Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 15, 1962

Is Jesus Of Nazareth The Son Of God?

Robert H. Farish, Lufkin, Texas

The atheist denies the deity of Jesus in his blanket denial of the existence of a supreme intelligent being. He has said in his heart that there is no God. And thus if there is no God, there can be no Son of God.

But the atheists are not the only people who deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. Jews, who acknowledge the existence of a supreme intelligent being, reject the idea that Jesus is the Son of God. They regard him as an impostor who falsely claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God.

Moslems acknowledge that Jesus was a prophet of God but deny that he is the Son of God.

Then there are those who are self-styled as "modernists," who deny the deity of Jesus, but affirm his goodness and the superior character of his teaching. Those of this religious school, realize that the image of Jesus, as a noble character and superior teacher of spiritual truths, can not be maintained in the face of a false claim to deity; they therefore deny that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. They believe and teach that he is a Son of God in the sense that other men are sons of God, but deny that Jesus is the unique Son of God.

There are those who "believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." (John 20:31) This writer is among those who hold this last view. The purpose in writing this is to convince others of the correctness of this view. This objective is not prompted by the desire to merely swell the ranks of those of like view with the writer, but is prompted by the desire that the reader may have the hope of "life in his name," (John 20:31) which hope is limited to those who so believe.

This study will be divided into two sections. (1) Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Son of God; (2) Jesus' claim to be the Son of God is a true claim. Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the

Son Of God

The New Testament writings claim to contain the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you. All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he taketh of mine and shall declare it unto you." (John 16: 13-15) This testimony alleges that Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to the apostles, to guide them into all truth; it also identifies the truth so revealed as the teaching of Jesus.

The New Testament claims to be the truth which the Holy Spirit revealed and it has been regarded as containing the claims and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth from the time it was written. Letters written in the latter part of the first and the early part of the second century by uninspired men quote from the New Testament and credit the teaching to Jesus. Barnabas, Clement, Hermas, and Polycarp are the names of some of the men who wrote letters in which quotations are made from the New Testament books and credited to Jesus. These writers introduced their quotations with such expressions as, "as it is written", "remember the words of the Lord Jesus," etc. The New Testament was quoted in these writings as the teaching of Jesus and was regarded by the writer's as final authority in settling religious questions. The claims of the New Testament are the claims of Jesus. The evidence in support of this is too strong to be brushed aside in favor of mere unsupported assertions.

Having seen that the claims of the New Testament are the claims of Jesus of Nazareth, the next step is to learn what the New Testament claims about the deity of Jesus. The first passage which we will notice is Matt. 16:13-17. In response to the question of Jesus "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" the disciples replied that "some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." The opinions of uninspired men as to who Jesus is have never been in agreement. In the days when he walked upon the earth, some said he was John the Baptist, others said he was Elijah, others that he was Jeremiah, and still others said he was one of the prophets without attempting to be specific as to which one. It is interesting and significant that none thought of him as an ordinary man.

In response to Jesus' question, "who say ye that I am?" Peter declared, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt. 16:16) Now can this properly be taken as a claim of Jesus? Did he in this place claim what is expressed in this language? The answer to this is learned from the response of Jesus to Peter's statement. Jesus did not rebuke Peter, as would have been the case if he were a good man but not the Son of God. Rather than correcting the statement Jesus endorsed the things which Peter had declared. He said, "Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jonah; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven." (Mt. 16:17) This positive declaration that the Father in heaven revealed that Jesus is "the Christ the Son of the living God" is an unqualified endorsement by Jesus of the doctrine of his deity. There is no way to construe this language to mean anything other than that Jesus of Nazareth affirmed the unique relation to God. He claimed to be the Son of God.

In this passage the speculations of "flesh and blood" (human reason) is in contrast to inspired revelation. Then as now, "flesh and blood" gave Jesus a high rating but fell far short of the truth. It is not enough to acknowledge him to be a noble character and a great teacher, nay, even to grant that he is a prophet of God; for the truth as revealed by the Father in heaven, is that he is the Son of God. The contrast presented, rules out the possibility that the phrase, Son of God, is used in a sense other than the unique sense. If all that is meant by the Son of God in this passage is that he is the son of God in the sense that other men are called sons of God, why the contrast between the opinions of "flesh and blood" and that which was revealed by the Father? Were not Elijah, Jeremiah, and the prophets sons of God in the sense that other men are sons of God? Yet God revealed that Jesus was his Son; he was related to him in a higher sense than were the prophets. This passage teaches that Jesus is the Son of God in the unique sense.

