There are many groups today that refuse to accept the Biblical fact that Jesus Christ is more than the Son of God; He IS God in the flesh. Refusing to accept that Jesus is Deity is often a characteristic of a cult. Ironically, these cults use the name of Jesus to give themselves credibility but without the belief that Jesus is God there is no saving power in that religion. This article is an apologetic argument for the deity of Jesus based on the Gospel of John with an emphasis on what Mormon theology teaches on the subject.
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
John explained clearly what his purpose was for writing this Gospel account in chapter 20 verse 31 (John 20:31). John’s Gospel described seven of thirty five miracles that are recorded in the four accounts. John gave special consideration to these seven in order that people might come to believe that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God. By that belief he intended to develop faith that would bring life to some.
Jesus performed many miracles during His ministry to illustrate that He was the true messiah. John, in his Gospel account chose to only record seven of these signs to prove that Jesus’ power stemmed from God the Father.
Jesus’ Seven “Signs” in the Gospel of John
Miracle ReferenceThis unique gospel account was written primarily as an apologetic document. The seven signs that are included in this account are intended to prove Jesus is the Messiah. But this account has a powerful and important perspective and theme. That theme is the deity of Jesus.
Changing Water into Wine at the Wedding in Cana John 2:1-11
Healing an official’s son in Capernaum John 4:46-54
Healing an invalid at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem John 5:1-18
Feeding the 5,000 near the Sea of Galilee John 6:1-14
Walking on Water John 6:15-21
Healing the blind man in Jerusalem John 9:1-7
Raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany John 11:1-45
In the Book of John there are seven “I AM” statements. These statements declare the deity of Jesus. They do this in two ways. First they overtly declare through symbolism His deity. But the “I AM” is the critical part of these phrases. I AM is the name of deity. In Greek it is egō eimi (ἐγώ εἰμί) which could be translated as the self existent one.
This phrase is used in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament when God reveals His name to Moses to identify who was sending Moses.
Exodus 3:14 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς πρὸς Μωυσῆν Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν, καὶ εἶπεν Οὕτως ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ Ὁ ὢν ἀπέσταλκέν με πρὸς ὑμᾶς. (kai eipen o yeov prov mwushn egw eimi o wn kai eipen outwv ereiv toiv uioiv israhl o wn apestalken me prov umav)Jesus’ Seven “I AM’s” in the Gospel of John
Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
I AM phrase: Reference:The Nelson NKJV Study Bible writes of the theology of the gospel of John;
I am the Bread of Life 6:35
I am the Light of the World 8:12
I am the Gate for the Sheep 10:7, 9
I am the Good Shepherd 10:11, 14
I am the Resurrection and the Life 11:25
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life 14:6
I am the True Vine 15:1, 5
The Gospel of John is a persuasive argument for the deity of Jesus. It concentrates on presenting Jesus as the Word, that is, God (John 1:1) who became a man (John 1:14). Thus John meticulously records the statements and describes the miracles of Jesus that can only be attributed to God Himself.
Jesus called Himself the bread of life (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51), the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5), the door for the sheep (John 10:7, 9), the good shepherd (John 10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), the way, the truth, the life (14:6), and the true vine (John 15:1, 5). Each of these statements begins with the words, “I am,” recalling God’s revelation of His name, “I AM,” to Moses (see Ex. 3:14). Jesus did not say He gave bread; He said He is the Bread which gives life. He did not say He would teach the way, the truth, and the life; instead He said He is the Way, because He is the Truth and the Life. These are Jesus’ clear claims to deity: He was not a mere man.
Then there are the signs of Jesus’ deity. Miracles in the Gospel of John are called “signs” because they point to Jesus’ divine nature. John records seven such signs: changing water into wine (John 2:1-11), healing an official’s son (John 4:46-54), healing a lame man (John 5:1-9), multiplying bread and fish (John 6:1-14), walking on water (John 6:15-21), healing a blind man (John 9:1-7), and raising Lazarus (John 11:38-41). These miracles show that Jesus is God, He possesses power over nature. Other indications of Jesus’ deity include the testimonies of John the Baptist (John 1:32-34), Nathanael (John 1:49), the blind man (John 9:35-38), Martha (John 11:27), and Thomas (John 20:28)-not to mention Jesus’ own words (John 5:19-26).
