Ephesians 1.3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ….”
Ephesians 1.16-18 says, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ … may grant you…”
In Ephesians 1, both vv3 and 17 express the genuine humanity of Christ. Paul speaks of God the Father as Jesus’ God (as does John in 20:17, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”). Was Jesus not divine?
Yet we must hold this truth with what the Bible says elsewhere of Jesus’ own divinity.
Who, though he [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped [or ‘exploited’] (Phil 2.6).
What gives? Is God the “God” of Jesus? We worship Jesus, and Jesus worships the Father?
Baugh explains Paul’s idea, and it just takes a bit of knowledge of the OT. Paul speaks of Jesus’ humanity here in Ephesians for two reasons.
1. Exclusive Human Mediation
Jesus is the only way to the Father. There is no other way to get to the Father.
1 Tim 2.5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”
In the OT God was known by those whom he had covenanted with.
Ps 41.13, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.”
Ezek 11.22, “Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.”
Lk 1.68, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people“
1 Kgs 18.36, “And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.”
Acts 3.13, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.”
But God is no longer known as “the God of Israel” or “the God of Abraham.” Now his covenant name is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Cor 1.3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (cf. 11.31)
1 Pet 1.3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
In his commentary on 2 Corinthians, Mark Seifrid remarks,
In speaking of God as “the God and Father of Jesus Christ,” Paul . . . identifies Jesus Christ with God . . . in Jesus God has revealed himself as “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” As Paul makes clear shortly, all the promises of God find their Yes in him (v 20). The Christ is Jesus, the Suffering Servant of God (6:2; cf. Isa 49:8). He is the one in whom the hope the patriarchs is fulfilled. His name therefore replaces theirs and that Israel in the apostolic benediction. We know God and give him thanks only as the God of Jesus Christ. (17-18)
God is no longer a single-national God, but “the God of all nations (including Israelites) who come to the Father through the incarnate Son” (Baugh, 116).
Because they lived in the Hellenistic pagan culture, the NT authors stressed Jesus’ humanity.
Acts 14.11-12 lets us catch a glimpse of this. “And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the leading speaker.”
“The ancient Greek gods were thought to appear on earth in human guise,” says Baugh (116). Edward Schnabel states, “As the citizens hail Paul and Barnabas as deities, they would have made sure that the two ‘gods in human form’ understand that they [the citizens] have recognized them [the ‘gods’].”
Schnabel tells of an ancient legend with a town neighboring Lystra,
A legend connected with neighboring Phrygia relates that two local gods, perhaps Tarchunt and Runt… —in the Greek version of the legend Zeus and Hermes—wandered through the region as human beings. Nobody provided them with hospitality until Philemon and Baucis, an older couple, shared their supplies with the unrecognized gods. The gods rewarded the couple, making them priests in the temple of Zeus, eventually transforming them into sacred trees, while inflicting judgment upon the other people.
Baugh says that of the more famous of these appearances was that of “Athena as trusted old Mentor to Odysseus’s son, Telemachos, in the Odyssey.” There is also the evidence that Artemis Ephesia was “thought to manifest her appearance to her worshipers in the Ephesian Artemisium” (116).
Yet none of these appearances are true incarnations. The gods simply appear before people (albeit in a fleshly form). Jesus was not only in a fleshly form, he was human, just like you and me.
Hebrews 2:14, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For . . . he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”