Many years ago in seminary I was quite surprised to listen to some of my professors declare what I considered to be heretical things about Jesus Christ. They often said, he did not claim to be God, or he did not know he was God. When I might meekly suggest a certain text that more than suggested he darn well knew he was divine they would simply declare that Jesus never really said what I was quoting from the scripture. They said the early church simply put those words in his mouth. They would especially put their nose in the air and sniff if I quoted from John’s Gospel which they regarded as a later and non-historical reflection on Christ.
Thankfully I had some other professors who were able to reassure me that the Divinity of Christ was not in question and that the scriptures accurately what reported what Jesus himself actually said and did. It still shocked me that teachers who denied or questioned the divinity of Christ could openly teach in a Catholic seminary and am happy to report that those problems have long since been cleared up at the seminary I attended. Yet, I must say, I am still bothered to hear that some college students still have to endure this sort of heresy, it is especially grievous to me that some of this still goes on at Catholic Colleges.
Never one to simply collapse under pressure or discouragement I took up the challenge to assemble the Biblical evidence as to Jesus’ Divinity. It is remarkably rich and consistent throughout all the New Testament Books as you shall see. In this article I give the scripture citations for the most part but cannot include most of the texts in the article since they are so numerous that they would eclipse the article itself. Perhaps at some point in the future I will publish a version with all the citations spelled out. For now, let these suffice to show forth a glorious scriptural affirmation of the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
1. Clearly this is a dogma of the Faith (de Fide). The divinity and divine sonship of Jesus is expressed in all the creeds. This is perhaps most clearly stated in the Athanasian Creed (Quicumque):”…we believe and confess that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is God and man. He is God begotten of the substance of the Father before all ages and man born in time of the substance of His Mother. He is Perfect God and perfect man.”
2. There are many passages in the Old Testment that express the qualities of the coming Messiah, among them are some very exalted titles:
a prophet – (Dt. 18:15,18)
a priest – (Psalm 109:4)
a shepherd – (Ez 34:23ff)
King and Lord – (Ps 2; Ps 44; Ps 109; Zach 9:9)
a suffering servant – (Is. 53)
the Son of God – (Ps 2:7; 109:3)
God with us (Emmanuel) – (Is 7:14; Is 8:8)
Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of the world to come, Prince of Peace – (Is 9:6)
Eternal King – (Dan 7:14)
3. In the New Testament the Father attests to the Divine Sonship of Jesus – (Mt 3:17; 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 3:22; 9:35; Jn 1:34; II Pt 1:17)
4. In the Gospels the Lord Jesus gives Testimony to His own divinity and self knowledge. He is of noble stature and knows of his own dignity and power expressing it often in the following ways
- Jesus indicates that he transcends the prophets and Kings of the Old Covenant
- Jonah and Solomon – (Mt 12:41ff; Lk 11:31ff)
- Moses and Elijah – Matt 17:3; Mk 9:4; Lk 9:30
- King David – (Mt 22:43ff Mk 12:36; Lk 20:42ff)
- He says that the least born into His Kingdom will be greater than John the Baptist who, till that time was considered the greatest man born of woman – (Mt 11:11; Lk 7:28)
- Jesus teaches that he is superior to the angels:
- That they are his servants who minister to Him – (Mt 4:11 Mk 1:13; Lk 4:13)
- That they are his army – (Mt 26:53)
- That they will accompany him at his second coming and do his will -Mt 16:27; 25:31; Mk 8:38; Lk 9:26)
- Jesus appropriates Divine actions unto himself and thus sets forth an assimilation unto the Lord God:
- He declares it was He who sent the prophets and doctors of the Law (Mt 23:34; Lk 11:49)
- He gives the promise of his assistance and Grace (Lk 21:15)
- He forgives sins which power belongs to God alone (eg Mt 9:2)
- He, by His own authority completes and changes some precepts of the Law. (Mt 5:21ff)
- He declares Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath (Mt 12:8; Mk 2:28; Lk 6:5; Jn 5:17)
- Like the Heavenly Father he makes a Covenant with His followers (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20)
- Jesus makes Divine demands upon his followers
- He rebukes some for lack of faith in (Mt 8:10-12; 15:28)
- He rewards faith in him (Mt 8:13; 9:2; 22:29; 15:28; Mk 10:52; Lk 7:50; 17:19)
- He demands faith in his own person (Jn 14:1; 5:24; 6:40,47; 8:51; 11:25ff)
- He teaches that rejection of him and his teachings will be the standard of final judgement (Lk 9:26; Mt 11:6)
- Jesus demands supreme Love for him which surpasses all earthly loves (Mt 10:37,39; Lk 17:33).
