Christology is composed of the words Christ, referring to Jesus Christ and ology, meaning “the study of.” Thus, the word “Christology” deals with the study of Jesus Christ. It is one of three areas related to the study of the Triune God which also includes Paterology (the study of God the Father) and Pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit).
Common topics studied in Christology include the preexistence of Christ; prophecies about Him; His humanity and deity; His attributes, names, and titles; His birth, early life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and return; and the offices He holds.
The study of Christology is important because Jesus is the unifying theme of all scripture, as revealed when “…beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
THE PREEXISTENCE OF CHRIST
Prior to His earthly life, Jesus existed in eternity as the second person of the Triune Godhead. He was with God in the beginning and was God (John 1:1). John says the “word” became flesh, which implies that Jesus existed previous to His incarnation–a word which means that He became flesh (John 1:1,14).
Jesus Himself said that He had glory with the Father before the world was (John 17:5); that He had come from the Father (John 5:43; 6:38); and that He had existed before Abraham (John 8:58). Revelation 22:13 also confirms Christ’s eternal existence when He declares: “I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
The Apostle Paul said that Christ was rich, but became poor; that He was “in the form of God” but “humbled himself”; and that He was “before all things” (Colossians 1:17). These phrases all confirm that Jesus existed prior to coming to earth (see also 1 Corinthians 15:45; and Philippians 2:6).
PROPHECIES ABOUT JESUS CHRIST
The Old Testament contains many prophecies about Jesus and the New Testament confirms their validity. A prophecy is an immediate word from God which reveals things about the future which cannot be known by natural wisdom. These prophecies reveal how, when, and where Jesus was to be born and details about His life, ministry, death, and resurrection–such as…
-He would be the Son of God: Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 1:5;5:5.
-A messenger would prepare the way for Him: Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:10-13;
-He would enter Jerusalem in triumph: Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-5; John 12:14-15.
-He would be hated without cause: Psalm 35:19.
-His disciples would scatter: Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31,56; Mark 14:27,50.
-He would bear our shame: Psalm 69:19; Matthew 27:28.
-He would pray for His enemies: Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34.
-He would be numbered with criminals: Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:33.
-He would die by crucifixion: Isaiah 53:5-6;10; John 19:16.
-He would thirst: Psalm 69:3; John 19:28.
-He would be stared at: Psalm 22:17; Matthew 27:36.
-He would commend His Spirit to God: Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46.
-His death would secure “many brethren”: Hebrews 2:12.
-He would “lead captivity captive”: Psalm 68:18; Ephesians 4:8-10.
-Blood and water would flow from His body: Psalm 22:14; John 19:34.
Jesus predicted His death and resurrection (Matthew 20:17-19; 1 Corinthians 15) and His ascension (Luke 24:46-53). First Thessalonians 4:13-18 speaks specifically of an unknown, future time at which the dead in Christ will rise first, followed by all living believers immediately ascending into the air to be with Jesus forever.
The book of Revelation reveals that seven years of judgment will occur after the rapture, followed by Christ’s return to earth with believers to defeat the enemy. At that time, Jesus will fulfill His role as the Messiah and reign from His throne in Jerusalem for 1,000 years. This is known as the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:1-6). At the end of this time, one final rebellion will take place by Satan followed by final judgment. (For expanded studies on this subject, see the chapter on Eschatology in this manual.)
THE HUMANITY AND DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST
God the Son, Jesus Christ, combines both the divine and the human natures in one union. God the Father sent Jesus Christ to earth in human form while yet retaining His divine nature. Jesus was sent by God to earth so man could be pardoned from sin:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already,
because He hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The story of the earthly ministry of Jesus is recorded in the Bible in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These books provide a detailed record of the birth, life, death, resurrection, teachings, and ministry of Jesus Christ. As part of the plan of God, Jesus came to earth in human
form, ministered among men, died for the sins of man, was resurrected from the dead, and commissioned His followers to bear the Gospel to the nations of the world.
Philippians 2:6-11 reveals that Jesus is God and that He willingly became a man so that He could die for the sins of mankind. (This is called the “kenosis” doctrine.) This passage affirms that He is always God who became man, and He will forevermore be God and man in one person. (This doctrine is called the “hypostatic union”.)
Hebrews 1:6-8 reveals that Jesus Christ is both the Son of God and God who became man. First Timothy 3:16 says that Jesus was revealed in the flesh, which indicates His existence as God before He was revealed in human form. Romans 1:3-5 confirms that Jesus is a descendant of David on the human side and the Son of God on the divine side.
