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While I understand there are many potential passages in the Bible of Jesus claiming to be a messiah (which I understand to mean "anointed"), a king, or one through whom it is necessary to know God, I'm interested to know if there are any places where He literally claims to be God, God-like, or related to God (i.e. the son of God).

Taking the Bible to be a reliable record of what He said (for the sake of this question), what Biblical passages illustrate Jesus literally saying He was God?

OP Edit: I see that my question has been edited to say "literally" which has caused a bit of turmoil, so I'll just say that for me "literally" is read to mean "literally stated, or inferred without interpretation". So "I intend to put on foot coverings" does not literally mean shoes, as it could mean socks, but "I intend to drive to the capital city of the country England" means you'll end up in London no matter which way you swing it. Interestingly I did try to ask the Biblical Hermenutics group this question and it was suggested I ask here.

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Related: How do we know Jesus was God incarnate? – Richard Nov 4 '11 at 19:13
John 14:6 New King James Version (NKJV) 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. – r3s3arch3r777 Nov 4 '11 at 22:59
Does body language count for anything? – Peter Turner Nov 8 '11 at 20:19
One thing to keep in mind is that during the time of Jesus, there were many false messiahs. Part of the reason for the skepticism of the Pharisees and the Sadducees was that they'd seen messiahs before. – Gilbert Le Blanc Nov 8 '11 at 20:43
Just for the sake of historical record I'd like it to be known that this question has been edited to say "literally", and not by me. This edit, however, is probably an improvement and I'll actually take answers for this (better) question rather than my original one, and re-accept the top voted answer. Thanks to all for your input on this! – kinofrost Nov 11 '11 at 16:45
up vote 40 down vote accepted

There are many occasions on which Jesus states his identity with God.

  1. John 8:51-59 Jesus says

    John 8:58 (NIV) "Before Abraham was, I am"

    This is a clear reference to the name of God. Even if there were any doubt that this is the reference the reaction of the Pharisees clearly indicates that (in their eyes) this is a blasphemous claim.

  2. Matthew 9:1-7 Jesus claims to forgive sins, which the local officials (correctly) believed to be the perogative of God only.
  3. Thomas the apostle calls Jesus "My Lord and My God", which Jesus does not correct or deny.
  4. Also, we see this in John

    John 14:9b, 10a (NIV)
    ... Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father... Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?

  5. Matthew 26:63-64

    The high priest said to him, “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.

(There is a certain amount of dispute over the last item. Many interpreters take Jesus statement as a colloquial affirmative, though some take it as meaning "so you say").

Insisting that statements by Jesus be 'literal' is missing the point. If Jesus made a statement that equated himself with God in a way that was clearly understood as such by his hearers, then that is what he did. The fact that it requires a little interpretation to our twenty-first century minds doesn't make it any less a claim.

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In Matthew 16:13-17, Jesus says my father, meaning that He is the Son of God:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Also, a high priest asks Jesus if He is indeed the "Son of the Blessed", in which He replies "I am" in Mark 14:61-62:

But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."

I think a big reason of why Jesus never directly said that He was the Son of God (unless He was asked to say it) was because He wanted the people to exercise faith in Him, rather than seeing miracles and the like to prove to them that He was.

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There's a question regarding "why not directly" at… – Pacerier Jan 25 at 8:40

At the onset, I guess it is essential to state that Son of God is same as God nothing more or less. Son of God is “of God.” The claim to be of the same nature as God—to in fact be God. God took a human birth and that’s how the title “Son” came to him though He was Himself is God. God though divine is revealed in human nature to man. Jesus Christ is the image of God to mankind. God - omnipotent, revealed Himself to mankind, in Jesus Christ.

Here is what Bible says on this:

Jesus gets an answer from His disciples that He is Son of God and acknowledges it affirmatively.

Matt. 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 16:17 And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!

