Did Jesus ever claim to be God?
Yes, Jesus claimed to be God. Both the religious leaders and the apostles clearly understood that He claimed to be God. Early in Jesus’ ministry, the religious leaders did not understand Him, as John 5:18 reveals,
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. (NASB) John 5:18
They reacted as some do today. Many do not understand that Jesus was not just claiming to be equal with God. Yet, He claimed to be God. They missed the point and some do today as well. But later in Jesus’ ministry the Jewish leaders finally understood. Here is the dialog,
“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” (NASB) John 10:30-33
Jesus said that He and the Father are one. Finally, the Jewish leaders understood that He was claiming to be God, so they wanted to stone Him to death. That was the penalty for blasphemy. Jesus responded by asking them to give a reason for their actions. They answered that He had blasphemed. Their answer was pointed and specific. They said that He was a man and could not be God. They understood that He was claiming to be God. But they rejected His statement just as others have. Today, people may claim that Jesus never said He was God, but the religious leaders understood that He did.
The expression “Son of God” was a phrase that meant Jesus was God. It did not mean that Jesus was God’s offspring (compare John 10:33 with 10:36) or that He was a child of God. Jesus explained the meaning of the phrase Himself in John 10:36. Later in John 19:7 the Jewish leaders used this claim against Jesus once again.
In John 8:56-58 Jesus once again clearly stated that He was God and, consequently, the religious leaders want to stone Him.
. . . ” Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. John 8:58-59 (NASB)
The Jewish religious leaders knew that He was claiming to have existed before Abraham. Abraham lived about 2,075-2,000 B.C. That is roughly 2,000 years before Jesus. How did the religious leaders respond? They said your “not yet fifty years old.” They understood He was claiming to have existed before Abraham. Consequently, Jesus declared that He was the “I AM.” This was a clear reference to Exodus 3:14 where Jehovah God – Yahweh – declared that He was the “I AM.” Jesus was clearly claiming to be God and the Jews understood. Consequently, they wanted to stone Him to death.
The religious leaders understood that Jesus claimed to be God and so did the apostles. The Apostle Paul wrote this about Jesus,
. . . looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus . . . (NASB) Titus 2:13
This verse is very clear. Here we are told that Jesus is both Savior and God. According to the Greek grammar Granville Sharp rule, any time two nouns of the same case are connected by KAI, the words refer to the same thing if the definite article appears before the first noun and not the second. In this Greek text, the definite article appears before “great God” and not before “Savior.” The case of both nouns are the same. This means that Paul was telling us that Jesus is both God and Savior. Jesus is God.
If Jesus was not God, how did He walk on water, raise the dead, heal the blind, calm the waves, stop the wind, and multiply five loaves, and two fish enough to feed a total of 9,000 men plus women, and children on two occasions? How did He turn water into wine, read the thoughts of people, heal cut-off ears, and cause a Roman cohort to fall to the ground without touching them when He was arrested? Why did the sky turn dark and the earth quake when Jesus died in the mid-afternoon? Secular scientists give witness that darkness encompassed the Mediterranean world at the time of a full moon when Jesus died. A solar eclipse cannot occur during a full moon. The moon is on the wrong side of the planet.
May we encourage you to read, “Christians: Are They Wrong?” Ask God to reveal the truth about Jesus to you. May God guide you as you search for Him.
1. Dana and Mantey. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. MacMillian. p. 147.
Reference Links:Searching For God
Christians: Are They Wrong?