Extra-Biblical Historical Evidence
in Support of the Deity of Jesus Christ

© Spotlight Ministries, Vincent McCann, 2003
www.spotlightministries.org.uk



The material on this page are focused purely on extra-biblical historical material in support of the Deity of Jesus Christ. These sources are from numerous sources including early Christian writers, impartial, and sometimes hostile observers. For Biblical evidence in support of the Deity of Jesus Christ see: The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity: An Outline Study.

The references here provided are given to demonstrate that the earliest of Christians did indeed worship Jesus Christ as God.

Lucian, a second century Greek satirist, mentions that the Christians worshipped Jesus:

"The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account...You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property." (emphasis added)

Pliny the Younger, Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor around 112 AD, wrote to the Emperor Trajan observing that the Christians sang hymns to Christ "as to a god":

"[The Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god..." (emphasis added)

Further non-Biblical evidence to show that Christians were recognized as those who worshipped Jesus is seen in some first century Pagan graffiti, which attempts to ridicule Christians by depicting a believer worshipping a horse type headed god on a cross:

The inscription reads: "Alexamenos worships his god."

There is also the testimony of the non-canonical writings of the early Christians. The list below is only a mere sampling as many quotations could be cited.*

St. Ignatius of Antioch.

It is well worth noting that Ignatius was an early church father who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Throughout his letters it can clearly be seen that Ignatius was greatly influenced by John's high Christology (For example, compare Ignatius' statements of Jesus' Divinity with what John writes at: John 1:1, 18; 5:18; 8:58; 20:28). Quotes taken from Apostolic Fathers_ Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation:

Ignatius to the Ephesians

Chapter 0

0:0 "Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her which hath been blessed in greatness through the plentitude of God the Father; which hath been foreordained before the ages to be for ever unto abiding and unchangeable glory, united and elect in a true passion, by the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ our God; even unto the church which is in Ephesus [of Asia], worthy of all felicitation: abundant greeting in Christ Jesus and in blameless joy." (emphasis added)

Chapter 18

18:1 "My spirit is made an offscouring for the Cross, which is a stumbling-block to them that are unbelievers, but to us salvation and life eternal. _Where is the wise? Where is the disputer?_ Where is the boasting of them that are called prudent? 18:2 For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived in the womb by Mary according to a dispensation, of the seed of David but also of the Holy Ghost; and He was born and was baptized that by His passion He might cleanse water." (emphasis added)

Chapter 19

19:3 "From that time forward every sorcery and every spell was dissolved, the ignorance of wickedness vanished away, the ancient kingdom was pulled down, when God appeared in the likeness of man unto _newness of_ everlasting _life;_ and that which had been perfected in the counsels of God began to take effect. Thence all things were perturbed, because the abolishing of death was taken in hand."

Ignatius to the Romans

Chapter 0

0:0 "Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her that hath found mercy in the bountifulness of the Father Most High and of Jesus Christ His only Son; to the church that is beloved and enlightened through the will of Him who willed all things that are, by faith and love towards Jesus Christ our God; even unto her that hath the presidency in the country of the region of the Romans, being worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of felicitation, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy in purity, and having the presidency of love, walking in the law of Christ and bearing the Father's name; which church also I salute in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of the Father; unto them that in flesh and spirit are united unto His every commandment, being filled with the grace of God without wavering, and filtered clear from every foreign stain; abundant greeting in Jesus Christ our God in blamelessness." (emphasis added).

Chapter 3

3:3 "Nothing visible is good. For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is the more plainly visible. The Work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might, whensoever it is hated by the world." (emphasis added).

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

Chapter 1

1:1 "I give glory to Jesus Christ the God who bestowed such wisdom upon you; for I have perceived that ye are established in faith immovable, being as it were nailed on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, in flesh and in spirit, and firmly grounded in love in the blood of Christ, fully persuaded as touching our Lord that He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, but Son of God by the Divine will and power, truly born of a virgin and baptized by John that _all righteousness might be fulfilled_ by Him," (emphasis added).

Chapter 6

6:1 "Let no man be deceived. Even the heavenly beings and the glory of the angels and the rulers visible and invisible, if they believe not in the blood of Christ [who is God], judgment awaiteth them also. _He that receiveth let him receive._ Let not office puff up any man; for faith and love are all in all, and nothing is preferred before them." (emphasis added).

Polycarp

Polycarp was also believed to have been a disciple of the apostle John. Lightfoot points out that after Ignatius was executed, Polycarp collected together his epistles (Lightfoot, p. 165).

The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

12:2 "Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High-priest Himself the [Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father that raised him from the dead." (emphasis added).

Tatian the Syrian, Address to the Greeks (C. 165 - 175 A.D.):

"We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we report that God was born in the form of a man." (emphasis added)

St. Melito of Sardes, Fragment in Anastasius of Sinai (C. 177 A.D.):

"The activities of Christ after His Baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the Deity hidden in His flesh. Being God and likewise perfect man, He gave positive indications of His two natures: of His Deity, by the miracles during the three years following after His Baptism; of His humanity, in the thirty years which came before His Baptism, during which, by reason of His condition according to the flesh, he concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing before the ages." (emphasis added)

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 3, 19, 1 (C. 180 AD):

"Nevertheless, what cannot be said of anyone else who ever lived, that He is Himself in His own right God and Lord and Eternal King and Only-begotten and Incarnate Word, proclaimed as such by all the Prophets and by the Apostles and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. The Scriptures would not have borne witness to these things concerning Him, if, like everyone else, He were mere man. But that He had in Himself what no other ever had, that pre-eminent generation by the Most High Father; and that He also experienced that pre-eminent birth from a Virgin, - the divine Scriptures testify to both in His regard." (emphasis added)




* For a more exhaustive list of extra-biblical historical statements testifying to Christ's Deity see: http://www.bible.ca/H-trinity.htm






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