Theology: The Doctrine of God

Declarations of Christ's Deity: The Gospel of John

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
The pages of the Gospel of John declare Christ "the I AM."

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part six of a series. Read part five.

The Holy Spirit's declaration through the Apostle John is direct and unequivocal: Jesus Christ is God Himself. Much of the mountain of evidence for Christ's deity is to be found in the pages of John's Gospel.

In our last article I asked this question: How do you know that Jesus Christ is God? What do you say when someone asks you that question? What do you say when someone openly denies His deity? Are you ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you? In this installment and the four that will follow, the Lord willling, I want to make sure that you are equipped to give the answer.

Our sole authority in giving that answer must be the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. And as we search the Scriptures, we find that the Divine Author leaves no question about the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, God the eternal Son.

Scripture's Declarations

Scripture declares that God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, existed from eternity, that He is God from all eternity, and that He is the Creator of all things. The Bible declares this to be so in many ways, and in this installment and those that will follow I want to focus our attention on eight in particular. Each of these alone would be enough to demonstrate Christ's deity without question. Together they form a mountain of evidence.

  1. We have the great declaration of John chapter one, verses one through three, concerning the deity of Christ.
  2. Jesus Himself unequivocally stated that He was God.
  3. Jesus is spoken of as "the Son" throughout the Bible, from as early in the Old Testament as the second Psalm.
  4. We have the inspired declarations of the writer of the book of Hebrews. Hebrews is a great New Testament commentary on Old Testament truth, and it is a very rich declaration of the person and work of Christ.
  5. We have the testimony of Scripture about the incarnation of God the Son - what happened when God the Son came into the world in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Scripture repeatedly emphasizes the deity of the Son of God by teaching Christ's deity in His names.
  7. Scripture ascribes to Jesus Christ the attributes that only God can have.
  8. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is to be worshipped, and only God is to be worshipped.

Let us now begin to examine each of these points.

John's Great Declaration

First, we have the great declaration of John 1:1-3 - "In the beginning was the Word [Jesus Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." This is the keystone statement of the entire Biblical construct. The theological liberals, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other false religions deny it. The Jehovah's Witnesses have perverted it by adding a word that does not appear in the original language, claiming that verse one reads, "and the Word was a god." But the Holy Spirit's declaration through the Apostle John is direct and unequivocal: Jesus Christ is God Himself. And much of the mountain of evidence for Christ's deity is to be found in the pages of John's Gospel.

Jesus' Own Statements

Secondly, Jesus Himself unequivocally stated that He was God. John 8:58 - "Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' " Here Jesus declared Himself to be Jehovah, the "I AM". In other words, Jesus declared Himself to be Yahweh of the Old Testament. Yahweh or Jehovah is the proper name for God that is translated "Lord" over 6,500 times in the Old Testament.

Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, God reveals Himself through His names. The focus of the New Testament is on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, God now manifest in the flesh. But in the Old Testament the names of God are manifold. Some of them are names that God uses to identify Himself. Others are names that are ascribed to God by men. The meanings of the names of God reveal Him to us. It is largely by His names that we understand who God is. It is by the names of God that we understand His character and attributes; we understand His decrees; we understand His ways of governing His creation; and we understand His ways of dealing with individuals and nations, both believers and unbelievers. It is also important to note that all of the names of God in the Bible are masculine names.

But among all the names of God in the Old Testament, there is actually only one proper name of God, and that name is Yahweh or Jehovah, which literally means, "I AM." By the name Yahweh or Jehovah, God identifies Himself as the self-existent One. He identifies Himself as the One who is eternal, immortal, and unchangeable. He is the One who is dependent on nothing else and on no one else. And thus, in Exodus 3:14-15, God declares to Moses,

"I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' " Moreover God said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations."

And it is by the name Yahweh or Jehovah that we understand the significance of the many "I AM" declarations that Jesus Christ makes in the New Testament Gospels, especially in the Gospel of John:

  • He says, in John 8:18, "I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me."
  • John 6:35 - "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."
  • John 8:12 - "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
  • John 10:9 - "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved..."
  • John 10:11 - "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."
  • John 11:25 - "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
  • John 15:1 - "I am the true vine..."
  • John 14:6 - "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Jesus continually declared Himself to be the "I AM." He unequivocally declared His equality with Jehovah. And so it is that in John 8:58, Jesus is saying that He is the "I AM" - He is Yahweh - He is Jehovah - He is the one, true, living, and eternal God. The Jews who heard Jesus make this declaration immediately knew that He was making Himself equal to God. He was saying that He is God Himself. And that is why, we read in the next verse, John 8:59, that they took up stones to stone Him.

Next: God the Son in the Old Testament

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