early church Bible study and evidence

Did the Early Church Believe Jesus is God?

Did the early church actually think Jesus is God?  Rephrase: Did they believe He is God, and not just the “son of” God, not just a man, not an angel, and not a created being of any kind?

Answer: Absolutely, they believed that Jesus is God.  And without that belief, the Christian faith doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that’s another subject entirely and not a rabbit trail we intend to dive down in this post.

Lately, we’ve seen those who cherry-pick quotes from the Bible and the early church fathers who seem to come to other conclusions, though, and that was one motivation for deciding to feature this question as a longer post instead of just a short video…of course, the short video is there for those who only have a couple minutes’ worth of time to devote to the subject, but for those wishing to dive in deeper and really understand the reality of the beliefs of the early church, read on.

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Biblical accounts

There are a number of times that the Bible tells us that Jesus is God in the Bible.  Others make the claim and He accepts it, He makes the claim Himself, and even the Father makes the claim about Him (really).

Disciples and Beyond

  • Thomas, a direct disciple of Jesus, calls him “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)
  • Paul tells his audience that Jesus is our “great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13)
  • In his letter to the Colossians, Paul also tells us that Jesus is the creator (Col 1:16), and of course we know that the creator is none other than God (Gen 1:1)
  • John, another disciple of Jesus, tells us plainly in the very first sentence in the very first chapter of his letter, that Jesus is God (John 1:1)
  • And John continues to reinforce that idea in John 5:23 when he states that Jesus is due the honor of the Father…a statement which would be blasphemous if Jesus were not God (see Rev 22:8-9)

Jesus Himself

Jesus makes the claim about Himself several times, and we have a full post on that subject.

The Father

God the Father calls the son God:

  • In Hebrews 1:8, the Father says to the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever”.  In case there is any confusion as to whether this language refers to God Almighty, we know that it is because of what it’s quoting: This is a direct quote from Psalm 45:6, in which the subject of the psalm is, without a doubt, God.  
  • Hebrews 1:12 keeps going with this theme, with God affirming that Jesus indeed has several attributes of God–attributes that ONLY God has: Authorship of creation, never changing, never-ending, and the title of Lord.  Again, this is obviously a reference to Jesus being God when the context is revealed: It’s a direct quote from Psalm 102:26, which, in its original position, is definitely about God Almighty.  

Early Church Fathers

For the sake of brevity, this post is only quoting those early church fathers born before 200 AD, and is only including a small sampling of their quotes.  And, in case there is any doubt as to the context, and as to the rest of what they wrote, all sources, where possible, are linked in this section and can be read online.

If We Didn’t Have the New Testament?

If we didn’t have the new testament accounts, we’d actually be ok…the early church fathers quoted it extensively and perpetuated the concepts taught within it…including the big one: Jesus is God.

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