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Divinity of Christ, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
12- Jesus is the Son of God
(4) But the Lord Jesus Christ's Sonship is of the essence of God Himself. That is why He was sometimes called the Son or the Only Son because He has a unique Sonship which has the same Nature and Divinity with God.
Here we will explain how Christ's Sonship to the Father is not an ordinary Sonship, and how it was testified to by all, even by God the Father Himself, at moments of miracles in a way implying the Divinity of the Son.
(5) The testimony of the Father to the Son at His baptism. God the Father testified to Christ at the moment of His baptism, saying:
"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (Matt.3:17); (Lk. 3:22).This testimony was accompanied by miraculous signs: the heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove and descended on Him, and a voice was heard from heaven, which was the voice of the Father bearing testimony. If Christ's Sonship were an ordinary sonship, and all people are children of God, what then was the need for all those signs? For the sake of this greatness which was manifested at the moment of Christ's baptism, we name this event Epiphany, that is, the Divine Manifestation.
(6) God the Father also testified to the Son at the Transfiguration. The Father testified to the Son at that moment which declared His Divinity in front of His three disciples when "His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses... And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"' (Mk. 9:2-7). If Christ were an ordinary Son, why would He need a testimony from the Father? And why was there need for all the glory of the Transfiguration; the light and the cloud? And why was there need for the voice of the Father? In addition to this, the phrase
'Hear Him' commands us also to submit to Him. If everyone were a Son of God, to whom did the Father testify with the same glory as that of Christ's baptism and transfiguration?
(7) The Father's testimony to the Son is from old. The Father says to the Son in the second Psalm "You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron" (Ps. 2:7-9). This is Sonship with dominion over the ends of the earth, which St. Paul wondered at and mentioned when he explained how the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than the angels and even worshipped by them, saying: "For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'You are My Son, today 1 have begotten You'? " (Heb. 1:5)
(8) Christ's Sonship to God was the aim of writing the Gospel. The Gospel according to St. Mark begins with the statement:
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mk. 1: 1). If Christ were a Son like all the children of God, what was the need for recording this statement and all the miracles which the Evangelist recounted thereafter? In the Gospel according to St. John, we see that the Evangelist, after having recorded miracles not mentioned by any of the other Evangelists and after having recorded all Christ's discourses that indicated His Divinity, concluded by saying: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (Jn. 20:30,3 1). Therefore, Christ's Sonship is not ordinary, but a unique Sonship which is proved by verses emphasizing His Divinity. If He were an ordinary Son, what was the need for recounting all the miracles? They were written in order that we may believe that He is the Son of God and that our belief in this Sonship may give us life.
(9) Christ's Sonship to God was the foundation of the Church, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. The Lord Jesus Christ asked His disciples about their belief and the people's belief in Him, saying: " Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" When St. Peter answered Him: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God', He called him blessed, saying: "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." Then the Lord added, "on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:13-18).
If Christ's Sonship were an ordinary sonship, what was the need for this blessedness? And what was the need for the heavenly revelation from God the Father? What is the meaning of building the Church on this rock of faith?
This will be explained in detail when we will talk about the Divinity of Christ with respect to belief in Him as the Son of God.
(10) Christ's Sonship to God was the reason for the Sanhedrin's sentencing Him to death. The chief priests could not find a reason to condemn Him because even though many false witnesses came forward, their testimonies did not agree. So the high priest rose and said to Him: "I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God' (Matt. 26:63). If His Sonship were an ordinary sonship like the sonship of all the people to God, what was the significance of the high priest adjuring Him before the greatest Synagogue at the time asking Him if He was the Son of God? When the Lord answered in the affirmative, adding two points befitting His Divinity, namely, that He will sit at the right hand of the Power and will come in His glory on the clouds of heaven, "the high priest tore his clothes, saying,
'He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!"' (Matt. 26:63-65) And they sentenced Him to death for this reason.
(11) Christ's Sonship was the object of Satan's bewilderment. In the Lord's temptation in the wilderness, we find Satan saying to Him: "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread' (Matt. 4:3). Satan's question implied the Sonship to God which has extraordinary miraculous power that can change stone into bread, and not the ordinary sonship of all the children of God. Again Satan asked the same question at the Crucifixion, through the mouths of the people who said: "If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matt. 27:40). Therefore it was understood by all that Christ's Sonship was not a common sonship, but a Sonship which had miraculous power that could enable descent from the cross.
(12) This Sonship was the subject of the Annunciation. The angel said to the Virgin Mary: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God' (Lk. 1:35). If Christ were the Son of God in the same sense as the children of God, then there would have been no need for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin and for the power of the Highest to overshadow her, in order for Him to be called the Son of God. Therefore this Sonship is the Sonship of the Holy Spirit, as the angel said to Joseph: ':for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:20). Also, the angel said to the Virgin Mary that her Son "will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end' (Lk. 1:32,33). No one among men rules forever and has a kingdom which has no end; but this is attributed to God alone. Therefore the Annunciation to the Virgin about the Sonship to God carried a Divine meaning that He reigns forever and that His kingdom will have no end.
There is a possibility that the angers announcement was taken from Daniel's prophecy about Christ as the Son of Man, which says: "Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed' (Dan. 7:13,14).
