Son of God
- For the 2014 film, please see Son of God (film).
Historically, many rulers have assumed titles such as son of god, son of a god or son of Heaven. Roman Emperor Augustus referred to his relation to his deified adoptive father, Julius Caesar, as "son of a god" via the term divi filius which was later also used by Domitian.
"Son of God" is a title of Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible. In the New Testament, "Son of God" is applied to Jesus on many occasions. It is often seen as referring to his divinity, from the Annunciation through his birth, crucifixion, resurrection and beyond. In the New Testament, Jesus is declared to be the Son of God on two separate occasions by a voice speaking from Heaven. Jesus is also explicitly and implicitly described as the Son of God by himself and by various individuals who appear in the New Testament.
God the Son (Greek: Θεός ὁ υἱός) is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (the first and third Persons of the Trinity). In Trinitarian Christian denominations "Son of God" refers not only to the personhood of Jesus within the Trinity, but also to the identical divine nature by which he is seen as God and spoken of as God the Son. Nontrinitarian Christians accept the application to Jesus of the term "Son of God", which is found in the New Testament, but not the term "God the Son", which is not found there.
- 1 Rulers and Imperial titles
- 2 Jewish literature
- 3 Christianity
- 4 Other religions and belief systems
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
Rulers and Imperial titles
Throughout history, emperors and rulers ranging from the Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1000 BC) in China to Alexander the Great (c. 360 BC) to the Emperor of Japan (c. 600 AD) have assumed titles that reflect a filial relationship with deities.
The title "Son of Heaven" i.e. 天子 (from 天 meaning sky/heaven/god and 子 meaning child) was first used in the Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1000 B.C.). It is mentioned in the Shijing book of songs, and reflected the Zhou belief that as Son of Heaven (and as its delegate) the Emperor of China was responsible for the well being of the whole world by the Mandate of Heaven. This title may also be translated as "son of God" given that the word Ten or Tien in Chinese may either mean sky or god. The Emperor of Japan was also called the Son of Heaven (天子 tenshi) starting in the early 7th century.
Examples of kings being considered the son of god are found throughout the Ancient Near East. Egypt in particular developed a long lasting tradition. Egyptian pharaohs are known to have been referred to as the son of a particular god and their begetting in some cases is even given in sexually explicit detail. Egyptian pharaohs did not have full parity with their divine fathers but rather were subordinate.:36 Nevertheless, in the first four dynasties, the pharaoh was considered to be the embodiment of a god. Thus, Egypt was ruled by direct theocracy, wherein "God himself is recognized as the head" of the state. During the later Amarna Period, Akhenaten reduced the Pharaoh's role to one of coregent, where the Pharaoh and God ruled as father and son. Akhenaten also took on the role of the priest of god, eliminating representation on his behalf by others. Later still, the closest Egypt came to the Jewish variant of theocracy was during the reign of Herihor. He took on the role of ruler not as a god but rather as a high-priest and king.
Jewish kings are also known to have been referred to as "son of the LORD".:150 The Jewish variant of theocracy can be thought of as a representative theocracy where the king is viewed as God’s surrogate on earth. Jewish kings thus, had less of a direct connection to god than pharaohs. Unlike pharaohs, Jewish kings rarely acted as priests, nor were prayers addressed directly to them. Rather, prayers concerning the king are addressed directly to god.:36–38 The Jewish philosopher Philo is known to have likened God to a supreme king, rather than likening Jewish kings to gods.
Based on the bible, several kings of Damascus took the title son of Hadad. The son of Panammuwa II a king of Sam'al referred to himself as a son of Rakib.:26-27 The king Bar-Rakib is known from a stela bearing his inscription. Rakib-El is a god who appears in Phoenician and Aramaic inscriptions.
In Greek mythology, Heracles (son of Zeus) and many other figures were considered to be sons of gods through union with mortal women. From around 360 BC onwards Alexander the Great may have implied he was a demigod by using the title "Son of Ammon–Zeus".
