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One poster ask me the above question. Does anyone have a scriptural answer? I have one and will post it soon.

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    I am a little miffed at this question. The Jews did not believe Jesus was even the Messiah (that is why their leadership crucified him!). Why would you look to them as an authority on the Trinity doctrine? (What denomination is the person who gave you this question btw? This seems like a question from a denomination that doesnt understand the issues relating to this)
    – Adam
    May 24, 2021 at 22:04
  • I was going to downvote this question, however, i have decided that in light of the context in which it is being asked...ie the person asking it doesnt understand the reality of Jesus crucifiction (the jews didnt believe he was the messiah), i have given it a thumbs up so that can be cleared up. It is only in more recent times that we have Messianic Jews who do believe Jesus was the messiah. Traditional Jews do not believe this (that is my understanding at least)
    – Adam
    May 24, 2021 at 22:10
  • @Adam The person that ask the question I believe to be a unitarian. I think it's a valid question that needs to be addressed. Let me put the question another way. "So Adam, since Jesus is the Son of God on what basis do you trinitarians come to the conclusion that He is actually God? How is claiming to be the Son of God equal to Him being God? The question is not interested in what the Jews think today. How would you answer the question?
    – Mr. Bond
    May 24, 2021 at 22:40
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    @Adam, I am thoroughly confused by what you are claiming. What I am saying is that you are adding the red herring. The question nowhere mentions Jesus, but you keep misquoting it as if it did. The question is so detached from Christianity that it could easily be asked on Judaism.SE without offending anyone: Does Judaism equate a claim of being the son of God with a claim of being God? Everything else you are talking about has been added by you. May 28, 2021 at 0:34
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    Up-voted +1. The question is quite valid, in its own right even if not attached to the first century, namely, does the expression 'Son of God' automatically imply that the person under consideration is also 'God' ?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 21 at 0:06

4 Answers 4

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The Jews have what is called "idioms." One of those idioms is called the "son of" idiom and can be found both in 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 unities 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 and the antichrist. 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.

There was a reason why the Apostle John ends his gospel account by stating his authorial intent at 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) Christ/Messiah, (2) the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

If you read the context of the following verses you will notice a pattern or trend in what the Jews conclude by Jesus' words. John 5:18, John 10:30, John 19:7 and the trial record at Matthew 26:57-65. It boils down to, "Are you the Christ/Messiah, and are you the Son of God?"

This is the question the high priest Caiaphas said to Jesus at Matthew 26:63. "And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether (1) You are the Christ/Messiah, (2) the Son of God." Caiaphas puts Jesus under oath to swear as to His true identity. Jesus answers at Luke 22:70 by saying, "Yes, I am." (NASB)

Most of the information regarding Jewish "idioms" is taken from the following site. http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/OTeSources/23a-Prophets/Text/Articles/Bess-SonOfGod-GTJ.pdf

The article was written in 1965 and I only had some written notes of it from many, many years ago. I decided to look it up and I found the complete article. He also deals with the terms "Firstborn" and the term "Only Begotten."

