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John Gospel Denies Jesus is God 

The youngest gospel of the four we have is the gospel of John. It is purported to make the clearest statements that Jesus Christ was the incarnation of God, God made man. In fact this isn’t true. But if the gospel did declare that Jesus Christ was God then it would have to be eliminated from the New Testament for the doctrine that Jesus was godlike but not God or a god is all over the New Testament. When older gospels and sources than John deny Jesus is God we must listen to them.

The worshipers of the divine Christ think they find in their proof of his divinity in the form of the last gospel in the New Testament to be written. In their imagination, it is the clearest proclamation of the divine Lord. It is alleged to emphasise Jesus’ equality and identity with God. But this balloon of theirs is easily popped.
 
JOHN 1.
 
The opening line in this chapter says, "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God" and later"...The word became flesh." This seems to say that Jesus Christ as the incarnate Word is actually God.

 

The definite article THE is missing where you expect to see it. So you get "In the beginning was the Word and the word was with THE God and the word was God". THE God is God but the word is described as God but is not THE God. That is poetry. What is the text saying? It is saying that you can describe Jesus as God but you cannot identify him as God. It is not talking about identity. The son can be descriptive of his father but not his father.

JOHN 1:18: This verse says that nobody ever seen God and that it is therefore God the only Son ever at the side of God who revealed him.

The New American Bible notes say that many manuscripts from ancient times do not call the Son God here. So there is a case to be made for saying that the verse never called the Son God. Now the verse says that nobody ever seen God so he needs somebody to reveal him to us – that is somebody apart from himself. That means somebody that is not God. Thus the rendering of the verse as saying that the Son of God is God is undoubtedly wrong.
 
The verse clearly proves that the author never meant that Jesus is actually God when he wrote that the word was God and the word became flesh in Jesus.
 
JOHN 5:18. Jesus “was speaking of God as being [in a special sense] His own Father, making Himself equal [putting himself on a level] with God”.

John says Jesus claimed to be equal with God. We don’t know what sense he meant this in. But we know he may not have meant that he is the same as God in everything because Jesus said immediately afterwards, “The Son is able to do nothing of himself (of His own accord); but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing”. If there are persons in God these persons do all the same things for God is a spirit that is an undivided immaterial substance. God would have an inferior part if he could be a Son that needed to learn from him. Christians say that Jesus was simply saying that though he was God he was also man and the man part needed to learn from the God part. They may be right but who can be sure if they are? As long as there is uncertainty we cannot be sure the citation proves that Jesus is considered God by the Gospel. This is why what Jesus said later about God wanting people to honour Jesus as much as him (v23) cannot be definitely understood as literally true. He may have meant that God wanted him to be honoured by prayers and love as much as him in some things. Statements that are general are to be interpreted in the light of their obvious exceptions.

CS Lewis said in his book, Miracles, that Jesus was a Jew and Jews frowned on pantheism so he did not claim to be a pantheistic God. That is like saying that Martin Luther was a Catholic and would not have decided that the pope was the antichrist. Lewis in his dishonesty wants us to surmise that Jesus calling himself Yahweh would be worse in Jewish eyes than Jesus claiming to be a pantheist deity. Indeed the person who claims to be almighty God is blaspheming Judaism more than a person who concurs with Pantheists that God is nature and therefore we are all God is. Most Hindus think they are God because they believe that God is nature. Some Hindus believe that to worship God in idols though he is the idol is wrong for you must experience and worship only the pure spiritual form of God, the thing that is the foundation of reality and the real thing behind the material illusions. So it is simplistic to say that Jesus could not have been a pantheist. Many Jews were and that is where the Kabballah came from. Not once did Jesus say that Pantheism is wrong. Maybe others said he did but when they don’t quote him we don’t know if they interpreted him right or not. But there is nobody in the New Testament who gives any testimony that Jesus was against Pantheism. The Law of Economy requires that if anybody reasonably sane claims to be God then he means a Pantheist God and is not claiming to be consciously running the universe like a madman might.
 
JOHN 8:58. Jesus said that before Abraham was born that he is and saw Abraham. He called himself, “I AM”, which is the name of God in Exodus 3:14. Therefore Jesus was God.
 
Jesus only said I AM before Abraham was. He didn’t say my name is I AM.

Jesus said, “I AM”, but he did not say, “I AM in the sense God meant it in Exodus.”
 
