Christian Monotheist

The “deity of Christ” interpretation of John 20:28

Thomas’s statement in John 20:28 is touted as one of the chief evidences in the Bible for the “deity of Christ” and for the Trinity. But the “deity of Christ” interpretation gets it very wrong.

  1. The “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores the biblical, Hebraic cultural background of Thomas’s declaration. Pagans may have believed in a deity resurrected from the dead, but biblically thinking Jews believed that God does not die, nor does He rise from the dead.
    Rather, God raises humans from the dead.
  2. The “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores the reaction of all the other apostles to the resurrection of Jesus. The apostles never react to the resurrection of Jesus by declaring “Jesus is God”, but rather, “God raised Jesus from the dead”.
    The “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores tens of other clear biblical statements that “God (the Father) raised Jesus from the dead.”
  3. The “deity of Christ” interpretation directly contradicts the Gospel of John’s statement that “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18).
    Our interpretation of Thomas’s declaration agrees that “no one has ever seen God.” The Father figuratively was “seen”, i.e., perceived in the totality of the life of Jesus, especially in his death and resurrection.
  4. The “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores the literary context of Thomas’s statement in the Gospel of John. Thomas initially doubted and eventually believed in the resurrection of Jesus, not the deity of Jesus. Further, not long before Thomas made his declaration, the resurrected Jesus declared “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” [John 20:17]
    Jesus’s God and Father are the same God and Father as the apostles. And then, only [three] verses after Thomas’s declaration, John gave the reason he recorded the sign miracles that Jesus did. That purpose was not to show that Jesus is God. The “deity of Christ” interpretation doesn’t accept the author of the Gospel of John’s own purpose statement.
    [John 20.31]
  5. The “deity of Christ” interpretation fails to understand the consistent biblical theme that the one God (Yehovah, the Father) is perceived, seen and made known in His acts among humankind. “To you it was shown, that you might know that Yehovah is God; there is none other than Him (Deut. 4:35. Isa. 43:10).
  6. The “deity of Christ” interpretation misidentifies the God in Jesus.
    This is a serious error since it ignores and contradicts what Jesus told Thomas, fails to see the One God (the Father) at work in Jesus
    [John 14:7-11], and fails to give credit to the One God (the Father) for raising the dead.
    Trinitarianism claims it was “God the Son” in Jesus. But Jesus said that it was God the Father, the only God, who was in him
    (John 8:40, 10:38, 14:9-10, 17:3).

Should we believe Trinitarianism or Jesus?

John Bivens