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Jesus Specifically Said, “I am God”

Jesus Specifically Said, I am God
Image Credit: Franck Denis from Pexels

As a skeptic, I was willing to accept a “nice guy” version of Jesus. You know, the wise sage from the past who was misunderstood and mythicized into something divine by leaders of a movement who were either mistaken or deceptive. Jesus might have been a nice guy and a great teacher, but did he ever really claim to be God? I had atheist friends who knew more about the Gospels than I did, and they said that Jesus never claimed to be God in any of the New Testament accounts. Once I began to examine the Gospels for myself, I discovered my friends were wrong; Jesus did say specifically that He was God. Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus didn’t use those exact words. But His listeners sure understood what He meant.

When God first appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses was adept enough to ask God for His name. And God gave Moses an interesting reply:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“ (Exodus 3:14)

For generations following this interaction between God and Moses, the Israelites revered the name of God (“I AM”) as a precious title that was not to be slandered or given to anyone or anything other than God himself. Then along came Jesus. The Gospel of John tells us that on a day when the Pharisees were questioning the power, authority and teaching of Jesus, they actually accused Him of being demon possessed. Look at how He responded:

“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:49-58)

Did you catch that? Jesus made two remarkable statements. First, he claimed to be eternal and to have existed before Abraham! But more importantly, Jesus called himself by the ancient title ascribed only to God Himself, “I AM”. The Pharisees knew exactly what Jesus meant by this. From their perspective, Jesus said specifically, “I am God”. How do we know this was their interpretations of His words? We know it from their reaction. They responded by attempting to stone Jesus for claiming to be God (an act of blasphemy they considered worthy of death):

At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:59)

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When Jesus took on God’s holy title as his own, He was stating the modern equivalent of “I am God”. He did this repeatedly over the course of his ministry (see Mark 14:62, John 18:5-6, John 8:24 and John 8:28). So while you may not find the expression “I am God” in the Gospels, you’ll certainly find the ancient equivalent. It’s no wonder that the Jewish religious leadership would eventually want Him executed. When I discovered these statements in the Gospels, I had to reconsider my simplistic view of Jesus as a “nice guy” or “good teacher”. What kind of teacher could Jesus have been if He was teaching a lie? Jesus’ clear statements related to His Deity forced me to reconsider Jesus and what He taught, because He did specifically say that He was God.

For more information about the reliability of the New Testament gospels and the case for Christianity, please read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This book teaches readers ten principles of cold-case investigations and applies these strategies to investigate the claims of the gospel authors. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Cold-Case Christianity DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

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Written By

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker and best-selling author. He continues to consult on cold-case investigations while serving as a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is also an Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and a faculty member at Summit Ministries. He holds a BA in Design (from CSULB), an MA in Architecture (from UCLA), and an MA in Theological Studies (from Gateway Seminary).

26 Comments

26 Comments

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  15. Allan Ashurst

    November 28, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Which language did he say “I am” in, Hebrew , Aramaic or Greek?
    If it was Hebrew, it was no wonder that in the garden the Temple Guards staggered backwards and fell to the ground when he said “I am”.

    • Essa

      April 16, 2022 at 3:50 pm

      Morning Wallace,
      firstly great analysis. It has been a while since I’ve seen westerns put brain to the book; sadly the bible isn’t a source an elementary student can deem as reliable. Hold on and let me explain before you think I’m devoted to change you from a leftist group, I know that god exists and probably so do you. My question is do you think god will leave us astray and in confusion about what is right ? The scientific mistakes and contradictions of the bible are enormous, can the one who has created us in such shape, formation, and perfection be categorized as imperfect ? Once you start searching for god’s words find the scripture with no scientific error or contradiction. What is the only one that exists today ? The Qur’an unchanged for 1400 years as discovered by Birmingham University, that was not a muslim preacher, but a western university that claims that the book is unchanged word for word. I invite you to search on Youtube and watch the discoveries the Qur’an has shown us; you’ll also see what Jesus said to god but this time the actual true version of it. Not 100 authors, but one, our creator.

      https://youtu.be/c2ovILc_sKY

  16. Michael W Wentz

    September 12, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Christ was before abraham christ was is apart of the trinity but the trinity has a head the father and christ said to the man who said good teacher what must I do to enter heaven . He said first off only God is good. Setting a distinction between the father and the son and showing reverence for the father he then said sell everything,change your way and follow me. Jesus is glorified and being the son of God and accepting his fate as saviour he also conquered death and paid for a specific sin making a way for all mankind but will they accept the challenge. It is better to be silent than to put doubt in the hearts of humans. God’s salvation is a gift and will not be taken by force but it must be received with humility and lacking judgment like a little child.

    • Bret R.

      October 24, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      I really appreciated your comments about this because I do believe that although Jesus came from 100% God and was with him in the beginning and to all things of creation they were by Jesus hands with God being the master architect. And it’s so weird for me to still not understand why Christianity says that Jesus says he is God. And I’m wondering if you have a church/ Pastor that you listen to that adheres to the comments you made and in the spirit of it? Thank you.

    • Micahel Ski

      December 10, 2021 at 6:42 am

      Michael, I appreciate your comment and input about Jesus. But you missed the context of what Jesus was teaching the rich young ruler when he called Jesus good. Jesus wasn’t making a distinction between himself and the Father but was asking this man if he believed he was God.

      As you’ll see from the story Jesus’ purpose in telling him to obey the law was not to inherit eternal life but to show him that he was a sinner in need of a savior. This is evident in this man’s life when he tries to justify himself by saying that he followed the entire law but asked who his neighbor was that he needed to love.

