The Person of Jesus Christ


Jesus as the Son of God - The title 'son of God'

  • Jesus is referred to as Son of God in Christian teaching.
  • The Holy Trinity is where God is understood as Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Jesus as the Son of God is central to his authority
  • In the Gospels, Jesus is referred to as God's Son in the Stories
  • Paul speaks of Jesus as God's own son in his letter to the Romans
  • However, Jesus did not refer to himself in terms of the son of God.
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Jesus as the son of God - Jesus' Knowledge of God

  • it could be that Jesus is reffered to the 'Son of God' in the sense that he had unique knowledge of God as this is often linked together in discussions about Jesus.
  • Some Biblical writers speak of Jesus as 'the word' of God, suggesting that the words spoken by Jesus were the very words of God, giving Jesus' teachings divine authority. This idea also suggests a relationship to the creation, where God created the universe by saying 'Let there be...' - if Jesus' words are Gods then he was present at the creation.
  • The idea that Jesus had full knowledge or special knowledge of God creates a puzzle as it implies that Jesus and God are seperate beings who simply know each other. To fix this the early church created the doctrine of 'hypostatic union' between Jesus and God. Where two natures are united into one person but this does not completely clarify the issue.
  • Questions of Jesus' knowledge raise a number of large issues: did Jesus have freedom? Did Jesus have omniscience - did he know about his crucifixtion? Did he know his place in God's plan of the universe? Did Jesus gain knowledge through his experience of the world like any other human being?
  • Catholic theologian Rahner suggested that Jesus had multiple layers in his consciousness (with human conscience nearer to his surface and a God consciousness deeper within him)
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Jesus as the son of God - Jesus as God and man

  • Chrisitians believe that only God can save humanity so Jesus must be God as he saved people from sin with his crucifixtion. 
  • But Christians also think that Jesus had to be human in order to live on earth as we do
  • The idea that Jesus was fully human and fully divine/God creates issues as Humanity and God are very different and Chrisitans reject the idea of a demi-god that is seen in Greek and Roman mythology.
  • Jesus did not have the sinful nature that human beings have as he rejected temptation bringing humans to reconciliation with God.
  • Medieval Christians believed that Jesus might have knowledge of God in three ways:
    • Scientia visionis - face to face knowledge of God and all eternal and created things
    • Scientia infusa - an 'infused' knowledge (a knowledge given by God not learned)
    • Scientia Experientiae - Knowledge gained through experience (the human way)
  • but then the doctrine homoousios was created. It stated that Jesus was of the same substance as God, as one being. They rejected he was some kind of mix between the two.
  • Gerald O'Collins writes about how we cannot draw any conclusive answers about the inner life of anyone but we can conclude that Jesus knew he had a unique relationship with God and had a mission.
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Jesus as the Son of God - The Miracles of Jesus

  • In the new testament there are many stories about Jesus' miracles - these include: Healing the sick, feeding the hungry, driving out demons, calming the storm, walking on water, etc.
  • Hume argued that we should treat these miracle stories with scepticism and believe a more likely explanation on the event (witnesses were mistaken or being deliberately decieving)
  • However, Edward Schillebeeckx believed that we should treat the stories as having a metaphorical meaning rather than literal. 
  • N.T. Wright suggests that the miracle stories should be understood in terms of the intentions of the writers as showing that Jesus had the power and authority to unite people and restore communities. 
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Jesus as the Son of God - The Resurrection of Jesu

  • In Christian belief the resurrection is an essential part of the Christian message
  • Paul writes in his letters that there could be no Christian faith without the resurrection - if God had not resurrected Jesus the sins of humanity would not have been washed clean and Jesus would have died for nothing. Preaching the Gospel would be pointless without the resurrection.
  • N.T. Wright and E.P. Sanders write that it is the belief in the resurrection that has maintained the strength of Christianity as a belief system.
  • The resurrection of Jesus has had many implications for Christianity:
    • Shows the miraculous power of Jesus 
    • reveals new things about the nature of God overcoming sin and suffering
    • gives Christians a reason to be hopeful about the future kingdom of God
    • is the full and final revelation of Jesus
    • Reveals how humanity was meant to be, before the fall
    • shows that revelation of God can be found in the weak and the suffering as well as in the strong.
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Jesus as the Teacher of Wisdom - Jesus as Rabbi

