When Did Jesus Become the Son of God?
The exact moment in time when Jesus became the Son of God is a subject that has perplexed many people throughout the centuries. We know that Jesus came from God the Father (Jn.3:13; 6:44; 16:28) and that he qualified to be our Savior by living a sinless life and freely giving his life as the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins. However, when did he become the Son of the One he called Father?
In order to answer this question there are four events that must be analyzed: Jesus' conception, birth, baptism, and resurrection from the dead.
THE CONCEPTION OF JESUS
"These are the facts concerning the birth of Jesus Christ: His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin she became pregnant by the holy spirit. Then Joseph, her fiancé, being a man of stern principle, decided to break the engagement but to do it quietly, as he didn't want to publicly disgrace her." As he lay awake considering this, he fell into a dream, and saw an angel standing beside him. "Joseph, son of David", the angel said, "don't hesitate to take Mary as your wife! For the child within her has been conceived by the holy spirit' (vs.18-20 LBP).
In verse 20, the word conceived is a translation of the Greek word gennao; which can mean to regenerate, bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of, engender, make and spring.
"And she shall bring forth [Greek, tikto. English, bear] a son, and you shall call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (vs.21-23 KJV).
The Greek word for God is theos. In these verses, it is ho-theos, which means a Deity, the Supreme Divinity.
Notice that Jesus was also called God with us. This scripture shows that Jesus was unique. He was not just any man; he was God in human flesh and he came to save humanity from the penalty of sin.
Luke 1:30-35 KJV
"And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus" (vs.30-31).
Here, the word conceive is the Greek word sullambano, which literally means to conceive as in conception of children. The difference in the usage of this Greek word by Matthew and Luke seems to be in the past and future tenses of the verb. In Matthew, the child had already been conceived, in Luke, the child was yet to be conceived.
"He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David" (v32).
Jesus is called the Son of the Highest. The English word Highest is translated from the Greek word Hupsistos. In this case, Hupsistos denotes the Sovereign of the Universe, the Most High, the Highest, the Supreme God. This spirit-being is the Supreme Sovereign above all that exists; this Sovereign God is the Father of Jesus Christ.
"And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary to the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (vs.33-34).
The Power of the Highest
Mary asks the angel how she could give birth to the Savior, because she had not had intercourse with a man:
"And the angel answered and said to her, The holy spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: Therefore also the holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God" (v35).
Notice that it was the power (i.e., holy spirit) that came from the HIGHEST that impregnated Mary and performed the process of conception. We are not told how this was accomplished; we are just told it was performed by the Father's power.
Clearly, the scripture says that Jesus was conceived by the holy spirit; but, was the holy spirit the father of Jesus?
Nowhere in the Bible do we find Jesus or anyone else referring to the holy spirit or the spirit of God as the Father, a person, or an entity with a personality. Therefore, it should be obvious that the holy spirit was not the father of Jesus, but that it was through God the Father's spirit-power and energy that the process of conception was performed within Mary.
Both Matthew and Luke record the following facts about the conception of Jesus:
- The Sovereign Father of all that exists was the Father of Jesus. See Matt.1:32; 7:21; Mk.1:9-11.
- God the Father performed the process of impregnation and conception within Mary's womb through his spirit power. See Matt.1:35.
- Jesus became a physical Son of God at conception. See Jn.1:14, 18.
THE HUMAN BIRTH OF JESUS
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]" (Isa.7:14 KJV). See also Isa.8:8-10.
How a physical human could be both God and human is a question that many people ask. The answer to this question is that Jesus was the Creator God who voluntarily gave up his immortality and power to become a human being; therefore, he was both God and man.
As the God of Israel, Jesus inspired many prophecies that foretold his human birth. The New Testament writers record that Jesus was in fact a human and the Creator God:
"And the word [ the Creator God] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten [only born] of the Father), full of grace and truth" (Jn.1:14 KJV).
