But Jesus Never Claimed to be God!

This is another old argument against classical Christianity that I still hear rather often: “Jesus never claimed to be God” usually coupled with “so clearly he wasn’t”.

While there is no place in Scripture where Jesus said the words, “I am God”, the assertion that He never claimed to be God is quite very inaccurate. The argument comes from a basic misunderstanding of first century Jewish culture as well as Biblical illiteracy. No serious student of the Bible can make such a claim unless he ignores or discounts major passages of the Gospels.

The way in which Jesus claimed to be God is best summed up in the Homan Quicksource Guide to Christian Apologetics:

“In the first century, much like today, to say “I am God” would be almost meaningless. Even Roman Emperors were ascribed deity or claimed deity for themselves. What Jesus did do was claim to be a very specific God to a specific people in a very specific way. And the way in which He made His claims was unambiguous and unmistakable to those people.”
==Powell, D. (2006). Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics (pp. 310–311). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference.

This is shown by the reaction of the Jewish leaders to many of Christ’s statements about Himself – they tried to stone Him. (John 5:8-18 8:57-59, 10:27-33)

In each of Jesus’ I AM statements – “I AM the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I AM the light of the world” (John 8:12), “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58), “I AM the light of the world” (John 9:5), “I AM the door” (John 10:9), “I AM the good shepherd” (John 10:11), “I AM the resurrection and the life” (John 11: 25) – Jesus is applying to Himself the Name that God gave to Moses in Exodus 3. This was an explicit and forceful claim of deity, recognized by any Jew of the time.

Another example of Jesus declaring Himself to be God is in Luke 7:36-50. This is one of the instances when Jesus forgives sin. Note that He is not declaring that God has forgiven the sin; He is actively and actually doing the forgiving Himself. This is a blatant claim to Deity; Jews clearly understood only God can forgive sins, and to presume to confer that forgiveness one one’s own authority was nothing less than claiming to be God.

These are only a few instances of Jesus’ either declaring or demonstrating His deity; I encourage you to read the Gospels and take note of the many times Jesus the authority or attributes of God for Himself. Also note that in most cases, he demonstrated this authority by causing miracles to occur.

Of course, His ultimate and most demonstrative claim of Deity was the resurrection!

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