"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Sixteen OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To understand the basis and purpose underlying the collection taken on the first day of the week 2) To note the love accompanying the writing of this epistle which is filled with so much correction of error SUMMARY In this final chapter, Paul discusses one last subject before making his concluding remarks. It concerns the collection for the saints, for which Paul gives instructions as to the manner in which the funds are to be gathered and then sent to Jerusalem (1-4). He then writes briefly of his plans to see them and makes a few comments concerning Timothy and Apollos (5-12). His final exhortations, greetings and solemn warning are marked with a tone of love: the need to love one another, a warning to love the Lord, and a declaration of his love for them (13-24). OUTLINE I. THE COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS (1-4) A. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING TAKING UP THE COLLECTION (1-2) 1. The same as those given the churches of Galatia (1) 2. To be gathered each first day of the week, people giving as they have been prospered, to avoid last minute collections (2) B. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING SENDING THE COLLECTION (3-4) 1. To be sent along with an approved representative of the church of Corinth (3) 2. If deemed appropriate, Paul will join them in going to Jerusalem (4) II. PERSONAL PLANS AND RELATED COMMENTS (5-12) A. PAUL'S PLANS (5-9) 1. To see them after passing through Macedonia (5-7) 2. To remain in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a door of opportunity has been opened for him (8-9) B. CONCERNING TIMOTHY (10-11) 1. Allow him to come without fear (10) 2. Do not despise him, but send him to Paul in peace (11) C. CONCERNING APOLLOS (12) 1. Though urged by Paul, he chose not to go to Corinth at the present time (12a) 2. But he will at a more convenient time (12b) III. CONCLUDING EXHORTATIONS, GREETINGS, AND A SOLEMN FAREWELL (13-24) A. FINAL EXHORTATIONS (13-18) 1. Exhortation to steadfastness and love (13-14) 2. Exhortation to submit to the household of Stephanus and others like them, who refresh the spirits of those who know them (15-18) B. GREETINGS (19-21) 1. From the churches of Asia, Aquila and Priscilla, and others (19-20a) 2. Greet one another with a holy kiss (20b) 3. Paul's own personal salutation in his own handwriting (21) C. A SOLEMN FAREWELL (22-24) 1. A grave warning about not loving the Lord Jesus , with a plea for His coming (22) 2. A prayer for grace and an expression of love for those in Christ Jesus (23) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - The Collection For The Saints (1-4) - Personal Plans And Related Comments (5-12) - Concluding Exhortations, Greetings, And A Solemn Farewell (13-24) 2) What was the purpose of the collection? (1) - For the needy saints in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26) 3) When was the collection to be taken? (2) - On the first day of the week 4) What was the purpose of doing it this way? (2) - To avoid a last minute collection 5) What principle concerning giving is taught in verse two? - To give as one may prosper 6) When did Paul plan to go to Corinth? (5-8) - After staying in Ephesus till Pentecost, and then after passing through Macedonia 7) Who would likely see them in the meantime? (10-11) - Timothy 8) What noble comments are made concerning Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (15-18) - They devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints - They refreshed the spirits of Paul and those at Corinth 9) What husband and wife team joined Paul in greeting the church at Corinth? (19) - Aquila and Priscilla 10) What grave warning does Paul give in this chapter? (22) - If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus, let him be accursed 11) What earnest wish does Paul express in this chapter? (22) - That the Lord might come 12) How does Paul close this epistle which is filled with so much rebuke for the error that existed in the church at Corinth? (24) - My love be with you all in Christ Jesus
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Fifteen OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To see how the resurrection of Jesus is the basis of our faith 2) To determine why we believe that Jesus was indeed raised from the dead 3) To notice the sequence of events which will occur at the end of time as presented in this chapter 4) To understand what is revealed about our own future resurrection from the dead SUMMARY In this chapter Paul deals with problems the Corinthians were having concerning the resurrection of the dead. Evidently there were teachers at Corinth claiming there would be no resurrection. Paul answers this false doctrine by reminding them of the gospel which they received and which proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1-11). He then proceeds to verify the resurrection with several different lines of argumentation (12-34). The last half of the chapter is devoted to answering anticipated questions concerning how the dead will be raised and with what body will they come (35-58). OUTLINE I. THE RESURRECTION: PROCLAIMED IN THE GOSPEL (1-11) A. THE GOSPEL IN RELATION TO THE CORINTHIANS (1-2) 1. Paul proclaimed it and they received it (1) 2. By it they are saved, if they hold fast to it (2) B. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GOSPEL (3-8) 1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (3) 2. He was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (4) 3. He was seen by many eyewitnesses (5-7) 4. He was seen by Paul himself, who by the grace of God was able to preach the gospel (8-10) 5. Such was the gospel preached, and the Corinthians had believed it (11) II. THE RESURRECTION: VERIFIED BY THE APOSTLE PAUL (12-34) A. CONSEQUENCES IF THERE IS NO RESURRECTION (12-19) 1. Christ is not risen from the dead (12-13) 2. The apostles' preaching and the Corinthians' faith is vain (14) 3. The apostles are false witnesses (15-16) 4. They are still in their sins (17) 5. Those who have died in Christ have perished (18) 6. Those who hope in Christ are the most pitiable of all men (19) B. CHRIST'S RESURRECTION AND OUR RESURRECTION (20-28) 1. Christ is the "firstfruits" (20) 2. As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive (21-22) 3. A brief description as to when this will occur (23-28) a. At the coming of Christ (23) b. This will be the end, when Christ delivers the kingdom to God (24-28) 1) When He has put an end to all rule, authority and power (24) 2) For Christ must reign till God has put all enemies under His feet (25) 3) The last enemy being death itself (26) 4) When all is made subject to Christ, the Son will also be subject to Him Who put all things under Him (27-28) C. ADDITIONAL ARGUMENTS FOR THE RESURRECTION, WITH A WARNING (29-34) 1. Why are some being baptized for the dead if there is no resurrection? (29) 2. Why do the apostles and others suffer harsh persecution if there is no resurrection? (30-32) 3. Beware of evil influence and those who do not have the knowledge of God (33-34) III. THE RESURRECTION: DESCRIBED BY PAUL (35-58) A. IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: "WITH WHAT BODY DO THEY COME?" (35-49) 1. It will be different from the one sown, just as the plant is different from the seed (35-38) 2. Illustrations of the different types of bodies in the physical world (39-41) 3. Thus the resurrected body will be different from the physical body, though it is the same as the one sown (42-49) a. The weak, dishonorable, corruptible body will be raised in incorruption, glory and power (42-43) b. The natural body, patterned after the first Adam, will be raised a spiritual body patterned after the Last Adam (44-46) c. Those who have borne the image of the man of dust from the earth, will one day bear the image of the Man of heaven (47-49) B. IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: "HOW ARE THE DEAD RAISED UP" (50-58) 1. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption (50) 2. The mystery of the resurrection as revealed by Paul (51-57) a. All shall be changed, whether dead or alive (51) b. It will occur in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet (52) c. The corruptible, mortal man will put on incorruption and immortality, and we will be victorious over death through Jesus Christ our Lord (53-57) 3. A final exhortation to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (58) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - The Resurrection: Proclaimed In The Gospel (1-11) - The Resurrection: Verified By Paul (12-34) - The Resurrection: Described By Paul (35-58) 2) What are some of the key elements of the gospel? (1-8) - Christ died for our sins - Christ was buried and raised the third day - Christ was seen by eyewitnesses 3) What type of proof is offered for the resurrection of Jesus? (5-8) - Eyewitness testimony by numerous witnesses 4) If Christ was not raised from the dead, what would it mean? (14-19) - The preaching of the apostles and our faith is vain - The apostles are false witnesses - We are still in our sins - Those who died in Christ have perished - We who hope in Christ are to be pitied 5) What will happen when Christ comes again? (23-26, 51-53) - The resurrection from the dead - The kingdom delivered to God the Father 6) What does Paul refer to when he speaks of "baptism for the dead"? (29) - Of the many different explanations that have been offered, the one making most sense to me is that Paul is speaking of the inconsistency of those who deny the resurrection while at the same time practicing a form of "vicarious baptism". Notice that Paul refers to "they" who were doing this, not "we" (i.e., the apostles). Paul in this passage is neither openly condemning or justifying the practice. He simply uses the practice of others to demonstrate the inconsistency of such practice when denying the resurrection of the dead. Whether we should practice such a rite as "baptism for the dead" today must be determined from passages elsewhere. All we find elsewhere concerning baptism is that it requires faith and repentance of the one being baptized. This would preclude the practice of "vicarious baptism."
The Quran: the Sun Sets in a Mud Puddle?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The Quran contains a considerable amount of uninspired folklore from Jewish (and other) sources. It also occasionally incorporates elements of mythology and fairytale in its pages. In a surah that Muslim sources identify as one in which Muhammad answered questions designed by Jewish rabbis to challenge his prophethood (Pickthall, n.d., pp. 211-212), the Quran relates the story of Dhu‘l-Qarneyn—“The Two-Horned One.” In conveying the story, the Quran gives credence to the outrageous superstition that the Sun sets in a mud puddle:
They will ask thee of Dhu’l-Qarneyn. Say: I shall recite unto you a remembrance of him. Lo! We made him strong in the land and gave him unto every thing a road. And he followed a road till, when he reached the setting‑place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout: We said: O Dhu’l‑Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness. He said: As for him who doeth wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, who will punish him with awful punishment! But as for him who believeth and doeth right, good will be his reward, and We shall speak unto him a mild command. Then he followed a road till, when he reached the rising‑place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom. So (it was). And We knew all concerning him (Surah 18:84-92, emp. added).
Observe that the Quran’s account is not worded in such a way as to be allowable on the basis of accommodative or phenomenal language—even as we speak of the Sun setting or rising. The inclusion of the location of the Sun’s setting—a muddy spring—places the account squarely into the realm of myth.
The same mistake is made earlier in the same surah (vss. 10-27) when the Quran lends credibility to the legend of the “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus” (see Campbell, 2002; Gilchrist, 1986). The legends (which predate the Quran) spoke of seven (the number varies) noble Christian youths who fled persecution during the reign of Decius the Emperor who died in A.D. 251. The youths took refuge in a cave near Ephesus, but then were sealed in to die. Instead, their lives were miraculously preserved by falling into a deep sleep that lasted for nearly 200 years, a sleep the Quran claims lasted 309 years (vs. 26). For the Quran to dignify such outlandish tales is to disprove its own inspiration.
Campbell, William (2002), The Quran and the Bible in the Light of History and Science, [On-line],URL: http://answering-islam.org.uk/Campbell/contents.html.
Gilchrist, John (1986), Muhammad and the Religion of Islam, [On-line], URL: http://answering-islam.org.uk/Gilchrist/Vol1/5c.html.
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
One of the most often-used weapons in the skeptic’s arsenal is to seize statements from religious people that make God look like a cruel despot waiting to cast any and everyone into a torturous lake of eternal fire. However, this frequently lands the skeptic in a less-than-defensible position when the actual text of the Bible is consulted. Consider the following paragraph from Ronald Defenbaugh, a self-avowed atheist:
One evening, a friend about the same age as us rode home with us from one of our children’s sporting events. This was the first time I realized I may have a real problem with believing. She was a good friend of my spouse’s, a member of our Church and very religious. I don’t remember how the subject came up but salvation was our subject of conversation. She stated that even though my father had been an honest, caring person who did nothing but good, he would not receive salvation. He could only go to Heaven if he accepted Christ as his Savior. I remember thinking that I wanted no part of a deity that sent my father to Hell under those circumstances. Why would a baby, or my father, or even me be sent to Hell just because we didn’t accept Christ as our Savior? What about the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists? Again, what about me? This started me thinking that I probably was without belief. Or at least I didn’t understand it. It didn’t fit my logic (2003, emp. added).