The scriptural evidence shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God the Father is the father of Jesus Christ and that the Father used his spirit-power and energy to cause the conception of Jesus within the womb of Mary. It is clearly evident that the holy spirit is not a separate entity from God the Father and Jesus Christ, but it is the force and power of the God family.
THE GOD WHO BECAME HUMAN
Although many scriptures show that Jesus is a member of the God family, many people still feel that Jesus did not exist before his birth as a human. The following are some of the many clear statements made by Jesus and others about his pre-existence and his return to the place that he came from.
Jesus the Creator God
John records Jesus telling the Jews of his pre-existence:
"Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" (Jn.8:58 KJV).
Jesus told these Jews very bluntly that he had existed before Abraham. By using the term 'I Am', he indicated to them that he was the Creator God of Abraham. This made the Jews so angry that they immediately tried to kill him for speaking what they considered to be blasphemy.
Jesus Came From God
"I came forth from the Father and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" (Jn.16:28; 3:13 KJV).
Jesus said that he came forth from the Father into the world and would leave it again, but what did he mean by again? If it is understood that Jesus is the Creator, this statement will not be a mystery. Again is translated from the Greek word palin, which means once more, repetition, or again. As the Creator God, Jesus came to this planet many times. Remember that the Biblical record shows that Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and many others saw, talked with, ate with, and communicated face-to-face with the Creator.
The Word Was God
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. . .. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not" (Jn.1:1-5,10 KJV).
There can be no doubt that prior to his human birth, Jesus was the Creator God.
The Word Made Flesh
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth" (Jn.1:14 KJV). See also Matthew, chapters 1 through 4; 1.Jn.4:14-15; Heb.1:1-6.
God in the Flesh
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached to the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1.Tim.3:16 KJV).
In verse 16, the word manifest is translated from the Greek word phaneroo, which means appear, declare, or show.
Here, Paul speaks of the multitude of witnesses of the fact that Christ who was the Creator God became a flesh and blood human being. But when did God manifest himself in the flesh?
Only in the New Testament do we find the conditions that fit all the descriptive terms used in 1.Timothy 3:16, and the only person in the Bible who claims to represent and come from the Father is Jesus. So, logic tells us that God (the Creator/Jesus) manifested himself in the flesh at his physical birth. Moreover, at the time of his physical conception, Jesus became the Son of God.
Two very important things happened at the time of the physical manifestation of God (the Creator/Jesus):
- Jesus became a Son of God at physical conception.
- Jesus became a physical Son of God at birth.
JESUS' BAPTISM: A SPIRITUAL CONCEPTION AND BIRTH
Before his baptism, Jesus was a physical human, just like any other human. Jesus was a physical son of God the Father before his baptism with water and the spirit (Matt.1:18-20; Lk.1:34-35) after which he became the first human to be transformed from a human being with only the spirit of man into a human being with both the spirit of man and the spirit of the Father. After this transformation, Jesus became the first son of the Father's New Creation (Rom.8:29; Col.1:15-18).
The prophet Isaiah foretold the spiritual conception, birth, and empowerment of Jesus as a son of God:
"And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isa.11:2 KJV).
At the time of Jesus' physical conception he received the genetic imprint of the human family and upon receiving the spirit of God, Jesus received the genetic imprint of God the Father:
"And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in the Jordan. And straightaway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mk.1:9-11 KJV). See also Matt.3:16-18; Jn.3:1-10; Heb.1:1-6.
As the spirit of God descended on Jesus, God the Father declared that Jesus is his Son.
The apostle Paul was inspired to record that when a person is converted from the original human creation into the New Creation through God's spirit, that person becomes a son of God:
"For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again to fear, but you received a spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba! Father!" (Rom.8:14-15 KJV). See also Col.1:15-18.
God the Father's Firstborn
"For to which of the angels did he say, You are my Son; today I have begotten You? And again I will be a Father to him, and he shall be a Son to me. And again when he brought the firstborn into the world, he said let the angels worship him" (Heb.1:5-6 Para.). Quoted from Psalm 2:7. See also Heb.5:5.