In 42 BC, Julius Caesar was formally deified as "the divine Julius" (divus Iulius) after his assassination. His adopted son, Octavian (better known as Augustus, a title given to him 15 years later, in 27 BC) thus became known as divi Iuli filius (son of the divine Julius) or simply divi filius (son of the god). As a daring and unprecedented move, Augustus used this title to advance his political position in the Second Triumvirate, finally overcoming all rivals for power within the Roman state.
The word applied to Julius Caesar as deified was divus, not the distinct word deus. Thus Augustus called himself Divi filius, and not Dei filius. The line between been god and god-like was at times less than clear to the population at large, and Augustus seems to have been aware of the necessity of keeping the ambiguity. As a purely semantic mechanism, and to maintain ambiguity, the court of Augustus sustained the concept that any worship given to an emperor was paid to the "position of emperor" rather than the person of the emperor. However, the subtle semantic distinction was lost outside Rome, where Augustus began to be worshiped as a deity. The inscription DF thus came to be used for Augustus, at times unclear which meaning was intended. The assumption of the title Divi filius by Augustus meshed with a larger campaign by him to exercise the power of his image. Official portraits of Augustus made even towards the end of his life continued to portray him as a handsome youth, implying that miraculously, he never aged. Given that few people had ever seen the emperor, these images sent a distinct message.
Later, Tiberius (emperor from 14–37 AD) came to be accepted as the son of divus Augustus and Hadrian as the son of divus Trajan. By the end of the 1st century, the emperor Domitian was being called dominus et deus (i.e. master and god).
Although references to "sons of God", "son of God" and "son of the LORD" are occasionally found in Jewish literature, they never refer to physical descent from God. The phrases "son of God" or "son of the LORD" are never used in the Tanakh rather the LORD speaks to the king, telling the king that he is his son. The more correct usage in all of these passages is "son of the LORD". In addition there are two instances where Jewish kings are figuratively referred to as a god.:150 The king is likened to the supreme king God. These terms are often used in the general sense in which the Jewish people were referred to as "children of the LORD your God". When used by the rabbis, the term referred to Israel or to human beings in general, and not as a reference to the Jewish mashiach. In Judaism the term mashiach has a broader meaning and usage and can refer to a wide range of people and objects, not necessarily related to the Jewish eschaton.
Psalm 2 is thought to be an enthronement text. The rebel nations and the uses of an iron rod are Assyrian motifs. The begetting of the king is an Egyptian one.: 26 Israel’s kings are referred to as the son of the LORD. They are reborn or adopted on the day of their enthroning as the "son of the LORD".:150
Some scholars think that Psalm 110 is an alternative enthronement text. Psalm 110:1 distinguishes the king from the LORD although in later centuries this would become a source of confusion. Psalm 110:3 may or may not have a reference to the begetting of kings. The exact translation of 110:3 is uncertain. In the traditional Hebrew translations his youth is renewed like the morning dew. In some alternative translations the king is begotten by God like the morning dew or by the morning dew. One possible translation of 110:4 is that the king is told that he is a priest like Melchizedek. Another possibility is to translate Melchizedek not as a name but rather as a title “Righteous King”. If a reference is made to Melchizedek this could be linked to pre-Israelite Canaanite belief. The invitation to sit at the right hand of the deity and the king’s enemy’s being used as footstools are both classic Egyptian motifs, as is the association of the king with the rising sun. Many scholars now think that that Israelite beliefs evolved from Canaanite beliefs.: 29–33:150 Jews have traditionally believed that Psalm 110 applied only to King David. Being the first Davidic king, he had certain priest-like responsibilities.
Some believe that these psalms where not meant to apply to a single king, but rather where used during the enthronement ceremony. The fact that the Royal Psalms were preserved suggests that the influence of Egyptian and other near eastern cultures on pre-exile religion needs to be taken seriously. Ancient Egyptians used similar language to describe pharaohs. Assyrian and Canaanite influences among others are also noted.: 24–38
In Isaiah 9:6 the next king is greeted, similarly to the passages in Psalms. Like Psalm 45:7-8 he is figuratively likened to the supreme king God.:150 Isaiah could also be interpreted as the birth of a royal child, Psalm 2 never the less leaves the accession scenario as an attractive possibility.:28 The king in 9:6 is thought to have been Hezekiah by Jews and various academic scholars.:28
Book of Wisdom
Dead Sea Scrolls
In another Dead Sea fragment (which is only partially complete) a son of God is mentioned. The exact meaning is unclear.: 158
In 11Q13 Melchizedek is referred to as god the divine judge. Melchizedek in the bible was the king of Salem. At least some in the Qumran community seemed to think that at the end of days Melchizedek would reign as their king.
