Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Christology of Luke-Acts

Additional Evidence for the absolute Deity of Christ

Sam Shamoun

In this article we are going to look at specific passages from Luke-Acts to show that the inspired author depicts Jesus as the unique Divine Son of God who became man for our redemption. The data that we are about to present should leave absolutely no doubt that according to these canonical writings Jesus Christ is God Incarnate.

Jesus as the Divine Son of Man of Daniel

In Luke-Acts Jesus is depicted as the Son of Man who rides the clouds and who sits/stands at God's right hand:

"But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God." Acts 7:55-56

"And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." Luke 21:27

"When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they said, 'If you are the Christ, tell us.' But he said to them, 'If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated ay the right hand of the power of God.' And they all said, 'Are you the Son of God, then?" And he said to them, 'You say that I am.' And they said, 'What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.'" Luke 22:66-71

Not only is Jesus claiming to be the Lord whom David spoke of in Psalm 110:1,

"The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.'" – cf. Luke 20:41-44

He is also identifying himself as the Son of Man whom the prophet Daniel saw in a vision:

"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14

Daniel's Son of Man is clearly a Divine Being appearing as a man since he is worshiped by all the nations and reigns forever like God,

"And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,and all dominions shall serve/worship and obey him." Daniel 7:27

And even rides the clouds like God!

"An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them." Isaiah 19:1

Thus, by referring to himself as Daniel's Son of Man Christ is claiming to be God in human form, the One who rules forever and who shall be worshiped by all creation!

This leads us to our next section.

Jesus Christ – The Human Visitation of Yahweh

According to Luke God sent John the Baptist to fulfill the prophecy spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiber'i-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturae'a and Trachoni'tis, and Lysa'ni-as tetrarch of Abile'ne, in the high-priesthood of Annas and Ca'iaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechari'ah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” Luke 3:1-6

The Baptist is the voice in the wilderness that Isaiah says prepares the people for the appearance of God:

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’ … Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.’” Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

However, according to the Baptist’s own testimony he was sent to prepare for the coming of Christ:

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented.” Matthew 3:11-15

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John bore witness to him, and cried, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.”’)” John 1:4-9, 14-15

“He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.’ … They asked him, ‘Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’ … The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness, ‘I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.’” John 1:23, 25-27, 29-34

“John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’” John 3:27-28; cf. Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:15-17

This means that Jesus is the Lord God of Isaiah who was to come! The following should help bring this point out more clearly.

  1. A herald would be sent in the wilderness to prepare the people for the appearance of Yahweh God.

  2. John the Baptist was that herald.

  3. The Baptist was sent to prepare for Christ’s appearance.

  4. Therefore, Jesus is the visible appearance, the human manifestation, of Yahweh God!

Moreover, the Lord Jesus stated that the Baptist was the messenger spoken of in Malachi 3:1:

“When the messengers of John had gone, he began to speak to the crowds concerning John: 'What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face (pro prosopou sou), who shall prepare thy way before thee.”’” Luke 7:24-27

According to the prophecy this messenger, much like the herald of Isaiah 40:3, is sent to prepare for the coming of the Lord to his very own temple:

“Behold, I send MY messenger (mala’aki) to prepare the way before ME/My face (la-panay), and the Lord (ha adon) whom you seek will suddenly come to HIS temple; the Angel/Messenger of the covenant (umala'aka haberith) in whom you delight, behold, HE is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of HIS coming, and who can stand when HE appears? For HE is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; HE will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and HE will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear ME, says the LORD of hosts. For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:1-6

The expression ha adon occurs eight other times, and in every instance it refers to the true God Yahweh (cf. Exodus 23:17; 34:23; Isaiah 1:24; 3:1; 10:16, 33; 19:4; Micah 4:13). Furthermore, the temple was built for Yahweh and therefore belongs to him:

“Tell him this is what the LORD of hosts says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’ The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the LORD. Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the LORD, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the LORD your God.” Zechariah 6:12-15

These two factors make it clear that the One who is supposed to come is none other than Yahweh God.

He who is said to come is also called the Angel of the covenant, a point brought out more clearly in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible:

Behold I am sending MY angel (angelou mou), and he will oversee the way before ME/My face (pro prosopou mou), and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to the shrine. And the Angel of the covenant (angelos tes diathekes) whom you want – behold, HE is coming, says the Lord. And who will endure the day of HIS arrival, or who will withstand in HIS appearance? For HE is coming like the fire of a smelter and like the lye of the cleaners, Malachi 3:1-2 LXX

It seems certain that this is a reference to the Angel of Yahweh, the heavenly Messenger who appears all throughout the Hebrew Bible. It is important to note that this particular Angel is not a creature but a fully Divine Person whom God sends to speak on his behalf.

