Jesus Christ, Name and Titles of

Jesus Christ, Name and Titles of

In our culture names serve primarily to distinguish one person from another. In Bibletimes names had other significant functions. In the New Testament, names that were appliedto Jesus often had special meanings that went back into Old Testament and intertestamentaltimes.

"Name" in the Ancient Near East. Outside Israel knowledge of the nameof a god or goddess was important in the performance of magical rites, by which a personcould get control of the deity. Benevolent deities would reveal their names and protect oraid their human contacts; unwilling or malevolent deities would be reluctant to revealtheir names and thereby come under the control of the magician.

Though it is anachronistic to speak of "secular" Greek, non-Christian Greekliterature used "name" in a number of different ways. For example, if a strangerexpected hospitality, he first had to indicate to his host what his name was. Philosopherssuch as Plato attacked the widespread idea that the root meaning of the names of gods orhumans revealed their character. Though Stoicism argued that there was really only onegod, it also held that the deity was known by many different names. At the other extreme,the seventeen tractates of the Greco-Egyptian god Hermes Trismegistos argue that he is solofty that no name is appropriate for him and that, as in rabbinic Judaism, human beingsshould not attempt to utter his name at all.

The Old Testament uses the word, shem [ev], "name, " no less than 854 times, with"in the name of" occurring over 130 times. The idea of Name often revealed abasic characteristic of an individual. Similarly, names could be changed to reflectchanges in circumstances (e.g., Jacob becomes Israel — Gen 32:28 ).

Of special importance is shem Yahweh, "the name of the Lord" (orsimilar expressions such as "in the name of [our] God"). Though some scholarssuggest that the "name" is somehow a being separate from the Lord who is presentin the angel of the Lord ( Exod 23:20-21 )or in the temple ( 1Kings 8:14-30 ), such a conclusion was contradicted by the monotheistic history ofIsrael.

The name of God was significant to the ancient Hebrews because it comprehended initself all that God is. In fact, "the name" was a synonym for God; hencebelievers are not to take the name of the Lord in vain ( Exod 20:7 ). The nameof God is holy and awesome ( Psalm 99:3 ; 111:9 ) andsignifies his personal presence ( 2 Chron 7:16 ; Psalm 75:1 ). God'speople are to reverence ( Psalm 86:11 ), love( Psalm 5:11 ),praise ( Psalm 97:12 ),trust ( Isa 50:10 ),call upon ( Isa 12:4 ),and hope in the divine name ( Psalm 52:9 ). InGod's divine name is the ultimate salvation of his people.

In the pseudepigraphical and rabbinic writings of later Judaism, two significantdevelopments centering on the "name" of God occur, though in general thetendency is to repeat the practices of the Old Testament. The apocalyptic literature ofthe period tends to focus on the meaning of the names of saints and angels, not God. Sevendivine names are mentioned in 4 Esdras 7:132-39. The rabbinic writings mention the healingof a rabbi "in the name of" another person. The most important development wasthe substitution of "Adonai" (Lord) for "Yahweh" in synagogue usageand the use of hashem, "the name, " for both "Yahweh, ""Elohim" (God), and even "Adonai" in the rabbinic schools, at leastwhen quoting the Tanach, so the rabbis forgot how YHWH was orginally pronounced.

The "Name" of Jesus. The expression the "Name" of Jesus isfrequent and highly significant in New Testament usage in that it parallels the use of thename of God in the Old Testament. The early Christians had no difficulty substituting thename of Jesus for the name of God. Indeed, for them the divine name, YHWH, was given toJesus, that every knee should bow to him and every tongue confess that he is Lord ( Php 2:9-11 ; cf. Isa 45:20-23 ).New Testament believers are to live their lives in Jesus' name just as the Old Testamentbelievers were to live in the name of God the Lord.

People who hear the gospel and respond positively, call upon Jesus' name for salvation( Ac 2:21 ), puttheir faith in Jesus' name ( John 1:12 ; 1 John 5:13 ), arethen justified ( 1 Co6:11 ) and forgiven in Jesus' name ( Acts 10:43 ; 1 John 2:12 ), andare then baptized into Jesus' name ( Acts 2:38 ; 10:48 ; 19:5 ). Having then,life in his name ( John20:31 ), believers are to glorify the name of Jesus ( 2 Th 1:12 ) and givethanks for and do everything in the name of Jesus ( Eph 5:20 ; Col 3:17 ). Just asin the Old Testament where the name of God represents the person of God and all that heis, so in the New Testament "the Name" represents all who Jesus is as Lord andSavior.Leslie R. Keylock

The Titles of Jesus. In addition to the comprehensive idea that is found in theidea of Jesus' name there are also a number of significant titles that are ascribed toJesus in the New Testament. Each one has something special to say about who Jesus is andtogether they constitute a definition of his person and work, and become as it were his"name."

Author-Prince. Jesus is called "Author" in Acts 3:15 and Hebrews 2:10;12:2 and "Prince" in Acts 5:31 (NIV). In each case the Greek word is thesame: archegos [ajrchgov"].Uses of the term in the Greek Old Testament (LXX) and nonbiblical Greek suggest it carriesa threefold connotation: (1) path-breaker (pioneer) who opens the way for others, hence,"guide" or "hero"; (2) the source or founder, hence "author," "initiator, " "beginning"; and (3) the leader-ruler, hence,"captain, " "prince, " "king." The ideas may well overlap orbe combined. In its fullest sense the Greek word denotes someone who explores newterritory, opens a trail, and leads others to it. The archegos [ajrchgov"]builds a city or fortress for those who follow and leads them in defense againstattackers. When the peace has been won he remains as their ruler and the city or communitybears his name. He is thereafter honored as the founding hero.

In Acts 3:15 Peter accuses the Jews of killing the "author (archegos [ajrchgov"])of life, " suggesting that Jesus is not only the orgin of biological life, but alsoof "new life" and the provider-proctor of those identified with him. Later Peterspeaks of Jesus as the "Prince (archegos [ajrchgov"]) and Savior" who gives repentanceto Israel (5:31). The word "Savior" was associated with the Judges of old. Jesusis the one who meets the emergency situation caused by the sin of God's people and hecomes to bring not only deliverence but also the continuing service of Author (archegos[ajrchgov"]).The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the suffering "Author (archegos [ajrchgov"])… of salvation" (2:10) and the "author (archegos [ajrchgov"])and perfecter of our faith" (12:2). In each case Jesus not only initiates andprovides the new life for his people but remains with them through it; they bear his name,he is their king.

J. Julius Scott, Jr.

The Chosen One. Jesus is referred to as God's chosen in Luke's account of thetransfiguration ( 9:35 )and by Matthew ( 12:18 )as he applies Isaiah 42:1 to Jesus. In 1 Peter he is designated as the one "chosenbefore the creation of the world … revealed in these last times" ( 1:20 ) and as the"living stone—rejected by men but chosen by God" ( 2:4 ).

In the Old Testament Israel's leaders—Abraham ( Gen 18:19 ), Mosesand Aaron ( Psalm105:26 ; 106:23 ),priests and Levites ( Deu2:5 ), Saul ( 1Sam 10:24 ), David ( 1 Kings 8:16 ; 2 Chron 6:6 ; Psalm 89:3 ), and theServant of the Lord ( Isa42:1 ; 43:10 )—aresaid to be chosen by God. Israel as a whole is frequently designated as God's chosen ( Deut 7:6 ; Isa 41:8 ; 44:1 ; Amos 3:2 ). All ofthese were earthly persons or groups through whom God carried on his work of revelationand redemption.

Jesus is "The Chosen One" par excellence and been appointed by God toaccomplish his task on earth. He embodies all that Old Testament chosen ones were to havebeen. He is the special object of God's love and the perfect divine messenger-redeemer.

Jesus refers to his apostles as those whom he has chosen ( John 6:70 ; 13:18 ; 15:19 ), and churchis also called God's "chosen" ( Eph 1:11 ; Col 3:12 ; James 2:5 ; 1 Peter 1:2 ; 2:9 ), by virtue ofbeing Christ's body. As the church abides "in Christ" she shares that specialdesignation of being "chosen." The church is the object of Christ's love andredemption, called to have fellowship with him and to continue his work on work.

J. Julius Scott, Jr.

Christ, Messiah, Anointed One. The title "Christ" or "AnointedOne" (Heb. masiah [jyiv'm]; Gk. Christos [Cristov"]), which occurs about 350 times in theNew Testament, is derived from verbs that have the general meaning of "to rub(something)" or, more specifically, "to anoint someone." The Old Testamentrecords the anointing with oil of priests ( Exod 29:1-9 ),kings ( 1 Sam 10:1 ; 2 Sam 2:4 ; 1 Kings 1:34 ), andsometimes prophets ( 1 Kings 19:16b )as a sign of their special function in the Jewish community. The prophet Isaiah recognizeshis own anointing (to preach good news to poor, Isa 61:1 )and that of Cyrus, king of Persia (to "subdue nations, 45:1 ), apparentlyas coming directly from the Lord without the usual ceremony of initiation. As a noun, theLord's "Anointed" usually refers to a king ( 1 Samuel 12:3 1 Samuel 12:5 ),while designation of a priest ( Le 4:5 ) or thepartriarchs ( Psalm105:15 ) is less common.

The word "anointed, " however, is not used directly in the Hebrew Bible as atitle for a future messianic person, who would save Israel. The word "Messiah, "therefore, does not appear in major English translations of the Hebrew Bible such as theRevised Standard Version or the New International Version. "Messiah" appearsonly twice in the New Testament ( John 1:41 ; 4:25 ) as anexplanation of the Greek word "Christ."

By the time Jesus was born, however, a number of passages in the Hebrew Bible wereunderstood to refer to a specific anointed person who would bring about the redemption ofIsrael, and that person was called "the Christ" ( Acts 2:27 Acts 2:31 ). TheSamaritans were looking for him ( John 4:24 ). TheJews looked for him and expected him to perform great miracles ( John 7:31 ). He wasto be the son of David ( Matt 22:42 ) and,like David, come from Bethlehem ( John 7:41-42 ).Even criminals condemned to death on a cross knew about a Christ and asked Jesus if he wasthat person ( Luke23:39 ).

The word "Christ" is used to identify Jesus of Nazareth as that person whomGod anointed to be the redeemer of humanity. It thus often appears as a title in thephrase "Jesus the Christ" ( Acts 5:42 ; 9:22 ; 17:3 ) or "theChrist was Jesus" ( Acts 18:28 ). Peterreferred to him as "both Lord and Christ" ( Ac 2:36 ). Veryfrequently the word is coupled with the name of Jesus and appears to be virtually a secondname "Jesus Christ" ( Acts 2:38 ; 3:6 ; 9:34 ; 10:36 ; Rom 1:6-8 ; 1 Col 1:6-10 ),through not a surname, because "Christ Jesus" is also commonly used ( 1 Col 1:1-30 ; Gal 2:4 ). In closeproximity in the same chapter, Jesus can be called "Jesus Christ" ( Gal 3:22 ),"Christ" ( 3:24 ),and "Christ Jesus" ( 3:26 ).

In Paul's writings "Christ" is used both with and without the definitearticle ( 1 Col 6:15 ; Gal 2:17 ), incombination with the title Lord (kyrios [kuvrio"], Rom 10:9 ), as wellas combined with such ideas as gospel ( Rom 1:16 ) or faith ( Gal 2:16 ).

Elsewhere in the New Testament, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews picks up onthe Old Testament anoiting of priests and applies the same in relation to Jesus ( 1:9 ; 5:8-10 ; 7:1-28 ). The nameoccurs also in the Petrine Epistles ( 1 Peter 1:13 ; 3:15 ; 2 Peter 1:1-2 2 Peter 1:16 ; 3:18 ), as wellas those of James ( 1:1 ; 2:1 ) and Jude ( Jude 1:1 Jude 1:17 Jude 1:21 Jude 1:25 ).The Apocalypse of John describes Jesus as the Anointed One when looking forward to the endwhen the kingdom and salvation of the Lord and his Messiah will enjoy an eternal and fulldominion ( 11:15 ; 12:10 ; Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:6 ).

The significance of the name "Christ" lies in the fact that it was a titlegranted to Jesus by virtue of his fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and by hisresurrection from the dead. The name "Jesus" was a common Hebrew name (the Greekform of Joshua, cf. Luke3:29 ; Heb 4:8, ;where Jesus in the Greek text is translated Joshua ) and is borne by other people in theNew Testament including Barabbas ( Matt 27:17 ) andJustus ( Col 4:11 ).But no one else bears the name Christ. It is significant that early disciples of Jesuswere not called "Jesusites" but "Christians, " followers of Christ ( Acts 11:26 ; 26:28 ; 1 Peter 4:16 ).JamesA. Kelhoffer and John McRay

Firstborn. Jesus is referred to by the singular form of the word"firstborn" (prototokos [prwtotovko"]) in six passages in the NewTestament. He is called the physical firstborn of Mary in Luke 2:7, because hesubsequently had brothers and sisters ( Matt 13:55 ). In aspiritual sense, he is called firstborn to differentiate him from the angels ( Heb 1:6 ). He is thefirstborn of all creation ( Col 1:15 ), and tothose who believe in him he is the "firstborn among many brothers" ( Rom 8:29 ). He isunique among human beings, among other reasons, because of his resurrection from the dead.He was the first one resurrected to die no more, and thus he has the preeminence ( Col 1:18 ; Rev 1:5 ).

