Did early Christians believe Jesus was God?
Everyone accepts Jesus existed.
Most professors tucked away in the world’s universities even accept there was something unusual about him. But fewer accept he was God.
Some say Jesus was a good or wise man whose legend grew until people started worshipping him. Others claim that Jesus never said he was God, and neither did his disciples.
But it’s not just professors. Every day in schools, pubs, and homes people think the same: Everyone who actually met Jesus died a long time ago, they say.
Hasn’t Christianity changed loads since then? Can we know what the first Christians believed about Jesus?
Jesus’ friend’s friend
We could read the gospels, written by the first Christians. But some people don’t trust them. Setting aside the (actually very reliable) gospels, what’s left?
Let me introduce you to a guy called Ignatius.
Born in Syria about twenty years after Jesus died, he later became a bishop in Turkey. He was clearly given authority by the early church.
Apparently, he learnt about Jesus from the disciple John – Jesus’ best friend. Here’s someone chatting face-to-face with Jesus’ mate before legends could grow.
What does Ignatius say about Jesus being God?
‘Jesus Christ, our God’
As Ignatius was dragged to Rome where he was thrown to the lions - Christians weren’t popular with the Romans at the time - he wrote some letters to Christian believers.
He described them as being saved, ‘by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God’.
Later he writes:
‘There is one physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit, both made and not made; God existing in flesh’.
That’s pretty clear. He believed Jesus was God.
This is just one example of the beliefs of early Christians about who Jesus was and is.
Church may look different now. But we have the same truth, faithfully recorded and handed down to us.