'SON OF' BIBLICALLY DEFINED

1) INTRODUCTION

The term 'son of' in Scripture when it refers to another person other than God or some entity signifies identity or similarity with a characteristic that is presented in the context of the passage. For example:

[Isa 57:1-4]:

(v. 1) "The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart;

And devout men are taken away, while no one understands.

For the righteous man is taken away from evil,

(v. 2) He enters into peace;

They rest in their beds,

Each one who walked in his upright way.

(v. 3) 'But come here, you sons of a sorceress,

Offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute.

(v. 4) 'Against whom do you jest?

Against whom do you open wide your mouth

And stick out your tongue?

Are you not children of rebellion,

Offspring of deceit,

This does not indicate that all men who are evil are naturally born sons of a sorceress or a prostitute but that they behave in an evil manner, taking on the evil characteristics the likes of a sorceress or a prostitute or an adulterer. They are in effect sons of rebellion and deceit.

[Isa 14:11-12]:

(v. 11) " 'Your pomp and the music of your harps

Have been brought down to Sheol;

Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you,

And worms are your covering.

(v. 12) How you have fallen from heaven,

O star of the morning, son of the dawn!' "

Obviously, Satan was not procreated by the dawn but he did take on the characteristics of the beauty of the first light of dawn.

Compare the phrase "sons of light" which refers to an individual who is characterized by light, i.e., by the righteousness of Christ exemplified in his life, (Jn 12:36, Lk 16:8; I Thes 5:5); or the phrase, "son of perdition" which refers to Judas's eternal destiny in the Lake of Fire, (Jn 17:12); or the term "sons of disobedience" which refers to individuals who are characterized by their disobedience to the gospel of salvation and inevitably in their sinful behavior, (Eph 2:2: 5:6; Col 3:6; 2 Thes 2:3).

[Compare Jer 49:33]:

"And Hazor will become a haunt of jackals,

A desolation forever;

No one will live there,

Nor will a son of man reside in it."

["a son of man" refers to humanity as opposed to other types of lifeforms. So when our Lord refers to Himself as the Son of God, He is stating that He has the characteristics of Almighty God - He is stating therefore that He is God. "The Son of God" is a technical term which refers to God Himself - the second Person of the Triune God.... ]

2) PLURAL 'SONS OF GOD' = ANGELIC BEINGS

[Gen 6:2,4]:

(v. 2) "The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.

(v. 4) The Nephilim were on the earth in those days - and also afterward - when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown."

The plural term "sons of God" in the context here of ancient times juxtaposed to 'daughters of men" obviously refers to other than the human species - specifically, angels. The term "sons of God" in Old Testament Scripture inevitably refers to angelic beings every time it is used.

[Compare Job 1:2; 2:1]:

(v. 1:2) "One day the angels [lit. 'sons of God'] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them."

The term 'sons of God' is used of angelic beings. Here in Job 1:6; 2:1 in association with Satan it refers to fallen angels

[Job 38:7]:

"While the morning stars sang together and all the angels [lit. "Ben 'elohiym" = 'sons of God'] shouted for joy?"

3) 'A SON OF GOD' = A PAGAN GOD

[Dan 3:25 NAS]:

"He [Nebuchadnezzar] answered and said, 'Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!' "

[Dan 3:25 cont.]

(Dan 3:25 K.J.V.) "He answered and said, 'Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."

Dr J Vernon McGee states in "THRU THE BIBLE with J. Vernon McGee," Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1982, p.547:

"This furnace apparently was an open furnace, and Nebuchadnezzar, who expected these men to expire at once, was amazed to see them alive and walking about in the fire.

Another amazing fact was to see a fourth Man whom Nebuchadnezzar described as being in the form 'like the Son of God.' [KJV] That should be translated 'like a son of gods.'.............................

[Dan 3:25 cont.]:

(Dan 3:25 N.A.S.) "and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!"

["like a son of the gods" = "gods".

"son" = "bar", Hebrew = son singular.

"gods" is actually mistranslated. The Hebrew text has the word "elah" = god = pagan god, singular. The Hebrew "elah" can be rendered God or 'god' depending upon context. Dan 3:25 refers to Nebuchadnezzar who believed in polytheism and was not referring to a particular god but rather to one of his pagan gods. So verse 25 is correctly rendered as in the N.A.S:

[Dan 3:25 cont.]:

(Dan 3:25 N.A.S.) "and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!"

