Monday, November 3, 2008

Question posted Nov 2---Sons of God

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Pastor asks...":

So I have one:
The New Testament says that Jesus is the only begotten son of God. But according to the Old Testament there are other Sons of God c.f. Gen. 6, Job 1, 2, 38. Thoughts?

This is an excellent question. (by the way, unlike what you're frequently told, there are stupid questions. This is not one of them.) One of the difficulties in answering this question is lies in the differing languages of the Old and New Testaments. However, here we go:

The Old Testament writings refer to the 'Sons of God' and the New Testament references to Jesus as the 'only begotten Son' can seem confusing. Especially when you look through Scripture and see the additional reference to various people or groups as 'children of God.'

Rephrasing the question, I see the asking to be: Is there a difference between being one of the 'sons of God' and being 'God's Son'?

The first thing to note is that the word 'son' in Biblical languages, both Greek and Hebrew, could also be used to denote 'descendant' or 'in the likeness of.' A modern example would be to call Cal Ripken Jr a 'son of Lou Gehrig' because his determination and work ethic show him to be like Gehrig, though not a biologic descendant.

I think the answer hinges on a Greek word that is a little hard to translate: monogeneis. According to Thayer and Bauer, two of the primary lexicons (dictionaries) of Greek from the New Testament era, this term was used of sons (and daughters) who had a 'unique' status, whether it was by birth in being an only child, or by designation. It is this status by designation, for example, in the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael in Genesis. In the Septuagint, monogeneis is applied to Isaac, though Abraham fathred not only Isaac, but Ishmael, and children by Keturah. The 'special' or 'unique' son is Isaac.

So, Jesus is being designated as 'special' or 'unique' in the New Testament, above other 'sons of God.' In the majority of Greek usage, this 'special' or 'uniqueness' is due to being an only child, and so rolled together, we see that Jesus is the special son of God, due to His being the only one born as the Son of God, as He was in the incarnation.

The 'sons of God' phrase is used to signify the angels, who were directly created by God, and also used to signify those who followed God, taking on God's nature through behavior. (see above discussion of 'son'). However, the terminology is generally in reference to a group, and not of a specific individual. And the designation of 'monogeneis' is only applied to Jesus.

Christian understanding of the Old Testament generally sees a singular 'Son of God' to be either a prophetic vision of Jesus or someone who shows us a portion of what Jesus will be like. (Daniel 3 is an example of this: 3 men thrown in the fire, 4 are seen, and one looks like a 'Son of God.' This is best understood as the pre-incarnate Christ).

Moreover, in the New Testament, we see that we can be 'adopted' as the children of God if we accept Christ as Saviour and Lord. This adoption is possible because of the life and love of the 'unique and special, only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.'

16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NASB)


  1. I give you, the beatitudes.

    * Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
    * Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land. (Verse 4)
    * Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
    * Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
    * Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
    * Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
    * Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
    * Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)

    Straight out of the Lord and Master's mouth (Jesus). The question therefore. Is Ghandi in Hell? He certainly qualifies to be blessed, running the tables in the beatitudes (8 for 8, better than me!) And if he doesn't have a CHANCE! What chance do I have?

  2. Anonymous you ask, "what chance do I have?"
    Well, it depends.. What have you YOU done with Jesus? Do you have a personal relationship with Him- Have you accepted what He done for you on Calvary? Acknowledged your own need for forgiveness of sin? Do you Believe that he died in your place and rose again on the third day? That's the questions that you need to be asking Anonymous..... I am praying for you.

  3. Ok...response is posted under this link:


To deal with SPAM comments, all comments are moderated. I'm typically willing to post contrary views...but I also only check the list once a day, so if you posted within the last 24 hours, I may not be to it yet.

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