Who did Jesus think he was?

I have not contributed here for some time and I am confused with so many posts.

However I do have a query.

Who did Jesus think he was?

Think you’re asking the wrong people. Only HE would have an answer to that. Ask him.


Thank you so much for your immediate reply.

However it really does not answer adequately the question I asked.

I was at a lecture some time ago and an archbishop in the audience asked the lecturer, one of the most distinguished theologians in the UK, the question I am asking. The archbishop admitted that Jesus did not know definitions considered in councils hundreds of years after his life on earth - two natures, one person etc.

A discussion developed, which did not give satisfactory conclusions.

I hope someone here can clarify the issue for me.

He called God “Abba”. He could say that because he knew that he was his Father’s Son.

My personal opinion…is that Christ did not “think”…but He KNEW precisely who He was. He made it clear enough in scriptures…or rather the authors of the scriptures recounted the statements.

Christ declared many times that He was God. I don’t think He is the God of Confusion, so I would postulate that He knew exactly Who He was.

Before Abraham was, I Am

Hi NoelFitz,

At the age of 12 (when Joseph and Mary found Him in the temple) Jesus said to his mother, Mary, and “foster” father Joseph:
“Did you not know I must be in My Father’s house?” Luke 2:41-49

There are many passages in Scripture that show Jesus knew who He was. I would suggest sitting down and reading through at least one of the synoptic gospels (preferably Matt. or Luke) and the Gospel of John (especially John’s gospel). Have a paper and pen handy. Make a note of all the passages that show Jesus was aware of His deity - of His relationship to the other Persons in the Divine Trinity.

I could do some research and type out for you all the references, but it will have far more meaning for you if you search them out yourself (the Gospels are not that long).
Just one other comment: I have discovered over the years that when I come to God with questions, He tests my motivation. Eg. How important is it to me? Am I willing to put forth effort or is it just curiosity, a fleeting inquery? Why do I want to know? etc.

That is an unasurable question… like the other poster said only jesus can answer that…

From what he appherently said we may be able to infer a few things about him… but hten again that is word of mouth untill it was written so that reflects what the people speaking about him thought he was…

There is really no way we can know, who he really was…

I thought Tracy10 wrote a wise answer.

Jesus knew full well Who He was. Period.

What makes one think that He didn’t?

Noel, the late Fr. William Most wrote an excellent book called The Consciousness of Christ that I think you would find helpful; the entirety of it is available to read here:


This briefer article by Fr. Most entitled “An Ignorant Jesus?” is likewise available here:


I am very grateful for all the replies.

The archbishop, who asked the question, prefaced his query with the observation that it might be very naïve and simplistic. The speaker, in what was rather a put-down said that often naïve questions are the most intelligent.

#2 Tracy10
Your reply may undercut the whole of apologetics and our religion and lead to agnosticism. We believe God is knowing and knowable.

#4 Vincent
We are all God’s children. I am a son of God.

#5 RobHom
Are you saying that because Jesus is the omniscient God, knowing everything, and being perfectly happy in Himself, he knew exactly who he was. This thinking may imply Docetism.

#6 NotWorthy
You wrote “Christ declared many times that He was God”. That is debatable. See answer to # 5.

#7 Nita
Are you suggesting that Jesus at the age of 12 understood the hypostatic union? Not all Catholics would agree with this.

#8 Abbadon
I think you miss the point; the question was “Who did Jesus think he was?” not “who is Jesus?”.
You wrote: “That is an unasurable (sic. unanswerable??) question”.
Perhaps that is the best answer, unfortunately. It leaves me unsatisfied.

In this life we can only see dimly, as in a mirror (cf. St Paul). As St Augustine pointed out we are like people looking at the back of a tapestry and from the various threads can only get a vague idea of what the tapestry really is. If we know exactly as God knows we would be God.

The best answer the speaker at the lecture offered was that the question was the wrong one. We should ask “Who did the Son of God think we was?”. We cannot answer this.