John McRay

God. The New Testament rarely calls Jesus "God" as such (Gk. theos)."Lord, " stressing his co-regency with the Father as Son, or "Christ," hallowing the kingly function he fulfilled, is preferred. Still, references toJesus as God are not absent. John 1:1 clearly equates "the word" with God; in1:14 it becomes clear that "the word" is Jesus. Arguments by Jehovah's Witnessesand others proposing different renderings of John 1:1 are untenable. In John 1:18 sometranslations call Jesus "God the One and Only" (NIV). The King James andother translations, however, follow a manuscript tradition that calls him "Son"here, not God.

Other passages, too, explicitly name Jesus as God. Romans 9:5 speaks of "Christ,who is God over all, forever praised!" Grammatical rules permit rending 2Thessalonians 1:12 as " the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ." The sameholds true of Titus 2:13 ("our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ") and 2 Peter1:1 ("our God and Savior Jesus Christ"). Hebrews 1:8 calls the Son God; 1 John5:20 says of Jesus, "He is the true God and eternal life." Such texts confirmthe impression given indirectly in other places that Jesus merits the name "God"by virtue of his mastery over wind and sea ( Mark 4:41 ),personification of God's kingdom ( Luke 11:20 ),ability to forgive sins ( Mark 2:7 ), andintimacy with the invisible Father by which, enemies charged, he presumed to be"equal with God" ( John 5:18 ). Theycould not accept that this was not effrontery but his due and possession ( Php 2:6 ) from alleternity ( John17:24 ). It can be concluded that belief in Jesus' essential divinity (along with hisobvious full humanity) extends to all levels of early Christian confession.

At the same time New Testament writers are not indiscriminate in speaking of Jesus as"God." They realized that despite the Father's virtual presence through his Son,"no one has ever seen God" in terms of mortals on earth beholding the unmediatedfullness of God in heaven ( John 1:18 ). Theyintuited, if they did not spell out and reflect on, the subtle offsetting truths of laterTrinitarian affirmations. Their restraint in predicating full deity of Jesus is due, amongother thing, to his humanity (which the good news of the incarnation [ Luke 2:10 ]; wasbound to emphasize ) and to their theological sophistication: Jews imbued with the sacredtruth of God's oneness—Deuteronomy 6:4, "the Lord is one, " rang out dailyin worship—were not so callow as to label fellow humans "God."

Their own Scriptures, in fact, forbade this ( Deu 4:15-16 ),violation of which was blasphemy. Those same Scriptures sternly denounced any man"hung on a tree" ( Deu 21:23 ). Yet thecrucified Jesus must be hailed as redeemer, not censured as a crimal ( Gal 3:13-14 ). Bythe same logic he must be granted his apparent divine parity. Thus was the man Jesushailed rightly as God.Robert W. Yarbrough

Holy One of God. In the Old Testament, "the Holy One of God" is adivine epithet common in the prophets and poetic literature used to communicate theseparateness of the Lord. The New Testament applies this name to Jesus on two occasions inthe Gospels ( Mark1:24 ; = Luke 4:34 ; John 6:69 ), oncein Acts (3:14) and possibly on two other occasions ( 1 John 2:20 ; Rev 3:7 ).

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus begins his public ministry teaching in a Capernaumsynagogue ( 1:21-22 ).Someone possed with an evil spirit then cries out, "What do you want with us, Jesusof Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One ofGod!" ( 1:23-24 ).The event is probably best understood in light of the secrecy motif of Mark's Gospel,whereby human beings rarely comprehend the true identity of Jesus. Instead, it is usuallyGod ( 1:11 ; 9:7 ) or, as in thispassage, demons ( 5:7 )who know who Christ is before the crucifixion. In addition, knowing someone's"name" can communicate that an individual possesses power over that person. Inspite of the demon's knowledge of his potential exorcist as "the Holy One of God," Jesus casts him out with a short command and amazes the crowd by his teaching andauthority ( Mark 1:25 ).

