Jesus the Revelation of Divine Majesty
One of the foundational statements on the crucial doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ is the following: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18). The text implies that the case for the deity of Christ rests on (1) events that witness its historicity, (2) eyewitnesses that testify to its integrity, and (3) an excellence of His person and work that argues its divinity.
In his scholarly volume on the reliability of the New Testament documents, F. F. Bruce says, “The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ-myth’ theories” (119). The basic implication in Peter’s statement from the text of 2 Peter 1:16 is that Christian faith is grounded in real, true, historical events in reference to a real Person in human history—Jesus of Nazareth. Numerous other statements in the New Testament agree: Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3; 4:19-20; 26:24-26; Romans 1:1-4; John 20:30-31; 21:25; 1 John 1:1-3, et al..
Christianity is not ultimately centered in religious ideas but in historical events that provide “solid evidence—evidence furnished by the personal observation of competent witnesses” (Barnes 228). The witness of one man was not accepted in court. There had to be two or three witnesses (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; John 8:17-18). The case for Christianity is built upon the incontrovertible testimony of multiple witnesses (cf. Luke 1:1-4; Acts 10:40-41; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8; 1 John 1:1-3, et al.). The physical senses of hearing, sight, and touch, and the combination of such answered the error of the heretical teaching of Cerinthus and the Docetic Gnostics who denied the reality of Deity having come in the flesh during the time of the Apostles and other eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ. The apostles of Christ, as well as the other witnesses for the New Testament case for Christianity, possessed all of the characteristics necessary to be competent witnesses. We conclude the case for Christianity is reported by reliable eyewitnesses as set forth in the New Testament. How could one rationally conclude that the New Testament witnesses to the case for Christianity were anything but persons of integrity, and thus reliable eyewitnesses?
Peter affirmed that the witnesses to the case for Christianity “were eyewitnesses of Hismajesty” (2 Peter 1:16, emp. added). The word majesty (megaleiotes) means “the majesty of the Divine. Here it expresses the divine majesty as revealed in the transfiguration of Jesus” (Green 83). It “is reserved in the NT for God’s majesty, supremacy and splendour” (Theile 426). “The reference is to the majesty of Christ which was manifested at the transfiguration and of which the disciples were initiated eye-witnesses” (Grundmann 542). On this usage, Thayer says, “. . . the majesty of God, Lk. 9:43 . . . the visible splendour of the divine majesty . . .” (394). Arndt and Gingrich say it is “grandeur, sublimity . . . only of a divinity or of divine attributes” (498). The case for Christianity, as set forth in the person and the work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, manifests Divine Excellence.
Jesus is incomparably superior in what He said, how He said all that He said, what He did, and how He did all that He did. The witnesses to His majesty said, “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37). Military officers declared, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46). “You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips” (Psalm 45:2). His life, His death, and resurrection declare an Excellence that necessitates Divinity. He is more than a man. He is the revelation of Divine Majesty.
Arndt, William F., and Wilbur F. Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 1957. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1973.
Barnes, Albert. Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical: James, Peter, John, and Jude. 1949. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978.
Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 1943. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1974.
Green, Michael. The Second Epistle General of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. 1968. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.
Grundmann, W. “Megaleiotes.” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. 1967. Ed. Gerhard Kittel. Vol. 4. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977.
Thayer, Joseph Henry. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1962. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973.
Theile, Friedrich. “Large, small.” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Ed. Colin Brown. Vol. 2. 1967. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976.