Did Jesus Christ Claim To Be God? (Weigh the Evidence)


Jesus of Nazareth is one of the most influential people in world history. Though he was born into a poor family, worked an uncelebrated job as a carpenter, and died in his early 30s, he arguably changed the world like no one else before or after him. Given these facts, people want to know more about what Jesus said about himself.

That Jesus Christ claimed to be God in the flesh is one of the strongest and clearest teachings of the New Testament. Both his followers and his enemies recognized his claim. Jesus was revered as God, has the attributes of God, is called the names of God, did the acts of God, and had the authority of God.

How overwhelming is the biblical evidence that Jesus is God? What is the difference between direct and indirect evidence? Where does the Bible teach that Jesus was revered as God, has the attributes of God, has the names of God, does the acts of God, and has the authority of God? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and many others.

Jesus Christ
Who calls Jesus “God” in the Gospels? See below

Understanding Jesus’ Claims of Deity

The New Testament evidence that Jesus claimed to be God is overwhelming for readers who have a basic understanding of biblical interpretation. For those who don’t, simple explanations often shed light on the topic, which leads to a clear understanding of what Jesus said about his deity (i.e. his identity as God).

Direct statements about Jesus’ deity: In some passages, Jesus’ identity as God is directly stated, like when someone calls him “God,” such as Thomas (John 20:28). If Jesus wasn’t God, not only would he have let Thomas believe a lie, but a lie about the identity of God, which would have been blasphemous. Encouraging blasphemy would make Jesus an immoral and sacrilegious teacher.

Indirect statements about Jesus’ deity: In other passages, Jesus’ identity as God was clear to the original hearers, especially devout first-century Jews, but it’s less so for people today because they aren’t as familiar with the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible). Simple explanations about biblical interpretation often shed light on the topic and help modern readers understand Jesus’ claims.

For example, Jesus referred to himself as the “I Am” (John 8:58). This may sound odd to readers today, but the Jews who heard him say it knew the story of Moses and recognized that Jesus made a powerful statement about his identity as God (cf. Exod. 3:14). This is why the Jews immediately tried to stone Jesus, which was the official punishment for blasphemy (v. 59).

“That Jesus is Himself God is the heart of the gospel, because apart from His deity He could not save a single soul. No heresy so corrupts the gospel and robs it of its power as the teaching that Jesus is not God. Apart from His deity, there is no gospel and no salvation.” – John MacArthur

Christianity cross
What is the best way to study Jesus’ claims of deity? See below

Jesus is God: The Overwhelming New Testament Evidence

There are different ways to organize all the information in the New Testament about Jesus’ claim to be God, and the tables below reflect a biblically-based approach that is centered on the evidence. The best way to understand anything the Bible teaches is to learn, as a first priority, its scripture-wide context.

Note: The tables below have been adapted from the book, Putting Jesus in His Place (Bowman and Komoszewski), slightly modified for mobile and desktop compatibility as well as contextual clarity [1]. Readers are encouraged to consult the resource for an in-depth discussion on these topics.

When weighing evidence for Jesus’ claims to be God, it’s important that all the information be considered together. Each category of evidence below must be weighed along with the other categories.

Jesus was revered as only God is

When a person receives honor from others, it means they are highly respected and greatly esteemed. Many people in the world are worthy of honor, such as parents (Exod. 20:12). However, the Bible teaches that God is the recipient of unique honor, which Jesus shares. This, in part, demonstrates his deity.

God the FatherGod the Son
Receives honorExod. 20:2-3, 34:14; Deut. 5:6-7John 5:23; Heb. 3:3-4
Receives gloryExod. 15:2; Psa. 29:1-3; cf. Matt. 5:16; Rom. 15:6-92 Tim. 4:18; Heb. 13:20-21; 1 Pet. 4:11
Receives worshipDeut. 6:13; Psa. 97:7; Isa. 45:23; Rev. 19:10Matt. 2:2, 11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9, 17; Phil. 2:10-11; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:17, 5:14
Receives prayerGen. 4:26; 1 Chron. 16:8; Psa. 65:2; Isa. 44:17; 45:20-22; Joel 2:32John 14:14; Acts 1:24-25; 7:59-60; Rom. 10:12-13; 1 Cor. 1:2; Rev. 22:20-21

Example: Jesus receives worship that only God receives. The 10 Commandments make clear that people must only worship God alone (Exod. 20:3-6). Jesus is worshiped on multiple occasions in the New Testament. Not only do people worship Jesus, like Thomas (quoted above), but angels do, too (Heb. 1:6).

