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What does it mean to a Christian that Christ is the son of God? On the one hand, obviously, the normal biological meaning of son does not apply. On the other hand, "we are all children of God", but Jesus seems to be more so.

That God offered up His only son as a sacrifice for humanity's sins is often used as an argument to demonstrate God's love for humanity. This would imply that God loves Jesus more than His other children, that this sacrifice was particularly hard, indicating that Jesus has a filial relationship with God in a sense that we would understand. It implies that sending His son to his death was extremely painful to Him, more so than the deaths of His other children.

Now, these arguments seem to me to be a clear anthropomorphisation of God, Christians seem to be attributing human characteristics such as the love of a father --not metaphorically as when referring to humanity as God's children, but in a very literal way-- to God. This seems to clash with another central tenet of Christianity which states that God is beyond our understanding, that we cannot fathom His plan. If so, then any attribution of human emotion to Him would be wrong.

So, my question is how do Christians interpret Christ being the "Son of God"? What exactly does that mean? I realize the answer will depend on the particular denomination of Christianity whose views are being expressed. I am particularly interested in the more popular churches such as the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox but welcome answers explaining the views of any group as long as the group in question is clearly stated.


NOTES

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"...central tenet of Christianity which states that we cannot know God for he is unknowable." I have to disagree with this; a central tenet of Christianity is that God is knowable -- He created us to know Him and He has revealed Himself to us. –  Ryan Frame Jul 7 '13 at 2:16
    
@RyanFrame thank you, I had a quick look through that question and some of the linked references and they are indeed relevant. However, my main question is about how Christians interpret the idea of God as the Father of Jesus. The T. Aquinas reference linked in the question you suggested is interesting but confuses more than helps: "and hence He is properly and not metaphorically called Son, and His principle is called Father." –  terdon Jul 7 '13 at 2:19
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Why does "the normal biological meaning not apply"? –  Andrew Leach Jul 7 '13 at 7:54
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@Narnian thanks for pointing that out but it is not a duplicate, I mention that question at the end of my own and explain how I am asking about a different angle. –  terdon Jul 8 '13 at 14:54

11 Answers 11

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'll try to answer this from several different views - the main three (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox) and also the LDS view, since the LDS view is significantly different from the other three, and deserves a distinct treatment.


The mainstream Christian view (Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic) is covered by Apologetics Press in this article: What Does it Mean to Say Jesus is the "Son of God"?. The answer, for most Christians, has its roots in the Jewish understanding of the terms. Bear in mind that this refers to the title "Son of God", and doesn't negate the teaching that Jesus is God.

An excerpt from the article:

The earliest Christians were Jews who were familiar with at least two distinct applications of the term “son of God.” In the first place, the term had a general application to all Israelites. When their ancestors were held in Egyptian bondage, Moses was sent to Pharaoh with these words: “Thus says the Lord: Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me” (Exodus 4:22-23; see also Hosea 11:1). Through the years, Yahweh loved, protected, comforted, and chastened Israel, just as a loving parent would nurture and discipline children (Malachi 2:10; Isaiah 66:13; et al.).

The second usage was more specific. Historically, the term had a royal connotation for many nations of the Ancient Near East. It was commonplace for Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite, and Roman rulers to be called “son of God” (Fossum, 1992, pp. 128-137). These kings even were deified and surrounded by legends about their miraculous births—often including stories of gods copulating with humans (Sanders, 1993, pp. 243-245). This royal connotation also was known in Israel, although they did not deify their kings (O’Collins, 1995, p. 117).

When the New Testament writers referred to Jesus as “Son of God,” they sometimes employed the term in ways that echoed these two common uses. After those who threatened the life of the child Jesus died, Joseph was given instructions in a dream to return from Egypt to his homeland. When Matthew reported this event, he said it fulfilled Hosea 11:1: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (see Matthew 2:15). In other words, Jesus was God’s Son as an Israelite, and in a real sense, the True Israelite.

The link above is a fair Protestant understanding. The Catholic teaching is the same, and though I can't currently find a reference, i believe it is the same in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Also, in the mainstream Christian view, Jesus, in His human incarnation, was conceived supernaturally (without sex) in the womb of Mary, enabling her virgin birth. This would certainly set Him apart as different from the rest of us. In a sense, he is the Son of God because God was the one who caused Mary to conceive. (I'm probably saying that badly).

