Rembrandt Storm on Sea of Galilee
The evidence might shock you
This is a slightly longer article but bear with us.
You won’t view the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), the same ever again! Grab a comfy seat, a hot or cold beverage of your choice, and buckle in for the ride!
- God with us, until the end of the age
- John the Baptist story refers to Jesus as YHWH
- You have heard it was said but I say.. my words will not pass away
- Forgiving sins when no one can except God
- Lord of the Sabbath
- Determining your eternal destiny
- Power over Satan and the demonic
- God’s Son (same nature), above the angels
- Son of Man- charged with blasphemy
- YHWH at the end of the parable of the wicked tenants
- YHWH receiving praise for himself- Psalm 8 quote
- Receiving worship
- Wisdom of God
- Walking on water like God
- Passing by like God
- God’s face shown to Moses and Elijah
- Lord over nature- commanding the storm
- Why call me good? Jesus adds to God’s commands
- Jesus is King over all and Saviour
Sceptics often claim only John portrays Jesus as divine.
Bart Ehrman, for example, in a recent interview with Cosmic Skeptic, expressed the view that Jesus does not think he is God in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Ehrman has, however, elsewhere previously suggested these Gospels do potentially portray a divine Jesus (link at the end of this article).
Ehrman has, at times, denied the Synoptics teach Jesus is God
Yet, others claim nowhere in the New Testament or church history is Jesus thought of as being divine before Nicaea.
Further, Muslims, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses all deny that Jesus is God in the sense of YHWH described in the Old Testament.
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (jw.org) does not believe Jesus is YHWH
As we will soon see, such assertions are contrary to the evidence.
Subscribe to our Substack: https://streettheologian.substack.com/
A Jewish God?
In Jesus’ time, there was a view known as binitarianism as outlined by Alan Segal in Two Powers in Heaven, whereby even some Jews thought God was more than one person, yet one being!
This was following various interpretations of Old Testament passages such as these and more including the LORD raining fire down from the LORD out of heaven (two people are called YHWH; Gen. 19:24) .
Historian Dr. Daniel Boyarin notes in Borderlines, “In the first and second centuries, there were Jewish non-Christians who firmly held theological doctrines of a second God, variously called Logos, Memra, Sophia, Metatron, or Yahoel; indeed, perhaps most of the Jews did so at the time (p.92).”
Today’s question- Matthew, Mark and Luke..
1. Jesus’ name is Immanuel (God with us) and he is with his disciples always until the end of time
Matthew is in a sense book-ended with these two God with us references. At Jesus’ birth (Matt. 1:23) and at his ascension he says he will be with his disciples always until the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). How can he be omnipresent or with his disciples always if he is not divine?
The child described as “God with us” is also prophetically described in Isaiah 9:6–7 as “Mighty God, Everlasting Father” who will have a kingdom forevermore.
2. John the Baptist story refers to Jesus as YHWH
In Matthew 3:1–3, John the Baptist is in the wilderness, preaching for people to repent and Matthew quotes Isaiah as being fulfilled in John the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” However, this quote comes from Isaiah 40:3 where the Lord is actually, YHWH! Hence, John was preparing the way for Jesus or YHWH.
See also Mark 1:1–3.
Titian- John the Baptist
3. Jesus says you have heard it was said but I say to you..
Jesus redefines God’s law and who could redefine God’s law except God? Notice Jesus appeals to his own authority saying, “I say to you.” Look at, for example, every man’s favourite passage in the whole Bible!
Matthew 5:27–28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
We see a similar pattern in Matt. 5:21–22.
No need to say thus says the LORD
Furthermore, the Old Testament prophets would say “Thus says the Lord” but Jesus says “I say to you” or “Truly, I say to you” (eg. Matt. 5,23).
Jesus claims heaven and earth will pass away but his words will not (Luke 21:33), echoing how God’s word is spoken of in Isaiah 40:8.
4. Jesus forgives sins when no one can except God
In the story of forgiving and healing the paralytic, Jesus is said to be blaspheming for no one can forgive sins but God alone (Mark 2:7).
Yet Jesus “blasphemes” and claims he is God or the divine Son of Man of Daniel 7 that binitarians spoke of (Mark 2:10) and that he as the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.
5. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath when God is Lord of the Sabbath
Mark 2:27–28, “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath was set apart by God (Gen. 2:1–3, Exodus 20 etc), so how can Jesus possibly be Lord over this?
6. Your eternal destiny depends on whether you know Jesus or not
In Matthew 7:21–23, Jesus is shown as the judge of all who does not allow people to enter the kingdom of heaven on the basis of them not “knowing” him, telling them to depart from him.
Moreover, in Mark 8:37–38, Jesus claims whoever is ashamed of him and his words, he will be ashamed of when he comes in glory.
7. Power over Satan and demons
There are no explicit references to casting out demons in the Old Testament (there is an implicit reference in Psalm 91 as per Heiser). Jesus does this and his followers do in his name.
Binding the strongman
Jesus refers to himself as binding the strongman or Satan (Mark 3:27–28). Who would have the power to bind Satan? Not even the angel Michael can do that, instead leaving it to the Lord to rebuke Satan (Jude 9).
