Introduction (Written by Jason Petersen)
This is a comprehensive seven-part article on the Deity of Christ that is written by Evan Osborne. Seven arguments can be used to show that Christ was God in the flesh. The seven parts to this series is listed below. The reader can feel free to click on any of the links below so that they may easily access the parts.
Written by Evan Osborne
Continuing on into our assessment of the Biblical arguments for the deity of Christ, we come inevitably to the discussion of the presentation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. For many people, this title of Christ is a problem, and many antitrinitarians make use of this problem. For example, in my many conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses, the primary reason that they deny the deity of Christ, is because they see him, not as God, but as the Son of God (in their understanding, God created Christ, and in that sense he is God’s Son). How does a Christian go about responding to these statements? In my view, the title of Son of God doesn’t refute the deity of Christ, but, as I hope to demonstrate in this article, it provides yet another reason to believe in the deity of our Lord.
To begin, we have to acknowledge that Jesus Christ truly is identified as the Son of God. This is made abundantly clear specifically in the Gospels (Matthew 3:17; 16:16; Luke 1:35; John 3:16; 20:31, to cite just a few well known passages).
Once this is established, we then have to ask, “In what way is Jesus Christ the Son of God?” There are two basic answers to this: he is the literal Son, or he is the one who, as Son, possesses the very nature of God.
ANSWER 1: Literal Son
This is what many think of when they picture Christ as Son of God. Muslims reject the biblical teaching of the Sonship of Christ, because their understanding of sonship refers to a physical conception. This aspect of sonship is rejected by Scripture, since Christ was not physically conceived (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35). A second idea of literal sonship comes from Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, etc. (as explained above, the idea that Christ is the Son because he was created by God). Scripture doesn’t allow this interpretation of sonship because, as I’ll demonstrate more in-depth in later articles, he is 1.) eternal (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1; Revelation 1:8; 22:13, and therefore not created), and 2.) the Creator himself (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16, and therefore can’t himself be created). Therefore, from a consistent look at the Bible, a literal sonship is an untenable view to hold.
ANSWER 2: Possessive Son
This idea of Christ as the Son teaches that he is the Son in the sense that he possesses the nature of God. Since this is something only God can possess, Christ would have to be God. To confirm this interpretation, allow me to back this up.
Throughout the Bible, and especially in the NT, the phrase “son of” simply means “one possessing the nature of something.” We find an example of this in Ephesians 2:3, where those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (v. 1) are called “children of wrath.” That this means that they possess the nature of wrath and sinfulness is quite clear from the text, and it would be ridiculous to assert that these people are the literal offspring of wrath. Could such an interpretation be applied to “Son of God?” There are three primary reasons why I conclude that Christ should be understood as the possessive Son:
1.) The literal sonship (discussed above) is not a biblical interpretation of Christ’s sonship. Since the possessive sonship is the only other interpretation that has been put forward, we have good reason to conclude that.
2.) The possessive sonship fits the best with the vast amount of biblical evidences for the deity of Christ, which a literal sonship would contradict
3.) To give an exegetical reason, when Christ called himself the Son of God, the Jewish leaders, on more than one occasion, took this to mean that he was claiming to be God (Matthew 26:63-65; John 5:17-23; 10:30-39 (I provide an exegesis of John 10 that may be helpful in the first article in this series); 19:7).
These three reasons leave me to conclude that Christ, in being the Son of God, is being identified as none other than God himself.