The Genealogy of Jesus in Luke's gospel ends like this (Luke 3:38):


the son of Enosh,

the son of Seth, the son of Adam,

the son of God.

Emphasis mine.

Adam is clearly not "son of God" literally. Does it mean only that Adam has no earthly father, but was created by God, or is there any other way of sonship analogical to this one in Bible (like calling angels "sons of God", for example)? And how (or why)?

6 Answers 6


The idea of a "son" in first century Christian writings was different than it is today. The term "son" simply signified that he came from God and bore His image. (examples)

Both of these things are true of Adam:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . " God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. -Genesis 1:26-27

...and so, Adam was the "son of God".

  • Do you mean it 'includes' the broader sense? The biological concept is there too (even evident in the quoted genealogy), isn't it? Dec 17, 2013 at 18:01
  • 6
    This answer is further supported by Genesis 5:1-3, "This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth" (NKJV).
    – user2027
    Dec 17, 2013 at 18:08
  • @JackDouglas I think the biological concept is a subset of what I wrote (i.e. in the physical sense.)
    – Jas 3.1
    Dec 17, 2013 at 19:08

Just to add. Greek does not use the word "son". Whole geneolgy goes just with genitives. "Josef of Heli, of Mathat ... etc. until of Adam, of God." In greek tou + genitive means usually "belonging to". The only time the word "son" is used here is in v. 22 where Jesus is "supposedly son of Joseph" and in v. 21 where God says to Jesus "you are my beloved son".

  • 4
    It is true that the word υιος occurs only in 3:22, but it is the implied referent of the names in the genitive case mentioned in all the following verses down to 3:38.
    – fdb
    Mar 7, 2014 at 10:43

Luke is drawing a comparison between Adam the son of God and Jesus the son of God. He ends the genealogy with Adam as son of God and moves directly into describing the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. The point Luke is emphasizing is the difference between the actions of Jesus and Adam when they were tempted. Though the first Adam failed to obey God in the face of temptation, Jesus as the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) obeyed God in the face of temptation as demonstrated by the gospel accounts of his temptation in the wilderness, along with other texts. In Christianity, this idea has sometimes been called Two-Adam Christology. This comparison of Adam with Christ, particularly in this passage is not new to Christianity. James T. Dennison, Jr. writes about how Irenaeus saw that comparison from this passage (and others) here: http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=124 However, I think it develops from the text quite naturally. This isn't an appeal to tradition for interpretation, but rather an observation that the Christian church has seen the passage as comparing/contrasting Adam and Jesus.

It is certainly true that Adam is not the ontological son of God as Jesus is. Adam is created, but Jesus is begotten. But Adam, before the fall, prefigures Christ. The apostle Paul compares the two very explicitly in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.

To answer the other part of your question about other "sons" in the Bible, Israel the nation is called the son of God (and even the firstborn son) in Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:9, and Hosea 11:1. Israel was tempted/tested in the wilderness like Adam and Jesus were (in simple terms: regarding whether they considered the Word of God to be the ultimate authority, whether they trusted God to provide [food] for them, and whether they would worship the true God or a false one).

The responses of Adam and Israel each as the son of God shows that they were disobedient to God's covenants with them. They received the punishment(s) of being kicked out of the garden for Adam, not getting into the promised land for the generation that sinned in the wilderness and being kicked out of the land for following generations that broke God's covenant (see Deuteronomy, especially ch. 4). If you want more specifics, I can add those.

So to get at the hermeneutical significance (for Christianity) of seeing Adam as the son of God, the Bible can be read as a story of 3 sons. Adam the first son was tested to see if he would obey God. He didn't obey, so he didn't receive life as wages (which had significance for his descendants). Israel as the son of God was disobedient under testing also, which demonstrates the sinfulness of mankind since Adam's fall. "Now the law came in to increase the trespass" (Romans 5:20a). Even though Israel could not have kept God's law perfectly, their disobedience in spite of the clear revelation of God's righteous requirements showed their utter sinfulness and inability to earn righteousness (and thus merit eternal life). But Jesus, as the last son (perhaps you could even say first and last son because he preceded Adam in eternity as well as being after him temporally) fully obeyed God in the face of temptation, thus earning righteousness and meriting eternal life. He was the obedient son whom the preceding sons prefigured in their lives and temptations, but whom the preceding sons were not like in their disobedience. Hermeneutically speaking, when Christians read about Adam and Israel, they can readily see parallels in their stories which also parallel the life of Jesus. Thinking about these parallels can shed light on less plainly explained portions of their stories, since each of them have aspects of their stories that are more clear than others.


The term "Son of God" simply means one who is a righteous person in terms of his character and faith in God. For example, Jesus, peace be upon him, himself said "blessed are the peacemakers, for they should be called Sons of God." To refer to all peacemakers as 'Sons of God' does not mean a literal son or a son meaning relation to the divine nature of our Lord, but simply a righteous person. This is the message that Islam brings, saying that Jesus did not claim to be God or a literal son of God. When he is referred to as a "Son of God," the meaning is simply that he was righteous, one of the most righteous men since the creation of Adam. Otherwise, Luke would not refer to Adam as a son of God and the Torah would not refer to David as a son of God. The term does not bring any affiliation with the Lord, our Creator.

  • The word used is the same as all the others, meaning "came from". Adam had no earthly father, only a heavenly one.
    – mbomb007
    Jul 17, 2019 at 2:17

Adam was moulded from the existing earth. In Genesis 1 men and women are created from nothing. Eve in Gen 3v20 is the mother of all living because her descendant Jesus brings life, before Him we were dead in trespasses and sin, and although the sons of God (the first creation) were given authority over the earth, Jesus is the ultimate authority because through Mary He is a descendant of Adam who was made from the very earth itself. Hence in Gen 6v1-2 the sons of God the first creation take the daughters of men, children of Adams line and God says my Spirit will not always strive with man. www.jude20.com

  • Due to the nature of this site, a reference may be required to support your conclusions. Jun 19, 2014 at 13:15

My research is this: The King James bible says "Adam", the son of God. The Aramaic translation does not add "son of God". I find no other place that the term son of God is given to Adam. Let the truth be established in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses (scripture).

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Due to the nature of this site, references are required in order to support your conclusions. Be sure to visit the tour to learn more about this site. Jan 30, 2015 at 18:31
  • Where have you ever seen an Aramaic translation of Luke? Can you please provide a manuscript ID or other reference to this document. And in what way is this more relevant than any other translation from the original Greek? Jan 30, 2015 at 20:17
  • There is a bible that is a complete translation into English from the Peshitta manuscripts. It is appropriate that as we have translations based on the Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament and on the Latin Bible of Jerome, so also should there be available to the modern reader that form of the text which was translated anciently into a branch of the Aramaic language which has been used by Christians from earliest times. It says of itself that it is from the ancient eastern text - from the Aramaic of the Peshitta. It is still the official Bible of the Syrian Christian Churches of today. Feb 1, 2015 at 8:59

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