Jesus is the Unique Son of God


ABSTRACT

The term "Son of God" or similar appears many times in the bible. It is related to various people and peoples. However, when this term is related to Jesus Christ, it has a unique meaning. This term is an analogy that describes who Christ is in a unique way, and, His relation to the Father.

INTRODUCTION

Many Muslims assert that since there are many people referred to as 'sons of God' in the bible, then Jesus was only speaking metaphorically when He called Himself the 'Son of God'. In other words, Jesus was the Son of God by doing good works, glorifying God, being humble, etc. But, Muslims and the teaching of Islam state, He was not the One and Only Son of God, in any special, unique sense.

One Muslim polemicist commenting on John 10 said that, "It is thus clear that even in the mouth of Jesus the term 'son of god' was a metaphorical expression, and by taking it literally the church has destroyed the very foundations of religion. [Ali, "The Religion of Islam", p40].

Before we examine a number of biblical passages, it must be established that frequently, the context of a word determines it's meaning. If I say, "Okay, it's time for me to hit the road". What does that mean? Or if I were in Egypt, and I said "I'm on a piece of iron", what would that mean? If I were talking basketball and I say Michael Jordan is "BAD", what would that imply? So in many cases, context influences or determines the meaning of a word.

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PROOF THAT JESUS WAS THE UNIQUE 'SON' OF GOD.

So, to begin with, do the N.T. texts describe Jesus as a unique 'Son' of God, or just another 'son' of God, amongst many, in a metaphorical sense?

[First of all, let's note that Jesus did indeed call Himself the 'Son' of God", in one sense or another.]

1) Probably the most famous N.T. scripture is John 3:16. Here, Jesus calls Himself the Son of God:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The Greek word translated 'one and only' is "monogenes". It means "only born", or "sole". Vine's Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words adds that "the term is one of endearment as well as singleness."

Strong's concordance says that it is a combination of the word "monos" meaning 'only', and 'ginomai' meaning to 'to cause to be, generate, become, or come into being'.

This word is also used in referring to a boy in Luke 7:12- "As he (Jesus) approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out - the only son of his mother, and she was a widow."

The Greed word 'monogenes' is used here and translated as 'only'.

It is used likewise in Luke 9:38- "A man in the crowd called out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child."

"Monogenes" is applied to Jesus in:

John 1:14- "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the "One and Only", who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Take a minute to understand what John is saying. Look at the glory and majesty John attributes to Jesus. Adam never had that praise, David was praised, but never at that level. Only Jesus received that recognition. Vine's further elaborates that the passage in the Greek here illustrates that the glory was that of a unique relationship with God.

John 1:18- "No one has ever seen God, but God, the "One and Only", who is at the Father's side has made him known."

Here, Jesus as the unique Son of God is revealed to be at the Father's side. No other person who is called "son of God" has ever been revealed to be at the Father's side.

John 3:18, and 1 John 4:9 are other verses where "monogenes" is used in ref. to Jesus.

So, when Jesus is referred to as the only "Son" of God, it means Jesus is the unique "Son" of God. So, with respect to being a "Son of God", this term is only used for Jesus.

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2) Hebrews chapter 1 elaborates on who Jesus really is. The whole chapter is excellent for seeing the Divinity of Christ. Of note is vs. 3:

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provide purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."

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3) When Jesus was brought before Pilate, the Jews said, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God." [John 19:7]

If Jesus were only speaking metaphorically, the Jews would not have brought him to trial on such a charge as blasphemy. [Death was the penalty for blasphemy - ref. Lev 24:16]. The Jews knew and understood Psalms 82:6. They had no problem with a metaphorical statement such as that. The Jews objected to Jesus claiming to be the unique, the eternal, "Son" of God.

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4) Jesus again calls Himself the Son of God, and elaborates on His unique sonship in Matt 11:27-

"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

And in John 5:22 Christ again calls Himself the Son of God, and elaborates:

"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him."

5) There is also Jesus' parable of the tenants in Matt 21:33-43. It ends with landowner sending his son to collect a vineyard's fruit. The workers had attacked and even killed some of the landowner's servants. When the son came, they killed him also. The interpretation of the parable is that God has sent prophets to the people of Israel to call them to produce the fruits of righteousness, but they rejected and mistreated them. Last of all, God sent Christ, and the Jews killed him also. This also predicts Christ's future crucifixion.

Note that in this parable, Jesus distinguishes himself as the "Son" in contrast with the prophets who had come as servants.

There are more N.T. scriptures supporting Jesus as the unique Son of God, but these are enough to prove the case.

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SOME SPECIFIC CLAIMS AND SCRIPTURES MUSLIMS USE IN SUPPORT OF THEIR ERRONEOUS CLAIMS

Here are some of the general arguments muslims use, and some of the verses they use as support. [The Muslim assertion/question is prefaced by #Q, my response by #A.]

