The Divinity
of Christ

Definition of Terms:

  • Trinity:  the belief in one God who exists as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. These three persons are understood to be co-eternal, co-equal, and consubstantial, meaning they share the same divine essence.
  •  Consubstantial:  a term used to describe the Trinity of the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit are of the same substance or essence. It signifies that they share a fundamental unity of being, possessing the same divine nature. The term “consubstantial” emphasizes the essential oneness and equality of the three persons within the Godhead, affirming that they are not separate entities but inseparably united in their divine essence.

During the second to fifth centuries, debates regarding the relationship between Christ’s human and divine natures were central within the early church. These discussions greatly influenced the first seven Ecumenical Councils that followed. While it took centuries to fully develop the precise understanding of Christ’s nature and his relation to the Father, the fundamental teaching that Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine can be implicitly reasoned from Scripture.

Scripture provides numerous references to Jesus as God, such as John 1:1, where it states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Additionally, in Matthew 1:22-23, Jesus is called “Immanuel,” meaning “God with Us.” Another clear affirmation comes from John 20:28-29, when Thomas declares, “My Lord and My God!” Jesus Himself emphasizes His inseparability from the Father, stating, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30, John 10:37-38, John 14:7-10).

Moreover, Jesus is attributed with the same titles as God the Father. Both are referred to as the first and the last (Isaiah 44:6, Revelation 22:13). Jesus also identifies Himself as “I Am” in John 8:58. In Mark 2:1-12, during the healing of the paralytic, Jesus claims the power to forgive sins, a divine prerogative. The scribes recognize this, questioning, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:6). Furthermore, Jesus demonstrates His divine knowledge by reading their thoughts, validating His claim. Scripture consistently supports Jesus’ divinity.

The early Church relied on the Traditions of Apostolic Teaching and the Authority of the Magisterium to address theological debates, including the nature of Christ. Many heresies arose during this time, such as Adoptionism, Modalism, Docetism, Arianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, and Miaphysitism. Church Councils were convened to resolve these controversies, condemning views that deviated from the orthodox teachings agreed upon by the larger Catholic Church.

These Councils resulted in early schisms within the Church, with the Assyrian Church rejecting the Council of Ephesus and the Oriental Orthodox Church rejecting the Council of Chalcedon. However, recent efforts toward reunification have been made between leaders of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East, aiming to address historical differences over terminology rather than intended meaning. While Lutheran, Anglican, and Reformed Churches recognize the first four Councils, there is a growing number of denominations that reject the dual nature of Christ.

Critics have raised rationalist objections, citing verses like John 14:28, where Christ states, “The Father is greater than I,” to argue for the Son’s subordination to the Father. However, the doctrine of the Incarnation maintains that the Son, in His human nature, is lesser than the Father, while His divine nature remains undiminished. Rationalists also claim that the Incarnation implies a change in God’s nature, but the Church explains this through the concept of the “hypostatic union.” In the Incarnation, the second person of the Trinity acquires a human nature while retaining the divine nature. The divine and human natures of Christ are distinct yet united within the one person of Christ. This union occurred in the human nature assumed by Christ, not in God’s unchanging divine essence.

The Athanasian Creed, utilized by Christian churches since at least the sixth century, articulates these beliefs, affirming that Christ is fully God and fully human, with a rational soul and human flesh. He is equal to the Father in His divinity but lesser than the Father in His humanity. Christ is not two separate entities but one, as God took humanity upon Himself without transforming His divinity and by maintaining the unity of His person.


Bible Verses:

Acts 7:59 (NRSVCE):

“While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'”

John 5:18 (NRSVCE):

“For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.”

John 8:58 (NRSVCE):

“Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.'”

John 20:28 (NRSVCE):

“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!'”

Colossians 1:15-22 (NRSVCE):

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him.”


Church Father Quotes:

Ignatius of Antioch

“Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church at Ephesus in Asia . . . predestined from eternity for a glory that is lasting and unchanging, united and chosen through true suffering by the will of the Father in Jesus Christ our God” (Letter to the Ephesians 1 [A.D. 110]).

“For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit” (ibid., 18:2).

“[T]o the Church beloved and enlightened after the love of Jesus Christ, our God, by the will of him that has willed everything which is” (Letter to the Romans 1 [A.D. 110]).

Aristides of Athens

“[Christians] are they who, above every people of the earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the Creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit” (Apology 16 [A.D. 140]).

Tatian the Syrian

“We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we report that God was born in the form of a man” (Address to the Greeks 21 [A.D. 170]).

Melito of Sardis

“The activities of Christ after his baptism, and especially his miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the deity hidden in his flesh. Being God and likewise perfect man, he gave positive indications of his two natures: of his deity, by the miracles during the three years following after his baptism, of his humanity, in the thirty years which came before his baptism, during which, by reason of his condition according to the flesh, he concealed the signs of his deity, although he was the true God existing before the ages” (Fragment in Anastasius of Sinai’s The Guide 13 [A.D. 177]).

