Tim Barnett responds to a video that claims the Bible never calls Jesus “God,” and that both the Old Testament and Jesus himself indicated Jesus is not divine.
Original video: In the Bible, Jesus never directly calls himself God. Not even once. If Jesus claimed to be God, don’t you think that would have been a pretty important part to include in the Gospels? Now, listen to this. In Numbers 23:19 and Hosea 11:9, the Bible says that God is not a man, nor a son of man, but Jesus is said to be a man and a son of man all throughout the New Testament, like in John 8:40, Acts 2:22, Timothy 2:5, and Matthew 16:27. In fact, Jesus often seems to outright deny that he’s God, like in Luke 18:19, where Jesus says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone,” and John 14:28, where he says, “My Father is greater than I.” So, how can God be greater if they’re the same? The historian Bart Ehrman, who was once an evangelical Christian, said, during his lifetime, Jesus didn’t call himself God and didn’t consider himself God, and none of his disciples had any inkling at all that he was God. If Jesus was explicitly God, it would have been said everywhere in the Bible, but it’s not said anywhere. Not even once.
Tim: Do we have any good reasons from the Bible for thinking Jesus is God? This guy doesn’t think so, and he gives a couple reasons why. First, he quotes two Old Testament verses, which say God is not a man. Then, he turns to some New Testament verses, which say Jesus is a man—and, well, checkmate, Christians.
Not so fast. Those Old Testament passages do not preclude the incarnation. In the incarnation, God’s divine nature didn’t transform into a human nature. Rather, the Word remains fully God while adding a human nature to himself in the person of Jesus. So, Jesus is fully divine and fully human, but the divine nature is not the human nature.
Second, he cites Luke 18:19: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” But Jesus isn’t denying that he’s God. He’s asking the rich young ruler if he understands the implications of what he’s saying. By the way, Jesus called himself the “good shepherd.”
Third, he cites John 14:28. “The Father is greater than I.” And how can the Father be greater if they’re the same? But this question is confused. The Father and the Son are not the same person. They’re distinct persons within the one eternal God. That’s why Jesus also says, “I and the Father are one.” So, the Father is greater than the Son in his role, not in his divine nature.
Okay. We’ve looked very briefly at these three objections, but what about evidence for Jesus being God? Here are six lines of evidence for why Christians believe Jesus is God. First, Jesus admits he’s God in John 8. The religious leaders ask Jesus about his identity. He says, “Before Abraham was, I am”—“Ego eimi,” in Greek. In response, they pick up stones to kill him. Why? Because “I am” is loaded with theological significance. In fact, Jesus applies the name of God recorded in Isaiah and Exodus to himself.
Second, Jesus is addressed as God. Probably the most well-known passage is when Thomas addresses Jesus directly as “my Lord and my God.”
Third, Jesus does the activities of God. In Mark 2, Jesus forgives sins committed against God. In response, the scribes say he’s blaspheming: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Fourth, Jesus is adored as God on multiple occasions. Jesus receives worship. For example, after supernaturally calming the storm, his disciples worship him.
Fifth, Jesus has the aliases of God. Jesus is given the divine titles from the Old Testament like “Lord of lords” and “the first and the last.”
Sixth, Jesus has the attributes of God. For example, the author of Hebrews applies Psalm 102:25–27 to Jesus, which is a description of the eternal, changeless creator, Yahweh. Go look it up.
These are the six different lines of evidence. Individually they provide evidence for the deity of Jesus, but taken together they present a compelling case.