The primary theme of this gospel account is the deity of Jesus. John begins his account by describing Jesus as the Word. He wrote in chapter 1 verses 1-5,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (KJV)
The Nelson Study Bible says of these verses,
“John 1:1 is probably the strongest passage in the New Testament for declaring the deity of Jesus Christ. Because of this many who deny this biblical doctrine, especially cultists, have attempted to undercut it by arguing that this passage only teaches that Jesus is “a god” and so not fully Deity. This confused position falls on at least two grounds. Such a view is polytheistic, the belief in more than one god. Second, it betrays a misunderstanding of Greek grammar. Verse 1 of the first chapter of John reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The last portion of 1:1 is the major point of contention. It reads in the Greek theos en ho logos, or literally, “the Word was God.” God, or theos, occurs in this verse without the Greek article statement to be translated “the Word was a god.” The best understanding for the translation, however, as recognized by Greek scholars, is that since theos is a predicate and precedes the noun logos and the verb, it is natural for it to occur here without the article. Greek scholars are agreed that the verse should be translated as it regularly is in modern and ancient translations, clearly affirming that Jesus is indeed God.
The denial of the deity of Jesus has led many groups to fall away from truth and fall into heretical doctrine. John 1:1 begins the debate of deity. The Bible Knowledge commentary argues that this verse is teaching that Jesus is God in the flesh. It says, “As far back as man can think, in the beginning… the Word was existing. The term “Word” is the common Greek word logos, which meant “speaking, a message, or words.” Logos was widely used in Greek philosophical teaching as well as in Jewish wisdom literature and philosophy. John chose this term because it was familiar to his readers, but he invested it with his own meaning, which becomes evident in the prologue.”
“The Word was the God in a special relationship of eternal fellowship in the Trinity. The word “with” translates the Greek pros, which here suggests “in company with” (cf. the same use of pros in 1:2, 1 Thes. 3:4, 1 John 1:2). John then added that the Word was God. Jehovah’s Witnesses translate this clause, “The Word was a god.” This is incorrect and logically is polytheism. Others have translated it “the Word was divine,” but this is ambiguous and could lead to a faulty view of Jesus. If the verse is correctly understood, it helps clarify the doctrine of the Trinity. The Word is eternal; the Word is in relationship to God (the father); and the Word is God.”
The view held by Jehovah’s Witnesses that John 1:1 says “a god” has led to a polytheistic view. Of course polytheism not only contradicts this verse but many others as well such as Isaiah 43:10 which states that there are no other gods past present or future.
Isaiah 43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
Of course there are other scriptures that can be used to identify Jesus’ deity and refute the Jehovah’s Witness view. All seven of the “I AM” statements are Jesus’ own testimony that He is God incarnate. A very powerful verse is found in John chapter 8. During a heated debate with the Pharisees Jesus ends the debate by saying in verse 58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” The “I am” statement in this verse is the egō eimi (Ἐγώ εἰμι) from the seven “I AM” statements. Charles Ryrie wrote of this verse in the Ryrie study Bible, “The ‘I AM’ denotes absolute eternal existence, not simply existence prior to Abraham. It is a claim to be Yahweh of the Old Testament. That the Jews understood the significance of this claim is clear from their reaction in verse 59 to the supposed blasphemy.” This time the Jewish leaders understood that Jesus was claiming to be God, so they took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy (see Leviticus 24:16).
It is also plausible to make a case of Jesus’ deity based on his acceptance of worship which was always rejected by spirit beings such as angels and reserved only for the one and only Living God of Heaven. A great example of this is found in Revelation 19:10 which says, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This account shows John the Apostle attempting to worship an angel but is told not to. Yet in contrast Jesus does accept worship throughout the New Testament. An example of Jesus receiving worship is found in John chapter 9 verses 35-38. It reads, “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.”
Faulty theology and incorrect hermeneutics come from the denial of Jesus as deity. Another group that claim to be followers of Jesus, view Him as part of the “god-head”, but reject the premise that Jesus is God incarnate is the Mormon church. Their denial of this scriptural fact has led this group to misunderstand scripture and Jesus Himself. In the book “Gospel Principles” which is a book published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints many of these faulty principals are easily identified. This book describes Jesus as the first born of spiritual children of God; brothers to every person born and brother of Lucifer. It says,
God is not only our ruler and creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. “All men and women are … literally the sons and daughters of Deity… Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body’ (Joseph F. Smith, The Origin of Man, Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78,80).”
It goes on to say, “Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21), so he is literally our elder brother (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 26).
This heretical teaching continues by saying, “When the plan for our salvation was presented to us in the spirit world, we were so happy that we shouted for joy (see Job 38:7). We understood that we would have to leave our heavenly home for a time. We would not live in the presence of our heavenly parents. While we were away from them, all of us would sin and some of us would lose our way. Our Heavenly Father knew and loved each one of us. He knew we would need help, so he planned a way to help us.”
“We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our heavenly Father. Our Father said, ‘Whom shall I send?’ (Abraham 3:27). Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said ‘Here am I, send me’ (Abraham 3:27).
