Rapid Response: “Did Jesus Think Jesus Was God?”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. What would you say if someone said, “I’ve read some of the Bible and I can’t find a place where Jesus actually said, ‘I am God’. I’m not even sure Jesus thought he was God.” Here is a conversational example of how I recently responded to this statement:

Did Jesus Think Jesus Was God

“You know, this is one of the claims I used to make with the Christians I knew because I wasn’t a careful reader of scripture. It wasn’t really until I started to use my expertise in forensic statement analysis (where we look at every little word a suspect says, his use of pronouns, how he introduces things and how he describes people), that I started to see things I used to miss. But you don’t have to be an expert in Statement Analysis to read between the lines of Scripture. In fact, anyone can do this by carefully reading the Bible.

Let me give you an example: When I first looked at the gospels and the Old Testament, I noticed the stark contrast between Old Testament prophets (I don’t care if it’s Ezekiel, or Isaiah, or if it’s a minor prophet like Amos), all these prophets in the Old Testament, when announcing a truth claim from God, would say, “Thus the Lord Almighty says” or “The Lord God says” or, they would always announce that this information is coming from the Lord Almighty.

But Jesus never ever did that. There’s not a single time you’ll find him in the gospels saying, “The Lord Almighty says.” Instead he’ll say something, at least in the King James, “Verily, verily, I say to you” or in the NASB, “I tell you the truth.” Jesus never says, “God says this.” Instead, Jesus says, “I am telling you this.” Think about that for a minute. The people who heard Jesus in the 1st Century were accustomed to the prophets in every generation announcing a proclamation from God as “Thus the Lord God Almighty says to you.” When they heard Jesus proclaim, “I say this to you,” they understood what he meant. Jesus’ words gave him away. Even if you didn’t have a direct claim from Jesus where he said, “Hey, by the way guys, I’m God,” he used statements that included personal pronoun use indicating that he considered Himself to be God. He never felt compelled to say, “God’s telling you this.” Instead, he said, “I’m telling you this.” Jesus understood himself to be the God of the universe, the Being who created everything.”

This brief answer was modified from my interview with Bobby Conway. To learn more and watch many other short answers to difficult questions, please visit the One-Minute Apologist website.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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5 replies
    • barry says:

      Your resource wouldn’t signify much if Jesus made statements that logically prevent him from being part of a triune god.

      39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39 NAU)

      “not as I will…” provides an absolute guarantee that Jesus’ will was not always 100% perfectly aligned with the Father’s.

      He would have had no logical possibility of making such a request if his will was always 100% aligned with the Father’s will. When you ask to be let off work earlier than normal, and then say “not my will, but yours be done”, you are not just admitting you will ultimately accept the decision of the boss…you are also admitting that you have your own ideas that were not part of the boss’s original plan.

      And the fact that the OT has room for justification to call a person “god” without meaning they are god by nature (Psalm 82:6, Exodus 21:6), means it could very well be that Jesus can be correctly referred to as “god” without meaning he is everything the Father is.

      And the earliest form of the gospel is Mark’s version, which says absolutely nothing about Jesus before he comes to be baptized by John, which leaves Mark’s originally intended readers, who were not expected to compare Mark with other gospels, with the impression that Jesus was just an ordinary man who only became unique and special because God chose him to fulfill a specific mission, or because God put the Holy Spirit into Jesus in a more extreme way than God had done in earlier times.

      And contrary to the virgin birth doctrine, Acts 13:33 indicates Jesus did not become god’s begotten son until he was resurrected.

      Reply
      • Scott says:

        @Barry
        >>“not as I will…” provides an absolute guarantee that Jesus’ will was not always 100% perfectly aligned with the Father’s.
        No. Jesus is both human and God while he is on Earth. The human part of him doesn’t want to go through with God’s plan which he clearly already knows (if he didn’t know, why is he questioning).

        >>And contrary to the virgin birth doctrine, Acts 13:33 indicates Jesus did not become god’s begotten son until he was resurrected.
        This is not what this says at all. v32 We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors v33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: “You are my son; today I have become your father.”

        The son referenced here is not Jesus, but the children of the ancestors to God’s promise. And this promise was fulfilled because Jesus was raised from the dead. Further, everyone else that accepts the Good News will also be called son/daughter.

        Reply
  1. Amy says:

    This is an interesting premise for an argument, however it’s completely erroneous.

    Firstly and most importantly, Jesus DID say he was God. After the Last Supper and after He washed His disciples’ feet, He said, ” You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.” John 13:13 (NKJV)

    Earlier in that same book, He also said, “…he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.” (John 12:45) That also clearly states that He saw Himself as God.

    As to the claim made by the author that Jesus never used the phrasing of the Old Testament prophets that indicated the words they spoke were coming not from them but from God is flatly false. In John 12:49-50, He said, “I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

    So, again, an interesting argument, but not an effective one unfortunately, as it’s not Biblical. Jesus did say He was God, and He also stated that His authority and the words He spoke came from God.

    Reply
  2. Ed Vaessen says:

    Sometimes Jesus said he was God, sometimes he said the opposite. Not surprising. Many people contributed to the Bible, not all of them having the same opinion.

    Reply

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