Tag: Is Jesus God or the Son of God

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

We hear this objection all the time: Jesus never really claimed He was the Son of God, or God Himself. Instead, this belief was superimposed on the Jesus tradition by His overzealous followers years after His death. Critics claim that the real Jesus saw Himself as nothing more than a rabbi.

However, this is not what the evidence clearly shows. This truth was summarized by H. R. Macintosh, a Scottish theologian: “The self-consciousness of Jesus is the greatest fact in history.”

A research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Kevin Vanhoozer, also wrote: “Jesus understood Himself to be the beloved Son of God, chosen by God to bring about the kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sins. Our understanding of who Jesus was must correspond to Jesus’ own self-understanding. If we do not confess Jesus as the Christ, then either He was deluded about His identity or we are.”

Ten Factors Pointing to Jesus’ Claim as the Son of God

There are at least ten factors that point toward Jesus as believing He was the one and only Son of God.

1. Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.”

No scholar doubts that the most common way Jesus referred to Himself was “the Son of Man,” which He applied to Himself more than four dozen times, including in the gospel of Mark, which is generally considered to be the earliest of all the four gospels.

While some critics mistakenly believe this is a mere claim of humanity, the scholarly consensus is that this is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man is ushered into the very presence of the Almighty, has “glory, authority, and sovereign power,” receives the worship of “all peoples,” and is someone whose dominion is everlasting.

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Theologian and philosopher William Lane Craig said, “The Son of Man was a divine figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever. Thus, the claim to be the Son of Man would be in effect a claim to divinity.”

Vanhoozer adds an interesting sidelight: “The curious thing about Jesus’ use of the title … is that He linked it not only with the theme of future glory but also with the theme of suffering and death. In doing so, Jesus was teaching His disciples something new about the long-awaited Messiah, namely that, His suffering would precede His glory (Luke 9:22).

2. Jesus applied the “I am” sayings to Himself.

By applying the “I am” sayings to Himself, Jesus made a claim of divinity, at one point declaring, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). This obvious allusion to God’s words to Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14) was such an unmistakable declaration of equality with God.

The Jews understood Jesus perfectly so they thought that He had committed blasphemy for ascribing the Name of God to Himself. So they promptly attempted to stone Jesus. Death by stoning was the proper death penalty for this particular sin (Leviticus 24:12-16). But Jesus had not sinned for He was truly God. He was the great I AM in person.

Other passages where Jesus applied the “I am” statements to Himself include: John 6:35 (I am the bread of life) ; John 8:12 (I am the light of the world); John 10:7 (I am the Door of the sheep); John 10:11 (I am the good Shepherd); John 11:25 (I am the Resurrection and the Life); John 14:6 (I am the Way, the Truth and the Life) and John 15:5 (I am the Vine).

3. Jesus forgave sins.

Jesus made a divine claim when He forgave the sins of the paralytic in Mark 2:5. In response, the Jews said, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God” (Mark 2:7)?

The Jews were correct for only God can forgive sins, for sin is transgression against the law and only the aggrieved person can forgive the guilty one. As theologian D. A. Carson noted, “The only person who can say that sort of thing meaningfully is God Himself, because sin, even if it is against other people, is first and foremost a defiance of God and His laws.”

In forgiving sin, Jesus either blasphemed or He was God. But Jesus was God and could forgive.

4. Jesus selected 12 disciples.

Ever wonder why Jesus selected twelve men to be His disciples? Why not eight, ten, or fifteen? Why twelve? What’s with the number twelve?

According to Ben Witherington III, author of The Christology of Jesus, there was a transcendent claim made by the way Jesus selected His disciples. “If the twelve represent a renewed Israel, where does Jesus fit in?” he asked. “He’s not just part of Israel, not merely part of the redeemed group, He’s forming the group – just as God in the Old Testament formed His people and set up the twelve tribes of Israel.

That’s definitely a clue about what Jesus thought of Himself.

Is Jesus God or the Son of God?
Photo Credits: Jesus.Net

5. Jesus taught with divine authority.

The fifth clue about Jesus’ self-understanding comes through the way He taught – with authority. Whenever Jesus teaches, He begins with the phrase, “Verily, verily, I say unto you …” or “Truly I say to you …” In effect, Jesus is saying, “I swear in advance to the truthfulness of what I’m about to say.”

