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Declared The Son Of God

“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” (Romans 1:4)

In Romans 1:3-4, Paul gives a miniature, encapsulated biography of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have in these two short verses a summary of Who Christ is and how we have come to know this. As the Apostle Peter states, we have not come to faith in Christ based on “cunningly devised fables“(2 Pet. 1:16), but on sound evidence. God has not asked us to believe on Jesus based on “blind faith” nor has He asked us to accept Him as Lord based solely on the thoughts and opinions of others. Three evidences are cited here in the opening verses of Romans that demonstrate the identity of Jesus Christ; they show us conclusively that He is the Son of God:

1.) Power

First of all, we notice two statements about Jesus that point to His Humanity and His Divinity. He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and He was declared the Son of God according to the Spirit of Holiness. The words to be do not appear in the original language and were added in an effort to make the text more readable in the English (this is why they appear italicized in the KJV). The idea that Jesus became the Son of God at some point in time is not present in the original sense that this verse reads. It was not at the Resurrection that Jesus became the Son of God, He has always been the Son of God (cp. John 1:1). Nor is the term declared to be understood that it was by Divine proclamation that Jesus was elevated to a position as “Son of God”, but the declaration was made defining Who He already was and had always been. The declaration spoken of here is a revelation of Christ’s Divinity to man, not a “proclamation of promotion” made to Him. Jesus’ humanity began at a definite point in time — at the manger in Bethlehem the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14) and the Eternal God of Heaven took on the body of mortal man — but Christ’s Divinity is from everlasting to everlasting. He has always been God.

The first validation to man of this declaration from God the Father of Christ’s identity was power. Jesus said Himself that the works that He did were credentials of His identity (John 5:36, 10:38). The sheer volume and grandeur of the miracles that Jesus performed are staggering. He was not doing a few easily replicated “tricks” here and there, but was moving in a way that even those who did not believe Who He was were astonished (Matt. 13:54, Mark 7:37). Even when compared with the miracles done through the Prophets, the power that Jesus displayed was in a whole different category (Matt. 9:33). In fact, the power demonstrated by Jesus was so incontrovertible that even His enemies never denied its reality. They disputed the meaning and origin of Christ’s power (Matt. 9:34), but they never denied that the power was real. There are “scholars” today who might doubt whether or not Jesus’ miracles were authentic, but it seems that nobody living in His day did!

2.) The Holy Spirit

The second evidence of Christ’s identity, and without a doubt the most convincing and pertinent for the Christian, is the witness and testimony of the Holy Spirit. It is not the words of man that confirm the reality of Jesus Christ being the Son of God to us, but the testimony of the Spirit of God Himself. It was not flesh and blood that confirmed Christ’s identity to Peter, but the confirmation of God Himself (Matt. 16:17). John writes in 1 John 5:6 that the Holy Spirit bears witness to those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus told His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit and, when the Spirit came, He would glorify Jesus and speak of Him (John 16:12-15). It is the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the spirit of the believer that reveals the reality of Christ’s identity and Divinity.

There has been disagreement over exactly what is meant in this verse when Paul says “according to the spirit of holiness.” “Spirit of Holiness” is an expression used nowhere else in Scripture, and is not the usual terminology used by Paul when he is referring to God the Holy Spirit. The only other two instances of the word translated “holiness” here appearing in the Bible (2 Cor. 7:1, 1 Thess. 3:13) seem to be referring to holy action and not a condition of holiness (as would be more accurate concerning the Holy Spirit). Consequently, some have interpreted this to mean that Verse 4 is simply referring as a whole to Christ’s “spirit” or “spiritual nature” as opposed to Verse 3 referring to His Human or “fleshly” nature. They read this to say Christ’s body is the Son of David and His Spirit is the Son of God. The expression “spirit of holiness”, therefore, is concluded to be referring to Christ’s holy actions.

I believe that this verse is referring to God the Holy Spirit here (notwithstanding the difference in terminology used), but I think there is definitely an interesting secondary meaning. We could accurately state that there are really four distinct evidences given which authenticate Christ’s identity; adding the Lord’s perfect sinlessness to the list. The fact that Jesus Christ was the only Man to ever live a perfect life without sin (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 4:15) certainly attests to His Divinity.

