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But they are bis sons also for other reasons; viz, from moral resemblance to himn; from being taught or guided by him; from the filial blessings which they receive; and from their spiritual birth or change. Kings are the sons of God in cominon with all men, as he is the Father of their spirits; but they are also the sons of the most High, on account of their dignity or elevation. Christ is called the Son of God in like manner on several accounts. His derivation, as to the human nature which he possessed, is from God the Father; although it is a derivation exceedingls diverse from that of kings; as Christ had no natural father. And even so is it, in respect to his kingly office or dignity as Messiah; this dignity being incomparably higher than that of any earthly monarchs. But this brings me
II. To the second reason, which the inspired apostles have given, why Christ is called the Son of God : viz, the elevated dignity, that was conferred on him as the Messiah.
In Acts 13: 32, 33, Paul in addressing the Jews at Antioch, says, “ We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again ; as it is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
The resurrection of Christ from the dead, then, is the accomplishment of that prediction in the second Psalm, which speaks of Christ as Son, and of his generation. But why should the resurrection of Jesus constitute a reason for the appellation in question ? Others have been raised from the dead besides Jesus. The answer, as it seems to me, must be, that the resurrection of Jesus was the commencement of his elevation to supreme dignity—a pledge, an earnest of all which was to follow.
It is thus that the same Apostle seems to view the subject, in Romans 1: 4. “ Constituted the powerful Son of God--by his resurrection from the dead.” The word oproevros, which in our Version, and even by Schleusner, is translated declared or demonstrated, I cannot think to be susceptible of this meaning. The proper meaning of ogizm is to limit, define, determine, decree ; and secondarily to constitute, because many things are constituted by determining or decreeing. Thus, in Acts 10: 42, Christ is said by Peter to “be constituted (woloMevos) by God the judge of the living and the dead.” And thus in other cases, as may be seen in Schleusner.
It is sufficient to remark here, in justification of the translation which I have given, that with the exception of the case in question, no instance can be produced, in which the word has the sense assigned to it in our Version. It always has respect to something, which is prospective at the time when the action indicated by opišo took place, not to any thing then retrospective. Storr, many years since, inade this remark upon the force of the word ooiw; a remark, like most others which he has made on the subject of philology, proceeding from a nice discrimination of the force of language.
But be this criticism as it may, it is not very important to my design. “Declared or demonstrated to be the powerful Son of God, by his resurrection,” may still have respect, (and if this be the sense, I doubt not it has respect,) to Christ as the Messiah. The sense is more congruous, however, which the version above gives ; and then the passage, taken in connexion with the words of Paul in the Acts, indicates that the resurrection was the commencement of that elevation to which Christ was raised; and being a part of his elevation was therefore a reason, why he is called the Son of God.
There is I think an additional reason why he is so called, the mention of which ought not to be neglected. When Christ was raised from the dead, there was the commencement of a new life, i. e. something analogous to birth or generation. The lowest point of his humilia-, tion, was that of death and burial in the tomb. From the moment the new life or resurrection commenced, his elevation began. All in future was to be exaltation. By the resurrection, therefore, he was Son of God on account of a reproduction or reanimation; as well as constituted Son by being placed in the exalted state of Messiah, or made head over all things to the Church.
That the sacred writers do apply to him the title Son of God, because he is the Messiah i. e. the Christ or Anointed One; in other words, because he is the King, Head, or Lord of all things, in his capacity as the Messiah or Saviour; may be shewn by other evidence, than that which has been already adduced. Nay, that after all, this is the principal or predominant reason for giving him this appellation, will appear, as it seems to me, from the following passages.
When the Saviour appealed to his disciples, and asked them, “ Whom say ye that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ (the Messiah,) the Son of the living God.” Matt. 16: 15, 16.
In Mark 8: 29, the same reply is recorded in the following words; Thou art the Christ.” Now if “Son of the living God,” which is mentioned by Matthew, conveyed a meaning different from that of Christ or Messiah, why should Mark omit so important an addition to that part of Peter's reply which he has recorded ?
Luke has given us a form different from both the others. (9: 20.) " Thou art the Christ of God.” I say a
different form ; for this is all. To say, “ Thou art the Christ,” or “ Thou art the Christ of God,” or “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” conveys, as I think will be satisfactorily evinced, the same idea in each case.
This confession Jesus highly approved, pronounced his blessing upon it, and then “ charged his disciples that they should tell no man, that he was Jesus the Christ.” (v. 20.) That he was the Christ or Messiah, then, appears to comprehend the essential part of Peter's confession, and to convey the same idea, to the mind of Jesus and his disciples, as to say that he was the “ Son of the living God." The parallelism, indeed, between Christ and the Son of the living God is so apparent, in the very mode of the expression, as well as from the nature and genius of the Hebrew language, that we can hardly doubt that the one phrase is, in this case, equivalent to the other.
But if we doubt that Son of God is here equivalent to Messiah or King of Israel, those doubts may be removed by further examination of the Jewish usus loquendi. “Rabbi,” said the Israelite without guile, to his divine Master, “ thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.” John 1: 49. As in the case above, Son of God is explicative of Christ ; so here, King of Israel is explicative of Son of God; and if so, then the two phrases are substantially equivalent to each other.
On another occasion, when some who had professed to be the disciples of Jesus had left him, he said to the twelve apostles,” Will ye
go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure, that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
John 6: 68, 69. The two expressions here are the same, as in the case of Peter's confession already produced. I cannot but feel that they constitute a parallel-. ism, in the view of the apostle who uttered them ; just as when Thomas said, My Lord and my God, he meant substantially the same thing by both phrases.
In like manner, when Jesus asked Martha whether she believed in his power to save from death those who trusted in him, she replied, “ Yea, Lord; I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world;" i. e. thou art the Messiah, the expected deliverer and the king of the Jews. John 11:27.
The woman of Samaria uses another expression, as parallel to, or exegetical of, the word Messiah or Christ. 66 We know this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” John 4:42.
But to show how common the idiom was among the Jews of our Saviour's time, by which Christ and the Son of God were used as parallel expressions, other instances may be adduced of its usage, out of the circle of the disciples. Thus the demons say, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of God,” Luke 4: 41; if the common copies of our Greek Testament be correct. Griesbach has, however, rejected the word ó Xporos here from the text ; while Titmann has admitted it, but not without an index that it is suspected.
The Sanhedrim, who examined Jesus previously to his condemnation, asked him, “ Art thou the Christ?" He replied by saying, that the Son of Man should hereafter be seated on the right hand of the power of God. They repeated the question, with earnestness, Ev ovv al ó vios tov Osov ; “ Art thou then (our then, indeed, verily then) the Son of God?” Luke 22: 67, 70. Here it is