A close-up photograph capturing the contemplative expression of a person holding a Bible, their eyes fixated on the pages, as if seeking answers to the question "Who do you say Jesus is?"

Who Do You Say Jesus Is? A Comprehensive Look At The Identity And Nature Of Jesus Christ

If you’re looking to understand who Jesus truly is, you’ve come to the right place. This in-depth article will provide well-researched answers about the identity and nature of Jesus Christ based on biblical and historical sources.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who took on human form, lived a sinless life, died for humanity’s sins, and rose again, offering salvation to all who believe in Him.

In the following sections, we will look at the biblical basis for Jesus’ divine identity, analyze Jesus’ own claims about Himself, examine historical extra-biblical sources mentioning Jesus, explore what made Jesus’ teachings so radical, and see how Christianity explains Jesus as being fully God and fully human at the same time.

By the end, you’ll have a thorough understanding of the biblical view on who Jesus is.

The Biblical Basis for Jesus’ Divine Identity

Old Testament Prophecies About the Coming Messiah

The Old Testament contains many prophecies about the coming Messiah that Christians believe were fulfilled in Jesus. Here are some key prophecies:

  • He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
  • He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
  • He would be a descendant of David (Jeremiah 23:5)
  • He would suffer and die for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 53:5-6)

These and other prophecies point to Jesus as the foretold Messiah. According to the Bible Study Tools website, there are over 300 prophecies about the coming Messiah in the Old Testament that were fulfilled by Jesus.

New Testament Accounts of Jesus’ Divine Power

The New Testament gospels and epistles contain many accounts of Jesus displaying divine power and authority consistent with him being the Son of God:

  • He healed diseases and disabilities (Matthew 4:23-24)
  • He exercised power over nature by calming a storm (Mark 4:35-41)
  • He resurrected several people from the dead (John 11:38-44)
  • He rose from the dead himself after being crucified (Matthew 28:1-20)

Jesus also claimed divine authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:20-24), stating that He and God the Father are one (John 10:30). Based on these displays of supernatural power and claims of divinity, those who knew Jesus during his life concluded that He was indeed the prophesied Messiah and Son of God (Matthew 16:16-17).

Modern day surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2022 indicate that over 80% of Americans still believe that Jesus was the Son of God who came to earth and died for our sins. This shows the lasting legacy and impact of the biblical accounts of Jesus’ divine identity and mission to redeem mankind.

Jesus’ Own Claims to be the Son of God

I and the Father are One

In John 10:30, Jesus unambiguously claimed, “I and the Father are one.” This statement affirms Jesus’ divine identity and equality with God the Father. The oneness refers to unity of nature and essence, not just purpose.

The Jewish leaders understood the claim as blasphemous, seeking to stone Jesus for claiming equality with God (John 10:33). This teaching was revolutionary to the monotheistic Jews, but Jesus doubled down on it in John 14:9, stating, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Clearly, Jesus claimed to be of the same divine nature as the Father.

Before Abraham Was, I Am

Jesus audaciously claimed preexistence in John 8:58, stating: “Before Abraham was born, I am!” By saying “I am” rather than “I was,” Jesus claimed timeless divine existence. The Jews reacted by picking up stones to kill him for blasphemy (John 8:59).

They understood that Jesus was appropriating God’s statement in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM.” No mere human could exist before Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, affirming Christ’s divine nature.

The Way, the Truth and the Life

In John 14:6, another powerful “I am” statement, Jesus says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Here, Jesus makes the audacious claim that he alone provides access to God.

No prophet, religious teacher or philosopher in history has made such an exclusive claim of spiritual mediation. This statement affirms that Jesus is the only way to restore relationship with God, revealing his divine identity as the Son of God.

Jesus Accepting Worship

Throughout his ministry, Jesus accepted and even commended those who worshiped him as the Son of God. When Thomas called him “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28), Jesus accepted the designation. When the healed blind man worshiped him as the “Son of Man” (John 9:35-38), Jesus embraced the act.

In Matthew 14:33, his disciples “worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'” As a devout Jew, Jesus would have recoiled at accepting inappropriate worship. His acceptance shows he considered himself divine and worthy of worship as the Son of God.

Extra-Biblical Historical References to Jesus

References in First and Second Century Roman and Jewish Sources

Jesus’ existence is corroborated by several non-Christian Roman and Jewish writings from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Here are some of the key references:

  • The Jewish historian Josephus wrote about Jesus twice in the late 1st century in his work Antiquities of the Jews. One passage confirms details about Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion. Another short passage mentions Jesus as the brother of James.
  • The Roman historian Tacitus wrote about the great fire of Rome and Nero’s persecution of Christians in AD 64. He explained that the name “Christians” came from “Christus” who had been executed by Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.
  • Pliny the Younger, Roman governor of Bithynia, wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan around AD 112 mentioning that Christians sang hymns to “Christ as if to a god.”
  • The Jewish Talmud contains traditions dating back to the 2nd century that refer to Jesus’ miracles, his teachings, his execution, and his disciples.

These independent sources confirm that Jesus did exist and was crucified under Pilate’s authority. The information from non-Christian authors corresponds with details found in the Gospels and other books of the New Testament.

References in the Quran and Other Religious Texts

Jesus is also mentioned in religious texts outside of Roman and Jewish writings:

  • The Quran refers to Jesus as “Isa”, an esteemed prophet who was born of a virgin, performed miracles, and ascended bodily into heaven. However, it denies that Jesus was the literal Son of God or divine himself.
  • The Babylonian Talmud refers to Jesus as “Yeshu” and recounts traditions about his birth, ancestry, discipleship, and execution. Again, it seeks to discredit Christian claims about his divinity and resurrection.
  • References to Jesus also appear in Syrian and Armenian Christian writings as early as the 2nd century AD. The Apology of Aristides and Bardesan’s Book of Laws confirm Jesus as a wise spiritual teacher.
  • Several Gnostic groups in the 2nd century combined Christian teachings about Jesus with philosophical ideas. Various Gnostic writings often portray Jesus as a spirit sent to impart hidden mystical knowledge.

These references confirm that Jesus was known throughout the ancient world, but various religious groups interpreted his life and teachings very differently in the centuries following his earthly ministry.

The Radical Nature of Jesus’ Teachings

Love Your Enemies

One of Jesus’ most counterintuitive instructions was to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This challenged prevailing wisdom to hate one’s enemies and seek retaliation.

Jesus called his followers to an incredibly high standard – repaying evil with good, and loving those who hate you.

Why did Jesus command this? He explained that God causes the sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain to the righteous and unrighteous alike (Matthew 5:45). As children of God, Jesus’ followers should reflect His merciful character.

Extending unconventional love to one’s enemies demonstrates God’s gracious love in action.

Loving one’s enemies is not easy or natural. But in obeying this difficult teaching, Jesus’ followers display His sacrificial love that reconciles enemies instead of defeating them.

The First Will Be Last

Jesus often upended conventional wisdom about social status and hierarchy. He taught that “the first will be last, and the last will be first” (Matthew 19:30). Jesus dignified those typically marginalized in society – women, children, the sick, the poor – treating them as equal in God’s eyes.

Those holding positions of power and privilege were cautioned against arrogance and self-importance. Jesus emphasized humility and service rather than high status and recognition. He modeled this by washing his disciples’ feet, taking on the role of a lowly servant (John 13:1-17).

According to Jesus, one’s status in God’s kingdom is often the inverse of status in human society. The values applauded by people are frequently not the values affirmed by God. Jesus highlighted the need to care for the overlooked and undervalued.

Lose Your Life to Save It

Jesus taught the paradox that losing one’s life is the only way to truly save it. He said, “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24). This ran counter to self-preservation instincts.

Jesus was not speaking of physical death, but death to selfishness and sin through sacrificial service to God. Dying to self and living fully for God leads to true, eternal life. While giving up control of one’s life seems frightening, Jesus promises reward for those who completely surrender their lives to His purposes.

This radical call to abandon personal aspirations to serve God’s agenda shows that Jesus wants His followers’ allegiance above all else. Only when we lay down our lives for His glory can we discover the full and meaningful life Jesus promises.

Jesus Christ: Fully God and Fully Man

Jesus Displayed Divine Attributes

Jesus demonstrated several divine attributes that set Him apart as more than just a man. He displayed omniscience by knowing people’s thoughts and hearts (Mark 2:8, John 2:24-25). He showcased omnipotence by healing the sick, calming storms, and rising from the dead.

He also forgave sins, something only God can do (Mark 2:5-7). Jesus received worship, which He accepted instead of refusing as mere humans ought to do (Matthew 14:33, John 9:38).

Jesus Displayed Human Attributes

Despite His deity, Jesus was also fully human. He got hungry (Matthew 4:2), thirsty (John 19:28), tired (John 4:6), and emotional (John 11:35). He had limited knowledge, learning and growing as a normal child would (Luke 2:52). Jesus faced temptation yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

In His humanity, He related to the weaknesses and struggles common to mankind.

The Hypostatic Union: One Person With Two Natures

Jesus Christ is unique in that He is the only person to ever be completely God and completely human. This is called the hypostatic union. Philippians 2:5-8 explains that while being God, Jesus took on human form and nature out of humility and obedience. Hence, He has two natures – divine and human.

However, He is not two persons, but one. Everything Jesus did on earth He did as both God and man in one indivisible person.


In concluding this comprehensive study on the identity of Jesus Christ, we can confidently say that the biblical and historical evidence points to Jesus being the divine Son of God and Messiah sent to save the world.

His divine power was on full display through his miracles, supremacy over nature, forgiving sins, accepting worship, and conquest over death through his resurrection.

Jesus audaciously claimed equality with God in a way no other prophet, religious leader or historical figure did. His early followers, transformed from cowardice to courage through their encounter with the risen Christ, were willing to suffer torture and death rather than recant their eye-witness testimony that Jesus is Lord.

The radical nature of Jesus and his loving, sacrificial example would change the world forever. Today, over 2 billion people from diverse cultures across the globe call Jesus their Savior. Ultimately, each person must grapple with and answer the question “Who do you say Jesus is?”

If the analysis presented here is correct, we must respond as Thomas did upon seeing the risen Lord: “My Lord and my God!”

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