1Q) Jesus is called the "Son of Man", assuming this means that Jesus is ONLY a man: Jesus referred to himself frequently as SON OF MAN (eg. Matt. 8:20).

1A) The term "Son of Man" is a term used with reference to the Messiah found in Daniel 7:13. Even the Quran calls Jesus the Messiah (3:45) Jesus came as the Messiah, He spoke in terms that reflected that.

2Q) Jesus alluded to many people being the 'sons' of God: John 10:34-36: Jesus said, "Is it not written in your law, 'I have said you are gods'? (ref. psalms 82:6). If he called them 'gods' to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said "I am God's Son?"

2A) Here Jesus notes that all true believers are called sons of God. Some Muslims interpret this as Jesus included Himself as one of the metaphorically many 'sons' of God. But, when Christ spoke of Himself, and His relation to the Father, it is evident that His "Sonship" is set apart for a metaphorical "son of God" relationship.

3Q) Many people or peoples are called firstborn of God. Couldn't Jesus fit into their category?

3A) Being called 'firstborn', has many implications. Being the 'firstborn' under jewish law entitles an heir to special inheritance rights - a double portion of the family inheritance was the right of the firstborn. Also, the 'firstborn' acted as the family's priest in the event of the father's absence or death. (This function ceased when the priesthood was committed to Levi's tribe).

"Firstborn" is also used metaphorically in the O.T.. The term "firstborn of the poor", used in Isaiah 14:30, means one who is supremely poor. And, "firstborn of death", used in Job 18:13 refers to Job's disease. Again, the context of the passage helps determine what is actually meant.

Christ is called the 'Firstborn over all creation' (Col 1:15). The entire passage shows that Christ has priority, preeminence and sovereignty over all creation, since all things were created by Him (vs 16).

4Q) Ex 4:22 "Then say to Pharaoh, "This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me". But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son."" Doesn't this also mean that Israel was a firstborn of God?

4A) God, refers to Israel as His 'firstborn' son because the Israelites were his chosen people. God used a figure of speech relating Himself to the Israelites. Remember, God made promises to Abraham concerning his descendants. And God performed many miracles in enabling the Israelites to leave Egypt and in establishing the Israelites as a new or 'firstborn' nation.

For further clarification, refer to Hosea 11:1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him and out of Egypt I called my son." Here, God calls the nation of Israelites his son. There are other references similar to these. The context is that God used a metaphorical figure of speech denoting his relationship with Israel.

5Q) 2 Samuel 7:14 "I will be his father, and he will be my son...." Here God says He will be a Father. Couldn't Jesus fall under this category?

5A) Look at the entire passage. Start with verse 11 or so, and read through verse 17. God said He would be a Father, but who precisely is the son? The context shows that the 'son' is going to be David's offspring for generations to come. At this point in time, Solomon was not even conceived. And, the context of the passage shows that not only is Solomon going to be the 'son', but all of David's ruling offspring are going to be the 'son'. The references to chastisement do not apply to Solomon, but to later kings of Israel.

God made promises to David. God had established a special relationship with David, and told him He would keep this relationship with David's descendants. The context is that God used a figure of speech to denote a special relationship He would maintain with David's descendants. Note here that Jesus is a descendant of David.

6Q) I Chr 22:10 "He is the one who will build a house for My Name, He will be my son, and I will be his Father."

6A) This ties in with the 2 Sam 7:14 verse. This reference deals with Solomon specifically (Solomon was one of David's sons). Note here that God says "I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign."

Again, the context here is a relationship between Solomon and God. Solomon was David's son, soon to be the next king of Israel. Also see that in the next verse, David calls Solomon his son. So, don't confuse the term 'son', understand the context.

7Q) Jeremiah 31:9 "...because I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son". In these quotes Jacob (Israel) is called the firstborn as well as Ephraim, How can there be two firstborns, and Jesus would be a third?

7A) First of all, God says He is Israel's father. "Ephraim" in this case also refers to the nation of Israel. Look at verse 7. Here, "Jacob" is referred to. In this context, "Jacob" also refers to the nation of Israel. Again, the context concerning "Ephraim", i.e. the nation of Israel, means God's relationship with them.

8Q) Psalms 2:7 David is referred to as the begotten son of God. Again, couldn't Jesus be another 'begotten' of God's?

8A) There is a lot of theology in this Psalm. But to address the point of God calling David his son, you have to have some knowledge of the metaphors of that time. In the ancient Near East the relationship between a great king, and one of his subject kings who ruled by the great king's authority, was expressed not only by words as 'lord' and 'servant', but by 'father' and 'son'. The Davidic King was the Lord's 'servant' and His 'son'. This ties into the 2 Sam, and 1 Chron. verses?

