Part 1: Introduction | Part 2: “Prepare Ye the Way” | Part 3: “I Have Seen the LORD” | Part 4: “Call upon the Name of the LORD” | Part 5: “He Ascended Up on High” | Part 6: Excursus—Descent into Hell | Part 7: “The LORD Will Come in Fire” | Part 8: “Let All the Angels of God Worship Him” | Part 9: “Your Years Shall Not Fail”
We’re getting toward the end of our list of places where the New Testament quotes a YHWH passage from the Old Testament and applies it to Christ. The ones we’ve addressed so far are quite clear at both ends—that is, the NT passage is clearly citing the OT YHWH passage, and it is clearly applying it to Jesus.
I’d like to wrap up the series by listing a handful of other examples that are less certain. I’ll note where the uncertainty is. But I include them here as possibilities because they may be legitimate examples of the phenomenon we’ve been studying.
- When Satan tempts Jesus to leap from the pinnacle of the Temple (Mt 4.7 // Lk 4.12), Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6.16, “You shall not tempt YHWH your God.” I think Jesus is saying that he should not tempt the Father by requiring a rescue; but there may well be a double meaning in his words to Satan, “You, Satan, should not be tempting me.” Possible; I wouldn’t say likely.
- In Romans 12.19, Paul reminds his readers of the statement in Deuteronomy 32.35 that “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says YHWH.” In the context of Romans 12, he could well be referring to the Father. But the only other place where he uses the word vengeance of divine action is in an earlier epistle, 2Thessalonians 1.8, where Jesus is the one taking vengeance at his coming.
- In Hebrews 10.30, the writer also quotes Deuteronomy 32.35-36, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay … YHWH will vindicate his people.” In the next paragraph, he presents as the fulfillment of that prediction (possibly paraphrasing Habakkuk 2.3) the words “Yet in a very little while, he who is coming will come.” The reference to a coming leans me toward a reference to the Son rather than the Father.
- In Romans 14.11, Paul quotes Isaiah 45.23, “As I live, says YHWH, every knee shall bow to me.” Again, here the reference could be to the Father. But Paul will shortly later write that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow” (Php 2.10).
- In 1Corinthians 2.16 Paul quotes Isaiah 40.13, “Who has known the mind of YHWH?” and then says, “But we have the mind of Christ.” Back in verse 11 he has mentioned the Spirit as knowing the mind of God, and he may be mentioning Christ here in a parallel sense. But maybe not.
- The author of Hebrews quotes extensively from Jeremiah 31, where YHWH says that he will make a “new covenant” with his people (He 8.8-12; 10.16-17). The context quotes the words of all three members of the Trinity—the Son (He 10.8-9), then the Father (He 10.12-13), then the Spirit (He 10.16-17). Which person is the initiator of the New Covenant? (Or should this agency even be ascribed to just one of the persons?) Do Jesus’ words at the Last Supper (Mt 26.28 // Mk 14.24 // Lk 22.20) give us a basis for making him the “YHWH” who speaks in Jeremiah 31?
- In 1Peter 3.15 Peter may be referencing Isaiah 8.13; commentators are divided on that. (Noted NT scholars Wayne Grudem and Thomas Schreiner both think so.) Isaiah says we should regard YHWH as holy; Peter says we should regard “the Lord Christ” as holy. The situation is complicated by a textual variant in Peter’s passage; most of the manuscripts say “the Lord God,” but pretty much all of the oldest manuscripts (fewer in number, because, well, they’re older) say “the Lord Christ.” If you’re a majority-text person—and you’re welcome to be, as far as I’m concerned—you won’t want to use this one.
- In Revelation 1.7 John appears to be citing an OT text when he describes Jesus as “coming in the clouds.” He might be referencing Daniel 7.13, where one like a son of man (human in appearance) comes in the clouds to appear before the Ancient of Days. Jesus himself refers to this passage during his trial (Mt 26.64 // Mk 14.62) and applies it to himself. But it’s possible that John is referencing Isaiah 19.1, where YHWH comes on a cloud.
Maybe all of these are further examples of the Scripture calling Jesus Jehovah; maybe none of them are. But we have multiple passages where the Bible clearly makes that claim.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash