God Over All?

Hello everyone. Today we continue our look at the doctrine of the Trinity moving to one of the texts that is covered in the great work of Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God. We’re in the book of Romans and tonight, we’re in the ninth chapter. Our main focus will be verse 5, but it gets built up to by verses 1-4 so we will have Romans 9:1-5.

1I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Paul is speaking about his love for his brethren, the Israelites, and how they are the ones to whom the promises of God came. He wraps it up by saying that from them came even Christ and then surprisingly says “Who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

That seems odd to many people. Why would Paul suddenly have a reference directly using God in reference to Jesus here? For some, it is more likely that he is here referring to the Father instead of to the Son. Is that the case?

First off, the term “theos” in the NT does not always refer to the Father. It can refer to the Son and it can refer to pagan gods. The term can also refer to satan. It is by no means limited. When it is used of the Father however, it seems to more often take the role of a proper name, which is why Jesus is never called Theos when the term “Father” shows up.

More often than not, Jesus is referred to as Kurios, or Lord. This could be seen as a wise move on the part of the early church in distinguishing between the Father and the Son. I have been in dialogues with someone saying the New Testament never uses God in reference to a triune being. Let’s suppose that’s true. It would not counter my position at all. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was since Theos more often refers to the Father and Kurios to the Son.

Note also that as Harris points out, the main usage of Paul does not have to be the exclusive usage. Because Paul generally uses Theos to refer to the Father in the Trinity, it does not mean that he is obligated to do so every time.

Note also that this whole passage is about Christ. It is out of place to speak about, and from them is Christ, but don’t focus on him because God is over all blessed. For Paul who sees Christ as the greatest blessing to the world and that Israel was seen as despised and rejected at the time, it would make sense that he’d want to counter them being the lowliest of all by saying the blessing that came from them goes all the way to the top.

What does this passage tell us then? It tells us that Jesus is fully human in that he descended from the patriarchs. It also tells us that he is the Messiah. Furthermore, it gives him the nature of full deity by saying he is God over all. Finally, it says that he will be eternally praised. Thus, we have here one of the strongest statements of the deity of Christ in the New Testament.

That’s it for today! See you next time!

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