The Study of Jesus the Christ
Exploring whether Jesus' being the Son of God is connected with His being the Messiah.
This article is an attempt to set forth as a working hypothesis an exegetical concern I have had for years. One of the most familiar verses of Scripture is John 3:16, which states, "For God loved the world so much that He gave the only-begotten Son in order that every one believing into Him might not perish, but might have life eternal" (author's literal translation). My concern is this: How can God have a Son? He doesn't have a wife, so how can He have a son? Obviously, the New Testament over and over identifies Jesus as God's Son. I know that the classic answer is that "sonship" in Hebrew thinking means that the son partakes of the essence of his father. But that begs the question. Why call Jesus God's Son in the first place? Is there more to it than that? Is there, perhaps a special way in which Jesus can accurately be designated as God's Son? Or more to the point, is there something cultural / theological that was going on in Jesus' first century Israeli culture that escapes us in the modern era?
An honest exegete will admit that things seemed to be different in the Old Testament. I, for one, concluded long ago that the Angel of the Lord, or more specifically, the Messenger of Yahweh was none other than the Pre-incarnate Christ. That seems to be Jesus' designation in the OT. And it is quite interesting to note that the Apostle John, when referring to the Pre-Incarnate Jesus, did not refer to Him as the "Son" of God, but rather as the "Word" (lógos, 3056) of God (John 1:1-3). So He was Messenger of God in the OT, and the Message of God in the NT, at least in the prologue of John's Gospel. Could there possibly be some better explanation to the phenomenon that suddenly, in the NT, the Second Member of the Godhead begins to be routinely identified as "Son of God"?
Especially noteworthy in this regard is the incident recorded in 2 Sam. 7:1-28. David told Nathan he wanted to build a permanent "house" or temple in which God might live. In David's thinking, that was much to be preferred over a portable tent. But God's response to David's desire (2 Sam. 7:1-2) to build a permanent "house" (temple) in which God would condescend to dwell among His chosen people was fascinating, and epochal. God would instead build a house (dynasty) for David (2 Sam. 7:11). Alternatively, David's seed (2 Sam. 7:12) would build a house for Yahweh's name, and Yahweh would establish the throne of his kingdom forever (2 Sam. 7:13). Yahweh would be a father to him, and he would be a son to Yahweh (2 Sam. 7:14). Yahweh would correct him and not remove His loyal love (chesed, 2617) from him as he had taken it away from Saul and had removed from king before David (2 Sam. 7:15). Moreover, David's house and kingdom would endure before Yahweh forever, and his throne would be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16). This critical promise was later termed a covenant (Psalm 89:3-4, 27-29, 34-37). We know it as the Davidic Covenant, which has enormous implications for Jesus as the ultimate Anointed One, the ultimate seed of David.
This Father / Son relationship between God and David's Anointed Son is clearly and dramatically spelled out in Psalm 2:1-12. In response to the universal rebellion of the nations (Ps. 2:1-3), God laughs at the nations, mocks them (Ps. 2:4), then speaks to them in His fury, "I have installed My King upon Zion, My Holy Mountain!" (Ps. 2:5-6). The Messiah Himself then tells of Yahweh's Decree: "He said to Me, 'You are My Son! Today I have begotten You! Ask of Me, and I will certainly give You the nations of the earth as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession! You shall break them with a rod of iron, and You shall shatter them like clay pottery!'" (Ps. 2:7-9). This was a psalm of David (Acts 4:25-26). It spells out in fevered, poetic fury and prophetic certainty that the Messiah possesses by the Decree of God, a Father / Son relationship with Yahweh.
Is it possible that God's promise to David to have a Father / Son relationship with His descendant might have a significant bearing on the manner in which Jesus is the Son of God? Could that be the missing key? Personally, I think so.
To begin with, we will simply list some Scriptures. The reader can "mouse-over" each link and read the passages for himself. With longer passages, it will be necessary to click on the link. Read for yourself. Do you think there is any truth in my working hypothesis that Jesus' being identified as the Son of God has a relationship to His being the ultimate Anointed One, the ultimate descendant of David?
And while we are at it, why did the Apostle John refer to Jesus as God's "only begotten" Son? Personally, I prefer the term "only-born Son." And sometimes, he simply refers to "the only-born." What does that mean? And does it have a bearing on the manner in which Jesus is the Son of God? Personally, I think so. I will give you my conclusions at the end of this article, following the Footnote section.
1 Matt. 27:40-43. The chief priests, scribes, and elders associated Jesus' claim to be the Son of God with the presumption that He also claimed to be the King of Israel, Messianic terminology. They were completely accurate in their theological associations. They will be eternally damned because of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.
1a Mark 14:61-62. Asked by the high priest directly, "Are you the Christ (5547), the Son of the Blessed One?," Jesus replied, "I, even I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the power and coming with the clouds of the heaven" (JTB translation). Obviously the high priest associated the title "Christ" (5547) with the descriptive phrase "the Son of the Blessed One." Jesus agreed to this Messianic association. Moreover He extended it into the future, predicting his questioners (plural) would see Him, the Son of Man, sitting at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1) with Messianic accouterments, the clouds of the heaven (Dan. 7:13). This implied His return to earth to rule over an eternal kingdom made up of peoples, nations and languages from all over the earth (Dan. 7:14). This is a very powerful statement that the Messiah, by virtue of His being the Messiah, is both the Son of God (the Blessed One) and the ultimate Son of Man. Also very much to the point, Jesus' greatest human enemies conceded that, to be the Christ was also to be the Son of the Blessed One. Though their faith in Jesus was utterly absent, their theology was impeccable. There is a connection between being the Messiah and being the Son of God.
2 Luke 1:30-35. The supernatural messenger Gabriel informed Mary her son will be "the Son of the Most High." He further informed her that her Son will be the King who will sit on David's throne, reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever in a kingdom that will never end. This is Messianic language, and it refers to the Messianic Kingdom. Gabriel, in his message indicated that there is a connection between being the Messiah and being the Son of God. Who could doubt this Divine messenger from the throne of God (Luke 1:19)?
3 Luke 4:41. The demons correctly identified Jesus as the Son of God, and knew He was the Christ (5547) (Messiah). Though the demons' faith was utterly misplaced, their theology was 100% accurate at this point. To be the Messiah is to be the Son of God. Concessions by one's greatest enemies are incredibly powerful proof!
4 Luke 22:67-70. Jesus identified Himself as "the Son of Man," Messianic terminology, soon to be seated at the right hand of God (Psa. 110:1), a Messianic text. He also admitted to being the Son of God. There is a connection between being the Messiah and being the Son of God.
5 John 1:32-34. John the Immerser testified to having seen God anoint Jesus with His Spirit, thus making Jesus the Messiah, or Christ (5547), the Anointed One. The Messiah would immerse with the Holy Spirit. John also testified that this one was the Son of God. My point is that there is a direct correlation between God having anointed Jesus to be the Messiah (God's ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King) and His being the Son of God.
