Why did Jesus not say, “I am God,” if he is God?

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:

 

 

 

Did Jesus Claim to Be God?

Jesus either is God, or he is not God. 

It’s pretty simple logic.  A cannot equal Non-A. 

Since we have four biographies of Jesus’ life, two of which were written by eyewitnesses, Matthew and John, and the other two recorded by men who wrote based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, Mark and Luke, it makes sense that we should look to their accounts to see what they record of Jesus’ opinion of himself.  If Jesus said, “I’m not God,” then I think it’s safe to agree that he isn’t God.  If he said, “He is God,” then we should take a closer look at his claims.  So what did he say about himself?

Some will say that Jesus never said he was God (which Muslims and Jehovah Witnesses claim).  This technically is true, but only in the sense that the gospels never record Jesus  using the direct words, “I am God.”  There are however numerous verses in which Jesus says he is so close or similar to the Father that in fact he is saying, “I am God.”  Jesus also made statements which directly stated his divinity.  To such statement his audience responded with insults and shouts of “blasphemy.”  However, because we are not fully aware of the ins and outs of Jewish culture or even the teachings of the Bible, we might miss the meanings of such direct statements.  It also makes sense that Jesus never verbatim said, “I am God,” because He was sent to give glory to His Father in heaven.  This is why when Jesus usually stated His divinity, he also gave honor to His Father.

Jesus picture spray painted by Josh Conrad.
This is an image of Jesus that my friend, Josh Conrad, spray painted. He took a picture of his work and made stickers to share with his friends. This is a picture of his work on my laptop. Here’s the link to his blog: http://silentartistjc.blogspot.com/

Verses in which Jesus puts himself equal to the father:

John 14:23 “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

Look up these other verses for more examples.

Mark 9:37
John 5:23
John 14:1
John 14:7
John 14:6
John 14:9
John 14:21
John 15:23
Statements in which Jesus directly claimed divinity upon himself (evidenced by the audience’s response):

John 10:30-33 “I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

John 5:17-18
John 8:58-59
Mark 14:61-64

Other Verses that show Jesus’ divinity though what Christ said or did or allowed others to do:

Mark 2:5-7
Matthew 28:16-17
John 5:21-27