ is, and what He is not; He is “truly God in infinity,” that is, the quality of His Godhood/divinity is measureless or infinite; all the fulness of divinity dwells in Him not unlike the Father. But He is not THE God (Father) in personality (not the same individual): “The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, is truly God in infinity [IN QUALITY], BUT NOT IN PERSONALITY [He is not the same PERSON as God the Father. He has his own distinct PERSONALITY].”

Jesus therefore is described as the “personification’ of the only true God.” He is the perfect reproduction, the “express image” of the Father; He is the Father’s mouthpiece; He acts in His Father’s stead, and wherever He is, it is as though Father is present.

The world is not improving. Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. By rejecting the Son of God, the PERSONIFICATION OF THE ONLY TRUE GOD, who possessed goodness, mercy, and untiring love, whose heart was ever touched with human woe, and choosing a murderer in his stead, the Jews showed what human nature can and will do when the restraining power of the Spirit of God is removed, and men are under the control of the apostate. Those who choose Satan as their ruler will reveal the spirit of their chosen master. {RH January 30, 1900, Art. A, par. 6}

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