Irenaeus of Lyons 

“For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who announced through the prophets the dispensations and the comings, and the birth from a Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Christ Jesus our Lord, and his coming from heaven in the glory of the Father to reestablish all things; and the raising up again of all flesh of all humanity, in order that to Jesus Christ our Lord and God and Savior and King, in accord with the approval of the invisible Father, every knee shall bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).

“Nevertheless, what cannot be said of anyone else who ever lived, that he is himself in his own right God and Lord . . . may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth” (ibid., 3:19:1).

Clement of Alexandria

“The Word, then, the Christ, is the cause both of our ancient beginning—for he was in God—and of our well-being. And now this same Word has appeared as man. He alone is both God and man, and the source of all our good things” (Exhortation to the Greeks 1:7:1 [A.D. 190]).

“Despised as to appearance but in reality adored, [Jesus is] the expiator, the Savior, the soother, the divine Word, he that is quite evidently true God, he that is put on a level with the Lord of the universe because he was his Son” (ibid., 10:110:1).

Tertullian of Carthage

“The origins of both his substances display him as man and as God: from the one, born, and from the other, not born” (The Flesh of Christ 5:6–7 [A.D. 210]).

“That there are two gods and two Lords, however, is a statement which we will never allow to issue from our mouth; not as if the Father and the Son were not God, nor the Spirit God, and each of them God; but formerly two were spoken of as gods and two as Lords, so that when Christ would come, he might both be acknowledged as God and be called Lord, because he is the Son of him who is both God and Lord” (Against Praxeas 13:6 [A.D. 216]).

Origen of Alexandria 

“Although he was God, he took flesh; and having been made man, he remained what he was: God” (The Fundamental Doctrines 1:0:4 [A.D. 225]).

Hippolytus of Rome 

“Only [God’s] Word is from himself and is therefore also God, becoming the substance of God” (Refutation of All Heresies 10:33 [A.D. 228]).

 “For Christ is the God over all, who has arranged to wash away sin from mankind, rendering the old man new” (ibid., 10:34).

Cyprian of Carthage

“One who denies that Christ is God cannot become his temple [of the Holy Spirit]” (Letters 73:12 [A.D. 253]).

Gregory Thaumaturgus

“There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is his subsistent wisdom and power and eternal image: perfect begetter of the perfect begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son. There is one Lord, only of the only, God of God, image and likeness of deity, efficient Word, wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, invisible of invisible, and incorruptible of incorruptible, and immortal of immortal and eternal of eternal. . . . And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abides ever” (Declaration of Faith [A.D. 265]).

Arnobius of Sicca

“‘Well, then,’ some raging, angry, and excited man will say, ‘is that Christ your God?’ ‘God indeed,’ we shall answer, ‘and God of the hidden powers’” (Against the Pagans 1:42 [A.D. 305]).


“He was made both Son of God in the spirit and Son of man in the flesh, that is, both God and man” (Divine Institutes 4:13:5 [A.D. 307]).

“We, on the other hand, are [truly] religious, who make our supplications to the one true God. Someone may perhaps ask how, when we say that we worship one God only, we nevertheless assert that there are two, God the Father and God the Son—which assertion has driven many into the greatest error . . . [thinking] that we confess that there is another God, and that he is mortal. . . . [But w]hen we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate each, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father” (ibid., 4:28–29).

Council of Nicaea I

“We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. Through him all things were made” (Creed of Nicaea [A.D. 325]).

“But those who say, ‘There was a time when he [the Son] did not exist,’ and ‘Before he was born, he did not exist,’ and ‘Because he was made from non-existing matter, he is either of another substance or essence,’ and those who call ‘God the Son of God changeable and mutable,’ these the Catholic Church anathematizes” (Appendix to the Creed of Nicaea [A.D. 325]).

Patrick of Ireland

“Jesus Christ is the Lord and God in whom we believe, and whose coming we expect will soon take place, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to everyone according to his works” (Confession of St. Patrick 4 [A.D. 452]).

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Non-Catholic Quotes:

“If Christ was only man, why did he lay down for us such a rule of believing as that in which he said, ‘And this is life eternal, that they should know you, the only and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent?’ [John 17:3]. Had he not wished that he also should be understood to be God, why did he add, ‘And Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,’ except because he wished to be received as God also? Because if he had not wished to be understood to be God, he would have added, ‘And the man Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent;’ but, in fact, he neither added this, nor did Christ deliver himself to us as man only, but associated himself with God, as he wished to be understood by this conjunction to be God also, as he is.” (Treatise on the Trinity 16 [A.D. 235]).

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