If the title “son of God” does not in and of itself mean that Jesus is divine… then why?

The first thing we should note about the language “Son of God” is that Scripture often uses it to talk about beings that are not divine in any way. For example, the angels are referred to as sons of God in passages like Job 1:6 and 2:1. In some modern versions of the Bible, these verses are translated to say “angels” rather than sons of God. But in the passages from Job, the Hebrew actually says, “benay haelohim,” which literally means “sons of God.” And we find similar language in other passages.

The nation of Israel is also called God’s son in verses like Exodus 4:22, and Hosea 11:1. The human kings of Israel were also referred to as God’s sons in places like 2 Samuel 7:14, and Psalm 2:7. Adam, the first human being, is called the son of God in Luke 3:38. In addition, as all Christians know, in many passages in Scripture – God’s faithful believers are called his sons. We see this in places like Matthew 5:9, 45, Luke 20:36, and Romans 8:14, 19. As Paul wrote in Galatians 3:26: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

But if the title “son of God” does not in and of itself mean that Jesus is divine, why has the church made such a big deal about it? When we look at how the New Testament talks about Jesus, it becomes clear that he is God’s son in a unique way. In fact, one of the most emphatic things that we find in the New Testament is that Jesus is the unique Son of God. That he shares in the very essence of who God is. Or another way of putting that is that Jesus is very God of very God. And we are the children of God by relationship, by adoption, but not by essence. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. He has always been the Son of God. [Dr. Tom Schreiner]

Jesus’ unique sonship is especially clear in the Gospel of John. For instance, in 1:1-18, we are told that Jesus is the eternal word of God, meaning that he is both God himself, and the only begotten of the Father. We also see it in John 8:18-23, where Jesus said that as the Father’s Son, he had come from above, that he had not originated in this world. And we find it in John 10:30 where Jesus insisted that he and the Father are one. But perhaps the most obvious place where John made this clear was in John 5:18. Listen to what he wrote there:[Jesus] was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (John 5:18). This passage makes it clear that when Jesus spoke of himself as God’s Son, he meant that he was equal with God the Father.

For this reason, Christians have rightly understood that when the Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God, it means that he is both unique and divine.Jesus’ divine sonship is also mentioned in many other New Testament passages. We find it in Romans 1:3-4, and 8:3 where Paul taught that Jesus was God’s divine Son even before the incarnation. We see in Hebrews 1:1-3 where we are told that as the Son of God, Jesus created the universe and is the exact representation of the Father’s being.

In these and many other places, Jesus is identified as God’s Son in a special way that indicates his eternal, divine nature. In the early church, the confession that Jesus Christ was fully divine was a critical aspect of the Christian faith. Those who confessed the Apostles’ Creed at their baptisms were not required to affirm all the finer points of theology with regard to the inner workings of the Trinity. But they were expected to proclaim the deity of Christ without hesitation. Even today, affirming that Jesus is truly and fully God is a hallmark of biblical Christianity.

Categories: Theology

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