The Day Jesus Stumped The Greatest Scholars In Israel

When the Pharisees gathered before Jesus to question Him, it was with the intent of publicly discrediting Him before all those who were listening. Instead, these men were themselves confounded. The text that the Pharisees used to trap Jesus was a well-known verse from Psalm 110:1a.

In this portion of scripture, The LORD God is saying to the Messiah, “Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies my footstool.” The Pharisees believed that they already knew the answer to this question when they asked Jesus: “What do you think about the Christ (Messiah) Whose Son is He?” The Pharisees believed that the Messiah was the Son of David.

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ~Psalms 110:1a

Matthew Records This Event In His Gospel

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”  ~Matthew 22:41-45

Jesus asks the Pharisees, “If the Messiah is David’s son, then why did David also call Him “Lord?” In other words, how could the Messiah be both a human being (David’s son) and also Lord (God’s Son)?

These men knew and understood that this verse of scripture that Jesus referred to was about the Messiah. Only the Messiah could sit at the right hand of God. Jesus believed these verses from Psalm 110:1 were inspired by God and were true—as did these leaders of Israel. Jesus asked these teachers of the law how Messiah could be both God and a human being?

“If the Messiah is David’s son, how can He also be David’s Lord?”

This is precisely what this prophecy from Psalms 110:1a is predicting.

The Pharisees didn’t have an answer. They were bewildered, but not Jesus. The obvious answer to this question is that the Messiah will be both David’s Lord (God) and His, Son (a future human descendant), a fact that Jesus made repeatedly concerning Himself.

The reality that Jesus is both David’s son and his Lord is confirmed by Jesus’ question which He asks of the Pharisees. For those who say that Jesus never claimed to be God, this is one of many places where He clearly asserts that He is God.

When Jesus asks this question of the religious leadership of Israel, no one was able to answer Him. This is because it was generally accepted by the Jews that Psalms 110:1 was speaking of the Messiah who will also be God. If by David’s words, the Messiah is both a son and Lord, He must also be God and man.

The idea that God could be dwelling within the person of Jesus Christ was a reality that was totally unacceptable to the leaders of Israel. Yet, this is precisely what David was predicting when he penned Psalms 110:1.

Understanding this is true, how is it that a New Testament Scholar could miss this critical piece of evidence in stating that Jesus never claimed to be God? This is precisely what Bart Ehrman and the Jesus Seminar participants assert.

Here before the Pharisees, Jesus meticulously demonstrates from the Old Testament that His identity as God and Messiah is precisely what David predicted: A man who is both Messiah and God.

Background On Psalms 110

The question of whether Psalms 110 is really about the Messiah and specifically applicable to Jesus is answered.

When we examine the New Testament, we see that both Jesus and Peter state that David was the author of this Psalm.

This fact is repeated in Matthew 22:43, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, and Acts 2:33-35.

Understanding that David is writing Psalms 110 as a Prophet it is clear that his intent was to write about the Messiah.

David, …being a prophet…  ~Acts 2:29-30

Thus says David…The anointed of the God…“The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me…  ~2 Samuel 23:1-2

David was not writing about his own descendants because there was no Jewish king who ever became a priest. The Messiah is a Priest forever according to 2 Chronicles 26:16-23.

There was no Jewish king who ever conquered the rulers of the whole earth as Psalms 110:6 describes.

The writers of the New Testament quoted Psalms 110:1 twenty-five times and verse 4 on five occasions. In the book of Hebrews, Paul speaks ten times about Jesus as the object of Psalms 110 as the Messiah.

Correctly Translating Psalms 110

It is sometimes difficult to understand, in English, precisely what David is saying in Psalms 110:1.

The Lord (Yahweh יהוה) said to my Lord (Adonai אדני), Sit at My right hand…

Verses 1, David calls the Messiah by the name “Lord,” in Hebrew, “Yahweh-Jehovah-God,” who said to my Lord, “Adonai-Lord God Almighty.”

The terms Adonai is not a title that is less than Yahweh, but speaks of the Messiah’s might as He rules over the world.

In one of the original manuscripts, the text reads: “Jehovah said to my Jehovah.”

Because the ancient scribes so highly revered the name of Jehovah (Yahweh), it is possible that the scribes substituted “Adonai” for Jehovah in 134 Old Testament scriptures, including Psalms 110:1.

The name Jehovah should have been retained in these places because this is the correct meaning of these scriptures. Father, Son, and Spirit are all equally One God, Yahweh.

The name Adonai is Lord-Yahweh-Almighty, which carries the same definition as God. The confusion that has resulted from changing Yahweh to Adonai is that some people mistook this change as meaning that Jesus is not Jehovah, as with the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church. Even if Adonai is used, this does not diminish Jesus as less than God but supports Him as equal to God.

In the New Testament, there are several occurrences where the Greek word for God, Theos, is used. Most often, this word is used only in describing the Father. However, there are several places in the New Testament where Theos is also used to describe Jesus Christ.

