This is one of the major NT titles for Jesus.  It surely has divine connotations.  It included Jesus as "the Son" or "My Son," also God addressed as "Father" (see  Special Topic: The Fatherhood of God).  It occurs in the NT over 124 times.  Even Jesus' self-designation as "Son of Man" has a divine connotation from Dan. 7:13-14.

In the OT the designation "son" could refer to four specific groups (see Special Topic: "Sons of. . .").

A. angels (usually in the plural, cf. Gen. 6:2; Job 1:6; 2:1)

B. the King of Israel (cf.2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:7; 89:26-27)

C. the nation of Israel as a whole (cf. Exod. 4:22-23; Deut. 14:1; Hos. 11:1; Mal. 2:10)

D. Israeli judges (cf. Ps. 82:6)


It is the second usage that is linked to Jesus. In this way "son of David" and "son of God" both relate to 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 2 and 89. In the OT "son of God" is never used specifically of the Messiah, except as the eschatological king as one of the "anointed offices" of Israel.  However, in the Dead Sea Scrolls the title with Messianic implications is common (see specific references in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, p. 770).  Also "Son of God" is a Messianic title in two interbiblical Jewish apocalyptic works (cf. II Esdras 7:28; 13:32,37,52; 14:9 and I Enoch 105:2).

Its NT background as it refers to Jesus is best summarized by several categories.

1. His pre-existence (cf. John 1:15-30; 8:56-59; 16:28; 17:5; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-7; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; 10:5-8)

2. His unique (virgin) birth (cf. Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:31-35)

3. His baptism (cf. Matt. 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22. God's voice from heaven unites the royal king of Psalm 2 with the suffering servant of Isaiah 53).

4. His satanic temptation (cf. Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1-13. He is tempted to doubt His sonship or at least to accomplish its purpose by different means than the cross).

5. His affirmation by unacceptable confessors

a. demons (cf. Mark 1:23-25; Luke 4:31-37,41; Mark 3:11-12; 5:7; see Special Topic: The Demon [unclean spirits])

b. unbelievers (cf. Matt. 27:43; Mark 14:61; John 19:7) 

6. His affirmation by His disciples

a. Matt. 14:33; 16:16

b. John 1:34,49; 6:69; 11:27

7. His self affirmation

a. Matthew 11:25-27

b. John 10:36

8. His use of the familial metaphor of God as Father

a. His use of abba for God

1) Mark 14:36

2) Romans 8:15

3) Galatians 4:6

b. His recurrent use of Father (patēr) to describe His relationship to Deity


In summary, the title "Son of God" had great theological meaning for those who knew the OT and its promises and categories, but the NT writers were nervous about its use with Gentiles because of their pagan background of "the gods" taking women with the resulting offspring being "the titans" or "giants."


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