Peter Did Not Believe That Jesus Is God —
Even Peter did not believe that Jesus was God. For instance, when Jesus privately asked Peter “who do you say that I am?” Peter replied “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16.15-16). While Peter acknowledges that Jesus was the promised Messiah of Israel and the son of God, he did not acknowledge Jesus as God (1).
Fig (1) Is Jesus really God?
On one occasion Jesus told his apostles that he will suffer many things at the hands of the religious authorities in Jerusalem, and eventually be put to death by them. When Peter heard this, he took Jesus aside and said “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You’” (Matthew 16.22). If Peter had thought that Jesus was God why would he have said that?
During his discourse on the first day of Pentecost, Peter talked about “Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst” (Acts 2.22). Peter tells his audience “let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2.36). Here again Peter distinguishes Jesus from God and in the process makes Jesus subordinate to God. Peter also refers to Jesus as the servant of God. (Acts 3.13, 26; cf. 4.27, 30).
Blessed Be The God And Father Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Peter did not believe Jesus was God but that he was the son of God. He notes in the salutation of his first New Testament letter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1.3). A couple of verses later he writes “Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God” (v. 21). Peter did not accept Jesus as God but acknowledged that he was the “Christ, the Savior, the obedient and subordinate servant of the sovereign and only God—the Father” (2).
Even Jesus did not at any time claim that he was God. In John 8:54 Jesus is supposed to have said “If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God John (8:55). In fact throughout the gospel of John, Jesus constantly distinguishes himself from God and shows himself as subordinate to God and states clearly that he was sent on his father’s direction (John 3:16; 17:3). In Luke 22:42 Jesus is shown as praying in the Garden for, not his will to be done, but the Father’s. In Mark 15:34, Jesus is shown as crying out “My God, my God, what have you forsaken me” (3).
Again in Revelations 4 and 5 Jesus talks of the one on the throne as God and of himself as the Lamb of God. In John 14:28 he states “for my Father is greater than I”.
Even The Family Of Jesus Did Not Believe Him To Be God
Even the family of Jesus did not believe him to be God. On the contrary because of what he said and on the way in which he conducted himself his family thought that Jesus was “out of his mind, Mk 3:21. In John 7:1-5 it has been stated clearly that his brothers did not believe him. While they accept him as “a special teacher, man of God, or miracle worker, they do not accept Jesus as the messiah. Early Christians considered Jesus as an agent of God, and as the son of God but not as God. The Epistle to the Hebrews describes Jesus as the mediator of the New Covenant. James in line with Old Testament prophecies believed that Jesus was an ordinary man chosen by God to lead his people. This was very different to the idea championed by Paul that Jesus was a divine being, born of God himself. This was in line with the conviction of Jewish Christians that Jesus was a messiah but not divine (4).
Hardly Anyone During The Time Of Jesus Accepted Him As God
Hardly anyone during the time of Jesus accepted him as God. Most early Christians accepted Jesus as divine. But this divinity was subject to competing interpretations. In general however early Christians viewed Jesus as an agent of God. Immediately after the crucifixion of Jesus there was no talk about his resurrection. Resurrection was a notion that was added later to appeal to a section of prospective converts. The Jews of that period had a different concept of resurrection and even that was eschatological.
Since the Gospels were written long after the crucifixion of Jesus it is quite likely that stories about him changed over time. It is very likely that individuals took these stories and modified them to suit their needs. There was no one to question these stories and after a period these stories were conflated with other stories to create entirely new stories. As a consequence by the time these stories were penned it became impossible to tell truth from fabrication.
Knowing that people were in a constant state of oppression were looking for a heavenly warrior who would vanquish their oppressors and finally give then the peace and prosperity that they so longed for, Paul offered them an alternative religion with a hero who not only resurrected himself but would also resurrect them and lead them to peace and prosperity. Within 15-20 years of the crucifixion of Jesus, Paul who wrote the largest early explanations about Christian theology referred to Jesus as the resurrected “Son of God”. Paul promised that Jesus would return from heaven and save his faithful from impending destruction of the world. It is worthwhile to note that well into the 2nd century Christians preferred oral tradition to written scriptures (5).
Oppressed people everywhere preferred a religion that held the promise of the coming of an avenger who would vanquish the oppressor and lead them to everlasting peace and prosperity. And Paul believed that Jesus would come back in his lifetime itself and resurrect Christians, give them supernatural bodies and share with them the kingdom of God. Paul believed that the end was imminent although he was unspecific about it. He consoled his persecuted listeners that the dead will rise first and then be followed by the still living. He speaks about the battle at the end between Jesus and the people of lawlessness and the eventual triumph of Jesus. Paul’s influence is said to have been more compelling than any New Testament author and made the Torah redundant. He depicted the church as the body of Jesus and everyone outside the church as “under judgment” (6).
Maccoby posits that Paul blended Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as “a cosmic savior religion”. Thomas Jefferson criticizes Paul as the “first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus” (7).
However, the Jewish elders did not think that Jesus was God. To them the empty tomb meant foul play.
(1) Servetus the Evangelical. (n.d.). Did Peter Believe Jesus Was God?. Retrieved 2011, from http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/Did_Peter_Believe_Jesus_Was_God.pdf
(2) Servetus the Evangelical. (n.d.). Did Peter Believe Jesus Was God? Retrieved 2011, from http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/Did_Peter_Believe_Jesus_Was_God.pdf
(3) Did Jesus Ever Claim to be God? (2011). Retrieved 2011, from http://conservapedia.com/Debate:Did_Jesus_ever_claim_to_be_God%3F
(4) Leafe, David. (2006). Did Jesus Have a Secret Family? Retrieved 2011, from http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesMiddEast/CanaanJesus01.htm
(5) Early Christianity. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Christianity
(6) Paul the Apostle. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_of_Tarsus.
(7) Paul the Apostle. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_of_Tarsus
Picture Credits: (1) Is Jesus Really God https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=637&q=Jesus+as+god&oq=Jesus+as+god&gs_l=img.3..0j0i24l9.4054.7742.0.84188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1170.2j9.11.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.12.1176.tJ3FNEAof3Q#imgrc=32-JhMw3F8iMFM%3A