Post Author: Bill Pratt
There are at least six ways that Jesus claimed to be God. First, Jesus Claimed to Be Yahweh, or the God of the Old Testament. I will draw heavily from Norman Geisler’s Volume 2 of his Systematic Theology series, so when you see quotes, that is where they are from.
So how did Jesus claim to be Yahweh? First, let’s look at the background of the Old Testament usage of “Yahweh.”
Yahweh (YHWH) or Jehovah is the special name given by God for Himself in the Old Testament. It is the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, when God said, “I am who I am.” While other titles for God may be used of men (adonai [Lord] in Genesis 18:12) or false gods (elohim[gods] in Deuteronomy 6:14), Yahweh is only used to refer to the one true God. No other person or thing was to be worshiped or served (Ex. 20:5), and His name and glory were not to be given to another. Isaiah wrote, “Thus saith Jehovah … I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6 ASV), and, “I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory I will not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images” (42:8 ASV).
So, the name of God in the Old Testament was exclusive to him. He did not share it with anyone else. How, then, did Jesus refer to himself?
Jesus prayed, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:5—this is an obvious claim for Christ’s deity, for Jehovah of the Old Testament said, “My glory will I not give to another” [Isa. 42:8 NKJV]).
Jesus also declared, “I am the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17)—precisely the words used by Jehovah in Isaiah 44:6.
He said, “I am the good shepherd,” (John 10:11), and the Old Testament said, “Jehovah is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1 ASV).
Further, Jesus claimed to be the judge of all men (John 5:27ff.; Matt. 25:31ff.), and Joel quotes Jehovah as saying, “There I will sit to judge all the nations on every side” (Joel 3:12).
Likewise, Jesus spoke of Himself as the “bridegroom” (Matt. 25:1f.) while the Old Testament identifies Jehovah in this way (Isa. 62:5; Hosea 2:16).
While the psalmist declares, “Jehovah is my light” (Ps. 27:1 asv), Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
Perhaps the strongest claim Jesus made to be Jehovah is in John 8:58, where He says, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” This statement claims not only existence before Abraham, but equality with the “I am” of Exodus 3:14. The Jews around Him clearly understood His meaning and picked up stones to kill Him for blaspheming (cf. John 10:31–33). The same claim is also made in Mark 14:62 and John 18:5–6.
Again and again and again, Jesus compared himself to Yahweh, the one and only God of Israel. If we stopped here, this would be strong evidence that Jesus thought of himself as God, but we are only through the first of six sets of evidence. Stay tuned for more!!