Fast Facts on the question, “Did Jesus really claim to be God?”
- Many skeptics and critics of Christianity will argue that Jesus never really claimed to be God. They will say that Jesus was simply a good teacher who was later deified by his followers. However, this claim just doesn’t stand up to the biblical evidence.
- In John 8:58 Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” Upon hearing this, verse 59 says the Jews tried to stone him! Why would they attempt to kill Jesus here? Because in their eyes he had committed the ultimate blasphemy, he had claimed for himself the very name of God, I AM (Exodus 3:14).
- In John 10:30 Jesus states, “I and the Father are one.” Again, verse 31 says the Jews tried to stone Jesus. Why? They tell us in verse 33, “We are not stoning you for any good work… but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
- In Luke 6:5 Jesus declares, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” While the term “Son of Man” has messianic meaning, the clearer statement of deity is found in Jesus’ claim to be the “Lord of the Sabbath”. God created and instituted the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:8-11). Thus, God is the only rightful Lord over it. Jesus is clearly identifying himself here as the God who is Lord of the Sabbath.
- We see further evidence of Jesus claiming deity in the fact that he received worship from people and did not rebuke them for it (Matthew 14:33; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; and others). This was significant in that God had declared that he alone was to be worshipped (Exodus 20:3; Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:13-14).
- How do we know passages like the ones mentioned here weren’t later insertions into the biblical text? Because we have such an overwhelmingly large and early collection of ancient New Testament manuscripts that reveal Jesus’ claims to deity (over 5,500 partial and complete Greek NT manuscripts dated to within 300 years of Christ).
- The biblical testimony is clear, and the historical evidence is abundant, Jesus Christ claimed to be God and his followers recognized and worshipped him as God. Jesus Christ, the eternal God, humbled himself and became a man so that we could be forgiven of our sins and be reconciled to him (Colossian 1:15-23).
For more evidence for the deity of Jesus Christ, please check out Jason Carlson’s chapter on the Resurrection in the book Apologetics For A New Generation, available in our online store.
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