I am editing the question to make it more specific, since the original question was closed for being "off-topic" which I believe meant I was asking too broad a question. I am here looking for some information I am having trouble finding by myself, so here is what I am looking for.

I have always been told to believe that the Gospel of John was written to teach that Jesus is God. However, recently I have been noticing what John 20:31 states: "But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God".

Since "son of God" was already in common usage in Jewish culture back then, and was used to refer to anyone who was descended from Israel (Romans 9:4, Exodus 4:22) or someone with a special relationship to God, I would expect the Jewish John to use the term to mean the Jewish definition.

In that case, I am concluding that John explains his purpose for writing the gospel was to show that Jesus was the Messiah, and not God (since John makes no mention of that word).

Is there anyone here who also shares this doctrine? If so, could you share the scholarly sources for believing this?

Please only respond if you have a scholarly source you can cite for your answer.

Thank you!

  • 2
    The purpose of John's gospel is to display His deity. John sought to strengthen the faith of second-generation believers and bring about faith in others, but he also sought to correct a false teaching that was spreading in the first century. John emphasized Jesus Christ as “the Son of God,” fully God and fully man, contrary to a false doctrine that taught the “Christ-spirit” came upon the human Jesus at His baptism and left Him at the crucifixion. Might I suggest you edit your question to ask if John wanted to teach the Deity of Jesus? But you want non-trinitarian answers - any bias here?
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 11:28
  • I'd assuming you want both affirmative and negative answers. If you do not confirm this, the moderator may delete all the negative answers.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 13:00
  • 3
    This does not appear to be a genuine question but is a statement of opinion inviting agreement.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 13:53
  • 3
    @rae Perhaps the question should be to search for what the bible teaches which would invite a non-trinity answer. The bible, in spite of protests to the contrary, does not teach a trinity as you have begun to discover. God bless your search. God doesn’t inspire so many verses to say the same thing by accident, Jesus has a God, just like us.
    – steveowen
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 11:19
  • Lesley, thank you for taking the time to answer. There is indeed a bias. I am looking for information that I cannot find in church.
    – RaeRae
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 1:46

2 Answers 2


I'd assuming you want both affirmative and negative answers. If you do not confirm this, the moderator may delete all the negative answers.

Jesus did not deny claiming to be God in this passage:

30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:30–33, ESV)

Why did Jesus not seek to stop their seeking to kill him by denying that he is God?

16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Jesus Is Equal with God [title added by ESV]

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:16–18, ESV)

Jesus made even a further claim (the Son of Man in Daniel):

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:25–29, ESV)

It is true that in Aramaic son of man means a human, but the numerous Son of Man claims in the Gospel of John claim what is impossible for a human being.

Why did they pick up stones to stone Jesus if he did not claim to be God in this passage?

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:56–59, ESV)

Jesus' statement sounds close to Exodus 2:13-14:

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (ESV)

While Son of God can have different meanings, John let Jesus make the claims of who he was rather than making those claims directly. That made the claims stronger.

  • 1
    Appreciate your caveat re positive and negative answers. Glad to note the distinction between sons of God and the one, and the only, Son of God. John's gospel clearly shows the divinity of Jesus.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 14:11
  • Perry Webb, the next few lines seem to imply Jesus is protesting being accused of blasphemy, John 10:34-36: "34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’[d]? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 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’?"
    – RaeRae
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 1:50
  • Protested blasphemy, but not claiming to be God.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 1:53
  • Perry Webb, I am sorry to be causing possible offense. Now, this phrase you quoted ["18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:16–18, ESV)"] makes me wonder why John doesn't seem aware of the fact that all of Israel could have called God their father without being blasphemous, since in Romans 9:4, Paul calls all the Jews children of God, and God does so in Exodus 4:22.
    – RaeRae
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 1:59
  • "Protested blasphemy, but not claiming to be God. – Perry Webb". How should I take the statement "35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came"? I think Jesus is saying that anyone to whom the word of God comes can be called "Gods"?
    – RaeRae
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 2:02

The Apostle John did not come up with a new definition for "son of God" or for that matter "son of Man." The Jews have what is called "idioms." One of those idioms is called the "son of" idiom and can be found in both the Old Testament and New Testament.

For example in the OT you have "Sons of prophets." 1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3, refer to men belonging to a prophetic band. "Prophethood" (that which distinguishes "prophets" from "non-prophets") is the very nature that unites the "sons of the prophets" with their metaphorical fathers ("the prophets").

The same holds true for the following examples. "Sons of the goldsmiths at Nehemiah 3:31. Sons of the troop (2 Chronicles 25:13) are men of the army. Sons of affliction (Proverbs 31:5) are afflicted ones. I think you get the idea.

In the NT, "Son of peace (Luke 10:6) refers to a peaceful person. Who was the "Son of perdition?" (John 17:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) is the lost one. This is applied to Judas. One more, "Sons of thunder" was the appellative applied by Jesus to James and John at Mark 3:17 because it signified something outstanding about their character.

What about Jesus Christ who identified Himself on numerous occasions as "the Son of Man" and as "the Son of God." The idiom DOES intend the meaning of a shared nature between ANY father, and his son and thus between "THE Father and THE Son.

The "Son of God" title is entirely consistent with trinitarian doctrine which states explicitly that the Son is of the same NATURE of the Father. Christ really IS the "son" of God and therefore, BY DEFINITION shares the distinctive nature of his father just as ALL sons bear the distinctive nature of their fathers.

That Jesus is ALSO the "son of Man" (obviously in the metaphorical sense, given the fact that his actual father was NOT any man) is also consistent with the doctrine of the trinity which claims that Christ was indeed truly a man.

You said, "Is there any reason why John ends his gospel by stating that Jesus is the Messiah, instead of stating that Jesus is God?" If you read the CONTEXT of the following verses you will notice a "trend." John 5:18, John 8:58, John 10:30, John 19:7 and the trial record at Matthew 26:57-65. At Matthew 26:63 the high priest Caiaphas specifically ask Jesus to swear as to His identity.

"You tell us whether (1) are you the Christ/Messiah and (2) the Son of God." At Luke 22:70, Jesus says, "Yes, I am." At vs65 of Matthew the high priest tears his robes and says, "Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy." It is not blasphemy to claim to be the Messiah but it is blasphemy (to the Jews) to claim to be the Son of God in the way Jesus is the Son of God by nature. The Jews understood this fact, but they did not believe Jesus.

This now brings us to John's authorial intent when we get to John 20:30-31, "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; vs31, but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is (1) the Christ/Messiah, (2) the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

In closing, I would like to make two points. Did you happen to notice the declaration of Thomas at John 20:28? Thomas answered and said to Him, "The Lord of me and the God of me." Secondly, my "scholarly" source is the Bible.

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