High Christology in the New Testament

The New Testament obviously has a lot to say about Christ. Even the Old Testament has a lot to say about Him, for that matter. Yet there are four New Testament passages that scholars have dubbed “high-christological” passages, that is, passages that exalt Jesus in a great way. The four passages are:

  • John 1:1-18
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Colossians 1:15-20
  • Hebrews 1:1-4

Out of curiosity, I recently laid these four passages side-by-side to compare and contrast them. The following are some of the results of my study. Please note that the categories have not been superimposed on the texts from an outside source, but rather they are explicit in the texts and drawn out from them.


  • Jesus’s deity/divine nature (Jn 1:1; Phil 2:6; Col 1:19; Heb 1:3)
  • Jesus’s human nature (Jn 1:14; Phil 2:7)
  • Jesus as God’s Son (Jn 1:14, 18; Heb 1:2-3)
  • Jesus’s role in creation (Jn 1:3, 10; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2)
  • The “name” of Jesus (Jn 1:12; Phil 2:9-10; Heb 1:4)
  • Jesus as sustainer of the world (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3)
  • Jesus and God’s glory (Jn 1:14; Heb 1:3)
  • Jesus’s death/crucifixion (Phil 2:8; Col 1:20; Heb 1:3—indirect)
  • Jesus’s exaltation after death (Phil 2:9; Heb 1:3-4)
  • Jesus as God’s representative (Jn 1:14, 18; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3)
  • Heaven and earth (Phil 2:10; Col 1:20)

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Unique Features

John 1:1-18

  • Jesus called the “Word” (Greek logos)
  • Jesus metaphorically described as “the light”
  • Mention of John the Baptist

Philippians 2:5-11

  • Framed as an exhortation (verse 5 says “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus…”)
  • The self-emptying and humbling of Jesus
  • People bowing and confessing
  • Jesus as Lord

Colossians 1:15-20

  • Jesus is the “image” (Greek eikon) of God
  • Jesus is the head of the church
  • Jesus’s resurrection
  • Reconciliation

Hebrews 1:1-4

  • God spoke through Jesus
  • Purification for sins (only passage that mentions sin)
  • Jesus’s rank above the angels (and everyone and everything else, too)


It is also interesting to note that three out of the four passages are written in poetic form, Hebrews 1:1-4 being the only one in prose. Also, these passages vary in length from 80 words (Hebrews 1) to 257 words (John 1; word counts done from Greek texts, not English).

Are there any other similarities or unique features you notice?

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