I remember being surprised when I began to notice something I had ignored in various texts of the New Testament. Apparently, it is surprising to many others as well. In fact, even in Bible College and in Seminary, no one ever called my attention to it. What am I referring to?
The New Testament writers continue to describe the relationship between the risen and exalted Jesus and God as a relationship between Jesus and Jesus’ “God.” Often implicit, this is made explicit at least eleven times in the New Testament.
5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 15:5–6).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. . . . (2 Cor 1:3).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ(Eph 1:3, emphasis mine).
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (Eph 1:17).
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. . . . (Col 1:3).
And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me” (Heb 2:13).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet 1:3).
5 . . . and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen (Rev 1:5–6).
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I [the exalted Jesus] have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God (Rev. 3:2).
Him [the person]who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will that one leave it. I will write on him [that person] the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name (Rev 3:12 – actually 3 times).
17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her (John 20:17–18).
Except for the final quotation from the Gospel of John, which is post-resurrection and pre-ascension, each of the passages just quoted describes Jesus’s relationship with God after Jesus was raised from death, ascended to be with God in heaven, and was exalted to the right hand of God. In each case, the relationship is that God continues to be Jesus’s God.
It seems likely that the authors (4 to 7 depending on how you understand the authorship of these eleven passages) believed the relationship between God and Jesus provides us with a new name for God. Much as the covenant with humanity through Abraham led to God often being identified as “the God of Abraham,” now God’s renewal of the covenant through Jesus seems to have led to a new name for God—“the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.”
For an example of a text that implicitly, and almost explicitly, identifies the ongoing relationship as Jesus relating to God as “his God” forever see 1 Corinthians 15:28—“When all things are subjected to him (Jesus the Messiah), then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.” Paul seems to expect Jesus, as the representative of us humans, to relate to God as “God” forever.