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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, 2013 at 0:33

1 Answer 1

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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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  • (+1) Great question and great answer. The answer could be greatly improved by showing that the Greek supports this answer as well, which I believe it does (but am not an authority).
    – user10231
    Dec 19, 2016 at 11:33

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