God the FatherGod the Son
Worship songs dedicated to himExod. 15:21; Psa. 7:17, 9:11, 92:1, 95:1, 96:2, Isa. 42:10Eph. 5:19; Rev. 5:9-10; cf. Phil. 2:6-11
Is the object of faithGen. 15:6; Isa. 28:16; 43:10; Mark 11:22; Heb. 6:1; 11:6Matt. 9:28; John 1:12; 3:15-18; 6:35, 40; 14:1; 20:31; Acts 3:16; 10:43; 16:31; 20:21; 22:19; Rom. 9:33; Gal. 3:26; 1 Pet. 2:6; 1 John 3:23; 5:1-13
Is revered or fearedDeut. 6:13; 10:20; Prov. 1:7; 2:5; 9:10; Isa. 8:12-132 Cor. 5:10-11; Eph. 5:21; 6:7-8; Col. 3:22-25; 1 Pet. 3:14-16
Is the object of devotionDeut. 6:13; cf. Matt. 4:10Matt. 26:2, 18, 26-29; Mark 14:12-16, 22-25; Luke 22:8-20; Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 1 Cor. 10:16-22
Is the object of affectionExod. 20:6; Deut. 5:10; 6:4-5; 11:1, 13:6-11; 19:9; 30:6-8-20; 33:9; Josh. 22:5; Neh. 1:5; Dan. 9:4; Matt. 22:37Matt. 10:37; Luke 14:26; John 14:15, 21; 15:10; Eph. 6:24

Example: Jesus is the object of people’s faith. In the Old Testament, people put their faith in God. Abraham is a well-known example: “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Jesus is the object of peoples’ faith, demonstrating his deity: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Deity of Jesus Christ
What attributes of God does Jesus have? See below

Jesus possesses attributes that only God has

The attributes of God refer to his characteristics or perfections. God has unique attributes that no other being in existence has. For example, God is uncreated. There was never a time in eternity past that God didn’t exist. The same can’t be said for angels, people, or anything else in the created order. The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus is an uncreated being, which demonstrates his deity.

God the FatherGod the Son
Pre-existenceThe Father has always existed (see verses below)Matt. 9:13; 20:28; 23:34; Mark 10:45; Luke 4:43; 5:32; 13:34; 19:10; John 8:42; 10:36; 13:3; 16:28; Rom. 8:3; Gal. 4:4-6; Phil. 2:6-7
EternalPsa. 90:2; 102:25-27John 1:1-3; 8:56-59; 17:5; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10-12; 7:3
UncreatedGen. 1:1; Isa. 43:10John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10-12; cf. Prov. 8:22; Rev. 3:14
ImmutableNum. 23:19; Psa. 102:26-27; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8; cf. 2 Cor. 1:20
LovingDeut. 7:8; 10:15, 18; Psa. 146:8; Prov. 3:12; Isa. 63:9; Jer. 31:3; Hos. 3:1John 13:34; 15:9, 12-13; Rom. 8:35-39; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:19; 5:2; Rev. 1:5; cf. Rom. 5:8
OmnipotentJob 42:2; Luke 1:37Matt. 28:18; John 2:19-22; 10:17-18; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; 2 Cor. 12:9; Eph. 1:19-21; Col. 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22
OmnipresentGen 28:15; 1 Kings 8:27; Psa. 139:7-10; John 4:20-24Matt. 8:5-13; 18:20; 28:20; Mark 7:24-30; Luke 7:1-10; John 1:47-49; Eph. 4:10-11
OmniscientJohn 4:20–24; 1 Kings 8:39; Ps. 139:1–4; Isa. 46:9–10; Matt. 10:30; 1 John 3:20Matt. 9:4; 12:25; Mark 2:6–8; Luke 6:8; 21:20–24; John 4:16-18; 11:11–15; 13:10–11, 21–29, 36–38; 16:30–31; 21:17; Acts 1:24; 1 Cor. 4:5;
IncomprehensibleIsa. 40:18Matt. 11:27; cf. Luke 10:22

Example: Jesus has always existed as the second person of the Trinity. Jesus’ birth to Mary and Joseph was the beginning of his human life, but it wasn’t the moment he started to exist. As God, Jesus is an uncreated, eternal being, which he expresses in statements like: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5).

Jesus is called names that only God is called

God has names that are unique to him and reflect his deity. The New Testament teaches that Jesus shares these names, which point to his identity as God.