This is seen from the fact that in several places he is often called and actually calls himself God:

“The Angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I'm running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered. Then the Angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The Angel added,I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.’ The Angel of the LORD also said to her: ‘You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.’ She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.” Genesis 16:7-14

Not only do we find the Angel claiming to have the ability to give Hagar offspring too numerous to count the author even calls him Yahweh and Hagar herself refers to him as the God who sees her afflictions.

In another instance the Angel tells Jacob that he is the God of Bethel, or the house of God:

“In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. The Angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’” Genesis 31:10-13; cf. 28:10-22

In fact to see this Angel is to see God:

“A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. The Angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, ‘You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.’ … Then the woman went to her husband and told him, ‘A man of God came to me. He looked like an Angel of God, very awesome. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name.’ … Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: ‘O LORD, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.’ God heard Manoah, and the Angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman hurried to tell her husband, ‘He's here! The man who appeared to me the other day!’ … The Angel of the LORD replied, ‘Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.’ (Manoah did not realize that it was the Angel of the LORD.) Then Manoah inquired of the Angel of the LORD, ‘What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?’ He replied, ‘Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.’ Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the Angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the Angel of the LORD. ‘We are doomed to die!’ he said to his wife. ‘We have seen God!’ But his wife answered, ‘If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.’” Judges 13:2-3, 6, 8-10, 16-23

Yahweh himself bears witness that this specific Angel is God:

“See, I am sending an Angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My Angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. Exodus 23:20-23

In this passage Yahweh testifies that this particular Messenger has the ability to forgive sins since he has Yahweh’s very own name in him, meaning that he shares the very nature of Yahweh.

Unfortunately for the Israelites they did not heed Yahweh’s warning, but rebelled against the Angel, which resulted in the Divine Messenger becoming angry and not forgiving their rebellion:

“The Angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, “I will never break MY covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.” Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’ When the angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, and they called that place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.” Judges 2:1-5

It is clear from all of these Biblical examples that this Angel is not a creature but is actually a fully Divine Being, a heavenly sent Messenger who is both distinct from and identical with Yahweh God! The following source sums it up best:

“But who is ‘the Lord... the Angel of the Covenant’ that suddenly comes to His temple? Who else could this be referring to but Jesus Christ? Concerning the term ‘the Angel of the Covenant’ Lange writes:

“From a very early period we find mention of an extraordinary Messenger, or Angel, who is sometimes called the ‘Angel of God,’ at others, the ‘Angel of Jehovah.’ He is represented as the Mediator between the invisible God and men in all God’s communications and dealings with men. To this Angel divine names, attributes, purposes, and acts are ascribed. He occasionally assumed a human form, as in his interviews with Hagar, Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, Gideon, Manoah, and his wife. He went before the camp of Israel on the night of the exodus. In Exodus 23:20, Jehovah said, ‘Behold, I send an angel before thee to bring thee into the place, which I have prepared. My name is in him.’ In Isaiah 63:9 he is called “the angel of his Presence, or face,” where there is a reference to Exodus 33:14, 15, where Jehovah said to Moses, ‘My Presence (or Hebrew, My face) shall go with thee,’ and Moses said, ‘if thy face go not with us, carry us not up hence.’ He is called the ‘face of God,’ because though no man can see his face and live, yet the Angel of his face is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. In him Jehovah’s presence is manifested, and his glory reflected, for the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus Christ. There is thus a gradual development in the Old Testament of the doctrine of the incarnation, of the distinction of persons in the Godhead, not brought to light fully, lest it should interfere with the doctrine of the unity of God.” (Drs. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Walter Kaiser, The Case for Jesus the Messiah– Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists, 16. Malachi 3:1–When Did God Suddenly Come to His Temple? Who Was the Messenger He Sent before Him to Prepare the Way?; underline emphasis ours)

In identifying John as the messenger of Malachi 3:1 Jesus was basically claiming to be the Angel of God and the Lord who was coming to his very own temple since the Baptist was the messenger sent to prepare the way for Christ!

John’s father himself alludes to Malachi 3:1 in describing the mission of his son:

And his father Zechari'ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited (epeskepsato) and redeemed his people (to lao autou), and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, when the sunrise/dayspring shall visit (epeskepsato) from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’” Luke 1:67-79 (1)

Not only do we find an echo of Malachi 3:1 we also have a reference to the following Messianic prophecy:

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan- The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7

The light which dawns is that of the Child who is born to rule on David’s throne forever as the Mighty God, one of the very names of Yahweh himself according to the book of Isaiah!