- He accepts religious veneration by allowing the veneration of falling to the feet: this is due to God alone (Mt 15:25; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 28:9,17)
- Jesus is well conscious of His own power – Mt 28:18
- His many miracles which he works in his own Name.
- He transfers this power to his disciples
- Jesus knows and teaches that his own death will be an adequate atonement for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole human race. (Mt 20:28; 26:28)
- Jesus appropriates to himself the office of Judge of the world which according to the OT (eg Ps 49:1-6) God would exercise (eg Mt 16:27) . And His judgement extends to every idle word (Mt 12:36), will be final and executed immediately – (Mt 25:46)
- Jesus is Conscious of being the Son of God.
- Jesus clearly distinguishes his claim in this regard from his disciples relationship to the Father. When he speaks of his own relationship he says, “My Father” To the disciples he calls God, “Your Father” but, He never unites himself with them in the formula “Our Father” Thus a distinction is maintained. (Jn 20:17)
- Jesus revealed himself to be Son of God first in the temple when he remarked to Mary and Joseph that He must be about his Father’s business (Lk 2:49)
- Jesus claims to be both messiah and Son of God in the presence of the Sanhedrin (Mk 14:62). The Sanhedrin perceive this as a blasphemy.
- Jesus tells a story of himself in the Parable of the Evil Husbandmen thus confessing himself to be the only Son of God.
- He is aware of being one with the Father (“The Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:30,38) They Jews respond by accusing Him of blasphemy
- Jesus indicates in John’s Gospel that
- He is eternal “Before Abraham was I am” (Jn 8:58)
- That He has full knowledge of the Father (Jn 7:29; 8:55;10:14ff)
- He has equal power and efficacy with the Father (Jn 5:17)
- He can forgive sins (Jn 8:11 et sicut supra)
- He is Judge of the World (Jn 5:22,27 & sicut supra)
- He is rightly to be adored (Jn 5:23)
- He is the light of the world (Jn 8:12)
- He is the way, the truth and the light (Jn 14:6)
- His disciples may and ought to pray to the Father in His name, additionally they may to Him (Jesus) (Jn 14:13ff 16:23ff)
- The solemn confession of the Apostle Thomas “My Lord and my God.” is acceptable and in fact, an act of Faith (Jn 20:28)
- Other Scripture Passages on the Divinity of Christ
- I John 5:20 – “And we know that the Son of God is Come and has given us Understanding that we may know the true God and may be in His True Son; this is the True God and Life Eternal.”
- John 1:1-14 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…..”
- Phil 2:5-11 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…and every tongue must confess to the Glory of God the Father that Jesus Chirst is Lord.
- Rom 9:5 – “to them, (the Israelites) belong the patriarchs and of their race, according to the flesh is the Christ, who is God over all blessed for ever.”
- Titus 2:13 “Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
- Heb 1:8 – “But to the Son (God says): Your Throne, O God is for ever and ever.”
- In addition Scripture attributes Divine qualities to Jesus
- Omnipotence manifest in the creation and the conservation of the World – Col 1:15-17; I Cor 8:6; Heb 1:2ff
- Omniscience – Col 2:3 – In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge….
- Eternity – Col 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together
- Immutability – Heb 1:12; 13:8
- Adorability – Phil 2:10; Heb 1:6
Well I hope you get the point. Those who claim that Jesus didn’t know he was God or never made divine claims just haven’t read the Scriptures. He is Lord. He is God. All things came to be through him and he holds all creation together in himself. Those who have denied his divinity will one day fall to their faces before his glory (Rev. 1:17).