John contrasts the turning away of "many" disciples with the faith of theTwelve ( John6:66-69 ). Peter responds to Jesus, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the wordsof eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." First John2:20 can refer to either God or Jesus when writing, "But you have an anointing fromthe Holy One. "The above reference to the Gospel of John makes it possible that Jesusis the giver of this anointing, but the author may intentionally leave this designationunclear.

In the Book of Acts Peter addresses the curious crowd on the role they played in thecrucifixion of Jesus. Nothing could be worse than denying "the Holy and RighteousOne" and asking for the release of a murderer instead ( 3:14 ). Finally, inthe letter to the angel presiding over the church at Philadelphia, Jesus is him who isholy and true, who holds the key of David" ( Rev 3:7 ). This verse,like Acts 3:14, illustrates how the full epithet ("the Holy One of God") couldbe abbreviated and combined with other descriptions of Jesus to enhance the main thrust ofthe passage. In Acts Peter aims to convict his audience, while the apocalyptic writeroffers multiple images of Jesus to encourage the congregation in a time of intensepersecution.

James A. Kelhoffer

Lord. Scripture ascribes glory to Jesus Christ in numerous ways, but in naming him"Lord" (Gk. kyrios [kuvrio"]) it makes an ultimate statement. In theSeptuagint the word appears over nine-thousand times; in over six-thousand of thosepassages kyrios [kuvrio"]replaces YHWH (Yahweh, Jehovah), the so-called sacred tetragrammaton. This was the namerevealed by God to his covenant people through Moses affirmation ( Exod 3:14 ), a nameheld in such high esteem that by New Testament times it was rarely spoken out loud.

The truth of God's holy oneness, a nonnegotiable Old Testament affirmation ( Exod 20:3, ; Deut 6:4 ; Isa 43:10-11 ),would seem to rule out, at least among Jews, any application of kyrios [kuvrio"] tomere flesh and blood. Yet this is precisely what Paul does in testifying that God theFather bestowed on the Son "the name that is above every man" in order that allcreation might acknowledge Jesus Christ as "Lord [kyrios] [kuvrio"],to the glory of God the Father" ( Php 2:9-11 )."Lord" thus serves as the name par excellence for Jesus Christ.

But Paul was by no means the first to apply this sacred title to Jesus. The OldTestament had predicted that a deliverer would come in the name of Lord. He would somehowbe the Lord himself. Jesus invites reflection on this logically difficult truth in askingwhat David meant by affirming, "The Lord [Heb. YHWH] says to my Lord (LXX kyrios[kuvrio"])…"( Psalm110:1 ). In modern and postmodern thought Jesus' essential oneness with God the Father,his full divinity as second person of the Trinity, has been widely rejected as Hellenisticembellishment of earliest Christian belief. Yet ascription of full deity to Jesus seemsnecessitated by Old Testament prophecies as interpreted by Jesus himself. Jesus'disciples, taught by him from the Old Testament and witnesses to his numerous and variedmighty Acts, came to understand and proclaim the truth of Thomas' outburst of recognition:"My Lord [kyrios] [kuvrio"] and my God!" ( John 20:28 ).

Writing in the middle of the a.d. 50s Paul could already draw on an older traditionhailing Jesus as Lord: "Come, O Lord!" ( 1 Cor 16:22 ) isnot Greek (the language of Paul's Corinthian readers) but the Aramaic maranatha (oneof the languages of Jesus' Palestinian surroundings). The confession is therefore rootedin the earliest days of church life where the prevailing linguistic milieu was Semitic.This rules out an older but still popular theory that the name "Lord" wasprojected back onto Jesus only long after his death by Gentile Christians whose paganreligious background caused them to have no scruples about applying the title kyrios[kuvrio"]to a mere human being.

While kyrios [kuvrio"]was common as a polite, even honorific title for "sir" or "master, "calling Jesus "Lord" to imply divine associations or idenity was by no means aconvention readily adopted from the Roman world. In Jesus' more Eastern but militantlymonotheistic Jewish milieu, where the title's application to humans to connote divinitywas not only absent but anathema, the title is an eloquent tribute to the astoningimpression he made. It also points to the prerogatives he holds.

