When a Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) says on your own doorstep that Jesus never claimed to be God, what do you say? It is very likely that, along with countless other Christians, you do not know how to stand against such a confident claim. I say this to you in humility, because, as a new Christian, I used to get caught myself. It really comes down to reading your Bible carefully, with an eye for Hebraisms and the speech used at the time of Jesus.
Is the JW correct? Is it true that Jesus never claimed to be God – at least not in a way you can repeat with equal confidence? No, the JWs, Muslims, atheists, and anyone else who says it for that matter, are completely wrong. Jesus DID say He was God*, on many occasions! (* And, thus, one of the Trinity: the word ‘God’ consists of all three).
In this Article we will look at the ways Jesus Christ declared Himself to be God. Not just God incarnate, but God in all His glory. To recognise times when Jesus said He was God, we have to read scripture with the time it was written in mind, because the Old Testament contains Hebraic idioms and structure, whilst the New Testament contains idiom peculiar to that era, but based on Hebrew understanding and expression. Once this easy and open code is cracked, we can see (as perfectly as did the Jews of the time) that Jesus said, many times, that He was God! Why do you think the Sanhedrin wanted to kill Him off? Why do you think Jews (Pharisees) wanted to stone Him?
Be confident in the declaration of your faith, my friends. You can be confident because scripture says so. That is, God Himself says so. In this is your confidence... not in clever arguments. A simple walk through some Biblical texts will clinch the matter (John contains many references to Jesus saying He was God)...
This text, though not spoken by Jesus Christ Himself, came from God the Father through the ‘angel of the Lord’ (verse 20). He said “...they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” That text tells us Jesus was both the Messiah and God Himself. The name is from the Hebrew ‘Immanuw’el meaning either ‘God with us’ or ‘with us is God’. In the Old Testament it was used to describe the Messiah born of a virgin, God as Man.
The complete book of Matthew is known as the ‘The book of the generation of Jesus Christ...’. That is, ‘Jesus the Messiah (God)’. Note that in the text the title, ‘Christ’ (or Messiah), precedes the list of human genealogy, showing its prime importance.
John the Baptist, called by Jesus the greatest prophet of all time, said of Jesus that He had all divine power. This is what he meant when he said “Whose fan (is) in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” He was telling this to the Jews, who would have recognised the language, the metaphor, of the One who has the ‘fan’ as being God. They knew what it meant because they knew their scripture at that time. It was Old Testament Hebraic idiom referring to the way God will gather up His people to be with Him but will destroy all who reject or deny Him. Thus, the Jews of Jesus’ time were told by John the Baptist that Jesus was God.
This famous passage, about Jesus in the desert being tempted by the devil, is not just a romantic story, nor is it just the devil trying to cause Jesus as a man to fall. In the passage Jesus says that He was fully-God.
The question asked by the devil in verse 3 is rhetorical. He knew Jesus was God and he was not questioning if He was God. Rather, he was testing Him AS God! “If thou be the Son of God...” then do this, or that, to prove it (knowing that if Jesus did what he asked, then He would have lost His authority). The term ‘Son of God’ means far more than just ‘son’, because the Son IS God.
The devil persists in trying to get Jesus to do his bidding, and Jesus replied: “It is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (verse 7). He was referring to God as a Trinity (including Himself), not only to the Father, for Satan was trying to tempt (or test) Jesus on this earth. He distinctly says He was the Lord God in this verse. In verse 10 Jesus underlines His being God by saying “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” This was a remarkable piece of verbal structure, for it does two things – it tells Satan that Jesus (as Man) could not worship a creature because only God is to be worshiped and, it tells him that he must only worship Him, Jesus Christ, for He is God.
In the Old Testament – Isaiah is filled with it – there are often dual-purpose texts, where the words refer to what is happening there and then, and to something in the future, thus being prophecy in both its main meanings. In this text, then, Jesus made a dual statement: that God only is to be worshiped and, that He was/is God. This is not ‘spiritualising’ the text. It is there in the words themselves.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God...”
