Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

The Deity of Christ

The central teaching of the Bible is that the Son of God, who is also God, came down to earth as Jesus Christ, to become our savior. Since the known facts of history make it virtually impossible to deny that there was a first century Jew named Jesus, many who oppose the Bible try to show that the historical Jesus was not God. Their arguments are as follows:-
  1. The Bible says that Jesus is God but the Bible is not true.
  2. The authors of the New Testament ascribe deity to Jesus, but he himself never claims to be God, nor does the Old Testament give any room for any person coequal with God.
  3. Neither Jesus nor the writers of the Bible say that Jesus was God.
The main purpose of this website is to refute the first argument, that is, to present The Main Message of the Bible, along with Evidence for God and evidence that the Bible comes from God and is authentic. The purpose of this article is to deal with the second and third arguments above. I shall list down Biblical references in which Jesus, and then the writers of the Bible directly or indirectly claim that Jesus is God.

The claims of Jesus

Reference # 1:
"And behold, they brought to Jesus a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, Son, be of good courage; your sins are forgiven you. And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, This Man blasphemes! Who can forgive sins except for One, God? But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins; then He said to the paralytic, Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house. And he arose and departed to his house." – Mark 2: 4-12
It would be absurd for me to tell you, "It's okay, I forgive you" when you hurt someone else. Only God has such a right, and that is exactly what Jesus claimed for himself.

Reference # 2:
"Again the high priest questioned Him, saying to Him, Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? Jesus said, I AM. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven. Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy!" – Mark 14:61-64
The reason the high priest got so agitated was that Jesus' claim to be the son of the Blessed (God) amounted to saying that he was divine himself. Jesus clearly was not saying that he was a son in a generic sense (or else the high priest would not react this way, or Jesus would have clarified things if the high priest was misunderstanding him).

Reference # 3:
"Jesus said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise." – John 2:16
Everyone in the audience (the Jews) recognized the temple as God's house. So Jesus is referring to God as his Father. This means that He is calling himself the Son of God. A similar reference is John 5:17. Notice in the next few verses how the Jews get infuriated (and Jesus does not say that there has been a misunderstanding). The Jews understood the implications of what Jesus was saying.
 
Reference # 4:
"[Jesus said] And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." – John 3:13
Here Jesus is telling Nicodemus, that the son of man (a reference to himself) has not only come down from heaven, but is in heaven. Only God can be in heaven and in earth at the same time; thus Jesus is implying that he is God.

Reference # 5:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." – John 3:16
Jesus refers to himself as God's only begotten Son. God has many sons (in a general sense – all those who submit to God become His sons (John 1:12)), but only one begotten Son, that is, only one Son who is just like Him, divine.
 
Reference # 7:
"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." – John 5:40
Only God is the source of life. Thus, Jesus is God. Similarly, Jesus claims that he will destroy his body, and then raise himself up from the dead (John 2:18-21). Only God can do that.

Reference # 8:
"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." – John 6:38
No ordinary human prophet can claim to come from heaven. Nor did Jesus (or anyone else) call him an angel who has come from heaven. Thus, the only option that remains is that Jesus is God himself come down from heaven.

Reference # 9:
"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." – John 8:58
In using the present tense to refer to a time before Abraham (who lived 2000 years before him), Jesus indicates that he is the eternal, self-existing one: God. Look at the reaction of the Jews. There was no confusion about what Jesus meant!
 
Reference # 10:
Jesus calls himself the root and offspring of David (Revelation 22:16). He's obviously a biological descendant of David (Matthew 1:1) and thus David's offspring,  but root? How is Jesus the root (source) of David? Because Jesus is God, the creator who made Adam, whose descendant David was!
 
In interpreting the next five references it is necessary to keep in mind that Jesus upheld the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17-18)
 
Reference # 11:
The Old Testament presents Jehovah as the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11; 45:21-22). Jesus claims to be the savior (Mark 10:45, 1 John 5:12) 
 
Reference # 12:
Jehovah is our shepherd in the Old Testament (Psalm 23:1); Jesus claims to be the one and only good shepherd (John 10:11-14).
 
Reference # 13
Jesus says he judges everyone (John 5:22), but only God is the judge (Genesis 18:25, 1 Chronicles 16:33, Psalm 9:8, etc). Thus, Jesus is the Son is God, and God himself. 
 
Reference # 14:
While Jesus was particular that only God should be worshiped (Matthew 4:10), he accepted worship as a child by the wise men (2:11), by a leper (8:2), by a ruler (9:18), as the Son of God by His disciples (14:33), by the two Marys after His resurrection (28:9), and by many others including Thomas, who declared to Him, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).
 
