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In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus is recorded as calming a storm. The incident happens about Matthew 8:24, Mark 4:37, and Luke 8:23.

Here is the complete pericope from Matthew:

Matthew 8:23-27 (Berean Standard Bible)

23When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 24Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was engulfed by the waves; but Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

26“You of little faith,” Jesus replied, “why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it was perfectly calm.

27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey Him!”

Some claim that this incident shows Jesus is Yahweh (God Almighty). For example, in the article What is the significance of Jesus calming the storm? by GotQuestions. The author states:

This passage not only reveals Jesus’ true humanity, but also Jesus’ deity because only God can make the “winds and water obey” (Luke 8:25). With one quick word from Christ, the storm abated and the sea became calm (Mark 4:39). The apostles marveled at this powerful display of Jesus’ supernatural ability over the elements (Luke 8:25).

What is the meaning of this passage?

Does this mean Jesus = God Almighty?

Are there arguments against this incident meaning Jesus = God Almighty?

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    @Jesse Why can't questions ask for a specific hermeneutical case? Nov 16, 2022 at 17:43
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    @Jesse "Some claim... that quote needs a link to or name of a publication." A little puzzling, as the publication is specifically mentioned in the Q. But I'll add a direct link. Nov 16, 2022 at 17:44
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    @Jesse Can you perhaps explain better how you define 'hermeneutics', then? According to hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic "If your question is about... interpretation of a specific Bible passage ... then this is the right place to ask." This is about the interpretation of a specific Bible passage (and nearly identical ones in 2 other Gospels). Can you give an example of how to rework the question so it is 'hermeneutics' by your definition? Nov 16, 2022 at 23:33
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    @Jesse What exactly in that Wiki article do you think is particularly germane? Nov 17, 2022 at 0:17
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    I edited the body, the OP changed the title, and I added my own hermeneutical answer. Now, it is a hermeneutical question that doesn't seem to aim only for one, single opinion. It has become interesting and valuable. I'll wait to see what the other mods think.
    – Jesse
    Nov 17, 2022 at 0:40

9 Answers 9

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A miracle does not necessarily originate with the person who is seen doing it. Consider the following similar miracles performed by persons whom no one would consider to be "God Almighty."

Moses

Moses commanded the parting of the Red Sea, allowing the children of Israel to cross through it on dry ground.

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. (Exodus 14:21, 27, KJV)

Moses commanded water from the rock for all of the thirsty Israelites.

And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. (Numbers 20:11, KJV)

Joshua

Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stop in their orbits!

12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. (Joshua 10:12-13, KJV)

Elijah

Elijah crossed the Jordan River by merely striking it with his mantle, causing the waters to divide so he could walk through.

And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. (2 Kings 2:8, KJV)

Peter

He healed the sick by merely overshadowing them!

15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. 16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. (Acts 5:15-16, KJV)


Some of these miracles were greater than any that Jesus performed in terms of seemingly running counter to natural law. Jesus spoke a word, or touched people, to heal them--or they touched him; but when did merely his shadow cause anyone to be healed?

Conclusion

Even as Peter, Joshua, Moses, Elijah, and many, many others throughout the Bible were not "God Almighty," despite having precipitated miraculous events, so also was Christ dependent on the same power as were these other men when he performed the miracle of the calming of the sea. All of them, Christ included, were dependent on the Father's power.

Jesus tells us this himself.

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10, KJV)

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It was actually God doing the miracles through Jesus. The miracles that Jesus did give credence to the fact that he was sent by God. Acts 2:22, and, if Jesus is sent by his God, he could not be Jesus and be his own God at the same time. His own words say, Verily, verily, I say unto you, a servant is not greater than his lord; neither one that is sent greater than he that sent him., John 13:16. So by Jesus' own words, Jesus is not greater or equal to the Father who sent him.

The apostles who were witnesses to the calming of the storm in Luke 8:23 did not proclaim that Jesus was their and their ancestors' God despite being witnesses to this and other miracles as Acts 3:13 and Acts 2:22 show. Consider too that Jesus was strengthened by an angel that His God sent to strengthen him. Compared to God Almighty who does not need strengthening, Jesus prayed to his God to be strengthened, after which, his God sent an angel to strengthen him. Thus, Jesus is not the Almighty God.

Luke 22:43 ASV

And there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him

Acts 2:22 ASV

Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know

Acts 3:13 ASV

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Servant Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had determined to release him.

John 14:12

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father

What sense would Jesus' statement in John 14:12 make if Jesus is God? Can we do greater works than those of our Creator God?

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The other answers raise lots of good points. I just want to add one important one that hasn't been mentioned yet.

