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Is Jesus claiming to be God with his statement in Luke 21:33?

What Jesus said in Luke 21:33 sounds like claiming to be God:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. (Luke 21:33, ESV)

ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται. (Luke 21:33, NA27)

Especially, when one considers the Old Testament passages:

 The grass withers, the flower fades, 
but the word of our God will stand forever.  (Is 40:8, ESV)


        Forever, O LORD, your word 
 is firmly fixed in the heavens.  (Psa. 119:89, ESV)


       so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
 it shall not return to me empty, 
             but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
 and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  (Isa. 55:11, ESV)

And, Jesus puts his words on par with God’s law:

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Mat 5:18, ESV)

But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. (Luke 16:17, ESV)

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"Nothing so ruins a good case as when it is overstated." As with the rest of the Bible, we must treat the deity of Christ with absolute modicum. This is a perfect case in point.

While I firmly believe in the deity of Christ, I think it is a bit of a logical stretch to use this passage as evidence. The reason is simple. If this passage is proof that its author is divine, then that might make Moses, who is deemed to have written the "Law" divine. (See Heb 9:19, 10:28, 1 Cor 9:9, Luke 2:22, John 7:23, Acts 13:39, etc).

That is, if Jesus is saying the "Law" is eternal (Matt 5:18, Luke 16:17) and only God's word is eternal, then Moses must be God. While this is a fallacious argument because of who is deemed to have inspired Moses to write, all that does is to make the Holy Spirit divine (2 Peter 1:16-21, etc).

Therefore, for Luke 21:33 to qualify as evidence of Jesus' divinity, one would need to demonstrate that Jesus' words were His own and not (as with the prophets) inspired by the Father or the Holy Spirit. This is not straight forward because of Jesus' numerous statements that He spoke only what the Father tells Him (eg, John 8:28, 14:10, etc).

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No, a claim to be God would be more like "I am God." In John 3:34 John explains that God gave the Spirit to Jesus all at once (at his mikveh, when John washed him) and from that time on his every word was what he had learned from his father: the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Jhn 3:34 KJV - 34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

I go into more detail in this post.

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Evidently, Jesus links aspects of himself with aspects of God, at least in terms of status. I agree with Mac's Musings that one instance does not a godhead make, but Jesus often things like this. Hence, the disagreement between Trinitarians and branches that read Jesus as son or prophet, but not deity, lies in whether you take the sum total of all the times he does this as

  • (a) a statement of identity with God
  • (b) an ancient custom whereby someone's representative speaks as if they were that person
  • (c) otherwise figurative language

In any case, the line of reasoning you're talking about is indeed attested. Similarly, some study Bibles and commentaries identify the various times one of Jesus's aphorisms or parables is actually one that was already told by rabbis, but he subtitutes himself for the God character. For example, there was a Jewish parable about building a house on the rock, but in the parable the rock was God's law instead of Jesus' words.

This is a very deep discussion, and it's not really possible to hash it all out here. In my opinion, it's also not possible to inarguably win either way, despite the confidence with which some people come down on one side or the other. It involves decisions about language and its literal and figurative uses. For example, C.S. Lewis cited Matthew 23:37 where Jesus uses the first person for a statement that only seems to make sense from God's point of view:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (NIV)

Are we to take these words at face value and conclude that Jesus is speaking as himself here? Or is he paraphrasing the sort of thing God says through prophets in scripture? After all, if I say, "Et tu, Brute?" you understand that I'm alluding to Shakespeare and not that I'm Caesar or you're Brutus. Are we allowed to stray from the Bible's literal words and decide what is a rhetorical structure? Sometimes it seems reasonable, sometimes not. Too bad there were no quotation marks in Koine Greek writing. As it is, what we have are compelling arguments, not scientific facts.

This line of thinking is sometimes used to push claims of divinity earlier into the synoptic gospels, since John is generally seen as more explicitly supporting the identification of Jesus with God, but since it was written later some argue that it retroactively imposes theology on Jesus (another whole discussion). For example, in John 14:9, Jesus says "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (NIV), which you can still argue is figurative but it's a harder case to win compared to the synoptic inferences.

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