19 Replies to “Jesus is God – A Biblical Portrait”
As for Jesus making public claims of His divinity, certainly the Jewish authorities thought that He had made such claims. Hence the trial for blasphemy. If He wasn’t going around uttering God’s Holy Name and applying it to Himself, and making the other statements listed above, then why was He arrested? Why was He accused of blasphemy? Why did Caiphas say that they all heard it at the trial? Or was the arrest and trial all a fictional account as well?
And if Jesus did not know that He was God at the time He made these declarations, then He was rightly found guilty of blasphemy and executed.
It is scary, and tragic, that such was being taught — at seminaries no less. But the light of truth, brighter than a million suns cannot be suppressed.
Yes, clearly they took him to claim divinity for himself!
Unfortunately for us Catholics, we don’t have the Old Testament as the Jews did in Jesus’ time. This doesn’t mean our OT is incomplete – there was no official Jewish canon during Jesus’ time and the official Christian canon, which came from the unofficial Jewish canon, was closed early on in the Church in order to prevent heretical writings from slipping into Scriptures and to attest to the Divine Inspiration of the sacred writings – but that we don’t have the full evidence that Jews did during Jesus’ time. For example, the Apostles used many books which the Jews considered scriptures which we ourselves do not use in order to prove Jesus is God and Messiah. But this doesn’t mean we can’t find and study these books; in fact, Mother Church encourages us to: she warmly recommends us to study the roots of the Christian Faith, and, thereby, strengthen our Faith.
The Divinity of the Messiah is not just confined in Scripture, though. It is also alluded to in Rabbinic writings. The Divinity of Christ is not made explicitly clear in these writings, though, but neither was His victory over evil made explictly clear, as can be seen from the Song of the Suffering Servant, which gives a clear idea of how the Messiah was to suffer yet not so clear an idea as to how He was to triumph over His enemies: as it turns out, the Song was a literal, and not just symbolic, prophesy of Christ, as clear from His Passion and Death, and this, along with the claim of Divinity, shocked many Jews, though all is attested in Jewish Scripture and Tradition.
Amazingly enough, if Jesus isn’t God, than neither is He Man, and if not Man, than not God, because He is God Incarnate: God the Son assumed a human body, blood, and soul, becoming incarnate in the Virgin Mary. It is not that God became Man by destroying Himself, nor is it Man who became God by changing Himself, but rather, God became Man in the Incarnation without changing His Divine Nature and Man became God in the Resurrection without changing His Human Nature. These Natures are united: Not in themselves but in God the Son, the Humanity being subject and subordinate to the Divinity. This is why Jesus is not a human person but a Divine Person: He is the Second Person in the flesh. Still, it is a mystery which we cannot fully comprehend.
Like you, I am shocked when Catholics deny Jesus is God. It makes you wonder: Do they consider themselves blasphemers for adoring what they believe is a creature? Or worst, do they adore bread and wine rather than the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ?
THanks for this contribution and addition. And yes, it seems as to your last point that a Catholic who denies the Divinity of Christ has not just left the Catholic faith, they have left the Christian faith altogether.
Yes… many questions have plagues the academic community, especially since the XIX century:
– Jesus as a myth or copy of former religions (although this theory is completely debunked and no serious scholar takes it in account anymore)
– Jesus a prophet who was deified by the followers aferwards; it divides scholars, although this claim is most unprobable for many, since the followers endured torture and death for Christ and people do not do that for a lie or scheme)
– Pauline corruption: claims that St. Paul invented Christianity. This also divides the scholars, but I think David Wehnam (in his books about Paul & Jesus) gives quite a few good answers on the question. Also it seems to me (and to many others) that this theory forgets to take in account the work of the other apostles who also worked among Gentiles (John, James the Greater, Peter, Andrew and Thomas).
These questions might never be solved, unfortunately, yet there are many strong arguments that support the truth of Christianity.
In reading your comment I was also mindful of the old saying “aut Deus, aut mendax” Either Jesus is God or he is liar. There really isnt middle ground as some would wish. Either Jesus is God as he claimed or he is a blaspheming liar and usurper.
Thanks for your thoughts, they spurred my memory!
Oops: it’s David Wenham* (not the Australian actor) an Anglican Theologian and scholar.
Thank you so much for sharing this; I will be putting this article in my “backpack of resources.”
