Post Author: Bill Pratt
Continuing from part 1, there are additional lines of evidence showing that Jesus’s disciples thought he was God. Again, this material is excerpted from theologian Norman Geisler’s book, Systematic Theology, Volume 2.
Picking up where we left off, the third line of evidence is that the disciples attributed the powers of God to Jesus.
According to Geisler:
There are some things only God can do, but these very things are attributed to Jesus by His disciples. He is said to be able to raise the dead (John 5:21; 11:38–44) and forgive sins (Acts 5:31; 13:38). Moreover, He is said to have been the primary agent in the creating of the universe (John 1:2–3; Col. 1:16) and in sustaining its existence (Col. 1:17). Surely only God can be said to be the Creator of all things, and the disciples claim this power for Jesus.
Fourth, the disciples associated Jesus’ name with God’s.
How did this happen in the New Testament? Here are some examples:
Often in prayers or benedictions, Jesus’ name is used alongside God’s, as in “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2). The name of Jesus appears with equal status to God’s in the so-called trinitarian formulas: For example, the command to go and baptize “in the name [singular] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Again this association is made at the end of 2 Corinthians: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (13:14). If there is only one God, then these three persons must by nature be equated.
Fifth and finally, the disciples called Jesus God.
Geisler catalogues examples from the apostles John and Paul, and the writer of Hebrews. All three call Jesus God in multiple ways.
First, the apostle John:
Thomas saw His wounds and cried, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). The prologue to John’s gospel also minces no words, stating, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God” (John 1:1).
Paul and the writer of Hebrews provide several more examples:
Paul wrote, “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!” (Rom. 9:5). He calls Jesus the one in whom “all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). In Titus, Jesus is “our great God and Savior” (2:13), and the writer to the Hebrews says of Him, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever” (Heb. 1:8). Paul says that before Christ existed in the “form of a servant,” which clearly refers to being really human, He existed in the “form of God” (Phil. 2:5–8 NKJV). The parallel phrases suggest that if Jesus was fully human, then He was also fully God. A similar term, “the image of the invisible God,” is used in Colossians 1:15 to mean the manifestation of God Himself. This description is strengthened in Hebrews, where it says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Heb. 1:3).
Geisler summarizes all of the evidence nicely:
In summary, there is manifold testimony from Jesus Himself and from those who knew Him best that Jesus claimed to be God and that His followers believed this to be the case. They claim of the carpenter of Nazareth these unique titles, powers, prerogatives, and activities that apply only to God. There is no reasonable doubt that this is what they believed and what Jesus thought of Himself according to the New Testament.