“On that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no longer depend on the one who struck them, but they will faithfully depend on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.” Isaiah 10:20-21

This further establishes Jesus’ identity as the God of the OT! This also connects Jesus’ appearance on earth with the visitation of the Lord God of Israel whom John’s father says comes from on high to redeem his people.

There is another instance where God is said to have come to visit his people, specifically in connection with Jesus raising the dead:

“Soon afterward he went to a city called Na'in, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people (epeskepsato ho theos ton laon autou)!’ And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. The disciples of John told him of all these things. And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?' And when the men had come to him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?”’ In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.’” Luke 7:11-23

What makes this statement rather amazing is that it is found within the same context where Jesus appeals to his miracles to confirm to the Baptist that he is the One that was supposed to come. And yet the miracles that Jesus performed are precisely the same ones that God himself will perform when he comes to visit his people!

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.' Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35:1-10

This explains why when Jesus commanded the demoniac whom he had just miraculously delivered to tell the people what God had done for him the latter went around proclaiming the things that Jesus had done:

“And as he stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes, and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me.’ For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how he who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Ger'asenes asked him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear; so he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but he sent him away, saying, Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.” Luke 8:27-39

Both the demoniac and the inspired author could see that what God does Jesus does since Jesus is God!

Returning to Malach 3:1 there is one other place where Luke applies the language of this specific text to Christ:

After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and SENT THEM on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to SEND OUT laborers into HIS harvest. Go your way; behold, I SEND YOU OUT as lambs in the midst of wolves… He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.’ The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’” Luke 10:1-3, 16-22

Just like Yahweh in Malachi 3:1 Jesus Christ is the Lord who sends his emissaries ahead of him to prepare his way! This further substantiates that the Luke truly believed that Jesus is the Lord whom the prophet Malachi said is coming.

The Object of Religious Worship and Devotion

Interestingly, in claiming to be the One who sends out his apostles, Christ is pretty much making himself out to be the Lord of the harvest to whom his followers were to pray to send workers into his field. And according to the inspired book of Acts this is precisely what the earliest followers of Christ did:

“In the first book, O The-oph'ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus (ho Iesous) began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom HE had chosen (tois apostolois … hous ekelekato). To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord (kyrie), will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ … In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, ‘Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry. (Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Akel'dama, that is, Field of Blood.) For it is written in the book of Psalms, “Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it”; and “His office let another take.” So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus (ho kyrios Iesous) went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us -- one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.’ And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsab'bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthi'as. And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men (su kyrie kardiognosta panton), show which one of these two you have chosen (ekelekto) to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi'as; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:1-6, 15-26

It is crystal clear from the context that the Lord whom the Apostles prayed to, the One whom they confessed knew the hearts of everyone, is Jesus Christ since he is said to be the Lord who had chosen them. We will have more to say concerning Jesus’ ability to know the hearts of all men in the next section.

This isn’t the only instance where Christ’s followers prayed to him:

“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59-60

In this example Stephen not only asked Jesus to forgive his enemies – an exclusively Divine function as we shall see – he also beseeched the risen and exalted Lord to receive his spirit by using similar language to that which is found in the following Psalm:

Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.” Psalm 31:5

There is more to the early Christian worship of the exalted Lord. One of the reasons why Paul persecuted Christians is because of their habit of calling on the name of the Lord Jesus:

“Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani'as. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Anani'as.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Anani'as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Anani'as answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to YOUR saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon YOUR Name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry MY Name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of MY Name.’ So Anani'as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ … And in the synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ And all who heard him were amazed, and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem on those who called on this Name? And he has come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests.’” Acts 9:10-17, 20-21

The ones whom Paul was persecuting weren’t Jews who were calling on Yahweh’s name, since he was a faithful Torah-observant Jew who loved and worshiped the God of Israel. Rather, he was persecuting the Jewish Christians who were calling on the name of Jesus in their worship since he knew that according to the Hebrew Scriptures the true believers are those who call on Yahweh’s name:

“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” Genesis 21:33

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his testimonies, and the statutes that he gave them.” Psalm 99:6-7

These examples not only show that Jesus is the Lord of the harvest who sends forth laborers such as Ananias and Paul, he is also the risen Lord whom the first Christians worshiped and praised!

The Lord who knows the hearts, forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases

According to the Gospels Jesus went around healing people of their various diseases, performed exorcisms, and forgave people’s sins. For instance, the Lord Jesus forgave the sins of certain individuals on at least two occasions and also healed one of them in the process.

