Part II: The Divinity of Messiah in the New Testament

The early Church Fathers clearly believed that Jesus is God. But perhaps they got this idea from their pagan background and environment rather than from the Scriptures? This section will show that this was not the case; rather, the New Testament quite clearly proclaims the divinity of Christ.

Jesus' Claims about Himself

It is true that Jesus never openly said that He is God. Quite clearly, he was well aware that had he openly made such a claim, not only would no one have believed him, but he quickly would have lost his credibility among his followers and raised many questions about his mental sanity. On the other hand, he seems to have been quite intent on gradually revealing this stunning fact to his followers through his words and deeds, and most especially by his resurrection. Moreover, Jesus did claim at least a few times that he was equal with God, which provoked the anger of his opponents who clearly understood that he was making claims to divinity:

"If you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins... I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." (Jn 8:24, 58, cf. Ex 3:14)

"I and My Father are one." Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him... saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." (Jn 10:30-33)

"He who has seen Me has seen the Father... Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" (Jn 14:9-10)

"And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God.'" (Jn 20:28)

Divine Attributes

The New Testament authors present Jesus as having all the attributes that usually pertain to the divinity alone. He is presented as being:

  • Self-existent and possessing eternal life: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (Jn 1:4, also 14:6, 1 Jn 5:11)
  • Omnipresent: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20).  "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mt 28:20)
  • Omniscient: "Lord, You know all things." (Jn 21:17, also Jn 4:16, 6:64, 16:30, Mt 16:22-27)
  • Omnipotent: "All authority is given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Mt 28:18, also Jn 5:19).  Jesus raised the dead (Lk 7:14-15) and showed mastery over nature by calming the wind and sea (Mt 8:26-27).
  • Forgiving sins: "Son, your sins are forgiven you." And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mar 2:6-7)
  • Receiving worship as God: Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." (Mt 14:33, also 28:9)
  • Eternal:  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Heb 13:8, also Heb. 1:12)

Direct Claims by the NT Authors

In addition, the New Testament authors make a number of direct and clear claims that Jesus is, in fact, God:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (Jn 1:1)

"No one has ever seen God, but the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." (Jn 1:18) (some manuscripts have "only begotten Son")

"Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He…also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God." (John 5:18)

"Therefore take heed… to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28)     [God has purchased the church with His own blood]

"...from [the Israelites], according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God." (Rom 9:5)

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form [morphe] of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God." (Phil 2:5-6)

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth…All things were created through Him and for Him.  And he is before all things, and in Him all things consist." (Col. 1:15-17)

"For in [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. 2:9)

"God was manifested in the flesh." (1 Tim 3:16)

"...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." (Tit. 2:13)

"But to the Son, [God] says: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever." (Heb. 1:8, cf. Ps. 45:6)

"To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 1:1)

"And we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20)

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!"  (Rev 5:12)

Indirect Claims by the NT Authors referring to the OT

Should these direct claims not be enough, we also find a number of indirect claims that show that the New Testament authors believed that Jesus was God. In these examples, some divine traits that were exclusively attributed to God in the Old Testament are also attributed to Jesus in the New Testament.

God is the only Redeemer and Savior...

"God will come and save you." (Isa. 35:4-5)

"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." (Isa. 43:14, also 41:14, 44:22-24, 47:4, 48:17)

"A just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me." ( Isa. 45:21, also 45:15)

"I have redeemed you; I am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior." (Isa. 43:1,11, comp. Isa. 44:6, also Hos. 13:4)

…But Christ is also Savior

"Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts" - who is this Redeemer who is 'the Lord of Hosts' yet distinct from 'the Lord, the King of Israel'? (Isa. 44:6)

"And you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins." (Mat 1:21)

"We know that this is indeed the Messiah, the Savior of the world." (John 4:42, also John 12:47, Acts 4:12, Heb. 7:25)

God is the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega...

"I am the First, I am also the Last. (Isa. 48:12, also Isa. 44:6)

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord…the Almighty." (Rev. 1:8)

…but Jesus is also the First and the Last, the Alpha and Omega:

The Son of Man said: "I am the First and the Last" (Rev. 1:13,17, also Rev. 2:8).

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." (Rev. 22:12)

Only God is the Creator...

"I am the Lord who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself." (Isa. 44:24)

"You alone are the Lord, You have made heaven…the earth and everything on it, the seas…" (Neh. 9:6)

…but all things were made by and through Jesus:

"Let Us make man in our image, according to our likeness." - who is God speaking to? (Gen. 1:26)

"All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." (John 1:3)

"By [Christ] all things were created…through Him and for Him." (Col. 1:16)

Only God can be worshiped...

"You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." ( Deut. 6:13, also Luke 4:8)

…but Jesus is also worshiped:

"[The Magi] saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him." ( Matt 2:11, also Matt. 14:33, 28:17, Luke 24:52, John 9:38)

"But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’" (Heb. 1:6)

God does not share His glory...

"My glory I will not give to another."  (Isa. 42:8)

"You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power…" (Rev. 4:11)

…yet Jesus receives the same glory as God:

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing." (Rev. 5:12)

"Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Rev. 5:13)

Jesus fulfills OT prophecies that refer to God

Through his words and actions, Jesus fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament that referred to God.  Compare the passage from the Tanakh with its fulfillment in the New Testament.  The Tanakh passage refers to God while the New Testament passage refers to Jesus, making them One.

Healing the blind and deaf

"[God] will come and save you.  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing." (Isa. 35:4-5)

[John the Baptist asked:] "Are you the coming One? Jesus answered and said to them, ‘…The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them." (Matt. 11:3-5)

Isaiah's prophecy of a blind and deaf people

"Woe is me…for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." And [God] said, ‘Go, and tell this people: …make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed." (Isa. 6:5,10)

"But although [Jesus] had done so many signs before them…they could not believe, because Isaiah said: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them." These things Isaiah said when he saw His [Jesus’] glory and spoke of Him [of Jesus]." (John 12:37-41)

Laying the foundations of the earth

"Of old You [God] laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands…" (Ps. 102:25-28)

"...to the Son He says: …You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands…" (Heb. 1:8,10)

The good Shepherd

"The Lord is my Shepherd." (Ps. 23:1)

"I am the good shepherd." (John 10:11)

A stone of stumbling and rock of offense

"The Lord of hosts…will be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." (Isa. 8:13-14)

Jesus is "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense."  (1 Pet. 2:8)

The King of Israel

"The King of Israel, the Lord [YHWH], is in your midst." (Zeph. 3:15)

"Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49)

Infants praising God

"Out of the mouth of babes and infants You [God] have ordained strength." (Ps. 8:2)

Jesus applies this verse to Himself. (Matt. 21:16)

The Lord's feet on the Mount of Olives

"The Lord will go forth…and in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives." (Zech. 14:3-4)

"This same Jesus…will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. Then they returned from the mount called Olivet." (Acts 1:11-12)