“Satan, Who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, ‘Behold here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor’ (Moses 4:1).
The premise that these teachings are based on is faulty and contradicts divinely inspired scripture. Mormons are teaching that Jesus is only a spirit being; like any other man or even the same as Satan. To say that Jesus is only a spirit being; the same as man or Satan is to preach another Jesus, and is heresy. This type of misunderstanding of scripture comes from a lack of proper exegesis and study of the original language. Because of this poor exegesis the Mormon Church had the need to adopt extra-biblical material (which they call another gospel) to support their theology. In the book of Galatians Paul adamantly exhorts the Galatians not to accept any “other gospel” that anyone preaches; even if it was an angel or Paul don’t accept it. Galatians 1:8-9 says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
The inability to discern that when Jesus says that He is the “I AM” He is proclaiming to be egw eimi, the Self Existent One, Yahweh will always lead to heretical teachings. Jesus told the Pharisees that He was God, in existence before Abraham, not just the first born of spiritual babies in a world of people trying to become their own gods. In the book of Colossians Paul warns about being led astray or spoiled by the philosophies and deceit of men. In addition, God is very clear how He feels about the idea of “other gods.” He does not want us to even mention their names out of our mouths. That would seem to prohibit man’s exaltation to god status as taught by Mormon doctrine.
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.A study to the word “begotten” may prove useful in this discussion, since this word is often misused by those who deny Jesus’ character of deity by saying that this word means that Jesus is a created being. There are four words that are translated as “begotten” in the New Testaement. They are monogenes (μονογενής), gennao (γεννάω), anagennao (ἀναγεννάω), and prototokos (πρωτοτόκος).
Exodus 23:13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.
The last form of begotten on this list is prototokos which is used only one time in the New Testament. That incident is found in Revelation 1:5 and speaks of Jesus being the “first begotten of the dead.” This form of “begotten” is literally first born. But this term is not used of Jesus’ incarnation as a man but rather being the first born of the resurrection.
Anagennao is also only used one time in the New Testament. It is found in 1 Peter 1:3. This word speaks of being born again and can speak of changing one’s mind or can be interpreted as producing again.
The next two words are used more frequently and are more closely related to the issue of Jesus’ deity. The word “monogenes” is used six times in the New Testament. Four of those instances are found in the book of John. As a matter of fact this is the only word used in the book of John. This word deserves close examination since it is the term John used to denote the “only begotten Son of God.” This word is used in scripture only of Jesus. Even the writer of Hebrews took note of this word; also using it when speaking of Jesus as the Son of God. This is a very unique word that one could strongly argue refers to Jesus as the only one of His kind. It certainly does not say that Jesus is the created of God.
The most prominent verse that contains this word is John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The bible knowledge commentary says of this verse;
God’s love was expressed in the giving of His most priceless gift-His unique Son (cf. Romans 8:3, 32). The Greek word translated one and only, referring to the Son is monogene, which means “only begotten” or “only borne-one. It is also used in John 1:14, 18, 3:18; and 1 John 4:9.The word “gennao” is used in the New Testament seven times. It is a word that is closely related to family or offspring. If the writer of John had wanted to illustrate that Jesus was the first born of many offspring he would have use this word in relation to the “Son of God.” We also have the benefit of having both gennao and monogenes used by a writer in the same letter. The book of Hebrew uses both words as does the first epistle of John. The usage of both words in 1st John is especially useful in this discussion.
1 John 4:9 uses the word monogenes. When John uses this word he uses it to refer to Jesus as the Son of God. This word is made up of two root words and when scrutinized the mystery is quickly dispersed. It is made up of monos and ginomai . Monos is translated as only or alone. Ginomai is a prolongation and middle voice form of a primary verb that is most often translated as “be” or “come to pass.” So it is easy to argue that the most literal translation of the word monogenes is “come to pass alone” which would imply that Jesus is the only one of His kind; God incarnate.
1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten (monogenes) Son into the world, that we might live through him.John’s other usages of the word gennao do not apply directly to the nature or origin of Jesus. Rather John uses this word to speak of believers being begotten or born of God. Believers are born into the family of God.
1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten (gennao) of him.
1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten (gennao) of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
In his book, “Systematic Theology” Wayne Grudem explains the difficulty of translating and interpreting these words thorough history. He wrote;
The controversy over the term ‘only begotten’ was unnecessary because it was based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of the Greek word monogenes (used of Jesus in John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18, and 1 John 4:9). For many years it was thought to be derived from two Greek terms: mono, meaning ‘only,’ and gennao, meaning ‘beget’ or ‘bear.’ Even the received version of the Nicene Creed understands it that way, since the explanatory phrases ‘begotten of the Father before all worlds’ and “begotten, not made’ both used the verb gennao to explain monogenes. But linguistic study in the twentieth century has shown that the second half of the word is not closely related to the verb gennao (beget, bear), but rather to the term genos (class, king). Thus the word means rather the ‘one-of-a-king’ Son or the ‘unique’ Son.