After hearing from his religious friend that his father would not be in heaven because of his failure to obey Jesus’ teachings, Mr. Defenbaugh quickly constructed a straw man by insinuating that the God of the Bible would have no problem sending babies to hell along with disobedient, reasonable adults.
Does the Bible teach that babies go to hell when they die? In order to answer this question, we must find a biblical example in which an infant died, and in which his or her eternal destination is recorded. To do such is not difficult. In 2 Samuel 12, King David’s newborn son fell terminally ill. After seven days, the child died. In verses 22 and 23, the Bible records that David said: “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” It is clear that David’s dead infant son would never return to this Earth, but David also said that one day, he would go to be with his son. Through inspiration, David documented that his own eternal destination was going to be “in the house of the Lord” (Psalm 23:6). Therefore, we can conclude that “the house of the Lord” would be the eternal destination of his infant son to whom David would one day go. King David was looking forward to the day when he would be able to meet his son in heaven. Absolutely nothing in this context gives any hint that the dead infant son’s soul would go to hell.
Furthermore, Jesus said in Matthew 18:3-5:
Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
And in Luke 18:16-17, Jesus remarked: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Therefore, we have been given a specific example in the Old Testament of an infant who died and would live forever in heaven. And Jesus Christ Himself, in the New Testament, stated that little children retain the qualities that make a person eligible to inherit the kingdom of God. We see, then, that infants and small children that die are in a safe state, and will live eternally in heaven.
With such clear statements from the Bible about the eternal destiny of dead infants and small children, why have religious people mistakenly taught that babies go to hell when they die? Due to the influential nature of John Calvin and his teachings, many people have taught that sin is “passed” from one generation to the next. It is believed by many religious people that children “inherit” the sins of their parents. Yet, the Bible pointedly and explicitly teaches that such is not the case. In Ezekiel 18:20, the Bible says: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.” Also, in Exodus 32, Moses pleaded with God to forgive the sins of the Israelites when he said: “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book’ ” (Exodus 32:32-33). The Bible is plain in its teaching that babies do not inherit the sins of their parents. [One commonly misapplied scripture used to teach that infants inherit sin is Psalm 51:5-6, which has been dealt with in detail by Wayne Jackson (2000).]
The Bible nowhere teaches that babies go to hell if they die in infancy. Neither does it teach that babies inherit the sins of their parents. Although many skeptics have tried to portray God as an evil tyrant Who condemns innocent children to eternal destruction, their arguments are without merit or any semblance of biblical credence. In the words of Jesus Christ, “Let the little children come to me.”
Defenbaugh, Ronald (2003), “Why I Couldn’t Deconvert,” [On-line], URL: http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=263. Jackson, Wayne (2000), “ ‘Original Sin’ and a Misapplied Passage,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/archives/originalSin.htm
Can God Do Everything?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Can God do everything?
Both Christians and atheists generally have assumed that if the God depicted in the Bible exists, He can do anything—since He is represented as being all-powerful. However, this assumption is incorrect. The Bible does not claim that the omnipotence of God implies that He can do anything and everything. In reality, “omnipotence” by definition does not, and cannot, apply to that which does not lend itself to power. Skeptics and atheists have posed queries that they feel nullify the notion of omnipotence, thereby demonstrating the nonexistence of God. For example, “Can God create a boulder so large that He, Himself, cannot lift it?”
Separate and apart from the fact that God is not, Himself, physical, and that He created the entire physical Universe, though He is metaphysical and transcendent of the Universe, the question is aconceptual absurdity. It’s like asking, “Can God create a round square or a four-sided triangle?” No, He cannot—but not for the reasons implied by the atheist: that He does not exist or that He is not omnipotent. Rather, it is because the question is, itself, self-contradictory and incoherent. It is nonsensical terminology. Rather than saying God cannot do such things, it would be more in harmony with reality to say that such things simply cannot be done at all. God is infinite in power, but power meaningfully relates only to what can be done, to what is possible of accomplishment—not to what isimpossible! It is absurd to speak of any power (even infinite power) being able to do what simplycannot be done. Logical absurdities do not lend themselves to being accomplished, and so, are not subject to power, not even to infinite power (see Warren, 1972, pp. 27ff.).
Further, to suggest that God is deficient or limited in power if He cannot create a rock so large that He cannot lift, is to imply that He could do so if He simply had more power. But this is false. Creating a rock that He, Himself, cannot lift, or creating a four-sided triangle, or making a ball that is at the same time both white all over and black all over, or creating a 90-year-old teenager, or making a car that is larger on the inside than it is on the outside—to propose such things is to affirm logical contradictions and absurdities. Such propositions do not really say anything at all. Though one can imagine logical absurdities that cannot be accomplished, they do not constitute a telling blow against the view that God is infinite in power.
So, no, the concept of “omnipotence” does not mean that there are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do. While God can do whatever is possible to be done, in reality, He will do only what is in harmony with His nature. In fact, the Bible pinpoints specific things that God cannot do. For example, the Bible states unequivocally that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; 2 Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2). He is a Being whose very essence entails truthfulness. Falsehood is completely out of harmony with His divine nature.
Another impossibility pertaining to God’s power is the fact that He shows no partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17; Romans 2:11; Colossians 3:25; 1 Peter 1:17). He is “open and above board”—evenhanded—with all His creatures. He can be counted on to interact with human beings as He said He would. His treatment of us centers on our own self-chosen behavior—not on our ethnicity or skin color (Acts 10:34-35; 1 Samuel 16:7).