The text seems to talk about a messianic figure from Ephraim who will break evil before righteousness by three days.: 43-44 later the text talks about a “prince of princes” a leader of Israel who is killed by the evil king and not properly buried.: 44 the evil king is then miraculously defeated.: 45 the text seems to refer to Jeremiah Chapter 31.: 43 The choice of Ephraim as the linage of the messianic figure described in the text seems to draw on passages in Jeremiah, Zechariah and Hosea. This leader is referred to as a son of God.:43-44, 48-49
The text seems to be based on a Jewish revolt recorded by Josephus dating from 4 BCE.: 45-46 Based on its dating the text seems to refer to Simon of Peraea one of the three leaders of this revolt.: 47
In both Joseph and Aseneth and the related text The Story of Asenath, Joseph is referred to as the son of God.: 158–159 In the Prayer of Joseph both Jacob and the angel are referred to as angels and the sons of God.: 157
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The terms "sons of God" and "son of God" appear frequently in Jewish literature, and leaders of the people, kings and princes were called "sons of God".
Psalm 2:7 reads
I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, "You are my son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel."
In the New Testament, the title "Son of God" is applied to Jesus on many occasions. It is often used to refer to his divinity, from the beginning of the New Testament narrative when in Luke 1:32-35 the angel Gabriel announces: "the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God."
The declaration that Jesus is the Son of God is echoed by many sources in the New Testament. On two separate occasions the declarations are by God the Father, when during the Baptism of Jesus and then during the Transfiguration as a voice from Heaven. On several occasions the disciples call Jesus the Son of God and even the Jews scornfully remind Jesus during his crucifixion of his claim to be the Son of God."
Of all the Christological titles used in the New Testament, Son of God has had one of the most lasting impacts in Christian history and has become part of the profession of faith by many Christians. In the mainstream Trinitarian context the title implies the full divinity of Jesus as part of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Spirit.
However, the concept of God as the father of Jesus, and Jesus as the exclusive divine Son of God is distinct from the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle's Creed. The profession begins with expressing belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" and then immediately, but separately, in "Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood within the Creed.
In the Old Testament no individual ever addressed God as "my Father". What Jesus did with the language of divine sonship was first of all to apply it individually (to himself) and to fill it with a meaning that lifted "Son of God" beyond the level of his being merely a human being made like Adam in the image of God, his being perfectly sensitive to the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14, 18), his bringing God's peace (Luke 2:14; Luke 10:5–6) albeit in his own way (Matt 10:34, Luke 12:51), or even his being God's designated Messiah.
According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus referred to himself obliquely as "the Son" and even more significantly spoke of God as "my Father" (Matt. 11:27 par.; 16:17; Luke 22:29). He not only spoke like "the Son" but also acted like "the Son" in knowing and revealing the truth about God, in changing the divine law, in forgiving sins, in being the one through whom others could become children of God, and in acting with total obedience as the agent for God's final kingdom. This clarifies the charge of blasphemy brought against him at the end (Mark 14:64 par.); he had given the impression of claiming to stand on a par with God. Jesus came across as expressing a unique filial consciousness and as laying claim to a unique filial relationship with the God whom he addressed as "Abba".
Even if historically he never called himself "the only" Son of God (cf. John 1:14, 18; John 3:16, 18), Jesus presented himself as Son and not just as one who was the divinely appointed Messiah (and therefore "son" of God). He made himself out to be more than only someone chosen and anointed as divine representative to fulfil an eschatological role in and for the kingdom. Implicitly, Jesus claimed an essential, "ontological" relationship of sonship towards God which provided the grounds for his functions as revealer, lawgiver, forgiver of sins, and agent of the final kingdom. Those functions (his "doing") depended on his ontological relationship as Son of God (his "being"). Jesus invited his hearers to accept God as a loving, merciful Father. He worked towards mediating to them a new relationship with God, even to the point that they too could use "Abba" when addressing God in prayer. Yet, Jesus' consistent distinction between "my" Father and "your" Father showed that he was not inviting the disciples to share with him an identical relationship of sonship. He was apparently conscious of a qualitative distinction between his sonship and their sonship which was derived from and depended on his. His way of being son was different from theirs.