There is ample evidence in the Bible that proves that Jesus was truly and thoroughly human. He had human names (i.e., Jesus, Son of David), and related to other people as a human being (John 9:16). Jesus had a body (1 John 1:1); spoke human language(s); referred to Himself as a man (John 8:40); and other people referred to Him as a man (Acts 3:22). Jesus experienced life as a human being (Luke 2:52)–including hunger (Matthew 4:2); thirst (John 19:28); weariness (John 4:6); and sorrow (John 11:35; Luke 13:34-35). He also experienced death (Hebrews 2:14-15).
The Bible confirms that while Jesus was flesh, He was also God. John says He was divine (John 1:1). Paul says he is the “very form of God” (Philippians 2:6) and our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13). He is referred to as Lord (Matthew 2:43-45), and the King of Kings (Revelation 19:16).
Jesus did the works of God, including creating (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-20); sustaining (Hebrews 1:3-4); saving (Matthew 1:23); raising the dead (John 5:25); judging (John 5:27); sending the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26); and building the true Church (Matthew 16:18). Jesus accepts worship from men (Matthew 14:33) and angels (Hebrews 1:6), and some day in the future all men will bow before Him (Philippians 2:10, Isaiah 45:23). His miracles demonstrated His supernatural power over sickness, the elements, and death. He promises forgiveness of sins, answers to prayer, and eternal life (Mark 2:1-12; John 10:27-33; 14:13-14).
Because Jesus was both human and divine, the question has been raised as to whether His temptations by Satan were valid and whether it was even possible for Him to have sinned.
The bottom line in this debate is that Jesus was both God and man. As a man in human form, He was victorious over temptation (Hebrews 4:15) and can help us in our own times of temptation (Hebrews 2:18).
ATTRIBUTES OF JESUS CHRIST
Because He is part of the Trinity of God, Jesus Christ has the same attributes as God. The Bible verifies these in the following verses. Jesus is:
Omnipotent: All powerful. Matthew 28:18
Omniscient: Knows everything. Matthew 16:30; John 21:17
Omnipresent: Present everywhere. Matthew 18:20; 28:20
Eternal: Has no beginning or end. John 1:1-2; 8:58
Unchangeable: Remains the same. Hebrews 13:8
Perfect: Absolutely holy. Colossians 1:19; 2:9-10
NAMES AND TITLES OF JESUS CHRIST
How Jesus Received His Names.
Jesus received His name in the three ways that great men receive their names on earth:
-By birth: Jesus received His name by birth, through inheritance from His Father:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets. 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; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, 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; Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
Jesus inherited a name greater than any other being in the universe. His name is greater than any king, president, or tribal leader. It is greater than the name of any angel in Heaven.
-By achievement: Jesus also received His name by achievement because He conquered all the power of the enemy:
And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15)
-By conferring: Jesus also received His name by having it conferred upon Him:
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Names And Titles Of Jesus.
The name “Jesus” means “Savior or deliverer” (Matthew 1:21). The name “Christ” means “the anointed one” (John 3:34). Additional names and titles given Jesus Christ in the Bible include:
Advocate 1 John 2:1
Almighty Revelation 1:8
Alpha and Omega Revelation 21:6
Amen Revelation 3:14
Ancient of Days Daniel 7:9
Author/Finisher of our Faith Hebrews 12:2
Author of Eternal Salvation Hebrews 5:9
Begotten of God 1 John 5:18
Beloved Ephesians 1:6
Branch Zechariah 3:8
Bread of Life John 6:48
Bright and Morning Star Revelation 22:16
Captain of the Lord’s Host Joshua 5:15
Carpenter’s Son Matthew 13:55
Chief Cornerstone 1 Peter 2:6
Chief Among Ten Thousand Song of Solomon 5:10
Christ John 1:41
Counselor Isaiah 9:6
Deliverer Romans 11:26
Door John 10:9
Elect Isaiah 42:1
Emmanuel Matthew 1:23
Eternal Life 1 John 5:20
Faithful and True Revelation 19:11
Faithful Witness Revelation 1:5
First Begotten Hebrews 1:6
First and Last Revelation 22:13
Glorious Lord Isaiah 33:21
Great High Priest Hebrews 4:14
Head of the Body Colossians 1:18
Head over all things Ephesians 1:22
Headstone Psalms 118:22
Heir of all things Hebrews 1:2
Holy One of Israel Isaiah 41:14
Hope of Glory Colossians 1:27
I Am John 8:58
Image of the Invisible God Colossians 1:15
Jesus Christ Our Lord Romans 1:3
King of Glory Psalms 24:7
Lamb of God John 1:29
Light of the World John 8:12
Lily of the Valleys Song of Solomon 2:1
Living Bread John 6:51
Lord God Almighty Revelation 4:8
Lord of All Acts 10:36
Lord Our Righteousness Jeremiah 23:6