Here, the writer to the Hebrews speaks of Jesus' becoming a physical Son of God at conception and at birth, and a spiritual Son of God upon receiving the spirit of the Father at baptism.
BEFORE CHRIST'S DEATH
"And now Father, glorify me with yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the existence of the world" (Jn.17:52 Para.). See also Jn.17:24; 8:38-59.
When Jesus asks his Father to return his glory, Jesus was no longer a human with only the spirit of man. At this point in time, he was the first of humanity to have God the Father's spirit residing in him. He was the first Son of God the Father to be created out of the human race; he was the first of the New Creation.
THE GOD WHO DIED
Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things (Jn.1:1-3). Before becoming human, Jesus was an immortal spirit-being who inherently possessed the highest form of existence: life that springs forth from itself, never dying or decaying. The Creator God emptied himself of his glory, power, and immortality to become a mortal man who was subject to death. Then he allowed his creation to murder him. He voluntarily gave up his life and, for a short time, completely ceased to exist as a living entity:
"Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in the fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross" (Phil.2:6-8 KJV).
Jesus died; he ceased to exist. All that remained of him was the physical and spirit record of his existence, which could have been completely destroyed and erased if the Father had not resurrected him from the dead. See Matt.10:28; Lk.12:4-5; Gal.1:1; Acts 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30.
Alpha and Omega
In the first chapter of the Book of Revelation, the apostle John records his encounter with Jesus Christ who says he is the God Alpha and Omega:
"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. and he laid his right hand upon me, saying to me, fear not; I am the first and the last [Alpha and Omega]; I am he that lives, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, amen, and have the keys of hell and of death" (Rev.1:4,17-18 Para.). See also Rom.6:8-10; Acts 2:24-32; 3:15, 26; Heb.2:9; Rev.2:8.
The Greek Interlinear Bible translates the phrase, was dead in verse 18 as I became dead. The Greek word used for dead here is corpse, which means that the 'Alpha and Omega' says he was a dead body, but now, he is alive forever. Jesus explains that he was totally dead, not only dead in the flesh as some people believe.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
"Not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;" (Gal.1:1 KJV). See also Acts 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30.
In his letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul records that Jesus was the first human to be resurrected from the dead as a spiritual Son of God. Moreover, in his letter to the Church at Colosse, he states the same thing and adds that it was Jesus who created all things.
1. Corinthians 15:20, 22-23 KJV
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and became the firstborn of them that slept" (v20).
In verse 20, Paul says that Christ is the first of humanity to have passed from the human life-form to the spiritual; then, in verses 22-23, he says that others will follow:
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order. Christ the first-fruits, Afterwards, they that are Christ's at his coming" (vs.22-23).
The reason Jesus was described as the firstborn of the dead and the firstborn of many brothers is that he was literally the first of his kind to be created. He was the first of the New Creation: the firstborn spiritual Son of God the Father:
"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation—for all things were created in him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth; the visible and the invisible; whether thrones, or lordships, or rulers, or authorities, all things have been created through him. And he is before all things, and all things consist in him. And he is the Head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he be preeminent in all things" (Col.1:15-18 Para.). See also Acts 13: 33-35; Rev.1:5 KJV.
It seems logical from the scriptures which have been presented here, that Jesus became the Father's physical Son the instant he emptied himself of his immortality and allowed God the Father to perform the miracle of conception within the egg of the virgin Mary.
Jesus remained the Father's physical Son until he was baptized with water and with the holy spirit. After this baptism, Jesus became the Father's first Son of the New Creation. And he became God the Father's first Son to be made immortal when he was resurrected from the dead.
Jesus first became the Son of God the instant he became a human being. Although he was the first to become a Son of God the Father, he will not be the last:
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order. Christ the first-fruits, Afterwards, they that are Christ's at his coming" (1.Cor.15:22-23).
By B.L. Cocherell b3w3