Did Jesus Claim to be God?
By Peter Salemi
Many groups who are against the Bible’s clear statement that Jesus is God continually claim that “Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus ever say that he is God.” Is that True? Did Jesus NEVER claim that he was God?
The many groups Like Jehovah’s Witnesses’, Christian Science, Unification Church, Christadelphians and others flat out reject that Jesus Is God! Yet the Bible is clear!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8).
“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding that we should know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (Darby Trans). These are just some of many-the Apostles claimed that Jesus was very God and were willing to die for their faith that he was truly God!
The contention regarding the Deity of Christ is certainly nothing new. Ever since the days of Jesus, there has been a great dispute as to whether He was God or not; many throughout history even up to our present day have denied the Deity of Jesus.
“One such Gnostic, Cerinthus, took the teachings of pagan Gnosticism and mixed them with Christianity. He taught that Jesus was born of Joseph and Mary and became the ‘Christ’ thirty years later at the time of his baptism. Therefore, according to this form of Gnosticism, Jesus Christ had a dual nature. He was both Jesus (physical) and the ‘Christ’ (spiritual). At the crucifixion, so taught Cerinthus, the ‘Christ’ departed leaving only the human Jesus to die. He claimed there was no resurrection of the physical body of Jesus. Cerinthus also proclaimed that ‘Christ’ was the aeon (a lesser god) who made the earth.... Much of Cerinthus’ false doctrine can still be seen in the modern teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses.” (Article: The Deity of Christ and Modern Versions, by Martin A. Shue, emphasis added).
I believe the reason why there was so much confusion about the deity of Christ is partly because of the doctrine of the trinity. When it became the dominant doctrine in the Universal Church (Catholic) it was never explained and made no sense to anyone, abandoning the clear teaching of the Godhead in the Bible. Due to this, endless debates and doctrines sprang out and caused more confusion and schisms in Christianity.
What about Jesus? Many of these groups and others say, “But Jesus never claimed to be God”! Did the Apostles get it wrong? Were some of them martyred for nothing? What did Jesus claim for himself?
Notice what Jesus said in John the 6th chapter: “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
“And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
“Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
“It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
“Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
“I am that bread of life.” (vv.41-48). How did they hear from the Father? Jesus said, “Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” (John 5:37). It was Jesus speaking the words of the Father, “but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him…but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:26, 28).
Jesus said to them, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God.” This quote is from Isaiah 54:13 that says, “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (see also Jeremiah 31:34). Clearly Jesus was telling the Jews that he was very Jehovah that was teaching them the words of eternal life!
Again the Jews testing Christ asked him, “Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?” (John 8:53). They wanted to know his true identity, and Jesus laid it out plain for them and said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (v.56). this rejoicing is seen at the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22. Especially Gen 22:14 that says, “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it [the offering of the Messiah] shall be seen.” This proverb evidently was referring to the offering of the Messiah on the mount for the sins of men.
The Jews then said, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (v.57). Notice Jesus’ response!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.” (v.58). This was the divine title of God when he revealed himself to Moses, “…Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Ex 3:14). The Greek words are “ego eimi” Notice what Robertson’s Word Pictures says about these words, “I am (egō eimi). Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God. The contrast between genesthai (entrance into existence of Abraham) and eimi (timeless being) is complete” (emphasis added).
The Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary states the contrast in this verse between Abraham and Christ, “The difference between the two verbs applied to Abraham and Himself, in this great saying, is to be carefully observed. ‘Before Abraham was brought into being, I exist.’ The statement, therefore, is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did-as Arians affirm is the meaning: it is that he never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; which, of course, was as much as to say that He existed before all creation, or from eternity, as in John 1:1.” (emphasis added).
How did the Jews react to this statement? “Then took they up stones to cast at him:” (v.59). Why? As like other times, “but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:33). Jesus claimed to be the great IAM, the JEHOVAH of the Old Testament. Alford’s Greek NT rightly comments, “In this verse the God-head of Christ is involved; and this the Jews clearly understood, by their conduct to Him.” (Emphasis theirs).
