The deity of Yeshua is a topic which has been discussed and debated over the centuries. Is Yeshua G-d? Was Yeshua just a man when He was upon this earth? Was He just a very good man and a prophet when He walked this earth? The question to us is are we able to effectively use Scripture to support our beliefs – that Yeshua was and is God.

Mirroring the words of Gen. 1:1, Yochanan states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is referring to Yeshua. Moshe had begun the creation narrative without indicating a beginning for God, and Yochanan is doing the same. 

For a being to have an existence before time is not something applicable to a mortal man. (Micah 5:2, which is descriptive of Messiah’s birth prophetically, describes Him as coming forth from long ago, from eternity past.) The transliterated Hebrew words for days of old are Yom Olam. This means the days of eternity past.

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)

Yochanan continues with “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Greek word used for “became” indicates that Yeshua, the Word, existed before He came to this earth as a man. He “dwelt among us” calls to mind God’s dwelling among and within His people in the wilderness, with the Tent of Meeting being filled with the glory of God. (Ex 40:30-38 The word “begotten” is wrongfully understood to mean newly created, whereas His origins are from old. (For example, the same Greek word, monogenes, is found in the LXX used to describe Isaac, in Genesis 22:2, “take your son, your only (monogenes) son…”) There are older Greek manuscripts that say the only begotten God, rather than the only begotten Son. The NIV translation of John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God except God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side has made Him known.” John reveals Yeshua as God, existing before Creation, at the Father’s side, or correspondingly in some texts as in the bosom of the Father.

There are those who consider that Yeshua, in His human form while on this earth, had emptied Himself of His glory, no longer retaining His divinity and is perhaps seen as a great man, or a prophet. They do not consider Him as God. Based on a misunderstanding of Phil 2:7: “But He emptied Himself -taking on the form of a slave, becoming the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man” many have concluded that He was bereft of His divinity when undertaking His earthly mission. But this verse simply reflects Yeshua accomplishing His earthly mission by total dependence upon His Father. 

Saul Schwarzberg writes in a drash regarding Yeshua’s task, “One reason may be that while Adam brought sin into the world by not obeying G-d, it was our Messiah who brought life into this world by obeying the Father. And in substituting Adam, He had to accomplish what had never been accomplished, a total dependence on the Father.  So, for the first time in history, our Messiah had chosen to yield all His authority to the Father in order to fully clothe Himself in the vulnerability of human skin, and in a power limited only by His Abba’s will.” The emptying of His glory is to do the will of the Father, not to rid Himself of His Deity.

This Word that became flesh is found in numerous places in the Aramaic Targums, the Aramaic translation and in exposition of the TaNaKh (Torah, prophets, writings). The Targums are valued for they bear witness to the Hebrew text of TaNaKh as early as the 1st century AD. These writings are a window to Hebrew customs and beliefs. 

In Yochanan 1:1 we have seen that this Word is Yeshua, the One who pre-existed before creation. This is not an attribute of a mortal man, but it is that of deity. In Yochanan (John) 1:1,14 we have seen our translations read “Word”. In Aramaic, the word used for “Word” is memra. This is the “Word” that became flesh. This word “memra” is found to express the “Word”, as the agent of creation. (For example, in Targum Yonathan, we see the word “memra” being used in the garden of Eden: “They heard the voice of the memra (Word) of Elohim.” And according to the same Targum “memra” is used in Isaiah 48:13 “by My memra (Word) I have laid the foundation of the earth… He was present before Creation. He is G-d eternal, without beginning or end.

Yeshua identified Himself as being divine through His bold declaration that he is the One spoken of as eternal. In John 8:58 we are told, “Yeshua said to them, Truly truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” This was an echo of Exodus 3:14 which says, “G-d said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM; and He said thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” This was Yeshua identifying Himself with YHVH, the eternal G-d.

Yeshua declared in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Only G-d can receive worship, yet in Hebrews 1:6, speaking of Yeshua, it is said, “Let all of the angels of God worship Him.”

Hebrews 1:8 tells us what the Father speaks of the Son, Yeshua, “But of the Son He says, Your throne, O G-d, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His Kingdom.” This is indeed the one spoken of in Daniel 7:14, the One like the Son of Man, who will come on the clouds, who will have an everlasting kingdom, and will receive worship.

Who else other than the Messiah can make such a claim?

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