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Who is Jesus: Historical, Christian, and Biblical Views

Jesus is referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, or simply Christ (i.e., Messiah), and is the central figure of Christianity, whom most Christian denominations worship as God the Son incarnated.

Jesus (Latin: Iesus; Hebrew: ישוע)

Born 7-2 BC, Died 30–36 AD

Jesus Christ
Historians' Perspectives on Jesus

The vast majority of contemporary historians concur that Jesus was a real historical figure who lived as a Jewish teacher in Galilee, a region in Roman Judaea. He was baptized by John the Baptist and eventually crucified in Jerusalem under the command of the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate.

Various scholarly interpretations of Jesus have emerged, often featuring overlapping characteristics. Some of the most common portrayals include:

  • A Rabbi: Jesus is often seen as a rabbi, or religious teacher, who provided guidance and instruction to his followers based on Jewish law and tradition.

  • A Charismatic Healer: Some scholars emphasize Jesus' role as a healer, citing his purported ability to perform miraculous healings as a significant aspect of his ministry and appeal to his followers.

  • Leader of an Apocalyptic Movement: Another perspective posits Jesus as the leader of an apocalyptic movement, prophesying the imminent end of the world and the establishment of God's kingdom on earth.

  • A Self-Described Messiah: Some historians argue that Jesus viewed himself as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, sent by God to redeem Israel and bring about a new age of peace and prosperity.

  • A Sage and Philosopher: In this view, Jesus is seen as a wise and insightful thinker, whose teachings were rooted in profound philosophical and ethical ideas.

  • A Social Reformer: Some scholars portray Jesus as a social reformer, advocating for the "Kingdom of God" as a means to bring about both personal and societal transformation. This viewpoint emphasizes Jesus' concern for social justice and his commitment to uplifting the marginalized and oppressed.

In order to construct a chronology of Jesus' life, historians have sought to correlate the accounts found in the New Testament with non-Christian historical records. While there is some debate over the precise dates and details of Jesus' life, this approach has helped scholars to develop a more nuanced understanding of the historical context in which he lived and taught.

Christian Views of Jesus

Christians believe that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, performed miracles, founded the Church, died sacrificially by crucifixion to achieve atonement, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, from which he will return.

Most Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God, the Son, and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Most Christian scholars today present Jesus as the awaited Messiah promised in the Old Testament and as God, arguing that he fulfilled many Old Testament Messianic prophecies.

Christian views of Jesus are derived from various sources, especially from the canonical Gospels and New Testament letters, such as the Letters of Paul and Johannine's writings. Christians hold that these works are historically accurate. These documents outline the fundamental beliefs held by Christians about Jesus, including his divinity, humanity, and earthly life. Adhering to the Christian faith requires believing that Jesus is the Son of God and Christ. In the New Testament, Jesus indicates that he is the Son of God by calling God his father.

Christians consider Jesus the Christ and believe that through his death and resurrection, humans can be reconciled to God and are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life. Christians believe that Jesus was both human and the Son of God. Christians generally believe that Jesus is God incarnate, God the Son, and True God and True man (fully divine and fully human).

Christians believe that Jesus, having become fully human, suffered the pains and temptations of a mortal man, yet he did not sin but defeated death and rose to life after his crucifixion. According to the Bible, God raised him from the dead. He ascended to heaven to sit at the "Right Hand of God," and he will return to earth again for the Last Judgment and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the World to Come.

Biblical View of Jesus

The biblical view of Jesus is primarily derived from the New Testament, which presents Jesus as both divine and human. Central to this understanding is the concept of the Incarnation, which refers to the belief that Jesus, who is the Son of God, took on human flesh and became fully human while remaining fully divine. This unique dual nature of Jesus is emphasized in various passages throughout the New Testament, particularly in the Gospel of John and the Epistles of Paul.

  • John 1:1, also known as the prologue of John, introduces Jesus as the "Word," which was with God and was God from the very beginning. This statement affirms Jesus' divine nature and preexistence as part of the Godhead.

  • In John 1:14, the Incarnation is explicitly declared: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." This verse establishes the central Christian doctrine that Jesus, the Word, became a human being while retaining his divine essence. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus makes various statements that assert his divinity and his oneness with God the Father. 

  • In John 5:18, Jesus is described as "calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." This claim to divine status angered the Jewish religious leaders, who saw it as blasphemy. 

  • Similarly, in John 8:24, Jesus emphasizes the necessity of recognizing his divine identity, stating, "unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins."

  • In John 8:58, Jesus further emphasizes his preexistence and divine nature, saying, "before Abraham was born, I am." The use of the term "I am" connects Jesus to the divine name revealed to Moses in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14).

  • In John 10:30, Jesus proclaims his unity with the Father, declaring, "I and the Father are one." This statement reinforces the belief that Jesus is both distinct from and one with God.

  • This understanding of Jesus' divinity is also evident in the response of Thomas, one of Jesus' disciples, in John 20:28, when he exclaims, "My Lord and my God!" upon seeing the risen Jesus.

  • Colossians 2:9 states, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form," underscoring the belief that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. 

  • In Philippians 2:11, Paul highlights the universal recognition of Jesus' divine status, writing, "and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."

In summary, the biblical view of Jesus presents him as the Son of God who became human through the Incarnation. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is portrayed as both divine and human, emphasizing his unique dual nature. This understanding is central to the Christian faith and shapes the way believers relate to Jesus as both Savior and Lord.

  • John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

  • John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

  • John 5:18, "For this cause, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

  • John 8:24," I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins."

  • John 8:58, "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.'"

  • John 10:30, "I and the Father are one."

  • John 20:28," Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

  • Col. 2:9, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form."

  • Phil. 2:11," and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."

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