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In their own way, John and Paul maintained this distinction. Paul expressed their new relationship with God as taking place through an "adoption" (Gal. 4:5; Rom. 8:15), which makes them "children of God" (Rom. 8:16–17) or, alternatively, "sons of God" (Rom. 8:14; (Rom. 4:6–7). John distinguished between the only Son of God (John 1:14, 18; John 3:16, 18) and all those who through faith can become "children of God" (John 1:12; 11:52; and 1 John 3:1–2,10 1 John 5:2). Paul and John likewise maintained and developed the correlative of all this, Jesus' stress on the fatherhood of God. Over 100 times John's Gospel names God as "Father". Paul's typical greeting to his correspondents runs as follows: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the/our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Phil 1:2; 2 Thess 1:2; Philem 3). The greeting names Jesus as "Lord", but the context of "God our Father" implies his sonship.
Paul therefore distinguished between their graced situation as God's adopted children and that of Jesus as Son of God. In understanding the latter's "natural" divine sonship, Paul firstly spoke of God "sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful nature and to deal with sin" (Rom. 8:3). In a similar passage, Paul says that "when the fullness of time had come God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law" (Gal. 4:4). If one examines these three passages in some detail, it raises the question whether Paul thinks of an eternally pre-existent Son coming into the world from his Father in heaven to set humanity free from sin and death (Rom. 8:3, 32) and make it God's adopted children (Gal. 4:4–7). The answer will partly depend, first, on the way one interprets other Pauline passages which do not use the title "Son of God" (2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6–11). These latter passages present a pre-existent Christ taking the initiative, through his "generosity" in "becoming poor" for us and "assuming the form of a slave". The answer will, second, depend on whether one judges 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Colossians 1:16 to imply that as a pre-existent being the Son was active at creation. 1 Corinthians 8:6 without explicitly naming "the Son" as such, runs:
There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Calling God "the Father" clearly moves one toward talk of "the Son". In the case of Colossians 1:16, the whole hymn (Col. 1:15–20) does not give Jesus any title. However, he has just been referred to (Col. 1:13) as God's "beloved Son". Third, it should be observed that the language of "sending" (or, for that matter, "coming" with its stress on personal purpose (Mark 10:45 par.; Luke 12:49, 51 par.) by itself does not necessarily imply pre-existence. Otherwise one would have to ascribe pre-existence to John the Baptist, "a man sent from God", who "came to bear witness to the light" (John 1:6–8; cf. Matt. 11:10, 18 par.). In the Old Testament, angelic and human messengers, especially prophets, were "sent" by God, but one should add at once that the prophets sent by God were never called God's sons. It makes a difference that in the cited Pauline passages it was God's Son who was sent. Here being "sent" by God means more than merely receiving a divine commission and includes coming from a heavenly pre-existence and enjoying a divine origin. Fourth, in their context, the three Son of God passages here examined (Rom. 8:3, 32; Gal. 4:4) certainly do not focus on the Son's pre-existence, but on his being sent or given up to free human beings from sin and death, to make them God's adopted children, and to let them live (and pray) with the power of the indwelling Spirit. Nevertheless, the Apostle's soteriology presupposes here a Christology that includes divine pre-existence. It is precisely because Christ is the pre-existent Son who comes from the Father that he can turn human beings into God's adopted sons and daughters.
