The vast majority of people in the world today, and in the overall sweep of human history, believe in “god.” Atheism—the belief that God doesn’t exist—is but a blip on the radar screen of human experience. But there is significant debate about who this “god” is.
If we add up all the Christians, Jews, and Muslims, a little over half the world’s population believes there is only one God (what we call monotheism), but not every monotheist is alike. Christians believe that God exists in three equal and eternal Persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—who are at the same time only one God. We call this Christian doctrine of the “tri-unity” of God’s nature, the Trinity.
Belief in a Triune God is what makes Christianity’s monotheism unique. We didn’t make this belief up. It’s how the Bible describes God from beginning to end. This revelation of God as three persons in one being culminates at the coming of Jesus. It continues to be made clear at the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), with the coming of the Holy Spirit.
But many people ask, Where does the Bible say that Jesus is God? There are both implicit and explicit places in the Bible that claim Jesus is God. Let’s explore those places here.
Jesus Is the Logos
We should first establish that “Jesus” refers to the man born of the virgin Mary 2000 years ago (Luke 1:34-35). The second Person of the Godhead, the Son, has always existed. The New Testament refers to him in the Greek as the “Logos,” which we translate into English as “Word.” The Logos became the man, Jesus. We call this the incarnation: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14 ESV).
The Logos Is the Creator
In writing about Jesus Christ, the Apostle John says, “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God” (John 1:1 NIV). “In the beginning” purposefully echoes the Bible’s first words in Genesis, and John’s reason is simple. The Logos, in the book of John, is the same Creator we meet in the book of Genesis. That’s why John then writes, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (v. 3 NIV).
The Bible teaches that the Son of God, Jesus, is also the Creator. Not only is this clear in John’s writing, but also in Paul’s writing (Colossians 1:16) and in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 1:2).
The Logos Is an Eternal Being
Unfortunately, some people teach that the Logos was created by God the Father—which is to say, he hasn’t always existed. But the Bible makes it clear that the Son has existed alongside the Father for all eternity. This is why John says the Word can be both with God and can be God (John 1:1).
Elsewhere, John records the Son’s words: “I am the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:17; 22:13 NKJV). God says precisely the same thing in the Old Testament: “I am the First and I am the Last; besides me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6 NKJV). This is also why it can be said that the Son has an everlasting throne and dominion (Daniel 7:14; Hebrews 1:8).
Lastly, when God says, “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself” (Isaiah 44:24 ESV) and the New Testament says that the Son created all things, we conclude that the Son is indeed God. This is why the Father, in speaking to the Son, can say, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8 NIV).
Jesus Is the “I am”
Clearly, the Apostles believed that the man, Jesus of Nazareth, was the eternal Son of God. The biblical writers take passages in the Old Testament that clearly refer to the One who revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) and attribute those passages to Jesus. This would be a shocking, idolatrous move if Jesus weren’t truly God in the flesh.
Here are three examples where New Testament authors say Jesus is “I am.” Note that in English Bible translations, “lord” in all capitals letters signifies that the underlying Hebrew word being translated is the special name for God that he revealed to Moses—Yahweh or Jehovah—meaning “I am”:
- John the Baptist prepares the “way of the lord,” namely, Jesus (Mark 1:1-3 and Isaiah 40:3)
- At Pentecost (Acts 2:25), Peter quotes Psalm 16:8 in reference to Jesus
- In quoting Isaiah 45:23-24, Paul says that every knee will bow to Jesus (Philippians 2:10-11)
In fact, Jesus designates himself as the “I am.” When he did, the Jews wanted to stone him because they knew that Jesus was equating himself to God (John 8:52-59).
Jesus Is Worshiped
Praying to Jesus, singing hymns and songs to him, and worshiping him would also be idolatrous activities if Jesus were merely a creation of the Father. But because he is God in his very nature, it is right to worship him.
We read in the Bible how the disciples did just that after Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 28:9; John 20:28). Jesus never refused their worship. We also read in Hebrews that the Father commands his angels to worship Jesus (Hebrews 1:6). The only being worthy of worship is God himself. That is why every knee will bow to Jesus (Philippians 2:10-11).
Jesus Forgives Sins
The Bible teaches that all sin is committed against God. At the same time, God is merciful and graciously forgives sin against him (Exodus 34:6-7). The only person able to forgive our sins is God (Mark 2:7).
Yet we read that Jesus forgives sins (Mark 2:5). This is yet another proof from God’s Word that Jesus is God.
Jesus Shares Attributes with God
Finally, the Bible indicates that Jesus is God when it ascribes similar characteristics to both God and Jesus. These characteristics listed below are limited to God only, yet they are ascribed to Jesus too. Thus, it follows that Jesus must be God. These include:
- He does not change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8)
- He has a Name above all names (Psalm 83:18; Philippians 2:9)
- He fills heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24; Ephesians 4:10)
Why Does It Matter If Jesus Is God?
Why do Christians cling so tightly to this biblical teaching that Jesus is God? Because Jesus’ identity is central to what he claims to have done for us. Jesus must be God for God’s offer of salvation to be valid.
God says, “Besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11 ESV). If the Son were merely a creature, he could not be our Savior. But the Bible teaches that God the Son became the man Jesus Christ in order to save us from sin, death, and the devil because he loves us. Jesus is the eternal Logos, the Creator of heaven and earth—yet also the only Savior who willingly laid down his life for the forgiveness of our sins.
What a wonderful God!
If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior or aren’t sure about the things we have shown you here, pray to him and ask him to reveal himself to you. Then, pick up the Bible and open to John’s Gospel, which is written “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31 NIV).