Jesus the Special Son of God



Jesus claims to be the Son of God
Jesus admits to Pilate that he is the Son of God

(Luke 22:70 NIV)  They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

(Mat 26:63-64 NIV)  But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” {64} “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Muslim response

Jesus did not admit to be the Son of God. He calls himself the Son of Man.

Christian response

Jesus uses the term Son of Man and Son of God interchangeable to refer to himself.

Muslim say Jesus did not admit to Pilate that he is the Son of God

(Luke 22:70 KJV)  Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.

(Mat 26:63-64 KJV)  But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. {64} Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

In other words, Jesus did not say that he is the Son of God. Jesus only says that they say he is the Son of God.

Christian response

Jesus could not be saying, “Pilate, you are the one who says I am the Son of God. I did not actually say that.” This is because Jesus had on other occasions admitted that he is the Son of God.

Muslims say Jesus could also be saying that he is the Son of God in the sense that all those who believes in God are called sons of God.

Christian reply

On examination of the Greek text, the KJV seems to be more accurate in translating the words of Jesus. Taken by itself the reply of Jesus is quite neutral. Jesus is not saying emphatically in those two verses that he is the Son of God.

Since it is a neutral statement by itself, Jesus is also not denying that he is the Son of God. In other words, Jesus is not saying, “You are the one that said I am the Son of God. I did not say that.”

Since the statement is neutral, we need to examine the context to see whether Jesus is agreeing with the questioner’s claim that he is the Son of God. We also need to examine what Jesus meant when he referred to himself as the Son of God in that instance.

(Mat 26:62-64 KJV)  And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? {63} But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. {64} Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Could Jesus be saying, “I am not the Son of God but you shall me sitting at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Or could he be saying that he is only a follower of God but the people will nonetheless see him at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds?

Surely this is an inconsistent interpretation. It is not logical to come to this conclusion and even the hearer of these words did not come to that conclusion for we are told:

(Mat 26:65-66 KJV)  Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. {66} What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

Let’s look at the account of Luke.

(Luke 22:67-70 KJV)  Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: {68} And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. {69} Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. {70} Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.

Again, based on the context, Jesus could not be denying the Sonship of God and still talk about the splendor he is entitled to.

And logically, the hearers of Jesus’ reply came to the expected conclusion that he is proclaiming blasphemy.

71 And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. 23:1 And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.

 Jesus accepts the term “Son of God”

(Mat 4:3-7 NIV)  The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” {4} Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” {5} Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. {6} “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” {7} Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

(Mat 14:30-33 NIV)  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” {31} Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” {32} And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. {33} Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

(Mat 16:16-17 NIV)  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” {17} Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

(Mark 3:11-12 NIV)  Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” {12} But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

(John 1:49-50 NIV)  Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” {50} Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.”

(John 11:25-27 NIV)  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; {26} and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” {27} “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

(Rom 1:1-4 NIV)  Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God– {2} the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures {3} regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, {4} and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 Other references

(John 5:21-26 NIV)  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it….{24} “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. {25} I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come 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 to have life in himself.

Jesus claims to be the only Son of God

(John 3:16-18 NIV)  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. {17} For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. {18} Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Biblical writers also believe that Jesus is the Son of God

(Luke 1:35) The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

(Mark 1:1 NIV)  The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

(John 1:33-34 NIV)  I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ {34} I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

What does Jesus mean when he refers to himself as the Son of God?
Many meanings of “son of God”

Muslims do not usually object to Christians calling Jesus “Son of God” as long as it is used in the figurative sense and not to imply deity. According to Muslims, the term “Son of God” does not have to connate deity. For example, the word “son” can refer to such things as “believers”, “angels”, etc.

(John 1:12)  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–

(Job 1:6)  Now there was a day when the *sons of God* (ie angels) came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Here “sons of God” refer to angels and is so translated in the New International version.

(Job 1:6 NIV)  One day the *angels* came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.

Besides referring to angels, it is also used to refer to messengers of God.

(John 10:33-36 NIV)  “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” {34} Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? {35} If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and the Scripture cannot be broken– {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’?

Muslims say that the term “son of God” refers to nothing more than those who are followers of God be they angels, men, etc.

Meaning of the word “monogenes”

When Jesus describes his sonship, he uses the word “begotten”. The word “begotten” came from the Greek word “monogenes” which carries two related meanings. One is that of “one and only one”. We see several instances when the Bible described how Jesus healed somebody’s only child, and how important that child was to that person because he/she is the only one.

(Luke 9:38)  And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. (see also Luke 7:12, 8:42)

The word “monogenes” also carries the meaning of “unique, special, one of a kind”.

(Heb 11:17)  By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.

We all know that Isaac was not Abraham’s only son as he had another son called Ishmael. Yet the Bible uses “monogenes” to refer to Isaac because of Isaac’s special position. He was born of Abraham’s wife while Ishmael was born of Abraham’s maid. Another reason why Isaac is unique as compared to Ishmael is because Isaac was promised the covenant of God.

