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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Did Those Who Knew Jesus Think He was God?

Did those who knew him during his lifetime understand Jesus to be God?

"Father, ... This is eternal life: to know thee who alone art truly God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." - John 17:1,3, New English Bible.

There are a number of places in scripture where those who actually knew Jesus let us know by their words and actions if they thought he was God (or even if they believed that he taught that he was God). Let's look at a few of them (remember it means everlasting life to know God and Jesus).

1. Nowhere in the synoptic Gospels (the first Gospels to be written: Matthew, Mark, and Luke) do the family, friends, disciples (or enemies) of Jesus say anything even hinting that they thought he was God (or that he was teaching or claiming that he was God). That such essential new information (if true) should be ignored completely is impossible to believe. Compare all the times Jesus is called the Christ or Messiah. Since these were written many years before the fourth Gospel, they should show the most important news about Jesus: information which is essential for his followers to know.

2. Those Jewish leaders who wanted Jesus dead could have merely said that he claimed to be God (an automatic death sentence). But, although they condemned him to death because he claimed to be the Messiah, they never accused him of being God in the Synoptic Gospels. They even hired false witnesses to lie about him, but even those false witnesses did not accuse Jesus of claiming to be God. - Matthew 26:59 -63.

The one place in John's later Gospel where many trinitarian Bibles render the Greek to read as though the Jews accused Jesus of 'making himself God' is clearly a mistranslation (as the New English Bible indicates) because of context and NT Greek grammar. - (See "My God" and "Theon" files.)

3. What did those who knew him best and were taught privately by him have to say about who he was? After being told that the people believed Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the [other] prophets, Jesus asked his disciples: "But who do you say that I am?" The answer was "the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:13-20. Neither the people nor the disciples themselves considered Jesus to be God! (Compare Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:18-20.)

4. Look at the teachings of Jesus in the temple. (Matt.21:23-24:1) If any of the priests, officials, etc. thought Jesus had ever even implied that he was God, he would have been killed on the spot. And, for certain, he would never have been allowed to teach in the temple! But, if by some miracle, he was allowed to teach there (and there was any doubt whatsoever that he may have ever claimed that he was God or that any of his followers believed that he was God), every question to him would have been about that most important subject of all! But, no, he is never asked about such a thing!

5. When Jesus was dying, the rulers of the Jews spoke about him. Did they say, "If he is really God, let Him save himself!"? If they thought he claimed to be God, surely they would have said that instead of what they actually said: "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God." - Luke 23:25, NAB. (Cf. Matt. 27:42, 43; Mark 15:31, 32.


Just as Jesus would have been stoned to death if he was understood to be claiming he was God when teaching in the temple, so his disciples would have been driven out of the synagogues and stoned if it was understood that they believed Jesus was God!

Acts13:13-16, 42 (NASB)

13 Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it." 16 Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: .... 42 As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath."

Acts 17: 1, 2 (KJV)

Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures ....

(NASB) Acts 18:4 And he [Paul] was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

(NASB) Acts 19:8 And he [Paul] entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.


Elijah Daniels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

How does one write in Greek the equivalent of the English phrase:

1. "and the Word was (a) god"?

Or how does one convey in Greek the English phrase:

2. "(a) god was the Word"?

I have never seen a Trinitarian commentator talk openly about this issue.

Lewis & Stylers Greek Prose & Syntax is one aid that can help an English reader learn to express English thoughts in Greek.

I say, in what other way could John have expressed these two thoughts in Greek than the way he actually did!

I'm also glad you brought up the CAPITALISATION issue of "(G)od" or "(g)od" in John 1:1.

NWT translation is literal, but not as literal as the Kingdom Interlinear "(g)od was the Word".

NWT is primarily educational in its "(a) god" rendering. It reveals to the purely English reader that the IS A DIFFERENCE in the underlying Greek.

Also the 2nd/3rd Century Coptic or Native Egyption translation made from earlier Greek MSS is a very early witness that vindicates the Societies rendering. Which interestingly is never referenced or mentioned 99.9% of all modern translations. Scholars are silent!

I wonder why.