The idea that Jesus Christ is God is foundational to Christianity. However, how can it be proven that Jesus Christ is God? The only way we can come to this conclusion is mainly from the witnesses who knew and wrote about Jesus Christ.
The fact that we even have proof that Jesus Christ existed comes from the witness of people writing about him, including sources outside the bible like Josephus and Tacitus. Wikipedia Article: Sources for the Historicity of Jesus
Therefore, we can examine what is written about him in order to come to a conclusion of what these people believed, those who knew Jesus Christ. Beyond what these people wrote, we can also examine the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) to see if there is any mention of God existing in the form of a human or if the descriptions of God and Jesus Christ ever overlap.
In the gospel of John, there are several quotes of Jesus Christ where it appears he is bluntly claiming to be God. Such verses include:
The reason why this first statement in John 8:58 is considered to be Jesus claiming to be God is because of what is recorded in Exodus 3:14, where, "God said to Moses, 'I am who I am.' He said further, 'Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'I am has sent me to you.''"
God calls himself "I am," just as Jesus calls himself in John 8:58.
While John 10:30 may not seem obvious to some people, that Jesus Christ is saying that he is God, in John 14:9 Jesus is very clear, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father."
However, there are some who think that
Jesus was not intending to claim to be God, and that these verses are
We have to consider that John wrote this gospel about Jesus Christ, which means that what he believes matters. As the author of the gospel, he has complete control over what he writes.
This means that what he chose to include in his gospel supports his own understanding of who Jesus Christ is. After all, the point of writing anything is to communicate to someone else an understanding of a topic: in this case, the topic is understanding who Jesus Christ is.
In John 1, John writes about Jesus
Christ, saying, "the Word was God." (John 1:1) "And
the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his
glory..." (John 1:14) John is not writing to be cryptic; he is writing to be understood.
Since John makes it clear that he believed that Jesus Christ is God, we can know that what John chooses to write about Jesus will only support this view. As follows, as John writes, those who listened to Jesus Christ make these statements about his divinity understood him to be saying that he was God:
"They picked up stones to throw at him..." (John 8:59; also John 10:31)
"The Jews answered, 'It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.'" (John 10:33)
However, there are still some who believe that John is not claiming that Jesus Christ is God, and that he is just being misunderstood. The only problem with this argument is that if John did not want to claim that Jesus Christ is God, then certainly he would have made an effort to make it clear that he was not trying to say so.
On the contrary, if John was not wanting to claim that Jesus Christ is God, then he made some major mistakes by writing "the word was God...and the word became flesh..." as well as the quotes of "I am" and the fact that the Jews wanted to stone him because "you...are making yourself God," as well as the fact that Thomas is recorded as saying: "Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (John 20:28)
Additional verses in John that indicate Jesus is God:
Nevertheless, still there are some people who insist that neither John nor Jesus claimed that he is God.
Even if the evidence in the gospel of John were not sufficient to make the claim that Jesus Christ is God, we can examine additional evidence from other witnesses in order to see what they believed about Jesus Christ.
The majority of the New Testament Letters are written by Paul, which makes him a major source of theology. However, Peter also mentions the significance of Jesus Christ in his letters too, as does the author of Hebrews.
To begin, the authors of the New Testament letters appear to use the 'Spirit of God' and the 'Spirit of Christ' interchangeably, some examples including:
The Spirit of God (Romans 8:11) and the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11) are both said to dwell in believers. Yet there is only one Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4)
Jesus Christ is also called "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15) and "the exact imprint of God's very being" (Hebrews 1:3) and it is said about him that "in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell..." (Colossians 1:19), as well as "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." (Colossians 2:9)
Paul also explains in Philippians 2:6-7 that Jesus Christ, "though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness."
However, there are still those who would claim that these authors do not intend to say that Jesus Christ is God.
If these authors (Paul, Peter, etc.) did not want anyone to think that they claimed that Jesus Christ is God, certainly they would have made that point clear. Blasphemy was a big deal to the Jews; people were stoned for blaspheming as seen when Jesus claimed to be God (John 8:59; John 10:31), so certainly if they did not intend to make this claim, then they would clarify what they mean.
It is true that Jesus Christ is also called the firstborn of creation (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:6; etc.), but this phrase says nothing about Jesus being created, and is more likely just a reference to his sovereignty over creation.
However, even if the evidence in the gospels and in the New Testament letters were not enough alone to support that Jesus Christ is God, we can examine the Old Testament to see if anything is said about God being in a human-form.
In the Old Testament, in Ezekiel 1:26-28, it is recorded, "upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it...This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah." (Ezekiel 1:26-28 ASV)
When Ezekiel describes this scene, he explains that all he is seeing, including the man upon the throne, is the very image of God.
However, a better description of a God-man is the prophesy of the birth of a king who is called God:
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." (Isaiah 9:6-7)
This child who is born is called "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father," which means this king is God in the form of man.
For more information on the connection between the God-man in scripture and Jesus Christ, visit the page on the Messiah of God.
Another way we can determine if Jesus Christ is God is to examine the descriptions of God compared to the descriptions made about Jesus Christ. Wherever these descriptions overlap, especially when they can only be used to describe God, indicates that God and Jesus Christ are one being.
God is SAVIOR | Jesus Christ is SAVIOR
"Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:10-11)
"While we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:13)
"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
God is CREATOR | Jesus Christ is CREATOR
"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth." (Isaiah 44:24)
"All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being." (John 1:3)
"For in [Jesus] all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him." (Colossians 1:16)
God is FIRST and LAST | Jesus Christ is FIRST and LAST
"Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." (Isaiah 44:6)
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8)
"When I saw [Jesus], I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, 'Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.'" (Revelation 1:17-18)
"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life." (Revelation 2:8)
God FORGIVES SINS | Jesus Christ FORGIVES SINS
"I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." (Isaiah 43:25)
"Why does [Jesus] speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mark 2:7; also Luke 5:21)
"Then he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?'" (Luke 7:48-49)
Clearly the Old Testament depicts God in the form of a man, and clearly the authors of the New Testament believed that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. There are also many descriptions that can only be used to describe God that are used to describe Jesus Christ.
As further proof that Jesus Christ is God, in Matthew 1:23 it is said that Jesus will be referred to as God with us. "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us." (Matthew 1:23)
In Matthew 13:41, Jesus calls the kingdom of God his kingdom, saying, "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers..."
Jesus also makes a blunt statement about who he is in Matthew 24:35, by saying, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35)
Ultimately those who would choose to not believe that Jesus Christ is God will do so despite the evidence they are provided, even though there is plenty of evidence in scripture to support that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. The reality is that people have the tendency to believe what they want to believe, instead of allowing the evidence to reveal the truth to them.
John says "the Word was God...and the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory..." (John 1:1,14)
Paul says Jesus Christ is "the
image of the invisible God..." (Colossians 1:15) Paul also says, "though he was in the form of God..." (Philippians 2:6)
The author of Hebrews says Jesus Christ is "the exact imprint of God's very being..." (Hebrews 1:3)
Jesus Christ says, "Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:58) As God claims in Exodus 3:14. Jesus also says, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9)
And it is prophesied in the Old Testament the birth of a king who "is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
Finally, God is described as the only Savior, only Creator, the First and Last, and the only one who forgives sins, yet all these descriptions are used to describe Jesus Christ.
These authors are not trying to be cryptic. They write to communicate; they write to be understood. Based on the scriptural evidence, Jesus Christ is God.