Matthew 8:27 has

"The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey Him!”"

The inference some who think this incident means Jesus = Yahweh make is that the disciples are thinking here this incident must mean Jesus = Yahweh, due to the language they use here.

Yet, at Matthew 16:15, after this incident, Jesus asks his disciples

“Who do you say I am?”

and Peter answers

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus then approves of this answer, saying

"“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven."

So evidently, Simon Peter didn't go from the incident with the wind to 'Jesus must be God Almighty'. Rather, the conclusion is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

To answer the question at Matthew 8:27, what kind of man is this? The Christ, the Son of God.

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If one knows the symbolism of the sea in the Old Testament, then there are zero arguments. It is dangerous and unpredictable. The sea and to lesser extent the sea monster (dragon, serpent Leviathan) symbolize the uncontrollable forces of chaos. Only God brought order out of chaos and created the world out of the dark, watery mess.

Just like the psalmist says:

8 O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?

9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

Psalm 89

Only God can control the forces of chaos, and calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee by Jesus was yet another proof that He is God.

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    Strangely, your synopsis fails to appreciate one important matter. The Jesus which the Bible presents has a God - the same God as all other men... making Jesus not the God Yahweh. There are many sons of God, Jesus the only one without sin. Who died (does God die?) who was exalted as the firstborn of all men, who was made heir by God to all things.
    – Steve
    Nov 16, 2022 at 23:16
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    You have answered the opposite of the Q
    – Steve
    Nov 16, 2022 at 23:24
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    I answered the question in my first sentence. There are no such arguments. Nov 16, 2022 at 23:34
  • @ steveowen - Since I had already proved you to be wrong in the past, and you quietly deleted our conversation to hide it, I refuse to debate you again. Nov 16, 2022 at 23:37
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    Like I said - I do not have the ability to delete conversations - the Mods must have done so. I do not recall what Q&A you are referring to.
    – Steve
    Nov 17, 2022 at 2:00
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The conclusion of this passage is essentially that that the disciples were amazed. So, v 27 more or less gives the conclusion and meaning. There is no mention of Jesus's disciples considering divine nature in Matthew until ch 16 "Who do you say I am?".

Matthew 16:15-16 (NASB)

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

At this point in the unveiling of the story's character Jesus, we only know that the disciples were more amazed, wondering what kind of man this was. He certainly wasn't normal.

I'd add that the way Jesus does these miracles is somewhat "casual" or even "flippant" compared to Moses. Moses didn't sleep through the ten plagues and he didn't just speak a simple word to drown Pharaoh's army. Jesus has much more casual control over these elements. That is probably why it was so eyebrow-raising to them.

Still, at this point, there is no mention of divinity in any manner. It's only, "What kind of man is this?" So, the arguments for Jesus's divine nature, whatever it may be, come later, not here.

This passage presents nothing of divinity to argue against. Arguing for divinity from this passage fails to understand its meaning and place in the longer narrative.

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The question seeks to explore the meaning of the event, as to whether it means Jesus = God Almighty, or whether there are arguments against this incident meaning Jesus = God Almighty (seen perhaps as 'clues' within the passage.)

The first need is to understand that God Almighty is exactly the same Mighty God of Isaiah 10:21. The one God of the Bible has many designations and titles, so that the God of Israel - Yahweh - is the same God of Christians. There is not an Almighty God, then a slightly inferior Mighty God. The point of mentioning this is to get away from what could be a 'smoke and mirrors' notion that, unless Jesus Christ is called the Almighty, he cannot be God, full stop. We should all know that he is spoken of prophetically in Isaiah 9:6 as the Mighty God, just as is Yahweh in 10:21.

The second need is to grasp that the disciples, who witnessed this miracle of Christ, did not wonder if Jesus was the Almighty God. No. They simply wondered what mere man could command the wind and waves with a few spoken words that the raging wind and boiling sea instantly obeyed. The awesome event got them thinking (to put it mildly). That is the meaning of the event for every reader of it since. We are meant to ponder (and, hopefully, prayerfully) as to what this could indicate about the man, Jesus Christ, while he walked on earth (and also on water).

The third point is as to whether there are any "clues" that could indicate Jesus Christ not to be God. I have deliberately dropped your adjective 'Almighty' for the reasons given above. Well, if one approaches the passage with a preconceived belief that Jesus is not God, they are never going to spot any 'clues' that Jesus demonstrated divine prerogatives with his instant command over wind and sea. But if they desire to find 'clues' that this gives no support whatever to Jesus being God incarnate, no doubt they will either find, or conjure up, some that suit their belief. In such a situation, there is nothing further to be said.