Jesus was telling us that he is in eternity and can see what happens in time and that was how he was able to see Abraham who had been dead for a long long time. (It could be that the Book of Revelation says that Jesus was the lamb that was killed since the foundation of the world in 13:8 meaning from the perspective of eternity). We have no right to assume that he meant the latter. He did not even call himself, “I AM,” like God did. It was God’s name revealed to Moses but Jesus does not use it as a name but as a way of saying he is a timeless being. He was just saying that he exists in eternity where there is no past or future. Christians argue that when the Jews heard these words they took them to mean that he believed himself to be God for it is recorded that they immediately picked up stones to fire at him. Death by stoning was the price for blasphemously claiming to be God under the Law. The validity of their argument rests on whether or not they are right to suppose that the Jews were going to kill Jesus by stoning over what he had said. Maybe they had no intention of stoning him to death. If they had, then note that the text does not say that they gathered the rocks with the assent of their conscience though it did tell them to liquidise any would-be gods. Perhaps they were sick of his saying wonderful things about himself such as that he existed before Abraham did or maybe they felt he was saying that God gave him the knowledge he had which would be blasphemous if he came across as a know-all.

We must remember that Buddha along with thousands of mystics have also claimed to be I AM. They mean that they found their true identity as a self-existent force that was outside of time and which showed them that time and the body were illusions. They did not all use the term but they meant it. They did not mean that they were having the experience when they were saying such things for it was enough to have had it in the past.

But the simplest answer to the claim that Jesus meant he was God by calling himself I am is that even in Exodus, Yahweh calling himself I AM WHO AM could just mean I am not going to tell you who I am. Or it could mean, If I tell you who I am I will have to tell you what I am and I cannot do that so I just am what I am and that is all I can tell you. Jesus could have meant these things about himself and was indicating nothing more than that he was a mystery like God. This would imply Jesus was more than a man. He would have to be a great angel. Whatever Exodus means by the name or title, Jesus meant something different. In Exodus there is no evidence that the title conveys that God is eternal while Jesus claims to transcend time. In the Catholic book, Set My Exiles Free we are told that I AM WHO I AM means Yahweh and Yahweh is part of the Hebrew verb “to be.” “To be” to the Hebrews would have meant “to be here”. So the name Yahweh means “I am here because I will be with you always” (page 43). This is probably confirmed by verse 12 where God promises to be always with Moses and his people Israel.
 
Jesus says in this chapter that the law is right to demand two independent witnesses before anything can be believed and he says it is true of him and he testifies to himself and so does God. The trouble is we have only his word that God testified so that was silly of Jesus. It also gives anybody who can get two clever and believable witnesses to testify to revelations that some long dead person is God the right to be believed. When the apostles held to such a bad standard we cannot take them or the gospellers too seriously. But enough digression. Jesus argument for two witnesses works best if he is not God. Yes it still fails but it still works best. He said he wanted two beings to witness himself and God so they are two beings for if he is both God and man God cannot be a distinct witness. He indicated in this same chapter, John 8, that the I AM references are not literal declarations of deity.


JOHN 10:30. “I and the Father are One”. When Jesus said this after promising to bestow eternal life the Jews tried to kill him by stoning for making himself God.

When one studies the context it is made plain that their response may not have been caused by this utterance but by the promise that he would give eternal life which seemed to make him God. The cited utterance itself is no proof that he claimed to be divine. A man and his wife are one (Genesis 2:24). It is silly to argue that they would have lifted the rocks to stone him before he got a chance to say he was one with the Father if it was the everlasting life promise that bothered them. Maybe they just wanted to hear what else he had to say and let him finish before they grabbed the stones?

The cited utterance on its own was inoffensive for it was biblical as Jesus explained later so what the Jews were disgusted by was his saying that he gives eternal life and nobody can take it away which seemed to be claiming that God made him the saviour and the boss but not necessarily God.

Some scholars say the most accurate translation of the text is, “I and the Father are one essence or nature.” This is because the word for one is hen which is neuter. If they are right then Jesus said that he and God were of the same substance to show how intimate they were though they weren't literally the same substance. Jesus said that a man and his wife were one flesh. He didn’t mean that literally so why should we take this verse literally? It is most reasonable not to. Jesus never said that his relationship with God was beyond our understanding. When a person says something that could be interpreted in a simple sense or in a paradoxical and incomprehensible sense we should veer towards the first sense. Even if Jesus said he was one substance with the Father we have to take him as not meaning one being for we can’t make sense of that.

