A gracEmail subscriber asks if Jesus was God’s son even before he was born in Bethlehem to the virgin Mary.
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John’s Gospel tells us that the man Jesus of Nazareth was in fact the incarnation of the divine Word (“Logos”) which from the beginning was “with God” and “was God” (John 1:1-14). The Apostle Paul writes that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) who “existed in the form of God” but emptied himself and became a man (Phil. 2:5-7). The unknown author of the Epistle to the Hebrews calls Jesus “the radiance” of God’s “glory” and “the exact representation of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). The truth of the Incarnation stands against the theory known as “adoptionism,” which suggests that Jesus was a mere man who, because of his exemplary life, was “adopted” by God and called his “Son.”
Adam was also “the son of God” (Lk. 3:38), but Adam was not God incarnate. Israel was God’s “son” (Hos. 11:1), but Israel did not embody deity as Jesus did. Solomon was called God’s “son” (2 Sam. 7:14), but Jesus is greater than Solomon (Matt. 12:42). The book of Job apparently refers to angels as “the sons of God” (Job 2:1), but Jesus is far greater than angels (Heb. 1:1-14). Biblical authors would take issue with the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) when that organization says that Jesus was the incarnation of the archangel Michael.
The divine sonship of Jesus is too magnificent for a simple definition, and New Testament writers point more direction than one regarding when Jesus became the Son of God. He is God’s “son” in one sense because he was divinely conceived without human father in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Lk. 1:35). Jesus is also God’s “son” by virtue of his resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:32-33). However, John repeatedly writes that God “sent” his “Son” or his “only-begotten Son” into the world, from which we may conclude that the Father-Son relationship existed in God from all eternity (John 3:17, 5:23; 10:36; 1 John 4:9, 10, 14). We will never fully understand this mystery, but it is enough for us to know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. So believing, we have life in his name (John 20:30-31).