Is Jesus the Son of God?

Jesus dwells on God’s side of the gap between Creator and creatures.

How do we know Jesus is the divine Son of God?

The answer to this question is all about the Holy Spirit. We join many other Christians in finding Scripture inspiring and believable in what it teaches. And Scripture itself confirms that it has been inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, the same Spirit that inspired Scripture inspires us as we read about Jesus. We find ourselves believing what we read. We discover that we believe Scripture on Jesus. In fact, we go on to discover that what we believe about Jesus from Scripture is the foundation of our approach to life itself. We are Jesus followers, Christ-ians.

Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God incarnate. First, the New Testament writers have three titles for Jesus that are rich with divinity. Sometimes they call Jesus “God.” In the gospel of John, Jesus is called “the Word” because he says only what his Father says. Just as he is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), so he is also “the Word.” John begins his gospel by stating majestically, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Alternatively, the New Testament writers sometimes call Jesus the Son of God (Heb. 1:3) and Lord (Phil. 2:9-11) in contexts where it’s clear they mean to ascribe divinity to him.

Second, New Testament writers boldly apply to Jesus Christ Old Testament passages that had been about Yahweh. Hebrews 1:10, for example, addresses Jesus, the Lord, as follows: “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands,” quoting the description of Yahweh in Psalm 102:25. Moreover, Paul places Jesus’ name right alongside God’s name, typically greeting churches in the name of “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Third, New Testament writers attribute to Jesus Christ acts that only God can do. Jesus creates (Heb. 1:10), saves (2 Tim. 1:10), and cosmically rules and judges (Phil. 2:10-11; Rev. 22:12). He forgave people who had offended other people.

Fourth, the New Testament makes lofty divinity claims about Jesus Christ. He is not only God, Son of God, and Lord; he is also equal with God and in the form of God (Phil. 2:6). He’s “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). He is God’s only Son, the “exegesis” of his Father. He is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3).

Fifth, the New Testament writers treat Jesus as a person one properly prays to—in fact, whom one worships (Acts 7:59-60; Heb. 1:6).

Many Christians possess a hazy notion that Jesus Christ is a divine person because God works in him and loves him. But the New Testament picture, as we’ve just seen, is far more explicit. Jesus Christ differs from, say, Abraham and Moses and Paul not just in degree, but also in kind. He is himself worthy of worship—he, not just the Father in him. He pre-exists in the very form of God. He judges the earth. He dwells on God’s side of the gap between Creator and creatures.

So Paul the apostle burned with a fiery intensity because he had seen the risen Lord. So the martyrs worshiped Jesus Christ while their enemies set them on fire. So our faithful ancestors, as they lay dying, said over and over, “I am not my own, but belong . . . to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 1).

About the Author

Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga was formerly President of Calvin Theological Seminary. He is now Senior Research Fellow in the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

X