Jesus' divinity from 3 synoptic texts


#1

I’m reading “The Case for Jesus”, a book by Brant Pitre. He points out three events recorded in the synoptic gospels that show Jesus’ divinity.

The Stilling of the Storm
Jesus didn’t just perform any miracle here. The OT emphasizes that God’s power is manifested by controlling the wind and sea.
Job 26
11 The pillars of heaven tremble
and are astounded at his rebuke.
12 By his power he stilled the sea;
by his understanding he shattered Rahab.

Psalm 104
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
2 covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
4 he makes his messengers winds,
his ministers a flaming fire.
5 He set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be moved.
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.

Psalm 106
8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry,
and he led them through the deep as through a desert.

Psalm 107
23 Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.

Mitre writes:

The Walking on Water
Here Jesus says, “I am”, which could simply be a way of identifying himself to his disciples, but it is also God’s name. Walking on water appears to be a theophany, as it’s a display of God’s power over creation similar to the burning bush in Exodus, when God revealed himself as “I AM”. Most Bibe’s translate Jesus’s words in Mark 6:50 as “It is I” (or something like that) but the literal translation is “I am”.

In Matthew’s account, the disciples worshiped Jesus after they witnessed him walking on water.

Matthew 14
33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

The transfiguration
Why were Moses and Elijah with Jesus, and not, say, Abraham and Isaac, or David and Job? Pitre thinks it has to do with the fact that neither Moses nor Elijah was able to see God’s face.

Exodus

  • 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”*

1 Kings 19
*9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” *

Pitre:


#2

There’s a ton more than these in the Synoptics, but yep these point that way, too. :slight_smile:


#3

Even tho I believe in the divinity of Jesus(tho not as co-equal to the Father), these “proofs” are disputed by those who do not in fairly simple and rational ways.

Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and earth is given to me by my Father".

If all authority in heaven and earth is given to Jesus as the uniquely begotten son, it is the what has bestowed upon Him that is the source of His command of the elements, because He has been given authority over everything.

Paul said, “For so it pleased the Father to make all fulness to dwell in Him…”

As to whether it was “made to dwell in Him” from birth, or whther it was made to dwell in Him at the ascension to the Father’s right hand is debatable.

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man **attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him **in your midst, just as you yourselves know…

Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear…

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Acts 2:22 - 36

All of these things were done by God for or through Jesus in these verses.

John the Baptist said,

“For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. 35“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand."

The divinity of Jesus is verified(imo) more by His activity in creation-

“All things were made through Him” Jn 1

“He is before all things” Col 1

But even the verses that testify to His acts in creation bear witness that God was acting in and through Him in all these things…

"God, who at many times and in various manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

4Being made so much better than the angels, as he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

and Jesus Himself testified to the same…

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Jn 14:10

I am not trying to be argumentative, but I am trying to show that our presumptions and our existing paradigm/foundation influences the way we read verses and the directions in which they point us. We testify as if there is a single obvious conclusion to be drawn, when that is simply not the case, and rational people of good conscience may draw a different conclusion from the same data.

But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. 1 Cor 15

I believe Jesus’ divinity was as the divine seed, as the scripture says, “in the beginning was the word(the incorruptible seed, spoken out of God) and the word was God(substance and nature, the radiance of the Father’s glory) and the word was with God(positioned in the bosom of the Father) in the beginning.”

In God, of the same substance of God, born/spoken/sent out of God as a Son, having never been co-equal to God and never becoming co-equal to God other than as an inheritor reigning as the “fulness of Deity in bodily form”. But that is just what I read from the verses to date… an opinion of something seen through a glass darkly.


#4

Hi Eaglesway. I don’t think the verses you quoted preclude Jesus from being God.

Another text Pitre brings up is the rich young man who asks Jesus what to do to obtain eternal life. Typically this verse is cited in attempt to disprove Jesus’ divinity, but in a subtle way it might be teaching just the opposite. First, notice that right after saying only the one true God is good, Jesus does not deny that he himself is good. Second, in addition to telling the man to sell everything and give to the poor, Jesus tells the man “follow me”. Pitre:


#5

From “What is essential to the gospel, according to Luke?” at trinities.org/blog/what-is-essen … ke-part-2/ :

Our (the Jews’s) god, the god, God, has raised Jesus from the dead, proving that he (God) really was with him (Jesus). Notably, he twice characterizes Jesus as God’s servant. But that’s what the obedient Messiah of the gospels obviously is. And now he’s a prophet like Moses, who must be obeyed. Sure, the Messiah is a prophet, though a unique one, to put it mildly.

