It’s a well known Christian doctrine that Jesus was God, and part of the Trinity. However, dissidents from both Islam and Atheism have come to claim that the historical Jesus did not actually claim to be the Son of God, God in the flesh. Rather, they propose — He merely claimed to be an apocalyptic prophet and the Messiah. As decades passed by, His theology evolved over time much like how Hercules (a once real historical figure) was deified after his death into a God. Therefore, the Christian doctrine bears no historical validity on who Jesus was! Unfortunately for these sappy conspiracy theorists, it is simply false that Jesus did not claim to be God.
We will start with the Gospel of John. The evidence for the divinity of Jesus in the Gospel of John is, on its face, irrefutable and undeniable.
[John 1:1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
So, it is simply not debatable that the Word mentioned in John 1:1 is in fact God. A few verses later, it is made abundantly clear who the Word is.
[John 1:14] The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
There you have it, the Word is Jesus Christ, and Jesus is God. There are a few other verses in John’s Gospel which simply eliminate any possibility of Jesus somehow not claiming to be God, and this being the clear view of Jesus’ followers. Such would include the following claims made by Jesus:
[John 20:30-31] Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.
[John 14:6-7] Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. “If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
[John 10:25-33]“I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.“The Father and I are one.” Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning Me for?” “We aren’t stoning You for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because You—being a man—make Yourself God.”
[John 14:8-9] Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus replied, “Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
[John 8:58-59] Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.” At that, they picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex.
In case you are not entirely sure where Jesus claims to be God in John 8:58-59, it’s when He says “I am”, which was how God identified Himself in Exodus 3:14 in the Old Testament. That’s also why the Jews tried to stone Him for saying it — because He made Himself equal with God. In fact, the Jews are outright said to be trying to kill Jesus, our Lord, for making Himself equal with God in John 5:16-18.
So really, John makes it indescribably clear that Jesus was God. However, this is where critics like Bart Ehrman jump in, and claim that John is the latest of the four Gospels, and thus obviously evolved from the other Gospels, and then Bart Ehrman claims that the other Gospels are the ones that do not identify Jesus as being God. Now despite this being irrelevant because of the extensive historical documentation that shows the author of John was indeed the historical John the Elder, meaning that the author of this Gospel was not writing of a developed theology, rather a first-hand experience and following of Jesus, let us play along with the claims of these deniers.
So, do the other Gospels make it explicitly clear that Jesus is the Son of God? Yes. Let us see some examples of Jesus clearly saying and being clearly said to be God or equal to God in the rest of the four Gospels.
[Matthew 11:27] All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.
[Matthew 28:19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
[Matthew 16:13-17] When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.
[Mark 1:1] The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
[Mark 14:60-64] Then the high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus, “Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?” But He kept silent and did not answer anything. Again the high priest questioned Him, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus, “and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What is your decision?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.
In fact, all the Gospels, aside from John, even record God the Father in heaven declaring that Jesus is His Son.
[Matthew 3:17] And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
[Luke 9:35] A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen: Listen to Him!”
[Mark 1:11] And a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
It is thus extraordinarily evident that all the Gospels record Jesus as God. Wait a minute! What about the rest of the New Testament? The Gospels are just four books of the New Testament, in which there are twenty-seven! Surely, if Jesus was God, all these other books would also record Jesus is God, correct?! Correct.
[Hebrews 1:7-8] And about the angels He says: He makes His angels winds, and His servants a fiery flame but to the Son: Your throne, God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice.
[Titus 2:13] while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
[Romans 9:5] The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen.
[2 Peter 1:1-2] Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
[Colossians 2:9] For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ,
[Phillipians 2:5-6] Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.
[James 1:1] James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion.
[Revelation 22:12-13]“Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
[Revelation 17:14] “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
[Phillipians 2:10-11] so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(these verses are written by Peter, James, the author of Hebrews, Paul, and John)
So, outside of the Gospels, Jesus is declaring Himself as Alpha and the Omega (which is a title that was used to describe God the Father), and Jesus was being declared as the King of kings and Lord of lords (which was another title used to describe God the Father).
Hold on! Surely, if Jesus, the prophesied Messiah was God, it would be attested to in the Old Testament as well? For if the coming Messiah, redeemer of all men was God, this MUST be something told to us in the Old Testament! Is this not true?
The question now is, does the Old Testament make it clear Jesus is God? Yes. For one, the Old Testament says the following about the coming Messiah:
[Isaiah 9:6-7] For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, And the government will rest on his shoulders; And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast,
and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David
and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.
Furthermore, it is a well known fact that Jesus references Himself as the Son of Man, at least 80 times in the New Testament (despite conspiracy theorists on this issue like Bart Ehrman). Now, it may seem as if the title ‘Son of Man’ shows Jesus is not God, however we should not rest on our own understanding of the concept of the Son of Man, instead we must go to the Old Testament to understand who the Son of Man actually is.
[Daniel 7:13-14] I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.
So, according to the Old Testament, the son of man is clearly a God-like figure, who approaches the Ancient of Days (the Father), and is given authority to rule a divine kingdom, eternally. This figure is clearly God! And Jesus CONSTANTLY references Himself as the Son of Man, over 80 time in the Bible, meaning Jesus is claiming to be in all four Gospels the figure of the Old Testament who will be given authority and dominion over all peoples of all nations of all languages, for all eternity. This is a clear case of Old Testament confirmation of the divinity of Jesus. Furthermore, the Old Testament possesses the full theology of the Trinity, so there’s that too. Continuing, we are told in the Old Testament that only God has the ability to forgive sins, as well as this being reiterated in the New Testament.
[Isaiah 43:25] “It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.
