I made a blog post addressing how Jesus claimed to be God without using the exact words I am God. I received a question on that post from someone wanting to know why he didn’t actually use the words, “I am God,” if he actually is God. I think it’s a great question. Usually I have heard answers like,”Even though he didn’t say, “I am God,” the Jews of his day recognized that he was saying he was God. We just miss it not knowing the culture and theology of 1st century Judaism.”
Well, here’s a reply that came to my mind recently when this question was asked in my apologetics class. Let me know what you think of this answer, because, I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read anyone else use this reply:
It’s troublesome to us that he didn’t actually say “I am God.” However, I think he didn’t say this because he isn’t God, he’s Jesus the Son. Whenever Jesus said God, and when the apostles wrote God in their letters, they were referring to the Father, and not the Trinity, a majority of the time. If he said that he is God, it might be taken to mean that he and the Father are the same person, which they are not. God exists in three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all of whom share in the same divine essence (nature).
I think his language is used this way because part of his role as Savior was to reveal the Father to us, and I think his use of Trinitarian language does just that.
In John 10:30-33, Jesus says that He and the Father are one. I have read that the Greek indicates that He and the Father are one not in person, but in deity. The translation might be read in English as “I and the Father, we are one.” The word used for one is neutered. The Greek language is like Spanish in that words have gender. Using the neutered, asexual “one” instead of the masculine one, indicates they are one in nature, not personhood.
As difficult as it may be for us to understand why Jesus didn’t say, “I am God,” the Jewish leaders of the 1st Century had no problem understanding that he was making himself equal to the Father and thus they wanted to kill him for blasphemy!
Read the previous article about how Jesus claimed to be God: