De Moor V:8: The Unique Sonship of Jesus Christ

β. This Generation is the sole foundation as to why He is called the Son of God, Matthew 16:16, and indeed Beloved, etc. Indeed, the second Person of the Trinity is the Son of God according to the Divine Nature alone, not according to the human nature also, Romans 1:4; and when the foundation of proper Filiation is in divine Generation, a metaphorical and improper divine Filiation is not able to agree in the same Person, which will be proven at length against the Remonstrants in § 9. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM, Catechetical Lectures XI, § 2, pages 136, 137: Υἱὸν δὲ πάλιν ἀκούων, μὴ καταχρηστικῶς ἄκουε μόνον· ἀλλὰ Υἱὸν ἀληθῶς, Υἱὸν φυσικὸν, ἄναρχον. —Υἱὸν ἀεὶ γεννηθέντα—ἀκαταλήπτῳ τῇ γεννήσει. —ἐὰν τοίνυν ἀκούσῃς τοῦ εὐαγγελίου λέγοντος, βίβλος γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, υἱοῦ Δαβὶδ, υἱοῦ Ἀβραάμ· τὸ κατὰ σάρκα νόησον. υἱὸς μὲν γὰρ Δαβὶδ ἐπὶ συντελεία τῶν αἰώνων· υἱὸς δὲ Θεοῦ, πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων, ἀνάρχως. κἀκεῖτο μὲν προσέλαβεν, ὅπερ οὐκ εἶχε· τοῦτο δὲ ὃ ἔχει, ἀϊδίως ἔχει γεννηθεὶς ἐκ Πατρός. δύο ἔχει πατέρας, ἕνα τὸν Δαβὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, καὶ ἕνα τὸν Θεὸν Πατέρα θεϊκῶς. ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν κατὰ τὸν Δαβὶδ, καὶ χρόνῳ ὑποβάλλεται, καὶ ψηλαφᾶται, καὶ γενεαλογεῖται· τὸ δὲ κατὰ τὴν θεότητα, οὔτε χρόνῳ ὑποβάλλεται, οὔτε τόπῳ, οὔτε γενεαλογεῖται, but again, hearing of a Son, understand it not merely in an imporper sense, but as a Son in truth, a Son by nature, without beginning…a Son eternally begotten…by an incomprehensible generation…. If then thou hear the Gospel saying, the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham,[1] understand it according to the flesh:[2] for He is the Son of David at the end of the ages;[3] but the Son of God before all ages, without beginning: The former, which before He had not, He received; but the latter, which He has, He has eternally as begotten of the Father: He has two fathers; one, David, according to the flesh, and one, God, His Father in a Divine manner: but as the Son of David, He is subject to time, and to handling, and to genealogical descent; as Son according to the Godhead , He is subject neither to time nor to place, nor to genealogical descent.


Cyril of Jerusalem

In the Gospels Christ is with great frequency called the Son of God in the singular number, quite emphatically, in such a way that by this title He has ἐξοχὴν/pre-eminence over all others that are also otherwise distinguished with this title, Matthew 16:16; 26:63, 65, on which passages carefully consult WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter XXI, § 248-250, 252, 255, 256, in which manner especially in John’s Gospel the names of ὁ Πατὴρ, the Father, and ὁ Υἱὸς, the Son, most frequently occur relatively to one another. That the Lord applied to Himself pre-eminence in this title, the Son of God, above the other Sons of God, He signified in His skillful manner of speaking, John 20:17, ἀναβαίνω πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα μου καὶ Πατέρα ὑμῶν, I ascend unto my Father and your Father. He does not say τὸν Πατέρα ἡμῶν, our Father, lest it should appear that He is to be relegated into the same class with the creatures by reason of the possession of the same title of Son of God: neither did He say, τὸν Πατέρα μου, καὶ τὸν Πατέρα ὑμῶν, with the article repeated; lest it should appear that the Father of Christ is one, and the Father of His brethren another. But He wanted to indicate that His Father and the Father of His brethren is one and the same, but in a diverse manner. Πατέρα μου μὲν ἔλεγε κατὰ φύσιν ἐν τῇ θεότητι, καὶ Πατέρα ὑμῶν διὰ χάριν δἰ ἐμὲ ἐν τῇ υἱοθεσίᾳ, He calls Him my Father according to nature with respect to the Godhead, and your Father by grace through me with respect to adoption, is found in EPIPHANIUS’ Hæresi LXIX, contra Arianos, § 55, opera, tome I, page 778; compare WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter XXIV, § 288.


To the title, the Son of God, are added epithets, which aptly declare the pre-eminence of it in the Lord Jesus.Indeed, He is called the Only-Begotten Son of God, John 1:14, and quite frequently in John.And so He is the Son of God on account of generation and nativity, not by adoption, etc.He is the only Son, not just as one is able to be called the only Son surviving after the death of his brothers, nor the sole Son of such a wife, of which sort was Isaac to Abraham from Sarah, Genesis 22:2, which does not exclude Ishmael:but completely Only-Begotten, to whom Filiation by generation and nativity from the Father is altogether peculiar:see GOMARUS on John 1:14, opera, part I, pages 305-308; WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter XXIII, § 284, and his Dissertatione Academica XIX, § 20, pages, 601, 601.His proper Son, Romans 8:32,[4] which is opposed to a metaphorical Son by Adoption, and to whatever improper Son, so called on account of other causes and relations:see WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter XXIV, § 289, and his Dissertatione Academica XIX, § 19, page 599, § 20, page 601. And, because He is the Proper and Only-Begotten Son, hence He is Beloved above all others, Matthew 3:17; 17:5, compared with Genesis 22:2:consultWESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter XXII, § 271, 272.And so in the case of Christ the Name, the Son of God, is an altogether ὄνομαδιαφορώτερον, more excellent name, by which the Θεάνθρωπος/God-man is also κρείττωνγενόμενοςτῶνἀγγέλων, made so much bettern than the angels, according to Hebrews 1:4, 5:WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter XXII, § 263-270.Against the extenuation of those title, the living Son of God, the proper Son, and the only-begotten Son, attributed to Christ, which you may find in the Catechesi Racoviana, chapter I de Cognitione Personæ Christi, questions 72, 73, pages 104, 105, ARNOLDI skillfully vindicates their force in his Refutatione Catecheseos Racovianæ, on the questions cited, pages 300-303.

[1] Matthew 1:1. [2] See Romans 1:3, 4. [3] Hebrews 9:26: “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world (ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων) hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” [4] Romans 8:32: “He that spared not his own Son (τοῦ ἰδίου υἱοῦ), but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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