Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Son of God - Part I

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.

Go to Part II


David A Booth said...


I look forward to your discussion of this.

Would you touch on the following question when appropriate? If the confession that "Jesus as the incarnate Lord now bears the title Son of God" is linked to the "the elevation of Jesus' humanity to the throne of his Father"; then why is it linked in Romans 1:4 with the resurrection rather than the ascension/session? Is Paul using "resurrection" in a way that include ascension/session?

Thanks in advance and have a great Sabbath.


Jeff Meyers said...

Yes, I will try to deal with that. In fact, I meant to write "resurrection and elevation of Jesus' humanity." But I'll say more about that later. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to it too. It's always great to see the OT connected to the NT, and to have my understanding of biblical terms expanded.

Anonymous said...


I, too, look forward to what you will say on this.

This issue of the Son of God is, by far, THE number one issue for Muslims not deciding to follow Jesus.

Very few evangelicals have been able to interpret and explain it in a way that is honest and makes sense. Consequently many just ignore it in their and carry on.

Jeff Meyers said...

Ed: could you unpack that a bit for me? What specifically do Muslim's find objectionable about the title "Son of God" applied to Jesus? Is it more than just our affirmation of the Son's divine eternal relations with the Father? In other words, do they object to this because of our confession that God is Triune or is there something else?