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    Great answer Mr Bond +1 from me. Slight correction was needed, its Luke 22:70 (not 26:70) and i have also edited text...statement from Jesus is "you say that I am". Only minor changes and do not adversely affect the answer.
    – Adam
    May 25, 2021 at 9:31
  • @Adam NASB says “yes I am”
    – Kris
    May 25, 2021 at 12:33
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    @OneGodtheFather And what proof do you have Caiaphas misunderstood the title? The Jews did not misunderstand what Jesus claimed. John 5:18, Jews claim Jesus was making Himself equal with God. John 8:5, Jesus claims to have existed before Abraham was born. John 10:30, Jesus claims to be equal in nature with His Father. Why else do the Jews accuse Him of blasphemy at vs33? John 19:7, Jews say He made Himself out the Son of God. Matthew 26:65 Caiaphas accuses Him of blasphemy. Now think, if the Jews misunderstood Jesus at His trial, why did they bring up the Law of blasphemy at Leviticus 24:16?
    – Mr. Bond
    May 25, 2021 at 20:51
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    @OneGodtheFather No one that I know of has ever been accused of blasphemy, let alone killed for claiming to be the Messiah. People have been claiming to be the Messiah from Jesus' time even to today. The Jews were expecting the Messiah but when Jesus swore that He was the Christ and the Son of God the Jews did not believe Him. Despite John 20:30-31 and God His Father giving His Son credibility, Luke 9:35 Of course they misunderstood Him on some things but that is not an excuse. His disciples misunderstood as well but in the end they believed Jesus was who He said He was. Read Acts and beyond.
    – Mr. Bond
    May 26, 2021 at 0:32
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    @Kris the interlinear says "Ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι (You say that i am) Indeed even your own JW interlinear says Ὑμεῖς (you) λέγετε (are saying ) ὅτι (that) ἐγώIεἰμι (I am). Do you not read your own watchtower interlinear?
    – Adam
    May 27, 2021 at 9:25
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The reasons are detailed in John chapter 8, from verse 12 to verse 59. There is far too much there to do justice to here, but those 47 verses show the debate between Jesus and some 1st century Jewish religious leaders on what Jesus being the Son of God signified to them. He told them, "I am the light of the world" (vs. 12). It culminated in them picking up stones to cast at him. Darkened hearts cannot comprehend the light of life - Jesus.

Just before that, those Jews had said, "We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever" (12:34). They admitted that this foretold One would abide forever, yet could not understand what Jesus meant by saying he would be raised up in three days. Jesus told them plainly, "Ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you" (vs. 37). Elsewhere in John's gospel Jesus said, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father".

More reasons are detailed in John chapter 10, from verse 23 to verse 39, where - for a second time - Jesus' claims about God the Father and himself being one (vs. 30), led to another attempt by the Jews to stone him to death. It was his performing a miracle on the sabbath that blinded them to understanding: despite admitting that God had to be with him to give sight to a man born blind, they denied that, saying he was a sinner because he did a good work on the sabbath. Indeed, "he hath a devil, and is mad" (vs. 20). They said he blasphemed "because I said, I am the Son of God" (vs. 36). They were incensed that Jesus said "The Father is in me, and I in him" (vs. 38). They took that to mean he was claiming equality with God as his Father - which was exactly what he was claiming.

Those two attempts led to Jesus and his disciples going away into the region of Jordan to be safe from their murderous hatred.

That is just a taste of what those two chapters in John's gospel reveal about Jesus' own claims about himself, and the obduracy of religious people whose hearts were darkened to the light of the world - Jesus. It has always been thus.

To this day, all those who will not have this man rule over them as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, deny that he is the Word who became flesh, who made everything that was made (which means he was not made himself). They may give lip service to him as a great example, the greatest teacher about God even, but never will they bend their knees at him being the uncreated, only-begotten Son of God - deity incarnate.

If those 1st century Jews did not grasp that Jesus was claiming to be equal with God, they would never have tried twice to stone him to death, then succeed in getting him crucified for alleged blasphemy - Matthew 26:65-66; Luke 22:70-71. Their investigations into Jesus never got them into the spirit realm of understanding. Those human ways of thinking discover the heavens to be as brass, and such investigators "become as sounding brass" - 1 Corinthians 13:1.

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The Son of God reference was definitely not unique, but can be applied to all children of God, to angels, etc. However, you are looking from the context of Messiah/Christ's title, Son of God. In that sense, the Jews did believe Christ, the son of God was divine, eternal (God). We may not find direct reference to this, since this "son of God" title was not common, though we can demonstrate the title for the Messiah, and that the Messiah was believed to be God, thus: a) Messiah is the unique Son of God, and b) he is God.

Rabbi David Kimhi. One of the oldest Jewish statements illustrating the eternal nature of the Messiah was made by Rabbi David Kimhi: about the Messiah it will be said that he originates from of old, from everlasting. He is El, or God:

"During the time of the Messiah, is said, that his origin is from of old, from everlasting; Bethlehem means, that he is David, for between David and the king Messiah there is a long time and he is El (God), therefore he is from of old, from everlasting."

Targum. The fact that the Messiah is eternal also appears in Targum’s explanation of Isa 9:6. Targum wrote that the Messiah has existed since ancient times:

"His name has existed already since the ancient times..."