Reference # 15
In Isaiah 44:6, Jehovah is king and redeemer of Israel. Jesus claims to Pilate that he is the king of Israel (John 18:33-39) although the Israelis never acknowledged him as such.  
 
Reference # 16:
Jesus claims to be eternal in Revelation 1:8-12. Since only God is eternal, this amounts to claiming that he is God.
 
Reference # 17:
Jesus' favorite term for himself was 'Son of man'. This may not mean anything to us, but Jesus' Jewish audience would recognize it as a term from their scriptures. In Daniel 7:13-14, the Son of Man is a person who approaches the "Ancient of Days", and then gets all the honor and glory that is appropriate for God.
 
Reference # 18
When Jesus narrated the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:33-46), the Jews understood it, got furious, and Jesus did not protest that they were misunderstanding him. If you don't believe that Jesus claimed Deity, give your own interpretation and justify it.
 
Reference # 19:
"I and my Father are one....the Father is in me and I in him" – John 10:30, 38
Note the following:-
  1. Jesus thus claims to be the same as the Father (God). The Jews interpreted this statement the same way I'm doing (see verse 31 onward) and Jesus did not make any attempts to refute their interpretation. This shows that the Jewish interpretation (and thus mine) is correct.
  2. Jesus did not merely mean that he was "one in purpose" with the Father. If that was his intention, he could have told the Jews: "Why do you stone me? I'm just one in purpose with the Father just like Moses, Abraham, etc", but he didn't.
  3. Jesus refers to a passage in Psalm 82 where certain people are called gods. But Jesus makes it clear in John 10:35 and John 10:36 that he is not using the word "God" for himself in that sense - those people in Psalm 82:6 were called gods because they received the word of God but He was God, having come from the Father.
  4. Jesus prayed that all true Christians would be "one" with him and the Father (John 17:21). There the context makes it obvious that he is referring to oneness of mind and purpose. Every sensible reader knows that the same word can be used in different senses in different contexts. It is grammatical foolishness to force the sense in John 17:21 on to John 10:30!
Many more instances can be given, but these are sufficient to establish that Jesus claimed to be divine. It's all well for a person to make claims; what does Jesus have to show for his claims?

Jesus as a Divine Person in the Old Testament

Reference # 1:
"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith Jehovah of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered" – Zechariah 13:7
Notice the features:-
  1. A shepherd appointed by God
  2. A man
  3. Someone who was killed
  4. Someone whose followers would be scattered when the sword catches up with him
  5. Someone divine (how else could he be the fellow of God?)
Needless to say, only Jesus Christ satisfies the first four conditions. Thus he also satisfies the fifth, namely, divinity.

Reference # 2:
"A virgin will conceive and bear a son, and call his name Immanuel [God with us] " – Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23
Reference # 3:
"For unto us a child is born, a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom" – Isaiah 9:6-7.
Reference # 4:
The Son of God is mentioned in Proverbs 30:4, Daniel 3:25 and Psalm 2:7-12. Notice that in all cases, the Son is mentioned as someone special and sovereign. This indicates that "Son" here does not refer to "son of God" in a generic sense (all those who follow God are also called the sons of God).
 
Reference # 5:
In Psalm 110:1, David refers to the Messiah as "Lord" although the Messiah was to be his descendant. This makes sense only if the Messiah is divine. Jesus used the same passage to confront the Jewish religious leaders with his divinity (Matthew 22:41-46).

Reference # 6:
"You will not leave My soul in Sheol (abode of the dead); nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." – Psalm 16:10
So there is a person who is to be resurrected. Now this person is called a "Holy One". Since no ordinary person is holy (Luke 18:19), this person has to be divine. The person called "You" also has to be divine, for he has authority over death. So there is a plurality of divine persons here. You may argue that this person could be an angel. But there is no record of an angel being resurrected. Jesus was resurrected, and thus Psalm 16:10 shows that Jesus is divine, as Peter implied when he quoted this verse in Acts 2:27.
 
Reference # 7:
In Micah 5:2, we see that the king of Israel would be born in Bethlehem, but he is one "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting". Thus, Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem and recognized as ruler at his birth itself (Matthew 2:1-11), existed from eternity, and is thus God. 
 
Reference # 8:
"Your throne O God is for ever; the scepter of your kingdom is a just scepter...God – your God – has anointed you..." – Psalm 45:6-7
Here God anoints God and gives Him a throne. How does it fit? God [the Father] anoints God [the Son, Jesus Christ]. In the New Testament, this passage is cited, referring to the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 1:8).