“This was absolutely revolutionary,” Witherington said. He went on to explain that in Judaism, you needed the testimony of two witnesses … but Jesus witnesses to the truth of His own sayings. Instead of basing His teaching on the authority of others, He speaks on His own authority.

So here is someone who considered Himself to have authority beyond what the Old Testament prophets had. He believed He possessed not only divine inspiration, as King David did, but also divine authority and the power of direct divine utterance.

6. Jesus addressed God as “Abba.”

When relating to God, Jesus used the Aramaic term Abba, or “Father dearest.” This reflects an intimacy that was alien in ancient Judaism, in which devout Jews avoided the use of God’s personal name out of fear they may mispronounce it. Dr. Witherington made this observation:

“The significance of Abba is that Jesus is the initiator of an intimate relationship that was previously unavailable. The question is, what kind of person can initiate a new covenantal relationship with God?”

Jesus is saying that only through having a relationship with Him does this kind of prayer language – this kind of “Abba” relationship with God – becomes possible. That says volumes about how He regarded Himself.

7. Jesus received Thomas’ worship.

Another indicator of Jesus’ self-understanding can be seen in His post-resurrection encounter with the apostle Thomas in John 20. Responding to Jesus’ invitation to personally check out the evidence that He had really risen from the dead, Thomas declares, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)!

Jesus’ reply was very telling. It would have been the height of blasphemy for Him to have knowingly received Thomas’ worship unless Jesus really was God. Yet instead of rebuking him, Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus’ choice to receive Thomas’ worship clearly means He believed He was God and thus worthy of that homage. Similarly, when Simon Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus’ reaction was not to correct him but rather to affirm that this was revealed to him by the Father Himself (Matthew 16:15-17).

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

8. Salvation depends on peoples’ confession to Jesus.

Jesus clearly believed that the eternal destiny of people hinged on whether they believed in Him. He said in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

In addition, Jesus said, “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9).

William Lane Craig put the implication this way, “Make no mistake: if Jesus were not the divine Son of God, then His claim could only be regarded as the most narrow and objectionable dogmatism. For Jesus is saying that people’s salvation is dependent upon their confession to Jesus Himself.”

9. Jesus said that He and the Father are one.

An equally overt assertion of divinity is found in John 10:30, where Jesus declared outright, “I and My Father are one.” There is no question about whether His listeners understood that Jesus was saying that He and God are one in substance. Promptly they picked up stones to stone Him “for blasphemy because You, being a man make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

10. Jesus performed miracles.

An equally important factor that should be weighed in assessing Jesus’ belief about His identity is His miracles. Jesus stressed that His feats were a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom. “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

Ben Witherington observed that even though others in the Bible also performed miracles, this statement showed that Jesus didn’t merely regard Himself as a wonder-worker: “He sees Himself as the one in whom and through whom the promises of God come to pass. And that’s a not-to-thinly-veiled claim of transcendence.”

British scholar James D. G. Dunn said, “Whatever the ‘facts’ were, Jesus evidently believed that He had cured cases of blindness, lameness, and deafness – indeed, there is no reason to doubt that He believed lepers had been cured under His ministry and restored the dead to life.”

Fulfilling the Attributes of God

Sure, anyone can believe that he or she is God. But Jesus didn’t just consider Himself God’s Son; He also fulfilled the attributes that are unique to God. Philippians 2:5-8 describes how Jesus emptied Himself of the independent use of His attributes – a phenomenon termed kenosis – when He was incarnated.

This explains how he didn’t always choose to exhibit the “omnis” – omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence – in His earthly existence. Even so, the New Testament confirms that all of these qualities were ultimately true of Him.

For example, in John 16:30, John affirms of Jesus, “Now we are sure that You know all things,” which is omniscience. Also in Matthew 28:20, Jesus is recorded as saying, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” which is omnipresence. And He declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18), which is omnipotence. 

Is Jesus the Son of God or God Himself?

Indeed, Colossians 2:9 reads, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”Jesus’ eternality is confirmed in John 1:1, which declares of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus’ immutability is shown in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” His sinlessness is seen in John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”

Hebrews 1:3 declares Jesus to be “the brightness (or radiance) of God’s glory and the express image of His person.” Colossians 1:17 says, “Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Matthew 25:31-32 affirms He will be the judge of all mankind. And in Hebrews 1:8, the Father Himself specifically makes reference to Jesus as being God.

