Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of Jesus

Question Who is Jesus?

Answer Jesus is the Christ, the holy and righteous Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He is the way, the truth, the life, and the only Savior of the world.

Scripture John 20:31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Explanation| We’ve already looked at the doctrines of God and the Bible. Now, over the next several questions, we’ll look at what the Bible teaches about Jesus. And, where better to start than understanding who He is? So, who is He?

Jesus is the Christ. Notice very carefully, here—Jesus is the Christ. Some people think that Christ is a part of Jesus’ name (either His first or last name). Still others think that, whatever Christ means, Jesus is just one Christ among many.1 To begin with, Christ is not a name. It’s a position or a title, similarto when we refer to “The President of the United States of America.” The President is not the name, but the title, of the person fulfilling that position. So, Jesus’ name is Jesus, and His title is Christ. Though Jesus wasn’t (and isn’t) the only one who was called Jesus, His name was intentionally given by order of God, the Father.2 Further, His name’s meaning also gives us an idea of His mission. Jesus, in the New Testament, is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew name Joshua in the Old Testament, both of which mean “God saves.”3 Jesus was given a name, and He was known by name as a man who came from Nazareth.4 Yet, what makes Jesus unique is not so much His name (Jesus) or His hometown (Nazareth). Rather, what makes this Jesus so unique is that the Bible tells us that He, and He alone, is the Christ.5 Christ means “chosen one,” or, a person specially chosen by God to fill a special position to fulfill a special plan. Similar to Jesus, Christ, used throughout the New Testament, is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word messiah in the Old Testament. And, when we refer to Jesus as the Christ, what we are saying is that He is the only One like Him. So, though others have shared the name Jesus, or been raised in Nazareth, or even been chosen by God to carry out various responsibilities, He is the only one who could do what He did in obedience to God, the Father.6 We’ll look more at what Jesus did in later questions and answers. But, this will do for now.

Jesus is the Son of GodThis Jesus, who is the Christ, is also the Son of God. We can think of it like this—if Jesus is His name, and Christ is His title, then Son of God tells us about His relationship to God, the Father. That is, He (Jesus) is His (the Father’s) Son.7 But, what does this mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that Jesus, as the Son, is a Son to His Father in exactly the same way other sons are sons to their fathers. (Are you confused yet?) In other words, Jesus, unlike every other son (and daughter), doesn’t come genetically from His Father, nor does He come chronologically after His Father. What this does mean (as hard as it is to understand) is that Jesus is related in some way to His Father as His Son—He is sent by His Father, He submits to His Father, and He shares a resemblance with His Father.8 And while Jesus provides the perfect example of how we should behave as children toward our human fathers—and even more, as spiritual children toward our Heavenly Father—Jesus is uniquely the Father’s Son. In fact, one of the most familiar verses about Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The phrase, only Son, means, “one-of-a-kind.” He’s the only one exactly like Him. And why is that? Well, this takes us back nearly to the beginning of all our questions so far. Jesus, as the only Son, is the one-of-a-kind Son because He is the second person of the Trinity. That is, Jesus is God. So, while Jesus is the Son to the Father, He is, at the same time, the same God as God, the Father. (Does your head hurt, yet?) And, as God, Jesus is holy and righteous. He is holy, meaning, He is completely without sin.9 And, He is also righteous, meaning, He always is and does right.10

Jesus is the only Savior of the world. So, Jesus is His name, Christ is His title, and Son is His relationship to the Father. Let’s add another way to describe Jesus as the Bible does. He is also Savior. This helps us understand both His mission from the Father and His relationship to the world. Jesus is the Savior of the world.11 What is a savior? A savior is one who saves, rescues, or delivers. Someone who helps others get out of impossible and live-threatening dilemmas. You can probably think of many examples of people rescuing others from some horrible circumstance. And certainly, those real-life examples are true, and many of them are even quite spectacular. But none of them is quite like Jesus. Jesus is an altogether unique Savior. Why? Well, think about it. Every other example of humans saving other humans is limited in some way. To put it rather bluntly, no human has saved, nor ever could save, all other humans from their worst dilemma ever. But, not so with Jesus. Jesus is the Savior of the world. When we use the word world, we’re talking about people. Lots of people. People all over the world, and across time. In other words, everyone. Is there a dilemma that everyone has? Yes. Can Jesus help with this dilemma that everyone has? Absolutely. But, don’t stop there. Keep going. Is Jesus—this Jesus—the only one who can save anyone who has this dilemma? Most definitely. Jesus, Himself, even said as much—“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He is the only Savior of everyone’s dilemma. What is this dilemma, and what does it mean that Jesus can save us from this dilemma? We’ll continue to answer these sorts of questions as we look at what the Bible teaches about Jesus, us, and salvation. But, in short, we can put this negatively and positively—negatively, He “saves His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), and positively, as our verse above says, He saves us to “have life in His name” (John 20:31).     

This is what the Bible teaches about Jesus.

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1 Matthew 2424 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (See also, 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7)

2 Luke 131 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. (See also, Matthew 1:21, 23; Luke 2:21)

3 Matthew 121 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

4 John 145 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (See also, Luke 2:1, 39; 4:34; 18:37; 24:19)

5 Matthew 1613 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (See also, Acts 5:42; 9:22; 17:3; 18:5, 28; 1 John 2:22; 5:1)

6 1 Corinthians 8Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7  Luke 935 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (See also, Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Colossians 1:13; 2 Peter 1:17)

8 John 519 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (See also, John 10:30, 38; 12:49; 14:10)

9 Luke 135 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God.” (See also, Luke 4:34; John 6:69; Acts 2:27; 13:35; Hebrews 7:26; Revelation 3:7)

10 1 John 2My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (See also, John 8:29; Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:28-29; Revelation 15:4)

11 1 John 414 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. (See also, Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Philippians 3:20; 1 Timothy 4:10; 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 2:13)