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Did Jesus' followers believe he was God?

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Christian apologists argue that Jesus was God, that he taught he was God, and that he did things to demonstrate that he was God. If this were the case then, we would expect to find several accounts from the Gospels, showing that people believed Jesus was God.

Yet when we read the Gospels, what we find is the opposite, time and time again we find the followers of Jesus not believing in his divinity, but rather believing he was a man and prophet of God.

In this article we seek to show the Gospel passages showing how the believers of Jesus did not believe he was God, but rather the opposite.

In the Gospel of John we read:

And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. (John 6:10-14)

In this incident Jesus performs a miracle when he manages to feed five thousand people with some bread and fish. How did the people react? Did they say that Jesus must be God for doing such an act? No, they clearly say that he was a prophet of God.

Another incident we read in the Gospel of John says:

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. (John 4:13-19)

Once again, another believer of Jesus saying she thinks he is a prophet, she doesn’t say she thought he was God.

Another very interesting episode that takes place in the Gospel of John is when people start having a discussion on who Jesus is, as we read:

When some of the people heard his words, they said, "This man must be the Prophet we've been expecting." Others said, "He is the Christ."  Still others asked, "How can the Christ come from Galilee? (John 7:40-41)

Notice how in this discussion, none of them ever come up with the argument that Jesus may be God in the flesh, rather people were split into two camps over who Jesus was, whether he was the prophet, or the Christ. This is more solid proof showing how nobody actually thought Jesus was God.

Another incident that clearly proves the people didn’t believe Jesus to be God was when he entered Jerusalem. How did his followers greet him?

When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphageand Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, Because the Lord has need of it. So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt? And they said, The Lord has need of him. Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:28-38)

Jesus is not greeted as God, but as the king, i.e. the Messiah, who comes in the name of the lord.

In the Gospel of Mark we also read of how Jesus asks his own disciples who they think he is, this should be the end of the argument right? This should be where the disciples come out and clearly say that they believe Jesus is God, well instead of that what they actually say is:

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am? ”Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ. ”Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him. (Mark 8:29-30)

So according to the disciples, Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. They didn’t say they believe he is God, or that he is God come in the flesh.

In conclusion we have seen multiple verses from the Bible illustrating how the followers of Jesus did not believe him to be God. If Jesus was God, then we would expect to find the opposite, we would expect to find these people time and time again affirming Jesus’ deity and calling him God, yet we never find that happening. Is that a coincidence? The answer is obvious. 

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