The very names used to paint a portrait of God in the Old Testament – names such as Alpha and Omega, Lord, Savior, King, Judge, Light, Rock, Redeemer, Shepherd, Creator, giver of life, forgiver of sin, and speaker with divine authority – are also applied to Jesus in the New Testament.

*Read here: God’s Natural and Moral Attributes

Conclusion

Did Jesus claim to be the only Son of God and God Himself? Absolutely! Although we do not read Jesus saying this directly to the effects of “I am the Son of God” or “I am God, worship Me,” He did so in ways that His audience and readers during His time clearly understood.

Who did Jesus believe He was? In his book, New Approaches to Jesus and the Gospels, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Royce Gruenler, comes to this conclusion: “It is a striking fact of modern New Testament research that the essential clues for correctly reading the implicit Christological self-understanding of Jesus are abundantly clear.”

Beyond just believing He was God, Jesus also proved it by working supernatural deeds, by fulfilling ancient prophecies against all mathematical odds, and ultimately by conquering the grave.

Who did Jesus think He was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus!

Who Did Jesus Think He Was?

Who did Jesus think he was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus! #Apologetics #Jesus

Posted by Reasonable Faith on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

Belief in the deity of Jesus Christ is essential to salvation (Romans 10:9; John 8:24). Yet, this precious doctrine is attacked mercilessly not only in the west but even within the “Christian world.” In this article, I will be presenting the arguments and Scriptures used by these opponents against the deity of Christ.

Jesus Christ is not God …


1.
Because He had flesh and bones, and God being a spirit, has neither flesh nor bones – John 4:24; Luke 24:39

Answer: Jesus Christ as man had both flesh and bones but as God, He was spirit.

This objection arises from the problem of the dual nature of the Savior. In order for the invisible God to become visible, He must become flesh and bones. Jesus assumed flesh and bones merely for the incarnation. As God He is eternal but to be our Redeemer it was necessary that He become a partaker of humanity.

Jesus is fully God and fully man

a) Jesus is a dual personality.

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

b) God was manifest in the flesh.

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in
the flesh, 
justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16


2.
Because Christ had a beginning and God had no beginning – John 8:42; Psalm 90:2

Answer: Jesus as a man had a beginning when He was conceived of the Holy Spirit but Jesus as God is without beginning and without end.

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” – John 8:58

The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from beginning, before there was even an earth.” – Proverbs 8:22-23


3.
Because He has been created, and God isn’t; God is the creator – Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14

Answer: The correct translation of Revelation 3:14 is something like this, “He was the witness of the beginning of the creation of God.” Jesus is not a creation but a witness of the creation.

We find no evidence in the Bible that the Father created Jesus or that Jesus is a “lesser God” than the Father. The Bible reveals that from eternity Jesus has the same substance, glory, power, and authority as the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” – Colossians 1:17

When Jesus is called the “first born of all creation,” it does not mean that Jesus was created. Rather, it speaks of the preexistence of Christ. He is not a creature but the eternal Creator.

And every creature which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I hear saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever.” – Revelation 5:13

A created being cannot and will not receive worship due only to God.


4.
Because God is not a man (Hosea 11:9) and man is not God (Ezekiel 28:2), but Jesus was called man – John 8:40; 1 Timothy 2:5

Answer: Hosea does not say God could not assume human form of the body and flesh. Nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17-18). Since God is all powerful He can be manifest in the flesh.

Here’s a video of Nabeel Qureshi answering a Muslim’s question on the Trinity.

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:23

Jesus was both true God and true man in one person without an intermingling of the two natures. Emmanuel means “God with us.”


5.
Because He called God His Father – Matthew 27:46; John 20:17

Answer: The relationship between Jesus and God the Father has always been that of a “father and son.” So it’s not surprising that even as the human person, Jesus called God His Father. In Hebrews 1:8, God calls Jesus “God” but that does not lessen the Father’s position of deity.

But to the son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” – Hebrews 1:8

The relationship between God and Jesus Christ


6.
Because the Father sent Jesus to earth – John 8:42

Answer:  Jesus volunteered to come. But even so, the Father sending the Son to earth does not lessen His position as the Almighty God.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

The co-equal, co-eternal persons of the Trinity are one in divine nature. However, each divine person has a distinct role in salvation and a voluntary submission of roles in the work of redemption. The Son took on human flesh and submitted to the Father by giving His life on the cross.