Jesus asked the Jews what good work they were going to stone him for. In other words, he had no offensive meaning in what he said so he did not mean he was God for he could not blame them for wanting to stone him when their creed told them to stone anybody that said he was God. They said that it was not for good but for saying he was God. The passage does not say that they were telling the truth. But John stresses Jesus’ infallibility so good works were the real reason. Jesus was saying there was nothing in what he said that could justify the ignorant stoning him. A person who thought Jesus blasphemed would be entitled to but he is nobody could think that.

Jesus then told the Jews that if he claimed to be divine it was in the sense that the Scriptures called anyone who heard God’s word divine or gods. He clarified that they could not accuse him of blasphemy when the Law called them gods. They could if the Law meant it symbolically and he meant he was literally divine so if the Law was symbolic so was his claim. This is proof that John’s gospel is not the great book that was written to say that Jesus was God that many scholars think it is. Jesus is saying that he is as much God as those who hear God’s word is. There is nothing else he could have meant. He claimed to be divine but not literally divine. He called himself God as a symbolic way of saying he was God’s supreme representative.

Contrary to The First Letter of St John you can love the child and hate the father. John says that you cannot because if you love God you will love God’s Son and the other children of God for he who loves the daddy loves the child the daddy makes (5:1). Some reason that this could only be right if we are all incarnations of God as much as Jesus was meaning that to hate the persons who are God is to hate God the Father for they are all one God. That could be taken in a pantheistic sense. But my view is that John was just manipulating logic to trick his followers so that they would think they hate the father when they hate the child.

The Christian idea that Jesus means he was more entitled to be called literally God than they were to be called symbolically divine makes no sense and is blatantly incoherent. Everybody and everything is symbolically divine. The verses that deny that Jesus was God come before the ones that seem to say that he was because it is more reasonable and respectful to God to deny that he was God.

JOHN 12:40, 41. Jesus says that Isaiah’s vision of God (Isaiah 6) was a vision of himself. Does this mean that Jesus must be God?

The Bible says that nobody can see God and live (Exodus 33:20) – if God is good then the reason is that upon experiencing the happiness of beholding God one cannot live for the crave for death in order to be with him forever is too strong and is powerful enough to cause death – so Isaiah did not see the essence of God but a symbolic vision of God. The Bible says that God has no body and is everywhere and is almighty so when Isaiah spoke of God’s train and sitting down he didn’t mean it literally and held the vision to consist of symbols of God. If he saw Jesus through whom God revealed himself and who said that anybody who saw him saw the Father (for he showed what God was like) (John 14:9) then he saw God by seeing the divine works. God is his actions for he is a partless being so he saw God in an indirect way.

Isaiah had to see an image of some sort. If he saw Jesus he would not say that Jesus was God just as if he saw a light he wouldn’t say that God is a literal light. God would have given him a glimpse of the future Jesus who was the mirror of God so we can’t say we have an indication of pre-existence here.

JOHN 12:45 where Christ claims that whoever sees him sees the Father.
 
This is like John 14:9 where Jesus asks Philip does he not know him to be the Father when Philip asks Jesus to show him and the disciples the Father. Jesus says that whoever sees him sees the Father. Jesus did not claim to be the Father for he spoke of the Father as separate from himself. He was the mirror and temple of the Father. He was so close to the Father that the Father can be described as having took flesh in Jesus but not in the sense that the Father has literally become man. We see the meaning of the words of the gospel that God the Word was made flesh.

The Church says that since the Father and Jesus were one God or one being to see the Father was to see Jesus. But if Jesus was the perfect mirror of God and not God at times this interpretation is not the only one.

JOHN 17:5 where Jesus asks God to give him the glory he had with him before the world was proves his divinity for God says he will not give his glory to another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11).

Jesus never asked for God’s glory, that is, the glory that belongs to God alone. The Bible promises that God will glorify the saved.

JOHN 17:21 has Jesus saying that just as he and the Father are one so he wants his followers to be one.
 
Christians say that Jesus and the Father are two persons but one being so he did not mean that he wanted us to be one that way for we are all separate beings from each other and from God. So they say that Jesus meant that he wants people to be as close to one another as he is to the Father in the loose that is less literal sense. But the verse is open to the interpretation that Jesus wants us to be one in the exact same sense that he is one with the Father which would mean that he is not God but only in a relationship with God for we can’t become God and still be ourselves. Support for this is in the fact that when in doubt the literal interpretation is the probable one. That is the interpretation that we are to be literally one but in the friendship sense with God like Jesus and God are one that way. And there is more. The oneness between persons in the godhead is not free while ours, according to the Bible, can be. God did not choose to be three persons who loved each other and he cannot help loving. In a sense the unity is artificial because it is forced. So there is no comparison. Jesus then could not mean that he wants us to be one like the Father and Son are because the two categories of relationships are as far apart as Mount Everest and the moon. So he wants us to love one another as he freely loves the Father and he loves him as a free man and not as a God-man who has to love.
 
JOHN 20:28. Thomas probed the Risen Jesus’ wounds and cried, “My Lord and my God”. Jesus did not correct him for calling him God so Jesus accepted this confession of faith in his divinity as the truth. Thomas was not swearing but he was speaking to God. He was speaking to Jesus.
 
If Joe raised Jake from the dead and you saw Jake it would be natural to exclaim “Joe”, in acknowledgment of his power.
 
Christian apologists maintain that no Jew would cry, “My Lord and my God,” as an exclamation for Jews have an excessive reverence for the name of God. But Jesus sneered at many Jewish traditions and laws and sought to restore sensible obedience to divine law, the Torah (Mark 7). His apostles would have picked up the same trait. If John’s gospel says elsewhere that Jesus was not God which we believe it does then it does not need to have Jesus correct Thomas if Thomas meant to call Jesus Lord and God.
 
Besides the gospel doesn’t say Thomas was right even if he called Jesus God. The gospel only reports the episode without commenting on the right or wrong of it. It speaks of Thomas having refused to believe in Jesus or believe in the evidence for the resurrection until Jesus appeared to him indicating that Thomas is hardly a reliable source of doctrine.

 

Why does Thomas use an expression seemingly about Jesus that fits pagan imperial culture best?  Don't forget that this gospel is for Roman pagan culture.

 

The Roman emperors commanded that they be titled Dominus et Deus which means Lord and God. They claimed to be God in the sense that despite them being men without magical powers and who would die they were still somehow God incarnate. Even if Jesus was called God it could be explained in this sense. There is a difference between an active God-man and one who seems to be just ordinary. There is a difference between a supernaturally active one and one who is positively uninteresting. Jesus claiming to be God would not necessarily mean much. John draws on philosophical and pagan influences and so Thomas despite being a Jew could have meant it all that way. Emperors Augustus and his successor Domitian discarded the Lord and God title. Statius claims that Domitian did away with it (Silvae 1.6.83–84). But when we turn to Suetonius’s Life of Domitian chapter 13 we are told that Domitian got a letter started with “Our Lord and Master enacts."

 
JOHANNINE DENIAL OF DEITY

The Gospel of John which is the bedrock of belief in the divine saviour is the one that is the clearest in rejecting it. The gospel has been twisted and abused by fake Christians.

In John 5:45 Jesus tells his Jewish enemies that he will not accuse them before the Father for Moses will do that. But if Jesus is God then he has to for all his thoughts are communicated to the Father and if he thinks of them as guilty it is a message to the Father that they are. Jesus is not God. If John said that Jesus was God then this is evidence that he was not always God or was just God on a few special occasions.

In John 7:16, Jesus said, “My teaching is not My own, but His Who sent Me”. Christians claim that he means that his teaching is not the product of his human nature but of his divine nature. If he meant that he would have said, “This doctrine is not of human origin but divine”. He said that it was not his own. His human nature alone is not a my. The Church says that Jesus is fully God and fully man. This is like two separate persons pretending to be one. If Jesus is still one person the my refers to this person who is human and divine. Jesus was saying that God was one person and he was another, a creature, somebody made by God and not God.

In John 8:28, Jesus said that when he will be raised up by the Jews on the cross they will learn that he was the messenger from God they were waiting for and that he did his Father’s will and not his own and said only what he was told to say. The crucifixion reinforced the Jews’ conviction that Jesus was not God though it might have made them believe that he was a holy man inspired from on high. The verse proves then that Jesus was not literally God.

In John 10:18 Jesus said he was authorised to lay down his life and to take it up again. To be God is to have supreme authority and so God cannot be authorised to do anything. Jesus was not God. The Church says that Jesus was God but that he was also man and as man he had to receive authority and power from his divinity or divine nature. When the gospel Jesus nowhere actually states that he was at once fully God and fully man that explanation is untenable. The Jews would have taken him to mean an ordinary man claiming to have been authorised by God so that is what he meant.

