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John 5:18 NASB95 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

Isaiah 64:8 NASB95 But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Other verses that show God as Father in the OT are: Deut. 32:6, Psalm 82:6, 89:26, Isaiah 63:16, Jeremiah 3:4, 19, Malachi 1:6, 2:10, etc...

If this was a semi-common theme in the OT, why were the Jews so upset when Jesus called God Father?

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4 Answers 4

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As the OP points out, there was nothing blasphemous about claiming that God is our Father. However in the Gospel of John, there is a unique relationship between Jesus and the God. Jesus is the Word made flesh, who existed from the beginning; and "the Word was God." In this account, Jesus speaks often as if God his Father exclusively - "his own" Father, while those Jews who oppose him are of "your father the devil." He speaks as person who is not one of "the Jews." Nor does he use the expression "our Father" as he does in Matthew, where he is clearly a Jew among fellow Jews.

So in John's gospel, the idea of Jesus calling God "Father" cannot be separated from the idea that Jesus is "equal to God," which is indeed a blasphemy to Jews. These Jews understand Jesus to be claiming that he is what John says he is: the pre-existing Son, who is God's incarnation. This explains why John portrays the Jews as objecting to Jesus calling God "his own Father." If he said in these verses that God is "our Father," that would be another thing.

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The Old Testament use of phrases about God being Israel's 'Father' were not taken literally, or individually. All the Israelites knew that it was illustrative language of God delivering them as a motley little bunch of despised Haribu in Egypt, to making them a nation at Sinai - the nation was 'birthed' by God at that point and at that time through coming into the Covenant.

This is shown in king David's national prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:10, "Lord God of Israel, our father" also in Jeremiah 31:9 (God speaking) - "I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn."

However, Jesus came along, and even from the tender age of 12 years, told Mary and Joseph that he must be in his Father's house (the temple in Jerusalem). The literal Greek has him saying, "the Father of me". What an astounding statement for a 12-year-old to make! Mary likely added that to the growing collection of wonderful things said about her child, Jesus, starting with the angelic announcement, the first declaration that he "shall be called the Son of the Highest" and have an eternal reign (Luke 1:32-33). There is the first N.T. statement of the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, uttered by the angel Gabriel, no less.

But those statements were not common knowledge. Even when Jesus began his pubic ministry, it was John the Baptist who declared publicly that Jesus was "the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father... And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God." (John 1:18 & 34). Once that astounding claim was out in the public domain, the religious leaders got wind of it, and they were alarmed. From then on, they began to question John the Baptist, Jesus' followers, and Jesus himself, hoping they would fall into their idea of a trap, to get a charge of blasphemy leveled against this one man. If Jesus ever said (in so many words) "I am the Son of God", that would be the end of his ministry.

Because Jesus knew that his time had not come until his final visit to Jerusalem to keep the Passover, he avoided all traps. But when his time had come, he just had to say it once, and the charge of blasphemy was made, Pontius Pilate being the means of causing death by crucifixion. Compare John 7:6 with Matthew 26:18.

The Jews were enraged because they knew that for any individual human to say, "God is the Father of me" was to claim equality with God the Father, having the same divine nature as the Father. Clearly, that would be blasphemy in their books because they rejected even the possibility that this man was from heaven, sent by the Father to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The claim is only not blasphemy if the one saying it / of whom it is said, is, indeed, the uncreated, only-begotten Son of God.

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John 7:49 KJV

But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

This verse is located in chapter 7 of the Gospel of John, where Jesus is teaching in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. The Jewish religious leaders were arguing and debating with Jesus, questioning His authority and origin.

Verse 7:49 reflects the perspective of the Pharisees, who were a Jewish religious sect at the time. They are expressing disdain for the crowds following Jesus, calling them "ignorant crowds." In the Pharisees' view, these people did not have sufficient knowledge of the Law (the Law of Moses) and were therefore considered cursed.

Psalms 82:6 NIV

I said, You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.

This verse is part of a psalm that addresses the issue of divine responsibility and authority. The psalmist is highlighting the special position of God's chosen people, referring to them as "gods" and "sons of the Most High."

John 19:7 KJV

The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.

In this specific verse, the Jews are responding to Pilate, the Roman governor, who questions why Jesus should be condemned to death. The Jews' response highlights a religious reason, stating that according to their law, Jesus should die because he claimed to be the Son of God.

This accusation is significant from a theological standpoint, as it implies a charge of blasphemy against Jesus. The religious leaders of that time considered Jesus's assertion of being the Son of God as an affront to their beliefs and a claim to divinity. This was one of the fundamental charges that led to Jesus's condemnation to crucifixion.

John 10:33 KJV

The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

In this verse, the Jews are responding to Jesus, explaining why they accuse him and seek to stone him. They clarify that it's not for any good deed or righteous work that they want to stone him but rather for what they perceive as blasphemy. Their accusation revolves around Jesus, a man, claiming to be God, which they find to be a blasphemous assertion. This verse reflects the ongoing tension and controversy surrounding Jesus's claims about his identity in the Gospel of John.

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Thayer's Greek Lexicon STRONGS NT 2398: ἴδιος

ἴδιος, ἰδίᾳ, ἴδιον (in secular authors (especially Attic) also of two term.) (from Homer down); 1.. 2. private (in classical Greek opposed to δημόσιος, κοινός): ἰδίᾳ (cf. Winers Grammar, 591 (549) note) adverb severally, separately, 1 Corinthians 12:11 (often in Greek writings). κατ' ἰδίαν (namely, χώραν), α. apart: Matthew 14:13; Matthew 17:19; Matthew 20:17; Matthew 24:3; Mark 6:31; Mark 7:33; Mark 9:2, 28; Mark 13:3; Luke 9:10; Luke 10:23; Acts 23:19 (Polybius 4, 84, 8); with μόνος added, Mark 9:2; β. in private, privately: Mark 4:34; Galatians 2:2 (Diodorus 1, 21, opposed to κοινῇ, 2 Macc. 4:5; Ignatius ad Smyrn. 7, 2 [ET]). The word is not found in the book of Revelation.

In the outlined context, the hostility directed towards Jesus by the religious leaders of Jerusalem intensifies due to his actions, which, according to them, violate the Sabbath, as well as his claims of a unique divine filiation, positioning himself as equal to God (John 5:18).

The emphasis is on the Greek term "ἴδιος" (own), used to denote the singularity of Jesus's relationship with God as his Father. The in-depth analysis addresses the persistent rejection of Jesus by religious leaders, even in the face of acclaim as the Christ by a crowd considered unfamiliar with religious law.

The animosity of the religious leaders escalates as Jesus is more widely recognized by the crowd labeled as "accursed" and unfamiliar with the law. The refusal of religious leaders to accept Jesus, despite recognition by a crowd they disdain, illustrates the conflict and hostility that permeated his ministry. He is systematically excluded, not received, respected, or considered by religious leaders whose attitude is characterized by a morally distorted perspective. This dynamic contributes to the narrative of the growing opposition faced by Jesus, originating from those holding religious authority in Jerusalem.

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I've heard it said by others on numerous occasions that the Jews did not understand what Jesus was claiming, that is God. My answer to this is in the form of question?

"Whether or not the Jews are correctly or incorrectly understanding Jesus is not the issue. The issue is what was it that Jesus said that caused the Jews to say he was claiming to be God thereby accusing Him of blasphemy resulting in His death?

You have here at John 5:17, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." Vs18, "For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." (I am not dealing with the Sabbath issue here but to say Jesus did not break the Sabbath.)

Notice Luke 2:48-48,. This is when his parents were looking for Him in the temple and here is what Jesus says to them. Vs49, "Why is it that you were looking for Me?" Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?"

Next is John 8:58, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham sprang was born, "I am." Vs59, "Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; (why)?

Then there is John 10:30. "I and My Father, We are one." Vs31, "The Jews took up stones AGAIN" to stone Him." Why? Vs32, "I showed you many good works from the Father: for which of them are you stoning Me?"

Vs33, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man make Yourself out God." (At this point it should be stated that at John 10:30, "I and the Father are one" is a given that the Father and the Son are one in purpose.) I say that because John 10:30 is teaching the Father and the Son are one in nature or essence."

How do I know? Because at vs34 it is Jesus who brings up Psalm 82:6, "Has it not been written in your Law, "I said you are Gods?" At vs35, Jesus says, "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came and the Scriptures cannot be broken, vs36, do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and SENT into the world, You are blaspheming, because I said, I am the Son of God?"

What Jesus is saying that the judges/men in Psalm 82 do not make themselves gods, but rather the divine title is given to them by God, on the basis of their commission (to whom the Word of God came,). In affirming that He is the Messiah, Jesus uses this general principle to declare that His divine title ("the Son of God") was not His own proclamation, but comes as the result of the Father's commission ("sanctified and sent into the world;" (Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22).

Getting back to Psalm 82:6 it is "NOT" teaching men are "gods" or even "little gods." Vs6, I said, You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High. (There is only ONE Most High God, period.) vs7, Nevertheless you will die like the men you are, And fall like any one of the princes." Read Psalm 82:1-5 which show these judges were judging unjustly and walk in darkness.

Now we come to John 19:7, a portion of the trial of Jesus. "The Jews answered him/Pilate, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because (or why?) He made Himself out the Son of God." The whole trial record (at least the main points) can be found at Matthew 26:59-68. I will paraphrase.

At vs59 the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus. Vs60, they did find many false witnesses. Vs61, "This man state, I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild in three days." Jesus actually said 3 years earlier at John 2:19, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Vs21, "But He was speaking of the temple of His body."

Now we come to vs63 where the high priest Caiaphas says to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether (1) You are the Christ/Messiah, (2) the Son of God." At Luke 22:70, Jesus says, "Yes, I am." Jesus was ask to swear as to His identity.

Vs65, "Then the high priest tore his robes saying, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy." By the way the charge of blasphemy can be found at Leviticus 24:16.

Now, it is evident that claiming to be God or his equal is blasphemy against God and that the crime of blasphemy demanded the death penalty among the Jews. but why would the Jewish high court condemned a man to death for claiming to be something they all claimed for themselves?

Claiming to be the Messiah or the Christ if you will is not a death penalty offense as far as I know. Down through the years men have arisen even to this day claiming to be the Messiah.

It should be noted what the Apostle John wrote at John 20:30-31, "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; Vs31, "but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is (1) the Christ/Messiah, (2) the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

The problem with the Jews, they did not believe Jesus. This is the same problem down through the years including today, people don't believe Jesus Christ.

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  • I have a problem with generalizing about "the Jews" in this way. Jesus had many followers and supporters, and virtually all of them were Jews. Generalizing in this way is akin to saying that "the Christians" jailed Martin Luther King Jr. Certain Christians did, but the whole class of Christians did not. Commented Feb 7 at 16:38
  • @DanFefferman Well it's too bad you feel that way but your "beef" is not with me, it's with the Apostles and Jesus Christ. For example at John 5:16-18, "For this reason the JEWS were persecuting Jesus." Vs17, But He/Jesus answered them, that is the Jews." Now Dan, are you going to accuse Jesus of "generalizing" like you are doing to me? Or would not a "logical" person realize that the "JEWS" Jesus is referring to are the Pharisees who are persecuting Jesus? Do I need to give you more examples for you to comprehend the point?
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Feb 7 at 19:05

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