Why Did Jesus Call Himself God’s Son?
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, but why? How did the early followers of Jesus understand His relationship to God the Father?
today on the johnny Kernberg show what is the main reason for the fact that the early christians believed Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today and could give you eternal life when you die. It was because after he was dead and buried, they actually saw jesus alive, touched him and talked with him. They didn’t believe on jesus just because he said he was the son of God, but because they saw him alive after he was crucified. This proof to them that his teachings were true. For example, if you’re a university student and I told your dad just had a heart attack and died, you’d rush home and a few days later go to his funeral after the funeral. What if one day you are shopping at walmart and turn to the next aisle and suddenly you see your dad standing there in your amazement, You say dad and he turns around and says, how are you doing, son? You go over and shake his hand and give him a hug. Three of your friends who attended the funeral also see your dad standing there and come over and shake his hand and talk to him. In fact 15 other people who were at the funeral also meet you and your dad at walmart. What would you all conclude you would believe that somehow your dad who had died is now alive. Why? Because you saw him touched him and talked to him, You would never forget the fact that you saw him alive after he was dead. This is the kind of eyewitness evidence that the christian faith is based on Individuals, the 11 apostles, family members over 500 people at one time all testified that they saw talked and touched jesus after he was crucified, buried and then appeared to them. The consensus position among scholars today is this historical evidence about jesus was written down and in circulation among christians within at least two years or possibly even weeks of jesus crucifixion today, world class philosopher Dr Gary Habermas will present this historical evidence. He received his PhD from michigan state University and a second doctorate from Emmanuel College in Oxford, England dr Habermas is chairman of the department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University and has written more than 100 articles on the life of jesus in scholarly journals to hear the historical evidence for jesus resurrection, we invite you to join us for this edition of the john Achterberg show. Right, yeah, welcome to our program. I’m john anchor Berg and my guest today is professor of philosophy, dr Gary Habermas and today we’re going to start with the million dollar question, do you think that jesus ever considered himself to be God? How many liberal scholars claim that Jesus never said that he was God further. They claimed that later christians deliberately excluded other books, other gospels which pictured jesus differently than the books which are now part of the new testament canon as you’ll hear in this program. These scholars are wrong on both points, let’s begin with, Did Jesus ever claimed to be God. Even using liberal scholars own critical methodology. Can christians examine the historical evidence and still prove that Jesus did claim to be God? The answer is yes. Dr Gary Habermas, our guest today is a philosopher and historian who has written over 100 articles for scholarly journals on the life of Christ as a christian. There are many reasons that have led him to accept all the content in the new testament books as true and authoritative, but he knows that non christian scholars do not believe the same way. So he starts with the little snippets of material in the new testament that they do accept and do think our historically reliable, not inspired but reliable and he’s going to use that material to prove that Jesus really did refer to himself as God. Now, dr Habermas argues that no matter which source which stratum as they call it in the new testament, critics turned to In all five of them, you’ll find that Jesus designates himself as son of man, which as you remember, is a reference to deity in Daniel 7, 13 and 14. Here’s what Daniel said in my vision at night, I looked and there before me was one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the ancient of days and was led into his presence and he was given authority. Glory and sovereign power. All nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His Dominion is an everlasting Dominion, that will not pass away and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. So folks, listen as dr Habermas uses the critics own arguments to show Jesus did claim to be god. We ended the last program by mentioning the critical comeback that seems so obvious that, you know, we gotta face it right away. And that goes something like this don’t take for granted that the red letter editions of new testament, exactly what Jesus said, How do you know that Jesus said what Mark said, he said, what luke said, he said, what john said, He said, what Matthew said, He said, now I made a couple of claims last uh, program that Jesus claimed to be son of Man and son of God. Let’s take a look at a couple of these with critical methodology, a sort of the lowest common denominator, a text that’s nothing but a book of ancient literature. Okay, the new testament is a book of ancient literature. Let’s think about this like the critics do. And let’s address ourselves to the issue. Did Jesus ever claim to be the Son of man. Now using a sort of monday morning quarterbacking scenario. I mean, it goes something like this. When guys sit around on monday morning, they remake yesterday’s football game and they make it in their own image, you know, if you’ve only done this if you’ve only done that. And really, that’s what a lot of critics claim that the Gospel writers are putting words into jesus’s mouth there, monday morning quarterbacking, jesus is teaching. How do we know the Son of Man is not just an added teaching? Well, there’s two important criteria that are given by the critics themselves, both of which are fulfilled by the Son of man ST These are criterion of authenticity. Now, the first one is multiple attestation. If you have a saying and more than one source, you have a pretty good idea that this is authentic. In fact, the jesus seminar themselves Use that criteria in the beginning of their book, the five gospels. Now the teaching that jesus was the Son of Man, It’s his favorite self designation according to the gospels. And it is found in all five what are often called the traditional gospel strata and the traditional gospel strata are mark M, the material that Matthew has that nobody else has L the material luke has that no one else has john. And this enigmatic uh, sayings document that they call Q five strata. And guess what Son of man appears in all five. So it’s pretty uniform that this is what Jesus called himself. Now the comeback is, well, that just means it’s a popular name. How do we know the Church to make it up. And really what Son of Man means is it was the most popular title for jesus, when the Gospels were written C. and they put it back in jesus’s mouth in 30 A. D. But really what it was is the most popular title for him when the gospels were written, that’s the second. And this is called the criterion of dissimilarity. If jesus did not get something from the jews and if jesus, jesus teachings are not found in the early church, probably they are authentic. This is the critical criterion of dissimilarity. And guess what, Son of Man cannot be laid at the feet of the jews. They have a concept of Son of Man, but they would never apply to jesus. But what about the church? Is this a great example of monday morning quarterbacking. They read their favorite designation back into the mouth of jesus. So it’s the favorite designation of jesus. When the gospels were written, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because Jesus is never called the Son of Man and any of the new testament epistles. In fact, he’s not called Son of Man anywhere outside the gospels except one place. And there it’s talking about the heavenly exalted Son of Man earthly Son of Man, the earthly jesus. There’s never called such a man anywhere else outside the gospels and only on the lips of jesus except in an instance where a man is simply reading that title, you know, you say you’re the Son of Man, back to jesus. So it’s a title distinctly on the lips of jesus Alone. In other words, let me unpack this just a little bit, it couldn’t be a monday Morning Later title read into the words of jesus because then it would be the church’s favorite title, but it’s not found in the church. So the best conclusion is, first of all, it’s in all five layers. Therefore, it goes to jesus and secondly, it can be dated to the jews, it can’t be dated to the church. You know, Jesus may must really have called himself the Son of Man. And I’ve got a problem because the Son of Man of Daniel 7, 13 and 14, it’s a very special figure, as we’ve said before, comes from the ancient of days. He’s a pre existent divine figure setting up God’s kingdom on earth. And if Jesus claimed to be that you don’t want to believe in the deity of christ now, you’re going up against a mountain of evidence. Now, the next question that comes up is this, did jesus ever just come out and say that he was the son of God. If so, what’s the evidence again, Dr Habermas takes the critics own assumptions and points out evidence about jesus from five different sources or layers of historical information and shows that they all reveal that Jesus said he was the Son of God. Listen now, the second title, and as I said, this one seems more obviously a title of deity. His Son of God, did Jesus ever called himself the Son of God. Let me uh reflect on a few passages here that are very helpful and jesus referring to himself as the son of God and that we can’t monday morning quarterback it into the lips of the early christian community. Okay, first of all, and Matthew 11 27 and it’s parallel and luke Here we have a passage that comes from what the critics call Q early sayings document very very early. They believe this predates the gospels by decades. And yet in Matthew 1127 and it’s parallel parallel, Jesus says, he said, I’ve come to you to reveal the father and this is the way he says it. He said, No one knows the son except the father and no one knows the father except the son and those to whom he will reveal him. Now in that passage, Jesus is claiming unique knowledge of God. And this is found in the very early Q strata according to the way the critics arrange this. And that’s a tough text. Another text uh, is mark 14 36. And here Jesus calls God Abba a lot has been written about this, including by german new testament scholar Joachim Jeremias and Jeremy’s claims that Abba is a very special title. You don’t really find this usage anywhere else in the jewish community. It’s translated Father or maybe even the very personalized daddy. But it’s an Aramaic and this may be a hint of jesus exact language don’t forget the new testament written in greek, Jesus probably spoken Aramaic. And if Abba is Aramaic, some people think we have a window here under the exact word of jesus, but what’s that word mean? It’s an indication Of God being his father. So you have a statement in Q, you have abba and maybe the strongest statement of all, Mark 1332. Now, if you look this up, you’re gonna think, man, I see not, this isn’t a verse about the deity of christ because Jesus is saying the time of my coming, it says that time, No, man knows the angels don’t know, not even the son, but the father. Only The reason, that’s a strong verse that Jesus is the son of the father or the Son of God is that he says he doesn’t know the time of his coming. My point is this if the church is making this statement up and putting the words back into the lips of jesus, why do they say something as one theologian says is theologically embarrassing. If they want to say jesus, son of man, just let them say, or son of God, just let him say right out and Jesus answered and said behold, I am the son of God, but no, they’ve got to go and say, I don’t know the Time of my coming, that’s really different. That’s difficult because if he is the Son of God, why did you know the Time of his coming? Now? I think that could be explained traditionally because Jesus had a human nature. Jesus had a divine nature, but be that as it may, that sentence does not seem like it could be made up because it’s too embarrassing. Just say he claimed to be the son of God. No, they had to say the Sun doesn’t know the time of his coming, and that’s a rough sentence. So Jesus probably said it, you’ve got a cue statement, you’ve got an obvious statement, you’ve got to I don’t know the time of my coming statement. And I think in all those cases we have evidence that Jesus did claim to be the son of God, as the gospels proclaim. Now, folks, I want to drive home the point that using critical scholars own assumptions, you can show them that Jesus claimed to be God, that doesn’t mean we have to agree with their assumptions. It just means that the historical evidence is so strong, we can use their assumptions and non christians can come to believe in christ by examining these facts. Dr Habermas summarizes this point. Listen, maybe we can backtrack here just a little bit and talk a little bit about theological definitions and in particular the method that I’m using here. My point is this if you take the traditional view of Jesus christ as laid out in the gospels, Red letter edition, Acts epistles of paul, obviously no one’s gonna dispute the fact that jesus in those texts claims to be the son of God died on the cross for our sins was raised in the dead. But I’m taking a different approach. What I might call a minimal facts approach, what I might call lowest common denominator approach. And what I’m saying is even if the critics are right about the methodology and we can note, say, five layers of tradition in the traditional gospels, including a Q, which is taken from the german for source. And what it means is a saint’s document. It’s believed by critics that a sayings document was circulated in the early church with nothing but sayings of jesus and they take this very seriously. And uh, that’s a document that includes Matthew 11 27 jesus being the son of God. We’ve talked about creeds, evangelicals don’t think like that because they think, hey, look, this whole book is scripture. Why do we have to look at pieces? But the critic who sees the new testament as a book of ancient literature and maybe nothing more. He says it’s very important. And I think he’s right that if we have some early statements that predate the books in which they appear, E paul saying, I gave you that, which I was given paul saying, observed the traditions of the elders, we have these little tiny confessions that predate the books in which they’re written. The point is there really early and I’ve argued their apostolic. So with these kind of critical lowest common denominator ways of thinking, you have creeds, you have q you have sources in the gospels. My point is even using their methods. We really come up with some of the strongest arguments for the duty death, burial, resurrection of jesus. Now folks, one of the most outrageous claims being made by liberal scholars today Is that the 27 books that now make up the canon of the new testament were chosen for political reasons. Not because these books were known and accepted by all Christians. Some far left scholars claim that later christians purposely suppressed other books and gospels about jesus that depicted jesus in a far different way than Matthew, Mark luke and john one of the books they claim was purposely kept out of the Cannon was the Gospel of thomas. But dr Habermas shows such claims are simply not true that the gospel of thomas wasn’t even in existence before 150 A. D. And all the books in the new testament were written before 90 A. D. So the book of thomas couldn’t be part of the canon. I want you to listen. You know, john this is one of the questions that that really kind of sets me off. Now we have gospels. We have those little cradle passages and acts. We have paul critics are willing to give us paul almost carte blanche for those 568 epistles that are considered genuine epistles, we’ve gotta argue away for those little creeds and Acts and for some of the gospels. But this is obviously the traditional canon and critics want to get you on other grounds. Now, I’m not talking about the modern critics, but let’s go over with the jesus seminar people, they want to tell you that we kept other books out of the Cannon by a political move and the other sources are there, but we wanted a single jesus. So we orchestrated what was going to be in the Cannon and what wasn’t. And why didn’t we include things like the best case scenario is made for the gospel of thomas, which is the sayings document a little over 100 sayings of jesus, something like you. That’s what, what they say. Now, why do we keep something out? Let’s make thomas our test case here. Why do we keep that out of the Cannon? A couple of things I want to say here, number one, no matter what you do with other books, you still have to deal with the evidence from a paul. Be little creeds and Acts. See Gospels, Whether there are other books or not, you have to deal with this. And after all, paul is the early Apostle, Peter is the early apostle. James, The brother of jesus is the early apostle thomas. This is called the Saints book, but nobody believes it’s written by the apostle thomas. So the traditional canon is there for a reason, it’s more authoritative, what does more authoritative mean? It’s written by the guys who were in the closest proximity to jesus. Now, how about this thing that there’s a political move and you want to keep the other books out? Like thomas, let me tell you something, there’s no political move involved because there weren’t books at that time, like thomas that could be kicked out of the Cannon, they didn’t decide, Mark, you’re in the gospel of thomas is out because gospel thomas didn’t even exist at that time. The jesus seminar is a distinct minority. When they want to say paul comes thomas comes back to 50. And you know what, I can show you some of their documents where they