In the New Testament ‘kingdom of God’ is synonymous with ‘kingdom of Christ’ or ‘my kingdom’. Later in His earthly life Jesus, referring to this kingdom, said that His kingdom was not flesh and blood, thus making His ‘kingdom’ equal to and synonymous with, the ‘kingdom of God’. Such references by Jesus would not have been lost on the Jewish hearers, many of whom were spies of the Sanhedrin or the priests themselves.
When talking about David entering the temple and eating the shewbread, He said “in this place is (one) greater than the Temple.” What did He mean? What He said was very plain to the Jews who were listening. They knew that the temple was God’s earthly abode, for He visited the Chief Priest in the inner sanctum. Thus, Jesus told them that the temple was for God, yet He was greater than God’s house. This could have only one meaning for the Jews – that Jesus was God! Then, calling Himself the ‘Son of Man’ (verse 8), He said “the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Only a man with a death-wish would utter such words, for the Jews would instantly say he was being blasphemous. In those words, Jesus was saying that He was God, for the ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ was the God Who created the seventh day. How do we know this meaning can be applied? The word for ‘Lord’ begins with a capital ‘L’ (inserted by the KJAV translators for ease of understanding, but reflecting the actual meaning). Thus, it means God. Also, ‘Lord’ (Gk kurios) interprets as ‘he to whom a thing belongs’ or ‘over which he has the power to decide’. It also means the ‘possessor and disposer of a thing’, ‘the sovereign’, ‘God’ or ‘the Messiah’. It is from the root kuros, meaning ‘supremacy’.
To the Jewish audiences, then, Jesus’ words were nothing short of mind-blowing, for He was claiming to be God Himself! Jesus was saying that He owned and could dispose of, the Sabbath, which was instigated by God the Creator. The Jews knew that the kurios (Who owned the Sabbath) was God. Therefore, they knew that Jesus was calling Himself God.
The Pharisees said that Jesus cast out demons by the power of (or, under the yoke of) Satan. Jesus took them to task and said that if He cast out demons by the power of God “then the kingdom of God is come unto you...” (verse 28). To those ruling Jews Jesus was talking blasphemy, for He was plainly telling them that His power was of God and that the very presence of God was amongst them in His own person.
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Thus, Peter was saying Jesus was Christos, the anointed One, ‘the Messiah’. Then, in words badly misinterpreted even by Protestants, Jesus told Peter that He (Jesus) was the ‘rock’ on which His own church would be built. At that time He did not want anyone to know He was the Messiah (God in the flesh).
Those who do not understand Biblical idiom think that in this text Jesus is denying He was God, but the reverse is true. He is saying ‘only One is good, and that is God. I am indeed God’. He emphasised this by later saying that the man could accrue treasures in heaven (the abode of God) only if he followed Him (Jesus), verse 21. The Jews knew that only God could allow a man into heaven, so by saying that He could give the benefits of heaven to anyone who followed Him, Jesus was telling them He was God.
Matthew 22: 41-46
In this text Jesus made a direct assault upon the spiritual understanding of the Pharisees and gathered hierarchy of the Temple, again plainly telling them that He was God. In a brilliant display of holy logic he tripped them up with their own knowledge.
In verse 42 we find Jesus asking them what they thought of the Christ (Messiah). Remember that He was constantly being alluded to as the Christ. By using their own understanding against them, He got them to acknowledge that He, the Christ, was the Lord (God) of David and not just His physical descendant. They were dumbstruck by His sheer brilliance and could no longer argue against Him. From that time forth, the Jewish rulers planned to get Jesus killed, using the fact that He referred to Himself as God as a pretext.
Even without any other proof, we know from this pretext that Jesus publicly called Himself God. This is what was behind them bringing a witness against Jesus who repeated Jesus’ own words that He could rebuild the Temple in three days (Matthew 26:61). That is why the high priest then stood up and asked Jesus if it was true (verse 62). He followed this by asking outright if Jesus was indeed the Messiah (verse 63).
Jesus replied in the affirmative but indirectly by saying that He (the ‘Son of Man’) would come in the clouds to collect His own (64) and would sit at the right hand of God in heaven. To the Jews this could only mean one thing – that Jesus claimed to be God Himself. That is why the high priest then tore off his clothes, charging Jesus with speaking blasphemy (e.g. speaking abusively of God) and demanding the death penalty (verse 66).