6 John 1:49-51. Nathaniel identified Jesus as both the "Son of God" and "the King of Israel." I maintain that both are Messianic terminology. To be "the Son of God" was to be "the King of Israel" in Nathanael's thinking. Jesus confirmed Nathanael's well-placed faith in Him and predicted he would see even greater things (John 1:50). He and other believers will see the heaven having been opened and the messengers of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man (John 1:51). This title, "Son of Man," which Jesus frequently gave to Himself, is also, I believe, a Messianic title. Its origin is Dan. 7:13-14, where Daniel saw one like a Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:13). He was granted eternal dominion, glory, and an eternal kingdom. He will be served by all peoples, nations, and men of every language (Dan. 7:14). Jesus used the term "Son of Man" for Himself because it accurately depicted His status (He is fully human, and He is also the ultimate human), and also because it was a more oblique Messianic title than "Son of God" or "King of Israel." Jesus did not want Himself dragged into court sooner than the right time. There are dozens of references to Jesus as "the Son of Man." Here are just a few of them: Matt. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40; 13:37, 41, etc. Matthew 19:28; 25:31 clearly link Jesus' Messianic title, "Son of Man," with Messianic activity. My point here is that, as Nathanael clearly believed, if one is the King of Israel, he is also the Son of God. Nathanael was not a trained theologian. He simply applied spontaneously his working knowledge of the Davidic Covenant, that David's son anointed to be King would automatically have a Father / Son relationship with God (2 Sam. 7:14). In Nathanael's thinking that was just as true of Jesus as it had been true of Solomon.
7 John 5:25-29. Jesus identified Himself as the Son of God who will eventually resurrect all the dead either to a resurrection of life or a resurrection of judgment. He is given this authority because He is "Son of Man" (John 5:27). This means that, since Jesus is both fully God and fully man, He is supremely qualified to judge humans from God's perspective. See the preceding footnote for a fuller explanation of Jesus' Messianic title, "Son of Man." My point here is that there is a connection between Jesus' being the Son of God and His being the Son of Man, i.e., the Messiah.
8 John 10:24-31. When the Jews at the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22-23) asked Jesus to tell them plainly if He were the Christ (5547) (Messiah) (John 10:24), He said He had already done so through His works (miracles) (John 10:25). But they had refused to believe because they were not among His sheep (John 10:26). His sheep hear His voice and follow Him, and He knows them, and He gives them eternal life (John 10:27-28). His Father (God) is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from His Father's hand (John 10:29). He and the Father are one (John 10:30). Understanding that Jesus' claim that God was His Father, and that He and the Father were of one essence was a claim to be the Messiah, the Jews sought to stone Jesus for blasphemy (John 10:31). The most powerful testimony often times comes from one's enemies. Jesus' enemies believed there was a correlation between being the Christ (Messiah) and His being the Son of God. I do not disagree with them.
9 John 10:31-38. This paragraph continues the preceding one. The Judeans again picked up stones in order to stone Jesus (John 10:31). The reason? They denied that they were stoning Him on account of His good works (John 10:32), but on account of blasphemy, and because Jesus, being a man, was making Himself out to be God (John 10:33). Jesus acknowledged that He had claimed to be the Son of God (John 10:36). He continued to maintain that He was doing the works of His Father, and that, even though they did not believe Him, they ought to believe the works (miracles) Her performed. These proved that the Father was in Him and He was in the Father (John 10:37-38). Once again, the whole point of Jesus' miracles is that they demonstrate He is the Messiah, the Son of God (John 20:30-31). There is a relationship between the two.
10 Acts 8:37. This is a bracketed text, one which does not appear in the early manuscripts and most likely was not a part of the original historical document of Acts. Nevertheless, it does appear in the text of the NASB. Its value here is that it demonstrates that Jesus' being identified as "the Son of God" is connected with His being identified as "the Christ" (5547) (Messiah).
11 Acts 9:20-22. Immediately after Saul was converted to the Lord Jesus (Acts 9:4-5, 17), he began to proclaim in the synagogues of Damascus Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 9:20). Being continually empowered, Saul was mingling with the Jews living in Damascus, demonstrating that this One is the Christ (5547) (Acts 9:22). As the text indicates, there is a correlation between Jesus' being the Son of God and His being the Messiah.
12 Rom. 1:3-4. Paul identified himself as a slave of Messiah Jesus (Rom. 1:1), set apart to proclaim the Good News of God. God promised this Good News through His prophets in the OT (Rom. 1:2). This Good News concerned His Son, the One having been born of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom. 1:3), the One having been designated Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by virtue of His resurrection from among the dead ones, "Jesus, Messiah, our Lord!" (Rom. 1:4). That the Messiah is Son of God is self-evident by virtue of His having been born of the seed of David. That He was designated Son of God with power (emphasis mine) was demonstrated by His resurrection. There exists a connection between Jesus' role as the Messiah and His designation as the Son of God.
But Paul was also making a distinction between the flesh (sárx, 4561) and spirit (pneûma, 4151). Jesus was the Son of God (Rom. 1:1, 3). According to the flesh, He had been born of the seed of David (Rom. 1:3). On the other hand, Jesus was "the one having been appointed Son of God with power according to Spirit (better, spirit) of holiness by reason of His resurrection from among the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 1:4, author's literal translation). If Paul meant the Holy Spirit, this is the only occurrence in the entire NT in which the Holy Spirit is designated by Spirit of "holiness" (hagiōsúnê, 42). Every other time He is designated by the term "holy" (hágios, 40) Spirit. The only other two uses of (hagiōsúnê, 42) in the entire NT speak of personal holiness (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 3:13). So it is most likely that Paul was here referring to the fact that it was Jesus' personal spirit of holiness that permitted Him to be resurrected. He was sinless, and so the grave could not constrain Him. That being said, Jesus had been Anointed by God with the Spirit, and doubtless the Holy Spirit played a monumental part in resurrecting Jesus.
But the point here is that Jesus was appointed Son of God with power by reason of His resurrection. This, then, appears to be a third reason, or manner by which Jesus is the Son of God.
13 Rom. 5:10-11. In this chapter, the Messiah is identified as "Lord Jesus Christ" (5547) (Rom. 5:1, 11); "Christ" (5547) (Rom. 5:6, 8); "Jesus Christ" (5547) (Rom. 5:17); "Jesus Christ (5547) our Lord" (Rom. 5:21); and "His (God's) Son" (Rom. 5:10). There is a connection between Jesus' identification as "the Christ" and His being identified as God's Son.
14 Rom. 8:1-3. The Messiah is identified as "Christ (5547) Jesus" (Rom. 8:1, 2), and as God's "own Son" (Rom. 8:3). There is linkage between the two concepts.
15 Heb. 1:1-9. The linkage between Jesus as the Son of God and Jesus as the Messiah is a little bit more complex in this passage than it is in other passages. Jesus is directly stated to be God's Son (Heb. 1:2). The name "Jesus" is not used, but the descriptions and works ascribed to this person rule out all other individuals (Heb. 1:2-3). Throughout much of the book of Hebrews, the writer is arguing for the superiority of Jesus Christ (5547) over all other beings. More specifically, the author is arguing that Jesus, as the Christ (5547), is superior to the angels (Heb. 1:1-14). In order to prove His superiority over angels, the writer quotes two passages to which I referred above in the Introduction. He argues that God never said to any of the angels, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You" (Heb. 1:5 quoting Psalm 2:7). In this OT text the author (David, Acts 4:25-26) quotes God His King upon Zion, His Holy Mountain (Psalm 2:6). In the very next breath, the Son (who is the Davidic King) recounts the Divine Decree of Yahweh: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession" (Psalm 2:7-8). Unquestionably there is a linkage between the Messiah existing as Davidic King and His being identified as the "Son" of God.
But the writer of Hebrews does not (in Heb. 1:5) end His proof of the superiority of the Son to angels with His quotation of Psalm 2:7. He next quotes from the passage which is the very foundation for his quotation of Psalm 2:7. He goes back to the Davidic Covenant outlined in 2 Sam. 7:1-16. Specifically the writer of Hebrews quotes from 2 Sam. 7:14, in which Yahweh promises to David he will enter into a Father / Son relationship with the seed of David. The point of the writer of Hebrews is this: to which of the angels did God ever say, "I will be a Father to him and he shall be a son to Me"? (Heb. 5:1, quoting 2 Sam. 7:14).
This is perhaps the most explicit of all passages demonstrating that Jesus' being called the "Son of God" is directly related to His being the Christ (5547), the ultimate descendant of the seed of David.
16 Hebrews 6:1-6. In this paragraph, which actually extends from Heb. 6:1-8, the writer speaks of "the Christ" (5547) (Messiah, Anointed One) in Heb. 6:1, and refers to "the Son of the God" in Heb. 6:6. There is linkage between Jesus being identified as the Christ (Messiah) and his being identified as the Son of God.
17 1 John 4:2, 9-10, 14-15. In this chapter, John the Apostle speaks of "Jesus Christ" (1 John 4:2). He speaks of God's "only begotten Son" (1 John 4:9) and "His Son" (1 John 4:10). He speaks of the Father having sent the Son (1 John 4:14). He also writes concerning "The one who confesses that Jesus is the Son of the God" (1 John 4:15). The point is that there is linkage between Jesus' being identified as the Christ (Messiah) and His being identified as the Son of God.
18 1 John 5:1, 5-6, 9-13. In this chapter John writes about Jesus being "the Christ" (1 John 5:1). Subsequently he writes about Jesus being "the Son of the God" (1 John 5:5), and in the next verse about "Jesus Christ" (1 John 5:6). He spoke about God having testified concerning "the Son of Him" (1 John 5:9). He writes about "the one believing into the Son of the God" (1 John 5:10, author's literal translation); and again, about God having borne witness (literally) "concerning the Son of Him" (1 John 5:10). He wrote that the eternal life God has given us "is in the Son of Him" (1 John 5:11). "The one having the Son has the life; the one not having the Son of the God the life does not have" (1 John 5:12, author's literal translation). John reveals his purpose: "These things I have written to you in order that you might know that life you have eternal, the ones believing into the name of the Son of the God" (1 John 5:13, author's literal translation). The point I am making here is that, once again, there is linkage between Jesus being identified as the Christ (Messiah) and His being identified as the Son of God.
19 1 John 5:20. In closing this letter, John affirms that "the Son of the God" has come. He also affirms that we believers in Jesus are "in the true One," i.e. God, and we are "in the Son of Him, Jesus Christ." Once again, there is a correlation between Jesus being the Son of God and being the Messiah.
20 Rev. 2:18 (cf. Rev. 1:1-2, 5, 14-15). Rev. 1:1 informs us that this document is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" which God gave to Him to show His slaves concerning the things that must soon take place. God gave the message to Jesus, who gave the message to an unnamed messenger, who in turn gave the message to John. John states in the next verse that he himself testified concerning the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:2). We have established that this message is from Jesus the Messiah.
Shortly thereafter John wishes to the seven churches of Asia grace and peace (Rev. 1:4) from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness (Rev. 1:5).
Subsequently, John writes that he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day when He heard a loud voice behind him ordering him to write in a scroll what he sees and to send it to seven churches in Asia (Rev. 1:10-11). When John turned around to look, he saw an impressive being. Among other descriptions, His eyes were like a flame of fire (Rev. 1:14), and his feet were like burnished bronze (Rev. 1:15). This powerful being then verbally identifies Himself to John as "the first and the last" (Rev. 1:17), as "the living One," and stated that He was dead, "and behold, I am living into the ages of the ages" (Rev. 1:18). This being can be none other than the risen Jesus Christ speaking to John.
So in Rev. 2:18, John was instructed to write to the messenger of the church in Thyatira the following: "This is what the Son of God is saying – the One having His eyes as a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass" (author's literal translation). Clearly, the person identified as "the Son of God" is identical to the person who was given the identical description in Rev. 1:14-15, who is Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:1-2, 5).
My point is that there is a correlation between Jesus being the Son of God and His being the Messiah.
21 Matt. 4:3. Though there are no designations of Jesus as the Christ in the immediate context, the record of God's having anointed Jesus with His Spirit appears in the immediately preceding context (Matt. 3:16-17). Immediately thereafter Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1). After Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights (Matt. 4:2), the one tempting said to Him, literally, "Since you are the Son of the God, command these stones to become bread" (Matt. 4:3). I conclude that, even though the devil did not specifically identify Jesus as "the Christ," by his terminology he was assuming that to be the case. Of course, the devil knew all along who Jesus was. Shortly after Jesus' birth, the devil had (presumably) motivated Herod to destroy the young child (Matt. 2:13-18).
22 Matt. 4:5-6. The same explanation applying to Matt. 4:3 can also be offered in regard to Satan's next temptation of Christ (Matt. 4:5-6). The devil again stipulated, "Since you are the Son of the God, throw yourself down [from the pinnacle of the temple]." For it is written that God will command His angels to rescue you (Matt. 4:6, quoting Psalm 91:11-12). Once again, the preceding context (Matt. 3:16-17) records the moment at which Jesus became the Messiah. Satan's terminology identifying Jesus as the Son of the God was the same as saying, "Since You are the Messiah."
23 Matt. 8:28-29. In this incident the demons inhabiting two men who had been "demonized" (daimonídzomai, 1139) (Matt. 8:28) loudly confronted Jesus, "What do we have to do with You, Son of the God? Have you come before time to torment us?" (Matt. 8:29). Once again the demons, followers of the devil, had no difficulty in identifying Jesus. They did not explicitly identify Jesus as "the Christ." I maintain, however, that their terminology amounts to the same. From other Scriptures we know that Jesus is the Son of God by virtue of His having been anointed as the Ultimate Son of David, the Messiah. Certainly these demons understood that at some time in the future they would suffer devastating judgment at the hands of Jesus.
24 Matt. 9:27-31. This passage technically does not belong in the category of identifying Jesus as the Son of God. However, it is worth noting that two blind men wishing for Jesus to have mercy on them addressed Him as "Son of David" (Matt. 9:27). Clearly they believed He was the Messiah. Their faith in Him was rewarded.
25 Matt. 27:50-54. Matthew recorded that Jesus, at His death, cried out with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit (Matt. 27:50). The veil of the temple was torn in two, there was an earthquake, and rocks were split (Matt. 27:51). Tombs were opened (Matt. 27:52). The resurrections of many bodies of the saints did not occur until after Jesus' resurrection (Matt. 27:52-53), so the soldiers' reactions would not have included those mysterious appearances. Nevertheless, having seen the other events, especially the earthquake, the centurion and his troops were exceedingly frightened, saying, literally, "Truly of god son this one was being" (Matt. 27:54). Notice that they did not say Jesus was the Son of the God. They were pagan Romans. They believed Jesus was a son of a god (there were many in the Greek and Roman pantheon). But they were saying more than they knew they were saying. Their identification of Jesus as a son of a god is nowhere directly linked to His being the Messiah in this passage. On the other hand the soldiers certainly knew that Jesus had claimed (falsely, according to the Jewish leaders) to be the King of Israel (Matt. 27:27-31, 37, 41-43). And they heard the taunts of the Jewish leaders mocking him and calling Him the Son of God (Matt. 27:40, 43) in connection with their mocking Him as being the King of Israel (Matt. 27:42). So in reality, the soldiers' fearful reaction to Jesus as being "son of God" in view of all the supernatural events cannot be divorced from their perception of Him as truly being King of Israel.
26 Mark 3:11-12. So many people were crowding around Jesus (Mark 3:7-8) that He asked for a boat from which He might speak to the multitude (Mark 3:9). This was necessary because people who were afflicted would press around Him to touch Him (Mark 3:10). When the unclean spirits tormenting humans were seeing Jesus, they were falling down before Him and were crying out, saying, "You are the Son of the God!" (Mark 3:11). And He was strongly warning them that they should not reveal His identity (Mark 3:12).
There is nothing in the immediate context that equates Jesus' identity as "the Son of the God" with His status as being the Christ. The earliest Messianic designation for Jesus in Mark's gospel was in Mark 1:1, "The beginning of the good news concerning Jesus Christ, Son of God" (author's translation). The next designation will not occur until Mark 8:29.
Nevertheless, God anointed Jesus with His Spirit (Mark 1:9-10), and identified Him as His "beloved Son" (Mark 1:11). Jesus began to preach the "good news of God" (Mark 1:14), saying "the kingdom of God has drawn near" (Mark 1:15), obviously implying that He Himself was the King. People were to be changing their mind and believing in the good news! A man with an unclean spirit identified Jesus as "the holy One of the God" (Mark 1:24). Subsequently, Jesus identified Himself as "the Son of the Man" (Mark 2:10, 28), a description with Messianic overtones.
The conclusion is that, while there is nothing in the immediate context that associates Jesus' being the Son of God with His being the Messiah, the broader context, beginning from the opening verse of Mark, certainly conveys that Jesus is the Messiah. His also being identified as "the Son of God" ought to be read in that context, in my opinion.
27 Mark 5:6-7. Jesus encountered a man with an unclean spirit (Mark 5:1-2) who lived a supernaturally macabre existence (Mark 5:3-5). He ran up to Jesus, bowed down (Mark 5:6), and having cried out with a loud voice, was saying, "What to me and to you, Jesus, Son of the God Most High? Swear by the God that You will not torment me!" (Mark 5:7). So the tormented man, possessed by a Legion of demons, recognized that Jesus was Son of the Most High God.
Once again, Jesus is not explicitly designated as the Christ (Messiah) anywhere in the early chapters of this gospel except for Mark 1:1; 8:29. Refer to the comments at footnote 26 for allusions to Jesus' Messianic role prior to Mark 3:11-12. Subsequent to Mark 3:11-12, the scribes descending from Jerusalem could not dispute that Jesus cast out demons, but they irrationally argued that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul, and that He cast out demons by the ruler of the demons (Mark 3:22).
In Mark 4 Jesus told parables about the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11, 26, 30). Presumably this was the kingdom over which He was to be King. Following that Jesus rescued His disciples from a storm that was about to cause them all to perish (Mark 4:35-38). Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush! Be still!" Immediately the wind subsided and the sea became a great calm (Mark 4:39). The disciples were fearful with great fear and were saying to one another, "What manner of man is this that even the wind and sea obey Him?" (Mark 4:41).
It is this kind of man who casts out demons, instructs about His kingdom, the kingdom of God, who commands the wind and the sea, and who again casts out demons (Mark 5:1-20) who is identified as "Son of the God Most High" (Mark 5:7). Though the title "Christ" is not used, the implications are self-evident. There is a correlation between being Son of God and being the Messiah.
28 Mark 15:37-39. This passage parallels Matt. 27:50-54. Mark records that Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed out (meaning he expired) (Mark 15:37). And the veil of the temple was torn into two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). Then the centurion, the one having stationed himself opposite Him, having observed the way in which He breathed out (expired), said, "Truly this man was being Son of God" [or, son of god] (Mark 15:39). In the immediately preceding context, the chief priests and scribes had been mocking Jesus (Mark 15:31), saying, "Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!" Those being crucified with Jesus were also insulting Him (Mark 15:32). One cannot help but believe the centurion had heard these remarks. Whether or not he understood the connection between Jesus being the Christ, the King of Israel, and His being the Son of God, it seems apparent that Mark, the writer of the gospel, did understand.
29 Luke 2:49. Technically this Scripture does not belong in this category because the text does not label Jesus as "the Son of God." Nevertheless I have included it here because the twelve-year-old Jesus (Luke 2:42) had a self-awareness that God was His Father (Luke 2:49). My contention is that there is a connection between Jesus' being the Son of God and His being the Messiah (Christ). Moreover, I believe that Jesus did not become the Messiah until immediately after His immersion (Luke 3:21-22). So how can I explain why Jesus perceived Himself as the Son of God prior to His being anointed with the Spirit? My answer is this: He could assert that God was his Father because He knew He was the Son of David, and as such, He had a Father / Son relationship with God. I believe that, even at age twelve, Jesus knew His destiny. He knew He would later be anointed to be Prophet, Priest, and King. It is worth noting that at age twelve Jesus had surprising theological insight (Luke 2:46, 47). It is also worth noting, that, even though Jesus knew His ultimate ministry, according to the record, He performed no miracles and began no teaching ministry until after He had become the Christ (Luke 4:14-15, 31-37). But He was the ultimate Son of David, and had a Father / Son relationship with God on that account even before God anointed Him with His Spirit to be the Christ – the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King of Israel and the world.
30 Luke 4:3-4. Luke recorded that which Matthew had recorded in Matt. 4:3-4 (see footnote 21). Luke made it clearer than Matthew that Jesus was being tempted by the devil throughout His forty-day stay in the desert. As in Matthew 4:3, Luke recorded that the devil said to Jesus, "Since you are son of the God, command to this stone to become bread" (Luke 4:3, author's literal translation). Again, there is no explicit connection between Jesus' being identified as "Son of God" and His being identified as the Messiah (Christ). However, Luke recorded Jesus' being anointed by the Spirit of God immediately following His immersion (Luke 3:21-22). The voice from heaven identified Jesus as "My beloved Son" (Luke 3:22). There follows Jesus' genealogy (Luke 3:23-38), which traced his ancestry back to Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God (Luke 3:38). So in my view, there is certainly ample justification for linking Jesus' sonship with His being the (human) Messiah. After all, even Adam was identified as the "son of God." The reader should understand that I am in no way denying the Deity of Jesus. He has always been Deity, he continued to be Deity throughout His human existence on earth, and He continues to be Deity up in heaven. That will never change. My argument is that His being identified as the "Son of God" relates to His being the ultimate descendant of David, anointed to be king, with whom God promised a "Father / Son" relationship (2 Sam. 7:14). Put another way, I am saying here that the devil conceded that which he knew to be true, that Jesus was the Messiah. It was for that reason that Jesus was the object of Satan's forty-day-long temptation. Satan was trying to destroy the sinlessness, or as theologians say, the "impeccability" of the Messiah.
31 Luke 4:9-12. This is the same incident as that recorded in Matt. 4:5-7. Here, it is recorded that the devil said to Jesus, "Since you are Son of the God, cast yourself from here downward" (Luke 4:9). The same comments that were given in footnote 30 apply here.
32 Luke 8:28. This incident (Luke 8:26-39) is also recorded both in Matt. 8:28-34 and in Mark 5:1-17. Matthew spoke of two demon-possessed men, but Mark and Luke spoke only of one. Nonetheless, the incident has to be the same because of the geographical region mentioned, because of the fact that the men (man) lived in the tombs, because of the casting out of the demons into a herd of pigs who ran, berserk, down the slope to watery deaths in the Sea of Galilee, and because the reaction of the town-folk in each case is identical. In Luke 8:28 the reaction of the demoniac to Jesus was a hostile and fearful, "What to me and to you, Jesus, Son of the God, the Most High. I beg of you, do not torment me." Previously in Luke, Jesus had been referred to as "the Christ" in Luke 2:11, 26; 3:15; 4:41. The last passage is particularly instructive because Luke wrote that the demons being exorcised by Jesus were shouting that He was the Son of God, but He was rebuking them and not allowing them to speak because they knew Him to be the Christ. Though there is no explicit indicator in the immediate context of Luke 8:28 linking Jesus as being the Messiah (Christ) and therefore the Son of God, it may be implied. It is unthinkable that the demons in Luke 4:41 knew that Jesus was the Christ but the demons in Luke 8:28 did not know it.
33 John 1:14. "And the Message became flesh and tented among us, and we gazed upon His glory, glory as of only-born from Father, full of grace and truth" (author's literal translation). The word I have translated as "only-born" (monogenês, 3439) appears but nine times in the NT. Dr. Luke used it three times: In Luke 7:12 he referred to the "only-born" son of his mother; in Luke 8:42 he spoke of a man's "only-born" daughter; and in Luke 9:38 he recorded that a man begged Jesus, "...look upon my son, because he is my 'only-born'."
Hebrews 11:17 is instructive. The writer recorded that "By faith Abraham had offered up Isaac, being tested, and the only-born he was offering up, the one having received the promises" (author's literal translation). This statement is important because it illustrates that the word "only-born" (monogenês, 3439), carries with it the idea of "uniquely-born," for Abraham already had a first-born son, Ishmael (Gen. 16:1-16), and he also had numerous other sons (Gen.25:1-2). As other Scriptures reveal, God has many sons (Matt. 5:9; Luke 20:36; Rom. 8:14, 19; Gal. 3:26), yet Jesus is His uniquely-born or only-born Son.
The other references to "only-born" are used only by John, and all refer to Jesus (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). In John 1:14, 18, the word "only-born" appears in each verse, as does the word Father. But the word "Son" does not appear. In John 3:16, 18 and in 1 John 4:9 the word "only-born" and the word "Son" appear in all three verses, but the word "Father" does not.
It is most interesting that, in the first chapter of John, John uses the word lógos (3056) four times to refer to the pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity. It is usually translated "Word," but in this context it makes sense to me to translate it as "Message." In the Old Testament this person was referred to as the Messenger of Yahweh (Angel of the LORD) (e.g., Gen. 16:7-14; 22:11-18; Ex. 3:1-10), but John changes that reference to the Message of God in the introduction to his gospel (John 1:1, 14). That is a very fitting approach, in my opinion. As John himself explained, "No one has seen God at any time. Only-born God – the one being in the bosom of the Father – that One explained Him" (John 1:18, author's literal translation).
The first three verses of John's Gospel reads as follows:
In the beginning, the Message was being, and the Message was being with the God, and the Message was being God. This One was being in the beginning with the God. All things through Him came into being, and without Him not one thing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3, author's literal translation).
We understand, then, that the Message was clearly God, yet distinct from God, and that He is eternal, and that He is the creator of all things.
But of particular interest to us is the fact that, before this person became a human, John did not identify Him as the Son of God, nor did he identify God as "Father." Not until John 1:14 did the Apostle say, "And the Message became flesh and tented among us, and we gazed upon His glory, glory as of only-born from Father, full of grace and truth" (author's literal translation). True, John did not here use the word "Son," but he did use the term "only-born," which connotes both "human birth" and "human sonship."
But that still does not answer the question: In what way can Jesus possibly be God's only-born Son? The idea that God got married to Mary is preposterous on the face of it. But even in the natural world, fathers do not give birth to sons. Only the mothers do. Here is my solution to the enigma.
Jesus is the "First-Born" of God the Father precisely because, as the messenger Gabriel told Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. So therefore also the Holy One being born shall be called 'Son of God'" (Luke 1:35, author's translation. See also Luke 1:31-32). So I maintain that both the term "First-Born" and the term "Son" are applied to the "Message" of God when and after He was born as a human. To be more specific, increasingly, it is my understanding that the terms "Son of God" and "only-born" relate, not to Jesus' eternal status, but to His status from the incarnation forward as being a human being, the son of Mary, who was miraculously made to be "with child" by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit. Thus, this unique, God/Man is the Son of God and the "only-born" of God. Put another way, we do not really hear of God as Father until Jesus was born as a human, the son of Mary, and the Son of God. Unmistakably, Jesus knew God as His Father from childhood (Luke 2:49), and He taught His followers to pray in this manner, "Our Father, the One in the heavens, set apart be Your name" (Matt. 6:9, author's translation).
The knee-jerk reaction of Christians who listen to what I am saying is to gasp, and inwardly charge me with diminishing Jesus' Deity. That is simply an inaccurate reaction. I fully support the eternal Deity of Christ. One cannot read John 1:1-3, Col. 1:15-20, and Heb. 1:1-3 without concluding that Jesus is eternally Deity, both in His pre-incarnate and in His incarnate existence. What I am suggesting is that most Christians misunderstand the manner in which Jesus is the Son of God, and the only-born Son of God. These are human terms and relate to His incarnation, not His existence in the timeless past. It is important to be accurate with theological terms. Before the Second Person of the Trinity became a man, as the Apostle John Himself states, He was the Message of God. He became the Son of God from His birth onward. In other words, He had to be born to be the "only-born" and the Son of God.
And yet, there is another way in which Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Son of God also because He is the Messiah. That connection is implied in John 1:17-18, linked in John 1:32-34 and stated in John 1:49.
The whole first chapter of John is a powerful witness to the nature and existence and role of Jesus Christ. He was identified as the Message (lógos, 3056) who was eternally being God (John 1:1, 14); who became flesh (sárx, 4561), a human being (John 1:14); who, because of His unique virgin birth by means of the Spirit is described as exhibiting "glory as of only-born (monogenês, 3439) of Father" (John 1:14); who is identified as a specific person, Jesus, whose name means "Yahweh Is Salvation" (John 1:17); who is the Messiah (Christós, 5547), the Anointed King of Israel (John 1:17); who is the only-born (monogenês, 3439) God (theós, 2316); who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36); who was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, thus making Him the Messiah, or Christ (John 1:32-33); who was further identified as "the Son (huiós, 5207) of the God" (John 1:34, 49); who was further identified as "King (basileús, 935) of Israel" (John 1:49).
So to this point, by way of preliminary conclusions, we are saying that there are two bases upon which we can assert that Jesus is the Son of God: (1) He is the only-born Son of God because He was born of the virgin Mary, whom God's Holy Spirit had caused to be pregnant (Luke 1:31-32, 35). And (2) He is the Son of God because He is the Messiah, the Anointed Seed of David with whom God promised He would have a Father/Son relationship (2 Sam. 7:14; Psalm 2:6-9).