The video clip is from “The Gospel of John,” available on DVD (published by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2005). It is a faithful portrayal of the biblical book, taking it’s dialogue right out of the the gospel of John. It’s very powerful – I don’t know anyone who’s watched it and hasn’t realized more deeply how much God loves us, His children!
I suggest people borrow it from their public library; if they don’t have it, ask them if they will get it for the library.
Great glad this helps
I wassnt there, but I would agree with you if the claim was that Jesus wasnt divine.
Having said that….do I believe in respect to his humanity, Jesus was subject to ignorance?
Of course, if not, he is not consubstantial with you and I…he is an uber-mann.
In respect to his divinity can he be ignorant? No.
So this raises the issue of how did he choose to navigate the planet? I would say with the exceptioin of a few cases,
mostly his divinity took a back seat to allow his humanity to be revealed. Exceptions to this might be the transfiguration etc..
Having said that, can the scriptures be words put on the lips of Jesus? Yes, and sometimes this can be difficult to discern. However, unless we think the gospels are live footage, it is inevitable there will be three levels to scripture, as stated by the PBC.
God Bless you, and all the best.
Yes but the PBC Statement must be balanced with the VC II Statment in Dei Verbum (18-19) ” Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy maintained and continues to maintain, that the four Gospels just named, whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up…The sacred authors, in writing the four Gospels, selected certain of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form, others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus. “
Exactly My point….Vat II opens the door to an interpretation of the Gospel as a “sythesis” of events in order to speak to the contremporary Churches – in the case of John, somewhere between 80-100 AD. We are then to imagine how this all works. I hope you will agree that we are talking about literature here, not live footage. Hence, if I am speaking of a community which is requiring strenthening in the matter that Jesus is “ego eimi”, for instance, then some 50 years after the event, we may use a story which we have in the tradition, and structure it with a conversation which relays this point to the contemporary Church.
I do admit if there was ever any doubt about the divinity of Jesus – this is heresy – and you have reason to be annoyed.
But taking a swipe at the rest of the issues is not fair either…it is simply retreating from a deeper understanding.
Father, great post.
However, I have a few questions about the verses where Jesus seems to be in subjection to the Father. For example, John 8:28, where he says that he “does nothing of his own initiative” and when he tells the disciples that he is ascending to “my God and your God”.
How is the Father the God of Jesus Christ and the idea of the Trinity still preserved?
Sometimes Jesus speaks in terms of his humanity, sometimes in terms of his divinity. Hence the “my God and your God.” is spoken of in ference to his humanity. Another thought is that even the Father in Hebrews 1:8 speaks to his Son, saying, “Your throne O God shall endure forever.” Hence it is seems that one person of the Trinity may also call another “God” As to Jesus doing nothing of his own initiative this too could be said of his humanity. But it also seems that there is nothing to preclude the Son “doing only what he sees the Father doing.” Hence John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. This verse seems to emphasize that the Son and the Father have wills so perfectly united that the Son “cannot” do other than the Father. The divine wills of the Father and Son are absolutely united. You might also consult the Summa Prima Pars Q. 42 article 4 “Whether the Father is equal to the Son in Greatness”
I like the questions you pose and the conclusion you give in this article; however, you don’t seem to answer the scholar’s critiques in your response, you give your response and then give your answer not taking into account answering the critique. Granted the historical argument is simple to discuss (that history can only tell us about what Jesus actually did, it cannot tell us about what he did not do), but a possible answer is not given which presents problems with the validity of the argument. That being said, I agree with you, though your method is something which troubles me. (Belief for sake of belief is not a good thing, otherwise we’re just promoting fundamentalism which is something we should be against as Catholics.)
The “scholars” held two things. 1. The scriptures do not clearly procalim the divinity of Jesus Chirst. Only John, which they reject as historical has clear attestaton of the Divinity of Jesus. I went to work and assmbled numerous texts that show the NT broadly teaches his divinity. Also, their argument that John is not historical seemed circular to me. They said He is not historical because he teaches high Christology. Therefore Hogh Christology is not historical. 2. When pressed they simply dismissed all scripture as historical. Now if we’re going to remove any source document or fundamentally strip it of any historicity (al la the Jesus Seminar) they we don’t have much if a basis for a conversation any more. Hence your critique that I did not fully answer my critics. I suppose I could do a full scale critique of the Historical Critical Method, but that is too long, perhaps an other article. But having dicussions or defending points with a group who have so fundamentally torn up the foundatons is both difficult and not very productive since they have relocated the source of truth to themselves.