Love 1 John 4:8
Man of Sorrows Isaiah 53:3
Master Matthew 23:10
Messiah Daniel 9:25
Most Holy Daniel 9:24
Nazarene Matthew 2:23
Only Wise God 1 Timothy 1:17
Our Passover 1 Corinthians 5:7
Physician Luke 4:23
Prince of Peace Isaiah 9:6
Propitiation Romans 3:25
Redeemer Isaiah 59:20
Resurrection John 11:25
Righteous Servant Isaiah 53:11
Rock 1 Corinthians 10:4
Root of Jesse Isaiah 11:10
Rose of Sharon Song of Solomon 2:1
Savior of the World 1 John 4:14
Seed of David John 7:42
Seed of the Woman Genesis 3:15
Shepherd John 10:11
Son of God Romans 1:4
Son of Man Acts 7:56
Son of Mary Mark 6:3
Stone Matthew 21:42
Sun of Righteousness Malachi 4:2
Sure Foundation Isaiah 28:16
Teacher John 3:2
Truth John 14:6
Unspeakable Gift 1 Corinthians 9:15
Vine John 15:1
Way John 14:6
Wonderful Isaiah 9:6
Word John 1:14
Word of God Revelation 19:13
THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:23; Galatians 4:4) in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction (Isaiah 7:14). John says that the Word–Jesus Christ–became flesh and that God “tabernacled” among us (John 1:1, 14).
God became a man in order to redeem His creation from sin and fulfill the Davidic covenant as the promised King (Luke 1:31-33). His purpose in coming was to reveal God to men (John 1:18); save sinners (Galatians 1:4); destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8); judge mankind (Acts 17:31); bring all things in creation into submission to God (1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Ephesians 1:10-11); and intercede for believers (Romans 8:34).
THE EARLY LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus was circumcised according to Jewish law and presented at the temple (Luke 2:21-22). He lived in Bethlehem as a baby, in Egypt for possibly a year, and was raised in Nazareth. His childhood was characterized by His growth in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man (Luke 2:4-52). He was subject to His parents (Luke 2:49-51), and was aware of His Heavenly Father’s business (Luke 2:49). His trade as a young man was a carpenter.
THE MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus began His ministry with His baptism by John (Matthew 3:15 and John 1:31), followed by a time of temptation by Satan (Matthew 4). The major purposes of Christ’s ministry included:
Revealing God to Mankind.
God became flesh and was revealed by Jesus Christ: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18).
Redeeming Man From Sin.
It is through the death of Jesus Christ that you are freed from the bondage of sin in which the enemy has ensnared you:
…for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage… (2 Peter 2:19)
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)
Destroying The Works Of The Devil.
…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil. (1 John 3:8)
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
Bringing all things in creation into submission to God.
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him. (Ephesians 1:9-10)
Interceding For Believers.
In Heaven Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father interceding for believers, talking to the Father on your behalf:
…It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)
THE DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST
All four gospels record the death of Christ for the forgiveness of the sins of all mankind, the establishing of the New Covenant, and the defeat of Satan. The key references regarding the death of Jesus are Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; and John 18-19.
Old Testament prophecies foretold His betrayal and death:
-Jesus was betrayed by a friend: Psalm 41:9.
-He was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver: Zechariah 11:12-13.
-Jesus was abused: Isaiah 50:6.
-Jesus was silent before His accusers: Isaiah 53:7.
-Jesus would be crucified for our sins: Isaiah 53:4-6.
-Zechariah described the crucifixion: Zechariah 12:10.
-Jesus would be numbered with the transgressors: Isaiah 53:12.
-Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s tomb: Isaiah 53:9.
New Testament writers confirmed His death: Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23;
Reasons Why Jesus Died.
-To reconcile mankind to God: Romans 5:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Ephesians 2:14-16;
-To bear our sins: Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24.
-To take away sins: John 1:29; Hebrews 9:26; 10:4,10-12; 1 John 3:5.
-To forgive us of sins: Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 2:13-14; 1 John 1:9.
-To give us eternal life: John 3:14-16; 10:10, 27-29; 1 John 5:6-13.
-To do the will of God: Hebrews 10:7-14.
-To save sinners: Matthew 9:13; Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1: 15.
-To fulfill the law: Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4.
-To redeem those under the law: Galatians 3:13-14, 24; 4:4-5; 1 Peter 1:18-19.