  • In Judaism the term 'rabbi' was used for a teacher and a leader - someone who studied the scriptures and could interpret and teach them
  • Jesus' followers used the term 'rabbi' when they addressed him
  • He taught in Synagogues and in the open; gospel accounts suggested that people were suprised at his level of education.
  • Jesus spoke about the interpretation of scripture, about moral issues and the importance of love even in t he face of hatred. His moral teaching includes: the forgiveness of sin, love of enemies, love for God and love for each other, inclusion of outcasts, self-giving sacrifice, and choosing moral purity over worldly wealth. 
  • Lewis argued that it doesn't make sense to accept Jesus' moral teaching but not accept that he was the son of God. Lewis said when Jesus made claims about himself (such as 'I am the bread of life') he was either telling the truth or not. If he was telling the truth he was the son of God. But if he wasn't then he was deceitful or delusional - not the kind of person whose moral messages should be followed.
  • Bonhoeffer linked the idea of incarnation to humanity - the incarnation of Christ allows us to encounter God in human life in a special unique way.
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Jesus as the Teacher of Wisdom - The Challenge of

  • Hick and other contributed to the book called The Myth of God Incarnate (1977) in which they argued that the idea of Jesus as God incarnate is best understood mythologically
  • Hick argued that the kind of moral example and teaching given by Jesus could also be found in others such as Moses, Jeremiah, Ramakrishna
  • Linking with his ideas of religious pluralism. 
  • The idea of God coming to earth as human should be seen as metaphorical rather than literal. Jesus was human with special insights and gifts inspired by God.
  • Jesus remains an exemplar of a wise and holy man who gave important moral teaching and who made an excellent role model.
  • Christians who reject Hicks point of view argue that Jesus' moral nature cannot be seperated from his divine nature. 
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Jesus the Liberator - Jesus' Challenges to Social

  • Christians present Jesus as a liberator who challenged social conventions, as well as in a more theological sense liberating humanity from the imprisonment of sin and death.
  • Jesus spoke out against the domination of the rich over the poor. He also included social outcasts
  • many Christians have become involved in social change as a result of Jesus' teaching, such as the salvation army and followers of liberation theology.
  • Lukes Gospel in particular emphasises Jesus' inclusion of women in his mission even though they lived in patriarchal society where they were not considered equals
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Jesus the Liberator - Jesus' Challenges to Politic

  • At the time of Jesus, Palestine was under the control of the Romans. The Jews were allowed to continue in their traditions as long as they did not cause trouble.
  • The situation was uneasy and ended with the burning down of the temple in Jerusalem in AD73 (after Jesus' lifetime)
  • During Jesus' lifetime many Jews hoped for a Messiah who would come and lead them into victory over the Romans, as a warrior king.
  • One group of militant Jews at the time of Jesus was the Zealots, who called for violent revolution. Some argued that Jesus may have been more closely linked with the Zealots than the way he is presented in the Gospels:
    • Jesus did say 'I did not come to bring peace, but a sword'
    • Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to welcoming crowds, suggesting that this was a  event meant to show that Jesus was the new leader and King of the Jews.
    • The Romans put the name 'King of Jews' on Jesus' cross
  • Not all scholars agreed that Jesus was a political revolutionary:
    • He stopped his disciples from using violence at his arrest
    • Jesus emphasised peace
    • He did not accept or use political titles for himself
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Jesus the Liberator - Jesus' Challenges to Religio

  • Jesus seems to have been on good terms with people in religious authority
  • However, he does challenge some of the rules about religious rituals, e.g. healing on the sabbath when it was meant to be a day of rest.
  • Jesus associated with people who were traditionally 'unclean' such as samaritans and women with a haemorrhage
  • Jesus suggests that the temple will be replaced by something better, and is critical of some its practices, especially the practice of money-changing for profit
  • Jesus came into conflict with religious leaders and was called to the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court) to answer accusations
  • Some Biblical scholars, such as Sanders, think that the gospel writers may have exaggerated Jesus' conflicts with Judaism in order to fit their own Christian agenda, and that Jesus was more Jewish in his outlook than the new testament presents.
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