Greek Old Testament “I AM”
The Septuagint-the Greek version of the Old Testament, translates ehyeh asher ehyeh of Exodus 3:14 into Greek as “ego eimi ho on.” This earliest of all translations thus associates Exodus 3:14 with the concept of eternal existence.
Also, The Septuagint equates “ego eimi” with God the Creator
“See now that I, EVEN I, AM HE (ego eimi LXX), and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.” (Deut. 32:39)
“Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he (ego eimi LXX).—10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.—13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:4; see also Isaiah 43:10; 46:4; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6).
According to these passages Yahweh says that he is the great I AM because:
· He gives life
· He sustains and delivers
· No one can deliver out of his hands
· He is from ancient of days
· He forgives and blots out sins
· He alone declares the future and brings it to pass
· He comforts his people
Compare his claims with the claims of the Jesus
· He gives eternal life
· He raises the dead
· He sustains and delivers
· He is able to prevent anyone from delivering out of his hands
· He preserves believers from perishing
· He came down from heaven, i.e is from ancient of days
· He predicts the future and has it come to pass
· He forgives and blots out sins
· He gives comfort to his people
Why would Jesus make the same claims as the Great I AM of the Old Testament unless he knew that he was that great being born in “Bethlehem Ephratah,” the great being “from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2).
“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”
Before Jesus suffered on the cross, Philip asked Christ, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” (John 14:8). Philip want to see the Father that Jesus preach so much about and revealed to them by his words. How did Jesus respond?
“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?” Now some say that Jesus and the Father is one and the same person in this passage. This is claimed by the “Jesus only” crowd. These are known as Oneness Pentecostalism or oneness theology; they teach that there is only one God. In other words, oneness theology does not recognize the distinct persons of the Godhead: Father and Son as it clearly states in Hebrews the first chapter verse 3. Instead they believe that it has various forms / modes / manifestations—some see Jesus Christ as the one God, who sometimes manifests Himself as the Father or the Holy Spirit. The core doctrine of Oneness Pentecostal/Jesus Only is that Jesus IS the Father and Jesus IS the Spirit. There is one God who reveals Himself in different “modes.”
However most of these people stop there and don’t continue reading and understanding what Jesus meant by this; this leads people into these weird beliefs. Notice what Jesus says which confirms Hebrews 1:3. Jesus said, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.” (John 14:9-11). With everything that Jesus did, the works, the Parables and words that he spoke, Jesus was saying, seeing him was the same as seeing the Father because Jesus was the “the express image of his person” (Heb 1:3)-meaning he was the “characteristic expression in his person, so that the Son bears the exact impress of the divine nature and character.” (Vincent Word Studies, emphasis added). Not that we was the Father, but had the same divine nature and characteristics of the Father “the Father in me” Jesus said.
Clearly Jesus knew he was the Yahweh of the Old Testament. He was the Savior of all mankind and to claim to be so (John 3:16) was to be Yahweh himself. Yahweh said, “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no Saviour.” (Isa 43:11). Jesus declared in John 8:24 (and the “he” in this passage were added by the translators) and it should read this way, “…for if ye believe not that I AM ye shall die in your sins.” Same words and John 8:58 the great I AM Yahweh the Savior of Mankind-Jesus declared to be Him!
Believe in Him
Jesus also said in the Gospel of John, “ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1). Jesus was asking for the same faith and belief that they had in God and to also apply it to himself. To claim this one must be God, and the works he had done proves this fact, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. “ (John 14:11). This source states, “what else, can these words mean?...for which the Jews took up stones to stone Him, as ‘making himself equal with God [John 10:33]”’ (JFB Commentary).
The Shema of the New Testament
In the Old Testament all know of the Shema the most famous prayer in the Bible. Its first verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of the Bible: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” (Deut 6:4).
In the New Testament, there is also the Shema that also encapsulates the monotheistic essence the scriptures. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one. “ (John 10:30). Jesus and the Father are “one.” This is not an absolute one but a composite one. They are one and the same Kind, the God-Kind! As Mounce Concise Greek English dictionary clearly states, “one virtually by union, Matt 19:5-6; John 10:30; one and the same, Luke 12:52; Rom 3:30;” (emphasis added; see also A Manuel Greek Lexicon of the NT).
