Did Jesus Claim to Be God? Part 4: God’s Old Testament Names, Titles, and Images

Besides using the titles the Son of Man and the Son of God, Jesus applied to Himself in a unique way the names and images referring exclusively to God. How does Jesus’ special usage relate to His claim to deity?

In the ancient times, a name had a great significance and was deemed “virtually equivalent to whoever or whatever it bore.” Thus, when Jesus paralleled His own name with that of God’s, or when He applied to Himself the names and images associated with God, we can reasonably conclude that Jesus was, in fact, claiming to be God.

We find, for example, in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), that Jesus placed His name as the Son on equal footing with the Father, who is God (v. 19). This passage also reveals certain attributes of the Son like omnipotence (v. 18; cf. Jer. 32:17, 27), and omnipresence, which can apply only to someone who is God (v. 20; cf. Matt. 18:20; Ps. 139:7-12; Jer. 23:24). Furthermore, in claiming to be the only one who knows God (Matt. 11:27), Jesus implicitly admitted to being omniscient since the Father, of course, is Himself omniscient.

Jesus also took for Himself several Old Testament metaphors reserved solely for God. He sometimes applied them directly to Himself, as in the case of the title the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14; cf. Gen. 49:24; Ps. 23). On other occasions, Jesus took an indirect approach, referring to Himself in the parables as the Sower, the Bridegroom, the Vineyard Owner, and, in fact, the King—each of which can be traced back to Old Testament references to God.

But of these titles, none angered the religious officials of His day as when Jesus said of Himself, “I AM,” thus asserting to be eternal in words echoing those of YHWH (John 8:58; cf. Ex. 3:14). Jesus’ claim to be God in this instance was so clear and unmistakable that those who considered His assertion false, in fact blasphemous, tried to stone Him to death immediately (John 8:59; cf. Lev. 24:13-16).

By His own admission, Jesus undeniably claimed to be God. And He bolstered His pronouncements with actions, which we’ll look at…in the next CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.

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