34 John 1:18. "No one has seen God at any time. Only-born (monogenês, 3439) God (theós, 2316) – the one being in the bosom of the Father – that One explained Him" (John 1:18, author's literal translation). The person identified as "only-born God" is Jesus Christ (John 1:17). This statement of the Apostle John magnificently declares Jesus' humanity – He is "only-born." It also unequivocally asserts His Deity – He is "only-born God." Because He is both human and Divine, He can perfectly explain God to us fellow humans. The fact that Jesus is the "only-born God" makes Him unique. He is one-of-a-kind, the only hybrid God / Man in all of existence. In John's terminology, Jesus is Son of God because He is born. Prior to His birth, in eternity past, He was, in John's terminology, the eternal Logos (3056) (Message or Word) of God (John 1:1, 14). In John 1:15-17, for the first time in this gospel, John the Apostle, through John the Immerser, identified the human name and regal title of both the Word (Message) of God and, as well, the "Only-Born" – Jesus Christ. Here is what he said (author's literal translation):
John is testifying concerning Him, and he has cried out, saying, "This one was being he of whom I said, 'The one after me coming, ahead of me has come to be, because first [in rank and time] of me he was being (John 1:15).'" Because of His fullness we all have received, and grace instead of grace (John 1:16). Because the Law through Moses was given; the grace and the truth through Jesus Christ came to be (John 1:17).
Thus far in his treatise John the Apostle has identified the second person of the Trinity as the eternal Logos (Message) of God who was not only with God but was being God and created all (John 1:1-3); as one who became flesh and whose glory could be compared to "only-born from Father" (John 1:14); as Jesus Christ (the Messiah) (John 1:17); and as "only-born God" who explained the Father (John 1:18). All of these concepts are linked and identify Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate and incarnate states. My point, however, is that Jesus had to be born to be God's only-born Son. In my thinking, buttressed by the Apostle John's terminology, "only-born Son" is technically inappropriate language prior to Jesus' incarnation. After His incarnation, it is entirely appropriate. One has to be born to be "only-born." Prior to His birth, according to John, He was the Message of God, but not yet the Son of God. The reader may argue that I am splitting hairs, but that is what good theology does. It is mathematical in its precision. John certainly was precise in his terminology. I argue that if we are going to be good theologians, we must be precise also.
35 John 3:16-18. To many Christians, John 3:16 is the most familiar verse in the Bible. Here is my own literal translation: "For God so loved the world that the Son (huiós, 5207), the only-born (monogenês, 3439) He gave, in order that every one believing into Him might not be destroyed, but might have life eternal." We have already, in John 1:14 (footnote 33) and John 1:18 (footnote 34) observed that Jesus is the "only-born" of God precisely because He was born of a woman who was miraculously caused to become pregnant by the power and working of the Holy Spirit. This does not diminish His Deity one iota, because, for example, John identifies the "only-born" as God (John 1:18) who explains the invisible God (i.e. God, the Father).
Since his explanation of the identity of the "only-born God" as being Jesus the Messiah (John 1:17-18), John the Apostle recorded the moment Jesus became the Messiah (John 1:32-34). John the Immerser identified Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), who had a higher rank than he did because He existed before the Immerser did (John 1:30). He recognized who Jesus really was when he saw the Holy Spirit descending upon and remaining upon Jesus (John 1:32-33). This, said John, "is the one immersing in the Holy Spirit" (John 1:33). He further testified that "this one is the Son of the God" (John 1:34), a clear witness to Jesus now being the Messiah, the Christ. Jesus was further identified as the Messiah by Andrew (John 1:40-41), and by Nathanael, who called him "the Son of the God" and "King of Israel" (John 1:49). Jesus identified Himself as "the son of the man" in a Messianic context (John 1:51). Jesus performed his first sign evidencing His glory and Messiahship in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-10, 11; cf. John 20:30-31). Then He cleansed the temple (John 2:13-15), calling it "the house of the Father of Me" (John 2:16). To Nicodemus (John 3:1-2, 4) Jesus identified Himself twice as "the son of the man" (John 3:13, 14), phraseology with Messianic implications. Then He identified Himself as "the Son, the only-born" whom God gave (John 3:16), "the Son" whom God sent into the world (John 3:17), and finally, as "the only-born Son of the God" (John 3:18).
For the sake of completeness, I here give my own literal translation of John 3:16-18:
For God so loved the world that the Son the only-born He gave, in order that every one believing into Him might not be destroyed, but might have life eternal (John 3:16). For God did not send the Son into the world in order that He might judge the world, but in order that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). The one believing into Him is not being judged. But the one not believing already has been judged because he has not believed into the name of the only-born Son of the God (John 3:18).
So we conclude two things from John 3:16-18. (1) The primary understanding of Jesus being the Son of God in these verses is that He is the "only-born," which means that He had to be born as a human to be God's only-born Son. While John nowhere in his opening described the virgin birth of Jesus, he did subsequently refer to "the mother of Jesus" (John 2:1, 3, 5, 12). (2) Outside of John 3:16-18, there is a thread running through the early chapters of John linking Jesus' Messianic office with His being the Son of God (John 1:32-33, 34, 49).
Of course, we also learn a fact that has destiny altering implications for each of us. Believing in Jesus, the only-born Son of God, is vital to escape judgment and destruction and to possess eternal life. The person not believing in Jesus has already been judged. That is the default setting.
36 John 3:35-36. Author's literal translation: "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand (John 3:35). The one believing into the Son possesses life eternal. Moreover, the one disobeying the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of the God is remaining upon him" (John 3:36).
At first glance, it does not appear that there is any connection in these three verses linking Jesus' being the Son of God with His being the Messiah. But that impression fades away after a closer examination of the context. John the Immerser's disciples complained to him that Jesus was immersing and every one was coming to Him (John 3:25-26). John immediately responded by saying, in effect, "I've been telling you that I am not the Messiah, but I was sent ahead of Him" (John 3:28), obviously referring to Jesus. "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).
The portion of the text from John 3:31-36 appears to be the words of John the Apostle, not John the Immerser. Speaking of Jesus, he states that Jesus comes from above, from heaven (John 3:31). God sent Jesus and He speaks the words of God because God has endowed Him with the Holy Spirit beyond measure (John 3:34). This is a clear statement that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, thus Jesus is the Messiah. In that context we understand that God the Father loves the Son (because of His Father / Son relationship with the anointed descendant of David, 2 Sam. 7:14 and because Jesus is God's "only-born" [John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18], conceived by the power of the Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, and subsequently born as the only God/human); and God has given to Him (Jesus) authority over all things (John 3:35). Since He has universal authority, the person believing in Jesus, the Son, has eternal life, and the person disobeying Jesus, the Son, will not see life, but will instead endure the abiding wrath of God (John 3:36).
We conclude then, that in reality, there is a link in this passage between Jesus being the Son of God and His also being the Messiah.
37 John 5:17-18. (The following is a mixture of my own paraphrase and translation.) In this fifth chapter of John, Jesus was attending an undesignated Jewish feast, so He was in Jerusalem. At the sheep gate there was the pool of Bethesda. A man was lying there who had been disabled for 38 years. Jesus asked him if he wished to be healthy. He replied he had no one to carry him into the pool when the waters were stirred. Someone else always beat him into the pool. Jesus said, "Get up, pick up your pallet, and walk!" Immediately he became healthy, picked up his mat, and was walking. Now it just happened to be the Sabbath day (John 5:1-9).
The Jews, however, were telling the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your mat" (John 5:10). The man explained that the one who had healed him had told him to pick up his mat. But he was unable to identify his healer. Jesus later found him in the temple and told him, "Look, you have become healthy. No longer be sinning in order that something worse may not befall you" (John 5:11-14). The man departed and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him healthy (John 5:15). On account of this, the Jews were badgering Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath (John 5:16). Jesus responded to them, "The Father of me until now is working, and I myself am working" (John 5:17). On account of this, therefore, the Jews were seeking more to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but also because He was saying the God was His own Father, making Himself equal with the God (John 5:18).
