Wednesday 2 May 2018

Jesus began as Son of God, but was resurrected and ascended as Son of man (more inferences from the Fourth Gospel)

In the New Testament; Jesus is sometimes referred to as the Son of God, other times as the Son of man - and the meaning and difference has been hard to define.

However, if the Fourth ('John's') Gospel is taken as the primary and authoritative Gospel and source of knowledge about Jesus, and if we consider Jesus as living in linear-sequential Time (so that 'before' and 'after' make a real difference in ultimate reality); then the usage of 'God' and 'man' is seen to be consistent - and potentially enlightening.

In sum, Jesus was born as a Son of God, but became the Son of man after he was resurrected - and it was the Son of man who ascended to Heaven.

The Chapter and Verse references (according to my Kindle search facility for the Gospel of John in the King James Bible) are as follows:

'Son of God': 1:3; 1:49; 3:18; 5:25; 9:35; 10:36; 11:4; 11:27; 19:7; 20:31.

These all refer to the mortal Jesus, during his earthly ministry and before his resurrection - but seem to include the period after his death and before his resurrection when, in 5:25 it says 'The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.' Presumably this refers to 'the harrowing of Hell' - or more accurately (since Hell did not exist until after the ascension) the ministry of Christ to the souls in Sheol.

The references for 'Son of man' are: 2:11; 3:13-14; 5:27; 6:27; 6:53; 6:62; 8:28; 12:23; 12:34; 13:31.

These refer to the resurrected and, especially, to the resurrected-ascending Christ.

The 'switch' from naming Jesus the Son of God to the Son of man, gives us important knowledge of Christ's mission - why it was necessary for him to be incarnated, die and be resurrected. Before incarnation, Jesus was already a Son of God, and was 'maker' of everything that-had-been-made (which, I take it, does not include Men).

But the Son of God could not save Men, could not offer us life everlasting; that entailed Jesus becoming the Son of man - that state of having-died as a Man, and then been resurrected to eternal life.

Jesus as Son of man was a higher being than when he was referred to as the Son of God: it is the Son of man who is our Saviour.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

In the Jewish thought of the time, the Son of Man was an apocalyptic figure (ultimately deriving from the Book of Daniel) who was supposed to appear after the Messiah. As far as I can remember Jesus always referred to the Son of Man in the third person (the one exception in the KJV, "Whom do men say that I the son of man am?" is a mistranslation), and I'm not sure even his closest disciples understood until after the fact that all his statements about "Son of Man" were in fact about himself. That's why he could make what seem to us to be such unambiguous statements about the coming crucifixion and resurrection of "the son of man" and yet still catch his disciples by surprise when the predicted events ended up happening to Jesus himself!

(This is based, I should say, on my memory of the Synoptics. I may have misremembered, and I'm also not sure how well what I have said applies to the Fourth Gospel. I know many parts of the Fourth Gospel well but still don't have a good feel for it as a gestalt.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Thanks, that fits with my understanding.

BTW - I don't regard the KJV as a 'translation' but as a book as equally-inspired as the 'original' documents - independently inspired, as it were.

The more I read the Fourth Gospel, the more authoritative and coherent/ integrated it seems - a mixture of self-validating and intuitively-validated. I believe it was intended to be, and is, all that we Need (if, indeed, written scriptures are to be regarded as 'needed' with the Holy Ghost universally active and accessible; and the fact that most people cannot read a genuinely-inspired 'translation').

I have not yet seriously tried the same with any or all of the synoptics; but whenever I do look at them at present, they seem *very obviously* at the lower level of authority; being secondary collections derived from multiple sources, and without the coherence and integration of the Fourth.

And then I will need to look at the Epistles and Revelation; but this is not a job I want or need to hurry.

Bruce B. said...

Isn't it true that the different Gospels were meant for different audiences? We tend to think they were written to speak directly to us (and in a sense they were, being timeless and true) but I wonder if the qualities that cause you to single out John as unique are simply a result of how it was written for its intended (ancient) audience.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bruce B - That's what some people have inferred, I gather. It seems a reasonable attitude to take. My focus on the Fourth Gospel is that it (uniquely) claims to have been written by an eyewitness disciple whom Jesus loved especially - and this is confirmed for me when I read it.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I would mention that Jesus was condemned and crucified as the Son of man prior to resurrection and ascent. These are also essential to the identity (or aspect) of Christ.

In particular, it is because Christ died that He gained the keys to the grave, which otherwise would never have released the dead. It is also because Christ suffered the scourge of guilt for human sin that He gained the keys to hell, which otherwise would never have released any sinner.