A third instance that qualifies the meaning of “omnipotent” is seen in God’s inability to forgive the individual who will not repent and forsake sin (Joshua 24:19; Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 6:15; 18:35; Luke 13:3,5). As great and as magnificent as the mercy and forgiveness of God are, it is impossible for Him to bestow forgiveness upon the person who does not seek that forgiveness by meeting the pre-conditions of remission. God is literally powerless to bestow forgiveness through any other avenue than the blood of Jesus and obedience to the Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16; 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17; John 3:5).
The more one studies the Bible, examining the attributes and characteristics of the God depicted there, the more one is struck with (1) the inspiration of the Bible—since its skillful handling of such matters places it beyond the charge of successful contradiction, and (2) awe at the infinitude of God. Not one of the factors discussed in this article reflects adversely upon the reality of God’s omnipotence. But it is abundantly clear that a person may so live as to render the God of heaven incapable of coming to that person’s aid. It is imperative that every human being recognizes the need to understand His will and to conform one’s behavior to that will. It is imperative that every individual avoid placing self in the precarious position of being in need of that which God cannot do.
Warren, Thomas B. (1972), Have Atheists Proved There Is No God (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Chronology and the Bible's Arrangement
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Since the Bible begins at the Creation with Genesis—the book of beginnings—and ends with the book of Revelation (which many scholars believe was the last recorded book of the Bible), students of the Scriptures often assume that the Bible was compiled chronologically. Many students approach their reading of the Bible with the mindset that everything in Scripture is arranged “from A to Z.” Since Genesis records what took place at the beginning of time, and it is the first book of the Bible, then the rest of the Bible follows suit, right? Actually, what the diligent student eventually finds is that the Bible is not a book of strict chronology. All sixty-six books of the Bible are not arranged in the order in which they were written. Furthermore, all of the events contained within each book also are not recorded chronologically.
Consider the following arrangement of books in the Bible:
Although the books of Haggai and Zechariah have been placed near the end of the Old Testament, these men prophesied while the events in the book of Ezra were taking place (cf. Ezra 5:1; 6:14). Twenty books separate Haggai and Zechariah from the book of Ezra, yet the events recorded in each book were occurring at the same time. Obviously, these books are not arranged in chronological order.Even though 2 Chronicles appears before the book of Job, the events recorded in Job took place long before those that are recorded in 2 Chronicles. In fact, if the Bible were a book of strict chronology, the events recorded in Job likely would be placed somewhere within the book of Genesis, after Genesis 6 (since Job 22:15-16 is more than likely a reference to the Flood).In the New Testament, one might assume that since 1 Thessalonians comes after the book of Acts, that Luke penned Acts earlier than Paul penned his first letter to the church at Thessalonica. The truth is, however, 1 Thessalonians was written years before the book of Acts was completed.
In addition to the books of the Bible not being arranged chronologically, inspired writers did not always record information in a strictly chronological sequence. Making the assumption that the entire Bible was written chronologically hinders a proper understanding of the text. For example, Genesis 2:5-25 does not pick up where Genesis one left off; rather, it provides more detailed information about some of the events mentioned in the first chapter of the Bible. (Whereas Genesis 1 is arranged chronologically, Genesis 2 is organized topically.) The differences in the arrangement of the temptations of Jesus recorded by Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-13) are resolved when we realize that at least one of them is not reporting the facts in sequential order. Some also question whether Jesus cursed the tree before or after He cleansed the temple. Since Matthew records this event before the cursing of the fig tree (21:12-19), and since Mark places the cleansing of the temple after Jesus cursed the tree (11:15-19), it is supposed that one of the two writers was mistaken. The truth is, however, Matthew’s account is more of a summary, whereas Mark’s narrative is more detailed and orderly. Mark’s more specific account reveals that Jesus actually made two trips to the temple. Thus, as Albert Barnes noted: “Mark has stated the order more particularly, and has ‘divided’ what Matthew mentions together” (1997). Obviously, the gospel accounts were not arranged to be a strict chronology of Jesus’ life.
When studying with those who know very little about the Bible, it is helpful for them to understand the arrangement of Scriptures. By recognizing that many books of the Bible (as well as the events contained therein) are not in a sequential order, one will have fewer problems digesting Scripture.
Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Reasons to Believe in Jesus
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Wars often come and go. Battles are won and lost. Businesses are bought and sold. Nations rise and fall. Scientific discoveries are made on a daily basis. These and other pertinent events influence human history in a myriad of interesting ways. But none of them is as influential as a powerful personality. Real history is written in names: Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, Gandhi, Marx, Washington, Lincoln. After all, it is people who make wars, start businesses, forge new nations and cause their collapse. The events instigated by people are by-products of their personalities interacting with their surroundings, other people, and their ideas. In all of human history, one name, one Man, has risen to the top of every list of influential personalities—Jesus Christ.
Because of His influence, the life and teachings of Jesus have been more closely scrutinized than any life in human history. This scrutiny has resulted in a number of different reactions. Some have concluded that Jesus was a liar who deceived countless thousands of people in the time in which He lived, and billions since. Some have approached a study of His life with an attitude of skepticism, only to arrive on the other side of their spiritual and intellectual journey as firm believers in the deity of Christ. A number of people have chosen the middle ground, in which they acknowledge that Jesus was an amazing teacher and a good man, but they deny that He was the Son of God.
Though Jesus has been the most analyzed Person ever to walk the Earth, still the most common response to the life of Jesus is simply apathy. It seems the majority of the billions of people who have lived since the early first century have approached the Person of Jesus neither intently nor earnestly. They have given little attention to the details of His life. Sadly, if most people who have lived since the death of Jesus Christ were asked what they thought about Him, they would have to respond, “I don’t know. I’ve never really given Him much thought.”
What about you? Have you given the Person of Jesus serious thought? If not, we humbly ask you to look carefully at the evidence for Jesus’ divine nature. If you are a follower of Jesus and call yourself a Christian, do you know why? What do you say to others when they ask you why you call yourself after Jesus Christ and live according to His will? What proof can you offer that demonstrates Jesus was God incarnate?
