Is Jesus the Son of God?
By: Muhammad Qasem
One of the fundamental beliefs in Christianity is the literal sonship of Jesus Christ to God. This belief comes from the verse in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Also in I John 5:1 "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him." these verses clearly state that Jesus is the only begotten, and born Son of God.
Let us look at other verses from the Bible to find out whether Jesus was the only begotten son of God, or that there were more than one. Also let us investigate whether Jesus was the only one born of God. Finally, let us investigate whether the word begotten is to be taken literally.
Was Jesus the only begotten son of God?
In the book of Psalms 2:7 we find "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." David, in this verse, is saying that God had told him he was the son of God and God has begotten him. Clearly Jesus is not the only begotten son of God.
Of course, one could say that although Jesus was not the only begotten son of God, he had no human father in contrast to David who had a human father. That is true! Since Jesus had no human father it makes the relationship between him and God a closer one. The question is what about Adam? Adam had no human father nor a human mother, and according to the Bible he too was the son of God. The Bible says, "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli." (Luke3:23) The Bible goes on to mention the supposed genealogy of Jesus Christ. At the end of this genealogy the Bible comes to Adam, and it says, "Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God." (Luke 3:38). So Adam is also the son of God. According to the assumption: "because Jesus had no human father then he is closer to God than David who had a human father," we can safely conclude that Adam is better than Jesus because he did not have a human father or mother.
The truth is Jesus and Adam do not differ in God’s sight. They were a mere creation of God. The Holy Quran says in clear terms, "Verily, similitude of Jesus with God is as the similitude of Adam; He created him out of dust then said He unto him BE, and he became." (Ch 3: Vr 59).
Was Jesus the only born son of God or the only son of God?
The verse in I John 5:1 says, "...Jesus is the Christ is born of God...." This indicates that Jesus was born of God, but was Jesus the only born son of God? Let us look at what the Bible says: God talking to Moses: Exodus 4:22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: Exodus 4:23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.
Also, God talking about David: Psalms 89:27 Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.
In both Exodus 4:22-23 and Psalms 89:27 Israel and David, respectively, were regarded as the first born sons of God. This means that Jesus was not the only born son of God. This means that the word "born" does not mean conception. It’s just a form of expression God used to show the closeness of people to Him.
Finally, there were many other people mentioned in the bible as sons of God, and one of them was Solomon: I Chronicles 22:9 Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.
I Chronicles 22:10 He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.
Also, remember that some of these verses are taken from the Old Testament, and that this book was originally written in Hebrew. Had the word born or son meant born or son in a literal sense then the Jews would have been ahead of everyone else in claiming their literal sonship to God, or in claiming the literal sonship of Solomon to God. The Jews know their language, and they know what son means. They know that the word "son" should not be taken literally.
The Quran says in chapter 112 "In the name of God the Beneficent the Merciful. Say: ‘He, God, is ONE (alone). God, the Absolute, He begetteth not, nor is He Begotten, And there is none like unto Him.’" God does not beget, and does not need to beget. He is ONE and only ONE, and nothing is equal to Him.
What does begotten mean?
If Jesus is not the only begotten son of God and not the only born son of God, then what does begotten or born mean? Should the two words be taken literally? The only way we can justify these words is by looking at the Bible again. In I Peter 1:3 the Bible says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." The word begotten is also used here. God can beget us unto lively hope. Does the word "begotten" here mean conception? No. It is a form of expression. This word means "gave rise to" or "brought".
Also in Job 38:28 the Bible says, "Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?" Can the drops of dew be begotten? No. It’s just a form of expression. Rain does not have a father nor are drops of dew begotten in a literal sense.
If we cannot take the word begotten in literal sense with David, the drops of dew, or "us unto a lively hope" then why should we take Jesus as the literal begotten son of God?
Finally, in the book Revelation 1:5 says, "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." Why is it that when Jesus is mentioned as being begotten of God it is taken literally, and when he is mentioned that he is begotten from the dead it is not taken literally? The truth is because the word begotten here does not mean any one could be conceived of the dead; it is a form of expression. The same thing with God, He begets not, and this word "begotten" is only a form of expression.
Who was Jesus if not the literal son of God?
According to the Bible in Matthew 21:11 "And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." This was Jesus. He was a prophet of God. He was sent like other prophets to deliver the message of his ONE and only ONE God (glory be to Him). Also, in Luke 24:19 the Bible says "And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people."
Jesus was a true messenger of God Almighty. He was sent by Him to deliver His will. The Bible says in John 5:30 "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." These are the true characteristics of a prophet. They do as they are commanded. They are sent to deliver a message, and the only difference between them and other humans is their utmost righteousness, "mighty in deed and word" (Luke 24:19). They are the best of all the people of their time. They are the only ones who could bear and act upon the commandments of God completely and fully. They are loved by God because of that, and their nearness to God comes from that.
The same applies to all other prophets. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, Jonah, Moses, Jesus, Jonas, Muhammad and all the other prophets shared the same qualities. The qualities of those who could withstand all forms of tribulations in God’s name. They all fully abided by what God has commanded them. The Quran says, "Say: (O’ Our Apostle Muhammad
(unto the People) ‘We believe in God, and what hath been sent down to us, and what hath been sent down to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, and Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord, we make no difference between any of them, and we unto Him are muslims’" (CH 3: Vr 84). (Note that "what was given to Moses, and Jesus" is not the same as the current Bible written by Paul, John, Luke, Matthew, and so on. Rather they were the true books of Moses and Jesus. These are not to be found today.)