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Articles - Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ - The Son of God

W. Terry Varner
General Editor, Sufficient Evidence 

“’[Who] do you say that I am?' Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"' (Matthew 16:15-16, NKJV). By divine revelation (Matthew 16:17), Peter proclaims the Jesus as the Son of God.

John Dominic Crossan, the former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, answers that Jesus was "a peasant Jewish cynic" (421). Bart D. Ehrman, a University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Bible professor, teaches ''that Jesus did not teach he was divine" (169).

Jesus' question is relevant to all this side of eternity. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Son of God. We set forth the following argument justifying the conclusion that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

  1. If the particular characteristics of the person and work of Jesus Christ (as those characteristics are set out in the Bible) are such as to be beyond those of mere men and to demand the conclusion that He is the Son of God, then Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  2. The particular characteristics of the person and work of Jesus Christ (as those characteristics are set out in the Bible) are such as to be beyond those of mere men and to demand the conclusion that He is the Son of God.
  3. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Warren 39).

We set forth the following three supernatural characteristics proving the conclusion that Jesus Christ is the Son of God by (1) His Pre-existence, (2) His Birth, and (3) His Resurrection.

His Pre-existence is shown by (1) inspired statement, (2) divine prophecy, and (3) His affirmations

The Gospel of John declares Jesus Christ is the Son of God by the inspired statement: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (1:1, 14). John looking back historically said the Word "was" meaning "continuous timeless existence" (Rogers and Rogers 175). John denotes "the Word" was a Person—"was made flesh" or taking on Him humanity (Hebrews 2:14). 

The divine prophecy of Micah locates the birth of the Messiah (Jesus) in "Bethlehem" and declares the Messiah as more than mere man—"whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (5:2). The phrase emphasizes His infinite duration by relating "Him to God, the eternal One. His Rule reaches back into eternity" (Hailey 209).

Jesus affirmed His eternality (being the Son of God) by claiming, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). "I am" is not the same as "I was." Hengstenberg shows that "I was " refers to the being or "existence of Abraham, as of all men, . . ."; whereas, "l am " refers to Christ as the "being which is supremely exalted above all becoming… It points to that absolute Being which is not subject to any change, the prerogative of the Godhead alone" (474). Warfield understands "I am "as "the timeless present of eternity as His mode of existence" (qtd. in Zaspel 271). 

His Birth is supernatural with respect to (l) divine prediction and (2) New Testament confirmation of Old Testament prophecy.

Divine prediction of the supernatural birth of Jesus is echoed in the phrase ''the seed" (Genesis 3:15). No man is mentioned, but "the seed" is described "emphatically as the woman's seed" (Orr 251). Isaiah is clear, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (7:14). The words ''Himself," "sign," and "virgin" do no indicate an ordinary birth, but supernatural. The prophecy was from the Lord ("Himself") given by inspiration (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21). As a "sign", it was "a miracle wrought in attestation of a Divine promise or message. This is its sense here" (Barnes 155). "Virgin" represents the way God would become flesh among men.

The New Testament confirms the Old Testament prophecy of the birth of the Son of God with "this" is "that " in Matthew 1:22-23 by quoting Isaiah 7:14. One cannot conceive of a more direct reference in tone and fulfillment. Luke adds additional significant information, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (1:35). Matthew says Mary was ''found with child" or "conceived . . . of the Holy Spirit" (1:18, 20). Having been informed of the coming birth of the Son of God, Mary considered herself as a "maidservant" (Luke 1:48) of God, her Savior.

Does Paul hint at the virgin birth? "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4). Paul states Jesus was "His [God's] Son" referencing only the woman (Mary) and no reference to the father. Paul and Luke were co-workers. Cooke states, "[T]here are about one hundred words in the New Testament which are used only by Paul and Luke, and it would seem that the proof is well-nigh complete that Paul was acquainted with Luke's Gospel" (132). When it came to matters relating to the supernaturalism of Jesus, Paul was not anti-supernaturalistic.

His Resurrection can be explained only as supernatural based on (1) Jesus' prediction and (2) New Testament evidence.

Jesus' prediction was He would be buried and raised the third day (Matthew 11:16; 17:23; Luke 9:22). These biblical texts declare incontrovertibly the prediction of the literal, bodily resurrection! Smith writes, "If death affects the body and the body is not raised, death is the conqueror; if Christ can be said to have conquered death then His own body must have been delivered from death's power. . . [O]ne should be careful to recognize that resurrection means bodily resurrection. . . Any other use of the term is a misuse of the word" (362-63). While anyone could say it, only a fool would say he would rise again the third day—unless he is going to rise. If this prophecy came true, and it did, then I am bound to believe everything else that Jesus said. If Jesus had not been God's Son-One able to forgive sins, One able to judge the world, and One able to offer salvation as the only way to God (John 14:6)—then God would have left Him in the tomb to return to dust.

New Testament evidence following the life of Jesus proclaims His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is God's stamp of approval. Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4). The word "declared" meaning ''to separate; mark off by boundaries; appoint" (Abbott-Smith 323). This shows the uniqueness of His resurrection by "marking off' or "declaring" His resurrection as different from all other resurrections in the Bible. Christ was raised to die no more! Paul preached to the philosophers of Mars Hill, "Jesus, and His resurrection" (Acts 17:18) basing his argument upon the divine declaration of a universal call of repentance of all men in preparation for the coming judgment. Paul reasoned from "the assurance to all men that He has raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31). 

Conclusion 

Evidence for the conclusion that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is clear.  Warfield writes, “Grant that Jesus was really God, in a word, and everything falls orderly into its place.  Deny it, and you have a Jesus and a Christianity on your hands both equally unaccountable.  And that is as much to say that the ultimate proof of the deity of Christ is just-Jesus and Christianity.   If Christ were not God, we should have a very different Jesus and a very different Christianity” (303).

            W. Terry Varner  is Research Coordinator for Warren Christian Apologetics Center and instructor at West Virginia School of Preaching.  Varner may be contacted at library@warrenapologeticscenter.org.

 

Abbot-Smith, G. A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1950

Barnes, Albert, Notes on the Old Testament Explanatory and Practical: Isaiah, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1962.

Cook, Richard J. Did Paul Know of the Virgin Birth? An Historical Study. New York: Macmillan, 1926. 

Crossan, John Dominic. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. New York: Harper Collins, 1991.

Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them). NewYork: Harper Collins, 2009. 

Hailer, Homer. A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972. 

Hengstenberg, E. W. Commentary on the Gospel of John. Vol. l . Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1980.

Orr, James. "The Virgin Birth of Christ." The Fundamentals. Vol. 2. Los Angeles: Bible Institute, 1917.

Rogers, Cleon L., Jr. and Cleon L. Rogers Ill. The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1998.

Smith, Wilbur M. Therefore Stand. Boston: Wilde, 1945.

Warfield, B. B. The Lord of Glory: A Study of the Designations of Our Lord in the New Testament With Especial Reference to HisDeity. London: Hodder and Stroughton. 1907. 

Warren, Thomas B. Jesus—The Lamb Who Is a Lion. Jonesboro: National Christian, 1988.

Zaspel, Fred G. The Theology of B. B. Warfield. Wheaton. Crossway Books. 2010.