Targum also explained the expression, "the Everlasting Father" in this verse: it refers to the eternity of the Messiah:

"The Messiah has existed eternally."

Targum also included another reference to the eternity of the Messiah. In Zec 4:7, referring to the capstone, it is said that the Messiah has existed already from ancient times:

"Like this is exposed the Messiah, because his name has existed from everlasting and he will rule over all kingdoms.”

Psa 2:7 I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you

Michael Brown writes on the key Messianic "Son of God" passage of Psalms 2, in Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Vol 3, Objection 4:22

There is also a Talmudic reference to Psalm 2:7–8 in b. Sukkah 52a, the famous section dealing with Messiah ben Joseph, which is applied to Messiah son of David. It is written there:

Our Rabbis taught: The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, son of David (may he reveal himself speedily in our days!), “Ask of Me anything, and I will give it to you,” as it is said, “I will tell of the decree, etc., this day have I begotten you. Ask of me and I will give the nations for your inheritance” (Ps. 2:7–8). But when he will see that Messiah son of Joseph is slain, he will say to him, “Lord of the universe, I ask of You only the gift of life.” “As to life,” He would answer him, “Your father David has already prophesied this concerning you,” as it is said, “He asked life of You, and You gave it to him [even length of days for ever and ever]” (Ps. 21:4[5]).

This text reminds us that the language of sonship is prominent in this psalm, as proclaimed by the king himself—the Messiah according to the Talmudic passage just cited—in verse 7b: “I am obliged to proclaim that HASHEM said to me, ‘You are my son, I have begotten you this day’” (Stone edition). And throughout the psalm, there are two key subjects: the Lord and his anointed one (Hebrew, mashiach), as stated in the opening verses: “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters’” (Ps. 2:1–3). How preposterous—the nations of the earth want to overthrow the Lord and his anointed king! No chance, says the Lord. “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill” (v. 6a). And this king, as stated in verse 7b, was God’s son.

... There is also an interesting mystical interpretation provided in the Zohar that equates bar with the son of God: “You are the good shepherd; of you it is said, ‘Kiss the son.’ You are great here below, the teacher of Israel, the Lord of the serving angels, the son of the Most High, the son of the Holy One, may His name be praised and His Holy Spirit [Shekhinah].”[220 fn. As cited in Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, 121, from the Amsterdam edition, part 3, 307a]

As to the question of why an Aramaic word would occur in a Hebrew psalm, some scholars have suggested that just as in Jeremiah 10:11, where the foreign nations are addressed in Aramaic (the most widely used Semitic language of the day, similar to Arabic today in the Muslim world) in an otherwise totally Hebrew context, so also the final warning to the foreign kings reminds them in the most common Semitic term (Aramaic bar for “son”) that the king in Jerusalem is God’s son.

We can safely say, then, that there are excellent reasons to accept the translation of “kiss the son” and no compelling reasons to reject it. In context, it reminds us of the central role played by the Messianic King in Jerusalem, the son/Son of God.

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I'm responding from a non-trinitarian perspective. I claim that Jesus calling himself the "Son of God" was not the cause for the Jews to think that Jesus claimed himself to be God, but that it was many other things that Jesus said and did, that made them (wrongly) think this way.

The "Son of" idiom argument is poor.

If Jesus is a son of Adam does that mean he is therefore "Adam" by identity? No, it does not. In the same way, if Jesus is a son of God it does not mean he is the one God by identity.

The term "son of man" means that a person is the son of a man and ultimately a son of the first man Adam. In Hebrew, it is "ben Adam", a son of Adam, the son of an identity. In the same way, the term "son of God" means that one identity is the son of another identity. Jesus is the "son of the Father" (2 John 1:3).

A fallacious premise is used in the "idiom" argument. It is that if you have the divine nature of God then you are God. But it is evident that we have the human nature of Adam and we are not Adam. The most anyone can say is that having the divine nature of God the Father means you are divine just as having the human nature of Adam our Father means we are human. But just as being human does not make anyone the one person Adam by identity, being divine does not make anyone the one Almighty God by identity.

