Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 22, 1962
NUMBER 41, PAGE 6-7,11a

Jesus' Claim To Be The Son Of God Is A True Claim

Robert H. Farish, Lufkin, Texas

Introduction To Section II.

It has been shown that Jesus did claim to be the Son of God. This, however, does not complete the task which has been undertaken. For this study would be incomplete if it were not extended to include proof that the claim is a true claim. If Jesus of Nazareth is not the Son of God, as he claimed, then the high priest correctly charged that "he bath spoken blasphemy:" (Matt. 26:65) The two ideas, (1) that Jesus was a noble character and (2) that he was a blasphemer, cannot be reconciled, and yet that is precisely the position one must occupy who tries to maintain the image of Jesus as a noble character and a great teacher but not the Son of God. Jesus of Nazareth is immaculate in goodness and a perfect teacher if he is the Son of God, but not otherwise.

If Christ Hath Not Been Raised

The consequences of the doctrine which denies the deity of Jesus, are given detailed treatment by the apostle Paul in the fifteenth chapter of first Corinthians. The denial of the deity of Jesus has the same consequences as the denial of the resurrection of Jesus for it was by His resurrection that God declared His deity. Paul wrote that He was "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead...." (Rom. 1:4) The task of the infidel is simplified; he has only to disprove the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, to expose his claims to deity as being false. On the other hand, the efforts of the believer can be limited to the proof of this climactic miracle. For when the third proposition of the gospel, "that he hath been raised on the third day" is proved, acceptance of the other propositions is a necessary accompaniment. The apostle discusses the consequences "if Christ hath not been raised" in I Cor. 15:14-19. In this place he frankly avows that if Christ hath not been raised, the preaching done by the apostles is vain; the faith which is based upon the preaching of the apostles is vain; the apostles are false witnesses of God; the Christian is yet in his sins; those who have died in Christ have perished; and hope in Christ is not hope but a delusion. This discussion of the consequences, "if Christ hath not been raised," points up the essential place occupied in the gospel by the proposition that "Christ hath been raised on the third day". When this proposition is established, real assurance of things hoped for and abiding conviction of things not seen can exist in the heart. If this proposition falls, the whole structure of the gospel collapses. No fact of the gospel has significance if Christ hath not been raised. These considerations should excite keen interest in the investigation of the claim to deity which was made by Jesus of Nazareth.

Miracles And The Claim Of Jesus

The deity of Jesus is proved by the miracles which were performed in support of his claim. The New Testament teaches that "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you ....whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death...." (Acts 2:22-24).

The apostle Peter also wrote, "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there was borne such a voice to him by the Majestic Glory, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; and this voice we ourselves heard borne out of heaven when we were with him in the Holy Mount." (2 Pet. 1:16-18) Here the witness refers to the miracles on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John. He claims that these three were eye-witnesses to the miracles and that they heard the voice from heaven making the claim for the majesty of Jesus in the words, "this is my beloved Son."

John the apostle wrote, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing ye may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31) This teaches that the signs performed by Jesus were recorded in order to make it possible for those "that have not seen" the miracles, "to believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God."

The apostle Paul stated that Jesus "was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead...." (Rom. 1:4) This climactic miracle, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, is the divine declaration of his deity. These passages suffice to establish that the witnesses claimed that God endorsed the claim of Jesus by miracles. The next step is to prove the reality of these miracles. The evidence by which the right miracles are proved is the testimony of eye-witnesses. The chief task before us is to prove that the testimony of the witnesses is all the evidence necessary to convince those of good and honest heart that "this Jesus did God raise up" and when this miracle is proved, the claim made by Jesus will be believed by every honest person. For it is inconceivable that an honest person could admit that God raised Jesus from the dead but deny his claim of being the Son of God. When the resurrection of Jesus is proved, his deity is proved, for those whose hearts are honest. Hence, the miracle of the resurrection will receive chief attention.

The Condition Of One's Heart A Personal Responsibility

As the condition of one's heart is such a vital factor in determining what one believes, it is proper to include some remarks about the matter. The condition of one's heart is a personal responsibility. Every responsible man has the capacity to believe upon proper evidence but this ability to believe can be interfered with and limited by certain attitudes or conditions for which he and he alone is responsible. God created man with the power of choice and he cannot irresistibly force his will upon man without infringing upon man's freedom of choice. He has not provided a sign which in its effect will amount to a direct operation upon the heart. The obstinacy of some who admitted the fact, that a notable miracle had been performed, but did not submit to the will of God as expressed by his Son, is explained on this basis. Jesus diagnosed the case of such in this language: "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn again, and I should heal them." (Matt. 13:15)

It has been stated that the deity of Jesus is proved when the proposition that "he hath been raised on the third day" is proved. But can this miracle be satisfactorily proved? Can we be sure that God raised Jesus from the dead? This is a vital phase of this study and will be given careful treatment.

