The idea that Jesus Christ and Jehovah of the Old Testament are the same person is very old. The first one to speak about it is the very Jehovah. The Hebrew word MASHIA is translated “anointed.” In the psalm number 2 Jehovah speaks of his anointed, saying: “Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth take a stand, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah, and against his Anointed, saying, let’s break their bonds apart, and cast their cords from us” (Ps. 2:1-3). When the Samaritan woman said to Jesus: “‘I know that Messiah comes,’ (he who is called Christ—MASHIA). ‘When he has come, he will declare to us all things. Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who speaks to you’” (John 4:25-26). Jesus himself declared that he was the messiah who Jehovah had announced, and that the messiah was going to come to deliver Israel from their captivities, restore the kingdom of David, and place all the nations under Israel’s feet (Ps. 47:3). In chapters 12 through 14 of the book of Zechariah we read about the restoration of Israel, and we read that Jehovah will be king over all the earth (Zech. 14:9). The prophecy of Moses will be fulfilled: “You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, the place, Jehovah, which you have made for yourself to dwell in; the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have established. Jehovah shall reign forever and ever” (Ex. 15:17-18). If the messiah was going to sit on the throne of David, and the Scriptures declare that Jehovah is going to sit on the same throne, then Jehovah is Jesus. So, many biblical conclusions can be pointed out. The Systematic Theology of Charles Hodge, 2001 edition, page 377, speaking of the deity of Jesus Christ, says: “The manifested Jehovah is called the Word of God, and the divine subsistence and perfection are attributed to him.” Let us see if the divine perfections of Jehovah apply to Jesus Christ:
- Jehovah is also called the Almighty (El Shaddai); Almighty is the name given to the omnipotent God (Deut. 32:39; Is. 14:27; 43:13). “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty. Walk before me, and be blameless’” (Gen. 17:1). And Jesus, when he resurrected from the dead, said to his disciples: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). When Jesus declares this, he reveals that he did not have power in the period prior to the cross. If one receives is because he did not have.
- Christ was not the Lord of the living and the dead. Paul reveals this to us: “For to this end Christ died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Rom. 14:9). Now, Jehovah declared himself lord of the living and the dead, 1,600 years before Christ, saying: “I kill, and I make alive” (Deut. 32:39). “Jehovah kills, and makes alive” (1 Sam. 2:6). He who was not cannot be what he already was.
- The angels did nor submit to Jesus prior to the resurrection, for Peter says: “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him” (1 Pet. 3:21-22). Now, Jehovah governed the Old Testament through the angels: “Jehovah has established his throne in the heavens. His kingdom rules over all. Praise Jehovah, you angels of his, who are mighty in strength, who fulfill his word, obeying the voice of his word” (Ps. 103:19-20). If the angels, servants of Jehovah, were not submitted to Christ prior to the resurrection, Christ and Jehovah cannot be the same person.
- Jehovah was absolute lord in the Old Testament. He brought the flood; therefore, he was the lord of the earth and of nature. Jehovah is the Lord of the Armies (Jehovah Tsebaoth). He was the god that commanded all wars. Jehovah ruled over the nations (Ps. 96:10). He declares that everything belongs to him (Ps. 24:1). However: “Who [Jesus], existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:6-11). If Jehovah was absolute lord thousands of years before Christ, and Jesus became Lord only after the resurrection, it is obvious that they are not the same person.
- Jehovah was the savior of Israel. He declared: “For I am Jehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I have given Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place” (Is. 43:3). And he declared more: “I myself am Jehovah; and besides me there is no savior” (Is. 43:11). If Jehovah declares that there is no salvation outside of him, we can only think that Jesus and he are the same person; otherwise Jehovah would be denying Jesus. Peter poses a problem when he said to the Jewish priests: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed, hanging him on a tree. God exalted him with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins” (Acts 5:30-31). The text makes it clear that Jesus was raised to Prince and Savior only after the resurrection; therefore, before the resurrection, he was not. What can we make out of this? Jehovah was the savior of Israel in Egypt and declared that there is no other. Jesus was not a savior, and become one after the cross.
In the letter to the Hebrews we have another decisive declaration that says: “Though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Having been made perfect, he became to all of those who obey him the author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:8-9). Jesus became a savior only after he fulfilled the work of his mission on the cross. Without death and resurrection Jesus would not be Savior, for the saved sinners are justified only through the resurrection (Rom. 4:25). Jehovah was savior without death or resurrection; therefore his salvation did not save anyone. This true, for those who Jehovah saved, he afterwards killed (Jude 5). Another difference between Jehovah and Jesus is that Jehovah saved without the need for faith from the people. Jesus only saves those who believe. So, Jehovah and Jesus are not the same person and have different missions.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira