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Jesus, the Son of God


Though the Bible used “Son of God” only for Jesus in the strict sense, it was used also for:
1. Angels: “One day, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6).
2. The chosen or righteous people: “The sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings were” (Gen 6:2).
3. The Nation of Israel: “When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son” (Hos 1:1), “Thus says the LORD: Israel is my son, my firstborn” (Ex 4:22).
4. The king of Israel: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me” (2 Sam 7:14).
5. Those who show mercy to others: “Be like a father to orphans, and take the place of a husband to widows. Then God will call you His child” (Sir 4:10).

However, the “Son of God,” when used for Jesus, is different because he shares the essence of God from eternity. All other sons of God, like Adam, are God’s creation.

Jesus acknowledged when others called him the “Son of God.” God the Father used it for Jesus at the time of his baptism (Mk 1:11) and at the time of Transfiguration (Mk 9:7). John the Baptist (Jn 1:34), Nathanael (Jn 1:49), and Simon Peter pronounced Jesus as the Son of God (Mt 16:16). Several others also used the title “Son of God” for Jesus in the gospels: at the annunciation, the Angel Gabriel told Mary that “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:35). When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, they said, “Truly, you are the Son of God” (Mt 14:33). Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Martha professed her faith in Jesus, saying, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world” (Jn 11:27). After the crucifixion of Jesus, “The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God!’” (Mt 27:54; Mk 15:39). Mark begins his gospel, stating, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God]” (Mk 1:1). John the Evangelist states the purpose of his gospel, saying, “But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God” (Jn 20:31). After his conversion, Paul witnessed in the synagogue that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20). Thus, several people acknowledged Jesus as God’s Son in the factual sense.

In Luke, when Jesus cast out demons in Capernaum, they shouted aloud, saying, “You are the Son of God” (Lk 4:11). However, the “Son of God” that the demoniacs used could have a distinct sense. The secular world had used the title “son of god” for humans. At least during some period, people considered Egyptian kings and Roman emperors sons of God. Some communities considered a person with extraordinary qualities or divine power as “son of god”. The demon possessed could understand Jesus as a person of divine power because of the miracles he performed. They might have called Jesus “the Son of God” in that sense. They were afraid that the divinity of Jesus would agitate the demons in them, and that might cause more trouble for them. Theirs was not a confession of his divinity, but a rebuke to get rid of his presence.

Jesus warned the demons sternly not to tell anyone who he was. When Jesus was at Capernaum “demons also came out from many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah” (Lk 4:41).

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