Maybe you are a small group leader. Six months in, you discover that some are more committed than others. A few are always engaged. One or two seem disconnected. You begin to wonder, What am I doing wrong? It’s not what I expected. Or maybe you are a Christian parent. You determine...
Question: Apart from the statement in the Athanasian Creed that says “the Son is God,” is there any evidence in the Bible that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God or that he is the Son of God?
Answer: This is Pastor Tim. While I was in school (seminary), I wondered the same thing. From a cursory reading of the Bible, it did not seem obvious to me that Jesus claimed to be God. So, at one point I read through the entire New Testament, asking of the biblical text the question “Is there any urgency on the part of the biblical writers to make the claim that Jesus is God? Or is this argument based on a few obscure passages?” Because it’s too important of a claim to be relegated to the background.
What I found astonished me.
Nearly every New Testament book makes a claim, given in a variety of ways, with different words, that Jesus is God. None of them say the exact words, “Jesus is God.” I’m not suggesting that every one of these examples proves that Jesus is God, only that taken all together, there is clearly a major thrust of New Testament teaching that intends to convey to the reader that this is so.
I’ll give you a sample. I’m using the ESV (English Standard Version). Here are 10 New Testament passages that indicate that Jesus is God:
1. Matthew 1:23
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name, Immanuel (which means, God with us).
In some sense, in the coming of Jesus, God is “with” us. What does this mean? In what sense is God with us? I believe the straightforward understanding of this is that Jesus is God, so when he takes on human flesh and comes to earth God is, in fact, with us.
2. Mark 2:5-7
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
To answer the scribes’ question: No one can forgive all of a person’s sins except God. The reader is left with a decision: Is Jesus blaspheming? Or is Jesus God? Surely, the writer of this Gospel, Mark, is insinuating that Jesus is, in fact, God, rather than a blasphemer!
3. John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John begins his Gospel by talking about “the Word” and saying essentially three things about “the Word”:
- He existed “in the beginning,” which is a reference to creation (Genesis 1:1).
- “The Word” was with God.
- “The Word” was God.
So, of course, this raises the question: Who could possibly be all three of these things at the same time? It’s an astonishing statement. John 1:14 answers the question: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory.” He is clearly talking about Jesus Christ, and he is referring to the transfiguration (see Luke 9:28-36).
4. John 5:18
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Here is evidence that Jesus himself claimed to be God (or that his enemies misunderstood him). However, the apostle John does not try to correct this misunderstanding. He seems instead to affirm that this is the reason his enemies wanted to kill him (and they were right in this matter – not to kill him, but that he was claiming to be God).
5. John 20:27-29
Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me?”
There are other situations like this in the New Testament, where for example, a person worships Peter (see Acts 10:25-26), and Peter tells him, “Stand up; I too am a man.” Jesus makes no such correction, but instead affirms the man’s faith (and, in essence) his worship. Clearly, in the Bible, Christian worship is reserved exclusively for God.
6. Philippians 2:5-7
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
The point of Philippians 2 is to encourage Christians to imitate the humility of Christ, who was “in the form of God” but “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” In other words, although Jesus is God, he humbled himself by taking on human flesh (wow!), and we (as Christians) should humble ourselves too.
7. Colossians 1:15
[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created…
Notice the apostle Paul is saying here that “by [Jesus] all things were created.” This is a pretty astonishing statement to be made about any man! Nothing like this was ever said about Moses or David or Paul. The implication (as we saw in Philippians 2) is that Jesus existed before he was born of the virgin, Mary. How can we explain this? Jesus is God.
8. Colossians 2:9
In [Christ] all the fullness of deity dwells bodily.
I don’t know how else to explain this, than to say that the apostle Paul is saying that Jesus is fully divine. Jesus is “the” visible expression of God.
9. 2 Peter 1:1
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with outs by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter refer to Jesus as our “God” and Savior. Pretty straightforward.
10. Hebrews 1:3
[Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
This is not the description of any angel or any man, even a superhuman man. This is a description of God. Because Jesus is God.
There are many, many more examples in the New Testament, but see that the Christian belief that Jesus is God is not a simple misinterpretation of two or three passages, nor is it based on one or two obscure passages. This theme is pervasive and emphasized in the four Gospels and in the New Testament letters.
You cannot avoid it. Though you can nit and pick about what individual passages may mean, there is clearly a pattern of making claims about Jesus that could only be true of God (and are never said about anyone else in all of the Bible). He is the unique God-man.