In John 14:28, Jesus asks the apostles to rejoice that he will return to his Father for his Father is greater than him. Believers in Jesus’ deity contend that Jesus meant that it is best for his humanity to go to Heaven to enjoy God forever instead of remaining on earth not that God is greater than he is. Greater in the context Jesus gave must mean “more able to make me happy than I can make myself”. If Jesus had had that in mind it was best to be with the Father for the Father was more glorious than he was in his humanity and not that there was any inequality, it would make no sense for he said that the glory of God was love and God could have no greater glory than to become man to sacrifice himself forever. Jesus said that he was neither God not equal to God as in being another God. It didn’t occur to Jesus that a God who does not suffer is not love for love is sacrifice that was just an error. It does not stand as evidence that Jesus claimed to be God. If, however, Jesus did not make this mistake it does not mean that he had to claim to be God for God could suffer without becoming man. He could become an emotional angel.

Jesus informed Magdalene in John 20:17 that he is going up to his Father and her Father and his God and her God. Jehovah’s Witnesses regard this as an indication that he was her Father and God in the way he was his. But an adopted child might say something like that to a natural child concerning their father.

CONCLUSION
 
If you keep unnecessary interpretations out of your reading of the John Gospel and stick to the necessary ones you see plainly that John didn’t declare Jesus to be God.
 
BOOKS CONSULTED

A CALL TO HERESY, Robert Van de Weyer, Lamp Press, London, 1989
ALLEGED DISCREPANCIES OF THE BIBLE, John W Haley, Whitaker House, Pennsylvania, undated
ASKING THEM QUESTIONS, Various, Oxford University Press, London, 1936
CHRIST IS GOD, Rev JP Arendzen DD, Augustine Publishing Company, Devon, 1987
CHRIST OUR LIGHT, J Buys SJ Geoffrey Chapman and Gill & Son, London-Melbourne, Dublin 1966
CHRISTIANITY FOR THE TOUGH-MINDED Ed John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship Inc, Minneapolis, 1973
DID JESUS CHRIST REALLY COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN? Alan Hayward, Christadelphian ALS, Birmingham
DO CHRISTIANS BELIEVE IN THREE GODS? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992
EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
FOUR GREAT HERESIES, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1975
GOD AND THE HUMAN CONDITION, F J Sheed, Sheed & Ward, London 1967
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1994
HONEST TO GOD, John AT Robinson, SCM Press, London, 1963
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES John Wijngaards, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1998
JESUS AND EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE GOSPELS, Daniel J Grolin, George Ronald, Oxford, 2002
JESUS GOD THE SON OR SON OF GOD? Fred Pearce Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham
MERE CHRISTIANITY, CS Lewis, Fontana, Glasgow, 1975
MIRACLES, CS Lewis, Fontana, London, 1960
PRIESTLAND’S PROGRESS, Gerald Priestland, BBC, London, 1981
SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE, Henry Morris, Moody Press, Bucks, 1988
SET MY EXILES FREE, John Power, Logos Books, MH Gill & Son Ltd, Dublin, 1967
SOME MODERN FAITHS, Maurice C Burrell and J Stafford Wright, Intervarsity Press, Leicestershire, 1988
THE CASE FOR CHRIST, Lee Strobel, HarperCollins and Zondervan, Michigan, 1998
THE EARLY CHURCH, Henry Chadwick, Pelican, Middlesex, 1987
THE GODHEAD EXPLAINED, Christadelphian Press, Beverley, South Australia
THE METAPHOR OF GOD INCARNATE, John Hick, SCM Press, London, 1993
THE MYTH OF GOD INCARNATE, John Hick ed., SCM Press, London, 1977
THE NEW CULTS, Walter Martin, Vision House, Santa Ana, California, 1980
THE SPIRIT OF GOD, John Bedson, Lightstand Burbank CA 1984
THE UNAUTHORISED VERSION, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin Books, Middlesex, 1992
UNDERSTANDING THE CULTS, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Campus Crusade for Christ, San Bernardino, 1983
UNITARIAN CHRISTIANITY AND OTHER ESSAYS, William Ellery Channing, The Bobs-Merrill Company Inc, Kansas, 1957
WHEN CRITICS ASK, Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, Victor Books, Illinois ,1992
YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER IN PARADISE ON EARTH, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, New York, 1982
 
THE WWW  
 
http://www.kevinquick.com/kkministries/books/reasoning/nwt.html,
Kevin Quick discusses the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the Bible never says that Jesus is God

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Gives the Jehovah’s Witness response to this site

www.gospelassemblyfree.com/facts/fathersonwayne.htm
Father and/or Son by H Wayne Hamburger