As for God having a unique love toward Jesus, in Gill's commentary on Matthew 3:17

in whom I am well pleased. Jehovah the Father took infinite delight and pleasure in him as his own Son, who lay in his bosom before all worlds; and was well pleased with him in his office relation, and capacity: he was both well pleased in him as his Son, and delighted in him as his servant, Isaiah 42:1 he was pleased with his assumption of human nature; with his whole obedience to the law; and with his bearing the penalty and curse of it, in the room and stead of his people: he was well pleased with and for his righteousness, sacrifice and atonement; whereby his law was fulfilled, and his justice satisfied. God is not only well pleased in, and with his Son, but with all his people, as considered in him; in him he loves them, takes delight in them, is pacified towards them, and graciously accepts of them. It would be almost unpardonable, not to take notice of the testimony here given to the doctrine of the Trinity; since a voice was heard from the "father" in heaven, bearing witness to "the Son" in human nature on earth, on whom "the Spirit" had descended and now abode. The ancients looked upon this as so clear and full a proof of this truth, that they were wont to say; Go to Jordan, and there learn the doctrine of the Trinity. Add to all this, that since this declaration was immediately upon the baptism of Christ, it shows that his Father highly approved of, and was well pleased with his submission to that ordinance; and which should be an encouraging motive to all believers to follow him in it.

Also from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

  1. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is—Mark and Luke give it in the direct form, "Thou art." (Mr 1:11; Lu 3:22).

my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased—The verb is put in the aorist to express absolute complacency, once and for ever felt towards Him. The English here, at least to modern ears, is scarcely strong enough. "I delight" comes the nearest, perhaps, to that ineffable complacency which is manifestly intended; and this is the rather to be preferred, as it would immediately carry the thoughts back to that august Messianic prophecy to which the voice from heaven plainly alluded (Isa 42:1),

The LDS view is a bit different - LDS doctrine includes the idea that God is actively procreating in Heaven, and produces "spirit children". These spirit children choose the human lives they will lead, so all of us pre-existed in Heaven with our actual spiritual father. In LDS theology, Jesus was the first, and chose to be perfect and to suffer as he did to redeem man, as was God's plan. Lucifer was another child of God, who wanted to offer salvation by removing the penalties of the law, thus destroying our free agency.

See Pre-Mortal Life - Mormon Wiki

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Thank you, +1, that is very useful. However, the meanings you and the article you linked to offer do not explain why it would be a particularly great sacrifice for God to send Jesus to Earth. If, as that article concludes, "In summary, to identify Jesus as the Son of God is to acknowledge His genealogical connection to Israel, His right to the throne of David, and His unparalleled nearness to God.", that would mean that Jesus has a particularly close relationship to God but not necessarily the other way around. Could you comment on God's "feelings" towards Christ? –  terdon Jul 7 '13 at 14:00
    
+1 for a well-rounded answer. For more on the LDS perspective of Jesus being the literal Son of God, also see: According to LDS/Mormon teaching, what is the relationship between Jesus and Lucifer? and also this question about the LDS view of the Trinity and who God is. –  Matt Jul 7 '13 at 15:17
    
@Matt - thank you for the edit and correction. Feel free to edit your comment links into the answer if yoe like. –  David Stratton Jul 7 '13 at 15:30
    
@terdon Regarding your comment to David Stratton, doesn't, "Jehovah the Father took infinite delight and pleasure in him as his own Son," from the quote by Gill David gave, provide God's feelings toward Christ (at least as Gill sees it)? –  Chelonian Jul 7 '13 at 19:13
    
@Chelonian I added that in after he asked... –  David Stratton Jul 7 '13 at 19:14

I didn't see any set scope within "Christianity", so I will give my perspective from the viewpoint of a Jehovah's Witness.

Jesus is the son of God, but maybe not of the conventional sort. Before the creation of earth the angels where created by God. the Archangel(that is singular!) Michael(Jesus) was the first angel that was made. Archangel is a designation to show Jesus's office in heaven. We can see that Jesus or the Lord was God's first creation from Revelation 3:14:

“To the angel of the congregation in La·o·di·ce′a write: These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God"

Jesus was the faithful and true witness in the scriptures and was created by God.

Michael was not really a co-creator with God, but rather the instrument that God's holy spirit used to create everything else.

