Sons of God (New Testament)

See also the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia.

1. New Testament Terms:

Two Greek words are translated "son," teknon, huios, both words indicating sonship by parentage, the former indicating that the sonship has taken place by physical descent, while the latter presents sonship more from the legal side than from the standpoint of relationship. John, who lays special emphasis on sonship by birth, uses teknon, while Paul, in emphasizing sonship from the legal side, as referring to adoption, which was current among the Romans but scarcely if at all known to, or if known, practiced by, the Jews, uses the word huios (Joh 1:12; Ro 8:14,16,19; Ga 4:6-7; 1Jo 3:1-2).

2. New Testament Doctrine:

Men are not by nature the sons of God, at least not in the sense in which believers in Christ are so called. By nature those outside of Jesus Christ are "children of wrath" (Eph 2:3), "of disobedience" (Eph 2:2), controlled not by the Spirit of God (Ro 8:14), but by the spirit of disobedience (Eph 2:2-4). Men become sons of God in the regenerative and adoptive sense by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (Joh 1:12 f; Ga 3:26). The universal brotherhood which the New Testament teaches is that brotherhood which is based on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the divine and only Saviour of the world. And the same is true of the universal Fatherhood of God. It is true that all men are "his offspring" (Ac 17:28 f) in the sense that they are God's created children; but that the New Testament makes a very clear and striking distinction between sonship by virtue of creation and sonship by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, there can be no reasonable doubt.

Sonship is the present possession of the believer in Christ (1Jo 3:2). It will be completed at the second coming of our Lord (Ro 8:23), at which time the believer will throw off his incognito, by reason of which the world may not have recognized his sonship (1Jo 3:1-2), and be fully and gloriously revealed as the son of God (2Co 5:10). It doth not yet appear, it hath not yet appeared, what we shall be; the revelation of the sons of God is reserved for a coming day of manifestation.

The blessings of sonship are too numerous to mention, save in the briefest way. His sons are objects of God's peculiar love (Joh 17:23), and His Fatherly care (Lu 12:27-33). They have the family name (Eph 3:14 f; 1Jo 3:1); the family likeness (Ro 8:29); family love (Joh 13:35; 1Jo 3:14); a filial spirit (Ro 8:15; Ga 4:6); a family service (Joh 14:23 f; Joh 15:8). They receive fatherly chastisement (Heb 12:5-11); fatherly comfort (2Co 1:4), and an inheritance (Ro 8:17; 1Pe 1:3-5).

Among the evidences of sonship are: being led by the Spirit (Ro 8:14; Ga 5:18); having a childlike confidence in God (Ga 4:5); having liberty of access (Eph 3:12); having love for the brethren (1Jo 2:9-11; 5:1), and obedience (1Jo 5:1-3).

William Evans

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