Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Who is Jesus? Was Jesus a real person? Why did Jesus die? Is Jesus God?

Many skeptics of Christianity believe that Jesus never claimed to be God. Some claim that nobody believed He was God until long, long after His death. Others argue that Jesus’ own words show that He believed Himself to be simply a man, or only the Son of God and not God Himself. Still others claim that Jesus’ divinity was created by the apostle Paul, and that his teaching and Jesus’ teaching are in conflict. From Jehovah’s Witnesses to Muslims to atheists, a whole bunch of people deny that Jesus is God.

Their confusion is understandable. It’s not a common situation…you know, God becoming human. When we look at Scripture, it’s undeniable that Jesus Himself, and His disciples, and the Jews around Him, understood that He was claiming to be God.

Jesus claimed to be God

Jesus repeatedly called Himself the Son of Man. This refers to a prophecy in Daniel 7, which Jesus quotes directly. The Son of Man is the one whom all will worship, whose reign will last forever, and so on. Remember: religious Jews are fiercely monotheistic…they would never worship anyone who is not God, yet they accept that the Son of Man should be worshipped.

In Revelation 1:17, John records Jesus saying, I am the first and the last. This is a direct quote from Isaiah 44:6, where God says I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, He wasn’t claiming that He was a created being, or that He was less…He was claiming to be EQUAL with God. The Jewish leaders understood this very well, as we see in John 5:18For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

John 2:19, Jesus claimed to be able to raise Himself from the dead: Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.

In Luke 6:5, Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Of course, God Himself created the Sabbath.

In John 8:58, Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham, who died 1600 years before He was born: Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am! (see the next part for more on this)

The Jews believed Jesus claimed to be God

In that same passage, some Jews asked Jesus, “Who do you think you are?” Jesus used the phrase “I am.” He used this phrase to describe Himself numerous times. This is the same phrase God used to describe Himself in Exodus 13:14 when Moses was going to confront Pharaoh: I am. How did the Jews respond? They picked up stones to kill Him for saying it because they understood that Jesus was calling Himself God.

At Jesus’ trial, the Jewish leaders insisted, We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.

It was understood that only God could forgive sins, and then, in Luke 5:20, Jesus forgave sins: When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.

In John 10:30, Jesus was talking about God the Father, and then said, I and the Father are one. Sounds maybe like Jesus was saying they were like-minded, or on the same team or something. That’s not how the Jews heard it, of course…they knew exactly what Jesus meant: Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

The High Priest believed Jesus claimed to be God

In Matthew 26:63, Caiaphas said to Jesus, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Remember that the Jews believed the Son of Man was divine.

Jesus’ disciples believed Jesus is God

John 1:1 says that Jesus was God.

In John 20:28, Thomas called Jesus God.

In Hebrews 1:8 we read that God called the Son God.

In Acts 20:28, Luke records Paul’s words that God bought the church with His own blood…clearly meaning Jesus.

In 2 Peter 1:1, Peter called Jesus our God and Savior.

In Titus 2:13, Paul calls Jesus our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Do we believe Paul, or Jesus?

This is a seemingly valid question, but one that betrays ignorance of the events outlined in the Bible. After fourteen years of ministry, Paul went to Jerusalem to meet privately with Peter, James, and the other Christian leaders there. He presented to them the gospel that he preached to the Gentiles…to make sure he was on track. They added nothing to his message. Why would the disciples accept what Paul taught as true if he falsely claimed that Jesus is God? No…Paul agreed with Jesus and His disciples, which is why there was never any conflict over him saying that Jesus is God.

I could go on, of course. Without question, Jesus claimed to be God. Without question, those around Him understood exactly what He meant…some followed Him because they believed Him, and others wanted to kill Him – and ultimately succeeded – because they didn’t believe Him.

The most important question at the moment is whether YOU believe Him. Having the facts is important, but not enough by itself…to have peace with God, we must trust Him enough to submit to Him as well.

How Big Was Noah’s Ark?

How big was Noah's ark?

God told Noah to build a big boat. This boat – an ark, which means “vessel” – had to be big enough to save Noah, and his family, and two of each kind of animal from a big flood. How big was Noah’s ark?

We read about these events in Genesis 6-9. Verse 15 says:

The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high…

A cubit is an imprecise measurement, something like the distance between an adult man’s elbow and the end of his fingers…around 18 inches, or 46 centimeters. A little math tells us the ark was approximately 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. That’s around 137 meters long, 23 meters wide, and 14 meters high.

That’s as long as 52 water buffaloes.
How big was Noah's ark?

Dogs and Cats in the Bible

Are dogs mentioned in the Bible?

Are dogs and cats mentioned in the Bible?

The Hebrew word for dog (keleb) and the Greek word for dog (kyon) appear a number of times in the Bible:

40 times in the King James Version (KJV)
40 times in the New American Standard Bible (NASB),
and 41 times in the New International Version (NIV).

Cats are mentioned in the Bible exactly zero times, as are cheezburgers.