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  • The "mighty God" reference in Isaiah 9:6 does not designate Jesus as God--it establishes, instead, that he comes in God's name. Check the text. It is talking about what his "name" will be called. And Jesus himself tells us that he had come in his Father's name. So much for this being his own name. When we present ourselves to the world as God-fearing believers, we, too, come to them in His name. To dishonor God is to take His name upon us in vain, violating the third commandment. "Name" in the Bible is all about honor, reputation, and character.
    – Biblasia
    Jan 25, 2023 at 0:54
  • -1 for the unnecessary ad hominem assumptions expressed in your last paragraph. Answers here should be Bible-based, not judgmental of the individuals asking the question.
    – Biblasia
    Jan 25, 2023 at 0:57
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To answer if calming the storm equates to Jesus= God, we need to establish if Jesus had absolute divine power.

Does Jesus have his own divine power or does he rely on God

of his own self, can do nothing (John 5:30).

Luke 21:40 - The knowledge of Jesus increases with his age [God has all knowledge, doesn’t learn]

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Jhn 13:3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

John 17:2 - Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.

Matt 24:36 - But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Hebrew 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Jesus fears death (Mark 14:36). 36 “Abba,Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

[it would appear that God has granted Jesus limited powers, as everything is only possible by God]

Others that performed miracles (short list of many passages)

Elisha

2 Kings 4:30-36 - raised the dead
2 Kings 13:20-22 - a dead body touched Elisha’s dead body and became alive. 2 Kings 6:15-24 - Made the blind see 2 Kings 5:10-14 - Healing leprosy 2 Kings 4:42-44 - Feed many

Moses

Exodus 4:2-4 - Moses created life (which Jesus never did) – he created a snake from a walking stick (Aaron also Exodus 7:8–10) Exodus 14:21–23 – separated the Sea Numbers 12:10–15 – healed leprosy

Others

Joshua 3:14-17 – controlled the water Joshua 10:12-14 – controlled the sun & moon

[clearly some amazing miracles, which others have also performed]

Jesus frailties

Jesus is unaware of the time of fruition of the Fig tree (Mark 11:12). experiences hunger (Mark 11:12).

experiences thirst (John 19:28). Jesus needs to sleep (Matthew 8:24). Jesus is fatigued in a journey (John 4:6). Jesus sighs in anxiety (John 11:33). Jesus weeps (John 11:35). Jesus grieves (Matthew 26:37). Jesus exerts his strength (John 2:13). Jesus fears the Jews (John 18:12,13). Jesus is humiliated (Matthew 26:67)

[Jesus has all the human limitations]

Conclusion

It is clear from the text that Jesus did not have full power or knowledge (wasn’t even aware that it was not the season for a fig tree). If he is God because of his miracles, he would have all knowledge, would not need to die (how can God die & be resurrected) and certainly no need to ask to be saved.

Many others performed amazing miracles.

Jesus’s miracles do not make him God! Isaiah 11:1-2

  1. A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
  2. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD

More detailed background see links below:

Are Jesus & God Equal: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/69382/33268

God does not change: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/77131/33268

Was Jesus forsaken https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/62632/33268

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The focus of this passage is not Jesus’ divinity, but the faith of his disciples.

It was a faith that had them come to Jesus to be saved.

v25 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”

A faith that faltered amidst the storm.

v26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”

That did not have all the answers, but was still full of wonder and amazement.

v27 The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

The faith of Jesus’ disciples would grow and evolve with time. I see in this story a reflection of my own and the tale of every person who follows Christ, each at their own stage in their journey of faith. The passage ends with the disciples’ unanswered question as though in testimony to the mystery of Jesus’ person. Do we already have all the answers? Or can we still ponder the questions with a sense of awe, wonder, and joy?

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Some answers about this topic may seem to belittle the Lord Jesus Christ and reduce Him, the co-eternal Logos of the Father through whom the Latter created the universe and who, thus, is uncreated per definition or analytically, to use philosophic jargon, to a level of a prophet or an apostle.

First of all, in the Mark 4:41 or Matthew 8:27 the bewilderment of the disciples sprouts from the fact that the Lord quells the storm without prayers, without asking anybody a permission, but answering supplication of the disciples, for the disciples ask Him for the help. Now, the bewilderment of the disciples implies that they did not expect a type of the help the Lord provided to them, but they evidently expected that He would pray to God and since God listens to righteous persons (cf. John 9:31) then they would be rescued through Jesus Christ's prayers. But their expectations were belied and thoroughly surpassed by what the Lord did by showing them a sovereign authority over the powers of nature. Thus, in Mark 4:41 the question "who is He whom the storm obeys?" clearly refers to the Psalm 107:29 "He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed", thus, equating the subject, the actor of the Psalm 107:29 with Jesus Christ, or, at least, putting in Him the same authority as in the actor of the Psalm 107:29.