God the FatherGod the Son
Name above every nameExod. 3:15; 20:7; Deut. 5:11; 28:58; Pss. 8:1, 9; 20:7; Isa. 45:21–23; Joel 2:32; Luke 1:49; Rom. 2:24; 1 Tim. 6:1; Rev. 11:18; 13:6; 15:4; 16:9Matt. 7:22; 24:9; Mark 9:38–39; Luke 10:17; 21:12, 17; John 1:12; 15:21; 20:31; Acts 2:21, 36, 38; 3:6, 16; 4:7-18; 5:28, 40–41; 8:16; 9:14, 21, 27–28; 10:43, 48; 15:26; 16:18; 19:5, 17; 21:13; 22:16; Rom. 10:12–13; 1 Cor. 1:13–15; 6:11; Eph. 1:21; Phil. 2:9–11; Col. 3:17; 1 Peter 4:14; 1 John 2:12; 1 John 3:23; 5:13; 3 John 7; Rev. 2:3, 13; 3:8
GodDeut. 4:35, 39; 32:39; 2 Sam. 22:32; 2 Chron. 15:3; Isa. 37:20; 43:10; 44:6–8; Jer. 10:10; John 5:44; 17:3; Rom. 3:30; 16:27; 1 Cor. 8:4–6; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; James 2:19; 1 John 5:20–21; Jude 25Isa. 7:14; 9:6; John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1 (cf. 1:11; 2:20; 3:18)
Lord (YHWH/ Kurios)Gen. 2:4; Exod. 3:15– 18; Deut. 3:24 LXX [etc.]; 6:4; Pss. 34:8; 118:25; Isa. 8:12–13; 40:3, 13; 45:23; Joel 2:32Matt. 3:3; 7:21–22; 8:25; 14:30; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; 6:46; Acts 1:24; 2:21, 36; 7:59–60; Rom. 10:9–13; 1 Cor. 1:2, 2:16; 4:4–5; 5:4; 6:11; 7:17, 32–35; 8:6; 10:21–22; 16:22–23; Phil. 2:9–11; 1 Peter 2:3; 3:13–15
Bridegroom/ HusbandIsa. 54:5; 62:5; Jer. 31:32Matt. 22:2; 25:1–13; Mark 2:19; John 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25–27; Rev. 19:7–9; 21:2, 9
King of Kings & Lord of LordsDan. 4:37; 1 Tim. 6:15; cf. Deut. 10:17; Ps. 136:2–3Rev. 17:14; 19:16
SaviorDeut. 32:15; Pss. 25:5; 27:9; 62:2, 6; 65:5; 79:9; 95:1; Isa. 12:2; 17:10; 45:15, 21; Mic. 7:7; Hab. 3:18Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Phil. 3:20; 2 Tim. 1:10; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1 John 4:14
I AmDeut. 32:29; Isa. 41:4; 43:2, 5, 10–11, 25; 46:4; 52:6; cf. Exod. 3:14John 4:26; 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:18–19; 18:5–8
First & Last/ Alpha & Omega/
Beginning & End
Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12; Rev. 21:6Rev. 1:7–8, 17b–18; 2:8; 22:12–13

Example: Understanding Jesus’ claims, people refer to him as God. In the Gospels, Thomas is an example of this (quoted above); yet, others in the New Testament do as well. For example, in Romans 9:5, Paul writes, “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”

Jesus performed acts that only God can do

Another claim to deity that Jesus and the writers of the New Testament make is that he does certain acts that only God can do. Regular people, even set-apart religious leaders like priests, prophets, and apostles, can’t do these things. Jesus can, though, because he is God.

