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Graham Stanton comments, “In the Graeco­Roman world heroes, rulers, and
philosophers were called sons of God. In the Old Testament “son of God” is used of
angels or heavenly beings (e.g., Gen. 6:2,4; Deut. 32:8; Job 1:6­12), Israel or Israelites
(e.g., Ex. 4:22; Hosea 11:1), and also of the king (notably in 2 Sam. 7:14 and Psalm
2:7).” 80 And Joel Carmichael elaborates:
The title “son of God” was of course entirely familiar to Jews in
Jesus’ lifetime and indeed for centuries before: all Jews were sons of God;
this was in fact what distinguished them from other people….
During the postexilic period in Jewish history the word was further
applied to any particular pious man; ultimately it became common in
reference to the Righteous Man and the Prince.
In all these cases of Jewish usage, the phrase was plainly a mere
metaphor to emphasize a particularly close connection between individual
virtue and divine authority. 81
So if the phrase “son of God” was “plainly a mere metaphor,” why does
Christianity elevate Jesus Christ to “son of God” in the literal sense of the phrase? The
question echoes unanswered, “Where did Jesus get an exclusive on the title ‘Son of

If this were not confusing enough, there is Hebrews 7:3, where Melchizedek,
King of Salem, is described as being “without father, without mother, without genealogy,
having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a
priest continually.” An immortal, preexisting without origin and without parents?
Fanciful thinking, or does Jesus have scriptural competition?
Strikingly, Jesus refers to himself as “Son of man” in the Bible, and not as “Son
of God.” Harper’s Bible Dictionary suggests, “Jesus must have used ‘Son of man’ as a
simple self­designation, perhaps as a self­effacing way of referring to himself simply as a
human being.”
The New Catholic Encyclopedia says of “Son of man,” “This title is of
special interest because it was the one employed by Jesus by preference to designate
Himself and His mission.”

As a matter of detail, Jesus described himself as “son of man” eighty­eight times
in the New Testament. “Son of God” occurs forty­seven times in the New Testament, but
always on the lips of others. As Harper’s Bible Dictionary states,

Although the synoptic tradition contains two sayings in which
Jesus refers to himself as “son” in relation to God as his Father (Mark
13:32; Matt. 11:27 [Q]), the authenticity of these sayings is widely
questioned, and it remains uncertain whether Jesus actually called himself
“son” in relation to God as Father…


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