However I would appreciate more comments to help me gain a better answer to this apparently naïve question: “Who did Jesus think he was?”.

Don’t ever think Catholic archbishops naive or simplistic!

I Sent my most recent reply before I saw those of FCEGM (#11), NotWorthy (#10) and MichaelMurphy (#9).

I really am very grateful to you all for participating in this discussion.

NotWorthy wrote:

Jesus knew full well Who He was. Period. What makes one think that He didn’t?

I do not know the answer, that is why I asked the question.

However one reads in Philippians:

6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version, Php 2:6-8 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989).

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Dear NoelFitz:

“The constant teaching of the Church is that Christ, in His human intellect, from the moment of His conception, knew all things that a created intellect could know.” This is the direct answer given by the researchers at Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) to the question, “What does the Church teach about Christ’s human knowledge?” This answer and its supporting argument are available as Faith Facts: The Human Knowledge of Christ.

If the archbishop’s “admission” was intended generally and not limited to a concession “for the sake of argument,” there are serious questions about it. In Lamentabili Sane (1907), Pope Saint Pius X specifically *condemned *the following propositions:

  1. It is impossible to reconcile the natural sense of the Gospel texts with the sense taught by our theologians concerning the conscience and the infallible knowledge of Jesus Christ.

  2. The critics can ascribe to Christ a knowledge without limits only on a hypothesis which cannot be historically conceived and which is repugnant to the moral sense. That hypothesis is that Christ as man possessed the knowledge of God and yet was unwilling to communicate the knowledge of a great many things to His disciples and posterity.

  3. Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic dignity.

The document by CUF ends with this argument:

Pope John Paul II explains the mystery this way:

However valid it may be to maintain that, because of the human condition which made him grow “in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Lk. 2:52), his human awareness of his own mystery would also have progressed to its fullest expression in his glorified humanity, there is no doubt that already in his historical existence Jesus was aware of his identity as the Son of God. John emphasizes this to the point of affirming that it was ultimately because of this awareness that Jesus was rejected and condemned: they sought to kill him “because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God” (Jn. 5:18). In Gethsemane and on Golgotha Jesus’ human awareness will be put to the supreme test. But not even the drama of his Passion and Death will be able to shake his serene certainty of being the Son of the heavenly Father.

Though the CUF paper does not mention it, this paragraph is quoted from John Paul II’s Novo Millennio Ineunte, (2000). The sentence immediately preceding the quoted paragraph is:

In his self-awareness, Jesus has no doubts: “The Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10:38).

I hope this is helpful.

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner


many thanks for such a scholarly reply.

I reported a discusssion in which an archbishop, a theologian and others participated. I may have anadvertently misrepresented some views.

What a student says that a teacher said is not alwways what the teacher said.

Yes, that’s what I’m asserting (not just suggesting).

At the age of 12 I’d already known for some years “who” I was – a human person with a human nature consisting of body and soul.

Now, if we as human persons can comprehend ourselves at an early age, I find it the height of human arrogance to suggest that the Divine Person of Jesus, did not “know” who He was. That is saying a human person comprehends more than a Divine Person. Keep in mind that although there are two natures (human and divine) in Jesus, there is ONLY ONE Person.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church touches briefly on the topic:
"Christ’s soul and his human knowledge" CCC #471-474.

CCC #473 …(Quoting St. Maximus the Confessor) “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.” Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father. …

In his Encyclical “Mystici Corporis”, Pope Pius the XII says:
He assumed our nature in hypostatic union: hence—as Maximus of Turin with a certain unaffected simplicity remarks—"in Christ our own flesh loves us[156] But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the beatific vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love.

the Way, Life, Truth, Resurrection, The Alpha and Omega, the Son who does whatever the Father does, the Searcher of hearts and minds, the Judge among a few.

and by teacher you mean jesus and by student you mean the apostles?

I wouldn’t say that…

The Apostles, after three years of refining and purifying, were able to teach the Gospel of the Master rather well, I’d say.

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