QUESTION: Where in the Bible does it say that Jesus is God?
ANSWER: Let’s be clear about what we mean by saying “Jesus is God.” This does not mean that Jesus of Nazareth and God are the exact same being. The eternal, infinite divine being who is the one true and living God has existed forever as the three persons of the Trinity. We know them as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (see Matt. 28:19). The eternal God the Son, also known as the Logos (John 1:1), at a specific time in history entered into a kind of union with the human person we know as Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:14). As a result, the human person Jesus is God in the sense that he has a truly divine nature in addition to his truly human nature. This means that his thoughts, words, and actions are the thoughts, words, and actions of God (specifically of God the Son, the Logos).
This incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament. E.g., in Psalm 45:6 the Messiah as the victorious king is addressed thus: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” In Isaiah 9:6 he is assigned the name, “Mighty God.” The New Testament also adds much testimony to the divine nature of Jesus, as summarized below.
I. JESUS IS GIVEN TITLES OF DEITY.
Several of the titles applied to Jesus are indications of his deity; I will explain two of them here. First, the title “Son of God” was often used for him. See Matt. 3:17; 16:16; 17:5; Mark 3:11; Rom. 1:4. We know that this implied his deity just from the way his Jewish enemies reacted when he was called this. On two occasions when Jesus referred to God as his Father, the Jews accused him of blasphemy and wanted to kill him because he “was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18; see 10:33, 36). In the John 5 passage, when Jesus responds to this charge (vv. 19-47), he never denies that he was “making himself equal with God.” The incident in John 10 also shows that Jesus’s claims (“I and the Father are one,” v. 30, and “I am the Son of God,” v. 36) had implications of deity. When at his trial before the Jewish council Jesus acknowledged that he was the Son of God (Luke 22:70), the council declared that “he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God” (John 19:7).
We should also note that the title “Lord” (Greek kurios, used of Jesus almost 500 times) was a title of deity when applied to Jesus in the context of Jewish piety. Most Jews in Jesus’s day were familiar with the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, known as the Septuagint. In the original Hebrew God’s divine name of “Yahweh” was used over 6,000 times; and in most manuscripts of the Greek translation, the title “Lord” (kurios) is used to represent “Yahweh.” Thus any Jew who knew his OT in its Septuagint form would have associated this title kurios immediately with Yahweh, the one true God. There is no way the Apostle Paul and other NT writers (who show familiarity with the Septuagint) could have applied this title to Christ without in their minds identifying him with Yahweh.
II. JESUS PERFORMED DIVINE WORKS.
In the New Testament Jesus (especially in his transcendent divine nature) is described as performing works that only God has the power and prerogative to do. These include the original creation of all things (John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2) and the work of providence (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3). Salvation, too, is a divine work; and the NT represents Jesus above all as the Savior of the world. This includes his authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10), which is a prerogative of God alone (Mark 2:7). That Jesus has been involved in the works of creation, providence, and salvation establishes his divinity.
III. JESUS IS CALLED GOD.
The fact that the New Testament on several occasions specifically refers to Jesus as God is strong evidence of his divine nature. John 1:1 declares, “In the beginning was the Word [the Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This person of the Trinity became Jesus (John 1:14).
After his resurrection Jesus is addressed by the Apostle Thomas as “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Jesus did not rebuke him for this great confession, and commends all those who would come to share this conviction (v. 29). In 1 John 5:20 Jesus is called “the true God and eternal life.”
In Romans 9:5 the Apostle Paul says the Jews were privileged to be the ones “from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” This is the only translation that makes sense in the context. Also, in Titus 2:13 Paul says, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” I.e., Christ Jesus IS “our great God and Savior.” This language is similar to 2 Peter 1:1, which refers to “the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 1:8 says that this statement in Psalm. 45:6 applies to Jesus: “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”
IV. JESUS IS EQUAL WITH GOD.
Often in the New Testament Jesus is described in ways that make him equal with God. E.g., in the Great Commission in Matt. 28:19 we are commanded to baptize sinners (literally) “into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Not “names of,” but the (one) name of.” In Bible times the NAME of a person represented the person as such—his qualities, character, and very nature. Here, the singular “name” indicates that the three persons of the Trinity share the same qualities, nature, and authority.
In John 5:23 Jesus says that the Father has given all judgment to the Son, “so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” The word “even as” (kathos) indicates that the Son is to receive equal honor with the Father.
In Galatians 1:1 Paul separates Jesus from the category of mere mankind and puts him on a level equal with God the Father. He declares that he was appointed to be an apostle “not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father.” In Philippians 2:6 Paul declares that Jesus in his pre-incarnate identity simply as the Logos “existed in the form of God” and “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” I.e., he did not have to grasp after equality with God because it was inalienably his by nature, and he did not have to jealously cling to it because he could never lose it. Colossians 2:9 simply states, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” We could not ask for a clearer affirmation of Christ’s deity.
We should also note that the book of Revelation over and over coordinates the work of the Father and the work of the Lamb in their heavenly glory. E.g., God and the Lamb have one throne (22:1, 3). The day of judgment is the great day of “their wrath” (6:17). Both are described with the language of eternity. In 1:8 God the Father says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, . . . who is and who was and who is to come (also 1:4; 4:8; 10:6; 15:7; 21:6). Then in 22:13 Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (also 1:17; 2:8). Thus the Father and the Son share the same eternal nature which belongs to God alone.
V. JESUS IS WORSHIPED.
Significantly, the divine nature of Jesus is seen in the New Testament in the many places where he is worshiped in the same way as the Father is worshiped. It is clear that neither men (Acts 10:25-26) nor angels (Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9) may rightly receive worship. Yet Jesus asks us to honor him even as we honor the Father (John 5:23), and he received the sincere worship of Thomas (John 20:28). Philippians 2:10-11 says that those who worship the Son bring glory to the Father.
The climactic teaching of the divine nature of Jesus is found in the book of Revelation, where all the heavenly hosts are seen as giving explicit worship to the Lamb (5:8-11). They say, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (5:12). Then follows the most irrefutable evidence of the deity of Christ in all Scripture, as “every created thing” (a category in which Christ is NOT included) offers worship to the Father and the Lamb identically: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (5:13).
VI. JESUS IS IDENTIFIED WITH YAHWEH.
Finally, in the NT several OT texts that speak of Yahweh are cited as referring specifically to Jesus, thus identifying Yahweh as the Trinity and Jesus as the Logos incarnate. E.g., both Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1 speak of a messenger (John the Baptist) who will prepare the way for Yahweh, but the NT texts show that the latter is Jesus. Hebrews 1:10-12 quotes Psalm 102:25-27 as referring to Jesus. Especially significant is Joel 2:32, which says that “whoever calls on the name of the LORD [Yahweh] will be saved. The NT quotes this passage twice and refers it to Christ: Acts 2:21, 36; Rom. 10:9, 13.
We conclude that the Biblical testimony to the divine nature of Jesus abundant, clear, and conclusive. JESUS IS GOD!
[NOTE: Most of this material is from my book, The Faith Once for All, 233-241.]