Jesus Referred To As The Son

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Jul 19, 2019.

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  1. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I did a bit of reading but wasn't really finding what I was looking for.

    In relationship to the Trinity, why would you say Jesus is called the Son, and not another name like the brother? Is it the conception by the Spirit and woman that determined the name Son from all eternity? Is it simply the roles that determine the titles?

    We have the Father, Son and Spirit. But if God chose to, couldn't He have used brother, brother, and Spirit, if He wanted those terms?
  2. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    The Second Person is denominated by other names, such as Word and Wisdom. But that doesn't mean Son is arbitrary, any more than those other titles are.

    I would not say that the roles determine the titles; rather the titles show that the roles are entirely suitable to the internal relations. "Brother" would always have been an inappropriate term. Why are two people brothers? Because they descend from the same father. Using "brother" instead of "Son" would have implied that the first and second Persons were derived from another Person, someone behind them both.

    There is no one "behind" the Father (please understand that this language is terribly misleading, but hopefully it can communicate the intention). Thus He can be spoken of as the fountain or source of deity (fons deitatis). But in order to be Father, Son is absolutely necessary: they are correlative terms. You can't have one without the other.

    The terms in which God has chosen to reveal Himself are not exhaustive, because you can't fit God inside human language and thought. But God deliberately chose the terms that would reveal Him sufficiently for our salvation and comfort, and so it really wouldn't amount to the same thing if He had given us different titles.
  3. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    This is all very helpful; thank you! Would you say there is no one behind Jesus, and He is the fountain of deity as well?

    I'm trying to imagine Jesus being equal in power and glory from all eternity with the Father, and being the creator and sustainer of all things, yet being called Son. I don't think my mind can grasp the complexity of it, though I believe it whole-heartedly.
  4. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    In addition, the Hebrew understanding of "son" does not necessarily mean the "descendent of" but it can also mean "the one who represents another to the next generation." For example, search "sons of the prophets" and see how many times this is used in scripture. Applying this to Jesus the Son, He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15) which in this line of thinking is perfectly represented to the word "Son."

    Additionally, Him being the Son makes us His brethren through adoption by which we receive the heavenly inheritance in Christ, our brother (Eph. 1:11, etc.).
  5. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    No, as far as I know, the Son is never spoken of as the fountain of deity. There's a complicated history to it, but basically the concern in that kind of language is to preserve the unity of the Godhead.

    Son is not a term of inferiority -- quite the opposite, really; as the only "eternal, natural Son of God" (Heidelberg Catechism #33), Christ's equality with God the Father is affirmed. Your children are not less human than you are, after all. When God gives us the title of sons, by that fact we are exalted beyond all deserving.
  6. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    Here is a helpful breakdown by William Gouge by way of commenting on Hebrews 3:5-6:
    "Sec. 55. Of Christ a Son in reference to God
    The first branch of Christ’s excellency wherein he is preferred before Moses, is his dignity, arising from his birthright. This is here set down in the same manner that the inferiority of Moses was, by a particle of resemblance, ὡς υἱὸς, as. Hereof see Sec. 51.
    Here this phrase, as a Son, may be taken two ways.
    1. By way of resemblance, thus: As in men’s families the son and heir is counted more excellent than any servant, so the Son of God in the house of God. In this sense it is thus fitly translated, ‘as a Son.’
    2. By way of eminency, thus, as the true, proper Son of God, more excellent than all mere creatures. In this sense it was thus fitly translated, ‘as the Son.’ Thus it implieth, that it is no usurpation for Christ to be over the house of God; it is his right, as he is the Son of God.
    The former sense cometh up to this latter, and infers the same conclusion, that Christ, being the true proper Son of God, must needs be more excellent than Moses, that was but a servant.
    By this argument the apostle proved Christ to be more excellent than angels, Chap. 1. Secs. 42, 47.
    This title Son, in reference to God, attributed to Christ, affords matter of instruction and direction.
    I. Instructions are these,
    1. Christ is true God. As a son of man is true man, so the Son of God is true God.
    2. Christ is God eternal. Divine generation is an eternal act.
    3. Christ is equal with God. The Son is equal with the Father.
    4. In Christ God is well-pleased, Mat. 3:17.
    5. In Christ we are adopted God’s sons and made heirs, Gal. 4:4–6.
    6. In Christ we are made free, John 8:36.
    II. Directions are these,
    1. Honour Christ as God, John 5:23.
    2. Hear him, Mat. 17:5.
    3. Believe on Christ, John 3:16.
    4. Submit to Christ, Ps. 2:12.
    5. Confess Christ, 1 John 4:15.
    6. Depart not from Christ, John 6:68, 69.
    7. Tread not Christ under foot, Heb. 10:29.
    8. Wait for Christ from heaven, 1 Thes. 1:10.

    Gouge, W. (1866). A Commentary on the Whole Epistle to the Hebrews (Vol. 1, pp. 224–225). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; J. Nisbet & Co.; G. Herbert."
  7. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    This is what makes most clear sense to me. Jesus revealed God to us (God revealed Himself to us in Christ), and this was done through conception and taking on flesh, therefore it's appropriate to call Jesus the Son. Is this accurate thinking?
  8. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Not quite. Who was incarnate? It was the eternal Son (cf. Heb. 1:6,8). In other words, it wasn't the incarnation that made Christ Son; though certainly the incarnation did a great deal to reveal that He was the Son of God.
  9. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    If I'm understanding you correctly, it's not quite right, since then Christ would not eternally be the Son of God. The incarnation did not make Him a Son, though it was necessary to do so that we could call Him our brother.