Gospel of John
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the eternally pre-existent Son who was sent from heaven into the world by the Father (e.g., John 3:17; John 4:34; John 5:24–37) . He remains conscious of the divine pre-existence he enjoyed with the Father (John 8:23, John 8:38–42). He is one with the father (John 10:30; John 14:7) and loved by the Father (John 3:35; John 5:20; John 10:17; John 17:23–26). The Son has the divine power to give life and to judge (John 5:21–26; John 6:40; John 8:16; John 17:2). Through his death, resurrection, and ascension the Son is glorified by the Father (John 17:1–24), but it is not a glory that is thereby essentially enhanced. His glory not only existed from the time of the incarnation to reveal the Father (John 1:14), but also pre-existed the creation of the world (John 17:5-7-24). Where paul and the author of Hebrews picture Jesus almost as the elder brother or the first-born of God's new eschatological family (Rom 8:14–29; Heb 2:10–12), John insists even more on the clear qualitative difference between Jesus' sonship and that of others. Being God's "only Son" (John 1:14–1:18; John 3:16–3:18), he enjoys a truly unique and exclusive relationship with the Father.
At least four of these themes go back to the earthly Jesus himself. First, although one has no real evidence for holding that he was humanly aware of his eternal pre-existence as Son, his "Abba-consciousness" revealed an intimate loving relationship with the Father. The full Johannine development of the Father-Son relationship rests on an authentic basis in the Jesus-tradition (Mark 14:36; Matt. 11:25–26; 16:17; Luke 11:2). Second, Jesus not only thought of himself as God's Son, but also spoke of himself as sent by God. Once again, John develops the theme of the Son's mission, which is already present in sayings that at least partly go back to Jesus (Mark 9:37; Matt 15:24; Luke 10:16), especially in 12:6, where it is a question of the sending of a "beloved Son". Third, the Johannine theme of the Son with power to judge in the context of eternal life finds its original historical source in the sayings of Jesus about his power to dispose of things in the kingdom assigned to him by "my Father" (Luke 22:29–30) and about one's relationship to him deciding one's final destiny before God (Luke 12:8–9). Fourth, albeit less insistently, when inviting his audience to accept a new filial relationship with God, Jesus — as previously seen — distinguished his own relationship to God from theirs. The exclusive Johannine language of God's "only Son" has its real source in Jesus' preaching. All in all, Johannine theology fully deploys Jesus' divine sonship, but does so by building up what one already finds in the Synoptic Gospels and what, at least in part, derives from the earthly Jesus himself.
New Testament narrative
In Matthew 14:33 after Jesus walks on water, the disciples tell Jesus: "You really are the Son of God!" In response to the question by Jesus, "But who do you say that I am?", Peter replied: "You are Christ, the Son of the living God". And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:15–17). In Matthew 27:43, while Jesus hangs on the cross, the Jewish leaders mock him to ask God help, "for he said, I am the Son of God", referring to the claim of Jesus to be the Son of God. Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:39 include the exclamation by the Roman commander: "He was surely the Son of God!" after the earthquake following the Crucifixion of Jesus.
In Luke 1:35, in the Annunciation, before the birth of Jesus, the angel tells Mary that her child "shall be called the Son of God". In Luke 4:41 (and Mark 3:11), when Jesus casts out demons, they fall down before him, and declare: "You are the Son of God."
In John 1:34 John the Baptist bears witness that Jesus is the Son of God and in John 11:27 Martha calls him the Messiah and the Son of God. In several passages in the Gospel of John assertions of Jesus being the Son of God are usually also assertions of his unity with the Father, as in John 14:7–9: "If you know me, then you will also know my Father" and "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father".
In John 19:7 the Jews cry out to Pontius Pilate "Crucify him" based on the charge that Jesus "made himself the Son of God." The charge that Jesus had declared himself "Son of God" was essential to the argument of the Jews from a religious perspective, as the charge that he had called himself King of the Jews was important to Pilate from a political perspective, for it meant possible rebellion against Rome.
Towards the end of his Gospel (in ) John declares that the purpose for writing it was "that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God".
Jesus' own assertions
When in Matthew 16:15–16 Apostle Peter states: "You are Christ, the Son of the living God" Jesus not only accepts the titles, but calls Peter "blessed" and declares the profession a divine revelation by stating: "flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in Heaven." By emphatically endorsing both titles as divine revelation, Jesus unequivocally declares himself to be both Christ and the Son of God in Matthew 16:15–16. The reference to his Father in Heaven is itself a separate assertion of sonship within the same statement.