Jesus never claimed the father's glory. Even his name shows his function. Jesus, Insight from the Scriptures

(Je′sus) [Lat. form of the Gr. I·e·sous′, which corresponds to the Heb. Ye·shu′aʽ or Yehoh·shu′aʽ and means “Jehovah Is Salvation”].

Another example is Jude 1:9

"But when Mi′cha·el the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: “May Jehovah rebuke you.”

Through Jesus's own word's he refers to himself as being a separate entity from God. John 8:42&50&54-55

"Jesus said to them: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I have not come of my own initiative, but that One sent me."

"But I am not seeking glory for myself; there is One who is seeking and judging."

"Jesus answered: “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, the one who you say is your God. Yet you have not known him, but I know him. And if I said I do not know him, I would be like you, a liar. But I do know him and am observing his word."

You can see from Jesus own words that he is the archangel Michael from John 6:54-57 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16

"Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will live because of me."

"Because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first."

The Lord, Jesus, and the archangel Michael are 1 and the same.

Now that we know Jesus's origins and identity we can look at the aspect of him being a son. A son is usually very close to his father. He displays the same qualities and line of thinking that he grew up seeing. You can say then that the son mimics the father.

Jesus is the son of God in that he displays the same qualities of God in his actions. He always strives to please God. He glorifies his father and not himself.

Jesus is a unique son of God in that he was created solely by God. All the other angels or sons of God where created by both Jesus and God.

The function of Jesus as God's son was much like Moses and Aaron in Exodus 4:15-17

"So you must speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with you and him as you speak, and I will teach you men what to do. He will speak for you to the people, and he will be your spokesman, and you will serve as God to him. And you will take this rod in your hand and perform the signs with it."

Jesus is God's spokesmen. He represented him on earth. We know God's plan through his word the bible and through Jesus his representative.


Edit: Reworking this post. Be back later tonight to fix.

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Thanks for the answer but I really don't understand your point. I see nothing here that points to Michael and Jesus being the same and in any case that is not relevant to the question which asks how exactly is Jesus the son of God. There is also a huge difference between made and begotten. You seem to be saying that Jesus is God's son in the sense of being his representative. Therefore, not a son at all. Is that correct? –  terdon Dec 20 '13 at 15:39
    
No I mean that he is literally God's son. As he displays God's qualities perfectly he is a perfect representative or model for us on earch. –  Jeremy Dec 20 '13 at 17:04
    
I'll come back and edit it as my thoughts don't seem to be collected properly. It does have the general gist of how we view things. –  Jeremy Dec 20 '13 at 17:07

Basically the answer to your question is the Nicene Creed, but you have a collection of assumptions that are directly opposed to the reasoning of scripture.

First the Sonship of Christ:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. (Nicene Creed)

This means that the Son of God is an eternal being who was loved by the Father before the creation, everything that happened in time is secondary to his role of Son. Therefore, to compare him to anyone else is like comparing infinite to finite, i.e. everything else is nothing to God comparatively. He can't love them in any way like he loves his only Son.

Love of God is spiritual and not like you imagine. The essential 'nature of God' is goodness and love, which means a love of that which is most excellent, i.e. himself. Everything God ultimately loves is within himself, for he alone is excellent beyond all measure. This is also why the only command is to love Him, which will manifest itself in love of our neighbor for his sake. His love for us is just an outworking of his higher love of Himself, being the only object deserving of devotion.

Your question smacks into the face of these primary building blocks of God's revelation of himself. First you very incorrectly assume 'we are all God's children'. The bible say's that nowhere, rather, as a good example taylor made for this question, Christ said in response to some Jews that said they were 'God's children':

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:42-44, NIV)

This verse really ties both subjects you have so aptly confused together in your question. For first, Jesus shows how he is the 'only Son', for he came from before time began, from the Father in heaven, humbling himself into a human nature, but they were unable to comprehend him. They just knew how to babble about their own view of themselves as being God's children. They were not aware that not everyone is God's child, only those adopted as a children through the death and merits of Christ's death and resserected life - are sons.

