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In the part of the world that I currently live and work in, Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf, it’s possible to say something without actually saying it. When we arrived almost ten years ago, despite having family history here that dates back to the 1960s, it still took a little getting used to. The communication style is, generally, very hot culture: indirect and conservative. Subjects are often talked around before they are talked about. It is

“…high context, meaning that people from this region take into consideration all the different aspects of a certain event in order to get the true understanding of it. Hidden meanings can be found by analysing the situation as a whole.” (UKEssays, 2018m emphasis added).

For a cold-cultured person such as myself, this can be a real challenge. I grew up in a particularly straightforward part of the UK where words are used sparingly and truth is valued over story-telling prowess. To a degree, I’m still learning how to best communicate with those around me from a different cultural background.

A common objection to the orthodox Christian faith revealed in Scripture that today’s believer— be it in a hot culture or a cold culture— faces is this:

“Jesus never actually claimed to be God, you’re drawing that conclusion yourself.”

Particularly those in the modern West who value truth straight from the source may struggle with this. It’s true, to a degree: open your English Bible and try as you might, you will never see Jesus saying “I am God”.

But, for a moment, let’s remember the culture and the context into which Jesus was born. The context in which He lived, ministered, died, rose, and from which He ascended. It wasn’t the straightforward, cold-cultured, Western world where truth is valued above relationship, above history, and above connection to one’s forebears. History is veryimportant in this part of the world: how you relate to those who came before can seem disproportionately important for those not from here.

As such, the fact that Jesus didn’t just say plainly and simply, “I am God” is not a big problem. He said it without saying it. Let me tell you why it’s not a big problem and let me help you answer more conclusively the next time this objection crosses your path.

First, we need to remember that in this part of the world, the wider Middle East region, it’s possible to say something without (specifically) saying it. Words are but a part of the bigger picture: an often non-essential part. In typical style for the region in which He lived, Jesus said many things without saying them.

For one example, He said that whilst we are not under law to tithe, we should still do it (Luke 23.23). In the same style, He did claim to be God.

In John 10.30, Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.”

Those present knew very well what was being said. They knew Jesus was claiming to be God by asserting His equality with God. Look at their reaction:

“The Jewish leaders picked up rocks again to stone him to death. Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good deeds from the Father. For which one of them are you going to stone me?” The Jewish leaders replied, “We are not going to stone you for a good deed but for blasphemy, because you, a man, are claiming to be God.” (John 10.31-33, NET, emphasis added)

Those present, those who heard Him, knew exactly what was being communicated, and their reactions show us that without a shadow of a doubt.

Jesus made another statement claiming to be God in John 8.58:

“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am!” (NET)

The reaction is the same (John 8.59) because the claim is the same: Deity.

Did Jesus claim to be God? Yes, in many ways (Matthew 14.33, cf. Luke 4.8) and with many words. Perhaps not the words we might use ourselves, but He certainly did.

Sometimes it pays to look at the very words of Scripture, the individual combinations of letters that the Biblical authors were Divinely given right down to their grammar, their gender, their plurality, and their repetition. At other times, it pays to look at what is being communicated, even if it is not said, because, as we read earlier,

“…meanings can be found by analysing the situation as a whole.”


UKEssays. (November 2018). The Communication Style In Middle East Cultural Studies Essay. Retrieved from

For over a decade, James Travis and his wife Robyn have been in Bahrain where he serves as Pastor of Saar Fellowship ( Their two boys were born there, and they have family history in Bahrain dating back to the 1960s! James is Calvary Chapel University's first M.Div graduate. Reach out to James by visiting his website at