Since Jesus is Lord, he shares with the Father qualities like deity ( Rom 9:5 ),preexistence ( John8:58 ), holiness ( Heb4:15 ), and compassion ( 1 John 4:9 ), to namejust a few. He is co-creator ( Col 1:16 ) andco-regent, presiding in power at the Father's right hand ( Acts 2:33 ; Eph 1:20 ; Heb 1:3 ), where heintercedes for God's people ( Rom 8:34 ) and fromwhence, as the Creed states, he will return to judge the living and dead ( 2 Thess 1:7-8 ).Just as it is impossible to overstate the power, grandeur, and goodness of the kyrios[kuvrio"]the Father, so there is hardly limit to the glory ascribed in Scripture to the kyrios[kuvrio"]the Son. Therefore Isaiah's counsel, and Peter's, is to be heeded: "Sanctify the Lord[LXX kyrios' [kuvrio"]Heb. ‘adonai sabbaoth] himself" ( Isa 8:13 ; LXX ),which Peter tellingly restates as "sanctify Christ as Lord" ( 1 Peter 3:15 ; NASB).Robert W. Yarbrough

One and Only, Only Begotten. Jesus is called monogenes [monogenhv"](KJV "only begotten") in five New Testament passages ( John 1:14 John 1:18 ; John 3:16 John 3:18 ; 1 John 4:9 ). Moderntranslations tend to render the word "only" (RSV) or "one and only" (NIV).In any case, emphasis falls on Jesus' singular status: He is uniquely related to theFather, so close to him as to be one with him ( John 5:18 ; 10:30 ), yet asdistinct from him as was neccessary to allow for full identification with humanity throughthe incarnation ( John1:14 ).

Monogenes [monogenhv"]is used in Luke 7:12, 8:42, and 9:38 to refer to the only child of the widow's son atNain, to Jairus' daughter, and to an epileptic son, respectively. This shows that inconventional usage the word connoted being the solitary child. The one other New Testamentoccurrence of the word is Hebrews 11:17, speaking of Abraham's near-sacrifice of "hisone and only son" Isaac. It has been suggested that for John as for the writer ofHebrews this incident ( Gen 22:1-18 )serves as primary background for early Christian understanding of Jesus' sonship andsacrificial death.

Recent translations correctly reflect that Jesus' status as "only begotten"underscores his uniqueness rather than his place or mode of origin—it does notdirectly refer to his virgin birth. Both as unrivaled expression of the Father's glory andas distinct from any created human, he holds preeminemce ( Col 1:18 ). He is monogenes[monogenhv"],utterly unique, in his person and saving role. The church father Jerome (ca. a.d. 400)supplied the Vulgate's unigenitus ("only begotten") to help counter theArian view that Jesus was a created being; unigenitus permitted Jesus to be"begotten" of the Father in the sense implied in certain Bible passages (e.g., Psalm 2:7 ; Acts 13:33 ), while"only" left room for affirmation of his divine nature. Through the Vulgate'sinfluence on early English versions of the Bible, the traditional translation "onlybegotten" still rings true for many today.

Robert W. Yarbrough

Son of David. We can trace two lines of interpretation regarding the Son of David(Gk. hyios Dauid) in the Old Testament, one that draws attention to a direct successorduring the united monarchy ( 2 Sam 7:12-16 ),and the other that applies the earlier promises to the coming of a future individual ( Isa 9:6-7 ). Bothare crucial to understanding the title for Jesus in the New Testament.

Mention of the Son of David begins in the Old Testament with the oracle the prophetNathan delivers to David ( 2 Sam 7:12-16 ).God promises David offspring to succeed him. God "will be his father, " andDavid's house and kingdom will be established forever. Numerous psalms highlight the sameexcitement over the continuation of the Davidic line ( 89:3-4 ; 110 ; 132 ). Even after thecollapse of the united monarchy, the line of David remained significant for describing afuture leader for the covenant people. Isaiah, for example, looks to the future for achild to be born who will reign on David's throne ( 9:6-7 ; cf. 55:3-4 ; Jer 23:5 ; Eze 34:23 ).