In the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus in Mark 14:61 when the high priest asked Jesus: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus responded "I am". Jesus' claim here was emphatic enough to make the high priest tear his robe.
In the new Testament Jesus uses the term "my Father" as a direct and unequivocal assertion of his sonship, and a unique relationship with the Father beyond any attribution of titles by others:
In a number of other episodes Jesus claims sonship by referring to the Father, e.g. in Luke 2:49 when he is found in the temple a young Jesus calls the temple "my Father's house", just as he does later in John 2:16 in the Cleansing of the Temple episode. In Matthew 1:11 and Luke 3:22 Jesus allows himself to be called the Son of God by the voice from above, not objecting to the title.
References to "my Father" by Jesus in the New Testament are distinguished in that he never includes other individuals in them and only refers to his Father, however when addressing the disciples he uses your Father, excluding himself from the reference.
New Testament references
Humans, including the New Testament writers, calling Jesus Son of God
- Matthew 14:33, Matthew 27:54 Mark 1:1 , Mark 15:39 , Romans 1:4, John 1:34 , John 1:49 , John 11:27, John 20:31 , Acts 9:20 , Galatians 2:20, Hebrews 4:14 , Hebrews 6:6 , Hebrews 7:3, Hebrews 10:29 , 1 John 3:8 , 1 John 4:15, 1 John 5:1 , 1 John 5:5, 1 John 5:10 , 1 John 5:13, 1 John 5:20 , Revelation 2:18, 2 Corinthians 1:19
Attributed to Jesus himself
Unclear whether attributed to Jesus himself or only a comment of the evangelist
Jesus referred to as the Son:
The God and Father of Jesus
- The New Testament also contains six references to God as "the God and Father" of Jesus.
Naming the Son of God
First, the memory of that personal sense of filiation, which came through Jesus' prayer, teaching, and other activity, played its part. The Synoptic Gospels witness to the way in which Christians kept alive the memory of Jesus' filial consciousness: his conviction of radical obedience towards, authorization by, and specific relationship to the God whom he called "Abba". That sense of filial consciousness helped to fuel deadly opposition, but was vindicated by Jesus' resurrection. Second, believers experienced Jesus' post-existent activity as the Saviour and the Son of God, who with the father had sent the Holy Spirit. They experienced the risen Jesus as the one who made it possible for them to join him in praying to God as "Abba".[Rom. 8:15][Gal. 4:6] They recognized that in and through the living Jesus they had come to share in his divine filiation. That experience underpinned their new faith in the fatherhood of the God of Israel, who, in the first place, is/was "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ".[e.g., Rom. 15:6] [2 Cor. 1:3] [11:31]
The clearly relational nature within the life of God of the titles "Son of God" and "Word" gave these titles their special prominence in the christological and trinitarian debates that flourished during the first few centuries of the Church's existence. Paul, along with other early Christians, however, disclosed a marked preference for "Lord" (and "Christ") as designations for the risen Jesus. In the end, much of the importance of the Son of God title lies in its being rooted in Jesus' earthly ministry (as well as in its Old Testament background), and in its being intimately related to the strong sense of God's loving and life-giving fatherhood promoted by Jesus and reflected in Paul's letters.
One should also recall that the recognition of Jesus' divinity did/does not stand or fall with the Son of God title, its antiquity, and its meaning. In Paul's typical greeting to his addressees, "God our Father" and "the Lord Jesus Christ" are named together as the source of "grace and peace" — that is to say, of integral salvation.[e.g., Gal. 1:3] Furthermore, such a divine prerogative as the work of creation was quickly attributed to the risen Jesus. In the making of Paul's apostolic vocation, Christ stands on the divine side, not on that of human beings.[Gal. 1:1] 
Through the centuries, the theological development of the concept of Son of God has interacted with other Christological elements such as Pre-existence of Christ, Son of man, the hypostatic union, etc. For instance, in Johannine "Christology from above" which begins with the Pre-existence of Christ, Jesus did not become Son of God through the Virgin Birth, he always 'was' the Son of God.
