Why is Yeshua (Jesus) called “the Son of God”? Is this belief rooted in paganism or Greco-Roman mythology as some argue? Actually, this belief is rooted in the Hebrew Bible (aka, Tanakh; or what Christians have been taught to call the “Old Testament”). For example, in Matthew 16, Shi’mon Petros’ (Peter’s) famous confession of faith is —
You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)
And in the Gospel of John, it is written,
In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2)
In this verse, Yochanan (John) is using the phrase “In the beginning” to refer back to the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1, but what does he mean by “the Word”? In the original Hebrew, Genesis 1:1 looks like the following:
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ:
Hebrew is read from right to left. All ancient languages read the same way. It is only the modern languages, such as English, that read from left to right. So if I were to write this verse using English letters, it would read:
B’reshi’th bara’ ‘elohim ‘eth hashamayim v’eth ha’aretz.
If I were to translate this verse into English, it would read:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
But when we see this verse into any other language, we do not see the word ‘eth. It is comprised of the aleph (א), the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and the Tahv (ת), the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Yochanan (John) says that this Word is in the beginning with God, the word ‘elohim, and not only is this Word with God, but he says that it is God.
Therefore, we have to wonder, do we have any passages in the Hebrew Bible that comes right out and says that the Messiah will be God, or the “Son of God”? And the answer would be “Yes.”
The Davidic Covenant
The tile “Son of God” can actually be traced back to the covenant that God made with David. For example,
2 Samuel 7:12b – 16
I Chronicles 17:11b-14
I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
I will set up one of your descendants after you, who shall be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom.
He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.
I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE WILL BE A SON TO ME; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes
I WILL BE HIS FATHER, AND HE SHALL BE MY SON; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you.
But My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever,…
And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.
…his throne shall be established forever.
If we compare these two versions of the Davidic Covenant, we notice some interesting differences between the two of them. The first version was written during David’s own lifetime; however, the second one was written according to tradition by Ezra the priest AFTER the Babylonian Exile (II Chronicles 36: 21-23). The books of Chronicles are the last two books of the Hebrew Bible.
A Son or a Descendant of His Sons?
The first difference that we can see is that in the 2 Samuel version, the possibility that God is going to raise up one of David’s sons seems likely, but in the I Chronicles version, it is made clear that the intended subject will not be one of his own sons, but a descendant of one of his sons.
A Matter of Wording
The next change we see is not really in content – but in the wording of the two versions. For example, in the 2 Samuel version, God says, “He shall build a house for My name,” but in the I Chronicles version, it says, “He shall build for Me a house.” Also, in the 2 Samuel version, He says, “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever”; whereas, in the I Chronicles version, it says, “I will establish his throne forever.” In this latter version, it does not specifically say that the Kingdom belongs to him, but it acknowledge that the throne belongs to him.
In God’s House and His Kingdom?
But the I Chronicles version does offer a promise that the 2 Samuel version does not: God promises to “settle him in My [God’s] house and in My [God’s] kingdom forever.”
Treated as a Son or Is He the Son?
It is this next difference I want us to pay attention. In the 2 Samuel version, it seems to suggest that God says that He will treat this descendant “as a son,” and He will be “a father” to him; however, in the Chronicles version, it is more direct than the 2 Samuel version, in that it says, “I will be his Father, and he shall be My Son.” Consequently, God identifies the future “descendant of David” will “BE MY SON” (i.e., “the Son of God“). But what does God mean here that “I will be his Father, and he shall be My Son“? God doesn’t go on to explain here.
The Messiah is called “the Mighty God” in Isaiah
For unto us a child is born, a son will be given to us,
and the government will be upon his shoulder.
His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, MIGHTY GOD
MY FATHER of ETERNITY, Prince of Peace,
Of the increase of his government and shalom there will be no end –
on the throne of David and over his kingdom –
to establish it and uphold it through justice and righteousness
from now until forevermore. The zeal of ADONAI-Tzva’ot will accomplish this.
God’s Son in the Psalms
But two other references to “God’s Son” is in Psalm 2:
The LORD has said unto me, “I will declare the decree of ADONAI. He said to me: “You are My Son – today I have become Your Father, Ask Me and I will give the nations as Your inheritance, and the far reaches of the earth as Your possession.” (Psalm 2: 7-8, TLV)
So now, O kings, be wise, take warning, O judges of the earth! Serve ADONAI with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish along your way – since His wrath may flare up suddenly. Happy is everyone taking refuge in Him! (Psalm 2: 10-12, TLV)
God’s Son in the Book of Proverbs
A third reference to “God’s Son” is in Proverbs 30,
Who has gone up into heaven, and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in the palm of His hand?
Who has wrapped the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name and what is THE NAME OF HIS SON – if you know? (Proverbs 30: 4)
In Summary –
From these references what can we conclude about the Messiah, the son of David:
- He shall be the Son of God;
- He shall be “settled in God’s House and in God’s Kingdom.”
- One of the names He will be called will be “the Mighty God,” and “My Father of Eternity.” These are
both designations for God.
- He will be given Israel and the nations as His inheritance;
- He will rule both Israel and the nations;
- He is more than “a normal human being” but shares certain activities with God;
Therefore, the concept of “the Son of God” does not originate in paganism or in Greek mythology as many people have claimed. But here we can see that the concept of “the Son of God” is rooted right here within the Hebrew Scriptures.