Son of God

Why Was Jesus Christ Called the Son of God?

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Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus in the film Son of God. Image Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Jesus Christ is called the Son of God more than 40 times in the Bible.  What does that title mean exactly, and what significance does it have for people today?

First, the term does not mean Jesus was the literal offspring of God the Father, as each of us is the child of our human father.  The Christian doctrine of the Trinity says the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal, meaning the three Persons of the one God always existed together and each has the same importance.

Second, it does not mean God the Father mated with the virgin Mary and fathered Jesus in that way.  The Bible tells us Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It was a miraculous, virgin birth.

Third, the term Son of God as applied to Jesus is unique.  It does not mean he was a child of God, as Christians are when they're adopted into God's family.  Rather, it points out his divinity, meaning he is God.

Others in the Bible called Jesus the Son of God, most notably Satan and demons.  Satan, a fallen angel who knew the true identity of Jesus, used the term as a taunt during the temptation in the wilderness.  Unclean spirits, terrified in Jesus' presence, said, “You are the Son of God.” (Mark 3:11, NIV)

Son of God or Son of Man?

Jesus often referred to himself as the Son of Man.  Born of a human mother, he was a fully human man but also fully God.  His incarnation meant he came to earth and took on human flesh.

  He was like us in every way except sin.

The title Son of Man goes much deeper, though.  Jesus was speaking of the prophecy in Daniel 7:13-14.  Jews of his day, and especially the religious leaders, would have been familiar with that reference.

In addition, Son of Man was a title of the Messiah, the anointed one of God who would free the Jewish people from bondage.

  The Messiah had long been expected, but the high priest and others refused to believe Jesus was that person.  Many thought the Messiah would be a military leader who would liberate them from Roman rule.  They could not grasp a servant Messiah who would sacrifice himself on the cross to free them from the bondage of sin.

As Jesus preached throughout Israel, he knew it would have been considered blasphemous to call himself the Son of God.  Using that title about himself would have ended his ministry prematurely. During his trial by the religious leaders, Jesus answered their question that he was the Son of God, and the high priest tore his own robe in horror, accusing Jesus of blasphemy.

What Son of God Means Today

Many people today refuse to accept that Jesus Christ is God.  They consider him only a good man, a human teacher on the same level as other historic religious leaders.

The Bible, however, is firm in proclaiming Jesus is God.  The Gospel of John, for example, says "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:31, NIV)

In today's postmodernist society, millions of people reject the idea of absolute truth.

  They claim all religions are equally true and there are many paths to God.

Yet Jesus said bluntly, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6, NIV).  Postmodernists accuse Christians of being intolerant; however, that truth comes from the lips of Jesus himself.

As the Son of God, Jesus Christ continues to make the same promise of eternity in heaven to anyone who follows him today"For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40, NIV)

(Sources: carm.org, gotquestions.org.)

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Zavada, Jack. "Son of God." ThoughtCo, Feb. 12, 2017, thoughtco.com/origin-of-the-son-of-god-700710. Zavada, Jack. (2017, February 12). Son of God. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/origin-of-the-son-of-god-700710 Zavada, Jack. "Son of God." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/origin-of-the-son-of-god-700710 (accessed November 21, 2017).