In the century before Christ, moreover, both the Psalms of Solomon and the Qumranliterature look to the same "Son" or "shoot" of David either as anideal Hasmonean king or a ruler for the expectant Dead Sea community (Ps. Sol. 17-18;4Qpatr 1-4). These last references would be of concern to New Testament authors since atleast two (most probably opposing) Jewish groups had expectations for the Davidic linethat were at odds with the historical Jesus. The former author, who portrays a triumphantand politically successful king, would never be satisfied with Jesus, who neither purgedJerusalem nor placed the Gentiles "under his yoke" (Ps. Sol. 17:30-32), butinstead came "to seek and save that which was lost" and "to give his lifeas a ransom for many" ( Mark 10:45 ).

The New Testament addresses this issue by affirming that Jesus is both a directdescendent of David and yet more than another human successor. The two most significantpassages using this title are Mark 12:35-37a and Romans 1:1-4. In the Synoptic text Jesusquestions the assumption that the son of David is merly a descendant of David since Davidhimself in Psalm 110:1 refers to him as "Lord." In Romans 1:1-4 an ancientChristian creed to which Paul refers clarifies this same problem from the above Synopticpassage. Jesus was both"born through the seed of David according to the flesh(kata sarka)" and "foreseen as the Son of God in power by the Spirit ofsanctification (kata pneuma hagiosunes) through the resurrection of the dead."In 2 Timothy 2:8 we also find the resurrection and Christ's having "descended fromDavid" in a creedal context.

The Evangelist Matthew takes special interest in this title for Jesus, emphasizing thatboth Jesus ( 1:4 )and Joseph ( 1:20 )are direct descendants of the great Israelite king. Elsewhere Jesus is referred to as the"Son of David" in connection with healing ( Matt 12:23 ; 15:22 ; Mark 10:47-48 ),and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem ( Matthew 21:9 Matthew 21:15 ).

James A. Kelhoffer

Son of God. Mark begins his Gospel with the statement: "The beginning ofthe gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" ( Mark 1:1 ). The phrase"Son of God" (huios theou) is a title used of Jesus to indicate that heis divine in nature, just as the title "Son of Man, " among other things,indicates that he is human. Although the title is not used in a trinitarian context in theNew Testament, the word Son is so used in Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus commanded baptismto be performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The title "Son of God" is used twenty-six times in the Gospels referring toJesus. He is called Son of God by Satan ( Matthew 4:3 Matthew 4:6 ; Luke 4:3 Luke 4:9 ), bydemons ( Matt 8:29 ; Mark 3:11 ; Luke 4:41 ), by Johnthe Baptist ( John1:34 ), by his followers ( Matt 14:23 ; John 1:49 ; 11:27 ; 20:31 ), by angels( Luke 1:35 ), andby a Roman centurion ( Matt 27:54 ; Mark 15:39 ).

Those who passed by while he was on the cross derided him, asking for proof that he wasthe Son of God by coming down from the cross ( Matt 27:40 ). Theywere joined in their taunts by the most eminent of Jewish religious leaders: chiefpriests, scribes, and elders ( Matt 27:43 ; 26:63 ). Jewsconsidered the title to be an assumption of equality with Jehovah the God of Israel ( John 10:36 ; 19:7 ); most wereunprepared to allow a human being to occupy that position.

Jesus on occasion referred to himself with this title ( John 3:18 ; 5:25 ; 10:36 ; 11:4 ) and on otheroccasions acknowledged its validity ( Luke 22:70 ).

After his conversion and call to apostleship, Paul immediately began to declare in thesynagogues that Jesus was indeed the Son of God ( Acts 9:22 ). In hisletters Paul used the phrase in reference to Jesus, saying he was "designated Son ofGod in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead" ( Rom 1:4 ; cf. 2 Col 1:19 ; Gal 2:20 ). The onlyother letter in the Pauline corpus to use this title is Ephesians (4:13). It is used inHebrews ( 4:14 ; 6:6 ; 10:29 ), in theletters of John ( 1John 3:8 ; 4:15 ; 1 John 5:5 1 John 5:10-13 1 John 5:20 ), and once in the Book of Revelation ( 2:18 ).

John McRay

Son of Man. The term "Son of Man" occurs sixty-nine times in theSynoptic Gospels, thirteen times in John, and once in Acts. All but three occurences comefrom the lips of Jesus. In John 12:34, the crowd, equating the Son of Man with eternalMessiah, was puzzled at Jesus' prediction that he would be "lifted up" andinquired about the idenity of the Son of Man. The dying martyr Stephen said he saw"the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" ( Acts 7:56 ). Jesusfrequently refers to the Son of Man in the third person, causing some to assume he was notspeaking of himself. Nevertheless the term seems to be not only a self-designation, butJesus' favorite one.