So now about his love. While you and I stood blaspheming God, boasting of our selves, yet fully deserving of his eternal anger, while fools, while wicked, while stubborn, while unteachable, while full of jealousy, anger, lust and every other filth, -- while we were in this state, and this alone, did God sent his only Son to die for us. One really must use the word 'I' to understand it. God sent his holy eternal Son to leave the glory of heaven, to suffer into the inexpressibly lower life of a human, let alone an infant in swaddling clothes, to live among sinners, all in order to save 'me' or in this case, 'you'. He took 'your' endless perverse and foolish thoughts, your monstrous evil deeds, and all things from your life unworthy of the eternal being and smashed his own eternally beloved Son into death for your immeasurable wretchedness. Then he counted up all the righteousness that Christ lived in the flesh under all his holy Laws for man, and collected them all into a 'perfect righteousness' and hammered that absolute perfection onto 'you' (I am using a future sense on your behalf) - making you perfect under his holy eyes, while yet never yet ever doing anything good.

So, how is it that God loves sinners? He suffered to watch his dear beloved eternal Son, who he has infinite filial and Fatherly emotions towards (which is neither comprehensible nor explained by scripture yet declared to be true and accepted by all Christians)- he suffered that 'one and only' to pay for your eternal offense to all that is good and praiseworthy. Not only so but to declare you righteous as a gift, with nothing required of you accept receiving that love by faith, you are granted tamper-proof eternally life, which no man, devil, or sin can steel away.

Obviously the assumptions of scripture, what is declares to be obvious and what it declares to be nonsense is basically an inversion your question. In other words the scripture forcefully opposes you and it also opposes me in equal manner whenever I ponder my own foolish thoughts that are not worthy of his majesty and care. This is really a matter of life, wisdom, knowledge, and glory, verses death, folly, ignorance and sin. It really about choosing faith in God, or following the Devil, at least from the view ported to us in the Bible. It always calls for a decided response.

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Thank you and +1 for this thorough answer. I'd like to ask for a few clarifications. First, if I understand your first point correctly, that He is the Son means that He was created directly from God, unlike the rest of us who were created from the Earth. Is that correct? I don't understand your position on comparing. It seems to be self-contradictory since you yourself are comparing His love by saying that "everything else is nothing to God comparatively. He can't love them in any way like he loves his only Son." –  terdon Jul 8 '13 at 15:14
    
cont. As for us all being God's children, the Bible does indeed say so in various places (though it also states the opposite, as in the passage you have quoted). Jesus himself quoted one of those passages to defend his statement that "I and the Father are one". Finally, could you please explain your last paragraph? What assumptions are you talking about here and how are they an inversion of my question? How does scripture oppose you or myself? When we do what? –  terdon Jul 8 '13 at 15:16
    
For your first note. No. The Son of God was not created - that's the Nicene Creed part - he has no beginning being God. For your second note, when the Bible says 'Ye are the children...' it obviously assumes believers. No offense but your reference looks like it was written from a child's crayon. The last para means the Bible assumes Christ is not created and only some are God's children, making your question fit the 'Why is my language not clear to you?'. Finally, how does scripture oppose us? Easy. It opposes the foolish assumptions of you question and many of my equally foolish assumptions. –  Mike Jul 8 '13 at 16:21
    
OK, I understand that the Nicene creed means that Christ is eternal and of God which gives an answer to my question. The link I posted was simply one of the first hits for "bible we are God's children", whether you consider it childish is your own opinion, the fact remains that it gives 6 separate quotes from the Bible supporting the "we are all children of God". You say the Bible "obviously assumes believers" and that is not obvious at all. Especially since many of the quotes predate the New Testament and are, perforce, addressed to non Christians. –  terdon Jul 8 '13 at 16:41
    
cont. I am sure I am making many silly assumptions but since you don't point them out to me I do not know what they are. I don't see why the Bible "assumes" that only some are God's children, indeed that seems to go against the idea that we are all sons of Adam, we should be God's children irrespective of whether we have been fortunate enough to be exposed to His words. I am truly not trying to be difficult and I appreciate your taking the time to explain but I just don't understand that last paragraph. –  terdon Jul 8 '13 at 16:45

What does it mean to a Christian that Christ is the son of God?

You identify yourself as a secular humanist raised in a deeply religious society. Therefore I will answer your question with that understanding. I am a Christian with no denominational leanings. I do however believe the Bible is God’s word to His children, therefore my response will be non-denominational yet Bible based.

The Jews had many names for God but “Father” was not predominantly one of them. The Jews identified themselves as “Children of Abraham” not the children of God. So when Jesus identified Himself as the “only begotten of the Father” this was revolutionary and the Pharisees understood the claim to be blasphemous. John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

When Christ stood before Pilate he did not recant this perspective. He could have very easily said, “Hey, I just meant that God is like a father to me and I am like a son to him”, but he did not, Christ went to the cross claiming to be the “only begotten of the Father”.