"Son of God" is not limited to the Messiah

The OT applies the attribute of "Son(s) of God" to various persons (both men and angels):

  • The Israelites are Sons of God: You are the sons of the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 14:1; Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 32:6,18-19; Psalm 29:1)
  • The Judges of Israel are Sons of God: I said, "You are gods,and sons of the Most High - all of you. Nevertheless you will die like men and fall like any one of the princes." (Psalm 82:6)
  • Angels are Sons of God: Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?.... When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4,7)
  • Satan is among the sons of God: Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (Job 1:6)

So we can already say that if "Son of God" was understood by the 1st century Jews to mean "equality with God" or "fully sharing God's nature", we'd have to say that they understood Israelites, Judges, Angels and even Satan to share the same nature.

Furthermore, the Pharisees that constantly tried to debate with Jesus, considered themselves to be "Sons of God" for they said: "We have one Father, God" (John 8:41) The Pharisees had judgment authority (many were part of the highest jewish court Sanhedrin) and Jesus called them judges as well (John 11:47; John 8:15). As such, they could apply Psalm 82:6 to themselves where YHWH said: "You are gods,and sons of the Most High - all of you. Nevertheless you will die like men and fall like any one of the princes." (Psalm 82:6)

So here we have it - "son of God" was a title that would say that you have authority granted by God. In the case of judges who were judging according to God’s law, they represented YHWH. Therefore, standing before the judges was considered as standing before YHWH. (Deutoronomy 1:17; 19:17; Joshua 7:19). The judges were to be treated with respect, inasmuch as they stood in a position representing YHWH. (Exodus 22:28; Acts 23:3-5). Their decisions were binding, as if coming by God himself, even if they were wrong! (Deutoronomy 17:8-13)

So claiming to be a "Son of God" meant for the Jews to represent the most High. Jesus said that his judgements as the "Son of God" would always be truthful, as he would not be judging "according to the flesh" as the Pharisees did, but could rely on the Father's help (John 8:15-16).

What about the "Son of man"

It applies to Jesus Christ and shows that by means of his fleshly birth, he became a human and was not simply a spirit creature with a materialized body (such as the materialized angels described in many of the OT passages). He did not just "appear" in a grown up body, but was in Mary's belly of 9 months, grew up as a baby (and most probably pooped his pants), had to learn walking, and grew in size and wisdom (Luke 2:52).

Where did Jesus use the term "Son of man" when describing himself?

Jesus used the term "Son of man" to show that he was the promised Messiah. The term "son of man" was used in the OT in connection with the Messiah in Daniel's prophecy about said Messiah - Daniel 7:13, 14:

"I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man (the Messiah), Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days (GOD), And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed."

Jesus quoted from Daniel in his statements to the Sanhedrin in response to Caiphas' question: "Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, 'Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' Jesus said, 'I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.'" (Mark 14:61-62). The Jews knew what this meant - it meant Jesus claimed to be none other than the Messiah, which the Jews could mark as blasphemy because the "false witnesses" claimed that Jesus would "literally" destroy the temple and build it back up in three days. That was obviously impossible to achieve and was thus considered a lie, which made Jesus a false prophet, and him claiming to be the Messiah made it even worse!

What was needed to be charged for blasphemy?

For the charge of blasphemy, you didn't need to claim to be God. Blasphemy includes the act of claiming the attributes or prerogatives of God, or ascribing these to another person or thing. (Compare Acts 12:21, 22.) The Jewish religious leaders accused Christ Jesus of blasphemy because he said that the sins of certain persons were forgiven (Matthew 9:2, 3; Mark 2:5-7; Luke 5:20, 21), and they tried to stone him as a blasphemer because of his declaring himself to be God’s Son. (Joh 10:33-36). They didn't understand that Jesus as the "Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Matthew 9:6).

