Did Jesus Claim to be "The Son of God?"
Let me start by saying that I trust that Jesus was not only “a son of the Divine,” but also “the son of the Divine,” different from the rest of us who are also children of the Father. I say “the Divine” rather than “God,” because it is closer to the concept that Jesus used. In this article, I am not going to discuss the nature of “the Divine.” As I have said, human pronouncements about the God are like cockroaches debating the nature of humanity. They may live off our crumbs, but that doesn’t mean they know what we are.
The focus here is, as always, on what Jesus said in the verses that have been preserved for two thousand years. In those verses, the term “son,” υἱὸς (huios), is used with “of God,” θεοῦ (theos) only six times. In only three of these verses is “sons” preceded by the definite article. In four of them, “God” is preceded by the definite article, “the Divine.” The concept is rare enough that we can look, at least briefly, at every occurrence a least in the King James Version (KJV) and my literal version. If you are interested seeing the original Greek that is the basis of my translation, click on the links to the Christswords.com articles that explain every Greek word.
References to Others
Two of those six verses clearly refer to other people besides Jesus. He first puts together “son” with “Divinity” in Matthew 5:9:
KJV: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Literally: Fortunate the peacemakers because they themselves will be called sons of a Divinity.
Notice that his first mention of these terms did not use the “the” before either “sons” or “Divinity.” Why is this different than his other uses? Perhaps we will learn by looking at more of his uses.
We see something similar in Luke 20:36:
KJV: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
Literally: Neither because to die no longer do they have the power, like messengers, because they are also sons. They are of divinity, of this awakening, sons existing.
Again, there is no “the” before “sons” or “Divinity.” The verb “they are” separates “sons” from “Divinity” unlike the KJV version,, Again, I leave it to you to interpret his meaning.
Now we look at a series of verses where Jesus does not start by saying “son,” but where he explains something about his idea. When accused of blaspheme for comparing himself to the Divine, his defense was John 10:34.
KJV: Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
Literally: No, it isn't! Having been written in that Law of yours that "I myself say gods you are."
This leads to his argument in the next verse, John 10:35.
KJV: If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Literally: Since those there he named "divines," for them, the message of the Divine came into being, and it doesn't have the power to be undone: this writing.
And that verse leads to a key verse where Jesus described himself.
Jesus as a Divine Son
KJV: Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
Literally: Who did the Father dedicate and sent off into this society? You yourselves said that "You blaspheme," because I said "A son of the Divine I am."
Notice that Jesus calls himself “a son of the Divine” here, not '“the son of God.” He is not separating himself from the others that he has just called “divine.”
In all following verses, Jesus said “the son” not “a son.”However, translating it as “the son” has Jesus referring to himself in the third person. This is called illeism. It can indicate idiocy, raging narcissism, or self-deprecating humor. Of course, since this is Jesus, the last view fits with my translations of how he talked. I cannot make much sense of the Christian explanations of his illeism that I have seen.
However, Jesus’s words sound much better if we understand that the Greek definite article can also be translated as “this” (see this article). In the following verses, notice how much more appealing Jesus sounds when we use a “this son” instead of a “the sn.”
We will start with John 11:4:
KJV: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Literally: This, the weakness, is not before death but instead for the recognition of the Divine, that he may be recognized, this son of the Divine, through this.
Doesn’t that sound better? It changes an off-putting third-person reference into Jesus pointing to himself in a more light-hearted manner. He is identifying as a specific person within a group than a person who doesn’t identify as himself.
Here are the two other verses, where Jesus used the “the son of God” phrase to describe himself. Though none of them are humble, using the “this” instead of “the” makes them seem much more normal.
John 5:25 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
Literal: Honestly, honestly I tell you that a time begins and it now exists when the dead might hear of this voice from this son of the Divine and those hearing might live.
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Literal: The one trusting as much as him is not judged. The one not trusting already has been judged since he hasn't trusted as far as the name of this unique Son of God.
I saved this one until last, because in it, Jesus says he is unique. Notice also that he is unique because of his name, how he is recognized in the world, not the Divine. Can’t we all describe ourselves that way?
If we consider Jesus’s statements about “sons of the Divine” as a whole, we see that he didn’t see that title as exclusively his own. However, he did put himself in a special relationship with humanity, especially in the awakening from death. He also emphasized this special relationship in several verses where he uses his most favorite title for himself, “the son of the man.” We will discuss that title in the next article.