This gives us insight into Jewish thinking. A son has equality with his father. This informs us that Jewish people never called God "Father." That was unthinkable. But Jesus did, and it was true. It was true on two counts – Jesus was the Anointed son of David (2 Sam. 7:14), and therefore shared a Father / Son relationship with God; and Jesus had been born as God/Man by the Divine power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-35). Whether or not the Jews understood all of this is open to debate. But in their minds, to call God one's Father was utter blasphemy.
38 John 5:19-23. Seven times in five verses in this brief passage Jesus referred to himself as "the Son" (John 5:19, 20, 21, 22, 23). And seven times in these five verses Jesus referred to "the Father" (John 5:19, 20, 21, 22, 23). There is no explicit correlation in this paragraph between Jesus being the Son of God and His being the Messiah. However He did imply the greatness of His miracles (John 5:20), which demonstrated the validity of His claims to be the Messiah (John 20:30-31). In fact He predicted He would do even greater works. The Son gives life to whomever He wishes (John 5:21). Moreover, the Father has given authority to the Son to judge all of mankind (John 5:22).
38B John 10:25, 29-30, 36-38. Jesus was attending the Feast of Dedication (now Hanukkah) (John 10:22). The Jews surrounded him in the colonnade of Solomon (John 10:23), and were saying to Him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly" (John 10:24). To which Jesus replied, in effect, "I told you, but you don't believe. The works (i.e. miraculous signs) I perform in my Father's name, these testify of me [that I am the Christ] (John 10:25). But you don't believe because none of you are my sheep!" (John 10:26). His sheep hear Him, He knows them, and they follow Him (John 10:27). He keeps them safe eternally (John 20:28). His Father, who is greater than all, has given to Jesus His sheep, and no one can snatch His sheep out of the Father's hand (John 10:29). Then He went on to make a most provocative (to them) statement, but one which trumpeted the truth, "I and the Father are one!" (John 10:30).
The Jews picked up stones to stone Him (John 10:31). Jesus asked them for which of His good works were they stoning Him? (John 10:32). The Jews answered that they were stoning Him for blasphemy, and because He, being a mere man, was making Himself out to be God. Jesus rebutted them by reminding them that God had called human judges "gods" (John 10:34-35; Ps. 82:6). How dare they then say that, when the Father had set Him apart and sent Him into the world, He was blaspheming when He said, "I am the Son of God"? (John 10:36). He continued, "If I don't do the works of My Father, don't believe Me (John 10:37). But if I do perform the works of My Father, even though you don't believe Me, at least believe the works! (John 10:38). Then you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father (John 10:38). Sadly, there conclusion was to attempt to seize Him so they could have Him tried and executed. He eluded their grasp (John 10:39).
It is safe to conclude, then, there is a correlation between the discussion of whether or not Jesus were the Christ and whether or not Jesus was blaspheming to say that He was the Son of God and speak of God as His Father.
39 John 11:4. There is nothing in the immediate context that links Jesus' being the Son of God with His being the Messiah. In the preceding chapter, however, we saw that there was a strong connection between Jesus being the Christ and His being the Son of God, and God being His Father (see footnote 38B). The subject of John 11:1-45 is Jesus' raising of Lazarus back to life. The chief priests and Pharisees convened a council in desperation. "What can we do? Jesus is performing many miraculous signs, and if he continues, all men will believe in him [that He is the Messiah]. When that happens the Romans will come and take away our privileged position of leadership and demolish our nation!" (John 11:47-48, author's paraphrase). They obviously expected Jesus to act like a political Savior and attempt to deliver the nation from Roman rule. And they concluded He would fail, so they had to stop Him! If they did not, the nation of Israel would lose to the Romans whatever sovereignty it possessed, and they themselves would lose their positions of power and prestige in the shake-up that would inevitably follow! Self-preservation runs high in each of us. My point is that this whole narrative of John 10:23-11:53 revolved around whether or not Jesus was really the Messiah. If He were, He was also the Son of God. The Jewish leaders fatally (for their eternal future) concluded that Jesus was neither, and that the only solution to their problem was for them to kill Jesus (John 11:53).
40 John 19:7. In Jesus' trial before Pilate, the Jewish leaders stated that, according to their law, He deserved to die because, literally, "he made himself Son of God." In that statement, by itself, there is no explicit connection with Jesus also being the Christ, the Messiah. But the context reveals a connection.
In a private discussion with Jesus, Pilate had asked Him if He were the King of the Jews (John 18:33). Jesus eventually replied that His kingdom was not of this world. If it were of this world, His assistants would be fighting to prevent His being delivered over to the Jesus. But at the present time, Jesus' kingdom was not from here (John 18:36). When Pilate asked Jesus if He were actually a king (John 18:37), Jesus replied, "You yourself are saying that I am king. I, for this purpose, was caused to be born, and for this reason I have come into the world in order that I might bear witness for the truth. Every one existing of the truth listens to my voice" (John 18:37, author's literal translation). Pilate retorted, "What is truth?!" (John 18:38). Nevertheless, Pilate understood that, on some level, Jesus claimed to be a king.
Once Pilate had uttered his fateful verdict of a death sentence to Jesus, he had Jesus scourged (John 19:1). At that point, even the Roman soldiers knew what was going on. They plaited together a crown of thorns and placed it on His head. They draped a purple robe over Him. They mocked Him by calling Him "King of the Jews," slapping Him for emphasis (John 19:2-3). Pilate brought Jesus out with His mocking regalia, and said, "Behold the man!", hoping for sympathy and a reprieve for Jesus (John 19:4-5). But he was unsuccessful. The gathered chief priests and officers howled, "Crucify, crucify!" (John 19:6). Pilate countered, "Take him yourself and crucify him. For I find no fault in him " (John 19:6). It was then that the leaders explained, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God" (John 19:7). I conclude, then, that in John 19:7 there actually is a linkage between Jesus being the Messiah, anointed by God to be King of the Jews, and His being the Son of God.
41 Gal. 4:4, 6. Twice Paul referred to the Second Person of the Trinity as being the Son of God (Gal. 4:4, 6). There is no explicit connection in Gal. 4:4-6 between Jesus' being the Son of God and His also being the Messiah. However, we are not without references to Christ. That designation appears 38 times in this letter. In the immediately preceding context "Christ" appears in Gal. 3:22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, and in the succeeding context, in Gal. 4:14, 19.
In Gal. 3:29 Paul stated that since the Galatians are "of Christ" they also are "seed" (spérma, 4690) of Abraham, heirs (klêronómos, 2818) according to promise. This concept of heirship is mentioned again in Gal. 4:1, 7. In fact, Paul's whole argument in Gal. 4:1-7 is that, because of our having been redeemed from bondage (Gal. 4:4, 5) by God's Son (huiós, 5207), we have, through our faith in Christ (Gal. 3:26), been placed as adult sons (huiothesía, 5206) of our Heavenly Father (Gal. 4:5, 6). For that reason we are legitimate heirs (klêronómos, 2818) through God (Gal. 4:7).
My point is that, even though there is no explicit connection between Jesus being the Son of God and His being he Messiah (Christ), there is an implicit connection. This implied connection is supported by the fact that because of our faith in the Messiah, we, like Him, also become sons of God (Gal. 3:26; 4:6, 7). At the very least, there is nothing here that demands Jesus' Sonship must exist independently of His having become a man in the line of David, and having been anointed with the Spirit after His immersion [to be the Messiah].
