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The Son

The Son is the image and fullness of the Father, who originates from the Father outside of time. He is revealed to us in Jesus the Christ.

Recognized by spiritual beings

Jesus is recognized as the Son of God by spiritual beings:

  • Angels

The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God."

Luke 1:35

  • Evil spirits

And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, "You are the Son of God!"

Mark 3:11 (also Matthew 8:29, Mark 5:7)

  • The devil

During that time the devil came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread."

Matthew 4:3 (also 4:6)

Recognized by people

People also recognized Jesus as the Son of God, usually at some significant event:

Then the disciples worshiped him. "You really are the Son of God!" they exclaimed.

Matthew 14:33 (Jesus walks on water)

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Matthew 16:15 (Peter's confession)

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him."

Matthew 17:5 (the transfiguration)

When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, "This man truly was the Son of God!"

Matthew 15:39 (the crucifixion)

"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

John 11:27 (the raising of Lazarus)

And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is indeed the Son of God!"

Acts 9:20 (Saul's conversion)

John the Baptist also recognized Jesus as the Son of God:

"I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."

John 1:34

and it is the whole point of John's gospel:

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.

John 20:31

Stated by Jesus

Jesus himself explicitly stated that he was the Son of God (although he generally used the title Son of Man), primarily before the Sanhedrin:

They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am." Then they said, "Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips."

Luke 22:70-71 (also Matthew 26:63-64, Mark 14:61-62, John 19:7)

The Nature of the Son's Relationship to the Father

From the verses so far, you could make a case that 'Son of God' was just a title for the Christ, who was the prophesied highly empowered king. Hence Jesus would have had a very intimate relationship with God, but he would still be ultimately human.

However, Jesus himself speaks of the nature of his relationship to God the Father.

Jesus reveals his eternal nature with the words "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58). The attempt to immediately stone him shows that the Jews understood the divine implications of such a statement.

However, that eternal nature is still dependent upon God the Father:

"Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me."

John 6:57, see also John 5:26

The Father is the ultimate source of existence, and authority:

"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I".

John 14:28

- hence authority is given to Jesus (e.g. Matthew 28:18, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me").

Hence the Son originates in the Father. However, this is an eternal relationship, outside of time; it is therefore not a causal or creative relationship. The Father did not create the Son. The Son is part of the eternal Trinity, but takes as his origin for all things the Father.

Another key passage in exploring the nature of the Son's relationship with the Father is in John 10:22-38:

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered round him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? If he called them 'gods', to whom the word of God came - and the Scripture cannot be broken - 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'? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

John 10:22-38

Being God's Son, i.e. of the same essence as the Father, is valid because he is the one "whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world". Again, these imply his eternal nature and his dependency on the Father, while maintaining his equality of nature with the Father.

Hence, in Jesus' own words, we see that:

  • He is of the same essence as God the Father (see also Philippians 2:6, Colossians 1:15,19, Hebrews 1:3)
  • He has an eternal nature
  • That eternal nature still has the Father as its source
  • He has authority given to him by the Father (see also Hebrews 1:2)

These make the opening of John's gospel a little more understandable:

In the beginning was the Word, (the Son existed before time and creation, i.e. has an eternal existence) and the Word was with God, (the Son does not precede the Father, nor is he identical to the Father) and the Word was God. (the Son and the Father have the same essence)

John 1:1

This is represented in the Nicene creed by saying that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father .

The truth of the incarnation - that the Son, as Jesus, was also fully man - can be seen in:

So the Word became human and made his home among us.

John 1:14

Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:17

An understanding of the incarnation is helped by realising that our own souls also originate with God:

Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Genesis 2:7

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

Psalm 139:13

For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son - both alike belong to me.

Ezekiel 18:3

Activity

The overall activity of the Son (at least as far as humanity is concerned) is that he was set apart to be sent into the world (John 10:36). Involved in this purpose are the seven "I am" statements of John's gospel: Jesus is the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12), the gate for the sheep (10:9), the good shepherd (10:11), the resurrection and the life (11:25), the way and the truth and the life (14:6), and the true vine (15:1).

The Son:

  • reveals the Father (being of the same essence as him) -

Jesus replied, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!"

John 14:9

  • provides access to the Father -

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

Ephesians 2:18

  • and brings reconciliation with the Father -

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:5

Additionally, all things were created by the Father through and for the Son:

God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.

John 1:3

for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth... Everything was created through him and for him.

Colossians 1:16

God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.

Hebrews 1:2

while the Son sustains all things:

He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

Colossians 1:17

The Son radiates God's own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.

Hebrews 1:3

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