Peter doesn’t sound much like a contemporary Jesus-is-God-apologist, does he? Some of them would probably accuse him of sounding like a Muslim!

It is striking that he calls Jesus “the Author of life.” Eternal life, I assume. He’s the one who can tell you how to get it. (Luke 10:25-28) Jesus as the source of our eternal life is certainly a much bigger theme in John. Not because he’s God, of course, but rather because God has empowered him to be a source of eternal life. “For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself…” (John 5:26) Jesus has been made the “Author” (other translators suggest instead “Originator,” “Founder,” “Founding Leader,” “Source,” or “Prince”) of life.

What you must do, again, is repent, to turn away from your sin and towards God, of course accepting Jesus as God’s Messiah. This will result in your being forgiven.

Great message! This is what all true Christians preach and believe. And it’s very simple. Again, in can be summarized as: Jesus is God’s Messiah. Which, coincidentally, is the thesis statement of each of the four NT gospels. (Matthew 16:16, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20, John 20:31) This first-century apostolic crowd, they have a single core message, despite their different emphases, styles, and so on. Here, you’ve just seen Peter preaching that message twice, c. 30 A.D.

Zero mentions, so far, of the tripersonal God, Jesus as God-in-the-flesh, or of his “two natures.” Is Peter incompetent to preach the gospel? Or is he just what he sounds like here, a unitarian Christian who holds to a “mere man” understanding of the man Jesus, or more positively, a “Spirit Christology.” Peter seems to think that Jesus didn’t do miracles, or rise up from the dead because he’s divine. Rather, God has empowered Jesus by his spirit, working miraculous deeds through he, to testify to him.

For Luke, and if you trust his summary, for Peter, Jesus isn’t God. Instead, he’s God’s special servant, a prophet, but more than that, a Messiah, with the astounding job description above. Peter (or Luke) says he’s a man, and does not anxiously clarify that he’s also divine, so not a “mere” man. They don’t seem to thing that there’s anything “mere” about this man who’s been exalted to the right hand of the Almighty."

edit: but then, we’ve been all over this before, so I will follow Steve’s advice and just state it, and move on.


#6

First… if one is going to argue for Jesus being God, something NOT automatically the same as being divine, though often in evangelicalism assumed as being the same, then one would be better off appealing to other texts or arguments than trying to establish an argument from silence i.e., “Jesus does not deny that he himself is good.

God is good…
Jesus is good…
Therefore Jesus is God

God alone forgives sins…
Jesus forgives sins…
Therefore Jesus is God.

Jesus forgives sins (implied—divinity)
Jesus commissioned the disciples to forgive sins (Jn 20:23)
Therefore the disciples are divine (implied—divinity Jn 10:34)

The fruit of simplistic rationale is error.
Second… “In a first-century Jewish context” it would NOT have been so shocking for a Jewish master/rabbi to have disciples i.e., followers, at all. So the injunction “follow me” would be of little offense let alone “shocking”.


#7

Thank you, Eaglesway, for that choice selection of verses you quoted! They are powerful indeed in showing that Jesus was always subject to the Father and always will be, and that Jesus is not co-equal with the Father. He said, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). As the Son of God, He is fully divine, and of the same essence as the Father.

There are three different understandings of what it means to say that Jesus (who is the Logos of John 1:1) is God.

  1. God is a compound Being—a Trinity. Jesus is one of the three members of the Trinitarian God, and therefore He, and the Father and the Holy Spirit are each God. (Trinitarianism)

  2. God is a single Unique Individual who manifests Himself in three forms, like an actor who wears various masks in a play, depending on who he represents. One of God’s names is “Jesus”. (Modalism)

  3. The Father begat Jesus as the first of his acts, before all ages. Just as the offspring of man is also man, because that offspring is human, so the only-begotten Son is God because He is divine. In this context “God” refers to the divine essence. (early Christian)

The clause “Jesus is God” has a different meaning in each of these understandings.
The third was the understanding of the second-century Christians. Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165) compared the begetting of the Son to lighting a smaller fire from a larger one. The smaller fire is distinct from the larger, and yet is of the same essence. Justin also indicated in his Dialogue with Trypho, that the Son could properly be called “God.” I believe Justin meant that in the sense of #3 above.

