“Jesus is God” has become for many the badge of correct understanding about who Jesus is. In the context of the first-century New Testament, however, it would have been heard as “Jesus is the One God of Israel.” Since that one God was known to be not a man, anyone one some six foot tall walking around Palestine could not have claimed to be GOD without appearing to have become deranged. The worst they could say of Jesus at his trial was that he claimed not to be the Creator of heaven and earth, but the Son of God. And in those days, unlike ours, no one thought that Son of God = God!
Everyone in Israel knew that the One God was in heaven ruling the universe. He was not confined to a Jewish human frame — having abdicated His position in the universe (and let it control itself?).
Jesus never once said anything as mad as “I am the one God.” He claimed always to be the Messiah and everyone knew that the Messiah was the promised anointed King of Israel, not God but the Son of God. Happily in our day, the clouds of confusion are rolling back and the sunshine of truth is once again emerging. Not that this truth has not been known before, but it is largely lost in dusty libraries or learned tomes.
At the very famous Fuller Theological Seminary in California
the distinguished systematician has written “To be called Son of God in the
Bible means you are not God.”
With that simple statement the world of Bible study is dramatically advanced.
Dr. Brown has merely been good enough to show us what we can all check for ourselves, that “Son of God” in the Bible means a creature, either Israel the nation, or angels, or Adam, or supremely Jesus, the Son of God and Son of David. The Messiah (Christ) is the Son of God and on that rock foundational proposition (certainly not on the proposition that Jesus is God!) the church of Jesus Christ is to be stably founded (Matt. 16:16-18).
How is Jesus the Son of God? When did he become Son of God? This is an easy question, but it is not answered well by church tradition. Try it out on your friends, for a lively conversation. Luke has answered the question in a way which should silence all objections (though in practice you may find that it may not!).
It was the mission of the mighty angel Gabriel to inform us, through a conversation with the young Jewess Mary, about how Jesus was the Son of God. What a joy and blessing that we can be party to that conversation, recorded copied and preserved so meticulously over these many years. We can listen in as Gabriel engaged Mary in a brief dialogue, revealing the secrets of the universe.
We must be ready, however, for some real shocks. The theology of Gabriel about the Son of God is far removed from the later traditional Trinitarian teaching about an “eternal Son” who had no beginning!
Mary is promised that her firstborn son is to be the “Son of the Most High” (i.e. of God). This is no ordinary son. God, his Father, is going to give him the throne of his father David. So then, David is also his father, or ancestor in this case. Mary is his mother. And “the one fathered [gennethen] in her” (Matt. 1:20) is a product of the supernatural activity of God through his creative spirit. The Son of God and of David is the head of the New Creation. He is the firstborn, we are delighted to report, among many brothers and sisters. Thus his vital importance for all of us interested in the pursuit of immortality.
Jesus is the Son of God and son of Mary in this way: “Holy spirit will come over you, Mary, and the power of the Highest one will overshadow you, and that is precisely why he will be called Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Is that clear? The reason and basis for the title Son of God is the miracle in Mary. It is that creative miracle which, marking the greatest event of human history thus far (besides the Genesis creation itself), brings into existence (that is what “beget” means) the Son of God.
Now note what happened three centuries later when church councils (Nicea, 325; Constantinople, 381; Chalcedon, 451), thinking no doubt “that they were doing God a service” (John 16:2), decided formally to anathematize anyone who dared to say “there was a time when the Son did not exist.”
Gabriel and Mary would have been in dire trouble in those days! They would have been excommunicated for being anti-Christian. The cult label would no doubt have been applied. But did Mary and Gabriel really deserve the cult sticker, or had the Church long lost its pristine understanding of who the real Jesus was and is?
Gabriel had announced to Mary how the son of David and of God was going to come into existence, that is be begotten. (To beget, gennao in Greek, means to cause to come into existence.) It was precisely because of (dio kai) the divine miracle of God in Mary that the Son was produced without the benefit of a human father.