(13) The relation of Christ's Sonship to the Godhead is mentioned in the Book of Isaiah who said: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Is. 9:6). In the same prophecy we find both terms 'Son' and 'Mighty God, and the word
'Wonderful' reminds us of the Lord's words to Manoah, Samson's father: "Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?" (Jud. 13:18)
(14) The relation between Christ's Sonship to the Godhead is also mentioned in the Book of Proverbs, which says: "Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name and what is His Son's name, if you know?" (Prov. 30:9) Here, the Scripture does not refer to an ordinary son of God's children but an Only Son, distinguished from all others because He is of the same Nature and Essence with God.
(15) There is a profession of Christ's Sonship to God in the miracle of walking on the sea. This miracle implies His Divinity because it is a miraculous dominion over nature. The Lord Jesus Christ walked on the water in a wonderful miraculous way the disciples had never seen. Then St. Peter said to Him: "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." When the Lord permitted him, Peter walked on the water by the power of the Lord, then doubted and sank, and the Lord saved him. What happened after that? The Gospel says: "Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, 'Truly You are the Son of God'" (Matt. 14:25-33). Did the disciples mean by the word 'Son' ordinary sonship like the rest of God's children? This is impossible because walking on water and allowing one's disciple to walk on water is not an aspect of being one of God's children. That is why the disciples worshipped Christ while using the expression 'Son of God. Their worship was a profession that Christ is the Son of God and that His Sonship is unique and of extraordinary miraculous dominion over wind and water.
(16) Nathanael also professed that Christ is the Son of God whose Sonship is of miraculous and mighty Divinity. The Lord said to Nathanael: "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you" (Jn. 1:48). When Nathanael realized the power of the Lord to know the unseen whether He saw him just before Philip called him, or knew a hidden incident in his past, he replied saying: "Rabbi, You are the Son of God!" (Jn. 1:49) Of course Nathanael did not mean the ordinary sonship but he meant the Sonship which has the Divine quality, of knowing the unseen. The Lord Jesus Christ accepted this confession from Nathanael and in order to confirm his belief, added: "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these... hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man" (Jn. 1:50,5 1).
(17) The belief of the centurion in Christ as the Son of God happened after a miracle. The Gospel according to our teacher St. Matthew says: "Now when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, 'Truly this was the Son of God!"' (Matt. 27:54); (Mk. 15:38,39) When they saw the miracle of the earthquake and the darkness that came over the whole earth from the sixth hour (midday) until the ninth hour, they believed and said: "Truly this was the Son of God!" They meant the Sonship which has dominion over nature and that is why the Gospel says: "they feared. " Maybe their faith was strengthened when they saw blood and water coming out of His side when the soldier pierced Him (Jn. 19:34).
(18) The miracle of the Lord's Baptism made John the Baptist testify that Christ was the Son of God. He said: "I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God' (Jn. 1: 33,34). This Sonship to God, to which John the priest and prophet testified, is not an ordinary sonship but a Sonship which implied His Divinity, and was declared after a miracle. That was why John the Baptist said on the same occasion: "This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me"' (Jn. 1:30), and it is known that Christ was born six months after John the Baptist.
(19) A confession of Christ's Sonship to God came after the miracle of giving sight to the man born blind. After performing the miracle, the Lord met the man born blind and said to him: "'Do you believe in the Son of God?' He answered and said, 'Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him? 'And Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.' Then he said, 'Lord, I believe!' And he worshipped Him" (Jn. 9:35-38). This discourse was not about a common sonship shared by all people, otherwise the man born blind would not have asked: "Who is He, Lord?" If it were an ordinary sonship, the man born blind would have said: "We are all God's children. 1, even 1, am a son of God." But it was a Sonship which needed faith and a miracle, and resulted in the man born blind worshipping the Lord as the Son of God. What adds to the importance of this miracle is that it carries a declaration from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself that He is the Son of God, as well as a call from Him to all people to believe in this.
(20) Belief in Christ's Sonship to God needed preaching and interpretation. This appears explicitly in the incident of the Ethiopian eunuch who was met by Philip while reading Isaiah's prophesy about Christ. He could not understand the meaning of what he was reading, so Philip explained the chapter to him and preached Christ to him. The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip to baptize him and Philip replied: " 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God " (Acts 8:2737). Common sonship does not need any explanation or interpretation or preaching because it is common to all.
(21) The same may be said about Martha who professed her belief after the Lord had explained to her that He is the resurrection and the life, saying: "'He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live'... She said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world (Jn. 11:25-27). Of course Martha meant a special Sonship which has a miraculous quality ascertained by the clause "who is to come into the world" which means that He is not of this world, but has come into it.
(22) Christ's Sonship was declared by the Lord Jesus Himself on more than one occasion. It is clear from His call to the man born blind to believe in the Son of God (Jn.9:35-37). And also from His words to the angel of the church in Thyatira in the Book of Revelation where He says: "These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like aflame of fire, and His feet like fine brass" (Rev. 2:18). It is also plain in all the Lord's discourses about the Son of God.
(23) Christ's Sonship is in the Holy Trinity. The Lord Jesus said to His disciples: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). The use of the word 'name' in the singular form means that the Three are One. Because His Sonship to the Father is not a common sonship but a special One entailing His Divinity, He is called 'the Son'.
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