This comes out in John 1:1. First John affirms that the Logos was with God. In that clause “God” is preceded by the article and could be translated as “The God.” It refers to the Father whom Jesus addressed as “the only true God” in John 17:3. Then John says that the Logos was God. In that clause, there is no article before “God.” On this basis the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, renders the clause as “The word was a god.” This would be correct if the words were in natural order in Greek. But they are not.

In Greek, the words are in this order, “God was the Logos.” In this order, by placing “God” immediately BEFORE the verb it is indicated that “God” is the kind of thing that the Logos was. In other words, “God” was the essence of the Logos. This is much the same as saying that the Logos was divine.

A similar Greek construction is found in the phase “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16). The word order is “The God love is.” By placing “love” immediately BEFORE the verb, it is indicated that “love” is the essence of the God.

One more example: “Your word is reality.” (John 17:17). This sentence was spoken by Jesus, addressed to God.
The word order is “Your word reality is.” By placing “reality” immediately before the verb, it is indicated that reality is the essence of God’s word.
(Note: “αληθια” can mean either “truth” or “reality” which is not surprising since a true word is a word about reality.)

Martin Luther, whatever else he was, has a good grasp of Hellenistic Greek. Concerning the clause “The Logos was God” in John 1:1, he put it very succinctly:

Sabellianism was the ancient form of Modalism. It was believed by Luther that Arianism held that Jesus was created by God (as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim today).

In conclusion: just as “man” or “humanity” is the essence of any one of us who are descended from the first man, so “God” or “Deity” is the essence of the only-begotten Son of God. Man begets man; God begets God.


#8

IF this above is what Justin meant i.e., that… “The Father begat Jesus as the first of his acts…” THEN Justin got it wrong; IF that’s what he actually meant.

Being “begotten” as referring to Christ speaks to His appointment by the Father as Son by means of the resurrection.

Being begotten i.e., made or appointed a firstborn speaks to the superiority or pre-eminence of Christ above and before all else…

Again this above… Christ as David’s offspring secured VIA RESURRECTION in consequence of His faithful obedience to the Father the status of begotten i.e., appointment as SON; it’s that simple.


#9

Here is the Acts 13 verse in context:

Notice that the fact that God raised Him from the dead is AN ADDITIONAL FACT subsequent and apart from the fact of his having been begotten. By having begotten Jesus as his first act, God had raised up One who would fulfill that promise which He had made to the fathers. That “raising” does not refer to Jesus’ resurrection but to God’s having raised up his only-begotten Son to engage in a wonderful work here on earth. A similar idea is expressed in Luke 2:34—

As for the Romans 1 verse:

The word “declared” isn’t exactly a good translation of ὁριζω (“horizō” from which we get the English word “horizon”). It would better be translated as “determined”; it means" to establish the boundaries of." It is the resurrection of the dead that determined or proved that Jesus was the Son of God.

By the way, Davo, it was not only Justin Martyr that “got it wrong” but virtually all the early Christian writers proclaimed the begetting of the Son as the first of God’s acts. From the second century right into the fourth, it was proclaimed that the Son of God was “begotten before all ages.” The phrase was even part of the original Nicene Creed, and was accepted even by the first Trinitarians in A.D. 325 (although later Trinitarians changed the phrase in the revised Nicene Creed to “eternally begotten”).


#10

That’s double-dutch Don. Jesus’ resurrection WASN’T AN ADDITIONAL FACT, but rather… verse 34 simply reiterates the same truth of the preceding verses 33 & 30 i.e., the raising of Jesus, of which Paul DIRECTLY LINKS with “being begotten” — THAT’S what begotten is linked with; read it again.