The fact that the word does not mean ‘the only son that someone has begotten’ can be confirmed by noticing its use in Hebrews 11:17, where Isaac is called Abraham’s mongenes-but certainly Isaac was not the only son Abraham had begotten, for he had also begotten Ishmael. The term there means rather that Isaac was Bgraham’s ‘unique’ son, that there was none other like him.”An un-debatable proof of the deity of Jesus is found in John chapter 1. When John the Baptist tells the religious leaders that he is the “voice of one crying in the wilderness...” he was referencing Isaiah 40:1ff. That passage contains the Phrase “prepare ye the way of the LORD...” the word translated LORD is the Hebrew name for God, YHWH. Since John was preparing the way of Jesus, then the only conclusion is that Jesus must be YHWH. This is beyond debate or refute. Jesus is God by direct statement and it is as reliable as the algebraic transitive property, if a = b, and b = c, then a = c. If God is YHWH and Jesus is YHWH then Jesus is God.
John 1:23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
It is clear that Jesus did in fact claim deity for Himself. But the question is, how did He prove it? Josh McDowell, author and apologist has written many books supporting the Christian faith. In his book “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict” McDowell writes that “Jesus has three basic credentials: (1) The impact of His life, through His miracles and teachings upon history; (2) Fulfilled prophecy in His life, and (3) His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christianity stand or fall together.” McDowell point to Jesus’ physical resurrection as the key piece of evidence of Jesus’ Messiah-ship and deity. He wrote, “Since Jesus Himself pointed to the physical nature of His resurrection body as evidence that He had risen from the dead, and since by implication this proved His claim to be God incarnate, the assertion by critics that His body was merely immaterial undermines the deity of Christ”
McDowell continues on this point by writing, “Jesus not only predicted His resurrection but also emphasized that His rising from the dead would be the “sign” to authenticate His claims to be the Messiah (John 2).
John 2:18-22 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
Jesus was asked to give a sign or proof of His authority as Messiah and God incarnate. The sign Jesus predicted was His death and resurrection of His physical body.
In the book of Exodus chapter 19 the Hebrew people come to Mount Sinai and receive God’s commandments. As part of this account God speaks to the entire congregation from the midst of a cloud. Even this minimal exposure to the Glory of God was enough to convince the Israelites that they did not want to be in the presence of God’s Glory. They said that they would submit to all of God’s commandments as long as Moses continued to speak for them and bring them God’s words without them having any real contact with God. In the book of Revelation the Apostle John fell at the feet of Jesus when he saw the full glory of God as revealed in the resurrected and glorified Jesus. Often times in the Old Testament the image from Revelation chapter 1 is also seen when God is revealing Himself to a person (see Ezekiel 1:26-28, Isaiah 6). But when God became flesh His Glory was veiled in that flesh, making it possible for men to be in the presence of God with out falling down at His feet. Man was once again able to commune with God, just as Adam did.
Hebrews 10:19-21 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God;Matthew Poole wrote of this verse, “Through the veil, that is to say, his flesh: the inner veil, that separated the holiest of all from the holy place, was a type of the flesh of Christ, veiling his Deity; through the breaking and rending of which by death, he opens the way to the throne of grace in the holy of holiest in heaven, and so made God accessible to believers there, Hebrews 9:12; compare Matthew 27:51.”
It was through the resurrection that Jesus authenticated Himself as Messiah. It was also through this act that He revealed Himself as God in the flesh. And most importantly to a believer in Jesus, He provided a way for man to access God’s holiness even though he is still full of sin. Jesus did not present Himself as a sacrifice for a perfect man. Rather, He presented Himself a perfect sacrifice for sinners that He chose to save.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.Jesus did unveil His deity. He did show His power and identity on various occasions. One of the most amazing events where Jesus unveiled His power is found in John 18:2-6. It says, “And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus often times resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.”
In this account Judas brings solders to apprehend Jesus. When Jesus says I AM in verse 5 he uses the phrase egō eimi (ἐγώ εἰμί) again. At the sound of the name of deity the solders fall back to the ground. This event is recorded to show that Jesus was in control of all of the events that took place in His life as a man. He died only because He chose to.
Philippians 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.But unlike any other “religious leaders” that were only men Jesus did not stay in the grave. He arose, appeared too many, and ascended into heaven promising to return. Upon that return, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The best blessings will come for those that repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as Lord now. As for the rest they will see Jesus for who He really is when He returns. At that time every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
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