That Jesus actually claimed to be the Son of God (and therefore God Himself) is found in the mocking words of the chief priests and the Sanhedrin (verse 43): “for he said, I am the Son of God”. This claim that the Jews thought was blasphemy became the moment of truth for the centurion at the cross, when he said “Truly this man was the Son of God”. We can see from all this that the claim to be the Son of God (and thus God Himself) was common knowledge in the land.
In this text we see Jesus preaching that the ‘time is fulfilled’ and that the ‘kingdom of God’ was ‘at hand’. ‘At hand’ or eggizo means that the kingdom was ‘nigh’ or ‘approaching’, or ‘joining together’. Joining together what? The old and the new. God’s promise with its fulfilment! The time of the Messiah, when those who are His will be called.
This fulfilment did not just mean it was coming, but that it was already here! This is obvious in the root of eggizo – eggus – meaning, amongst other things, ‘ready’. It also was a reference to those who had access to God (the believing Jews, to whom Jesus was primarily called).
The other meaning of eggizo (e.g. to be imminent) also referred to the time soon coming when the death of Jesus would usher in a new testament of faith and salvation by election. Thus, the kingdom was already with them in the person of God the Messiah, and it would show itself in the new testament that finalised the Old.
Perhaps the reader still does not accept that Jesus claimed to be God? This can be put down to the simple fact that few Christians understand the Hebraic idiom and Greek structure and content of speech in the days of Christ, as used in scripture. However, a rather more direct indication is found in this text.
“Why doth this (man) speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?”
By forgiving men their sins, openly and publicly, Jesus was saying He was God! Simple as that. The Jews understood this and so they charged Him with blasphemy, as is evidenced in this text.
There is far more to this text than Jesus simply telling the disciples off for stopping children coming to Him. Carefully note the words used by Jesus, for He is telling the listening Jews that He was God:
“...Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
There is an equation in that phrase: the children (note: this is not about children as such, but about adults who have the same quality of trust as children) are to go to Jesus, Who, according to the text, is the ‘owner’ of the kingdom. This must be so, because otherwise He could not have the authority to say what He said. Thus, He was saying that He was the one Who rules that kingdom – God.
Luke 4:41 (et al)
Notice how even the demons recognised Jesus as the Son of God (and therefore as God)! They spoke out loudly on many occasions before the crowds, though Jesus did not wish everyone to know at that time.
Peter said to Jesus that He was “The Christ of God”. Many people realised that this was so. In the following verses Jesus spoke of Himself as the only way to receive eternal life. He also indicated that to refuse Him was to be ‘cast away’. Only God could do that. So, Jesus told the disciples He was God in the wording of His teaching. In verse 26 He said that He was coming in His ‘own glory’ - a glory equal to that glory given to God the Father.
This text repeats Matthew 19:17 and says that Jesus is God. In other words, another apostle heard the same things. In Luke the Matthew text is expanded, for we read “Why callest thou me good? None (is) good, save one, (that is), God.” So, only God is ‘good’, and here He acknowledges the statement made by the young man, thus saying He was indeed God.
“Hereafer shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
“Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God?
And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.”
So, Jesus had just said to them that He was indeed the Son of God, God Himself, which explains their reaction:
“...What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard from his own mouth.”
The penitent thief recognised Jesus as God, for he equated the kingdom with Him:
“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
Notice how he refers to Jesus as ‘Lord’ (kurios) and then said that it was His kingdom. As this kingdom is also known as the ‘kingdom of God’ it meant that Jesus’ kingdom was the very same kingdom. Jesus did not repudiate the statement but said that the thief would be with Him.
The book of John is full of Jesus’ declarations of His godhood. In 1:1, Jesus did not utter these words Himself whilst on this earth, but as God He led John to say them by His spirit. They are some of the most profound words ever spoken:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Jesus is called the ‘Word’... and here He is called ‘God’. Earlier we saw that the Pharisees knew that only God could forgive a man. In John 1:29 John the Baptist reinforces this by saying that Jesus was the Lamb of God, Who could take away sin. He therefore called Him God in front of thousands of Jews. Jesus did not reject what he said (verses 29 and 34). In verse 49 Nathanael called Jesus the Son of God, the King of Israel.