The Evidence By Which This Miracle Is Proved

As has already been noted the evidence by which the resurrection of Jesus is proved, is the testimony of the eye-witnesses. The testimony of those who were in position to detect with their five senses, facts from which the only conclusion which can be properly drawn is that "he hath been raised from the dead," is all the evidence needed to cause the honest hearer to admit the facts and to conclude from them that the miracle was real.

The honesty of the witnesses can be proved. It can be shown that they really believed that Jesus was raised from the dead. This, however, will not fulfill the requirements of the case for there are those who admit that the witnesses were honest — that they really believed that Jesus had been raised, but who claim that they were deceived. It is therefore necessary to show that they were not "honestly mistaken." These witnesses were not deceivers, nor were they deceived. Evidence in proof of their integrity and ability is available; some of the evidence is here presented.

The Inspired Presentation Of The Case

The 15th chapter of I Corinthians is devoted to discussing the significance of and giving arguments in proof of the fact that "he hath been raised on the third day". This is the Holy Spirit's presentation of the case for the third fundamental proposition of the gospel. For the believer, this is the strongest presentation possible, and he is entirely willing to rest the case on the Holy Spirit's arguments. The arguments presented by the apostle will be relied upon to prove the proposition that Jesus "hath been raised on the third day".


The first thing which the apostle introduces in proof of the proposition that "he hath been raised on the third day" is the witness of the fact. He claims "that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also". (I Cor. 15:5-8).

"It should be observed that in proving the resurrection Paul cites eyewitnesses, (1) who were living; (2) who were many of them commonly known by name; (3) who were too familiar with the form, face, voice, manner, life, etc., of Jesus to be deceived by a pretender, if any could have found motive for practicing such a deception." (The Standard Bible Commentary by J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton).

The Witnesses Were Honest

The act of citing this large number of living eye-witnesses is strong evidence in proof of the honesty of the writer of the Corinthian letter. His honesty is established by the high degree of probability that some of these witnesses would be consulted by some of the readers of the Corinthian letter. This claim, of a large number of living witnesses to a fact which the writer is undertaking to prove, and about which he is giving testimony as a witness, made at a time when the other witnesses could be consulted, can be accounted for on no basis other than that the writer believed what he was testifying and was completely confident that their testimony would agree with his testimony. If he were trying to deceive he would not have so boldly claimed this large number of witnesses.

The Jeopardy Faced By The Witness Is Evidence Of Their Honesty

The argument has often been made, that the honesty of the witnesses was proved to be a fact beyond question by the extreme sacrifice and bitter suffering which they experienced solely on account of their testimony. This argument was advanced by the apostle Paul in about the year 65 A. D. He wrote, "Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? I protest by that glorying in you brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men, fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (1 Cor. 15:30-32) "Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour," is this witness challenge to the skeptic. The fact of the jeopardy to which the witnesses exposed themselves, by their testimony of the resurrection of Jesus which is here alleged, could have been tested by the readers of the Corinthian letter. Was there any doubt about his claim of the jeopardy to which he was exposed? Did anyone doubt that "after the manner of men (he) fought with beasts at Ephesus"? The matter could have been settled by sending a messenger on a trip of about two hundred miles across the Aegean Sea to the city of Ephesus to make inquiry. Or simpler still, inquires could have been made of travelers from Ephesus. This specific case of jeopardy is too close in point of time and distance to be faked. The apostle would not have dared to claim jeopardy in any such specific way if it were not a matter of fact. This claim of dangers encountered, sufferings endured, and sacrifice experienced solely on account of their testimony that "he hath been raised on the third day" is recorded in a number of places in the testimony. (2 Cor. 6:4-10; 2 Cor. 11:22-27; Acts 4:16-21; Acts 5:30-41; Acts 12:1-5; Phil. 1:12-14; Col. 1:24; 1 Thess. 2:1, 2, etc.) Remember that these claims of danger, suffering and sacrifice, were put on record at a time when the truthfulness of the claim could be checked. Each time that this claim is recorded the chances of exposure are increased if the claim is false. The apostle did stand in jeopardy every hour on account of his testimony.

The fact of the jeopardy is too well established to be seriously doubted. But what does it prove? Cases can be cited where others have sacrificed and suffered even unto death for a cause. Did that necessarily prove their cause? No, but it did conclusively prove that they believed in the cause which they espoused. Even so, the sacrifice and suffering voluntarily endured by the witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus proves beyond any doubt their deep conviction of the truthfulness of their testimony. If they had doubted the evidence which they had, they could not have been so positive in declaring it and so persistent in maintaining it at the expense of possessions, friends, physical ease and even life itself. Their action of dying for their faith when they could have denied and continued to live is the strongest conceivable evidence of their profound conviction of the truth of their testimony. They certainly believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead. And it will be shown that they were not deceived.