9Q) "Since Jesus has no father, claiming he is the Son of God would not hold true to Adam. Why not consider Adam a Son of God?"

9A) In Luke, 3:38, Adam is called the son of God. We know that Adam is the first man God created, (Gen 5:1, etc.). As the first man God created, Adam is figuratively called God's son. Deut. 32:6 illustrates this. God, as the Creator, is called the Father. Some of the differences between Adam are Jesus are that Adam was a sinner, Jesus wasn't. Adam was created, Jesus said He was with the Father before the foundation of the world - John 17:5. There are many more, but the point is that Jesus was far different than Adam.

10Q) "What about Hebrews 7-3 "Without Father, without mother, without descent having neither beginning of days, nor end of life..." Which refers to Melchizedek?"

10A) The reference to Melchizedek is the most interesting. There have been a number of interesting interpretations of who Mel. was. And not all interpretations agree. Some say Mel. was Christ, others say a special being created by God. There is not enough material in the bible to define who exactly Mel. was. This leads me to my conclusion.

My viewpoint on Mel. is that he was fully human, was born, lived and died. When the writer of Hebrews says "Without Father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God, he remains a priest forever", he is referring to two facets concerning Mel. 1) the fact that no genealogy or background information is given for Mel., and 2) Mel's priesthood is forever. I don't think Hebrews is saying he was an eternal man/king/priest. It's just that unlike most (not all) of the prominent figures in the O.T., no background info is given concerning Mel. Mel is tied in with Jesus in that Christ's priesthood is in the order of Mel.

Another follow through point on this is that the writer of Hebrews initially writes to establish, and set apart, who Christ really is. The theme of Hebrews is the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as the revealer and mediator of God's grace. Read chapter 1. This chapter describes Jesus' unique Sonship better than any other in the bible. So, Hebrews sets Jesus apart from all other men and angels.

11Q) "If Jesus is really the Son of God, why didn't He allow the demons to say so? By doing this, Jesus denied was the Son of God. Refer to Luke 4:41."

11A) First of all, Jesus never "denied it". When Jesus was questioned by the High Priest, "I charge you under oath, by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God?". Jesus replied "Yes, it is as you say." And, if you read John 3, you see Christ referring to Himself as the unique Son of God (vs 16).

Second even the demons knew who He was, i.e. the Son of God. The demons did know who He truly was. Even the demons obeyed him.

Third, this event occurred early in Christ's ministry. Jesus wanted to establish the kind of Messiah he really was, by His deeds. Remember, the Jews at that time expected a Messiah to bring them military victory over the Romans. Jesus was not going to do that. He wanted to lay a foundation of actions that the general populace could see and acknowledge. One that proved He was the Messiah. He did not want demons shouting out amongst the populace that He was the Son of God at this time.

Note here that when Jesus talked to His disciples in private, or to sincere seekers of the truth, He did acknowledge that He is the Son of God. [Refer to John 3]. So, Jesus did acknowledge Himself as the Son of God.

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ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES IN WHICH JESUS CALLS HIMSELF THE SON OF GOD, OR IS CALLED THE SON OF GOD BY GOD THE FATHER

JOHN 17:1-5 - Note here that this is Christ's prayer before His arrest. And note that Christ says that He was with God before the world began.

JOHN 5:18-27 - Note here that Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of God about 10 times.

JOHN 8:36

JOHN 10:36

JOHN 11:4

MATT 17:5 - GOD HIMSELF calls Jesus His Son.

MATT 22:2 - Jesus alludes to Himself as the King's Son

MATT 26:63,64 - Jesus answers Pilate that he is the Son of God.

LUKE 3:33 - Again GOD HIMSELF calls Jesus His Son.

LUKE 1:35 - Even the Angel in talking to Mary says that her son will be the Son of God.

There are more scriptures in which He is called the Son of God, but this is enough to prove the point.

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FINAL ANALOGY

Our country is headed by one man, a man we call "President". However, many business' are also headed by men or women who are called "President". Are the two the same? No. Does the term, when applied to the man living in the white house mean the same thing when applied to the man who heads a business, say "Joe's Hotdogs"? No. Is there a big difference between the "President" of Joe's Hotdogs, and the President of America? YES!

In the same way, the term "son of God", applied to many people in the Bible differs from the term "Son of God", when it is applied to Jesus in the Bible.

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SUMMARY

It is correct to say that many people have been metaphorically called "sons" of God. But it is incorrect when applying this meaning to Jesus. From the scriptures, it is clear that Jesus was far more than a metaphorical 'son' of God. He is the only unique "Son" of God. No one else in the entire Bible is referred to in this manner. Only Jesus.