Matthew 4:3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
In light of the recently released movie entitled: "Son of God", it was felt by this blogger to give the reader an overview of this significant title for Jesus Christ. Movies and art can sometimes enable us to visualize, become emotionally awakened and reflect on what is being taught about the scripture and about Jesus Christ. However the truth of the scriptures must still be unpacked either in preaching, teaching or writing in order to truly know the scriptures and Jesus Christ. The aim of today and tomorrow is three-fold:
1. Unfold the meaning of the words in the Biblical title for Jesus: "Son of God"
2. Trace the development of this title through the New Testament
3. See how the title "Son of God" explains Jesus Christ so that we can love Him more
In today's post we will focus on the first main thought and cover the other remaining two points tomorrow.
1. The meaning of the words in the Biblical title for Jesus: "Son of God"
Each word in the title of Jesus "Son of God" carries much freight and meaning. We can note the following observations of each of these three words:
According to one Greek dictionary, the word translated Son ("hoo-we-os") is sometimes used of those - "who are bound to a personality by close, non-material ties; it is this personality that has promoted this relationship and given it its character." 1 Thus to be the "Son" means to have the same qualities, traits and nature as the person to whom the Son is deemed to be in relationship. Thus for Jesus to be "Son of God", when considered in context, is tantamount to us saying: "Jesus Christ is equal to God". The two other words "of" and "God" below will bear this out.
The little word "of" defines some type of relationship or association between "Son" and "God". When understanding how the phrase "Son of God" is used to describe Jesus Christ, we can note its use in the associated term "begotten" and its usage in the kingship of Israel.
We often see in the Bible the concepts of "birth" and "begotten". Concerning Jesus' humanity, he is considered to be the "son of Mary" by way of birth in Mark 6:3 and yet in regards to His Deity, John 3:16 deems Him as the "only-begotten Son of God". Birthing is concerned with the origin of a created being in time - which is why for example we place such an emphasis on one's birthday. With regards to Jesus' humanity, He is the virgin born son of Mary. (Luke 1:35; Mark 6:3)
Begetting deals more with the impartation of qualities and characteristics from the begetter to the begotten and is not as concerned with time. In a modern day sense, when I say: my three sons are "sons of Mahlon", I am describing them as having the same nature and characteristics as me - i.e they were "begotten". The one who begets defines the nature and characteristics of the one who is begotten, and vice-versa. When we see Jesus as "The Son of God", the Bible is using doctrinal shorthand to say: "There has never been a time in eternity when Jesus was not in a co-equal, co-eternal relationship with God."2
The term "Son of" is often used in royal titles, such as Psalm 2:7 where David sees in prophetic vision the Father saying to the Son in eternity: “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." To call Jesus the "Son of God" simply means that His role is not bound by time, is a title, shares the same qualities as the Begetter (The Father) and is based upon an Eternal decree.
So what kind of God is God? What kind of nature does God have? To use Psalm 139 as a basis for answering that question: God is omni-scient or all-knowing (Ps 139:1-6); omni-present or everywhere present (139:7-12); omni-potent or all-powerful(139:13-16); omni-benevolent or all-good(139:17-22) and omni-sapient or all-wise (139:23-24). Thus when we speak of Jesus Christ being the "Son of God", we are saying that touching His Divine nature, He possess the same exact qualities as what is described by the term "God". Herbert Lockyer summarizes this title quite well: "No title of our blessed Lord is more wonderful the "the Son of God", because it represents to us the mode of existence of the Second Person of the Trinity, and His relation to the First. Deriving His own eternal being from God the Father (John 6:57; 7:29)....as God's Eternal Son, Jesus came as God's representative to do God's Will in the world, and the Vehicle of God's grace to guilty men."3
Jesus Christ is indeed more awesome than we can ever think or imagine. Thanks be to God we have the inerrant, infallible word of God to explain Him to us!
1. Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt and F.W Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. University of Chicago Press. 2nd Ed. 1957. Page 833
2. Thus for eternity the Son has been, and never ceased being at anyone time, even in His incarnation, the co-equal, co-eternal "Son of God". He entered into time over 2,000 years ago, took upon himself human flesh to be the "Son of Mary" by way of the virgin birth. Thus He ever remained God and at the same time began being a human being from the virgin birth conception. (Luke 1:35; Romans 9:5)
3. Herbert Lockyer, D.D. All the Divine names and Titles in the Bible. Zondervan. Page 250.