Paul believed that Jesus was a divine pre-existent heavenly being, the first created being of all God’s creation: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”, Colossians 1:15. He existed in the “form of God” and was “equal to God” (Philippians 2:6) though God the Father still remains the ultimate transcendent deity (‘to the glory of God the Father’, see Philippians 2 verse 11).
Though for Paul Jesus was clearly more than just a human being, Paul was careful to differentiate Jesus from God as such.
Here are several examples:
1 Corinthians 8:6
‘yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.’
Clearly Jesus has a God.
In 1 Corinthians 11:3 we read,
‘But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ.’
This passage refers to the ascended heavenly Christ and suggests he is ontologically quite distinct from (and inferior to) ‘God’ who is Christ’s ‘head’. In other words God and Jesus are completely different beings.
In 2 Corinthians 1: 3 we read,
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation’
Again – Jesus has a God.
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.
One might wonder how Jesus can “be God” and “have a God” at the same time?
2 Corinthians 11:31 (KJV):
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
Here God is the God of Jesus.
Paul rarely mentioned anything that Jesus taught and said little about Jesus’ life other than his alleged death on the cross. Perhaps the most significant aspect of Paul’s thought is that the message Jesus had preached became transformed into Jesus as the message: the Messenger had become the message! Or another way of putting it: Jesus’ message was theocentric, it was focused not on himself but on God (see the famous Sermon on the Mount in Mathew’s gospel chapters 5-7).
In contrast, Paul’s message was Christocentric, that is it was centred not on God but on his heavenly Christ. The Proclaimer had become the proclaimed, an inversion of fundamental importance for understanding the history of Christianity since Jesus.
Islam calls on Christians to follow the teaching of Jesus not a religion about Jesus.