God the FatherGod the Son
Creating and sustaining all thingsGen. 1:1; 2:7; Neh. 9:6; Psa. 95:5–7; 102:25; Isa. 44:24; Jer. 10:16; 51:19; Acts 4:24; 14:15; Rom. 11:36; Heb. 2:10; Rev. 4:11John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16–17; Heb. 1:2-3, 10
Sovereignly ruling over the forces of natureGen. 8:1; Exod. 14:21; Job 38:8–11; Pss. 33:7; 65:7; 74:13–14; 77:16–20; 104:4–9; Prov. 8:22–31; Isa. 17:12–13; 35:4–6; Jer. 5:22; 31:35Matt 8:23–27 (cf. Mark 4:35–41; Luke 8:22–25); Matt 14:13–21 (cf. Mark
6:32–44; Luke 9:10–17; John 6:1–15); Matt 15:32–39 Matt 17:24–27; Mark 5:19–20 (cf. Luke 8:39); Luke 5:1–11; 7:11–16; John 2:1–11
Illumination and
revelation
Gen. 40:8; 41:15–16; Ps. 119:18; Dan. 2:20–23; Amos 3:7Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 1:4–5, 9, 18; 2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13
Speaking with
divine authority
Cf. “Thus says the Lord”
(over 400x); Isa. 40:8; 52:6;
55:11–12
Matt. 5:20–22, etc.; 7:24–29; 24:35; Mark 1:22; 13:31;
Luke 4:32; John 4:26; 7:46;
cf. “Amen I say to you” (74x)
Word of the Lord1 Kings 13:1, 2, 5, 32; 20:35; 2 Chron. 30:12; cf. 2 Sam. 16:23; 1 Chron. 15:15Acts 8:25; 13:44, 48–49; 15:35–36; 16:32; 19:10, 20; 1 Thess. 4:15
God the FatherGod the Son
SalvationExod. 15:2; Deut. 32:15; Pss. 3:8; 24:5; 25:5 (etc.); 62:1–2, 6–7; 118:14, 21; 130:8; Isa. 45:15, 21; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:9–10; John 3:17; 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31; 1 Cor. 15:1–4; 1 Tim. 1:1, 15; Titus 1:4; 2:13–14; 3:6; Heb. 5:9; Rev.
7:10
Showing mercyPss. 6:2; 9:13; 31:9; 41:4, 10; 56:1; 86:3; 123:3; Isa. 33:2Matt. 15:22; 20:30, 31
Forgiveness of
sins
Exod. 34:6–7; Psa. 51:4; 130:4; Isa. 43:25; 44:22; 55:7; Jer. 31:34; Dan. 9:9Matt 9:1–8 (cf. Mark 2:1–12; Luke 5:17–26); Luke 7:47–49; Acts 5:31; Col. 3:13
Sending the Spirit
& his gifts
Joel 2:28–29; John 14:26; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:6Matt 3:11; Luke 24:49; John 1:33; 7:37–39; 15:26; 16:7–14; 20:22; Acts 2:33; 16:6–7; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:5; Eph. 4:8–11; Phil. 1:19
Giving and being
life
Gen. 2:7; Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; Ps. 36:9; Jer. 2:13John 1:4; 3:15–16; 5:21–26; 10:10; 14:6; 17:3; 20:30–31; Acts 3:15; Rom. 6:23; Phil. 1:21; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3–4
Raising the deadDeut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; Gal. 1:1John 2:19–22; 5:28–29; 6:40, 54; 10:17–18, 27–28; 11:25–26; Acts 2:24
Source of all
spiritual blessings
(See references to the right)Eph. 1:2–3; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; 2 John 3; Rev. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:16–17
Judging all peopleGen. 18:25; Deut. 1:17; Pss. 7:9–11; 50:4, 6; 62:12; 75:7; 96:12–13; Prov. 24:12; Isa. 40:9–11; Jer. 25:31; Joel 3:12; Rom. 2:3; 14:10Matt. 16:27; 25:31–46; John 5:22–23; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 4:4–5; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Thess. 1:7–8; 2 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:23

Example: Jesus creates, which is something only God can do. The New Testament teaches that Jesus made all things: “Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). However, neither people, angels, nor any other being creates in this way, except for God.

For example, Isaiah writes, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself” (Isa. 44:24). If what John writes about Jesus is true, then the obvious conclusion is that he is God.

Jesus possesses the authority that only God has

The general definition of authority includes ideas like having the power to issue orders, making decisions, and requiring the obedience of other people. God has authority that is unique to him. This concept that incorporates certain attributes he has like sovereignty. Yet it also refers to his rule and reign. Jesus has the same authority, which demonstrates his deity.

God the FatherGod the Son
God’s highest possible throneDan. 4:34–35; Rom. 14:10; Rev 4:2; 5:1; 20:11; cf. 7:15Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; 25:31; 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; 16:19; Luke 20:42–43; 22:69; Acts 2:33–35; 5:31; 7:55–56; Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:25; 2 Cor. 5:10; Eph. 1:20; 2:6; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12–13; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22; Rev. 3:21; 7:17; 22;1, 3
Claiming to be equal to GodExod. 20:3, 7; Deut. 5:7, 11; cf. Ps. 110:1; Dan. 7:13–14; cf. Ezek. 1:26–28; see also Exod. 14:20; 34:5; Num. 10:34; Ps. 104:3; Isa. 19:1Matt. 9:3 (cf. Mark 2:7); Mark 14:61–64; John 5:17–18; 8:58–59; 10:27–33; 19:7
Ruling over all thingsIsa. 44:24; Jer. 10:16; 51:19Matt. 11:25–27; 28:18; Luke 10:21–22; John 3:35; 13:3; 16:15; Acts 10:36; 1 Cor. 15:27–28; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:10; 3:21; Heb. 1:2; 2:8; Rev. 5:13
Ruling foreverPsa. 9:7; 45:6; 93:2; Lam. 5:19; Dan. 4:34–35; Rev. 5:13Luke 1:33; Eph. 1:19b–21; Heb. 1:8; Rev 11:15; cf. Eph. 5:5; Rev. 22:1, 3

Example: Jesus will rule forever because he is God. Psalm 9:7 reads, “But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice.” Jesus shares in that reign: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

Jesus is either God, a lunatic, or a liar

C. S. Lewis writes: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else the Devil of Hell.”

Lewis continues: “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

References:
[1] Putting Jesus in His Place by Robert m Bowman Jr and J Ed Komoszewski. (Kregel Publications, 2007)

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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