I am not sure I get your concern about fundamentalism. I have noticed on the blog here that any time I quote substantial scripture some one seems to get concerned about “fundamentalism” Not sure where this anxiety comes from. There is nothing wrong with presenting scriptural arguments., I do not posit that they are the only valid arguments. I also quoted from the “Quicumque” at the beginning. I am not a fundamentalist, neither is quoting Scripture fundamentalist, Neither is questioning the Jesus Seminar fundamentalist. I am a Roman Catholic Priest.
Well, if “Q” and that tent-maker Paul and probably Jerome all simply made most of it up (with Matthew, Mark, and Luke simply plagerizing Q rather than independently writing their own material), they really do deserve the prize for the greatest literary geniuses of all time.
The immense depth and complexity and interrelatedness of the New Testament, as well as the Old Testament, which I’m sure some people say is largely made up also, not to mention the philosophical and theological sophistication, and the presentment of truths which, upon proper inspection, are entirely consistent throughout, all of these aspects of the scriptures is staggering. So staggering, in fact, it is doubtful that they were made up. If these scriptures were not true divine revelations, were not the fruit of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were not what was truly said and truly done, but were largely the inventions of certain first century men, then those men were without doubt the greatest literary geniuses ever. But it is also highly unlikely that any two or three men of the first century could have been so perfect in their writing or otherwise have pulled it off.
It is so much easier and more rational to believe that Jesus actually did say what the Gospels say He said and did what they say He did.
This is yet another area where belief is so much easier than unbelief and so much more reasonable than unbelief.
I found your Web Site by Google
And I wish you the best you can get,
the peace of God through Jesus Christ.
Most people don’t know whom Jesus is. Also many who
profess that they believe in the Bible, deny that Jesus is God.
In Hebr. 1:1-14 it is God Father himself who speaks to his
Son, and calls him God. Verse 8 and 9.
All God’s angels will worship him. (Verse 6). If Jesus is not
God, it would imply that all God’s angels would be guilty
of idolatry when they worship Jesus.
When Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” then
Jesus had no objection. John 20:28. When the disciples
worshipped Jesus, then he received their worship, and he
said nothing against that. Matt. 28:9, 17.
In John 8:24 Jesus says: If you do not believe that I am what
I am, you will die in your sins. (The New English Bible).
In Matt. 19:16-17 Jesus says:
“Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is,
God.” With this Jesus means, If I am good, then I am God.
If you want to do God’s will, then you understand that Jesus’
teaching is from God. John 7:17.
Good day Msgr. Pope and Happy Feast day of Christ the King AND Happy Thanksgiving day. I really enjoyed reading your site. Your lesson today is very informative it reminds me of my simple faith. I remember the day I talked to Jesus in Spirit and accepted Him as the true Son of God and His divinity and then I asked Him a favor of revealing to me the true church and if it is true that He (Jesus) has chosen our national hero (Rizal) as a servant of our country, I begged Him (Jesus) to show to me in person, in the Spirit and in Truth, our hero – Rizal and whatever church he belongs ( i know that Rizal was a catholic), there I will follow and whatever example he (Rizal) showed I will also try to imitate him (Rizal was not afraid to expose the wrongdoings of the people during his time even if the church was involved in his revelation and it caused his death by firing squad). And true enough to simple believers like me, after offering prayer and fasting, God showed Rizal to me in person physically. It only took me 3 days of prayer and fasting and God in His mercy answered my request. From that time on up to the present I did not leave my faith and church no matter how my fellow catholics hurt my feelings for not believing in what i am sharing with regards to my spirituality. Until now, i still remains a suffering servant from my fellow catholics. But i do believe that God in His time will give justice to my advocacy and love for Him in Spirit and in Truth. Let us give thanks to God nor only during Thanksgiving day but everyday of our life. Have a blessed day to all of us.
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