Parallel with God
Jesus is paralleled with God after having power of the demonic by Luke
Luke 8:38–39 reads, “The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
Thus saying how much Jesus had done is the same as saying how much God had done!
Brooklyn Museum- Swine into the Sea
8. Jesus considers himself God’s Son (same nature) as illustrated by the historical criteria of historical congruence and embarrassment
Even highly sceptical scholars such as some of those amongst the Jesus Seminar accept Luke 20:9–18, the parable of the wicked tenants as authentic. The reason for this is it very closely ties with the historical context of the time of Jesus.
It is less likely to so accurately describe the historical context if it was a mere myth written hundreds of years later. The conclusion of this parable is rather interesting.
Van Gogh- Green Vineyard
The owner of the vineyard sends his beloved son (Luke 20:13–18). Yet, the tenants kill the owner’s son.
Since listeners understood Israel as God’s vineyard (eg. Isaiah 5), it is clear God is here sending his Son. Given the context surrounding this passage relates to Jesus’ authority, it makes sense that Jesus is referring to himself. As God’s Son, Jesus has the same nature as God.
Wasn’t Adam God’s son?
Hold on you might say, wasn’t even Adam a son of God and weren’t kings called sons of God? This is where Mark 13:32 is helpful for us.
Mark 13:32, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Jesus here is using a technique called anabasis, utilising a hierarchy- the Son is above humans (no one) and angels in heaven, implying Jesus thought he had a distinct role as God’s Son.
The statement in Mark 13:32 is also attested in multiple books (eg. Matthew 24:36). If you think this statement disproves Christ’s divinity read here.
9. Jesus repeatedly calls himself the Son of Man and is charged with blasphemy for this
This shows Jesus being someone who thought he is God.
Jesus is sentenced to death for blaspheming (Mark. 14:60–64). Jesus describes himself in a way used to describe an exalted and divine person in Daniel 7 and Psalm 110.
More detail here.
10. Jesus refers to himself as YHWH at the end of the parable of the wicked tenants
Jesus says speaking of the Son of God (as per point 8) in Luke 20:18, “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
Yet, in Isaiah 8:13–15 we see this refers to YHWH or the LORD of hosts, “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
Hence, Jesus is equating himself with the God of the Old Testament.
11. Jesus quotes a YHWH passage as being about himself while receiving praise
Speaking of the praise Jesus received, we read in Matthew 21:16, “and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
Turn to Psalm 8:1–2 and you will see that again Jesus is applying a YHWH passage to himself! “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.”
Jesus thus equates himself to YHWH as referred to in Psalm 8.
Robert Vonogh- Baby’s Bottle
12. Jesus receives worship when worship is only due to God
Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52 are all examples of this.
Matthew 14:33, “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Jews knew from the 10 Commandments and the rest of the Old Testament, that worship is only due to God. They could not bow down to, serve or worship anyone else. Why then did they worship Jesus?
The word for worship, proskuneo, in these cases, can be used to refer to honouring a king etc, however, note the context in which they occur. Most of the cases are in response to something Jesus has just done such as walking on water or being carried up to heaven.
The angel of Revelation 19:10, refuses this kind of worship, claiming he is a fellow servant of God.
13. The Wisdom of God
In passages such as Luke 7:31–32, 9:58 and Matthew 11:16–19, Christ uses allusions to the Wisdom of God (can’t have God without his Wisdom!) to describe himself.
Wisdom is a fundamental aspect of God’s very nature.
Word and Wisdom of God
“What pre-Christian Judaism said of Wisdom and Philo also of the Logos (or Word), Paul and the others say of Jesus. The role that Proverbs, ben Sira, etc. ascribe to Wisdom, these earliest Christians ascribe to Jesus.” [James D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making, 167]. Recall from our Trinity in the Old Testament article that Jeremiah calls the Word of the Lord, YHWH (Jer. 1:4–7).
In Luke 9:58, Jesus says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Witherington notes this same language was used to describe the Wisdom of God in extra-biblical writings such as Sirach 24 and 1 Enoch 42.
In Luke 7:31–32 (Matt. 11:16–19), Jesus says, “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’”
Here Jesus echoes the words of wisdom speaking in Proverbs 1, crying aloud in the street and raising their voice in the markets but no one listens.
Murillo St. Peter in tears
Wisdom of God parallel
Furthermore, in Luke 11:49–51 Jesus calls himself the Wisdom of God (v.49) for in the parallel passage in Matthew 23:34–36 he says he will send prophets and apostles which is what the Wisdom of God does in Luke 11.
Thus, Jesus shows himself to be the Wisdom of God which contextually is linked with the Word or Logos of God who is called YHWH in the Old Testament.
14. Walking on water like God
Mulier Storm in Sea
Jesus walking on water resembles Greco-Roman god-like behaviour yet disciples do not see it. He was like a ghost (it was dark, windy- Mark 6:49 etc), yet God, as ghosts, did not walk on water in Greco-Roman literature (Mark has a Gentile audience and ghost stories were common) but divine beings did!