“And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’ And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, ‘Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?’ When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Rise and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ -- he said to the man who was paralyzed – ‘I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.’ And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’” Luke 5:18-26


“And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.’ And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he answered, ‘What is it, Teacher?’ ‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.’ And he said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’ And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’” Luke 7:37-50

Jesus is again depicted as performing the very functions which the OT ascribes to Yahweh God! According to the Holy Scriptures Yahweh alone knows the hearts of men and he is the One who heals and forgives his people:

“If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar; if their enemy besieges them in any of their cities; whatever plague, whatever sickness there is; whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by any man or by all thy people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house; then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and render to each whose heart thou knowest, according to all his ways (for thou, thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men); that they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest to our fathers… then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause and forgive thy people who have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions which they have committed against thee; and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive,” 1 Kings 8:37-40, 49-50

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” Psalm 103:1-5

Who is a God like thee, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger for ever because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion upon us, he will tread our iniquities under foot. Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

The NT itself testifies that it is God alone who forgives sins and searches and knows the hearts of all,

"Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Mark 2:7

“After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ‘Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.’” Acts 15:7-8

“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.” Romans 8:27

And yet Luke-Acts depict Jesus as healing diseases, forgiving sins and knowing what people were thinking in their hearts!

As if this weren’t enough to astonish the minds Jesus’ followers even went around healing and forgiving people in the name of Christ! Here are just some of the many examples recorded in Luke-Acts:

“John answered, ‘Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.’” Luke 9:49-50

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’” Luke 10:17-20

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name, by faith in his name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.’” Acts 3:1-16

“And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sad'ducees came upon them, annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the morrow, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand. On the morrow their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Ca'iaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’” Acts 4:1-12

“There he found a man named Aene'as, who had been bedridden for eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, ‘Aene'as, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’ And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.” Acts 9:33-35

“As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by soothsaying. She followed Paul and us, crying, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, ‘I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.” Acts 16:16-18

Luke has more to say concerning Jesus’ ability to perform exclusively Divine functions.

The Dispenser of the Holy Spirit and the Destroyer of the wicked

According to the testimony of the Baptist Christ comes to baptize his followers with/in the Holy Spirit and shall gather the disbelievers with his winnowing fork in order to burn or destroy them with unquenchable fire:

“John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into HIS granary, but the chaff HE WILL BURN with unquenchable fire.’” Luke 3:16-17

As a side note, John not only says that Christ is mightier than him but he also states that he is unworthy to untie the thongs of Christ’s sandals, which was a function performed by servants. In saying this the Baptist was essentially stating that he was not worthy enough to be Christ’s slave!

The Lord Jesus fulfilled this promise to baptize people with/in the Holy Spirit after his ascension into heaven:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language… ‘Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that his soul was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his flesh see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.’” Acts 2:1-6, 29-33

Again, according to the prophetic writings it is Yahweh who pours out the Holy Spirit and who uses a winnowing fork to gather the wicked for destruction!

“‘Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? Who will mourn for you? Who will stop to ask how you are? You have rejected me,’ declares the LORD. ‘You keep on backsliding. So I will lay hands on you and destroy you; I can no longer show compassion. I will winnow them with a winnowing fork at the city gates of the land. I will bring bereavement and destruction on my people, for they have not changed their ways.’” Jeremiah 15:5-7

You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out MY Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out MY spirit.” Joel 2:27-29 – cf. Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:25-27, 37:14, 39:29

Amazingly, Peter had just finished quoting this prophecy of Joel right before stating that Christ poured out the Holy Spirit upon them!

“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”’” Acts 2:14-21

Thus, what the OT says Yahweh will do Luke-Acts claim that Christ does! The reason? Because Jesus is Yahweh God (but not the Father or the Holy Spirit) according to the inspired author of Luke-Acts!

In conclusion we hope that our brief study has helped the readers to see that Luke believed and proclaimed that Jesus Christ is the human manifestation of the God of Israel, being the unique Divine Son of God who came from heaven to redeem his people.

Amen! Come Lord Jesus, come! As you came the first time to your temple to redeem your people we beseech you to come again to save us from the coming wrath so that we may live in your glorious and holy presence forever and ever! We love you, O Risen Lord of glory and eternal Son of the Most High God! We confess and believe that you are the sovereign Lord of all creation to the glory of God the Father! Amen.

Further Reading


(1) Zechariahs’ proclamation that God has come to redeem his people is echoed in the words of the angel to Joseph:

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Heb. Yeshua, ‘Yahweh is salvation’), because he will save his people (ton laon auto) from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:18-23

The name Jesus signifies that Christ is Yahweh who comes to save his people from their sins, being God with us. This is further confirmation that, as far as the Synoptic Gospels are concerned, Jesus himself is the God who has come to visit his people in fulfilment of all the OT prophecies which speak of God coming to dwell with man. Christ isn’t simply a sign that God is with his people, but he himself is the God who comes (and continues) to dwell with all of his followers:

“and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him.’” John 14:23