So the fourth man appeared like a son of the pagan gods that the Babylonians imagined that they worshipped. In other words, the fourth man appeared to them in the likeness of a god, that is to say, he took on the characteristics of what the Babylonians envisioned were attributable to one of their gods. This phrase "like a son of the gods" does not therefore indicate that a pagan god actually procreated someone but that someone appeared to be a god to them]

The Amplified Bible, which amplifies the meaning of the words and grammar and the background of the original languages in its translation, renders the verse as follows:

[Dan 3:25 Amplified]:

"He answered, 'Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods!"

So it is the context, background and other parallel passages which determine the meaning of "son of god" in Scripture. When our Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as 'Son' in Scripture the definite article is included; the context indicating a unique, One of a Kind, Son Who is God Himself. The context in Dan 3:25 does not indicate that it is referring to the unique Son of God. Having no understanding or knowledge of such a Person as the Lord Jesus Christ at this time in his life, Nebuchadnezzar was referring NOT to our Lord but to what he understood of his own pagan religion which described such a one who was in the furnace as a son of a pagan god].

[McGee, cont.]

".......................Nebuchadnezzar had no knowledge of the living and true God at this time, although Daniel had spoken of Him. Having no spiritual perception, Nebuchadnezzar could only testify to His unusual appearance - He looked like one of the sons of the gods. However, I do believe that the fourth Man was the Son of God, the preincarnate Christ."

[Nebuchadnezzar thought that the fourth being was a son of a god, but unknown to him, He actually was THE SON OF THE TRUE AND ONLY GOD, THE PREINCARNATE JESUS CHRIST. Finally, notice verse 28 in Daniel]:

[Dan 3:28 cont]:

'Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king's command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.' "

It is evident from the above verse that Nebuchadnezzar was at this time a polytheist - who worshipped many pagan gods and just viewed the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego as the most powerful god at the time. Notice that the term son in the ancient

Hebrew and Greek languages often meant identity, i.e., having the characteristics of, rather than human offspring or subordination. When the Jews used the word son in ancient days they often used it to describe likeness of nature.

4) 'THE SON OF GOD'

[cp Pr 30:4]:

"Who has gone up to heaven and come down?

["Who" = "Who are the Holy Ones Who"]

(Pr 30:4 cont.) "Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of His hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in His cloak?

Who has established all the ends of the earth?

What is His name [God the Father] and the name of His Son [God the Son] ?

In the Hebrew the word "Who" is literally translated, "Who are the Holy Ones Who" = PLURAL. So God the Father and God the Son have gone up to heaven and come down, gathered up the wind, wrapped up the waters and established the ends of the earth. Here right in the Old Testament we find a clear statement that there is more than one Personality in the Godhead! We have two of the Personalities of the Godhead specifically referred to: God the Father and God the Son. So when our Lord refers to Himself as the Son of God the Jews understood Him completely:

[Jn 10:33, 36b, 39]:

(v. 33) '''The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."

(v. 36) [Jesus said]"...do you say of Him, [speaking of Himself] Whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming'; because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?

(v. 39) Again they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp."

The indispensable step in correctly interpreting God's Word must not be sidestepped: that of letting the words in Scripture say what they meant to those in ancient times - to whom they were originally written. So if Scripture says that the Jews 2000 years ago interpreted the phrase 'the Son of God' to indicate that "You ....make Yourself out to be God", (Jn 10:33b), then that is what the term 'the Son of God' means. The Jews were so convinced of the meaning of that phrase that they were preparing to kill our Lord for referring to Himself as God.

Jesus Christ claimed that God was His Father in the sense of being like or equal to God:

[Jn 5:17-18]:

(v. 17) "But He [Jesus] answered them, 'My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.'

(v. 18) For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because [they determined] He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

So when our Lord called God His Father He was saying that He was just like God. And His enemies had no doubt in their minds that Jesus Christ was claiming to be God:

[Jn 10:30-33, 36b]:

(v. 30) "I and the Father are one.

(v. 31) The Jews took up stones again to stone Him.

(v. 32) Jesus answered them, 'I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?

(v. 33) The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.'............"