-To demonstrate God’s righteousness: Romans 3:24-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21.
-To manifest God’s love: John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-18.
-To bring lost mankind to God: Hebrews 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:18.
-To destroy the devil’s power: Hebrews 2:14-15.
-To fulfill the functions of a faithful high priest: Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16.
-To give His life as a ransom: Matthew 28:28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST
After His death by crucifixion, Jesus was buried, but He did not remain in the tomb. The story of His miraculous resurrection is recorded in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20.
Through His resurrection from the dead, Jesus gained victory over physical death. Those who become part of the Kingdom of God may experience physical death, but they will also experience resurrection from the dead as He did. Because our King is eternal, we are part of an eternal Kingdom and have eternal life.
-Old Testament writers foretold His resurrection. Examples are in Hosea 6:1-2 and Psalm 16:10.
-New Testament writers confirmed His resurrection. Complete accounts are given in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. Angels confirmed it: Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-7; and John 20:12. New Testament writers spend much time on the subject of the resurrection. A classic example is in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul says that if Christ is not risen from the dead then He died in vain; He lied and we continue to lie; preaching and practicing our faith is useless because a dead Savior can save no one, so we are lost in our sins; our dead loved ones are gone forever; and we are to be pitied! But Paul concludes that these things are not true because Jesus Christ lives!
After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus appeared to many people, confirming the fact of His resurrection:
-His first appearance was to Mary Magdalene, on resurrection morning: Mark 16:9; John
-He appeared to the women returning from the tomb: Matthew 28:9-10.
-He appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus: Luke 24:13-32; Mark 16:12-13.
-He appeared to Peter in Jerusalem: Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5.
-He appeared to His disciples (Thomas absent): Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23.
-Jesus appeared again to His disciples with Thomas present: John 20:24-29.
-He appeared to seven disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee: John 21:1-24.
-Jesus was seen by 500 believers at one time: 1 Corinthians 15:5-7.
-He appeared to James: 1 Corinthians 15:7.
-He appeared on the Mount of Olives, and then ascended into Heaven: Matthew 28:18-
20; Luke 24:50-53.
-He was seen by Paul on the road to Damascus: Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:8.
-He was seen ascending into Heaven: Acts 1:3-11.
THE ASCENSION OF JESUS CHRIST
The ascension of Jesus to Heaven is recorded in Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, and Acts 1:1-11. After Jesus appeared to many people over a period of forty days, Jesus led His disciples out to a mountain, gave them a final commission to preach the Gospel to the world, and ascended into Heaven in a cloud.
Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34-35) and currently reigns over the universe (Ephesians 1:20-22a). He is head over all things pertaining to the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Peter 3:22) and has sent the Holy Spirit as He promised (Acts 2:33). He presently intercedes for all true believers (Hebrews 7:25) and will remain in Heaven until time for Him to return and establish the visible Kingdom of God in final form.
THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST
The Bible reveals that Jesus will return to earth in what is called the rapture. Details of this return are given in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Those who sleep with Jesus will come with Him; the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; the dead in Christ shall rise first and then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Later, Jesus will return to earth in a second coming to subdue Satan and all enemies and to establish His eternal Kingdom. (See the chapter on Eschatology in this manual for additional teaching.)
The Bible reveals that the Kingdom of Jesus will be eternal:
…of His Kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:33)
Every kingdom of earth and the kingdom of Satan will be defeated by the King of Kings. In the end an announcement will be made that…
…The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)
THE THREE OFFICES OF JESUS CHRIST
Christ Is A Prophet.
In Deuteronomy 18:18 Moses predicted that God would send another prophet like him to the people of Israel. John and Peter both witness that Jesus is that prophet (John 6:14; 7:40; Acts 3:22-24). Christ functioned as a prophet through revelation from God and was, in human form, the revelation from God (John 1:18).
Christ Is Our Priest.
The prophet was God’s representative to the people. The priest was the peoples’ representative before God, so this means that Jesus Christ also functioned in the office of priest. Instead of offering Levitical sacrifices for sin however, Jesus offered himself as the final sacrifice–once and for all–for all the sins of all mankind. As a priest, He entered the holy of holies in Heaven and opened the way for us to access the presence of God. Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25 reveal that He presently makes intercession for us.
Christ Is Our King.
Jesus Christ fulfilled the office of King. In contrast to the greatest of Israelite kings, Jesus rules over the entire world (Ephesians 1:20-23). When He returns to earth in His second coming, He will assume His rightful place as “the King of Kings” (Revelation 19:16).