Why do Christians believe that Jesus is God?
Did the first followers of Jesus believe He was God? Not at first, but they eventually did. Look at what they wrote when they came to realize who Jesus truly was.
Peter: The justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior. (2 Peter 1:1)
John: The Word (Jesus) was God….and became flesh (human). (John 1:1, 14)
Matthew: They will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us“). (Matt 1:23)
Luke: Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood. (Acts 20:28)
Thomas: “My Lord and My God”. (John 20:28)
Here is an excerpt from letters of Ignatius of Antioch. He was a disciple of John the Apostle and died in 108 AD, making him the second generation of believers. They became known in history as the early church fathers.
“To you, then, sincerest greetings in Jesus Christ, our God, for you cleave to his every commandment–observing not only their letter but their spirit–being permanently filled with God’s grace and purged of every stain alien to it.”…You have been granted light both by the will of Him who willed all that is, and by virtue of your believing in Jesus Christ, our God, and of loving him….“Christ is the invisible, Timeless one, incapable by nature of suffering, who becomes visible and capable of suffering through his human birth in time.”Ignatius of Antioch, 108 AD
It’s evident that the the first followers of Jesus did believe He was God.
But what exactly did Jesus say about Himself?
Jesus said He is the one who grants eternal life.
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28
“…authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all…” (John 17:2)
Jesus said He came from heaven, having existed prior to his incarnation.
No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. (John 3:13)
“You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23)
“I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” (John 16:28)
[John the Baptist acknowledged that he himself and everyone else including all the prophets were earthly but Jesus alone was heavenly.
“He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.” (John 3:31)]
Jesus said that He expected the same honor as the Father; honoring the Father obviously includes worshiping, praising and praying to Him.
“That all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. ” (John 5:23)
Jesus said that one’s belief and trust in Him is the key to eternal life.
“Whoever believes in him will have eternal life.” (John 3:15)
[The Apostle John concludes, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)]
Jesus said that He is the only way to heaven.
“I am the Way…no one comes to the Father except though me.” (John 14:6)
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9)
Jesus said He is the one who will raise the dead at the Resurrection.
“Truly, truly, I tell you, the hour is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live….Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:25, 28,29)
Jesus said He has authority to give life.
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He wishes.” (John 5:21)
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22)
Jesus said that He has eternally had the same glory as the Father.
“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 said He will be the final Judge of mankind.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. (Matthew 25:31-33)
Jesus said He has authority over all humanity.
“For You granted Him authority over all humanity, so that He may give eternal life to all those You have given Him.” (John 17:2)
“The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in His hands.” (John 3:35)
Jesus said He has the final authority to grant entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:34)
Jesus said He has the final authority to condemn the wicked to hell.
Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41);
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:23)
That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)
“Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Matthew 10:15)
And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. (Matthew 11:23)
Jesus said He will be the One to give eternal rewards.
For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)
Jesus said He guarantees eternal life to those who believe and trust Him.
And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26)
For it is My Father’s will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
Jesus said He is the answer to man’s needs.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
[Note that Jesus did not say, “religion is the light, and he who follows religion will have life; Jesus did not say, “the prophets / scriptures / good deeds / or anything or anyone else is the light.]
Jesus said that angels are subject to His authority and commands.
“And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” (Matthew 24:30-31)
Jesus said that His words are infallible and greater than the universe itself.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
Jesus could declare who has or doesn’t have salvation.
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house..” (Luke 19:9)
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:34)
Jesus said that He is the only one who can reveal the Father perfectly.
“…no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)
Jesus said that He is the Lord.
“You call me Master and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.” (John 13:13)
Jesus said He he is the sole bridge or gateway between heaven and earth.
“Truly, truly, I tell you, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)
Jesus said that He is one in essence and nature with the Father.
“The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30)
“Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me..” John 14:11
(But didn’t Jesus also say, “My Father is greater than I.” What did He mean? )
Jesus said that He alone is the perfect representation of the Father.
“Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Jesus claimed ownership of everything that the Father possesses.
“Everything that belongs to the Father is Mine” (John 16:15)
“If Christ had not been equal to God, could he have said this without blasphemy?” (Clarke)
Jesus said He existed before Abraham and even before creation.
Jesus declared, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58)
“…glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:5)
[Jesus could not truthfully or sanely pray this if He were not Yahweh Himself, equal with God the Father. In Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11, Yahweh proclaimed that He shares His glory with no one. If God the Father and God the Son share their glory, they must be (the triune God) Yahweh. – David Guzik]
Jesus said that all of the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) is about Him.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
Jesus said that all the prophets wrote about Him.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44)
[And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself. (Luke 24:27)]
Jesus said that all the ancient prophets had longed to see and hear Him and Abraham and Isaiah did see Him.
“For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:17)
Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see My day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
[The Apostle John wrote: “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” (John 12:41)]
Jesus said He was greater than all the prophets and kings. For example:
“Now someone greater than Jonah is here…” (Matthew 12:41)
“Now someone greater than Solomon is here…” (Matthew 12:42)
[Also see these references: Jesus is…Greater than Jacob (John 4:12-14) ; …Greater than Abraham (John 8:58) ; …Greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:3) ; …Greater than Elijah (Luke 9:35) ; …Greater than David (Matthew 22:45) ; …Greater than Adam (1 Corinthians 15:47) ; …Greater than John the Baptist (John 1:27)]
Jesus said that He sent the prophets.
Jesus said: “Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall ye kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city.” (Matthew 23:34)
[See also 1 Peter 1:10-12 where Peter wrote that the Spirit of Christ in the ancient prophets enabled them to prophesy!]
Jesus said He is God when He claimed to be greater than the Temple which was the visible representation of God’s presence on earth. Nothing was greater than the temple except God!
“I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple!” (Matthew 12:6)
Jesus said He is God when He said He is Lord of the Sabbath.
Only God who instituted the Sabbath is Lord of the Sabbath.
Jesus said, “The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8)
Jesus said He is God when He claimed to be the good shepherd. Prophecies in Ezekiel 34 declares that God comes as the Shepherd. The Psalmist wrote: The Lord is my Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1; also 77:20)
“I am the Good Shepherd.” (John 10:11)
Jesus said He was sinless. Only God is perfectly sinless and pure.
Which of you can prove Me guilty of sin? (John 8:46)
Jesus said He forgives sins. Only God can forgive sins.
“I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” (Mark 2:10)
Jesus said that He is the divine being who was prophesied by Daniel (in Dan 7:13-14) and worthy of worship.
And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)
Jesus said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (John 9:35-38)
Jesus claimed the names and titles of God for Himself.
“I AM the light of the world” ~ An-Nur (John 8:12)
“I AM the resurrection and the life” ~ Al- Baeth (John 11:25)
“I AM the Alpha and Omega” ~ Al-Awwal; Al-Akhir (Rev.1:7,8)
“I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11)
“I AM the bread of life” (John 6:35)
“I AM the true vine” (John 15:1)
…and many more.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give freely from the spring of the water of life. The one who overcomes will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.Revelation 21:6-7
But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”John 4:14