In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) , and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (Theos).⁠[1]   ~John 1:1

…of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God (Theos). Amen.  ~Romans 9:5

But to the Son (Jesus) He says: “Your throne, O God (Theos), is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  ~Hebrews 1:8

In the Old Testament, the term Lord in Hebrew is Yahweh.⁠[2]

In the New Testament, the word Lord  in Greek is Kyrios.⁠[3] When it is used in relation to Jesus, it always means Yahweh or Jehovah.

Kyrios is often used as a polite way to address a person, such as when we call a man, sir. It can also mean Master, as in one who rules over a servant or slave. The Greek translation of the Old Testament called “the Septuagint,” was widely used during the time when Jesus was here on  earth. The word Kyrios or Lord was understood by those speaking Greek, as Yahweh or Jehovah. The Greek Old Testament translates Kyrios as Lord 6,814 times.

When we arrive at the New Testament, there are also many occasions where Lord (Kyrios) is used to describe Jesus. This is for good reason. The writers of the New Testament were attributing the title of Jehovah-God to Jesus Christ unmistakably.

It was well understood at the writing of the New Testament that Jesus Christ is Yahweh or God Himself. Why the Jehovah’s Witness church has claimed that Jesus Christ is not Jehovah-God is a great mystery. They did not come to this conclusion by the evidence of the Old and New Testament scriptures.

The translators of the New Testament understood that Jehovah-God and Jesus are one and the same person. Further, it is clear that those who knew Jesus understood and believed that He is the eternal Jehovah-God or Yahweh of the Old Testament.

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  ~John 20:28

…looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…  ~Titus 2:13

But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.  ~Hebrews 1:8

Jesus Confounds The Pharisees

As Jesus presents their own scriptures, the Pharisees are confounded. They realize that Jesus is claiming to be the one whom David is describing. These scriptures clearly prove that the Messiah will be both a human being—as He is David’s descendant—and the Lord-God of heaven.

If anyone thinks that Jesus never claimed to be God, this is, again, one more of many places where He makes is crystal clear that He is God.

This is particularly interesting, as Dr. Ehrman has stated in his book, “How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee” that the only place where Jesus is clearly defined as God is in John’s Gospel.

“I had become impressed with the fact that the sayings of Jesus in which he claimed to be God were found only in the Gospel of John.”[3.5]

Here we notice that the text of Psalms 110:1, where David writes of the Messiah, The LORD said to my Lord, clearly defining the Messiah as both God and a man, is found in all three Gospels where Ehrman said there is no evidence that Jesus is defined as God; Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, and Acts 2:33-35.

Apparently, Jesus has not only confounded the Pharisees but also New Testament Scholar, Bart Ehrman.

We must remember that the very reason these same Pharisees will later seek an indictment against Jesus so that they can put Him to death is because He committed blasphemy. Jesus made it obvious that He was claiming to be God, and this is the primary reason that these men went to Pontius Pilate to seek Jesus’ crucifixion.

As Jesus correctly defines exactly what David intended by Psalms 110:1, the Pharisees are perplexed. These men are uncertain what they should do with Jesus. He accurately interprets David’s true intent when He wrote this Psalm, yet the reality that Jehovah-God could be standing before them as a man, was beyond their ability to accept or comprehend.

(Jesus told the Pharisees:) You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  ~John 5:39

The Old Testament Predicts The Messiah Will Be God

According to multiple places in the Hebrew scriptures, the Messiah will not only be a man; He will also be, fully God.

David wrote Psalms 45 for the specific purpose of describing the Messiah. He begins by predicting a kingdom of Messiah that will never end.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  ~Psalms 45:6

Paul Writes That It Was Jesus Whom David Was Describing In Psalms 45

But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  ~Hebrews 1:8

It is certain that Paul believed Psalms 45:6 was written by David for the Messiah and, specifically, Jesus Christ. Paul’s quotation of Psalms 45:6, in context with Hebrews 1:8, defines for us accurately who Jesus is:

  1. The “Son” in Hebrews 1:8 is Jesus Christ.
  2. In Hebrews 1:8, God says of His Son that He is God.
  3. Psalms 45:6 was a prophecy written for the Messiah.
  4. Paul said in Psalms 45:6 that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, promised by the Old Testament.
  5. Therefore, Jesus is God whom David Describes in Psalms 45:6

Paul is the preeminent Hebrew scholar of the New Testament who received his training in the scriptures from the renowned Rabbi, Gamaliel.

I (Paul) am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.  ~Acts 22:3

The term “at the feet of Gamaliel” was a common phrase of that day, referring to a long tradition of those who were carefully trained in the scriptures. Students of the Hebrew scriptures sat on chairs that were close to the ground. They were placed at the feet of their Rabbis who taught them while they sat on higher chairs, signifying their authority in the scriptures.

Rabban, Gamaliel was a Pharisee and expert in the scriptures. During this period of history, these teachers of the scriptures were referred to as “Doctors of the Law.” Today we would say that Gamaliel had a Doctorate in Law. Gamaliel was referred to as the “thirty-fifth receiver of the traditions.” Gamaliel, having received the “Cabala”⁠4 (Kabbalah) that came from Moses at Mount Sinai, is described as dying 18 years before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.

