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Jesus son of God?

What does “Son of God” mean? And if Jesus Christ has exclusive rights to the term, why does the Bible record:

  1. “For I (God) am a father to Israel, and Ephraim (i.e., Israel) is my firstborn” Jeremiah 31:9 “Israel is My son, even my firstborn” Exodus 4:22
  2. “Adam, which was the son of God.” Luke 3:38
  3. “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased’” Those who rebut by quoting Matthew 3:17

Bible describes many people, Israel and Adam included, as “sons of God.”

  1. “He (Solomon) shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.” 2 Samuel 7:13–14 and 1 Chronicles 22:10

Entire nations are referred to as sons, or children of God. Examples include:

  1. Genesis 6:2, “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men . . .”
  2. Genesis 6:4, “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men . . .”
  3. Deuteronomy 14:1, “Ye are the children of the Lord your God.”
  4. Job 1:6, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD . . .”
  5. Job 2:1, “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD . . .”
  6. Job 38:7, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
  7. Philippians 2:15, “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation . . .”
  8. 1 John 3:1–2, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! . . . Beloved, now we are children of God . . .”
  9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” In Matthew 5:9
  10. Jesus says, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:45, Jesus prescribed to his followers the attainment of noble attributes Not exclusively his Father, but their Father.
  11. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God . . .” John 1:12

If the Bible is to be respected, any person of piety could aspire to the office of “child of God.” Graham Stanton comments, “In the Graeco-Roman world heroes, rulers, and philosophers were called sons of God. In the Old Testament ‘son of God’ is used of angels or heavenly beings (e.g., Gen. 6:2,4; Deut. 32:8; Job 1:6–12), Israel or Israelites (e.g., Ex. 4:22; Hosea 11:1), and also of the king (notably in 2 Sam. 7:14 and Psalm 2:7).” And Joel Carmichael elaborates: The title “son of God” was of course entirely familiar to Jews in Jesus’ lifetime and indeed for centuries before: all Jews were sons of God; this was in fact what distinguished them from other people . . .

The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion confirms: In Jewish idiom “Son of God” is clearly metaphorical. To quote, “Son of God, term occasionally found in Jewish literature, biblical and post-biblical, but nowhere implying physical descent from the Godhead.”

Bible Dictionary comments: In Semitic usage “sonship” is a conception somewhat loosely employed to denote moral rather than physical or metaphysical relationship. Thus “sons of Belial” (Jg 19:22 etc.) are wicked men, not descendants of Belial; and in the New Testament the “children of the bridechamber” are wedding guests. So a “son of God” is a man, or even a people, who reflect the character of God. There is little evidence that the title was used in Jewish circles of the Messiah, and a sonship which implied more than a moral relationship would be contrary to Jewish monotheism.

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i   Stanton, Graham N. pp. 224–225.

ii  Werblowsky, R. J. Zwi and Geoffrey Wigoder. p. 653.

iii Hastings, James. Dictionary of the Bible. p. 143.

iv  Miss God’ed Dr. Laurens Brown p. 95

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