TWO PRIMARY REASONS FOR UNBELIEF IN JESUS
People have rejected Jesus as the Heaven-sent, virgin-born, prophesied Messiah ever since He walked the Earth. Recall, for example, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry how He entered the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth and read publicly from the Old Testament book of Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; Hehas sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19, emp. added).
Following this reading, Jesus closed the book, sat down, and “began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (4:21). Though the Jews initially marveled and questioned how the promised Messiah could actually be the son of a carpenter in Nazareth, upon further hearing, they “rose up and thrust Him out of the city…that they might throw Him down over the cliff” (4:28). This encounter was only the beginning of instances in which countless individuals rejected Jesus. Though some would come to believe in Him, most did not.
The majority of people in the world today reject Jesus as Lord and God for two primary reasons. First, millions refuse to accept Jesus as God-incarnate because they reject the notion of God altogether. If God does not exist then Jesus never existed as “the Word…God” Who stepped out of eternity and “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14). It makes no sense to contend that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16, emp. added), if God is dead. If a supernatural, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, living spirit Being is merely a figment of the imagination of man, the first-century Jesus of Nazareth was delusional at best and a liar at worst. In considering this fundamental reason for the rejection of Jesus, Christians must prepare themselves to defend the primary proposition that “We believe Jesus is God-Incarnate, which is possible because we know God exists.” We are not suggesting using circular reasoning to defend the deity of Christ; rather we are acknowledging the basic fact that Christ could not be God, if God does not exist. Therefore, a person can ultimately come to the conclusion that Jesus is “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28) only if he first knows that God, indeed, exists. [NOTE: See our article titled “7 Reasons to Believe in God”(2014) for a discussion of why mankind can (and should) come to the logical conclusion that God exists. See also the “Existence of God” category at apologeticspress.org.]
Second, it would be futile to defend the supernatural nature of Jesus as depicted in the Bible without first recognizing the fact that many reject the Bible altogether as a supernatural revelation from God to man. Billions of non-Christians around the world may believe in some sort of god, but they still discount the Bible as being inspired by the Creator. Most unbelievers admit that Jesus of Nazareth lived, but they reject Jesus, the Christ, as He is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments. The fact is, however, if an all-knowing, all-powerful God exists (and there is ample proof that He does; cf. Romans 1:20), then such a God could easily inspire a book that would help mankind come to know “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31), “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). So what is the proof that the Bible is of supernatural origin? Why should an honest truth-seeker come to the conclusion that the Bible is the special revelation from the God of the Universe? In short, the main, overarching reason that the Bible can be demonstrated to be of divine origin is because the Bible writers were correct in everything they wrote—about the past, the present, and even the future—which is humanly impossible. [For more information on the inspiration of the Bible, see our article titled “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God” (2015). See also the “Inspiration of the Bible” category at apologeticspress.org.]
The two primary reasons for the rejection of Jesus as the Son of God are thus shown to be false. By taking these criticisms and turning them on their heads, they actually provide the first two foundational pillars for belief in Christ—(1) God exists and (2) the Bible is His Word. The next sensible question to ask is, “What evidence does the Bible give for the deity of Jesus?”
JESUS FULFILLED THE OLD TESTAMENT MESSIANIC PROPHECIES
While it is true that most people’s lives can only be chronicled after they have lived them, the life of Jesus was miraculously chronicled (by divine inspiration) long before He arrived on Earth. Such Messianic prophecies are proof of both the divine inspiration of the Bible as well as the divine nature of Jesus. The reason that Jesus, the apostles, and the New Testament prophets spent so much of their time teaching and preaching from the Old Testament Messianic prophecies is because Jesus was proven to be the Christ by His fulfillment of these prophecies (cf. Luke 24:25-26,44; Acts 8:30-39).
Jesus fulfilled in minute detail over 300 prophecies that relate to the coming of the Messiah. Space prohibits a listing of all of these prophecies, but a representative sampling is appropriate. The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea (Micah 5:2) of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; cf. Genesis 3:15—“her Seed”). He would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 49:10; Numbers 24:17). He was to be a regal monarch (Psalm 89:3-4; Isaiah 9:6-7; Psalm 110:1) and at the same time a suffering servant (Isaiah 53). He was to be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9) for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:13). The Lord’s Ruler would come into Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9). During His suffering, His clothes would be distributed to those who cast lots for them (Psalm 22:18). His attackers would pierce Him (Zechariah 12:10). Even though His physical suffering would be severe, His bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20). And in spite of His death, His physical body would not experience decay (Psalm 16:10). This small sampling of precise prophetic details is only a fraction of the many Old Testament prophecies that exist. The prophecies were specifically designed to be an efficient mechanism by which the Jewish community could recognize the Messiah when He arrived.
When all of the pieces of the Messianic puzzle are put together, one individual stands out as the only person who fulfilled every single prophecy in minute detail—Jesus Christ. The life and activities of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament documents brilliantly blend the theme of a regal monarch and a suffering servant into one magnificent portrait of the triumphant Jesus Who was the sacrificial Lamb at His death on the cross, and Who became the triumphant Lion of Judah in His resurrection from the grave. The lineage of Jesus Christ is meticulously traced in order to show that He qualified as the Seed of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Judah, and of David (Matthew 1; Luke 3:23-38). The narrative detailing His birth verifies that He was indeed born in Bethlehem of Judea, from which city the Messiah would arise (Luke 2:1-7). The birth narrative also intricately portrays the pre-existence of Jesus before time began, fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah existed before King David (Matthew 1:18-25; cf. 22:41-46; John 1:1-5,14). Furthermore, Jesus did, in fact, enter Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11).
