What does Paul mean when he confesses that Jesus Christ has been appointed the “Son of God with power/authority” in Romans 1:4? Is he referring to Jesus' divinity - his eternal sonship as the second Person of the Trinity? Or is Paul talking about the man Christ Jesus?
To answer this we will have to broaden our inquiry beyond Paul’s epistle to the Romans and even the larger New Testament context by collecting evidence from the Old Testament regarding the motif of sonship. I will argue that the meaning of "son of God" is considerably more multi-faceted than the way it is typically employed by orthodox systematic theologies. Specifically, I will argue that confessing Jesus as the “Son of God” brings together many Old Covenant themes that are not always associated with this Messianic title, and, without denying or minimizing the confession of Jesus’ eternal filial relation to God the Father—indeed, presupposing it—Paul confesses that Jesus as the incarnate Lord now bears the title Son of God and that it was the elevation of Jesus’ humanity to the throne of his Father that constituted his investiture as the royal “Son of God with power.”
I will make some modest suggestions about the nature of Jesus sonship and the content of the preaching of the Gospel in the New Testament, which means that even a narrow focus on the meaning of this name or title in Paul’s epistolary introduction to Romans ought to provide us with a fruitful perspective on christology and soteriology as a whole. Indeed, Paul sums up the apostolic preaching of the Gospel with this climactic statement: Jesus Christ has been appointed to be the Son of God with power/authority.
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