In the Synoptics references to the Son of Man may be loosely grouped into threecategories: those which speak of him as: (1) present with authority and power ( Mark 2:10 Mark 2:27 );(2) suffering rejection and death by crucifixion at the hands of humans as a ransom formany ( Mark 8:31 ; Mark 9:12 Mark 9:31 ; 10:45 ; 14:41 ); and (3)returning at some future time in glory to judge, and bring the consummation of all things( Mark 8:38 ; 13:26 ; 14:62 ). Son of Manreferences in John fall roughly into the same categories but with some special emphases.John 3:13 and 6:27, 62 allude to the eternal existence of the Son of Man; 1:51 and 8:28imply an invisible continuing relation with God not found in the Synoptics; 12:23 and13:31 speak of his glorification during his earthly life; and 3:13-16 and 6:53 make plainthat the Son of Man's work brings eternal life.

Elsewhere in the New Testament the phrase "Son of Man" occurs in Hebrews 2:6,a quotation from Psalm 8:4 which is clearly applied to Jesus. In Revelation 1:13 the Sonof Man is in the midst of the lampstands (the churches); in 14:14 he sits on a cloud,wearing a golden crown and holding a sharp sickle.

Ninety-three of the 106 occurences of the term in the Old Testament are in the Book ofEzekiel where it is God's standard way of addressing the prophet. Elsewhere it is also areference to either humanity as a whole or to a particular human person except in Psalms8:4; 80:17; and Daniel 7:13. As already noted, the writer to the Hebrews interprets Psalm8:4 messianically and probably 80:17 should be as well. Daniel 7:13-14 introduces adifferent perspective. Here one like a Son of Man is an apocalyptic figure from heaven whoreceives an all-inclusive kingdom, unlimited by space or time.

Intertestamental references to Son of Man are in the same vein as that of Daniel'svision. In that section of 1 Enoch called the Similitudes or Parables (37-71) the Son ofMan is a heavenly person, eternal, righteous, and holy, who rules and judges. SecondEsdras (4 Ezra) 13 relates a vision of "something like the figure of a man come upout of the heart of the sea … this man flew with the clouds of heaven" (v. 3).He defeats the hostile (cosmic) powers and delivers captives through a series of actionsthat precede the confirmation of his reign.

Controversies abound about the origin, use, meaning, and implications of "Son ofMan" in biblical literature and particularly its use by Jesus. The term could be asynonym for "I" or "a human person." Some scholars have thought it tobe a corporate term including Israel (n.b., Dan 7:18 ) or thechurch (e.g., T. W. Manson), an office Jesus expected to receive (e.g., A. Schweutzer), ora figure imported into Judaism from a foreign source.

Jesus was in constant danger of being forced into limited or illegitimate messianicrole ( John 6:15 ).In response to Peter's confession ( Mark 8:29-31 ) heaccepted the title "Messiah, " equated it with Son of Man, and linked his workwith that of the Suffering Servant. In the Judaism of Jesus' day "Messiah" wasfrequently understood as a political-military leader whose primary concern was for thewelfare of Israel. Jesus' usage seems to be an extension of the portrayal of the Son ofMan in Daniel and the intertestamental literature. With the term Jesus dissociated hisnature and mission from purely earthly, nationalistic notions. He is a transcendent,preexistent person whose mission is primarily a spiritual one that orginates in heaven andwhose concern is with all peoples, nations, and languages.

J. Julius Scott, Jr.

See also God;JesusChrist; Messiah

Bibliography. O. Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament; W.Elwell, TAB, pp. 117-34; L. Goppelt, Theology of the New Testament; D.Guthrie, New Theology; F. Hahn, The Titles of Jesus in Christology; M. J.Harris, Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of THEOS in Reference to Jesus; S. Kim,The Son of Man as the Son of God; B. Lindars, Jesus Son of Man; I. H.Marshall, The Origins of New Testament Christology; C. F. D. Moule, The Originof Christology; A. E. J. Rawlinson, The New Testament Doctrine of the Christ;L. Sabourin, The Names and Titles of Jesus; V. Taylor, The Person of Christ inNew Testament Teaching; B. B. Warfield, The Lord of Glory; B. Witherington, TheChristology of Jesus.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Bibliography Information

Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Jesus Christ, Name and Titles of'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology". . 1997.