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John 20:30-31 says the following:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

My question is about the Greek syntax in the phrase highlighted above. Here it is:

Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ

Judging by the English alone I can see two distinct possibilities:

  • John wrote so that his readers would believe that Jesus is (A) the Christ, and (B) the Son of God (i.e. two distinct identifiers), or

  • John wrote so that his readers would believe that Jesus is the Christ / Son of God (presenting the two as synonymous)

Which is it?

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Possibly related: Matt. 26:63, Luke 4:41, John 11:27 –  Jas 3.1 Dec 14 '13 at 0:33
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2 Answers 2

When comparing John 20:30-31 to other early Christian texts, it appears 'Christ' and 'son of God' (and 'Lord') were understood as synonyms when used for Jesus. The two terms appear in conjunction somewhat regularly1, a few you have already noted in a comment above.

The reason for why the two phrases are so often used in relation to each other probably derives from Psalm 2, which is applied to Jesus in a few New Testament texts.2 This psalm speaks of someone as both the 'anointed' (Hebrew messiah, Greek christ) and the 'son' of God.

Psalm 2 was widely regarded as having been written by David (e.g. Acts 4:25). The obvious usage of the Hebrew scriptures in the New Testament and the frequent claims that Jesus is a royal descendant of David reinforce the synonymous meaning of the two titles 'Christ' and 'son of God' in John 20:30-31. Psalm 2 uses the two concepts for one person, the (Davidic) king of Israel.

The son of God = the Christ = the king of Israel in John 20:30-31.3


1. Matthew 16:16; 26:63; Mark 1:1 (though 'son of God' is regarded as a later addition to this verse); Luke 4:41; John 11:27; Romans 1:4; First Corinthians 1:9; Second Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:13; Hebrews 5:5.

2. Direct quotations in Acts 4:25-28 and 13:30-33; subtle allusions in Revelation 2:27, 12:5, and 19:11-21.

3. Other uses of the two titles in the New Testament texts probably all carry the same meaning, but they would all need to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

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The title "Son of God" and "Christ" may not be synonymous.

In Psalm 110:3 LXX (109:3), the Christ is said to be eternally begotten from the Father. Here, the usage is about the nature of Christ.

In Psalm 2:7 LXX, the Son of God is Christ. It describes who the Son is.

In Hebrews 1:5 the Son is begotten from the Father. It's clear that the Christ is pre-existent in the Old Testament and hence this verse is not talking about making Jesus the Christ.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

In Acts 2:36, Jesus was made Christ by God. The clue as to what it means is the same as in what way is Jesus made Lord by God?

Jesus was made Lord (Sovereign—Matthew 28:18) and Christ (King—1 Timothy 6:15). Therefore, the verse is only talking about the Father letting the Son to function as divine. Nothing more, nothing less.

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You're argument is hard to follow here and it isn't clear how the connection to usage in other authors is being made. Can you include you're sources inline and expand on how you believe these to cast light on John's usage? –  Caleb Dec 24 '13 at 10:00
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