In the Bible we never read any verse where Jesus says the words, “I am God.”
However, this does not mean that Jesus never claimed to be God. If he never claimed to be God, then his public enemies would have never crucified him for blasphemy. What is “blasphemy”? It’s when a person claims to be God.
A lot of people try to argue that Jesus never claimed to be God. They will say something like, “Where is the Bible verse for him claiming he was God?” Sometimes Christians will then get stumped with such a question because they can’t find the exact sentence where Jesus says, “I am God,” and so he must not have said it. But it’s right in the Bible!
In the Gospel of John, we are told that the Jews immediately took up stones to throw at Jesus when he said the following statement: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn 8:58). In those days, you got stoned for blasphemy, for claiming to be God. People don’t try to kill you or crucify you if you claim to be a really good person or a nice guy. I mean, they don’t even try to kill you for being crazy! They will, however, slaughter you in cold blood for claiming to be God.
When Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” he was claiming to be God. His language echoes that time when God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” The Greek Bible, called the Septuagint, translates this as “I Am the Being,” and Jesus’s statement here confirms this teaching. At the very end of the Bible, in Revelation, John puts it like this:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev 22:13)
Therefore, what Jesus means is not simply that he came before Abraham in some pre-existent state, but that he created Abraham. Jesus was claiming to be the very God of Israel, the Creator of the universe as described in the Old Testament. If this wasn’t his claim, then his opponents never would have killed him for it.
They also wouldn’t have accused him of making himself out to be God—if he wasn’t saying that he was God. The Jews actually told Jesus, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God” (Jn 10:33). The trouble with the question is that we are trying to read an ancient text as if it were written today. Jesus isn’t answering our question, though; he was answering theirs. He spoke in a specific way to a specific group of people who understood exactly what he said. Jesus was, and is, God.
Episode 209 | Dr. Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez answer questions on what it means that Christians will "judge the nations," suicide, and the Parable of...
These three definitive words are given not only to make theological points but also to comfort us today.