Was the Baptism by the Holy Spirit just for the Disciples?

It’s clear from simply reading the New Testament that baptism by the Holy Spirit is not just for the apostles (Jesus’ first disciples). To see this, we only need to go to the most famous verse in the whole Bible, and read it in context. It is, of course, John 3:16. It’s important to read the whole section in John 3.

Here’s the situation: Nicodemus was a Pharisee, and a member of the Jewish ruling council. Nicodemus was not an apostle. He asked Jesus how someone can be born again (v4). Jesus answered this way:

Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Jesus was explaining how anyone could be born again, which is a requirement for being part of God’s kingdom. That’s all the evidence we need, but that’s not all we have. We can also look at 1 Corinthians 12:13: For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Clearly, not everyone in the church at Corinth was an apostle…right?

We can also go to Mark 1:8 and see this, spoken by John the Baptist: After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Clearly, John was not addressing only the apostles…right?

No, baptism in the Holy Spirit IS what makes one a “new creature” in Christ. We must be born again, which is a spiritual thing…performed by the Holy Spirit on everyone who believes the gospel and places their trust in God. Have you decided to trust God with your life yet?

Thanks for the question, Billy.

Where is the Garden of Eden?

Where is the Garden of Eden?

Nobody knows where the Garden of Eden was located. Nobody has found the Garden of Eden. Any report that claims otherwise is simply bogus.

We read about the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:8-14:

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The first problem in locating the Garden is “in the east.” East of what? East from where? The phrase is too vague to give us any good information. Probably east of Israel, but how far east? Is that the eastern part of Israel? Is that somewhere in Jordan? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? India? Nobody knows.

We do have more clues, though. A river flowed out of the Garden. We don’t know the name or location of that river, but we do know that it broke into four different rivers or streams after leaving the Garden:

  1. The Pishon
  2. The Gihon
  3. The Tigris
  4. The Euphrates

The Pishon

The Pishon has never been identified. Some have suggested that it wasn’t a large river, but a smaller stream. We do know that it wound through the entire land of Havilah, so it couldn’t have been very small. Unfortunately, we don’t know where Havilah was, either.

The Gihon

The Gihon has never been identified. Was it big? Small? We don’t know. We know where Cush is: today it’s known as Ethiopia. Many Ethiopians believe that the Gihon is the Abay River, also known as the Blue Nile. If they’re right, that information might be helpful. Of course, Ethiopia is a long, long way south from Israel.

The Tigris

We can locate a modern-day river known as the Tigris. It originates in Turkey, flows between Turkey and Syria, and into Iraq. Modern-day Baghdad sits next to the Tigris. Now, it’s possible that the modern-day Tigris and the ancient Tigris are the same river, but it’s not something we can simply assume to be true. Why? Because of the Great Flood. The land may have changed during the flood. If so, today’s Tigris may not be the one mentioned in Genesis 2.

Another clue is that the Tigris is mentioned one more time in the Bible: in Daniel 10:4:

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

Daniel’s vision occurred while he was standing next to the Tigris. Where was Daniel at the time? He was a captive in Babylon, which is in modern-day Iraq.

The Euphrates

As with the Tigris, we also have a modern-day Euphrates. It seems likely that it’s the same as the ancient river, but it may not be. Today’s Euphrates, like the Tigris, flows from eastern Turkey through Syria and Iraq.

While we’re pretty certain that the Garden of Eden was in the middle east, probably somewhere east of Israel and probably in northern Iraq or in Turkey, that’s about as close as we can get. Tracking the exact location of the Garden is virtually impossible. We have no idea how large the Garden was, so we can only suggest an approximate location in a large area. Was the garden hundreds of miles across? Was it the size of a football field? Was it shaped like a square, or was it long and skinny like many towns located along rivers? We simply don’t have that information.

Thanks for the question, Lee!

Can Christians Eat Pork?

It’s okay for Christians to eat pork. Why wouldn’t it be okay?

Some suggest that because the ancient Israelites were forbidden by God to eat pork, Christians are to avoid pork as well. That this is nonsense should be obvious to everyone, as Christians are not Israelites. Unfortunately, many preachers and teachers are teaching nonsense.

It seems that in the beginning, people only ate plants. After the great flood, God said this in Genesis 9:3:

Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

So pigs were definitely on the menu. The command to not eat pork came later, and is recorded in Leviticus 11:7-8:

“…the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses…”

That’s pretty clear. Let’s make sure we’re reading this verse in its original context…to whom was this instruction given? Go back a few verses to verse 1:

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites…””

That’s very clear. God told Moses and Aaron to pass the word to the Israelites about not eating pork (and other things). Noah and his family were allowed to eat pork, so there’s obviously nothing wrong with using them as food. God had a specific reason for telling the ancient Israelites to not eat pork, but it wasn’t because pigs are bad. Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, and have never been under the Mosaic Law. God didn’t tell the Chinese to avoid pork. He didn’t give these instructions to Babylonians, or Ethiopians, or Canadians. These instructions were given as part of a covenant (agreement) between God and the ancient Israelites. They have never applied to anyone else.

That’s not all, though. These instructions no longer apply to Jews, either. How do we know this? Because we read it clearly in several New Testament passages. Look at Mark 7:14-19. Take note of the last part:

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

That’s abundantly clear. Jesus – the Son of God, a Jew, and a man who never sinned – declared all foods clean. This was obviously a difficult idea for His disciples, whose culture had forbidden pork for around 1500 years. Simon Peter needed a bit more convincing, which we see in Acts 10. He was given a vision by God, in which he saw all kinds of animals…including those formerly considered unclean. God told him to eat, and Peter refused, saying that he had never eaten anything unclean. God’s response? Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. This was a two-fold message for Peter. The first and most obvious part of the message is that Peter could eat whatever he wanted, which was a change from the laws of Judaism. The second part of the message is that there is no difference in God’s eyes between Jews and non-Jews. Peter was supposed to go and preach the gospel to Cornelius, and God was preparing him to see that non-Jews could receive the gospel and be saved, just as Jews could.

One more passage: 1 Timothy 4:1-5. The apostle Paul is teaching Timothy, a young pastor, telling him to make sure to point out the errors of false teachers. He gave Timothy a few examples, including instructions about food:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

There have always been people, like those in the Hebrew Roots movement, who work to convince others that they should obey the Mosaic Law. They are wrong. The only people who were ever expected to follow those laws were ancient Israelites. Those laws never applied to anyone else. Now that Jesus has come and made a New Covenant with everyone, the Mosaic Law has been fulfilled and has become obsolete. As we can see from the verses above, Jesus (a Jew) taught Peter (a Jew) and Paul (a Jew) that pork could be eaten, declaring all foods clean. Anyone who says otherwise is contradicting Jesus. That’s something I’m unwilling to do.

God says that it’s okay to eat pork. One might have personal reasons for not eating pork, of course. We’re free to eat pork, but that doesn’t mean we must. It means that those who teach that God prohibits His people from eating pork are teaching contrary to Scripture.

Some believe they can win God’s favor and gain eternal life by following the laws of the Old Testament. Among these are groups like those in the Hebrew Roots movement, some Seventh-Day Adventists, and so on…but this is a misunderstanding. We are not saved by following the law, but by the grace of God through faith.

Where’s the Proof that Heaven Exists?

Bob wants to know why we humans believe that, after we die, we would be sent to a place based on what we did when we lived. He wants proof that Heaven and Hell exist.

We have no proof that Heaven or Hell exist, of course. We have some evidence, but not proof like “2 x 2 = 4” kind of proof. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t believe in Heaven and Hell, of course…only that we can’t prove they exist by scientific methods. After all, as the saying goes: you can’t weigh a chicken with a yardstick. How would one go about proving that Heaven or Hell exist? Certainly not by mere observation. We can only suggest that they may exist using logic.

Some suggest that we ourselves are evidence for Heaven and Hell. We seem to have a built-in understanding that justice exists…that complaining about the bad things that happen means something, as if things are not as they should be. This appears to be more than simple personal preference. Nobody says simply, “I don’t care for injustice,” as if injustice is merely less preferable than justice. It’s more of a sense of the way things “ought” to be. From where we do get this “ought”? If justice exists, rather than only mindless and meaningless life and death in an automatic world, then someone outside of the world must provide it. If the demand for justice is a universal human trait, doesn’t that imply that God exists, and that we understand that He SHOULD make things right? It seems a reasonable conclusion.

In addition to our cries for justice, we also seem to have a built-in hunger that this life can never fill. CS Lewis wrote about it this way:

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

He’s not alone in this observation, of course. Others have written similar things over the years. I would suggest (without proof, certainly) that every desire we have is evidence that God exists, and that there is a life after this life, and that we can find justice and fulfillment there. We get thirsty, so we drink. The problem is that we get thirsty again. There’s no reason, on the surface, to think that our cravings for food and water and sex have anything to do with some supreme being outside the universe…but we also crave truth, and beauty, and knowledge, and self-fulfillment. None of those things can be tested scientifically, and there’s no strictly physical explanation for them. That’s why Jesus said that He would provide living water that would finally satisfy our thirst once and for all. It’s a metaphor, clearly…but the implication of the metaphor is that our ‘thirsts’ are something we can’t satisfy on our own. We need someone to provide that fulfillment, and Jesus is that someone. That also seems like a reasonable conclusion.

What do you think? Is it possible that hunger, thirst, our sex drive, loneliness, and our desire for beauty and self-actualization have their ultimate fulfillment in God?

As for why we believe there’s an afterlife, and why our actions here might affect it, I couldn’t say. Certainly I’ve seen no rational materialistic explanation for it. Maybe it’s because it’s true, and that God creates all of us with some rudimentary understanding that our actions have consequences, that justice will one day be done, and that all of our hungers might finally be fulfilled. I like the question.

Thanks for asking, Bob.