And when one looks into the Hebrew of the Shema of the Old Testament the same can be said. In the Hebrew it is, “The LORD [Jehovah-the Eternal] our God [Elohim-plural] is one [echad “properly united, that is, one… together;” (Strong’s #259)] LORD:” The Jehovah, the Eternal God [Elohim-Father and Son] is “one.” Echad meaning united, a composite one NOT yachid meaning and absolute one. Jehovah God [the Father and Son] are one and the same kind-the God-Kind! Jesus claimed the same divinity as God the Father!
What about in the synoptic Gospels? Is there any evidence of Jesus making this claim?
Notice is Matthew 12:6 and 8. Jesus declared that he was “greater” than the “Temple” and that he was also “Lord of the Sabbath.” How can anyone be greater than the Temple and Lord of the Sabbath except he be God who instituted these things? This is a direct claim to deity!
What about when he healed people, Jesus claimed, “…thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Matthew 9:2; see also Mark 2:1-12). The Pharisees said to Jesus, “This man blasphemeth.” (v.3). Why was it blasphemy? The scriptures clearly state, only God can forgive sins (Isa 43:25; 44:22). As also stated in Mark 2:7: “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” Jesus proved to them who he was when he said, “…Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)…I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” (2:10-11). what was Jesus revealing to them? “for I am the LORD [YHWH] that healeth thee.” (Exodus 15:26).
The Title “Son of Man” was also another divine title Jesus claimed for himself. Bullinger writes that, “This title, when used of Christ, always has the Article; and the word for man is anthropos (see Ap. 123, I). When used of a human being, as in Ezekiel, it never has the Article (see notes on Ps 8:4, and Ez 2:1).” (Appendix 98; Companion Bible, emphasis added).
This title comes from Daniel the 7th chapter speaking of the “Son of Man” that “came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
“And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (vv.13-14). This is the “Kingdom of God,” and in that day “…the LORD [YHWH] shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” (Zechariah 14:9). Again Jesus was indicating to them that he was YAHWEH THE GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT WHO HAS THE POWER TO FORGIVE SINS!
Often we see Jesus receiving worship and does nothing to discourage it (see Mathew 14:33; John 9:38) as opposed to angels who, when worshipped, they told the people to “worship God” (Rev 22:8-9).
One notable occurrence of Jesus accepting worship is found in Matthew 21:15-16. We read of children crying out in praise of Jesus, “Hosanna to the Son of David” The scribes and priests of course wanted Jesus to stop them from saying it, “they were sore displeased…And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say?” However Jesus replied by attributing to himself something that was only meant for God alone. He replied, “Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” Gill’s commentary writes, “…in the original text it is, ‘thou hast ordained,’ or ‘founded strength;’ and which is rendered by the Septuagint, as it is by Matthew here; and glory and strength are mentioned together, as being to be given to God, Psalm 29:1 and so ‘strength’ and ‘praise’ by the Targumist in Isaiah 13:3 by which is meant strong glory, or glory and praise expressed with a strong voice, or in a very vehement manner, as it was by these babes and sucklings;” (emphasis added). Basically Jesus was saying to the chief priests and the scribes, “When those children praise me, they are praising God”!
In fact, God the Father himself commanded that the angels of God to “worship him” (Hebrews 1:6). The book of Hebrews clearly shows that the Father calls the Son “God” (1:8) and also calls him the creator of the heavens and the earth and they are “works of thine hands” (v.10). And who created the heavens and the earth with his hands? YAHWEH God, “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me....I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” (Isa 45:11-12)
Jesus also claimed the divine titles of God.
One example is in Isaiah 44:6 where God says, “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Jesus applies this title to himself in the book of Revelation, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty...I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. ” (1:8; 22:13). Not only did Jesus claim that he was the first and the last-the ALMIGHTY, but also that he is the King of Israel and the Redeemer. All these titles belong to the LORD-YAHWEH, and this is who Jesus is! He is the God of the Old Testament!
Jesus who knew exactly who he was and where he came from! The idea that he did NOT claim to be God is a complete lie or for most part, a misunderstanding and ignorance of especially the Old Testament scriptures. Jesus knew fully that he was “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) meaning “GOD WITH US”!
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