Earlier in the text, we are told that Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit to men. In 3:34 we read “for God giveth not the Spirit by measure (unto him).” In this complex text, we are being told that God gave the Spirit to God (as Jesus Christ). In earlier texts we saw that Jesus Christ gave the Spirit. Therefore, Jesus Christ must also be God... and this was being preached of Jesus by others.
In a later chapter Jesus referred to Himself as both the light and the life... and here in chapter one we read that “In him was life, and the life was the light of men”. ‘Him’ is the One Who created everything, and in verse one we see that ‘He’ is God. Also, later, Jesus spoke of Himself as the light that dispels darkness, and here in verse 5 is the same claim. The whole of chapter one is about the deity of Jesus Christ, as written about by John. The idea of ‘light’ dispersing the darkness is an Old Testament concept referring to the power and authority of God over sin. (See also Dr J S DeRouchie, Bethlehem College and Seminary: ‘The Old Testament Background to the Gospel Light described in John’)
“And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.”
Speaking of “My Father” identifies Jesus as His Son, Who is also God. Elsewhere, too, Jesus said that He and the Father were One John 10:30). So, this simple text is Jesus saying He was God.
Readers might think I am merely extrapolating that the Jewish leaders thought He called Himself God. Again, I repeat, that these readers do not understand the ‘Jewishness’ of what Jesus was saying. To the Jews, and to their spiritual leaders, Jesus plainly stated that He was God. This is directly concluded in this text:
“Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Jesus accepted this judgement, for He then said (verse 21):
“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth (them); even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.”
So, Jesus said that only God could quicken (bring alive) the dead, and that He (Jesus Christ) brought alive whom He wishes to bring alive. That is, God and Christ are the same. In this He clearly equates Himself with God. In John 6:46, again using Hebraic terminology, Jesus repeats that He is God, for He tells men that no man has seen the Father except for “he which is of God”. The Greek can render this as ‘he that is the son’. Note that the words for ‘Father’ and ‘God’ in this text are the same word, pater. Just as Jesus and the Father are One, so is ‘God’ and the Father. ‘God’ is a generic name for the Trinity.
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
‘Light’ is a common Old Testament image for God’s presence (cf Barrett 1978:335-37; Conzelmann 1974:310-43 et al). See Numbers 6:25, Psalm 4:6, and so on.
The Jews knew what He meant by this, because they knew God to be the Light that led to salvation. So, when Jesus told them to follow Him (as the Light), He was telling them that He was God. Later in verse 18, Jesus again referred to Himself as God, by saying that He bore witness TO Himself and BY Himself. In verse 19 He dealt with their disbelief, saying that He and the Father were One. See one and you see the other! In verse 23 He told them He was not of this world but was from above – His origin was divine. Throughout this chapter the spiritually-blind Jews did not understand what He was saying, but this did not stop Jesus from saying it... “I am God”.
Verse 28 is much clearer – He told them that He was the ‘Son of Man’, a term found in the Old Testament and Hebrew Tanakh, where the term that contrasts God against Man. It was also used to refer to a future time when the Messiah would come towards the end of time. In the Old Testament the indefinite form is used, but in the New Testament it is used with the definite form of Jesus, where He repeatedly calls Himself God/Son of man.
In verse 31, Jesus obliquely confirmed His Godhood by saying that those who followed (and obeyed) His words were genuine disciples, and would be free of their sins (Jews knew that only God could free them from sins). He further supported this statement by saying that He was the Son (verse 36) and so could free them.
By verse 42, Jesus was challenging their most basic beliefs, telling them that if they claimed to love the Father, then they must also love Him... another very clear statement, that He was God. After a very silly children’s playground taunt (that He was a Samaritan with a demon), Jesus told them something profound, and gave real proof that He said He was God:
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
This was very, very conclusive! He hereby says He lived before Abraham was even born... because before Abraham was born “I am”. In koine Greek this is Ego eimi, an emphatric form of the copulative verb, εἰμι, recorded in the Gospels, used as a title. The Jews immediately picked up stones with which to kill him, but He miraculously disappeared. The assembled Jews KNEW He was telling them He was God, because “I AM” is one of God’s titles!
“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”
It is a statement of self-existence, without being created, as hayah hayah means. This only applies to God, and this is how the Jews took it. God said those words to Moses, and Jesus also used those words, “I am”, to speak of Himself. Thus, He was saying He was God. Jesus used other titles for Himself: Bread of Life, Light of the world, Door, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and the Life, the Way and the Truth and the Life, the Vine. All refer to God, and each title used caused the Jews to want to kill Him: THEY knew the implications, even if modern Christians do not!
“I and my Father are one.”
Nowhere does Jesus say He was God? Then you will not accept the truth of this text, which tells us very plainly that Jesus said He was God. The word ‘one’ is heis, a numeral (masculine). It therefore means what it says – God comprises three Persons, and two of these are the Father and the Son. Christ (Son) and the Father are the same God, in union. We have established that the Father and Son are equal and the same God. This is why 1 John 5:7 says “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Thus, Jesus was saying “I am God”. Again the Jews who heard Him say that wanted to stone Him for blasphemy. It was as a direct result of Jesus saying He was God, which is how they understood His words.
“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Both Jew and Samaritan knew that only God could give everlasting life. Here was Jesus promising that same everlasting life if people drank of Him. So, Jesus was telling the woman He was God. If you are not convinced, then what of the following verses, 25 and 26?
“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.”
The woman spoke of the Messiah – God. Jesus openly told her that He was God: “I... am he”. The woman understood what He said and later told the people of her city “is not this the Christ?” The men excitedly went out of the city to find Jesus and after He spoke with them, concluded “this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world”.
John 5:17, 18-on
“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”
It is all so simple! The Jews wanted to kill Jesus because not only did He ‘break the Sabbath’ by healing someone, but because He told them He was “equal with God”. We do not need the words “I am God”, when He told them many times that this is Who He was. And to infuriate them further He carried on His claim, verses 19 to 23. To add to the hatred of the Pharisees, Jesus then told them that as the Son He alone could give everlasting life (verse 24). The Jews understood His claim, but modern readers do not! I think part of the problem is a lack of understanding of Hebraisms and Hebraic speech by Christians. Thus, verse 30 (etc) repeats His claim to be God. Verse 40 is another indication that Jesus said He was God, for the Jews understood that only God could give them everlasting life.
5:43 is another claim to be God, in which Jesus spoke of the Father as “my Father”. Obviously, if God was His Father then Jesus was God! 6:33 is another claim to be God, for Jesus said He was the “bread of life”. This is repeated in verse 35, and the crowd evidently took Him to mean He was God. He reinforced His words in verse 38 – He came down from Heaven. Really the whole context bursts forth with Jesus’ claim to be God (including 44, 46, 47); hence the hatred of the Jews (verse 41). And in 6:48 the claim is again sharply presented: “ I am that bread of life”. For modern men to say Jesus never said “I am God”, they must be very naïve, untaught, or even blinded by sin! (Also verses 50, 51, 53, 54, 57). Later Jesus attached a prophecy to these statements, verse 62. In verse 65, He spoke of “my Father”, which makes Jesus the Son Who would ascend. Peter said that they knew He was Christ, “Son of the living God” (verse 69). All of these statements show that Christ said He was God.
If you were a Jew at that time, you would have no problem understanding what Jesus was saying. This is why they debated amongst themselves, as to whether or not the Pharisees knew that “this is the very Christ”. And, He emphasised this in verse 29. Verses 27-on Jesus said He would give the drink of everlasting life. Many in the crowd believed that Jesus was “the Prophet”. By this they meant the Messiah.
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Jesus alluded to Himself as God in many more indirect ways, which I have not mentioned. But, here, Jesus is direct: HE was the light of the world, and HE can give the “light of life”. Every Jew understood that this meant everlasting life, given only by God.
Jesus underlined His claim in verse 28:
“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.”