(Gen 17:19)  Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

Implications of being only son of God
Cannot apply generalized meanings

Keeping these two meanings of the word “monogenes” in mind, we know that Jesus cannot be referring to himself as a mere believer of God or even a prophet or angel when he uses the term “only begotten” to describe his sonship. There is nothing unique about being a believer of God or an angel nor is there one and only one believer or angel in this world.

I am my father’s son. (Nothing special about that.)

I am my father’s only son because I don’t have any brothers. (Nothing special about that.)

I am God’s son. (Nothing special about that.)

BUT I cannot say that I am God’s only son.

If a Muslim leader says that he is God’s only son, he will probably be executed for blasphemy. In his defense, can he say, “But isn’t a believer in Allah considered as God’s son?” If he said that, wouldn’t the Muslims say, “If that is true, aren’t we all God’s sons? What gives you the right to call yourself God’s only Son?”

Therefore we cannot dismiss the impact of Jesus’ claim that he is God’s only son by breaking up all the words separately. No God fearing man makes that claim. Not even Muhammad.

“son of God” in Jesus’ case cannot be referring to “messenger of God”

In John 10:35, we know that the Jews used the term “gods” to refer to those who brought the word of God. Since there are many people in history who have brought the word of God, Jesus could not be referring to himself as merely a messenger of God when he refers to himself as the only son. He must be referring to himself in a special way.

Only the Son knows the Father in a special way

Jesus says that the son is the only one who has first-hand knowledge of God the father.

(Mat 11:27)  “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Muslim reply

We understand the “son of God” to mean those who are led by God”.

Christian reply

Jesus was only referring to himself in Matt 11:27. He was not referring to all believers in God.

“All things have been committed to *me*. The revelation and knowledge of the Father has been committed to him because no one knows the Father except the *Son* and those to whom the *Son* chooses to reveal.

The use of “son” here is also singular. Therefore it is not saying only the “sons of God” or believers of God will know Him.

The Son’s name is as important as the Father’s, to be invoked upon during baptism

(Mat 28:19)  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

If he is one of the many sons – meaning angels, believers – why only his name is to be invoked, and why alongside the name of God?

Some Muslims point out that this verse may not be authentic, ie a later insertion into the Bible.

Christian reply

But one knows that a verse is a later insertion when one finds the same passage in an older manuscript which does not contain the verse. So far that has not happened to prove that the verse is not authentic.

Another argument is that the book of Acts describe the early Christians as baptizing in the name of Jesus only (implying Luke did not know of the baptismal formula containing the three names?).

Christian reply

I believe that the leaving out of the long baptismal formula was simply for brevity reasons. We see Peter doing exactly this when he lumped them all together and said “in the name of the Lord”. The word “Lord” here is “kurios”, the Greek translation of Jehovah, the name of God.

(Acts 10:48)  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.

Just because Luke did not spell out the whole baptismal formula when he wrote about the incidents does not prove that when the baptism was carried out, the full declaration of all three names was not done. Shortening the expression by Luke is likely if the baptismal formula was already well known.

Likewise it is wrong to think that because Mark’s gospel (which may be the first one written) did not describe the declaration of the three names, Matthew must have invented it himself. The gospel of Mark and Matthew are not identical. It is simplistic to conclude that everything found in Matthew, and not found in Mark, is an interpolation. When one reads Mark’s reiteration of Jesus’ command, we could see that he could have left out the full declaration for brevity reasons.

(Mark 16:15-16)  He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. {16} Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

The word “baptized” (in its various word forms) is found 34 times in the New Testament (excluding the gospels) but only on 6 occasions do we even have the mention of Jesus’ name during the baptism. It is common to just speak about baptism without having to come out with a lengthy phrase each time.

 
Only the Son can give life like the Father

Jesus also claims that his sonship qualifies him to be the giver of life.

(John 5:21-26 NIV)  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it….{24} “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. {25} I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come 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 to have life in himself.

No one can raise himself from the dead because he does not have life in himself. Jesus said that he could raise himself up from the dead.

(John 10:17-18)  The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. {18} No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

(John 10:27-28)  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. {28} I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

Muslim reply

“O ye who believe! Respond unto Allah and His Messenger when He calls you to that which quickens you; and know that Allah comes in between a man and his own heart; and that He it is unto Whom  ye shall be gathered.” Quran 8:24.

We believe that it is God who gives life and “quickens” the spiritually dead. But He might do so through the Messengers.

Christian reply

Jesus was not referring to proclaiming the message of life through God. He is talking about possessing the power of life *in himself* (v 26) and being able to give that life (not just preached the method to obtain that life).

(John 10:28 NIV)  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

Muslim reply

It is God who gives life and He may give His power to whomsoever he
chooses. But it is still His power and can be withdrawn.

{26} For as the Father has life in himself, so he has *granted* the Son to have life in himself.

How did Jesus’ audience interpret his claim to Sonship?

We see that Jesus, when speaking of his sonship, is doing so in no ordinary terms. Even the Jews understood his claim to be “Son of God” to be one claiming equality with God.

(John 5:18)  For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

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