John 1:49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel!” 1:50 Jesus said to him, “Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”

Jesus is worshiped by people in His lifetime

In Revelation, an angel instructed the apostle John to only worship God (Revelation 19:10). Several times in Scripture Jesus receives worship (Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). He never rebukes people for worshiping Him. If Jesus were not God, He would have told people to not worship Him, just as the angel in Revelation did.

In these verses Jesus Himself declares it:

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am!”

Jews who heard this statement responded by taking up stones to kill Him for blasphemy, as the Mosaic Law commanded (Leviticus 24:16).

John 10:35 If those people to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ (and the scripture cannot be broken), 10:36 do you say about the one whom the Father set apart and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

Then take for example Jesus’ words in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” We need only to look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement to know He was claiming to be God. They tried to stone Him for this very reason: “You, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33). The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming—deity. When Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one,” He was saying that He and the Father are of one nature and essence.

Here Jesus accept this salutation from Thomas for otherwise He would have rebuked Thomas.

John 20:28 Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus affirm that He is Son of God:

Matt. 8:29 They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

Mark 3:11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 3:12 But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

And in this verse, John clearly states that Jesus is true God.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us insight to know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This one is the true God and eternal life.

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John chapter 5 has some of the strongest statements of Jesus' deity recorded in the Gospels. It's a very good chapter to open to when talking with cultists.

5:22 - "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son" Jesus is saying that He will be our judge in God's place. 5:27 repeats this.

5:23 - "that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." If we make Jesus less than God, then we dishonor God the Father.

5:25 - Those who hear the voice of the Son will rise again from the dead. If He is not calling Himself God, He is certainly attributing the traits of God to Himself. 5:28 repeats this.

5:28-30 At Jesus' voice people will be raised from the dead, some to life, others to condemnation. So our eternal fates are in the hands of Jesus.

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The first gospel to be written was Mark, which takes a cautious approach more applicable to an earlier period in Christianity. Jesus never refers to himself as the Son of God. Instead, he uses terms such as "Son of man." Even the disciples never call Jesus the Son of God. However, outsiders such as demons, the high priest and the centurion do make this claim. On two occasions, God himself announces that Jesus is his beloved son, in whom he is well pleased. In Mark 10:18, Jesus clarifies his lack or divine status, saying (KJV): "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." In this gospel (Mark 8:29-30), Peter only says that Jesus is the Messiah, and Jesus warns the disciples to say nothing of even this.

Matthew's Gospel was written somewhat later than Mark and (Matthew 16:16-17) now Peter can say that Jesus is the Messiah, son of the living God, to which Jesus responds with " Father which is in heaven." Here we are getting closer to a direct claim to divinity.

The fourth gospel clearly teaches that Jesus is divine. John 18:5-6 has Jesus state 'I am", and they fell back. Greek readers understood "I am" as a synonym for God (Some English Bibles translate this as "I am he," but the word 'he' is not in the original Greek), which scholars say is why they fell back when Jesus said this.

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Mark 10:18 is not necessarily a denial of Jesus' divine status. It could also be read as a rhetorical question, saying, in essence, "If you call me 'good,' then you are calling me God. So be aware of what you are saying when you say that." – Lee Woofenden Jun 30 '15 at 2:03
@LeeWoofenden Thank you for your insight. You are correct that almost every passage in the Bible could be interpreted in more than one way. I spent several months looking at the issues of what Jesus called himself, what the disciples called him and what others called him, in Mark's Gospel. This answer is based on my conclusions. – Dick Harfield Jun 30 '15 at 2:24
Somewhat undermining your thesis is Mark's first verse: "The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God..." as well as 3:11 - "Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, 'You are the Son of God.'" & 15:39 - "And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, 'Surely this man was the Son of God!'". – bruised reed Nov 4 '15 at 5:50
@bruisedreed Yes, I had thought of Mk 1:1: I don't rely on this, but some commentators believe that "Son of God" appears to be an interpolation here; in any case it is not part of the story of Jesus. .../cont – Dick Harfield Nov 4 '15 at 6:16
.../ As to the demons (3:11) and the centurion (15:39), they are outsiders: " However, outsiders such as demons, the high priest and the centurion do make this claim " By calling Jesus the Son of God, they brought this fact to the attention of Mark's intended audience, but enemies (whether Roman or Jew) could not blame Jesus or the Christians if a demon, an opponent of Jesus, acknowledged him as Son of God. Similarly, the centurion was not a Christian, so no claim of blasphemy (against God, the Roman gods, or the Roman emperor for that matter) could have been levelled. – Dick Harfield Nov 4 '15 at 6:16

Jesus claimed both to be God and to be the Son of God.

Jesus claimed that he is God.

John 10:28-33 (NIV)

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.

John 10:36 (NIV)

what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'?

Mark 14:61-62 (NIV)

61But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The paradox of being simultaneously God and God's Son is explained by the ontological relationship of Jesus with His Father.

The Apostles call Jesus "God."

John 1:1 (NLT)

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Titus 2:13 (ISV)

as we wait for the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus the Messiah.

1 John 5:20 (NASB)

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

John 1:18 (NASB)

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

2 Peter 1:1 (ESV)

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Jesus is called 'God' because he is of same nature with His Father.

Colossians 2:9 (HCSB)

For the entire fullness of God's nature dwells bodily in Christ,

Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

John 10:28-30(NIV)

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Jesus is 'of same nature' with His Father because he is the only begotten of his Father.

John 1:14 (NASB)

14 And the Word became flesh, and [k]dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:18 (NASB)

8 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

John 3:16 (NASB)

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.


One who is begotten is of same nature with the parent who begat.

When we say "Jesus is God" we do not mean "Jesus is God the Father" but rather, we mean "Jesus is God by nature."This means that the word 'God' in the sentence "Jesus is God" functions as a predicate nominative in case.

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Jesus explicitly calls himself the Son of God here in Matthew 26:

Matthew 26:63a-64b

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God."

Jesus replied “What you have said is true.”

I don't think it gets much more clear than that.

I have to note that this is a paraphrase version, so the actual wording may be somewhat contentious.

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-1 because this answer plays on the OP's weak definition of literal vs interpreted. I think it's actually impossible for an English translation of whatever it was Jesus said in this passage not to be an interpretation on some level -- I think your rendition of the passage is a valid paraphrase and proper interpretation but somebody should be objecting to the very idea that "literal" makes any sense at all in the context of us discussing this in a different language rather than throwing out an answer that plays off the problematic question. – Caleb Nov 12 '11 at 11:48
@Caleb Let me see if I understand what you're saying... "Literal" has multiple meanings (although all related, obviously). The question does not define "literal". Since this answer applies the primary definition of that word (adhering to the fact/primary custom/ordinary meaning), this answer is not valid? Also, instead of answering, based on one understanding of the word "literal", I should be challenging the OP's definition of the word "literal"? Wouldn't it be better to close the question than vote this answer down? – Richard Nov 12 '11 at 15:07
I commented here in the first place to discuss whether this was even a valid question. I suspect not as proved by this answer. Your answer isn't valid because it hasn't answered the "real" question, only played hot potato and passed off the responsibility. Rather than noting that asking for "literal" doesn't many any sense in a cross-language situation, you do the subjective work of translating/interpreting the passage, then make a case for your completed text being a "literal" statement, by which point there isn't much meaning left to that label. Or am I just crazy? – Caleb Nov 12 '11 at 16:15
@Caleb Regarding the question, I don't think it's constructive, although I do think it's a valid question. It should be asked, but within a doctrinal framework. Regarding the "literal" issue, it seems to follow the idea of biblical literalism (ie interpretation of the explicit, primary sense of the words) and also the definition of the word "literal" (adhearing to the fact/primary custom/ordinary meaning). I'm starting to think I'm confused on the point you're making, though. – Richard Nov 14 '11 at 18:54

The clearest statement by Jesus that He is the Son God:

Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: [John 8:54 KJV]

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