brought, they first said paul thomas is perhaps 90 A. D. And then 50 A. D. You know why it appears there, they need some other documents that they can put in the 50s to say there are rivals. Everybody else has Thomas in the second century. The reason nobody made a decision against Thomas in 50, 60, 80, 90 80 is because there’s no Thomas, according to the vast majority of scholars. So there’s no Orthodox canon where the people say this is it, we’re only gonna take this stuff and we’ll throw everything out. There is a main reason for this evangelicals, we laughed out of court. If we said we’ve got a book, it’s about 100 years, late second century, but we like it. So we’re gonna bring it back to the Cannon. You know what they say. Don’t you think 100 years is just 1 50 ish. A D is just a little too late to be an early source for jesus. That’s what thomas is. The reason. It’s it’s rejected in the canon is because it’s late, not because they didn’t like the politics, they didn’t like the jesus. We have a bunch of floating jesus is around. You can’t show that you can’t show there’s a an authoritative jesus. That is not the one that’s represented by his apostles. Like paul, Peter James, it’s not there because it’s not physically existing. And I’m speaking about the gospel of thomas now, how would you show a non christian that the 27 books that make up the new testament are truthful books about jesus, and that they were accepted by eyewitnesses of jesus life, such as the apostles, and they were known to be authoritative books by christians who knew the apostles. Well, there is solid historical evidence that forms the foundation for our trust in these books. Listen, I would like to say one other thing about the the early Cannon, two blocks of books we’ve been dealing with here. The Gospels and Acts, Acts traditionally seen as volume two of luke. That’s five books, Epistles of Paul critics will give you 568 conservatives want 13 epistles of Paul. But these two blocks of books were accepted at the end of the first century. Nobody waited till I see in 3 25. How do I know? Take three early christian writers. Clement about 95 A. D. Ignatius about 107 A. D. Pollycarpus about 1 10 A. D. nine little epistles. And they cite Paul site quote referred to paul and his epistles just short of 100 times. They cite 12 of his 13 epistles, the only one they leave out Philemon. And you can imagine why only one chapter not theological but paul is called inspired. He’s called an apostle and his writings are quoted right there at about 100 A. D. By three authoritative writers of the gospels. They cite the gospels and acts well over 100 times. These two bodies of literature. Gospels plus ax, paul’s epistles 12 out of 13. I’m excited. They are recognized as inspired right there at the close of the new Testament Canon about 100 A. D. Go back to the thomas thesis. The reason others don’t come in. There are no competitors. There are no other gospels floating around to compete with the gospels and X. No other apostles Are of the status of Paul and write epistles like that and we have about 200 citations of them within. Right at the close of the first century folks. This is very, very early material. Let me have one of the things Clement 95 A. D. Ignatius 107 Polly Clark about 1 10 A. D. They cite the gospels and they cite paul Over 200 times. But you know what? They don’t refer to the gospel of thomas. Why? Because they’re trying to push them out of the cannon. No, there’s no thomas around. They don’t know it, they don’t cite it. That’s why we have much more evidence for the authoritative new testament gospels. Acts and paul’s epistles. And when Man Sinned Death entered our existence, it became the enemy who snatches a child before he learns to play in the sunshine. It’s the enemy who takes the life of a teenager who is just beginning to enjoy life. Mhm. Death is the enemy who takes the newly married husband away from his loving wife. Just when life is the sweetest the enemy that can rob young Children of loving parents and leave them orphans. But the bible also tells us that through christ this enemy, death can be met and we are assured that eventually in the end christ will eradicate it completely. Mm hmm. The bible says God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more death. Neither sorrow nor crying. Neither shall there be anymore pain for the former things are passed away. Death is an enemy and part of the reason that jesus christ came into the world. So all those who put their trust in christ death can sting us but it cannot conquer us. That is, death doesn’t block us out. We don’t stop existing. It’s not the end of everything paul says in first Corinthians 15 55 0 death where is your victory O death? Where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. What does that mean? It means this because we have sinned, we will experience the sting of death but it won’t ultimately destroy the christian, it will come to all of us. But for the christian, death doesn’t conquer or destroy us. It is actually the moment we pass behind the veil into a wonderful new life for all eternity, Jesus proclaimed, I am the resurrection and the life he who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Mhm. Next week on the john anchor berg show question here, obviously it’s what kind of data do we have? What are these facts that I keep referring to? Because some people are gonna be screaming now saying there are no facts. Okay, what is our audience? Evangelicals are gonna look at the new testament text and say factor all over the place every time I read and find one that’s a fact because I believe scripture is inspired, others will say no, it’s only a book of ancient literature. Now you have to ask the question which are believable facts and which are not. Most scholars will give you a list of facts surrounding the events that Christians call the Gospel trial, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus. I think there are at least 12 facts. At least 12. I mean, the vast majority of scholars are giving more than these, but there are at least 12 facts that critical scholars admit. Okay, and.