New Testament references to Jesus as God

Reference # 1:
"And we [Peter and other disciples] believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." – John 6:69
Here Peter calls Jesus the son of God and Jesus does not object. Also note that if Peter was referring to "son" in a more general sense, he could have called all the disciples present there the sons of God.

Reference # 2:
"The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand." – John 3:35
John the Baptist refers to Jesus (see John 3:22 onward for the context) as the Son.

Reference # 3:
"[The Samaritans at Sychar] said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard [him] ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." – John 4:42
John records the Samaritans' belief that Jesus is the savior of the world without any hint of disagreement. However, only God can be the savior (Isaiah 43:11). So John and Isaiah together imply that Jesus is God.

Reference # 4:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.... The next day John sees Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. And I [John] saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." – John 1: 1, 2, 3, 14, 15, 29, 34
Note the following:-
  1. These verses imply that there was the Word, that was with God as well as the same as God, and then this word came down in human flesh, and was witnessed by John the Immerser (Baptist) who was convinced by God's word to him (see John 1:29-34) that this person, Jesus was the Son of God. So John the apostle records the testimony of John the Baptist, that Jesus was divine.
  2. In the phrase "the Word was God" the absence of the Greek article before God means that "God" indicates the nature of the Word, that is, the word was divine.
  3. The word "god" or "gods" is used figuratively for people (Psalm 82:6) and for the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4).
  4. Any sensible reader knows that a word can be used literally or figuratively, and it is to be taken literally unless the context makes the figurative meaning obvious. So just because the word "god" is used figuratively in some places, it does not mean that it is used figuratively in John 1:1! The absence of the Greek article before "God" in John 1:1 necessitates the literal interpretation.
Reference # 5:
"Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." – John 1:49
John records Nathaniel being convinced that Jesus is divine.

Reference # 6:
Matthew records God the Father (Matthew 3:17), demons (Matthew 8:29) and a Roman centurion (Matthew 27:54) all calling Jesus the Son of God.

Reference # 7:
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" – Mark 1:1
Reference # 8:
Quoting Isaiah 40:3, Luke presents John as the forerunner of Jesus (Luke 3:4). But in Isaiah 40:3, the one who is heralded is the LORD (Jehovah), while in Luke, Jesus is being heralded. Thus, Luke implies that Jehovah is the same as Jesus.
 
Reference # 9:
In Isaiah 44:6, Jehovah is king and redeemer of Israel. The angel Gabriel refers to Jesus as king of Israel (Luke 1:32).  Commenting on the birth of Jesus and John (Jesus' forerunner), Zacharias says that God has sent redemption to Israel (Luke 1:68-69), thus implying that Jesus would be the redeemer of Israel. Thus, Jesus is the same as Jehovah.
 
Reference # 10:
In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Jesus is referred to as God's Son. The same epistle also mentions Jesus at the same level as God (1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:14), and gives blessing in the name of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:28). Now 1 Thessalonians is the first New Testament book to be written – in about 52 AD, just 20 years after the death of Jesus. This shows that belief in the deity of Jesus was characteristic of the first Christians, and not a later invention. The same argument applies for 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2, 2:16, 3:6, 3:18 and 1 Corinthians 1:3, 1:9-10, 3:11, 4:1, 9:1, 10:4, 10:9, 16:22-24) since 2 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians were written in 53 and 57 AD respectively.
 
Reference # 11:
"God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." – 1 Timothy 3:16 
 
Self-explanatory, right?

Questions

Does Jesus' claiming to be the son of God amount to his claiming to be equal with God? Doesn't God have many sons?
Yes. People today have raised this question, asking if "son" should not be interpreted in a non-literal  or general way, but this confusion was not there in the context in which Jesus spoke:-
"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." – John 5:17-18
So John, the disciple of Jesus, and the other Jews had no problems in interpreting Jesus' statement. They interpreted it "literally" - to imply that Jesus was also divine (and this infuriated them). If at all they had misunderstood him, Jesus should have corrected them, but he doesn't. In the subsequent verses, Jesus continues to refer to God as his Father. So the answer: a big YES.
 
If Jesus is the Son of God, does it mean that he is the product of a sexual union between God and a woman?
No. It is true that Jesus was born two thousand years ago. How did this happen? The Holy Spirit (who is without body) prepared the human body of Jesus in the worm of Mary (Luke 1:35). But as the above references show, Jesus existed as the Son of God since eternity, long before his incarnation. God designed human parental relationships to reflect the relationship between the Father and the Son. Just as all the features of a toy car are not present in a real car, all the features of human sons (like conception via sex) are not present in the Father-Son relationship.
 