The New Testament narratives depicting the death of Jesus Christ verify that Jesus was betrayed by His friend and sold for exactly 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 24:14-16). At His death His bones were not broken, soldiers cast lots for His garments, and His side was pierced with a spear (John 19:33-37; Matthew 27:35). During His suffering, He was numbered with the transgressors as Isaiah 53 predicted by being crucified between two thieves, and at His death He was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man as was also foretold (Matthew 27:57). This type of verification could continue for many pages. The life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, as depicted in the New Testament documents, was designed to fulfill the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
Due to this overwhelming congruence of the life of Jesus Christ with the predictive Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament, some have suggested that Jesus was an imposter who was able, by masterful manipulation, to so artificially organize His life as to make it look like He was the Messiah. Such a contention cannot be reasonably maintained in light of the fact that many of the prophecies were far beyond His control. Obviously, it would be impossible for a person to arrange who his ancestors were or where he would be born. Furthermore, it would be near impossible to coordinate events so that He could make sure that He was crucified among thieves, while also buried in the tomb of a rich man. How could the betrayal price of Judas be manipulated by Jesus? And how, pray tell, would Jesus have managed to arrange it so that soldiers cast lots for His clothing? The idea that Jesus manipulated all of these events to make it appear as if He was the Messiah not only is indefensible, but it also speaks to the fact that Jesus obviously was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies.
Others have objected to Jesus as the Messiah based on the idea that the New Testament documents are not reliable, and were artificially concocted to describe things that Jesus never really did. This objection also falls flat in light of the actual evidence. It cannot be denied that the New Testament has proven itself to be the most reliable book in ancient history (along with the books of the Old Testament). When it records people, places, and events that are checkable using archaeological means, those people, places, and events invariably prove to be factual and historic. Again, the abundant evidence verifies that the New Testament is accurate and factual. Many of the Messianic prophecies documented in the New Testament do not describe anything inherently miraculous. There was nothing miraculous about Jesus being buried in a rich man’s tomb. Nor was there anything miraculous about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, or being betrayed by His friend for 30 pieces of silver. These events are, if not ordinary, at least very plausible, everyday events that theoretically could have happened to anybody. And yet, due to the fact that such everyday events had been predicted about the Messiah hundreds of years before the arrivalof Jesus, the fulfillment of the events becomes one of the most amazing miracles recorded in the Bible. It is no wonder that Jesus, the apostles, and the early church used fulfilled Messianic prophecy as one of their foundational pillars of proof for the deity of Christ.
JESUS WORKED MIRACLES
In view of the fact that miracles have served as a confirmation of God’s revelation since time began (Exodus 4:1-9; 1 Kings 18:36-39; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4), it should be no surprise that “when the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4), and the promised Messiah, the Son of God, came to Earth for the purpose of saving the world from sin (Luke 19:10), that He would confirm His identity and message by performing miracles. Centuries before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah foretold of a time when “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…. [T]he lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (35:5-6). Although this language has a figurative element to it, it literally is true of the coming of the Messiah. When John the Baptizer heard about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus asking if He was “the Coming One” of Whom the prophets spoke. Jesus responded to John’s disciples by pointing to the people whom He had miraculously healed (thus fulfilling Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy), saying, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:4-5; cf. Mark 7:37). Jesus wanted them to know that He was doing exactly what “the Coming One” was supposed to do (cf. Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17), and what the Jews expected Him to do—perform miracles (John 7:31; cf. John 4:48; 1 Corinthians 1:22).
In a sense, Jesus’ miracles served a different purpose than those wrought by Moses, Elijah, or one of the New Testament apostles or prophets. Unlike all other miracle workers recorded in Scripture, Jesus actually claimed to be the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God, and His miracles were performed to prove both the truthfulness of His message and His divine nature. Whereas the apostles and prophets of the New Testament worked miracles to confirm their message that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus performed miracles to bear witness that He was, in fact, the Son of God. In response to a group of Jews who inquired about whether or not He was the Christ, Jesus replied,
I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me…. I and My Father are one.… If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him (John 10:25,30,37-38).
Similarly, on another occasion Jesus defended His deity, saying, “[T]he works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36). While on Earth, Jesus was “attested by God…with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him” (Acts 2:22, NASB). And, according to the apostle John, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31, emp. added). As would be expected from the One Who claimed to be God incarnate (cf. John 1:1-3,14; 10:30), Scripture records that Jesus performed miracles throughout His ministry in an effort to provide sufficient proof of His divine message andnature.
Jesus’ Signs Were Many and Varied
Mankind is expected to believe that Jesus is the Son of God not because He performed one or twomarvelous deeds during His lifetime. To the contrary, the Gospel accounts are saturated with a variety of miracles that Christ performed, not for wealth or political power, but that the world may be convinced that He was sent by the Father to bring salvation to mankind. As Isaiah prophesied, Jesus performed miracles of healing (Matthew 8:16-17). He cleansed a leper with the touch of His hand (Matthew 8:1-4) and healed all manner of sickness and disease with the word of His mouth (cf. John 4:46-54). One woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years was healed immediately simply by touching the fringe of His garment (Luke 8:43-48). Similarly, on one occasion after Jesus came into the land of Gennesaret, all who were sick in all of the surrounding region came to Him, “and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well” (Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 3:10). Generally speaking, “great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them” (Matthew 15:30, emp. added). “He cured many of infirmities, afflictions...and to many blind He gave sight” (Luke 7:21, emp. added). Even Jesus’ enemies confessed to His “many signs” (John 11:48).
Jesus not only exhibited power over the sick and afflicted, He also showed His superiority over nature more than once. Whereas God’s prophet Moses turned water into blood by striking water with his rod (Exodus 7:20), Jesus simply willed water into wine/grape juice (oinos) at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). He further exercised His power over the natural world by calming the Sea of Galilee during a turbulent storm (Matthew 8:23-27), by walking on water for a considerable distance to reach His disciples (Matthew 14:25-43), and by causing a fig tree to wither away at His command. Jesus’ supernatural superiority over the physical world (which He created—Colossians 1:16) is exactly what we would expect from One Who claimed to be the Son of God.