Matthew 26:63-66

Jesus Positively Claimed To Be The Son Of God. The Adjuration Of Caiaphas, To Which Jesus Responded Affirmatively Is Clear And Cannot Be Misunderstood. "And The High Priest Said Unto Him, I Adjure Thee By The Living God, That Thou Tell Us Whether Thou Art The Christ, The Son Of God. Jesus Said Unto Him Thou Hast Said:.. ....Then The High Priest Rent His Garments, Saying, He Hath Spoken Blasphemy: What Further Need Have We Of Witnesses? Behold, Now Ye Have Heard The Blasphemy; What Think Ye?" (Matt. 26:63, 64) Caiaphas Understood That Jesus Claimed To Be The Son Of God. He Did Not Think That He Was Claiming To Be The Son Of God In The Sense That Other Human Beings Might Claim To Be The Son Of God. The Thing Which Jesus Affirmed In Response To This Adjuration Was Blasphemy If Not True. The High Priest Correctly Charged Him With Blasphemy, If He Was Not The Son Of God In That Sense In Which None Other Is The Son Of God. If Jesus Had Responded To The Solemn Adjuration By Saying, "Only In The Sense That Other Men Are The Sons Of God," He Could Have Avoided The Cup Of Suffering Which He So Earnestly Prayed To Pass Away From Him. Caiaphas Said, "I Adjure Thee By The Living God, That Thou Tell Us Whether Thou Art The Christ The Son Of God." Webster Defines "Adjure" As "To Put Under Oath; To Swear, To Charge, Bind Or Command Solemnly, As If Under Oath, Or Under Penalty Of A Curse — To Appeal To In The Most Solemn Or Impressive Manner...." Who Can Believe That Caiaphas Would Have Resorted To Adjuring Jesus By "The Living God" To Tell Them If He Were A Son Of God As Adam Was A Son Of God! This "Thou Hast Said" Is A Most Solemn Claim By Jesus To Deity.

Luke 3:22; Matt 17:5-9

The Voice Out Of Heaven Announced At The Baptism Of Jesus, "Thou Art My Beloved Son; In Thee I Am Well Pleased.' (Luke 3:22) Again On The Mount Of Transfiguration, The Voice Out O The Cloud Announced, "This Is My Beloved Son, In Whom I Am Well Pleased; Hear Ye Him." (Matt. 17:5) As They Descended From The Mountain, Jesus Commanded Peter, James And John To "Tell The Vision To No Man, Until The Son Of Man Be Risen From The Dead." (Matt. 17:9) It Was By The Resurrection Of Jesus From The Dead That God Declared Him To Be His Son. The Apostle Paul Wrote, "Who Was Declared To Be The Son Of God With Power, According To The Spirit Of Holiness, By The Resurrection From The Dead; Even Jesus Christ Our Lord." (Rom. 1:4) When By The Climactic Miracle Of The Resurrection Of Jesus, God Declared Him To Be His Son, The Disciples' Tongues Were Loosed. They Could And Did Preach Jesus As The Son Of God And That By The Authority Of Jesus.

It will be profitable to note that Moses and Elijah, who certainly were sons of God in the sense that Adam was the son of God, and who in addition were faithful prophets, highly honored by God, were yet removed from the scene before the announcement was made that "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."

John 17:5

The language used by Jesus in his prayer to God involves the claim to deity. He prayed, "And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John 17:5) The glory here claimed by Jesus transcended the glory of Adam, yea even the glory of Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist or any other human being, regardless of their character and attainments. Jesus prayed, "Glorify thou me with thine own self" and identified this glory as being the glory which he had enjoyed with God "before the world was." The claim of the unique relationship is contained in the language of his prayer. If Jesus is not the Son of God, this prayer is blasphemy.

John 1:14; 3:16

The glory that Jesus claimed is "glory as of the only begotten of the Father." (John 1:14) And in connection with this it should be remembered that God's love for humanity was expressed in his action of giving "his only begotten Son." (John3:16) "God so loved" — the magnitude or greatness. of his love is exhibited in the

gift. He so loved the world that he gave is only begotten Son. A denial of the unique relationship of Jesus to God constitutes a reflection on the greatness of God's love. For if Jesus is not the only begotten Son of God, then God only so loved the world, as to give one who was no closer related to him than billions of others! The view of modernism minimizes the love of God.

Phil. 2:5-8 The death of Jesus on the cross was not nearly the great sacrifice which it has been accounted if he is not the Son of God. For the greatness of that sacrifice is equated with the glory which he voluntarily gave up. This can be seen even if the Bible had not called attention to it, but we have the statement of the scriptures to this effect. Paul wrote, "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:5-8) Jesus had to "empty' himself of deity in order to provide salvation for men. The death that he voluntarily experienced in order to make remission of sins possible, is valueless if he were not the Son of God.

Many other passages of scripture containing the claim of Jesus that he was the Son of God, and defining the sense in which he claimed to be the Son of God, could be introduced, but these should suffice to prove that Jesus did claim to be the Son of God.