A phrase search in the KJV of “I can do nothing” yields three matches, all three are quotes from Christ. In two verses Christ is speaking of Himself in relationship to his Father and in the third (John 15:5) Christ is speaking in regard to His followers in relationship with himself.

John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

When Jesus is told that His biological family was waiting for Him He said: “whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50). Son-ship to Christ centered on the “will” of God the Father being made manifest.

Christ instructs us to pray “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth”.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

John 13 …born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God

Jesus is the manifest-will of God the Father born of the Holy Spirit. This is evident in the role of Christ in creation: Ephesians 3:9 And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ; Colossians 1:16 For by him (Jesus Christ) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

So Jesus is the first-fruit, the image of the invisible God, and the offspring of the will of God the Father. Jesus is the “only begotten of the Father” the eternal reproduction of the will of God the Father.

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Thanks for the edit DJ –  Rick Jul 27 '13 at 13:09

This is more of a quick answer [not anymore]. And, to preface a bit more, I didn't closely [not necessarily anymore] read all of the above statements, because they seemed too preachy or missed the point.

Jesus referred to himself as both the "Son of God" and "Son of Man." The first was used to express deity, and the other humanity. And, if we accept that Jesus was man, than He certainly experienced all of the things we experience now. That's why Jesus makes the perfect mediator! More on this contradiction after a few rabbits.

I think its an incorrect assumption to say God loves more (a) than he loves (b). Since, it doesn't appear to me anywhere that God's love is based upon degrees (though this does not negate uniqueness/specialness). There is certainly a dualism with God, such as light/dark, love/hate, life/death, righteous/unrighteous. This also applies to God's love for Jesus, which God certainly does, and involves more of uniqueness/specialness than degrees of love. @Mike, I'd leave a comment but I can't so I'll say it here. God's love is not simply spiritual. There are also practical/physical considerations too! Such as common grace, i.e. we are knit together in our mothers womb and, tend not to die immediately when we commit sin, which are practical considerations of God's love. And, @Mike again, the essential attributes of God is not only "goodness and love," what about justice and wrath and hatred? Didn't God punish Israel all of the time for their sin? Did God not love Jacob and hate Esau? Just a thought, not trolling here.

One other footnote before I go back to the Son-God-Man. God's will is certainly revealed to man and can be known--Rom 12:1, 1 Thess 4:something and 1 Thess 5:something.

Anyways, @RyanFrame the argument from Aquinas' Summa Theologica is great! To call Jesus the son of God => that Jesus is a created being/Jesus is a lessor form of God. To maybe clarify, if you go back to the early fourth century, and look at Arianism/Council of Nicaea (and, @mike, it was this reason that the Nicene creed was created!--"God from God, light from light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father..."), which dealt with the substance/essence of Jesus, and whether He was 'of the same substance' or 'of like substance.' All of this was solved in Nicaea. This is the greatest determination that makes orthodox (not Orthodox e.g. Eastern O, Greek O, Russian O, etc--though they are infact orthodox) Christianity distinct from other non-orthodox/heretical Christians (e.g. LDS, Jehovah's Witness, UUC, etc.).

A rather short answer to "how do Christians interpret Christ being the 'Son of God'?" Answer: because the bible tells us! A good explanation is John 1, and it is certainly foundational to the Nicene argument. It's definitely circular--but, authority, inspiration, trustworthiness, etc, of the bible is a different animal to consider.

And, last thought: @terdon, everyone is not certainly children of God in the sense that we are all going to heaven (whatever that may be), however, we are all children (not-God's) in the sense that we are creatures rather than creator. So, I can see the confusion.

Last thought, great question. Very thought provoking.

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Contrary to your assertion that a normal understanding of being a son does not apply to Jesus as the son of God the Bible explicitly tells us that that particular relationship does indeed exist.

Luke 1:30 through 35 KJV

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Notice what it says in the bold italics that is why Jesus is the son of God, both Spiritually and physically.

So therefore Jesus was conceived utilizing both the seed of Mary and the seed of God. Certainly you are correct in saying that Jesus was not conceived in the normal manner in which children are conceived, since Mary remained a virgin until Jesus was born.

