[This article was originally published by Bill Schlegel on his website, Land and Bible.]
The Book of Revelation is “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him” (1:1). From the very first verse we are told that Jesus is not God. God is differentiated from Jesus. The God of Jesus Christ gave Jesus Christ this revelation.
In Revelation 1:5-6 Jesus Christ is “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.” Jesus “loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father…”
The Father is Jesus Christ’s God in the Book of Revelation, just as other Scriptures testify many times (e.g., John 20:17; Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3, 17; 1 Pet. 1:3). Jesus told the Sardis church that their works were not perfect in the site of his God (3:2). Four times in one verse (3:12) Jesus referred to “my God”. This is the resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ speaking who is at the right hand of God. That Jesus Christ has a God.
In other words, not only is Jesus Christ distinguished from the Father in the Book of Revelation, he is also distinguished from God.
The Book of Revelation clearly distinguishes between the Almighty God, “Him who sits on the throne” (Revelation 4) and “the Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5). The two are never confused. The Lamb is not God (who sits on the throne), God is not the Lamb. The God of chapter 4 is worshiped because He is God who created everything. The Lamb of chapter 5 is worshipped not because he is God, but because he was slain and by his blood did ransom men for God (5:10).
We can all agree that “the Lamb, standing as though it had been slain” in the Book of Revelation 5:6 is Jesus the Messiah, who was killed, but then raised from the dead. God, on the other hand, does not die, and is not raised from the dead.
Note how the Lamb is continually differentiated from God, who sits on the throne. That is, God is not the Lamb, and the Lamb is not God:
“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”.– Rev. 5:13
“Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb”.– Rev. 6:16
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number…standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.– Rev. 7:9
“…crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”– Rev. 7:10
The same distinction between God, on the one hand, and the Lamb on the other, is made in Revelation 7:17, 14:4, 15:3, 21:22, 21:23, 22:1 and 22:3. In many other places in the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ and the symbols representing Jesus Christ are differentiated from God (e.g., Rev. 11:15, 12:5).
The last two references to God and the Lamb in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 22:1 and 22:3) contain the phrase “the throne of God and of the Lamb”. Some Trinitarians claim that this phrase shows that the Lamb is God. But this assumption is wrong for several reasons:
- In these verses as well, God is distinguished from the Lamb. Whoever God is, He is not the Lamb. The Lamb is not God, and God is not the Lamb. The Lamb was slain and raised. God is not slain and raised.
- This incorrect interpretation ignores all the other references in the Book of Revelation which also differentiate between God and the Lamb, and which state that the Lamb has a God.
- The Lamb shares the throne of God because God has granted this to the Lamb: “he shall rule…even as I myself have received power from my Father (Rev. 2:27, 3:21, cf. Matt. 28:18). As a parallel, the LORD God put both David and Solomon on His (God’s) throne. “Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king in place of David his father” (1 Chron. 29:23). But neither David nor Solomon were God just because they were granted by God to rule as God’s representatives on God’s throne. As God’s chosen, anointed kings, David and Solomon were granted to sit on God’s throne. So is the risen Jesus Christ.
It is clear from the Book of Revelation that Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain but who now lives, the firstborn from the dead, the beginning of God’s creation, is not God.
Sometimes Trinitarians say that the deity of Christ was revealed to the apostles gradually or progressively. If that were the case, we should expect to find Jesus clearly presented as God in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament canon. Yet that is not the case. Instead, the Book of Revelation distinguishes between God and Jesus. Revelation tells us that God is not Jesus and Jesus is not God.
For a more thorough examination of God and Jesus in the Book of Revelation, see here.
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