7.
Because God is His head – 1 Corinthians 11:3

Answer: God the Father and Jesus have the same exact nature; they’re both divine but their relationship is different. God the Father is the head of Christ because Christ was eternally begotten of the Father. But this does not mean that the Father is greater or higher than the Son.

“And now, O Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” – John 17:5

In a triumvirate, it is necessary that one be the chairman but that does not mean that he is greater than the other two. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal but for administrative purposes, the Father acts as the executive administrator.


8.
Christ is not God, but He is the Son of God, just as we may become sons of God – John 3:16

Answer:  When we call Jesus the Son of God we mean that He is of the same nature as God. Fathers create things unlike themselves, but they beget sons like them.

C.S. Lewis explained it this way:

When you make (or create), you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, and man makes a computer. But when you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a bird begets eggs which will turn into little birds, and a beaver begets little beavers.

So when we say, “Jesus is the Son of God,” we simply mean that Jesus is God.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

By conversion, we become a “son of God” (John 1:12), but Jesus Christ is the “only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16), a unique and special position. God’s Son is equal to the Father (Philippians 2:6), and the saints become an heir with Christ.


9.
Because the Father gave Him power – Matthew 28:18

Answer:  Jesus was, always has been, and always will be God. As God, Jesus has the same power as the Father and the Spirit. When Jesus said that all power and authority has been given to Him, that would include the power that brought the universe into existence.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” – Colossians 1:16

In Philippians 2:5-8, the Son surrenders this power and God restores or returns it to Him after the resurrection. It was always His but He voluntarily yielded it.


10.
Because He was made Lord by God – Acts 2:36

Answer:  How could Jesus be made Lord if He was already the Lord? Jesus was not made Lord by God in the sense that He was made into something He was not already. He was not made Lord in the sense of a promotion.

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” – Colossians 2:9

Acts 2:36 is dealing with Jesus’ status as a man-made under the law and in a lower position. It is in that sense that He was made Lord and Christ by God the Father.


11.
Because He is subject to God and He says that the Father is greater than Him – 1 Corinthians 15:28; John 14:28

Answer:  John 14:28 has often been thought to mean that Jesus is something less than the Father. However, this statement is not referring to Christ’s nature but rather His position. When Jesus came to earth, He came in the form of a servant. He voluntarily chose subjection; it was not imposed on Him against His will.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:8


12.
Because Christ died and God being immortal cannot die – 1 Timothy 1:17

Answer:  People say that Jesus can’t be God because He died and God cannot die. We have to understand that Jesus has two natures: God and man. It was the human nature that died on the cross, not the divine nature.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” – Hebrews 2:9

Jesus as man died but Jesus as God could not and did not die (Hebrews 2:9, 14). In the person of Jesus Christ, who is a man with the divine nature, we see a biological death, not the death of the divine being who is God.


13.
Because He prayed to the Father and addressed Him as the only true God – John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6

Answer:  This objection ignores the fact that the Son co-exists with the Father; they are one. We need to understand that the Father and the Son had an eternal relationship before Jesus took upon Himself the form of a man.

Jesus prays to the Father - John 17:3

Being fully equal with the Father in nature, Jesus’ manner must be seen more as a supplication and conversation rather than a lesser being who is praying to a greater being.

*Related Article: Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life in Christ 

Conclusion

Nothing has changed after 2,000 years. The attack against the deity of Jesus Christ persisted up until today. While the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is God, there are still many groups that deny His deity. From Muslims who teach that Jesus was just a prophet, to the Jehovah Witnesses who reduce Him into a messenger sent by the Father.

The doctrine of Christ’s deity is important to the Christian faith as it not only authenticates the authority and inspiration of Scripture; it also the basis for a believer’s eternal salvation. In other words, if Jesus is not fully God, we have no salvation and ultimately no Christianity.


*Recommended Resource: Forgotten Trinity, The – eBook By James R. White

The Trinity is a basic teaching of the Christian faith. It defines God’s essence and describes how He relates to us. The Forgotten Trinity is a concise, understandable explanation of what the Trinity is and why it matters. It refutes cultic distortions of God. It shows how a grasp of this significant teaching leads to renewed worship and deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

And amid today’s emphasis on the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, The Forgotten Trinity is a balanced look at all three persons of the Trinity.


Reference Materials:

100 Bible Lessons by Alban Douglas
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem