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Regarding the religious use of the word ebed, “The term serves as an expression
of humility used by the righteous before God.”88 Furthermore, “After 100 B.C. pais theou
more often means “servant of God,” as when applied to Moses, the prophets, or the three
children (Bar. 1:20; 2:20; Dan. 9:35).”89 A person can easily get into doctrinal quicksand
over this point, for out of the eight mentions of pais theou in the New Testament, only
five refer to Jesus (Matthew 12:18; Acts 3:13, 26; 4:27, 30)—the remaining three are
divided between Israel (Lk. 1:54) and David (Lk. 1:69; Acts 4:25). So Jesus did not have
exclusive rights to this term, and experts conclude, “In the few instances in which Jesus is
called pais theou we obviously have early tradition.”90
Furthermore the translation, if impartial, should be the same—all individuals
labeled pais theou in the Greek should be identical in the translation. Such, however, has
not been the case. Whereas pais has been translated “servant” in reference to Israel and
David in the above­referenced verses, it is translated “Son” or “holy child” in reference to
Jesus. Such preferential treatment is canonically consistent, but logically flawed.
Lastly an interesting, if not key, religious parallel is uncovered: “Thus the Greek
phrase pais tou theou, ‘servant of God,’ has exactly the same connotation as the Muslim
name Abdallah—the ‘servant of Allah.’” 91
The symmetry is all the more shocking, for the Holy Qur’an relates Jesus as
having identified himself as just this—Abdallah (abd being Arabic for slave or servant, Abd­Allah [also spelled “Abdullah”] meaning slave or servant of Allah). According to
the story, when Mary returned to her family with the newborn Jesus, they accused her of
being unchaste. Speaking from the cradle in a miracle that gave credence to his claims,
baby Jesus defended his mother’s virtue with the words, “Inni Abdullah …” which
means, “I am indeed a servant of Allah …” (TMQ 19:30)
Translation of the New Testament Greek huios to “son” (in the literal meaning of
the word) is similarly flawed. On page 1210 of Kittel and Friedrich’s Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament, the meaning of huios journeys from the literal (Jesus
the son of Mary), to mildly metaphorical (believers as sons of the king [Matt. 17:25­26]),
to politely metaphorical (God’s elect being sons of Abraham [Luke 19:9]), to colloquially
metaphorical (believers as God’s sons [Matt. 7:9 and Heb 12:5]), to spiritually
metaphorical (students as sons of the Pharisees [Matt. 12:27, Acts 23:6]), to biologically
metaphorical (as in John 19:26, where Jesus describes his favorite disciple to Mary as
“her son”), to blindingly metaphorical as “sons of the kingdom” (Matt. 8:12), “sons of
peace” (Luke. 10:6), “sons of light” (Luke. 16:8), and of everything from “sons of this
world” (Luke 16:8) to “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). It is as if this misunderstood word
for “son” is waving a big sign on which is painted in bold letters: METAPHOR! Or, as
Stanton eloquently puts it, “Most scholars agree that the Aramaic or Hebrew word behind
‘son’ is ‘servant.’ So as the Spirit descends on Jesus at his baptism, Jesus is addressed by
the voice from heaven in terms of Isaiah 42:1: ‘Behold my servant … my chosen … I
have put my Spirit upon him.’ So although Mark 1:11 and 9:7 affirm that Jesus is called by God to a special messianic task, the emphasis is on Jesus’ role as the anointed servant,
rather than as Son of God.


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