Issues and Answers: Did the Lord Jesus Christ Claim to be God?

Various “pseudo-Christian” groups, cults, and religions question the truth that Christ is God and seem to be adept at stating their case. While we may admire their zeal, their belief systems are not founded on biblical truth. Anticipating such opposition, the Gospel of John was written “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31). Consider these passages from John’s Gospel:

John 8:24, 28, 58
In each of these three verses the Lord Jesus Christ claims the divine title “I AM” as His own. First given to answer Moses’ question about what God’s Name is (Exo. 3:14), the Lord Jesus here claims it for Himself. The Jewish leaders who heard Him certainly understood what He was saying, as their immediate response demonstrates (8:59).

John 13:19
In the upper room, our Lord was preparing the disciples for life after He had returned to Heaven. He gave them details of what would happen in the next twenty-four hours, as well as in the weeks, months, and years ahead. He explained that He was telling them these things now, so that when these events came to pass, they would understand and believe His claim to be the eternal “I AM.”

John 18:6
Later that night, as He was betrayed in the garden, we hear Him once again uttering the words “I AM” in relation to Himself. As the soldiers arrived, He stepped forward, answering their query about His identity with this title, which at once sent them sprawling to the ground.

John 5:19-23
On the surface, it may appear to some that the Lord Jesus was not claiming deity here, as He said He could do nothing of Himself apart from the Father. However, He goes on to define His statement by reminding them that everything He did and said was in complete harmony with the Father, something which no mortal could ever claim. He continues by stating that all should honor Him as they honored the Father, which is only plausible if He and the Father are equally God.

John 10:28-33
When the Lord Jesus claimed oneness with God the Father (v. 30), the words He chose indicated much more than being united in purpose. He was saying that He and His Father were also of the same nature. Speaking of the word translated “One,” Greek authority Marvin Vincent states that it ”implies unity of essence, not merely of will or of power.”1 The Jews present understood exactly what He was claiming, as both their reaction (v. 31) and their explanation for it (v. 33) demonstrates.

John 14:7-9
When Philip asked the Lord Jesus to show them the Father, and they would be satisfied, His reply says all we need to know. He claimed that since they had seen Him, they had seen the Father. There was neither deception nor delusion in His claim to be co-equal with God.

John 17:5
The Lord God stated several times that He would not share His glory with another, yet here we find the Lord Jesus Christ speaking of a glory which He shared with the Father, prior to the establishment of this earth. That glory was as rightfully His as it was the Father’s, because they are co-equal.

John’s purpose for his Gospel account was to establish the Sonship of Christ, which was known and understood by the religious elite of that day to be a claim of equality with God. Though they did not believe Him, they correctly understood that He was claiming to be God. Like them, doctrinal systems today which deny the deity of Christ are heresy and do not lead to eternal life (1 John 4:15; 5:11-13).

1Marvin R Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament Vol. 2 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), p.197