Jesus, then, referring to His coming death on the cross, said that He was the Son of man: “I am he”. This same ‘Son’ (God) would make them free (verse 36). He said His Father was God (verse 38, 42) – which, of course, means HE was the Son, equal with the Father. After being abused in speech, Jesus again told them He honoured His Father (verse 49, 54). That is, as the Son, God.
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
Jesus made a stunning comment! That He existed BEFORE Abraham was even born! He then applied the title of God Himself to His own self: “I AM”. This title is used by God to refer to Himself AS God, in a number of Old Testament texts, including “I am God Almighty” (Genesis 35:11). The best example of this title is in Exodus 3:14, where God said “I AM THAT I AM”, hayah hayah. Moses was to say to the people that “I AM” sent him. The term means the Self-Existing (uncreated) One. Therefore, Jesus was claiming the very same title for Himself. And so, once again, the Jews picked up stones with which to kill Him. They knew He was saying “I am God”. Critics who continue to say that Jesus did not say “I am God” are just playing at fools, making childish remarks out of both ignorance and a refusal to accept what is in front of their noses.
Verses 4 and 5 are statements of Christ’s divinity. He says He is doing HIS Father’s work (wherever He says ‘my Father’, or similar, it is a sure sign of Jesus saying He was God) and that He is the light of the world. Ordinary Jews KNEW Jesus was God and claimed to be the Messiah; they said “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.” (verse 33). The healed man was thrown out of the synagogue, because he spoke truth. Jesus heard about it and went to see the healed man. He then again proclaimed His divinity (verses 35-38). A critic who denies this must be spiritually blind and intellectually incapacitated:
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.”
So, Jesus asked if the healed man believed “on the Son of God”. The man replied with an affirmation, asking Who this Son was. Jesus told him that he had already seen Him and that is was He who was now speaking to him. The man then called Him ‘God’ and worshipped Him AS THE MESSIAH. (In this text the word ‘Lord’, kyrios, is taken in its divine sense and equivalent to the Old Testament ‘Jehovah’: the One to Whom everything belongs; God. It cannot be taken in any of its lesser senses).
Note that in Jewish theology no created creature could possibly claim to be God. Judaism was the only monotheistic religion in the world at that time, so no-one, no matter how good, could be, in their eyes, divine, but must be an heretic worthy of death. (From ‘Notes on Thessalonians’, Hogg and Vine, p25). So, it is insulting to the mind to say otherwise.
“I am the door to the sheep”, verse 7, is another claim to be God. Understand Hebrew thinking and teaching, and you will understand this text in its context. Verse 9 repeats this claim: “I am the door... shall be saved”, alongside verses 11, 14, 15. Verse 17: “my Father” – obviously makes Jesus His Son, the Messiah – God.
In verse 24 the people followed Him and demanded that Jesus make plain that He was the Christ (and therefore God), but Jesus refused to repeat Himself to the same people! He replied that He had already told them but they did not believe. He pointed to His works (the miracles), saying that they were absolute proofs of His claim to be the Messiah. Jesus then gave the qualifications for following God (verse 27-on). Then, He made another absolute statement that He is God, verse 30: “I and my Father are one”. Remove the word ‘’my’ inserted by the KJAV translators for ease of reading, and the statement remains the same: “I and Father are one”.
And so they wanted to stone Him (again!). They said they did not wish to stone Him for doing miracles, but for saying He was God, verse 33. Therefore, the Jews wanted to kill him for saying He was God! Is this not another plain statement? Verses 36 and 38 confirm His claim.
The incident concerning Lazarus repeats the claim of Jesus to be God. See verse 4. Can anyone raise the dead? No – only God! This incident was enacted as it was, to prove to onlookers Who Jesus was. The action took the place of many words and claims. Verses 21, 22, 23, 25, 40 link Martha’s request to the bringing back to life of Lazarus, and this miracle to the actions of God – Jesus. (See A/498 for a detailed analysis of this incident). Verse 25 makes a bold and plain statement: Jesus IS the resurrection AND the life... believe in Him and you will have both; another statement of Godhood, verse 26. Martha admits that Jesus is God and that she believed in Him.