[Mark 2:7] “Why does He speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Although this, Jesus moves on to claim that He has the power to forgive sins as well, meaning He is God as Jesus is claiming a task of God upon Himself.
[Mark 2:10] But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” He told the paralytic,
The Old Testament obviously says Jesus is God. It is true that Jesus is the divine Son of God. The evidence for this continues piling up. Dissenters of this irrefutable Biblical concept also claim Jesus did not say to be worshiped, however Jesus accepted and received worship all the time.
[Matthew 2:11] Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
[Matthew 28:9] Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” They came to Him, grasped His feet, and worshiped Him.
This shows Jesus is God, as when an angel was worshiped, the angel stopped the person from worshiping him and said only God is to be worshiped.
[Revelation 22:8-9] I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
However, Jesus accepted all worship. This would mean in accordance with the Book of Revelation (the final book of the New Testament) that Jesus is God. Now, I can cite many other verses in the Gospels and New Testament to continue proving that Jesus is God, such as Matthew 14:33, John 20:28, and 1 Timothy 3:16, but the point has been made obvious, Jesus is and claimed to be God. Now, we will look at the historical evidence for this claim and see that the earliest Christian writers outside of the authors of the New Testament, all thought Jesus was clearly God.
Clement of Rome, whom according to the historical evidence wrote as early as 70 AD, says this:
[1 Clement: Prologue 1] The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.
As early as 70 AD, historical Christians have quickly recognized Jesus as God. This was likely before John even wrote his Gospel. Let us see some other writers. Polycarp, writing in 130 AD, says this in the Martyrdom of Polycarp, Chapter 14, Verse 1:
So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said: “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Your presence;
Justin Martyr, writing from anywhere between 100-165 AD, in First Apology writes:
For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water.
Ignatius of Antioch, writing in 96 AD, says this:
We have also as a Physician the Lord our God Jesus the Christ the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For ‘the Word was made flesh.’ Being incorporeal, He was in the body; being impassible, He was in a passable body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.
Irenaeus, writing in 180 AD, says in his book, Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 10:
The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: . . . one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father ‘to gather all things in one,’ and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, ‘every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess; to him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all
Other early Christian writers like Tertullian in 200 AD and Origen in 180-250 AD, Mathetes in 160 AD, the Shepard of Hermas as early as 80 AD, Tatian in 170 AD, Athenagoras in 177 AD, Theophilus of Antioch in 180 AD, amongst many others all record Jesus as being God.
So, as we have seen, the New Testament without doubt makes Jesus as God, the Old Testament says Jesus is God, and all the earliest Christians in the historical record think Jesus is in fact God. It’s a common myth that Jesus’ divinity was made up in the Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD. In reality, people who claim this have no idea what actually happened at the Council of Nicaea — every single one of the hundreds of people that were present at the Council, except three Arians (whom were heretics) accepted the divinity of Jesus. If you want to know what really happened at the Council of Nicaea, click here. To be fair, there was indeed one early Christian who didn’t think Jesus was God — that would be Marcion. Although to be even more fair, Marcion was declared a heretic by almost the entire early Church. Some heathen also try to spuriously use some verses in the New Testament to try to claim Jesus says He was not God. One such example is:
[Luke 18:18-19] A ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God.
Contrary to the claims of the heathen, Jesus in no way denies His being God here. Rather, Jesus is simply instructing this man that if he were to call anyone good, it would be the same as calling them God. That is all Jesus was saying. In fact, this proves Jesus is God, because Jesus IS GOOD! Indeed, Jesus is entirely sinless (1 Peter 2:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:5), and thus Jesus is good. In fact, Jesus even called Himself good, which decimates this argument and shows Jesus is God.
[John 10:11] I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
Some other heathen try to claim Jesus is not God, because of instances like when Jesus said only the Father knows the day and the hour and not Himself, when Jesus said that the Father was greater than Him, or when he had to eat and sleep (in which God doesn’t need to do), or that when He died for our sins (and God cannot die). However, all these people forget that according to the Bible, Jesus was temporarily lowered from Godhood to manhood when He came to Earth (Hebrews 2:9, 1 Timothy 3:16), He became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), and while temporarily lowered, He was temporarily below God, and thus did things like pray to the Father. However, after He rose from the dead, He ascended back into Heaven, at the right hand of the Father as God (Mark 16:19), and at the Ascension, once He ascended back into heaven, He was then again fully God and ceased doing all these things. In fact, Jesus even told us to pray to Him in His name, and we see people praying to Jesus in the Holy Bible.
[John 14:14] If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
[1 Corinthians 1:2] To God’s church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours.
Also remember you can also pray to the Father (Psalms 116:4, 1 John 5:14, 2 Chronicles 6:24, Jeremiah 29:12). Anyways, this argument against Jesus being God entirely ignores that these things only applied to Jesus while He was temporarily man, but no longer any more from now and forever on. Some claim that Jesus becoming man shows He is not God, because God does not change (Malachi 3:6), however Christians have already solved this problem for centuries with the knowledge of Hypostatic Union, which is to say, Jesus was both fully God and fully man at the same time whilst on Earth. However, the heathen are not done here — they then claim the idea that Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time is a self-contradiction! Saying Jesus is God and man is like saying a square circle can exist, right? No. Remember, according to the Trinity, God is one being, three persons. Jesus is fully God in being, fully man in person, so there is no contradiction.
In conclusion, Jesus is God. The New Testament says so, the Old Testament says so, all the early Christians say so, Jesus says so, and we’ve seen all the arguments against this fail. Next time you hear someone claim that Jesus is not God, remember the following verse from the Holy Bible.
[1 John 2:22] Who is the liar, if it is not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son.