In re-reading AU#2, I really think I could have made my point more succinctly about why the synoptic gospels are not as explicit as the one penned by John about the Deity of Christ. I’m going to leave AU#2 untouched because there is good (if redundant) information there, but this is my attempt at summary and hopefully clarification in case the last one was too wordy for my readers to stay with me.
If you understood AU#2 perfectly well already, ignore what follows. If I was unclear and you found AU#2 hard to follow, this may help.
My logic can be broken down into 5 points.
1) The Deity of Christ was being taught within a matter of years from the time of Pentecost (at most).
We know this because Paul’s letters are an early window into what the 1st century Church believed about Jesus, and they tell us plainly that Jesus is Himself Deity.
Colossians 1:15-20, 2:8-9; Titus 2:13; Romans 9:5; I Corinthians 2:8, for instance.
But the number 1 text is Philippians 2:5-11. Because of the way it departs from Paul’s usual style and some quirks in the language, this text is considered to be an excerpt from an early Christian hymn. This means that prior to Paul authoring the letter to the Philippians (which took place no later than the year 63-65 AD [when Paul was martyred]), this text was already being used by Christians to describe what they thought of Christ – i.e. that He was God in human flesh.
2) By the time the synoptics were written, the message of Christ crucified was already spreading to the nations.
The book of Acts records the incredible swiftness with which this took place.
3) Therefore, it is simple deduction to say that if…
(a) the Deity of Christ was being taught within (at most) several years of Pentecost wherever the Gospel was spread (as evidenced by Paul’s letters, some of which can be conservatively dated to the AD 40s and contain creed and hymn references that go back even earlier) and
(b) the Gospel was spreading to the nations for a decade or more before the synoptics began to be written (Pentecost was in AD 30 or 33 – the synoptics are thought to have been written between 50-70 AD), then
(c) we can conclude that new Christian converts were all well schooled by the Apostles on the Deity of Christ before the first synoptic was written.
4) The synoptics had good reason for not being über in-your-face about the Deity of Christ (as the Gospel of John did later on).
The people that these gospel accounts were written for already believed in the Deity of Christ thanks to Apostolic training. There were no serious heresies as yet to write against (or, if there were, if was Proto-gnosticism [first major heresy], which taught that Jesus was only Divine and not at all human), so the Deity of Christ was in no need of defending at that stage since the gospels were written to believers who already accepted the Deity of Christ.
5) Which leaves us with the question.
Imagine that someone came to you with the preposterous idea that they had seen a man rise from the dead who claimed to be God. You ask many questions because at first you’re skeptical, but ultimately you become convinced upon the strength of their testimony (might also help if they started performing miracles as the Apostles tended to do).
You say, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God (i.e. Himself Deity) who came down from heaven and was made incarnate.”
What’s your next question?
“If God Himself was walking and talking amongst men, tell me what He said! Tell me what He did!”
You’re going to want to hear the story about His words and deeds – am I right?
Matthew, Mark, and Luke were not written to skeptics so much as to those who had already been taught the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. – Luke 1:1-4 (ESV)
Fundamentals which inevitably included the Deity of Christ – how else would the early Christians have come up with the Carmen Christi? Which, incidentally, not only precedes the synoptics but WAY precedes the gospel of John.
Thus, the Deity of Christ was just a granted for the first readers of the synoptics, and the writers seem to have not felt it necessary to recapitulate that fundamental belief, preferring instead to use their precious and limited writing materials to record the biography of God incarnate. This is why you come across such strange statements as “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28; cf Ex 33:4 and Jer 50:34) or “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matt 24:35) Very odd things for a mere man to say indeed, but I contend that the gospel writers well knew that their audience, schooled in the Deity of Christ by the Apostles, would need no explanation.