The shouts of adulation for Jesus were loud and many as He entered Jerusalem. The people who praised Him clearly thought of Him as the Messiah, because of what He said and what He did (verse 13: ‘actions speak louder than words’) and this is seen as a fulfilment of prophecy (verse 15, 16, 17). Verses 23, 26 again confirm Jesus’ claim to be God. After Jesus spoke to the Father the Father replied in thunderous tones – and those around Him also heard what the Father said. The rest of the chapter continues this confirmation. Verses 45 and 46 are another confirmation that Jesus said He was God: “seeth me” and you “seeth him that sent me”. Learn the language of scripture!
John 13, 14, 15
Verse 13: “...I am” the Lord and Master and verse 19, “... ye may believe that I am he”, with verse 31. The same theme carries on to chapter 14, verses 1-3. Jesus followed this up with verses 6 and 7, another obvious claim to be God. Jesus repeats Himself for the sake of Philip, in verses 9, 10, 11, 13. The rest of the chapter clearly speaks of Jesus as God.
15:1 starts with Jesus as God. Verses 16, 23 indicate Jesus to be God (election) in His own words. To verse 8, the whole section speaks of Jesus as God. Recognise why? God is said to ordain or elect people to salvation. Jesus accepts the same authority (verse 16). Hate the Father, hate Me – Jesus makes both equal (verse 23), showing both the Father and Son to be equal as God.
John 16, 17, 18
People who reject Christ are charged with sin (verse 9) – only God can make such a charge. Verse 10 again equates Father and Jesus as God and verse 14 says that the Holy Spirit will glorify Christ (as God). Note that everything that belongs to the Father also belongs to Christ... another claim to be God. Verse 27 is another claim to be God.
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
Jesus called out to ‘Father’ which implies a very close relationship. He asked the Father to glorify His Son – speaking of Himself. The Son (Jesus Christ) has power over all humankind and has the authority to grant eternal life to those who are elect. To have eternal life one has to know both the Father and the Son, here named ‘Jesus Christ’. How much clearer does this have to be?
Jesus then talks of Himself as being self-existing in eternity, as God (verse 5):
“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
And, in verse 11 we see that Jesus said He was “one, as we are” (repeated in verses 21, 22, 23). When before Pilate, Jesus spoke of His eternal home, thus making Himself equal to God (18:36, 37).
Perhaps many do not realise that whilst the Romans plaited the thorns and gave Him His title in scorn, they did so in response to His claim to be the King of the Jews, and thus the Messiah, God (verse 3, and confirmed by Pilate, verses 14, 15. It is irrelevant if Pilate agreed with Jesus’ claim; the main point is that Pilate only said what he said because of Jesus’ claim to be God). That Jesus repeatedly claimed to be God is found in the hateful cat-calls of the Pharisees in verse 7:
“The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”
Pilate himself wrote (or caused to be written) the charge to be put on the cross. The words said that Jesus was the King of the Jews (who Jews understood to be God), verse 19. Pilate refused to amend what he wrote, and this implies that he possibly accepted Jesus’ claim. At the very least the words written, and the opposition to them by the Pharisees, prove that Jesus had said He was King of the Jews/God, even if He was then treated with scorn and hate.
After His resurrection, Jesus again spoke of His role as Son, to Mary (20:17), a role attested to by Thomas (verse 28) and by John (verse 31).
To the Jews in His day, what Jesus said was direct and made sense. They understood Him to claim He was God, on many occasions, and these occasions are especially found in John. I have not mentioned all the texts, because there is sufficient in the above as proof of Jesus’ claims.
It is childish to suggest that Jesus never said He was God. It is childish in the sense that such a belief is based on the critic being untaught in the things of God. As I have shown, the Jews at the time, and even Pilate, understood what Jesus was saying – that He was God and King of the Jews. The reader has to become acquainted with Hebrew forms of speech to understand this – forms that were used at the time Jesus was on this earth.
That Jesus was known to be God is plentifully written about in both Old and New Testaments. To say otherwise is not just ignorant but unbelieving.
© June 2011 (updated February 2015)
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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