Scholar Jason Robert Combs discusses this in A Ghost on the Water? Understanding an Absurdity in Mark 6:49–50, “Mark suggests that the disciples thought that Jesus was a ghost when they witnessed him doing one thing that ghosts absolutely cannot do: walk on water… Yarbro Collins, as noted previously, reviews a wealth of Greco-Roman sources that describe divine men and gods walking on water. With so many prominent accounts, Mark’s audience would certainly have understood Jesus’ water-walk in terms of divine manifestation, yet the disciples in Mark do not.”
God tramples waves of the sea
Moreover, in Job 9:8, God alone tramples the waves of the sea!
Furthermore, Jesus says I AM in this story (Mark 6:49–50, Matt. 14:27 in Greek ego eimi) which refers to YHWH’s covenant name in Exodus 3. While it is true this could also be used to say “it’s me”, Jesus in other places uses different expressions to say “it’s me” (eg. Luke 24:39).
As Meier notes in A Marginal Jew, “While the “surface meaning” of egō eimi in the Gospel narrative is “It is I,” the many OT allusions…intimate a secondary, solemn meaning: the divine “I am.” Ultimately this solemn utterance goes all the way back to YHWH’s revelation of himself to Moses in the burning bush.”
15. Passing by like God
In the same event as outlined in point 14, Jesus is referred to as meaning to pass by (Mark 6:48). Where could Jesus be passing by to while walking on water near the disciples? Why mention such an obscure fact?
In the Old Testament, “passing by” is repeatedly used to describe what God is doing when appearing to human beings. For example, YHWH passed by Elijah (1 Kings 19:11) and passed before Moses on multiple occasions (Ex. 33:19,22; 34:6).
Moreover, in Job 9:11, God is spoken of as passing by Job, yet Job does not perceive him.
In the context of the points highlighted under point 14, the account of Jesus walking on water clearly points to his divinity with an Old Testament context in mind.
16. Transfiguration- God finally reveals his face to Moses and Elijah
Both Moses and Elijah both experience theophanies in the Old Testament, whereby God comes to them on a mountain and reveals his glory. Yet, neither Moses nor Elijah can see God’s face.
“You cannot see my face.. You shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” — Ex. 33:20,23
“The LORD passed by.. when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak.” — 1 Kings 19:11,13
In the transfiguration accounts, they finally get to see God’s face on a mountain! Jesus’ true identity as God’s Son is revealed (Mark 9:7). In Jesus of Nazareth, God has a human face!
Just as God spoke to Moses and his people, descending in a “thick cloud” (Ex. 19:16, 40:34), a cloud overshadowed all present in the transfiguration event as Jesus’ identity was revealed (Mark 9:7).
17. Lord over nature- Jesus commands a storm like YHWH
Brant Pitre notes the following parallels between YHWH in Psalm 107 and Jesus in the Synoptics, stilling the storm (Case for Jesus, 106).
Moreover in Job 26:11–12, God rebukes and stills the sea to show his might. YHWH parted the red sea for Moses after Moses held out his hand (Ex. 14:21), however, Jesus stills the storm by his own command (Mark 4:39).
18. Why call me good? Jesus adds to God’s commands
A common objection to the divinity of Jesus, sceptics raise is the account of the rich young ruler. Jesus asks him in Mark 10:18, “Why do you call me good? For no one is good except God alone?”
Many sceptics fail to read this passage in its entirety. From what follows it is evident Jesus is testing the rich man to see if he actually thinks Jesus is divine.
Follow me- God’s command
How do I know this? Look at verse 21. Jesus has just asked the rich man if he has kept the commandments (v.19) and then urges him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
In other words, Jesus is adding, forsaking all to follow him to the very commands written by God! You can’t follow God’s commands and not follow Jesus and what he says! The man’s obedience to God is lacking unless he forsakes all to follow Christ.
What a blasphemous claim for a man to make! Unless, of course, Jesus is God..
Rich Young Man- Brooklyn Museum
In Matt. 18:20, Jesus claims, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
He adds to this in Matt. 28:20, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Only God has this capacity.
20. Jesus is King over all and Saviour
As the Son of Man, Jesus had power to forgive sins only God could (Mark. 2:1–10). Moreover, he claimed he had all authority on heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18) and to return in glory (Matt. 24:29–31). He claimed he would co-rule with the Power, sitting at his right hand, coming in the clouds when only God is described as coming in the clouds (Mark. 14:60–64).
Jesus is able to tell the sinful woman her faith has saved her (Luke 7:50) and describes his mission as one of seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10).
Yet if we read how YHWH is described in Isaiah 40–48, he is the one who can blot out transgressions (Is. 43:25), there is no saviour besides him (43:11), he is the one with authority over all to whom every knee will bow and tongue swear allegiance (45:23) and will not give his glory to another (48:11).
Reading Matthew, Mark and Luke in their context leaves little doubt they thought Jesus is divine. He took a crown of thorns, to crown you with salvation in his name. Where does this leave you?
Subscribe to our Substack: https://streettheologian.substack.com/
Got objections? Read this.
Subscribe to our Substack: https://streettheologian.substack.com/
More regular updates? https://twitter.com/StreetTheologn
Article archives spanning back to 2020: