Why The Gospels Don’t Call Jesus “God”

In our survey of the divine claims of Jesus recorded throughout the Synoptics and the Gospel of John, we note a rather strange exclusion: nowhere in the Gospel accounts do we see Jesus saying “I Am God.” Is this proof that Jesus did not believe He was God or were His followers simply mistaken?

When we examine the divine claims made by Jesus in the Gospels we quickly come to realize that at no point does He explicitly tell His followers that He is “God.” Why leave such a crucial title out if He was the God of the Old Testament? Our short answer is that Jesus wasn’t God the Father, but rather the Father’s only begotten Son, equal to Him and from Him but separate. Jesus identifies Himself as the Son of God, the Wisdom of God, and the Word of God. If Jesus were to designate Himself as “God” it would only confuse His hearers who already associated the title “God” with God the Father, but if Jesus had a heavenly Father then he cannot also be that Father (i.e. John 16:28), which would be a heresy known as modalism.

We see throughout the Gospel accounts Jesus using more specific titles that mirrored the attributes of God the Father in the OT (“I AM,” “Saviour,” “Son of God,” “The Way, The Truth, the Life”) to show how He was divine. We could imagine how ambiguous and confusing such a title would be to the people of ancient Israel had Jesus simply said: “I am God.”