How can Jesus be the only Son of God when Christians claim to be children of God as well?
By Christopher Jethro
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2017
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2017
The answer to the question is complex because some terms need to be clarified. There is a difference between Jesus being “God’s Son” and Jesus being “THE Son of God”. Jesus Christ is God. After migrating from this, I will explain how certain Bible translations have further given rise to the confusion.
The difference between “The Son of God” and “God’s Son”
“The Son of God” is a title of Jesus which means that He is the manifestation and representative of God. He is the visible image of the invisible God. It is another way of saying that He is God in flesh. Jesus being “God’s Son” refers to Him being as a Son to God the Father. God the Father can call Jesus His “Son” because that is how He feels towards Him. It reflects the father-son relationship that God the Son (Jesus) has with another Person of the Godhead (God the Father). Jesus is not God’s Son in the sense that God created Him, for Jesus is the uncreated Creator. Again, Jesus is not “God’s Son” in a literal, physical way because that would mean that God sexually procreated with a human - a heretical thought.
Are Christians God’s children?
A person can become God’s child when they accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. As John 1:12 reads, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Christians are not God's children by nature; we are simply adopted into the Kingdom. Prior to this salvation experience, a person is simply God’s beloved creation but certainly not His child. And remember, no Christian is THE Son of God! That is a title of Deity reserved for the Lord Jesus alone.
Inaccurate Bible translations causing confusion
Some of the confusion about how Christians can be God’s children if Jesus is the ONLY Son of God stems from inaccurate Bible translations. Some Bible translations say that Jesus is the “one and only” or “only” Son of God. For instance, the NIV version of John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” In another example, the ESV version of 1 John 4:9 reads, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”
These are not accurate translations and it can be very misleading. We know that Jesus cannot be God’s ONLY Son because the Bible says that God has other children. Even in the Old Testament, it says that Adam was God’s son (Luke 3:38), angels are God’s sons (Genesis 6:2, Job 38:7), and Solomon was God’s son (1 Chronicles 22:9-10). In the New Testament, a multitude of verses reveal that God is a Father of many (John 1:12, Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:1-2, 1 John 5:2, Philippians 2:14). Clearly, God has multiple children and Jesus can't be God's only son. (Remember that Jesus is not physically God's Son anyways, for He is God in flesh.)
In the Greek, what we are translating from here is the compound word monogene which literally means “only begotten” and not “one and only”. This literal translation is also supported by the Latin word unigenitus found in other Latin manuscripts. So what the Bible is really telling us in places like John 3:16 is that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God – not God’s only child! Christians are not God’s begotten children, we are adopted into the Kingdom (Romans 8:15). Jesus is not the only child of God, for Christians are as as well, but only Jesus is the begotten Son of God.