In Joshua, when he stops the sun, it is clear that he speaks to Lord, that is to say, prays to the Lord and does not do it out of his own accord, but by a permission from Him to whom he speaks. As to Moses, of course he does not do the miracle of delivering a water from the rock without the action of the very Rock who accompanied the Israelites and this Rock was Jesus Christ, as Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:4, and the same Christ who accompanied them is called Lord God in Psalm 68:7, that nameless Angel with name of God in Him, who unlike any angel has authority to forgive or not forgive (Exodus 23:21). Those prophets are slaves, whereas Christ is the Son sharing a full divine authority with the Father. That is why He puts Himself above all prophets and distinguishes Himself from them exactly as son is distinguished from slaves (Matthew 21:37), as also Hebrews 3:1-6 is clearly set the distinction between Christ - the builder of the house (adding that "God is builder of everything", thus either directly calling Christ God, which is syntactically more plausible, or at least making Christ a co-Builder with the God) - is above a slave in this house. Not only Christ but even John the Baptist is above all the prophets and all humans before him, and this John says that he is unworthy of even untying Christ's sandals.

As to Peter's shadow doing miracles, it is clear that Peter's intention and knowledge is not participating in those miracles, and that is a clear notion that not Peter does sovereignly those miracles, but God through him. Yet, when Christ is swarmed by people and powers come out from Him, He always knows who is healed and His knowledge and intention and decision to heal are participating in those miracle-workings and healings, like when a bleeding woman touched His garments, He as God, who is the sole heartknower (καρδιογνώστης Acts 15:8) knew her heart, granted her this healing and then for pedagogical reasons, in order to show the importance of a sincere faith, revealed her to the bystanders (Luke 8:46), for His powers did not heal automatically, but in a response to a believing heart.

That the disciples taking lead of Peter call Him "Son of God" does not at all mean that they do not consider Him to be God Almighty, but it only means that they differentiate Him from the person of the Father. But can the Almighty Father do any work without His Logos-the Son? Just like the Son cannot do anything without Father, so also the Father cannot do anything without the Son, for it is through the Son-Logos that He, the Father creates or brings into existence the universe and sustains it - for as Descartes well says, the same is to bring into existence and to sustain this existence. Is not the very idea that God-Father chooses to bring the universe into existence through His Logos but could even had done it without the Logos had He, God-Father chosen to do it alone, without the Logos, utterly preposterous? Just imagine, Logos in vacations or at a sleep; Father creating the universe and awakening the Son showing Him this grand opus, and the Son-Logos exclaiming: "well done, Dad, but why did you spare Me, I could have helped you and given few good ideas" - but let me put aside those mythologies of Arians and his modern heirs and assert that Father is totally impotent to do anything without the Son co-doing, just as, to use this famous patristic analogy, a sun-disc is totally impotent to enlighten anything without its rays. Now, if the Son is necessary for the Father to act, then the Son is the indispensable part of the Father's almightiness. Thus, "Almighty God" cannot be even thought without the Father and the Son together, both before the world came to existence (John 17:5) and after that as well. Thus, to worship the Almighty God in person of only the Father without co-worshipping also the Son, is the same idiocy as to admire the sun-disc for providing a nice sun-tan, but not co-admire the rays of the sun through which this very sun-tan is provided.

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    Where in the bible can we find the "Father is totally impotent to do anything without the son co-doing"? Nov 15, 2022 at 1:40
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    @AlexBalilo does not it suffice for you to have read that the Son-Logos who preceded the universe and therefore also time (John 17:5) was, along with His co-Eternal Father, Creator of the universe? I can show you other places, but even this must be fairly sufficient, unless you think that Father could create universe without His Logos, which is, surely, an ontological or rather theological impossibility. You can bypass any prophet, saint or angel and get God’s help, but impossible to bypass the Son if getting a help from Father. Nov 15, 2022 at 2:02
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    Does John 17:5 say the "Father is totally impotent to do anything without the son co-doing"? Nov 15, 2022 at 2:09
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    @AlexBalilo Only implicitly, but explicitly that the Son is likewise uncreated and likewise eternal with the Father, and such can only be God Nov 15, 2022 at 2:11
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    "But can the Almighty Father do any work without His Logos-the Son?" There's a line of theology here I disagree with, but as far as it goes, fair enough. But what reasons do you have for thinking the orthodox Jews in the boat at that time (at 8:23) or shortly after (at 16:16) shared this theology? Nov 18, 2022 at 19:05

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