THE Son of God and THE Son of Man


Continuing the discussion from A De Novo Adam's Language?:

Not quite, but good guess, I think.

Actually “Son of God” is used for several purposes through out Scripture. Every Christian, for example, is considered “born again” as a “son of God”. Angels are called “Sons of God.” Adam is called a “Son of God”. Kings are called “Sons of God.” Meanings range from:

  1. Close to God.
  2. Heavenly being
  3. From God
  4. Kingly authority

…and probably more.

About Jesus, it is said, however, that he is the “only begotten Son of God” (see here You’ll notice that different translations translate this in different ways. Some very confusingly say “One and Only Son.” It is one of the places where the precise translation is difficult to english. This word “Begotten” is trying to point out that Jesus exists along side God from the beginning as a member of the Godhead (to use our trinitarian language and perspective), but also has a discrete entry-point into the world at in the Virgin Birth.

So, in some senses, Jesus is the Son of God among many other sons and daughters of God. However, in one important sense, he is the only Son of God. In retrospect, it is easy to read other uses of Sons of God just foreshadowing THE Son of God to come.

The much more interesting messianic term, however, is Son of Man, or Son of Adam. We see parallel in usage here. Just as there are many sons of God, but Jesus is THE Son of God, there are many sons of Adam, but Jesus is THE Son of Adam. Both these claims were understood as claims to divinity at the time, and this was why he was crucified, for the official charge of blasphemy (among other factors). All he had to do was say He did not mean it as a Messianic title, and they would have had no claim against him. Yet he is silent as they claim He claimed to be God.

They are both (Son of Man and Son of God) are Messianic titles that converge on Jesus, and historical theology ends up coming to believe that BOTH are true in special way with Jesus, he is THE man-god, incarnate, fully Man and fully God.

The use of these terms before do not diminish their meaning in relation to Jesus. Rather, the use in other areas is anticipatory, telling a long story of longing anticipation, waiting for the coming of the One to usher in a new order to the world.

Great question @Patrick.


Great theological analysis and discourse, @swamidass. Thanks!


As for another plug, I’ve really enjoyed this children’s book by my colleague at WUSTL. I highly reccomend it. My two year old often wants to sleep with “M’rcle Maan!!”.

It is beautifully illustrated, like work of art. In the narration, Jesus is called “The Man.” This is close to how “Son of Man” might have been heard; it is a reasonable cultural translation (though obviously not perfect). There are many men who came before and after, Jesus is THE Man.


I always wondered why it would take an eternity of suffering for me to pay the price of just my individual lifetime of sins most of which appear to be “thought crimes”, Jesus paid for the sins of billions of people’s lifetimes over the span of a single Friday. I’m not sure how the math works out on that, but part of the fun of religion is that things don’t have to make sense.


Theology is supposed to make sense of that, and it does. Partly because the way you describe it isn’t precisely correct. Regarding heaven and hell, what do you think of the Great Divorce by CS Lewis?


For Christians, the issue of eternity --life beyond this present existence, is NOT a matter of either a) paying for eternity for all my sins through death and suffering, or b) just enjoying the “paid in full” status of accepting what Christ did for me, on my behalf, when he suffered unjustly, but of c) wanting to be more in line with God’s character. We love because He first loved us. God is not a cosmic killjoy, out to get His “pound of flesh.” In a very real sense, when we disagree with God about our need for Him, we are, in essence, saying "I want to be my own god; I don’t need to get to know my “Maker.” Which, by definition, means you wouldn’t want to be in perfect fellowship with God in heaven. And so, God will eventually allow you that choice --to live where He isn’t especially present, in what is commonly called hell --the state of being where a person who chooses to refuse to acknowledge God chooses --of their own accord --to go, “where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and where their fire is never quenched.” C.S. Lewis presents this well, in parable form.