When Jesus made a statement to the Sanhedrin concerning God’s purpose toward him and the high position to be granted him, the high priest ripped his garments and accused Jesus of blasphemy, for which Jesus was condemned as worthy of death. (Matthew 26:63-66; Mark 14:61-64)

Having no authority from the Romans to implement the death sentence, the Jewish religious leaders shrewdly changed their accusation of blasphemy to that of sedition when taking Jesus before Pilate. (John 18:29–19:16)

Since Jesus was God’s Son and direct representative, the things spoken against him may also properly be defined as blasphemy. (Lu 22:65)

We cannot know for sure, but by Jesus' time, rabbinic teaching fostered the erroneous view that Leviticus 24:10-23 prohibited as blasphemous the very pronunciation of the name of God (YHWH/Jehovah). Talmudic tradition also prescribed that when the religious judges heard testimony setting forth blasphemous words supposedly used by the accused, they were to rend their garments, following the example at 2 Kings 18:37; 19:1-4.​—The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1976, Vol. III, p. 237;

Jesus spoke to his Father in prayer when he said "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it" (John 17:26). As the Son of God, and living a perfect life, Jesus certainly had no issues pronouncing God's name, and declaring it. He must have used it frequently when speaking about his Father, and when quoting or reading Hebrew scripture. This could have been a reason to charge Jesus with blasphemy as well, as it could be that the Jewish religious leaders saw it as blasphemous to use the name.


All of the above should show that "Son of God" was certainly not understood by Jews to mean "God the Son" or "equality with God" - nor was the fact that Jesus merely called himself "Son of God" or "Son of man" and thus declared himself to be the Messiah, enough to charge Jesus for blasphemy, albeit it didn't help his case. I also showed that the charge of blasphemy had a larger scope of application than "I'm claiming to be God the Father's equal" - something Jesus never did!

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    You said, "If Jesus is the son of Adam." The title "Son of Man" focuses on the humanity of Jesus Christ. John 1:14, Philippians 2: 6-10, 1 John 4:2. The "Son of God" title is limited to Jesus Christ alone according to John 3:16. Jesus did not have a literal human father. His Father was God and it is a universal las that all sons share the same nature as its father. Angels, the Judges, Satan and the Jews are created beings. Jesus was NOT a created being no matter how you attempt to twist scripture or add words to scripture like "a god." or "other things" And yes, the Jews understood Jesus.
    – Mr. Bond
    Apr 12 at 14:43
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    @Mr.Bond - the question was not whether “Son of God” was appropriate for Jesus - I fully agree with you that Jesus was the ultimate Son of God in every sense. The question was whether the Jews understood the term “Son of God” to mean “God the Son” from their understanding of the mosaic law and jewish history at the time, which I clearly demonstrated was not the case. Whether Jesus had a beginning or not (which the Jews didn’t believe anyway, as nothing in the OT said that the Messiah would have no beginning) is irrelevant to the OP.
    – Js Witness
    Apr 12 at 17:12
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    Js. Were at the point of we keep going in circles. Since you believe Jesus is created, everything you say after that would be in error. Also, you thing begotten only means being born yet the Bible teaches begotten can mean having preeminence or the quality of being superior. then there is your claim that the Jews did not understand the claims of Jesus, especially regarding His deity. So, I'm going to ask you a question which is the same question that Jesus ask the Jews. This is very important and you really need to think/read about it. It's taken from Matthew 22. Starting at vs15.
    – Mr. Bond
    Apr 13 at 15:09
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    Cont. The Pharisees got together to trap Jesus in what He said. Jesus answered their questions and then at Matthew 22:41 Jesus ask them a question? Vs42, What do you think about the Christ/Messiah, whose son is He? They said, The son of David. Vs43, Then how does David in the Holy Spirit call Him Lord? Vs44, saying, The Lord said to My Lord sit at My right hand, until I put My enemies beneath Thy feet? Vs45, If David then calls Him Lord how is He his son? Vs46, And no one was able to answer Him A WORD, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. What was Jesus' point Js?
    – Mr. Bond
    Apr 13 at 15:19
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    @Mr.Bond - The Pharisees remain silent, for they are hoping for a human descendant of David who might liberate them from Roman domination. But drawing on David’s words recorded at Psalm 110:1, 2, Jesus establishes that the Messiah is to be more than a human ruler. He is David’s Lord, and after sitting at God’s right hand, he will exercise power. Jesus’ reply silences his opposers. Jesus is still not claiming to be God, but as the Christ, God has established him as King with everything (incl. David) under his feet. A kingdom that Jesus will give back to his Father (1 Corinthians 15:28)
    – Js Witness
    Apr 13 at 21:15

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