There are those who claim to believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures while denying the divinity of Jesus. Some deny the deity of Jesus based upon the fact that Jesus is called the Son of God. These individuals reason that the term “son” inherently necessitates the idea of creation or beginning, therefore, a son cannot be eternal. Furthermore, they reason, since Jesus is called the Son of God, He must have been created by God the Father and cannot be both God and the Son of God.
They argue that since Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 1:1; 1Corinthians 1:9), He cannot therefore be God. They conclude that to be the Son of God and God at the same time would be an apparent contradiction. I believe their conclusion is faulty and unwarranted. I believe that Jesus is both divinely God and the Son of God based upon the following biblical evidence.
The term “son” can be a position.
First, the phrase “sonship” is a position that was given to the Son (Jesus) by the Father. Positions do not intrinsically effect the eternality or divinity of a being. Jesus is and always has been God (Jn. 8:54-59; 14:8-9; Col. 1:17; Mt. 1:23; Isa. 9:6; 43: 10, 11; Rev. 1:17-18; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jn. 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:16; Titus 2:13; etc. ), but He was not always the Son of God. Jesus did not assume His position as “the Son of God” until the appointed time (John 1:1-18; Galatians 4:4-6).
This can be seen in other positions Jesus holds as well. For example, when Jesus built His church, He became the head of it (Matthew 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23). This position did not exist until the church was established on the Day of Pentecost in Acts (Acts 2:38-47). However, Jesus still existed before the position of “head of the church” existed. Furthermore, Jesus could not assume the role of “firstborn from the dead” until after He was resurrected from the dead (Colossians 1:18). Also, Jesus could not assume the position of “the author of eternal salvation” until after His suffering and death (Hebrews 5:8-9). In like manner, Jesus’ position as the Son of God does not negate the fact that Jesus is eternal, but instead, indicates that He took on that position at a specific time in accordance with divine will. Jesus has always been divine, but He has not always held the position, “Son of God.”
Jesus has always been God, but He has not always been a “son.”
Second, it is helpful to know when Jesus became the Son of God. As has already been noted, Jesus did not always hold the position and title, “Son of God.” The time at which Jesus would become the Son of God was prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 2:7).
“You are My Son, Today I have begotten You” (Psalm 2:7).
There was a specific time that Jesus was to be begotten and take on the position “Son of God” (Phil. 2:5-11). The writer of Hebrews applies Psalm 2:7 to Jesus’ time on earth (Hebrews 1:5-6; 5:5-7). Paul quotes this same passage and also applies it to Jesus’ time on earth (Acts 13:33).
The writer of Hebrews applies another Old Testament passage to Jesus when he says
“I will be to Him a Father and He shall be to Me a Son” (Hebrews 1:5; 2 Samuel 7:14; 1 Chronicles 17:13; 22:10; 28:6).
This phrase was spoken in the future tense when it was originally written in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. I believe this prophecy revealed that Jesus would become the Son of God, thus indicating that at the time of the prophecy Jesus was not the Son of God, but He was still divinely God (Jn. 1:1-19; Heb. 1:7-9; etc.). The writer of Hebrews and the gospel of Luke inform us that this occurred when Jesus was brought into the world through the miraculous conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit:
“And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’.” (Luke 1:35; Heb. 1:6).
Third, the phrase “only begotten” (Jn. 3:16) carries with it the idea of uniqueness, one of a kind (Jn. 1:14, 18; 3:18; 1 Jn. 4:9; etc.). This can be demonstrated by the example of Abraham and Isaac. Isaac is considered Abraham’s only begotten son (Heb. 11:17), even though Isaac wasn’t Abraham’s only son (Gal. 4:22; Gen. 25:1-2; etc.). Isaac was the only true son of the covenant (Gen. 17:19-21).
Therefore, it is the uniqueness (i.e., one of a kind) of Isaac among the other sons that allows for him to be called “only begotten.” In the same way, Jesus became the son while still sharing the same divine nature as the Father, as opposed to Christians who are God’s children only by adoption (Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:6-7). Jesus became the “one and only” unique son of God.
In conclusion, Jesus was called the only begotten Son of God because His conception was a miraculous, unique, one of a kind conception by the Holy Spirit. No man brought Jesus into the world. God the Father brought Jesus into the world and at that point in time, the eternal Jesus became the “Son of God.”
– Brandon Johnson
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