I agree this is not totally unjustifiable, and yet your point is better made by simply referring back to Acts 13:23 for an example of just this; BUT Paul further develops this in verses 30-34. Verses 23 & 30 use the words <ἤγαγεν> ēganen from <ἄγω> agōto lead by laying hold of, and this way to bring to the point of destination — which is what God did in Christ ON BEHALF OF Israel’s redemption. Verse 30 uses the word <ἤγειρεν> ēgeiren from <ἐγείρω> egeirōto arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life — which again is what God did in Christ ON BEHALF OF Israel’s redemption. Both words are thereby LINKED to Jesus’ “raising up” < ἀναστήσας> anastasēsas from <ἀνίστημι> avistēmi of verse 33, i.e., his resurrection. Thus verse 33 is NOT some additional fact BUT all part of the same account of Jesus’ begetting by the Father, according to the resurrection from the dead, with power.

This is an unnecessary splitting of hairs as… declaredappointed” “publicly identified as” “powerfully demonstrated to be” “he was proved to be” “established as” “designated” equates to determined as is made plain by comparing all these translations HERE. “Declared” simply highlights the fact that Jesus’ resurrection DECLARED Jesus’ Sonship, i.e., that He carried the status of begotten of the Father — “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

I guess MY query of you Don is… is your begetting of the Son as the first of God’s acts THE SAME AS Justin’s (and others’) “begotten before all ages”? Are they saying the same thing as you, that Jesus was the first of God’s acts? You’re good with quotes, do you have one or two that are saying what YOU are saying?


#11

Davo, if you don’t think Jesus is without beginning, when do you think he began to exist?


#12

Like everyone… when he was born.


#13

I agree with that. My thinking currently along these lines:

"WHAT DOES “THE WORD BECAME FLESH” MEAN?
J.A.T. Robinson explains John 1:14:
What I believe John is saying is that the Word, which was God in his self-revelation
and expression, was embodied totally in and as a human being, became a person, was
personalized not just personified. But that the Logos came into existence or expression
as a person does not mean that it was a person before. In terms of the later
distinction, it was not that the Logos was hypostatic (a person or hypostasis ) and then
assumed an impersonal human nature, but that the Logos was anhypostatic until the
Word of God finally came to self-expression not merely in nature and in a people but in
an individual historic person, and thus became hypostatic.
The Priority of John, pp. 380-381.
So rather than being a sentient person “the word” in John 1:1 was the complete index of God’s
mind in action. So when John 1:1 speaks of “the word” it was not at that time “the Son” until
John 1:14 when “the word became flesh.” - from a long article at christianmonotheism.com/medi … OLOGUE.pdf

If in this verse: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” we try to explain it by this:

“In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with the Father, and Jesus was the Father” , we end up with a statement none of us believe.


#14

That’s NOT like everyone. The vast majority of Christians believe the Son has always existed with the Father and Holy Spirit.


#15

No qaz, you asked… “when do you think he began to exist?” my answer was, like everyone, when we’re born. :open_mouth:


#16

I seem to have misread you davo. When you said “like everyone”, I interpreted that as “like every Christian believes”.


#17

All good :sunglasses:


#18

So Davo, if the Son of God began to exist when he was born, then what’s the big deal in differentiating between his having been begotten “before all ages” versus “the first of God’s acts”? You seem to believe he was begotten 9 months before his birth, which is neither “before all ages” or “the first of God’s acts.”


#19

HI Don -

What do you think of the ‘revised’ John 1:1?

If in this verse: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” we try to explain it by this:

“In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with the Father, and Jesus was the Father” , we end up with a statement none of us believe.

Of course, that is not what the original verse actually says, but it does draw attention the fact that, if we are equating the pre-existent Word with Jesus, we do run into problems, I think. Jesus is not the Father.

Easier, I think, to understand the Word as being the FAther’s (God) complete statement of His desires and character and wisdom, and that Word, that expression, being shown through the man Jesus Christ, who came into being at His birth, as do the rest of his brothers and sisters.


#20

Nah Don, you also are missing my point. My answer to qaz’s question… “when do you think he began to exist?” was simply to say Jesus was a man who started life as every other man i.e., by birth. I’m not quibbling over the likes of conception/gestation/delivery/first breath etc, but simply He was a man (1Tim 2:5).

But anyway… can you furnish us with an example of your expression “the first of God’s acts” used by those you have referred to?