Jesus performed miracles that demonstrated His power even over death. Recall that when John the Baptizer’s disciples came to Jesus inquiring about His identity, Jesus instructed them to tell John that “the dead are raised” (Matthew 11:5). The widow of Nain’s son had already been declared dead and placed in a casket when Jesus touched the open coffin and told him to “arise.” Immediately, “he who was dead sat up and began to speak” (Luke 7:14-15). Lazarus had already been dead and buried for four days by the time Jesus raised him from the dead (John 11:1-44). Such a great demonstration of power over death caused “many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did” to believe in Him (John 11:45).
Jesus Rose from the Dead!
Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead was the climax of all of His miracles, and serves as perhaps the most convincing miracle of all. Indeed,Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4, emp. added). The New Testament book of Acts stresses the fact of Jesus’ resurrection almost to the point of redundancy. Acts 1:22, as one example, finds Peter and the other apostles choosing an apostle who was to “become a witness” of the resurrection of Christ. Then, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter insisted in his sermon to the multitude that had assembled to hear him that “God raised up” Jesus and thus loosed Him from the pangs of death (Acts 2:24). And to make sure that his audience understood that it was a physical resurrection, Peter stated specifically that Jesus’ “flesh did not see corruption” (Acts 2:31). His point was clear: Jesus had been physically raised from the dead and the apostles had witnessed the resurrected Christ. [Other passages in Acts which document that the central theme of the apostles’ preaching was the bodily resurrection of Christ include Acts 3:15; 3:26; 4:2,10,33; 5:30; 10:40-43; 13:30-37; 17:3,31-32.] Furthermore, the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 (especially verse 14) verifies that the preaching of the apostle Paul centered on the resurrection of Christ.
Jesus Worked Wonders that are Not Being Duplicated Today
What’s more, neither the modern alleged “faith healer” nor the 21st-century scientist is duplicating the miracles that Jesus worked while on Earth 2,000 years ago. Pseudo-wonder workers today stage seemingly endless events where willing participants with supposed sicknesses appear and act as if they are being healed of their diseases by the laying on of hands. Nebulous aches and pains and dubious illnesses that defy medical substantiation are supposedly cured by prominent “faith healers” who simultaneously are building financial empires with the funds they receive from gullible followers. Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, and a host of others have made many millions of dollars off of viewers who naively send them money without stopping to consider the real differences between the miracles that Jesus worked and what they observe these men do today.
Jesus went about “healing every sickness and every disease” (Matthew 9:35). His miraculous wonders knew no limitations. He could cure anything. Luke, the learned physician (Colossians 4:14), recorded how He could restore a shriveled hand in the midst of His enemies (Luke 6:6-10) and heal a severed ear with the touch of His hand (Luke 22:51). He healed “many” of their blindness (Luke 7:21), including one man who had been born blind (John 9:1-7). He even raised the dead simply by calling out to them (John 11:43). What modern-day “spiritualist,” magician, or scientist has come close to doing these sorts of things that defy natural explanations? Who is going into schools for the blind and giving children their sight? Who is going to funerals or graveyards to raise the dead? These are the kinds of miracles that Jesus worked—supernatural feats that testify to His identity as the Heaven-sent Savior of the world.
OTHER PROOFS OF JESUS’ DEITY
Jesus Never Sinned
When God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice the Passover Lamb, He explained that the animal must be without spot or blemish. The lamb could not be lame, have a disease, or be too old. Only a “perfect” sacrifice would be acceptable. As our Passover Lamb, Jesus provided the perfect sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7). His perfection was not outward in His flesh, but was the inward perfection of a sinless life. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, wrote that Christians have not been redeemed “with corruptible things, like silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). The Hebrews writer explains that Jesus was tempted in every point just as we are, yet Jesus remained “without sin” (4:15).
Though many of Jesus’ enemies who attacked Him while He was on Earth, and many who attack Him still today, have accused Jesus of sinning, they have failed miserably to give a single instance of wrong doing. Jesus’ bold and unanswered challenge continues to ring across the centuries: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46). The answer to that question for almost 2,000 years has been a resounding, “No one.” Every honest-hearted person who looks at the personality of Jesus, and compares it to his or her own, must admit that the Christ possesses a confidence in His own sinlessness that is beyond that of any mere human. While it may be true that cult leaders or other arrogant humans claim to be sinless, having never made a moral misstep, it is rather easy to show actions in their lives that prove them to be wrong. In fact, is it not the moral leaders who admit their own weaknesses who are the most admired? Yet, Jesus could not admit any moral failings, because He had none. He explained to His enemies, “Yet you have not known Him [God], but I know Him. And if I say ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word” (John 8:55). Jesus’ moral perfection speaks volumes about His divinity.
Jesus Forgave Sins
Suppose a man who murdered his neighbor had lived a guilt-ridden life for years. Finally, he decided to tell one of his friends what he had done so many years before. The friend listened carefully and said, “You are a murderer, but I forgive you, don’t worry any more about it.” What good would it do for the man’s friend to forgive him? For a person who was unrelated to the crime, and has no official authority to forgive the crime, means nothing. We understand that forgiveness can only be offered by a person who has been wronged, or who has the official authority to forgive others. That is why the fact that Jesus presumed to forgive sins is so amazing.
In Mark 2, we find the story of a paralyzed man who was lowered into a room in front of Jesus. Jesus looked at the man and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (Mark 2:5). Many of those within earshot of Jesus’ statement were appalled at His pronouncement. They demanded (byway of rhetorical question): “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7, emp. added). And they were right: no one but God can forgive sins, which was Jesus’ point. If He had the power to cause the paralyzed man to walk, He also had the power to forgive his sins. And if He had the power to forgive his sins, and no one can forgive sins but God, then Jesus must be God. The fact that Jesus demanded (and demonstrated) that He had the power personally to forgive any person of all sins, sets Him apart from any other character in human history.