[Jesus then says to the Jews]:

(v. 36b) "do you say of Him, [meaning Himself] Whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming'; because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?

[Dr John Danish states, (Berean Tape Ministry, Pastor, Berean Memorial Church, Irving, Tx)]: "the Lord Jesus claimed to be God and His enemies knew it.....The term 'Son of God' [when it refers to Jesus] actually means Deity. [It] does not mean simply son of God the way we may say that every human being is a son of God because God created him............"

[While God is Father of all men, not all men are children of God in the sense of being "born again" into His heavenly family, (Cp Jn 1:12). Those who are spiritually dead cannot have an intimate relationship with God until they become spiritually alive. It is true that all men are His sons and daughters in the sense that He made them in His image and provides for them...(Gen 1:26-30)..........

Even after man rebelled through Adam and Eve, (Gen 3:16-19), God still provides for all men, (Mt 5:45b; Ps 65:9-13; 147:8-9; Acts 14:16-17; Jer 5:24).....................

But men are His sons in the full sense only as they respond in faith to what He did for them through His one and only - unique - Son with a capital 'S', Jesus Christ, in order to overcome man's rebellion (his sin). Cp Gal 3:22 - 4:7; Ro 3:19-25a.

The children of God then are those who believe on the name of Jesus Christ, (Jn 1:12)......They are those who cease to rely on their own merits and achievements and put their trust in Christ instead. Such is the case in the aforementioned passages]

[Dr Danish, (cont.)]:

"This term ['the Son of God' however] does not mean [in the context that Jesus used the term to refer to Himself] that [our Lord had] been adopted in salvation.......When this term was applied to Him it had a specific different technical meaning..........." [Mt 26:63-66]:

(v. 63) "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.' "

["The Son of God" = The definite article "the" and the word "Son" are both singular indicating the unique Son of Almighty God rather than one of millions of believers who are sons and daughters of God in another sense, being born again by faith, (Jn 1:12). Children of God are referred to in Scripture either with an indefinite article 'a' or in the plural]

"Now [Dr Danish goes on to say] here these terms Christ and Son of God were equated in this fashion:

The Christ is equal to the Son of God.

And again, both of these terms indicate deity. So the high priest said, 'All right, we are putting it point blank to You, guilty or not guilty, are You the Son of God?' Now what did He mean when he was asking Jesus, 'Are You the Son of God?' He didn't mean, 'Are You created by God?'.....[or]....'Have You received eternal life...?' He meant, 'Are You saying that You are Deity?'...that You have the essence of Deity? That's what the term 'Son of God' meant in the mouth of the high priest. Now we know this from the verses which follow:

(v. 64) "Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself; ............"

"And when He [Jesus] said "You have said it yourself" He is saying in the affirmative: 'Yes, I am the Son of God', which is the same as saying, 'Yes, I am God.........'

(v. 63 cont.) "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.' "

(v. 64 cont.) "Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.'

["the Son of Man" = when it is applied to Jesus Christ in the context of the unique Son of Man - no one else like Him - it is then the technical term for God in His humanity, cp Dan 7:13-14]

[Dr Danish, (cont.)]:

"Now the Lord Jesus not only said to him, 'Yes, I am God' but He said...'I am ...[the]...GodMan...and someday you will see Me sitting at the right hand of God the Father in all the power and majesty of Diety."

[This was such a loathsome statement for an unbelieving Jew to hear that]

(v. 65) "Then the high priest tore his robes,

"[This was] a Semitic expression of horror"

(v. 65 cont.) "Then the high priest tore his robes saying, 'He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy;

(v. 66) what do you think?' They answered and said, 'He is deserving of death!' "

"[So] the term 'Son of God' as it applies to Jesus Christ refers to His Diety. It is a technical word used in a specialized way and the Sanhedrin which was trying Him understood it very very well. So Jesus claimed both the titles: He claimed the title, 'The Christ', He claimed the title, 'The Son of God', both of which are equated to diety.........

[Jn 19:7]:

"The Jews answered Him, 'We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.'"

"Now what did they mean? Should He die because He claimed salvation? No! Should He die because He had been adopted into the family of God [By saying He was a Son of God] No! They were saying He should die because He made Himself the Son of God because that meant He made Himself God............."