By the 2nd century, differences had developed among various Christian groups and to defend the mainstream view in the early Church, St. Irenaeus introduced the confession: "One Christ only, Jesus the Son of God incarnate for our salvation". By referring to incarnation, this professes Jesus as the pre-existing Logos, i.e. The Word. It also professes him as both Christ and the only-begotten Son of God.
- "And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father."
Saint Augustine wrote at length on the Son of God and its relationship with the Son of man, positioning the two issues in terms of the dual nature of Jesus as both divine and human in terms of the hypostatic union. He wrote:
Christ Jesus, the Son of God, is God and Man: God before all worlds, man in our world.... But since he is the only Son of God, by nature and not by grace, he became also the Son of Man that he might be full of grace as well.
However, unlike Son of God, the proclamation of Jesus as the Son of man has never been an article of faith in Christianity. The interpretation of the use of "the Son of man" and its relationship to Son of God has remained challenging and after 150 years of debate no consensus on the issue has emerged among scholars.
Just as in Romans 10:9–13 Paul emphasized the salvific value of "professing by mouth" that Jesus is Lord (Kyrion Iesoun) Augustine emphasized the value of "professing that Jesus is the Son of God" as a path to salvation.
For Saint Thomas Aquinas (who also taught the Perfection of Christ) the "'Son of God' is God as known to God". Aquinas emphasized the crucial role of the Son of God in bringing forth all of creation and taught that although humans are created in the image of God they fall short and only the Son of God is truly like God, and hence divine.
Other religions and belief systems
Jesus (Arabic: عيسى, translit.: ʿĪsā) is considered to be the Messiah and a highly respected prophet sent to the Children of Israel,[Quran 3:45] but not the son of God. As in Christianity, Jesus had no earthly father, but is instead seen as born through the breathing of the "Spirit of God" on Mary. The Qur'an compares the nature of his birth to the birth of Adam, who had neither mother nor father.
In the writings of the Bahá'í Faith, the term "Son of God" is applied to Jesus, but does not indicate a literal physical relationship between Jesus and God, but is symbolic and is used to indicate the very strong spiritual relationship between Jesus and God and the source of his authority. Shoghi Effendi, the head of the Bahá'í Faith in the first half of the 20th century, also noted that the term does not indicate that the station of Jesus is superior to other prophets and messengers that Bahá'ís name Manifestations of God, including Buddha, Muhammad and Baha'u'llah among others. Shoghi Effendi notes that, since all Manifestations of God share the same intimate relationship with God and reflect the same light, the term Sonship can in a sense be attributable to all the Manifestations.
- Introduction to the Science of Religion by Friedrich Muller 2004 ISBN 1-4179-7401-X page 136
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Son of God
- One teacher: Jesus' teaching role in Matthew's gospel by John Yueh-Han Yieh 2004 ISBN 3-11-018151-7 pages 240–241
- Dwight Pentecost The words and works of Jesus Christ 2000 ISBN 0-310-30940-9 page 234
- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1988 ISBN 0-8028-3785-9 page 571-572
- China : a cultural and historical dictionary by Michael Dillon 1998 ISBN 0-7007-0439-6 page 293
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- A History of Japan by Hisho Saito 2010 ISBN 0-415-58538-4 page
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- Adela Yarbro Collins, John Joseph Collins (2008). King and Messiah as Son of God: Divine, Human, and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Jan Assmann (2003). The Mind of Egypt: History and Meaning in the Time of the Pharaohs. Harvard University Press. p. 300-301. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
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- Jonathan Bardill (2011). Constantine, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age. T Cambridge University Press. p. 342. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- K. Lawson Younger, Jr. "Panammuwa and Bar-Rakib: two structural analyses". University of Sheffield. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter Willem van der Horst, ed. (1999). Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible DDD. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 686. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Cartledge, Paul (2004). "Alexander the Great". History Today 54: 1.