Jesus Accepted Worship
The Bible reveals time and again that God alone is to be worshiped (Exodus 20:3-5; 2 Kings 17:34-36; Acts 14:8-18). The Bible also reveals that man must refrain from worshipping angels. When the apostle John fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who had revealed to him the message of Revelation, the angel responded, saying, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9, emp. added; cf. Revelation 19:10). Angels, idols, and humans are all unworthy of the reverent worship that is due only to God. As Jesus reminded Satan: “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10, emp. added).
Unlike good men and good angels who have always rejected worship from humanity, Jesus accepted worship. If worship is to be reserved only for God, and Jesus, the One “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), accepted worship, then the logical conclusion is that Jesus believed that He was Deity. Numerous times the Bible mentions that Jesus accepted worship from mankind. Matthew 14:33 indicates that those who saw Jesus walk on water “worshiped Him.” John 9:38 reveals that the blind man whom Jesus had healed, later confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God and “worshiped him.” After Mary Magdalene and the other women visited the empty tomb of Jesus, and the risen Christ appeared to them, “they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him” (Matthew 28:9). When Thomas first witnessed the resurrected Christ, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Later, when Jesus appeared to the apostles in Galilee, “they worshiped Him” on a mountain (Matthew 28:17). A few days after that, his disciples “worshiped Him” in Bethany (Luke 24:52). Time and again Jesus accepted the kind of praise from men that is due only to God. He never sought to correct His followers and redirect the worship away from Himself, as did the angel in Revelation or the apostle Paul in Acts 14. Nor did God strike Jesus with deadly worms for not redirecting the praise He received from men as He did Herod, who, when being hailed as a god, “did not give praise to God” (Acts 12:23).
Jesus once stated during His earthly ministry, “[A]ll should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23; cf. 5:18; 10:19-39). While on Earth, Jesus was honored on several occasions. His followers worshiped Him. They even worshiped Him after His ascension into heaven (Luke 24:52). Unlike good men and angels in Bible times who rejected worship, Jesus unhesitatingly received glory, honor, and praise from His creation. Truly, such worship is one of the powerful proofs of Jesus’ deity (cf. Revelation 5).
DID JESUS DENY HE WAS GOD?
In spite of all the evidence presented thus far, some have suggested that Jesus did not claim to be divine. They contend that He simply believed He was a prophet, but not the Messiah who was the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6). They rest their case on passages that, simply put, they have misinterpreted. Briefly notice the following two examples.
On one occasion, a wealthy young man ran to see Jesus and asked Him, “Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:17). According to the skeptical view, Jesus is denying that He is God. But a closer look at Jesus’ comment reveals just the opposite to be the case. Notice that Jesus never denies that He is the “good teacher.” He simply makes the comment that there is only one Who is truly good, and that is God. Thus, if the young man’s statement is true that Jesus is the “good teacher,” and there is only one Who is “good” and that is God, then Jesus must be God.
On another occasion, Jesus prayed to the Father: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Supposedly, by calling the Father, “the only true God,” Jesus excluded Himself from being Deity. There are at least two main problems with this interpretation of Jesus’ statement. First, it would contradict numerous other passages in the Gospel of John. In fact, the primary point of the book is to testify to Jesus’ deity. Second, the verse can be better understood in light of the fact that Jesus was not contrasting Himself with the Father; He was contrasting the many false, pagan gods with Jehovah, the only true God. Furthermore, if Jesus’ reference to the Father being “the only true God” somehow excludes Jesus from being Deity, then (to be consistent) Jesus also must be disqualified from being man’s Savior. Jehovah said: “Besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11; cf. Hosea 13:4; Jude 25). Yet, Paul and Peter referred to Jesus as our “Savior” several times in their inspired writings (Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 1:1,11; 2:20; etc.). Also, if Jesus is excluded from Godhood (based on a misinterpretation of John 17:3), then, pray tell, must God the Father be excluded from being man’s Lord? To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote that there is “one Lord” (4:4), and, according to Jude 4 “our only Owner and Lord” is “Jesus Christ.” Yet, in addition to Jesus being called Lord throughout the New Testament, so is God the Father (Matthew 11:25; Luke 1:32; Acts 1:25) and the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17). Obviously, when the Bible reveals that there is only one God, one Savior, one Lord, one Creator (Isaiah 44:24; John 1:3), etc., reason and revelation demand that we understand the inspired writers to be excluding everyone and everything—other than the members of the Godhead.
Almost 2,000 years ago, a zealous Jew by the name of Saul fought against Christianity with all his might. He believed Jesus Christ to be a fraud and His followers to be deluded. He chased them from city to city, imprisoning them, and participating in their deaths. Then Saul saw “the light.” Jesus appeared to Him and Saul realized the horrible mistake He had made. Saul’s honest heart was so impressed by the evidence available to him that he converted to Christianity and became a powerful force in spreading the Gospel.
And so today, those who come to the person of Jesus Christ with open and honest hearts find powerful evidence to believe He is God. He fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah. He performed many different kinds of miracles to validate His message. He predicted His own death and resurrection. He accepted worship. He lived a morally perfect, sinless life. And he boldly demanded that He had the power on Earth to forgive sins. When a person follows all of this evidence to its correct conclusion, he or she will bow before Jesus the Christ and proclaim, just as the apostle Thomas did, “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).
[NOTE: For more information about the nature of Christ, see our book Behold! The Lamb of God or visit the “Deity of Christ” section of our Web site www.apologeticspress.org. Also, to learn what the Bible teaches regarding how to receive the free, gracious gift of salvation that Jesus made possible, see our free e-book Receiving the Gift of Salvation at apologeticspress.org/PDF-books.aspx.]
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Reason & Revelation, 35(1):1-5,8-11, January, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5089&topic=102.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2014), “7 Reasons to Believe in God,” Reason & Revelation, 34:110-113,116-119, October, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1175.