That theology was enough to provide a clear theology of the Son of God, an indispensable “Christology” (the science of who Jesus is). But man being man, and the Devil being subtle, managed to wreck that simple story of God’s wonderful creative act. The notion was cleverly advanced that Jesus had preexisted. Preexisted? You mean, he existed before he existed? He was before he was? Explain that, if you can, to your friends, or to your children. The attempt to explain it will probably leave you baffled and hopefully driven back to the biblical drawing board. You cannot come into existence if you are already in existence. You cannot be human and pre-human. So, under the guise of the very misleading term “preexistent Christ” another pre-historical Christ was added to the biblical story, affecting it adversely at its very heart. The origin of the Christ, the Son of God, in Mary was thrown into confusion.
Once there was a preexisting and a post-existing Jesus, a “before and after Jesus,” it was impossible for him to have a beginning in Mary. But to be begotten one must be brought into existence. That is the case with all human beings. That is what begotten means: to be brought into existence.
Thus, ingeniously, the Jesus who was descended from David and brought into existence as God’s Son in Mary according to God’s oathbound promises to Abraham and David (Gen, 12; 13; 15; 17; 2 Sam. 7), was really eliminated. There could be no real lineal descendant of David as the Messiah if that Son of God was already alive.
This may take some careful pondering (even Mary pondered all these things in her heart), but you cannot preexist yourself. You cannot be before you are. A “preexisting” Jesus appears to be “another Jesus” altogether, one who cannot by definition be the lineal and biological descendant of David (which he must be to qualify as the Messiah). He must of course be the Son of GOD Himself, and this truth is supplied by the virginal conception. Thus a denial of the miraculous conception/begetting in Mary also disfigures the identity of the true Jesus. Christology is indeed important and is not some abstruse doctrinal issue for learned and remote theologians! Knowing the Jesus of the Bible is important for the life of the age to come. Jesus said this in John 17:3.
An eternally preexisting Jesus, Son of God, cannot by definition be begotten (=brought into existence) in Mary, if he is already in existence. Matthew gives us the true Messiah’s origin (Matt. 1:18, genesis). It was in his mother’s womb. Not in pre-history, except in the mind and plan of God. His genesis in Mary of course makes him indeed a man, a member of the human race, and allows him to be the firstborn of the new creation, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters.
If you preexist your birth, you are not begotten as a human being; you are metamorphosed from one existence to another. Preexistence makes begetting impossible. Or as Harnack and others long ago protested, virginal begetting and birth contradict the idea of literal preexistence. Churches have managed to muddle the two contradictory ideas together and seem to hope that you will not think long enough about them to see that they cancel each other out.
Here is the biblical scheme for identifying the real Messiah in the considerable confusion which plagues our religious scene today after many years of dispute and disagreement. The backbone of Scripture is provided by the marvelous promise that the God of Israel would one day become the Father of a unique Son, the last Adam and son of David. The revelation granted to David is unmistakably clear:
2 Samuel 7:13, 14:
- Messiah will be the descendant of David.
God will be his Father. He will be God’s Son.
He will have the throne of David forever.
Luke 1:32, 33, 35:
- Mary’s supernaturally begotten child will be the Son of God.
His father is David. He will have the throne of his father David forever.
Romans 1:1, 2, 4:
- The Gospel of God was promised in the prophets.
God’s Son (v. 3) was to come into existence (egeneto) as a descendant of David.
He was to be declared Son in power later by the powerful act of God which brought about his resurrection.
Hebrews 1:5: The Son of God is the one prophesied in 2 Samuel 7:14.
Psalm 2:7: God begat him.
Hebrews 1:6: God brought him into the world.
Hebrews 7:14: Our Lord is a descendant of Judah.
Acts 13:33: God raised up, produced, Jesus by begetting him (Ps. 2:7), and later raised him from the dead (Acts 13:34).
How beautifully the plan of God for His Messianic Son unfolds. And God is really one, and His Son is the pinnacle of His amazing creation and purpose for us all.
 Ex Auditu, 1991.
The above article taken from http://www.focusonthekingdom.org/93.htm#2