How can Jesus be both God and the Son of God?

by Matt Slick

Jesus can be both God and the son of God because the terms don't mean the same thing. When we say that Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8), we are saying that Jesus possesses the divine nature (as well as a human nature, see hypostatic union). But the term "Son of God" does not mean that Jesus is not God. Think about it. If the term "Son of God" meant that Jesus is not God, then does the term "Son of Man" mean that Jesus is not a man? Of course not. Likewise, if the term "Son of Man" means that Jesus is a man, then does it not imply that when it says Jesus is the "Son of God" that he is God? We ought not look at the ancient words found in Scripture and judge them by modern thinking.

"For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God," (John 5:18).

As you can see in this verse, Jesus was calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God. Therefore, the term Son of God is a designation of the equality with God when it is a reference to Christ.

Jesus is the Son of God

The phrase "Son of God" occurs 44 times in the New American Standard Bible. Each time it is used of Christ. It is a title of his preeminence, holiness, and relationship to God the Father. In fact, we see that the Pharisees wanted to kill him for proclaiming he was the son of God

“I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?" (John 10:30-36).

In this account we see the second instance of Jesus being threatened with stoning. The first one is a little earlier.

 "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.' 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple," (John 8:58-59).

Jesus' words here are significant because he says he is the "I am." This is similar to what is found in Exodus.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations," (Exodus 3:14-15).

When we combine all of this together, we see that Jesus was claiming the divine title for himself (John 8:58; Exodus 3:14-15) and that is why the Jews wanted to kill him (John 8:59 and John 10:31). The explanation given is that Jesus was claiming equality with God by claiming that he was the Son of God. 

So, when we say that Jesus is God, we are saying that he is divine by nature. He is, after all, the second person of the Trinity. But when we say that Jesus is the Son of God, we are saying that he is also God since that is what the phrase means.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.