- Early Christian literature by Helen Rhee 2005 ISBN 0-415-35488-9 pages 159–161
- Augustus by Pat Southern 1998 ISBN 0-415-16631-4 page 60
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- Eerdmans commentary on the Bible James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson 2003 ISBN 0-8028-3711-5 page 365
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- translated by Eugene Mason and Text from Joseph and Aseneth H. F. D. Sparks. ""The Story of Asenath" and "Joseph and Aseneth"". Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "Rashi comments that the psalm 2 alludes to the encounter between the nations and the Messiah." Scherman, Nosson (Ed.) ; contributing editors, Yaakov Blinder, Avie Gold, Meir Zlotowitz ; designed by Sheah Brander (1998). Tanakh = Tanach : Torah, Neviʼim, Ketuvim : the Torah, Prophets, Writings : the twenty-four books of the Bible, newly translated and annotated (1st student size ed., Stone ed.). Brooklyn, N.Y.: Mesorah Publications. ISBN 1578191092.
- "'But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered him, 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God'. Jesus replied: 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah'". (Matthew 16:15–17) in: Who do you say that I am? Essays on Christology by Jack Dean Kingsbury, Mark Allan Powell, David R. Bauer 1999 ISBN 0-664-25752-6 page xvi
- Christology and the New Testament Christopher Mark Tuckett 2001 ISBN 0-664-22431-8 page
- Symbols of Jesus: a Christology of symbolic engagement by Robert C. Neville 2002 ISBN 0-521-00353-9 page 26
- Pre-Christian Judaism characteristically used "son/children of God" collectively of the whole people. In the Hebrew Bible no individual ever addresses God as "my Father". Even the one partial exception to that universal negative does not have the Davidic king directly saying to God "you are my Father (Psalms 89:26). Rather, this is a prayer which God puts in the mouth of the king. The targum to Ps. 89:27, however, has the messianic king address God as "Abba"; cf. B. Byrne, "Sons of God"—Seed of Abraham, Analecta Biblica, 83 (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1979), pp. 222–223.
- For this subsection and the themes treated hereinafter, compare Gerald O'Collins, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. Oxford:Oxford University Press (2009), pp. 130–140; cf. also J. D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, Edinburgh: T&T Clark (1998), pp. 224ff.; id., Christology in the Making, London: SCM Press (1989), passim; G.D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson (2007), pp. 508–557; A.C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eedermans (2000), pp. 631–638.
- It should be noted that Jesus' (human) consciousness of such divine sonship is one thing, whereas such (human) consciousness of divine pre-existence would be quite another thing. Cf. Byrne, loc. cit.
- Cf. J.D.G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, cit., pp. 224–225, 242–244, 277–278; Fee, Pauline Christology, cit., pp. 508–512, 530–557.
- For the implications of Corinthians, cf. A. C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, cit., pp. 631–638.
- Other Son of God passages in Paul centre on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and their (immediate and final) salvific consequences. Cf. int. al., Rom. 5:10, 1 Cor. 1:9, Rom. 8:14–17, Gal. 4:6–7.
- Who do you say that I am?: essays on Christology by Jack Dean Kingsbury, Mark Allan Powell, David R. Bauer 1999 ISBN 0-664-25752-6 pages 246–251
- Who do you say that I am? Essays on Christology by Jack Dean Kingsbury, Mark Allan Powell, David R. Bauer 1999 ISBN 0-664-25752-6 page xvi
- Studies in Early Christology by Martin Hengel 2004 ISBN 0-567-04280-4 page 46
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- Romans 15:6, 2 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 11:31, Ephesians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:3, Revelation 1:6
- Charles H. H. Scobie The ways of our God: an approach to biblical theology 2003 ISBN 0-8028-4950-4 p136 "God is "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 15:6; Eph 1:3), but also the Father of all believers (cf. Bassler 1992: 1054–55). Clearly this derives from the usage and teaching of Jesus himself."
- Matthew, Hebrews, and especially the Johannine literature showed more interest in the Son of God title. Cf. O'Collins, op. cit., p. 139.
- On this, see also previous sections above.
- New Testament Christians explicated their faith that "the fullness of divinity" dwelt/dwells in Jesus, [Col. 2:9] who had for them the same religious value as God. Cf. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, cit., pp. 244–278.
- Who do you say that I am?: essays on Christology by Jack Dean Dean Kingsbury, Mark Allan Powell, David R. Bauer 1999 ISBN 0-664-25752-6 pages 73–75
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