“Marked out Son of God.” Many Christologically-orthodox modern commentators think that the verb must be translated “appointed” (as it is rendered in Acts 10:42; 17:31; Heb 4:7), but they avoid the adoptionist implication by taking “in power” as qualifying “Son of God,” so that the whole statement reads, “appointed Son-of-God-in-power.” This seems to be the majority opinion among evangelical commentators (Barrett, Bruce, Cranfield, Moo, Murray, Schreiner, Stott, Witherington).
But a better solution is to translate horizo here as “to declare, designate, or mark out.” Though it is no longer the majority view, this is the view of the Greek fathers Chrysostom and Theodoret, and is still backed by a number of older commentators (Calvin, Haldane, Hodge, Melanchthon, Morris, Shedd, Tholuck), major English versions (AV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NRSV), and at least two lexica of NT Greek (Cremer’s Biblico-Theological Lexicon of NT Greek, and BDAG).
This translation is supported by the following considerations:
First, the anarthrous “Son of God” means that it is indefinite and qualitative rather than definite, and this fits better with the meaning “marked out.” Note that the direct objects of horizo in Acts 10:42; 17:31; Heb 4:7 are also anarthrous, and although typically translated “appointed,” a rendering along the lines of “marked out” or “identified” seems to fit better in these contexts as well.
Second, the word horizo in extra-biblical Greek means “to define, delimit, mark out the boundaries of” and is related to the nouns horos, horion, “boundary, something marked out by boundaries,” and horismos “a marking out.” (My next post will provide examples from extra-biblical Greek.) The focus of the word is on the mental identification of something already present, not on making something or someone something they were not before. The verb horizo was carefully selected to focus on the thought of definition and demonstration, not on the thought of becoming something that he was not before.
Gerald O’Collins rightly states:
“What he had been before (Son of God) was now definitively realized, confirmed, and given clearer definition by his passage from his earthly state to his risen state” (Christology [New York: Oxford University Press, 1995], 130).
Third, this interpretation of horizo fits better with “according to the Spirit of holiness.” The activity of the Spirit in the life of Jesus (at his virginal conception, his baptism, his powerful miracles, his prophetic teaching, and his resurrection) marks him out and identifies him as the divine Son of God. The twofold preposition kata focuses on the mental apprehension, “from the point of view of the flesh … from the point of view of the Spirit’s activity.” If the meaning is “appointed Son-of-God-in-power by the Spirit of holiness,” then we would expect a different prepositional phrase, such as ek or dia.