      This question brought about the story of the good Samaritan which taught him that he needed to love those that he was at odds with. This type of love can only come from God doing a change within a person’s heart.

      At the end of the conversation we find that Jesus told this man to sell all that he has and follow Christ in order to have treasure in heaven. This action could only come if he believed that Jesus was the Messiah and God robed in the flesh. The Bible says this man had great wealth and we can see by his decision that this is where his trusted lied.
      The sacrifice that Jesus was asking for had nothing to do with him going to heaven, but it would have shown the faith that was in his heart. As the Scriptures say “the just shall live by faith.” Salvation can only come through believing in Jesus Christ, humbling asking his forgiveness for our sins, and accepting him only as the sufficient payment for all of them.

      I can tell that you are spiritually minded and focused on God but religion and tradition has a way of making the clear teachings of the Scriptures cloudy. I pray that you place your complete trust in Jesus and add nothing to him for your salvation.

  17. Jacoo Joulhajian

    October 14, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    We are all GODS we are part of the light force, Jesus he figured it out, we have to also GOD is a spirit and that spirit is in all of us, we are strong all together if we only know our superpowers, if we know who we really are we have to wake up before its too late

    • Bible reader

      August 18, 2022 at 7:11 am

      There is nothing in the Bible even remotely close to this idea other than the serpent telling Adam and Eve that they too can be as God. That’s the same recycled line the serpent has always used to pull people away from God. “You too are a god, heck let’s all be god” it literally contradicts what God said. God is the 1 true living God. Never does it say, “you’re a god, and you’re a god, we’re all gods” that’s literally anti-Christ.

  18. James S.

    December 4, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Greetings,

    I respectfully disagree with your findings. Yahshua as you call Jesus did not call themselves God. You say Jesus called himself by the ancient title ascribed only to God Himself, “I AM”. However, that is a Greek word that simply means “exist”. In other words, Yahshua was simply saying that he existed before Abraham. Interesting enough, most of us don’t read anything above (in context). Everything in that chapter is directed at Yahweh our God. From John 8:16 through John 8:42 Yahshua refers to Yahweh as his father who sent him. He [Yahshua] also tells us that the father bears witness of him, he speaks the things that he has heard of his father (John 8:26), Yahshua tells them [Jews] that he does nothing of himself but only as his father tells him to speak these things (John 8:28), Yahshua tells us that Yahweh has not left him alone (John 8:29), the Jews were seeking to kill him even though he told them the truth which he heard from Yahweh (John 8:40) and then Yahshua told them that he came from Yahweh; meaning he was sent by Yahweh (John 8:82).

    All of this discourse should have made people aware that Yahshua was not calling himself Yahweh or God as most say. In John 8:54 Yahshua tells us that Yahweh honors him. So by the time we get to John 8:58. Just before that we should realize that Yahshua said “John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” as he was talking to the Jews. Then in John 8:57 is where they said you’re not yet 50 years old and how have you seen Abraham? Yahshua in John 8:58 tells the Jews that before Abraham was he existed. In other words, this refers to time and does not refer to Yahshua claiming he is a God or was Yahweh.

    It would make no sense reading everything above and then coming out with the conclusion that Yahshua said he was God. Everywhere, Yahshua calls Yahweh his father God and says that Yahweh has sent him.

    Furthermore, if we actually read Exodus 3:13 through Exodus 3:14. We should realize that “I AM THAT I AM” was not Yahweh’s name. This more refers to his power in all things. When we read further in context (Exodus 3:15) we see that God answers Moses question and tells him what to say to the children of Israel who will asked what his name is. Now, hopefully everyone knows that the word “LORD” in the Old Testament hides the actual name of God. The word “The” in “The LORD” was added. So, Exodus 3:15 “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” So, in all that we see Yahweh basically tells them that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and having the name Yahweh. His name was hidden in Scripture over time but as the Israelites went through their captivity they had forgotten his name; Jeremiah 23:27-29.

    • Linda

      February 25, 2022 at 4:04 am

      Thank you. I totally agree.

  19. Troy

    February 4, 2022 at 10:16 am

    Yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him. However, not everyone has this knowledge. — 1Cor. 8:6+

  20. russ

    March 29, 2022 at 11:20 am

    Unfortunately the Trinity is proven false by none other than Jesus himself. I set out to do an experiment on what in the words of Jesus constituted proof of the Trinity and evidence otherwise. I started with Matthew. I was so overwhelmed by the sayings of Jesus which depict God as either another entity, in another place, or communing with Jesus himself. Over 100 verses in the Gospels, spoken by Jesus himself refute the Trinity. That only includes what he says directly about God. Turn the argument around. If I was the Trinitarian and could only present you with 2 or 3 verses by Jesus that can be stretched to support the Trinity. Then, you showed me a 100 plus verses of Jesus’ words to show me the Trinity is false, honestly would you not think I was choosing to be blind on the matter.

    • Bible Reader

      August 18, 2022 at 7:21 am

      I’m happy to see other people are coming to this same conclusion. Nowhere does it give us a reason to put the Holy Spirit in a 3 headed trinity with God and Jesus, and you have to stretch 1 or 2 single verses to even make the argument that Jesus was God. He sits at the right hand of the Father. If he’s God that literally makes no sense. And why would he spend so much time in prayer if he was God himself. He constantly talked about following God’s plan for him. It makes no sense to call him God, when he was constantly telling us he was here as a representative. I think Jesus is our Lord, our mediator, our savior. But I can’t find anything to make sense of putting him in place of God, when that goes against everything God said in the Torah and OT.

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