3.) Resurrection From the Dead

No one but the Lord Jesus Christ has ever had the power to lay down their life and the power to take it up again (John 10:18). Without a doubt, God is the only One with the power over life and death and Jesus’ power over the grave testifies to His Deity (Rev. 1:18). The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is, in fact, the capstone of material evidence for His Deity and the hinge upon which the Christian faith itself hangs (1 Cor. 15:12-19). The Resurrection was the sign that Jesus Himself presented to His enemies as prima facie evidence confirming His identity as the Christ, the Son of God (John 2:18-21, Matt. 12:38-40). It is little wonder that the enemies of God have attempted so vigorously to discredit this one historical event. Every other major religious figure throughout history has lived and died and remains dead still. Muhammed, Buddha, Zoroaster, and Lao-Tzu are all dead. But the Lord Jesus Christ is alive forevermore.

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6 responses

  1. Loren, this is just excellent. That His power was undeniable and beyond what had ever been seen before . . .matchless. The Holy Spirit bearing witness . . .God thought of everything! And His resurrection. One Sunday the youth pastor talked about why we believed in Jesus, because anyone could say that they were changed by say, an egg being crushed on their heads. It changed them and they were never the same again. So what makes us different, our faith in Jesus different is that He rose from the dead. Loved this! Very boosting! Thank you so much for studying and writing and sacrificing to give us these gifts of Him. deb

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  2. Loren, I love this post! The suggestion that there are actually four evidences for Jesus’ Divinity was something I hadn’t thought about before, but does make sense. I do think that the testimony of the Holy Spirit to our own spirit is the most convincing evidence for me personally. But for the world that doesn’t know Jesus, that has not experienced the Holy Spirit, I can see how the fact of His resurrection would be the strongest evidence. In that light, I agree that “It is little wonder that the enemies of God have attempted so vigorously to discredit this one historical event.” The attempts to discredit it began when the Pharisees first tried to bribe the guards to lie about what they had experienced. Thank you for this wonderful study. Peace, Linda

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  3. Exciting post, Loren.

    “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 (The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead!)

    Jesus being very man and very God at the same time offered Him the ability to exist in physical form yet He did not fall to the pleasures of the flesh. He had opportunity, perhaps the most noted was His temptation after the wilderness experience.

    He performed many miracles and left us with the thought that we shall do greater things if we have faith in Him. (John 14:12) I want to think the same power is available to us but I, for one, am not tapping in as I ought to. Those who tried to hide the story knew what could be accomplished if the word got out. Why are we afraid to share it?

    Some time ago a Pastor mention the same thing. The death of Christ would have meant nothing if He had stayed in the tomb. We celebrate His death (sacrifice) yes, but the resurrection is the icing on the cake! You’re so right. All the other leaders are still dead… the ‘hope’ lies buried with them.

    Thanks much for sharing. Looking forward to the rest!

    Blessed,
    ann

    P.S. Until today, I knew of ‘Zarathustra’ … Just learned he’s the same guy as ‘Zoroaster’ :-) Always something to learn over here!

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  4. Thanks, Deb, for sharing these great comments!

    God certainly did think of everything in demonstrating Who Jesus is. I liked the illustration of an egg being crushed on our heads; that would certainly change a person :)

    That’s a great point: our faith is not in an experience, but in a risen Savior! Thanks do much Deb for all you do :)

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  5. Thanks, Linda, wonderful comments!

    It is interesting to note that the first attacks against Christianity had to do with the Resurrection. All through the Book of Acts, it was the Resurrection of Christ that so infuriated the enemies of the Gospel. Most of the earliest heresies had to do with redefining the nature of Christ and the reality of a physical Resurrection. As you pointed out, this began right at the beginning when the Roman guards were bribed to lie about what had happened.

    Today, there are those who dispute whether or not Jesus’ miracles were authentic (nobody who lived then could deny them), they dispute what Jesus actually said (nobody could deny His Words then because so many had heard Him directly), and they even dispute whether or not Jesus Christ was a real, historical Person (nobody living in that day could deny that, either). It seems that the only real point of contention that they had at the beginning was concerning the Reurrection, so that is what they attacked. If the Resurrection could be cast into doubt, then the entire Christian Faith would go down with it. Praise God that we have the witness of God’s Spirit testifying to our hearts of the reality of His Resurrection!

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  6. Thanks, Ann, for the great comments!

    What amazes me is the fact that God has filled us with the same power to overcome sin that raised Christ from the dead! The indwelling Holy Spirit fills us with this same Resurrection power so that we are able to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-10). Oh, that I could fully tap into that power!

    Unfortunately, a lot of the preaching in the Church today focuses only on the death of Christ and not the Resurrection. But if He was not raised, as you mentioned, His death would avail us nothing (1 Cor. 15:13-19). Apart from the Empty Tomb, the Cross is without meaning.

    Thanks, Ann, God bless you! (That’s intersting about Zarathustra/Zoroaster. I always think of Zarathustra being connected to the Nietzsche book and not being an alternative name for Zoroaster.)

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