How can Jesus be both Son of God and God? Both man and God? Is this not absurd?
It is not absurd because it does not violate the law of non-contradiction. Moreover, there are similar examples. I am both man and son of a man. Is light a wave or a particle? Is there anything absurd in the nature of light? The "Twin paradox" and "Ladder paradox" are good examples to illustrate that some propositions appear to be contradictions while they are not. Also see "Bible stories are fanciful, and hence false!"
 
What is the meaning of "begotten" Son? (John 3:16)
It means of the same nature or essence. For example, if I adopted a son, he wouldn't have my genes like my natural son, who would be of the same "stuff" as me (begotten). This example does not mean that God had sex with someone and Jesus was the result.
"I will declare the decree: the LORD (Jehovah) has said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." – Psalm 2:7
Does this mean that God gave birth to Jesus one day? We don't have to speculate; the Bible itself clarifies that this verse refers to the resurrection of Jesus:
"God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." – Acts 13:33
To summarize, "begotten" means of the same essence. Thus, John 3:16 tells us that Jesus was God's only son who had the same essence as Him. He has many sons who are not of the same essence as Him (people who follow Him).
 
Did not Jesus claim that he cannot do anything by himself [John 5:19]? How then can he be God?
Let's see the passage:-
"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also does the Son likewise." – John 5:19
So Jesus can do nothing?! But we are told that Jesus does things. For instance, he created the universe according to John (John 1:3). In John 5:21 Jesus himself says that he quickens those he wills just like his Father.

So: it is not that Jesus is powerless, but that he is subject to the Father. It's like: if you ask my wife if she can join you on your vacation trip, she will respond saying: "I'll need to ask my husband before I say yes to you." We take decisions together and she does things with my consent.

It is the same with the Lord Jesus.

Why are there so many more direct references to the deity of Jesus in the gospel of John, as compared to the other three (synoptic) gospels?
The purpose of having four gospels was to highlight four different aspects of Jesus Christ. This four-fold nature of the Lord Jesus is a recurring theme in the Bible. Here are the four aspects:-
  1. Matthew: Portrays Jesus primarily as the coming King of Israel and the world
  2. Mark: Portrays Jesus primarily as God's faithful servant.
  3. Luke: Portrays Jesus primarily as the perfect, righteous human.
  4. John: Portrays Jesus primarily as the Son of God and God himself.
If you look at John's purpose compared to the others, you find the answer to the above question.
 
If Jesus said, "the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28), how can you claim that he is equal with God?
In a cricket or soccer team, is the captain "greater" than other players? In a way, yes. Decisions on the field are made by him. But the other players are also equally part of the team. They are also as much "players" as the captain is. Similarly, my father is greater than me, but that does not make me less human than him. Thus, it is perfectly logical for Jesus to be divine, and still say that the Father is greater than him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to the Father: "Let not my will but yours be done" and not the other way around. So Jesus is divine, but the Father comes first, then the Son.

Jesus claimed that he does not know when he's coming back to earth (Mark 13:32) whereas God is supposed to be all-knowing. How can Jesus be God then?
To be consistent with the rest of scripture, we have to conclude that Jesus was referring to his human intelligence and knowledge. He was not only truly God, but also truly human, and he subjected himself to human limitations.
For instance:
"When He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry." – Matthew 4:2
Since he was God, he could have "fixed" the chemical reactions in his stomach to avoid feeling hungry, but he didn't. Similarly if Jesus went to school as a boy, do you think he'd get full marks in all his tests after playing the whole day? No! He would have to study like any other child. Jesus was not just God, but man as well. This necessarily involved limiting himself in certain areas.

Conclusion

There is abundant Biblical evidence that Jesus is divine, both from Jesus' lips and the statements made by others. Further, there is abundant evidence that the Biblical record is correct. Jesus said that your eternal destiny depends on whether you receive or reject/ignore him.

Also see:

  • more on Jesus' divinity
  • Larry Hurtado (professor of New Testament at Edinburgh University), "Lord Jesus Christ"; this book establishes that the deity of Jesus was an early view.
  • Bowman, Robert M. Jr., and J. Ed Komoszewsi. Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for The Deity of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2007
  • Harris, Murray J. Jesus as God. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993
  • Martin, W. J. The Deity of Christ. Chicago: Moody Press, 1964
  • McDowell, Josh, and Bart Larson. Jesus: A Biblical Defence of His Deity. San Bernardino, Calif.: Here's Life, 1983
  • Zodhiates, Spiros. Was Christ God? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966
  • Craig, William Lane.  "The Self-Understanding of Jesus" In Reasonable Faith, by William Lane Craig, 233-254. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1994