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Mary remained a virgin all her life unless you are referring to apocrypha I have not read. Having a child does not negate virginity, having sex does. Now, unless you believe in a corporeal God who has seed in the same way you have a liver, the "seed" referred to in this passage cannot be taken literally (oh, and Mary had no seed but that's just semantics). God has no physical presence, so no DNA and by extension cannot sire children in the biological sense. Theologically speaking is a different matter, hence the question. –  terdon Dec 18 '13 at 0:31
    
@ terdon your assertion is based on the Catholic doctrine, and not the Protestant. According to the King James version of the Bible Jesus had both half brothers and half sisters. Two of his half Brothers are the authors of the books of James and Jude, according to My Baptist upbringing, and I cannot vouch for any other Protestant Denominations, but if they are based on any Protestant Bible I know of they all agree on that. As far as Mary not having a seed and the Holy Spirit not providing any seed HOW COULD JESUS BE A MAN? He had to get his physical being from somewhere. –  Bye Dec 18 '13 at 0:45
    
Actually, it was based on my Orthodox upbringing and my ample ignorance. I had never heard of any siblings, thanks. As for the rest, Mary certainly had ova, (seed refers to sperm exclusively), however God does not. Not unless He also has a body. That is the whole point of my question. If pressed, I would posit that God created the necessary seed on the spot and that His divinity is not connected to His body in any way (something which I consider demonstrated by the resurrection). An interesting point is that the quote in your answer only says (twice) that he will be called the Son of God. –  terdon Dec 18 '13 at 14:09

Your question: What does it mean to a Christian that Christ is the son of God?, could be restated as: Why Jesus is called Son of God and not simply God which He is?

The doctrine of the Trinity states that there is one God, who exists in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

When the time came for an invisible God to reveal Himself as saviour for the salvation of fallen mankind, the true nature of One Almighty God was also revealed through Jesus Christ as saviour. God alone can reveal God hence Jesus is Son of God, same as God. To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. It takes God to reveal Himself to mankind.

The Son of God is “of God.” The claim to be of the same nature as God—to in fact be God—was blasphemy to the Jewish leaders; therefore, they demanded Jesus’ death

The Jewish leaders understood exactly what it meant by the phrase “Son of God and precisely this understanding of the phrase led the Jews to ask for Jesus’ death sentence.

God took a human birth and that’s how the title “Son” came to him though He was Himself is God. God though divine is revealed in human nature to man. Jesus Christ is the image of God to mankind. God - omnipotent, revealed Himself to mankind, in Jesus Christ.

There are many verses in Bible where we see that in Jesus, the invisible God is revealed. Jesus was with the Father before the world began. Jesus, as God the Son, is the Creator of all things. God in all His fullness dwelt in Christ, reconciling the world. We see that Christ, as the Son of God - God's representation, is God manifest and revealed to the world.

So the Second person of Trinity was revealed by arrival of Jesus and the Third person was revealed after Jesus was glorified. God the father was revealed in OT (We though find references to Trinity in OT as well in amorphous manner).

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What makes you believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is correct? There was a lot of argument about it in the first and second century churches. How do you know there aren't thirty persons in the Godhead and you just don't know about the others? How do you know there is a Godhead at all and not just one God as it says "Hear, O Israel, The Lord is our God, The Lord is One?" –  Gregory Magarshak May 13 at 15:18

For Jesus to be "the Son of God" means that he has the very same nature of his Father. How is this so? John himself elucidated it in his gospel. He wrote that before the Word became flesh i.e. Jesus Christ, the Word is already "the only offspring of the Father" and more explicitly, "the only offspring who is God as to his nature"(John 1:14,John 1:18).

In Luke 1:35 , we are told by Luke that the "holy one" to be born will be called " God's Son" because of his incarnation.Noticing the futurity of the prophecy ( will be called), we discover that the incarnate Word, the "holy one" born of the Virgin, was declared or made known as "God's Son" at his resurrection per Romans 1:4.

Now Jesus as the Word was not merely declared to be "God's Son" but in fact, he was declared to be "God's birthed Son" and this status he has was the one proclaimed by the Father per se at his resurrection( Hebrews 1:5,5:5, Acts 13:35).

The genetic metaphor of "birth" denotes that the Word is equally sharing the same nature of his Father.This is the reason why in Romans 1:4, Paul did not write "God's begotten Son" but simply "God's Son" for he already explained in the text what it means " ...declared to be God's Son with power according to his spirit of holiness i.e. divine nature ( not the Third person of the Trinity)but in Hebrews 1:5,5:5,Acts 13:35, being a quotation of Ps. 2:7, Paul found it suffice to use it as proof text for the "eternal Sonship" of Jesus because he already knew in mind that Jesus was proven to be God in nature at his resurrection via his Sonship.