5) A SON OF MAN DEFINED

Consider what Scripture defines as the meaning of another term: 'Son of Man'.

C.I. Scofield states in footnote #4 in the Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible, NIV,

C. I. Scoffield, Editor, Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 819:

"The expression 'son of man' is a common Semitic way of indicating an individual man (Ps. 4:2; 57;4; 58:1; 144:3; Jer 49:18, 33; 50:40; 51:43). God addresses Ezekial about ninety times by this title.

6) THE SON OF MAN DEFINED

In Dan. 7:13 the term is used to show that an actual man [Who is at the same time God] will come in the clouds of heaven to receive a worldwide kingdom. From this use in Daniel it came to refer to the glorious Messiah [Who is defined in Scripture as God Himself], and in such a sense Jesus utilized it calling Himself 'the Son of man eighty times in the Gospels."........................................

[Notice: singular + THE = definite article = THE unique - one and only - Son of man singular:indicating Diety]

[Compare Jn 9:35-38]:

(v. 35) "Jesus heard that they had put him

["him" = the blind man who was healed by Jesus]

(v. 35 cont.) "Jesus heard that they had put him out [of the Temple]; and finding him, He said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?

(v. 36) He answered and said, 'And Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?

(v. 37) Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him, and He is the One Who is talking with you.'

(v. 38) And he said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshipped Him.' "

So the man who was given sight recognized that the One Who claims to be the Son of Man is to be worshipped. And the blind man who was Jewish knew full well that only God is to be worshipped. The term 'the Son of Man' when it refers to our Lord in Scripture means God the Son in His role as the representative Man with respect to His mission, (Mt 11:19; Lk 19:10); His death and resurrection, (Mt 12:40; 20:18; 26:2), and His Second Coming, (Mt 24:37-44; Lk 12:4). A passage in Daniel confirms this:

[Dan 7:13-14]:

(v. 13) "In my [Daniel's] vision at night I looked and there before me was One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven.

["clouds" = here refer to angels, cp. Ps 104:1-4]

(v. 13 cont.) He approached the Ancient of Days.....

["Ancient of Days" = a special name for God referring to His eternality - in this passage it refers to the Personality of the Father, (Dan 7:9)]

(v. 13 cont.) He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence.......

[So God the Son, Who is God and Man at the same time, appears in heaven in Daniel's vision of the future in His glorified human body. He is thusly led by angels into the throne room and the presence of God the Father before hosts of angelic beings and believers of ages past, (vv9-12)]

(v. 14) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him....

["worshipped Him" = indicates our Lord's Diety, for only God is to be worshipped, (Dt 6:13; Mt 4:10)]

[Dan 7:13-14 cont.]:

(v. 14 cont.) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away; and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

[It is in the name of the Son of Man in which universal judgment is committed to Him, (Jn 5:22,27). And in the Son of Man is fulfilled the Old Testament foreview of blessing and salvation through a coming Man, (Gen 1:26: 3:15; 12:3; Ps 8:4; 80:17; Isa 7:14: 9:6-7; 32:2). All of this is a function of God and God alone. So He Who bears the title of the Son of Man is God Himself]

7) SONS OF THE KINGDOM

[Mt 8:12]:

(v. 12) "But the sons of the kingdom [in this context, Jewish believers, (vv. 10, 12)] shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

"sons of the kingdom" =

'Son of' or 'sons of' can mean 'belonging to' or 'destined for':

[Compare Mt 9:15]:

"And Jesus said to them, 'The guests [lit., sons = "huioi"] of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.' "

[Mt 23:15]:

" Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Hell [="Gehenna"] as you are."

And finally, compare a passage which uses the term 'sons of the kingdom' to describe those of Israel who will enter into the kingdom:

[Mt 13:38]:

[Our Lord is explaining the parable of the weeds in the field to His disciples]:

(v. 38) "The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,

(v. 39) and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

(v. 40) As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.

(v. 41) The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil."

So here in Mt 13 the term "sons of the kingdom" means those who are destined to occupy the kingdom of heaven on the earth - believers.

And the term "sons of the kingdom" in the context of Mt 8:12 is best interpreted as those destined for the kingdom who are Jews, i.e., Jewish believers, as opposed to Gentiles due to the contrast between Jews and Gentiles made in the passage.