It is clear from the instruction that Paul received from Gamaliel, that he was also an expert scholar in the Old Testament scriptures. Paul was perhaps more familiar with the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah than any other person who was alive at that time. Paul was convinced that Jesus was the fulfillment of these many Messianic Prophecies, including Psalms 45:6.

When Paul penned the words to Hebrews Chapter 1:8, But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom, he was clarifying that not only was Jesus the Messiah, but He is also the Living God.

We learn from Psalms 45:6 that God intended from the foundation of the world that the Messiah would be God. Paul was certain that Jesus is the person to whom this prophecy was written.

David Writes In Psalms 90 That Messiah Will Be God

David continues this proof text for the identity of Jesus as God, with his writing of Psalm 90:2.

David declares that the Messiah will be the eternal God, who made all things.

Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.   ~Psalms 90:2

The Apostle John who lived with Jesus for three and one-half years states that Jesus is the Eternal God Who, created all that exists:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.   ~John 1:1-3

Paul writes to the church at Colossae that Jesus is the Creator-God of Genesis chapter 1:

For by Jesus all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.   ~Colossians 1:16 (RCR)

Paul writes to the Hebrew Christians at Jerusalem, revealing that Jesus is God’s Son who created all things:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…  ~Hebrews 1:1-2

In these examples, we see that both the Old and New Testaments confirm that the Messiah will be God.

The idea that the writers of the New Testament made Jesus God, when He was not, is impeached by the evidence that is presented to us by the Old Testament.

The men who described Jesus as performing works of supernatural origin were describing the exact same works that the Old Testament prophets predicted the Messiah would show the world.

The great mystery of the universe is that God, who spoke the universe into existence, also died on a Roman cross 2,000 years ago for the sins of all people.

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.  ~1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

Why would the One who created all that exists make Himself subject to His creation? It is beyond comprehension that the eternal God, who lives forever, would be willing to die for sinful man. Yet this is precisely what the writers of the four Gospels record, and the prophets of the Old Testament predicted.

When the angels disobeyed God, there was no plan of salvation offered to them. Human beings are unique amongst all the creation of God. Only the descendants of Adam have been presented with the life of the Son of God—in payment for their sins. This is a gift of unparalleled worth that every person on the earth should eagerly seek with all of their heart.

Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.   ~Psalms 90:2

David’s prophecy from Psalms 90:2 predicts that when the Messiah arrives, He will be the eternal God who “formed the earth and the world.”

The term from everlasting to everlasting is a reference to God’s eternality. He has no beginning, and He will have no end. No other God created our God, nor did He require a first cause. He is eternal, self-existent, and has no need of anything outside Himself.

We would not know that Psalm 90:2 was prophetic, except for the words of the New Testament in which Jesus is described as the One through whom the universe was created.

Colossians 1:16-17 describes Jesus as the Creator of all things. If Jesus created all things, then He must be before all other things and could not Himself be created.

For by Jesus all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  ~Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)

Psalms 90:2 describes the one who made all things as God. This verse, matched with Colossians 1:16-17, John 1:1, and Hebrews 1:1-2 (above), is describing Jesus as the agent of all creation and revealed to us as the Messiah. By these scriptures we understand that Psalms 90:2 is prophetic. This verse of scripture defines the Messiah who died for us as the agent of creation, whom the prophets said would come, who is from everlasting to everlasting.

This Is Why Jesus Is God And All Others Are Not

How is it that God would be willing to die for the creatures He made? This is the great mystery revealed to us by Jesus’ arrival on earth, in fulfillment of these many prophecies of the Old Testament scriptures. God’s love is so vividly displayed in the person of Jesus Christ, that we are able to see Him clearly and understand who He is by the things Jesus has said and done.

We know and understand who God is by His Son. We live and move, and have our being by Him and through Him and because of Him (Acts 17:28). All that has been, and all that will be, are determined and ordered by our great God and His Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The Preceding Is From The Book: “Why Jesus Is God, And Others Are Not,” By Robert Clifton Robinson. See It At Amazon


NOTES:

[1] Strong’s Concordance of Greek words #2316 and and Englishman’s Concordance of Greek Words.

[2] Strong’s Hebrew Concordance # 3068

[3] Strong’s Greek Concordance # 2962

[3.5] Ehrman, Bart D.. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (p. 86). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[4] Kabbalah: A very short introduction, Joseph Dan, Oxford University Press, Chapter 1 “The term and its uses”



Categories: Alleged Contradictions, Atheists, Agnostics and Skeptics, Bart Ehrman, Israel in the Last Days, Jesus is God, Jewish rejection of Jesus, Messianic Prophecies, Messianic Prophecy Bible, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, Prophecy, Psalms 110:1, Reliability of the New Testament, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation through Jesus, Studying the Word of God, The Historical Jesus, Why Jesus Is God And Others Are Not

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