Articles

How Jesus’ Sonship, Kingship, and Lordship Affirm His Deity

In Soul Food on March 15, 2012 by The Spillover

Good stuff from Jared C. Wilson:

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
– 1 Corinthians 1:9

The Bible reveals that Jesus was/is God in the flesh. The Bible also reveals Jesus as Son of God, Christ, and Lord. But even these titles/vocations reveal Jesus’ deity. How so?

Jesus’ Sonship as Deity
The title of Son of God (the only begotten) speaks not just to Jesus positional relationship with the Father but his unique nature in connection with the Father. The Nicene creed elucidates it like this:

. . . the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

 But aren’t we all sons (and daughters) of God? In one sense, yes, but not in the same total sense that Jesus is. In fact, John 1:12 tells us that it is only through Jesus’ Sonship (which in the context of John 1 and elsewhere we learn is eternal) that we can receive the right to become sons of God ourselves. Jesus didn’t have to qualify that way. He has this Sonship unequivocally and unconditionally — again, eternally.

When the Scriptures say Jesus is the Son of God, then, they are not just pointing out that Jesus is in relationship to the Father as a son is to his father but that Jesus is in relationship to the Father as very God to very God. Even the Pharisees understood this: “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). And in John 10, when Jesus says that he and the Father “are one” (v.30) the grumblers don’t hear him to be merely saying he’s in agreement with the Father but that he and the Father are of the same essence, which is why they take up stones to kill him for blasphemy (v.33). They say, “You a man are making yourself out to be God.”

Jesus’ Kingship as Deity
The word “Christ” is a messianic title. It literally means “anointed one” and was commonly understand as a reference to the long-awaited messiah, the ultimate fulfillment of the hoped-for King of the Jews. But biblically speaking, Jesus’ kingship is not on par with the kings who came before. And while the Jews did not expect that the messiah would be God — a common anachronistic mistake of contemporary Christians — the truth revealed in the new covenant is lurking in the shadows of the old covenant nonetheless. Throughout the prophets, God promises to be Israel’s king himself. See Hosea 13:16 for example. N.T. Wright is one scholar who has been helpful in pointing out both that Jewish messianic expectation was not for a God-Man but that God defied their expectations by giving them one anyway, saying the story the Scriptures tell is that of God becoming King. In the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, we learn this about the anointed one to come: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” [emphasis added]. The king will be called Mighty God.

The New Testament connects Jesus’ kingship with his deity as well. Paul in Romans 9:5 tells us that the Christ is God over all. In Hebrews 1:8 we read, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,” and this is said to the Son.

Jesus’ Lordship as Deity
This is the shortest line to draw, as Jesus’ Lordship is an affirmation of his sovereignty, and an affirmation of sovereignty — especially the kind of total sovereignty ascribed inHebrews 1:3 (he upholds the universe with his powerful word), Colossians 1:15-20, andRevelation 5:13 — is an affirmation of deity. When the Scriptures say Jesus is Lord, they are not just saying he is in charge but that he is in charge as God is in charge because in fact he is God (e.g. Hebrews 1:3′s “the radiance of his glory and the exact imprint of his nature”).

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