The understanding of the New Testament writers about the Sonship of Christ is primarily about his Sonship as the Word, Wisdom and Power of the Father ( Hebrews 1:3, 1 Cor. 1:24, Joihn 1:1,14,18,3:16,18,1 John 4:9).

The Greek word translated "only begotten" (monogenes) is a compound word of monos (one/only) and genos (offspring/kind) and means "only offspring" in every occurrence in the New Testament, and does not prove Christ's begottenness but only his being the "sole offspring" of the Father.

The Word is the "only offspring" of the Father (John 1:14) but all humans collectively are also "offspring" of the Father (Acts 17:28), so is this a contradiction? No. John explains why. It is because the Word is "the only offspring who is God as to his nature" (John 1:18).

It is really important to know and have faith with the Sonship of Christ as taught and revealed in the Scriptures because this concerns our salvation from hell per se ( John 3:16,18; 20:31, 1 John 5:11-13).

The Sonship of Christ is literal in sense and on the other hand, metaphorical in essence. The Word was not literally birthed by the Father. This is only an anthropomorphic imagery used so that we might understand that the Word is the Son, of one nature with the Father.

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Let me try to put it as simply as possible, for it is a huge subject.

  1. The first Adam (Son of God - Luke 3:38) who was made in the image and likeness of God sinned against Him and fell. The image and likeness of God in Adam became corrupted. Genesis 5 tells us Adam begat Seth in his own image and likeness - which was corrupted of course. That is why, the Bible says, we are ALL born in sin - that is we are all born with the old Adam's corrupted image.

  2. So God came up with a simple plan to rescue and save man. He decided to come as the Last Adam, Son of God, to beget us for Himself (john 1:12,13). As the Lamb of God to become our Sacrifice and the Son of man to stand in the breach for us as our High Priest, Intercessor and Advocate. 1 John 2:1 tells us Christians that should we fall into sin we have an advocate with the Father.For sin is sin no matter who commits it.

  3. So the Word of God clothed Himself in flesh to execute this three point, fail proof Plan of God.

So was Christ the Son of God in reality. John 1:1 introduces us to His true identity - the Word of God. That's who was. He came as the -

  1. LAMB OF GOD
  2. SON OF GOD
  3. SON OF MAN - this is the Salvation Plan to save us.

Christ is GOD (Titus 2:13). He loved us so much that though we were sinners and enemies of God He died and rose again for us. The Bible tells us He is without partiality - He loves all of us impartially.

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Welcome to the site! This next is just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites?, and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Jan 2 at 0:39
    
Welcome to the site! Salutations and greetings are really not suited to this site, as the questions may be asked by one person, but they are read by many. Also, accusing people of being wrong is out of place here. We should "gently instruct". Also, while I agree that we should look to the Bible alone, this contradicts some traditions. No need to offend people. Just present your case. –  Narnian Jan 2 at 15:29

If this is still open for discussion then.. (Disclaimer..I am a human being that also has questions and we just do the best we can to understand, where personally metaphors are a great way of achieving this as I would not understand theological concepts too complex to chew on without them)

how do Christians interpret Christ being the "Son of God and what does that mean? First of all great question, secondly I'll try to make this brief and hopefully understandable.

  1. Jesus, the father and the Spirit are God (Trinity)- so how can Jesus be the son? In a human perspective, he is NOT. for how can the son "live" the same years as the father- (as Jesus has always existed along with God the father and the Spirit..John 1)

  2. I guess that Jesus is pictured as the SON of God (the father) as a way for US (Humans)to better understand the whole concept of salvation..what do I mean? well:

    • lets quickly say that we sinned=death (as determined by God BEFORE the act)
    • perfect creation all of a sudden a "failure"
    • God (Trinity) tries to quickly fix this but can only do so much..what do I mean?, well since humans were deemed to perish God SUBSTITUDES animals for them (so the animal dies and not the human) yet this is still fallible..we can see this in the O.T. when people offer animals to God for their sins..(but it was also for other things, thankfulness, ties...) --Anyway all this to prove why we were doomed, lets not forget that God despite his help is a JUST God and hence will do what is rightful, by whose laws? well the ones HE created and established --Now coming back to your question. How is this relevant? very, actually, why? because in order to understand the concept of Jesus and the son, and the one who sent Him and so on it is important to understand the reason behind all this.

