We Are Radical

Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)

Jesus, the Pre-Existent Son of God

The Sonship of Jesus Christ is debated little among Bible scholars of today. Jesus is the Son of God. However, the point in time, if any, when Jesus took on the form of the Son is a matter of debate. It is to this debate that we direct our attention. To clarify the nature of this discussion it is necessary to know what is not being considered. This article is not concerned with:

  • The eternity of Christ
  • The promise of a messiah in the Old Testament that was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament
  • Identifying whether Jesus is the Son of God
  • The Nature of his Sonship

It is concerned with whether Jesus of Nazareth was recognised as the “Son” before his incarnation or the “Son” only upon his entry into the world.

Jesus was recognised in the New Testament Scripture as “Son” before his incarnation.

The writings of Paul

In Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” This rendering expressly says that God’s Son was sent. It might be compared in this way: If I sent my son to China would he be my son before he was sent or only after he was sent? The truth is, God sent forth one who was the Son. He was the Son before he was sent and the Son after he was sent (cf. Rom.8:3).

The writings of John

John was known as the closest friend to the Saviour. In 1 John 3:8 he speaks of the nature of the Son’s mission. He says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” This verse shows that before manifestation occurred the Son of God dwelled. To say that the Son of God was not called the Son of God until he was manifested is to say something different than what this passage implies (cf. 1 John 4:9; 5:20). Again, in his Gospel account John quotes the Son of God saying, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

The Logos

In John 1:1-5,14 the idea is given that before Jesus became flesh that he was known as the “Word” or “Logos.” Some would say that before he was born and up until the time of his incarnation he was only known as the “Logos.” Then, when he was born he began to be looked upon as the “Son.” This is not really a problem. Just because he was called Logos before his incarnation does not indicate that he was not known as anything else. “Logos” could have been one of any number of designations to which he was referred. Consider the truth that the devils knew who he was. They would have known this independently of what has been revealed during that day and time. In Mark 3:11, “And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying: ‘Thou art the Son of God.’” How did they know he was the Son of God ? In Mark 5:2ff Jesus and his disciples went to the country of Gerasenes. As soon as Jesus got out of the boat an unclean spirit named Legion (v.9) confronted him, “and cried with a loud voice, and said: What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not” (v.7). How did Legion recognise that this man in all the crowd of disciples, and possibly others, was Jesus the Son of God? Did God reveal it to the devil? The devil must have known him as the Son outside the physical revelation of Jesus as the Son of God (cf Matt. 4:3,6).

Nathanael and Others

In John 1:45ff “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him: We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” When Nathanael saw Jesus and received proof of Philip’s testimony he said, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (1:49). Nathanael knew that the promised Messiah was to be equated with the Son of God independently of Jesus revealing it. The law and the prophets revealed the identity of the Messiah. Jesus, in most situations, referred to himself as Son of man. The people saw him as the Son of God independent of Jesus’ testimony (cf. Matt. 16:16,17; John 6:69).

Some Concluding Remarks

There are some dangers in holding that the second person of the Godhead was not looked upon as the Son until he was revealed. One problem is that many will believe that the Son was not deity until the virgin birth. Along with this is the possible misunderstanding that Jesus, the Son of God, was created. Both doctrines are false. The truth is that Jesus is and always has been considered the Son of God.

Scott Harp, Enduring Words, Vol. 8, Issue 3, September 1989

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We are the Lord's church that meets in Porirua, New Zealand. Visit poriruachurch.com.

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This entry was posted on 06/09/1989 by in Uncategorized.
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