Many skeptics of Christianity challenge the notion that Jesus claimed to be God. But there are good reasons to believe that Jesus did make this claim as revealed in the Gospel accounts. And these statements, made by Jesus, explain why the early church, which was largely composed of monotheistic Jews, would regard him as divine. William Lane Craig (Ph.D., University of Birmingham; ThD, University of Munich) points this out.
We know from Paul’s letters that within twenty years of Jesus’ death Jesus was regarded and worshipped by his contemporaries as God incarnate (Phil. 2: 5– 7). It’s inexplicable how monotheistic Jews could have attributed divinity to a man they had accompanied during his lifetime if he never claimed any such things himself. Monotheism is the heart of the Jewish religion, and it would have been blasphemous to say that a human being was God. Yet this is precisely what the earliest Christians did proclaim and believe about Jesus! Such a claim must have been rooted in Jesus’ own teaching. And, in fact, we do find in Jesus’ teachings and activities both explicit and implicit personal claims that imply His divinity.
William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision, Kindle ed (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), 3624–30.