Having that said- the metaphor given by God pictures this: Generally all mothers/Fathers love their children to the point of sacrificing, killing, fighting, you name it- or ask your mom what wouldn't she do for you(or someone who loves you greatly) - The picture traced allows us to grasp that if God the Father has a UNIQUE son and is willing to giving him up "allow for his death"- to his one and only son, whom he cherishes and loves, whose blood and genes you transmitted, who you aided to grow by fulfilling its every needs and then to put him to DEATH; for the exchange of what?! a loving parent wouldn't do that. Now that you have the humanly picture in your head understand this: I have not yet met any parent that will give up a son or daughter for the benefit of a burning building where say 500 people's lives depended upon it- and if the parent is willing, boy he either didn't cherish the relationship with his son enough or he loves the 500 people more than its unique son. Well this parent is God (and I'm not saying God didn't love Jesus (as he was later going to reward Him..), whose son (metaphorically speaking as this allows us to comprehend up to what extent his love is) was willing to give up(or give in to his death). Now this is a bit more profound than just a metaphor as Jesus was and IS required as a ransom from "death/hell/devil" as he is a "HUMAN" yet sinless (this kind of represents Him as the LAST and perfect sacrifice that will cover or take away our sins so that we can be right in the eyes of God (Jesus the lamb (animal sacrificed) of (to) God)

ok so I made it longer than what I thought, but this is because is a very complex concept where is easy to understand yet SO hard anyway I hope this answers your question about the perception that is given to Jesus as the son of God.. where many passages arise from" For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that anyone who believes in Him may not perish but have everlasting life) -P.S. Jesus also did claimed to be God (because He is, according to Christians)

  1. Are we considered to be children of God? well I would believe so because we are his creation. something you create, you become its creator/ parent and they become your creation/son...

-too many brackets I know (I notices that too)

Cheers

A Christian. definitely under Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox (I don't like denominations, I believe we have the main concept then we just manage to disagree in other things; but I believe the main concept is the most important and relevant one- so yeah Jesus)

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Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? –  David Stratton Mar 2 at 15:49
    
So, this is what you believe, but this isn't really well-sourced as to what established traditions believe. Secondly, if the Trinity is only metaphor, as you seem to suggest, then you do not technically fall under Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox creeds. That's fine, it's just not any named or recognized form of Christianity, and is therefore not really what we do here. –  Affable Geek Mar 3 at 14:45

Grab a cup...sorry, this one's going to skip around a bit!

All the above answers make sense...what's missing is contextual reference. Let's examine a few in an effort to understand the concept of son(s) of God: "beney elohim, beney ha'elohim, & beney 'elim).

We first find the sons of God in Genesis 6:1 as "the sons of God saw the daughters of men" - clearly we have a distinction between the metaphorical 'we are all sons of God' and the literal sons of God. If we go outside the core bible (passed by decree of church fathers by about 5 votes 300 years after the death of Christ), we can reference the Pseudepigrapha: Josephus (book 1, chapter 3); Enoch (6:1); Jubilees (5:1); & The Genesis Apocrypha (part of Dead Sea Scrolls).

Next we have Deuteronomy 32:8 & the discussion of inheritance, though some may counter that this refers to mankind. So, let's go to Job 1:6 - "now there was a day when the sons of God (beney ha'elohim) came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them". Next, Job 2:1 - "again there was a day when the sons of God (beney ha'elohim) came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also cam among them to present himself before the Lord".

In Job 38:4, we read "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God (beney 'elohim) shouted for joy. Next, in Psalm 29:1; "o give the Lord you sons of God (beney 'elim), give the Lord glory and power, give the Lord the glory of His name. Adore the lord in his holy court."

Finally, in Psalm 89:6 we read "for who in the skies can compare with the Lord or who is like the Lord among the sons of God (beney 'elim)".

The Lord Bless and Keep you! (Numbers 6:24-26)

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Thanks for your answer but while your quotes are interesting, none of them addresses my actual question which is about Jesus being the son of God. –  terdon Dec 27 '13 at 16:59
    
@michael, it's been aswered before but he wants an answer. i just hope terdon doesn't want to start another dogma creed. –  deleteMe Dec 27 '13 at 21:13

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