    Does this help or did I misunderstand you?
  10. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    (I now see that Ruben got there before me. Strength in numbers?) :)
  11. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    Brother, send me your e-mail in a DM. I have some resources I would be happy to send you. It may be too lengthy to post on here.
  12. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    This helps, and sadly I'm the one not grasping this. So how would you describe what relationally makes Jesus the "eternal" Son? What does that look like from the beginning? Thanks!
  13. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    In human relationships, to be a son means that the father preceded. This would mean that Jesus was created, which would make Him less than eternal God. Furthermore, He and the Father could not be one since Jesus would be a creature like us as a created being.

    What does the relationship look like to God? I'm not sure I can answer that, though in eternity they existed as co-equal, co-eternal.
  14. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Probably the most helpful text for this is Hebrews 1:3. Why is the 2nd person the "express image"? That is what is behind eternal generation, and how generation is different from the Spirit's proceeding.

    You're wading into some deep waters, Ryan; there's nothing wrong with that, but don't get frustrated if you can't grasp all the realities imaginatively. This is the mystery of the Trinity that we are talking about, after all. It is most definitely beyond us. One thing that may help, though, is to invert how we normally think about this a little bit.

    In your experience, you knew yourself as a son to your father before you knew the Lord as the eternal Son to His Father. But the connection between you and your father was not original -- it was a derivative, partial and imperfect image of the far deeper reality in God. In other words, the way fatherhood and sonship work between humans is not a fully adequate picture of how Father and Son relate in the Trinity, but their transcendent reality is the foundation for this relationship in your experience.

    Another thing that may help is to remember that "Son" is not the only title. "Word" is also used. Now as two titles for the same Person, they might overlap a little. So if you have trouble conceiving of a Father and Son where one is NOT before the other, think of a Speaker and his Word -- can the Speaker be a Speaker without a Word? No; but it's not like the Word comes first and makes a speaker for itself either. They are correlative terms.
  15. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    Amen to this brother.

    I have always found Cyril of Alexandria helpful on this topic. I prefer the translation from the Ancient Christian Texts, but I do not have the time tonight to type it. I will quote from what is available online with some editing.

    "For in such examples, one may see one thing generated of another, but yet ever co-existing and inseparable, so that one cannot exist of itself apart from the other, and yet preserve the true condition of its own nature. For how can there be a sun which has no radiance, or how is there radiance without the sun being within to irradiate it? How is there fire, if it does not have heat? Whence heat, save from fire, or from some other thing not removed from the essential quality of fire? As then in these, the in-existence of the things that are of them does not take away their co-existence but indicates the things generated ever keeping pace with their generators and possessed of one nature so to speak with them, so too is it with the Son. For even if He be conceived and said to be in the Father and of the Father, He will not come before us as alien and strange and a Being second to Him, but as in Him and co-existing ever, and shining forth from Him, according to the ineffable mode of the Divine generation." - Cyril of Alexandria - Commentary on John
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  16. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I think I get what you guys are saying. We can't separate the reality of Father/Son relationship, but at the same time it's way beyond our finite thinking.
  17. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    We often see the words in scripture as illuminative, but what if it is the other way around? What if the relationship of father and son was created to demonstrate something to us that would remain with us for the life of the earth and remembered forever afterword? Particularly in ancient Israel, you see the authority and position of a father passed to his oldest son. You see the oldest given the responsibility for caring for the family, particularly the mother. (Remember Jesus' instructions from the cross to care for his mother?) You see how this father/son relationship remains so strong it might rightly be referenced across generations so Jesus may accurately be called son of David. I don't think the titles in the relationship of father and son were arbitrarily chosen. I think they were woven into the creation itself.
  18. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Ecellent thought! One that takes much joyful pondering and reflection.
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It is a mode of origination and only analogous to our understanding of Sonship. The fathers were very clear that origination wasn't a physical process and so didn't demand any diminution of being.
  20. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    You should not in the least feel bad about trying to understand the title of Son. While the title has an accessible simplicity to it, is also extraordinarily rich and complex.

    I think it helps me to see that it refers to both who Jesus inherently is and the role he takes as the Messiah, which are both necessary for him to be our Savior. He is God the Son, the exact image of the Father, all the fullness of God. As the Messiah, he is also the promised son of Abraham and David, the Son of Man found in appearance as a man yet given all authority and power, the one Israelite son who did not go astray, the faithful servant in all God’s house. On top of this, we are dealing with the mysteries of the Trinity and the union of God and man in one person.

    Do you see the richness and complexity of this title? We regularly get lost in the weeds trying to grasp it, yet they are beautiful weeds full of wonder.
  21. Ben Chomp

    Ben Chomp Puritan Board Freshman

    Jesus is the eternal Son because he is eternally begotten of the Father. The Father is the eternal Father because he eternally begets the Son. "Father and Son" describes the eternal relationship between these two persons.
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