Is Asking “Where did Jesus say, ‘I am God’” a Good Argument?
The late Muslim apologist Ahmed Deedat was widely known for posing the following argument to Christians: “Where does Jesus say: ‘I am God,’ or ‘I am equal to God,’ or ‘Worship me’?” (Ahmed Deedat, Christ in Islam, Ch. 7)
Because of Deedat’s popularity and because he has persuaded many Muslims that this is a good argument, many Muslim apologists have adopted this argumentation into their apologetic method. For example, prominent Muslim apologist Khalid Yasin remarks: “Jesus Christ did not say, ‘I am God, worship me’.” (The Purpose of Life part 1, given by Khalid Yasin at Sydney, Australia)
You will hear the same argument from Muslims like Zakir Naik, Sami Zaatari as well as your average Muslim friends in dialogue. However, in this article I want to offer a response that I feel any fair-minded person will realize refutes this popular Muslim polemic.
Affirmative Case and Biblical Response to the Muslim Argument
When Muslim apologists say Jesus never said the exact words “I am God” they will often assert that nothing else is good enough; no other proofs are acceptable. However, the reason that this argument is logically and scripturally weak is because Jesus used titles of God that God, in the Old Testament, thought were sufficient to bolster His deity. For example, Jesus said “I am the first and the last” in Revelation 2:8 just like God said in Isaiah 44:6. There is no question that by affirming He is the first and the last Jesus was claiming to be YHWH, because only YHWH is the first and the last. Because Jesus used the very titles that God felt were sufficient to bolster His deity in the Old Testament, this demonstrates the falsehood of the Muslim argument. In fact, there are many instances of this clearly demonstrating Jesus’ deity and nullifying the Muslim argument based on God’s standard for what is sufficient.
Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End
Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God.
Isaiah 48:12 "Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last.
Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
Revelation 2:8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and lived again:
Revelation 22:6-16, 20 And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place." "And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God." And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
Notice in Revelation 22 the Lord God YHWH is the one who sent His angel and it is the Lord God YHWH who is coming soon. Then it says the one coming soon is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Then it says Jesus is the one who sent the angel and Jesus is the one described as coming soon. Hence, Jesus is the Lord God who sent the angel, who is coming soon and who is, by extension, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and the beginning and the end.
Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
Isaiah 62:5 … as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
Matthew 24:42-44 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Matthew 25:1-13 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Ephesians 5:23, 25-27 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior… Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Revelation 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure" -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."
2 Samuel 22:3 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.
Isaiah 43:3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Psalm 106:21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt
Jude 1:5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
Titus 2:13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
John 4:42 They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."
Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins."
John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
John 18:46 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I AM." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, "I AM," they drew back and fell to the ground.
Isaiah 43:2, 5 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you…Fear not, for I AM with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.
John 6:16-20 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, "I AM; do not be afraid."
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Deuteronomy 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.
Daniel 2:47 The king answered and said to Daniel, "Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery."
Daniel 4:37(Only in LXX) … because he himself is God of god’s and Lord of lord’s and King of king’s.
Psalm 136:2-3 Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Revelation 17:14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful."
Logical Problems with the Muslim Argument
Moreover, there are other problems, logical fallacies and hidden premises with demanding that Jesus say “I am God” while discarding any other words/deeds/titles of Jesus or words from His Apostles. First, by demanding those specific words of Jesus is to invent or build up a criterion that Jesus must meet in order for Him to be God when, in all actuality, Jesus and the Apostles wanted to communicate Jesus’ deity, but just not in the way Muslims demand (i.e., with the exact words “I am God”). If it is true that Jesus and the Apostles believed Jesus was God and wanted to communicate this in other ways than the Muslims demand, and this is in fact true, yet the Muslims do not allow for any other evidence besides those exact three words, then they are, right off the bat, negating from the onset all the evidence for Jesus’ deity that Jesus and the Apostles did give. This method is highly problematic to any honest seeker of truth who wants to seriously study the whole of Scripture, its meaning and its implications.
Second, to demand these exact words “I am God” from the mouth of Jesus is a straw man since Christians have never claimed that Jesus said such words or that such words must be said in order for Jesus to be God. Christians, throughout history, have always affirmed Jesus’ deity on other equally persuasive grounds from the 1st century until today. Hence, to demand such words from Jesus is a misrepresentation of the Christian position since we have never argued that he did say such things or that he must say such things in order to be God.
Here is an analogy: would it be proper for me to demand that Jesus say “I am the Messiah” in the Quran, in those exact words when he doesn’t, and say that unless I get those exact four words from Jesus’ mouth nothing is good enough? Or is it rather fair to say there are texts in the Quran that strongly prove Islam teaches the Messiahship of Jesus but just not in the way I demand? Of course, there are. Therefore, to be consistent the Muslim must apply this approach to the Bible or else they are left employing double standards. Just because Jesus doesn’t say “I am God” it doesn’t mean His deity is not communicated in equally clear ways that have persuaded Christians for 2000 years. In like manner, just because Jesus, in the Quran, doesn’t say “I am the Messiah” in those exact words it doesn’t mean His Messiahship is not communicated in equally clear ways in the Quran.
Jesus Affirmed that He was God When He was Called God by His Apostle Thomas
John 20:28-29 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Despite the pervasiveness of this common Muslim argument we have seen that Jesus identified himself with titles of God; titles that God, in the Old Testament, felt were sufficient to bolster His own deity. Hence, according to God’s standard Jesus doesn’t have to say “I am God” in order to communicate His deity but merely has to apply the divine titles of God to Himself. We also saw the logical errors in the Muslim argument as well as Jesus affirming His deity by blessing His Apostles Thomas’s confession of faith in Jesus as God. Hence, this particular Muslim argument which is so popular, is, in all actually, very desperate and utterly fallacious, once someone gives the Holy Bible a fair hearing and logically assesses what it actually says on this issue.
Christ has risen; He is Lord.