42 Heb. 4:14. A literal translation of this text reads as follows: "Possessing therefore a great high priest having passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us firmly grasp the confession" [which we made concerning Him]. (The text in brackets I have added to complete the implied thought.)
There is in this verse no explicit connection between Jesus being the Messiah and His thus being the Son of God. However there is a tell-tale trace that the writer of Hebrews understands Jesus is the Messiah. I take that from His reference to Jesus as "a great high priest having passed through the heavens."
An accurate understanding of Jesus being the Messiah is that He was anointed to three different, but related offices. He was anointed to be the ultimate Prophet, ultimate Priest, and ultimate King. While He was here on earth He emphasized primarily His Prophetic ministry. If the Book of Hebrews does nothing else, it clearly reveals that Jesus' primary Messianic role He is exercising in heaven at the right hand of the Father is that of Priest (Heb. 4:14-10:18). When He returns to earth, His primary role will be that of King.
My point here is that the writer's allusion to Jesus as the Great High Priest leads us to believe He understood there was a connection between Jesus' being the Son of God and His being the Messiah. This understanding is reinforced by an examination of Jesus being the Messianic Son of God who was and is superior to the heavenly messengers (angels) (Heb. 1:1-9).
43 Heb. 7:3. In this verse the writer of Hebrews is describing Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God (Heb. 7:1; Gen. 14:18-20). In the course of describing this enigmatic king / priest Melchizedek, forerunner of Jesus Christ, the writer of Hebrews asserts that he was "fatherless, motherless, genealogyless, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, and having been likened to the Son of the God, he remains priest into the perpetuity" (author's literal translation). (Incidentally, I take this Scripture to be literally true, not merely metaphorical. In defense of my position, see the succession of footnotes at Heb. 7:3 in my Annotated Outline of Hebrews.)
"The Son of the God" is obviously a reference to Jesus Christ, the principal subject of the book of Hebrews. There is, in this brief verse, no explicit allusion to Jesus being the Son of God because He is the Christ. Once again, however, Jesus' perpetual priesthood identifies Him as the Messiah. So I maintain that there is an implied connection. In the chapter preceding (Heb. 6:1-6) there is a more explicit connection between "Christ" and "the Son of God." (See footnote 16.) See also Heb. 9:11, 14, 24, 28 for specific identification of Christ as the Great High Priest.
44 Heb. 10:29. There is, in the immediate context, no reference to Jesus being the Messiah, so there is no overt connection between His being the Son because He is the Messiah. However, in the expanded context, the writer states that we Christians have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb. 10:10). For that reason there is no need of further sacrifices (Heb. 10:11-14). Jesus, as the Anointed Great High Priest, offered one sacrifice for sins for all time (Heb. 10:12). For that reason He sat down at the right hand of God, his sacrificial work having been completed (Heb. 10:12). At the same time He is waiting until the time when God makes Jesus' enemies a footstool for His feet (Heb. 10:13; Psa. 110:1). In other words, He is waiting until God's timing when He sends Jesus to earth as the Anointed King to rule Israel and the entire earth (Zech. 14:3, 4, 5, 9; Rev. 19:11-21; 20:1-6). Meanwhile, Jesus, as the Great High Priest, ever lives to intercede on behalf of those who approach God through Him (Heb. 7:24-25). This Great High Priest, utterly sinless, does not need to make repeated sacrifices, either for Himself or for the people. He is not a weak high priest; but He is the perfect Son of God who offered Himself up once for all (Heb. 7:26-28). We conclude, then, that, in the end, there is an observable connection between Jesus' Sonship and His Messiahship.
45 1 John 3:8. In this text, we are told that "the Son of the God" was manifested for this purpose, to undo the works of the Devil, the one who keeps sinning from the very beginning. There is no explicit connection between Jesus' being the Son of God and His also being the Messiah. However, towards the end of this chapter we are instructed that God's commandment is that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and that we love one another (1 John 3:23). So in the broader context, there is a connection between Jesus' being God's Son and His being God's Messiah.
First, I conclude that a case can be made from the New Testament that Jesus is God's Son because He is the Messiah. God promised a Father / son relationship with David's son Solomon (2 Sam. 7:14). But I believe that Father / son relationship extended beyond Solomon. Certainly David (who wrote Psalm 2 according to Acts 4:25) extended that relationship off into the future. I am thinking particularly of Psalm 2:2, which speaks of Yahweh's Anointed One; of Psalm 2:6, which speaks of Yahweh installing His King upon Mount Zion; and of Psalm 2:7, which identifies the Anointed King with God's Son. This Anointed King, Son of God, will rule over the nations with a rod of iron, shattering them like earthenware (Psalm 2:8-9). The time is yet coming when King Jesus, descendant of David, will sit on the throne of Israel on Mount Zion, and will rule over all the earth's nations with a firm hand as the Son of God.
I see the term "Messiah" (NT, "Christ") as necessarily relating to a human being. This term necessarily has to do with the nation of Israel, and one has to be a man to reign as the King of Israel. We understand that, according to the Gospel accounts, God anointed Jesus with His Spirit immediately after Jesus' immersion by John the Immerser (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34). It was at this point that Jesus became the "Christ," the "Anointed One," and by virtue of that anointing, was the Son of God as a fulfillment of God's promise to David (2 Sam. 7:14).
I might here add that, though God has anointed Jesus with His Spirit, the elders of Israel never anointed Jesus with olive oil as an official national confirmation of God's anointing. It is well worth noting that the men of Judah anointed David King over the house of Judah after the death of Saul (2 Sam. 2:4). Later, the elders of Judah came to Hebron and anointed David King over Israel (2 Sam. 5:3). My point is that, according to the Biblical record, there must be "the consent of the governed." That necessarily requires faith in Jesus as the Anointed One. The elders of Israel have never given their consent. In fact, quite the opposite, they had Jesus murdered at the hands of Pilate. My conclusion is that Jesus will never reign as King over Israel until the Israeli people give their consent. That will require a miraculous change of heart for the Israeli people. But God has guaranteed that change of heart will come about some time in the future (Isa. 59:20-21; Jer. 24:7; 31:31-34; Zech. 12:10-13:1; Rom. 11:25-27).
Second, there is another way that Jesus is the Son of God. The term "only-born" Son of God is used only by John the Apostle (John 1:14, 18; John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). As I have stated earlier, the Gospels record that Jesus, according to the prediction of Gabriel, the heavenly messenger, was to be born of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-35). Because the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the power of the most High would overshadow her, the holy thing being born of her will be called "Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
I conclude, therefore, that the eternal Logos (John 1:1-3) did not become the Son of God until, in the first place, He was born. To state it simply, one must be born to be the "only-born."
Third, Jesus Christ our Lord was appointed Son of God with power according to His spirit-of-holiness by means of His resurrection from among the dead ones (Rom. 1:4).
My final conclusion is that Jesus is the Son of God on three counts: (1) He was born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. On that account He is the "Only-Born Son of God." It is for that reason He could call God His Father, even at the age of twelve (Luke 2:49). (2) As the ultimate Son of David, He was anointed by God with His Spirit immediately following His immersion. And it was at that point that God officially announced, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; cf. John 1:24). (3) He was appointed "Son of God" with power by reason of His resurrection from among the dead (Rom. 1:4).
Jesus has always been God. He has not always been the Son of God. His Deity is eternal. His Sonship is connected with His being a man, His being the Christ, and His being resurrected.
This is my working hypothesis as of this date. If any can convince me I am wrong, that Jesus has eternally been the Son of God, I am open to evaluate the evidence.