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Bill Baldwin


You ask, "Can you find any other place in the NT where this idea that Jesus became 'the Son of God in power' at the resurrection is taught?" I'd reply by pointing to the NT interpretation of Psalm 2:7--"You are my Son. Today I have begotten you."

Acts 13:33 clearly connects this declaration with the resurrection. Psalm 2:7 is adduced as proof of the statement "he has fulfilled [the good news] for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second Psalm."

And Hebrews 1:5 quotes that Psalm to demonstrate that Jesus "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs." So again the declaration "You are my Son" is connected with Jesus' eschatological state (and, tying in Romans 1:4, with his power).

Hebrews again quotes that Psalm in relation to Jesus being designated a high priest. That passage, at the beginning of chapter 5, would take a little more detailed exegesis. But a quick reading makes me think that Jesus became or was fully designated as a high priest after he was "made perfect" and "became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:9).

In Pauline literature, I would observe that Paul closely connects the Spirit with our adoption as sons. There's some connection between the Spirit and sonship (and Sonship?) that may have bearing on Romans 1:4.

Further, having declared that we have the adoption (already), he says we also wait for the adoption (not yet). "We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:23). So there's a connection between the resurrection and sonship (as well as the Resurrection and Sonship?) Our adoption in its final form is connected with our resurrection when we take on the form that Christ took on when God said to him, "You are my Son."

From all this I take it that Jesus, while in the flesh, was the already and not yet Son of God. He was waiting for the Psalm 2:7 declaration which could only be conferred upon him at his glorification. We too are already and not yet sons. We bear the image of the Son in his earthly state and we wait eagerly for our adoption, the day when we bear the image of the Son in his heavenly state.

Romans 1:4 seems to me to refer to this glorified heavenly Sonship. He, who had always been the Son of God, became the Son of God in a new and powerful way by reason of his resurrection from the dead.

Part of the power or the newness, I think, is that he became the Son of God on our behalf. That is, at his resurrection he received the Spirit of adoption along with the power to dispense that Spirit. The unique Son of God received the power to confer sonship (without the capital S) on others.

If we read Romans 1:3,4 this way, I think the parallelism makes perfect sense.

VERSE 3___________________VERSE 4
Born -------------------> Declared to be
of the seed of David ---> Son of God in power
according to the flesh -> according to the Spirit of holiness
[by his birth to Mary] -> by his resurrection from the dead

So I agree that the Vos-Gaffin structure is not the best. I think the standard structure works perfectly well to illustrate the point that "Son of God in power" refers to the resurrected Son of God.

I also don't think there's any need to say that Jesus ceased to be the seed of David at his resurrection. He is the resurrected seed of David who has become the Son of God in power.


Hi Bill - great to hear from you. I think maybe you didn't get my point. My point is that by taking "Son-of-God-in-power" as a single phrase, it creates a new corresponding concept, "Son-of-God-in-weakness." For example, Leon Morris writes: "There is a sense in which Jesus was the Son of God in weakness before the resurrection but the Son of God in power thereafter." And Nygren speaks of "the Son of God in weakness and lowliness." But this concept is without parallel in the NT. I am not aware of any passages where weakness is attributed to Christ *as Son*, or where the resurrection effects an enhancement in his Sonship to a new level. There is no concept in the NT of the Sonship of Christ undergoing a dynamic process of change, moving form a state of weakness to a state of power. The Sonship of Christ may be veiled or hidden, in the midst of the weakness of Christ’s earthly ministry, but it is never stated or implied that the Sonship of Christ itself first existed in weakness and then entered into a new stage of Sonship in power.

My view of the NT texts quoting Ps 2:7 (Acts 13:33; Heb 1:5; 5:5) may be slightly different than yours. Rather than seeing these texts as implying that the Sonship of Christ entered a new phase of power at the resurrection, I take them as saying that the enthronement of Christ at the right hand of God demonstrated what he had been all along -- the eternal, ontological Son. I'm speculating here but is it possible that the two clauses are distinct? "You are my son" and "Today I have begotten you" (Ps 2:7). He is already Son; then one day he is "begotten," in the ANE metaphorical sense of public enthronement and acknowledgement.

Be that speculation as it may, I am more confident in thinking that "Son of God" is never used in the NT of Christ in a non-ontological, economic, redemptive-historical sense. "Son of God" always refers to his ontological deity. If so, he couldn't have been "Son of God" in some weaker form during his earthly ministry and he can't become "Son of God" in a more powerful mode at the resurrection. Deity is static; it doesn't have degrees.


I like where you're going when you connect the sonship of Christ with our two-stage, already/not-yet adoption. Just as our adoption is secure the moment we are united to Christ, and then receives a public demonstration when our bodies are raised/glorified, so Christ was always the Son and then was "marked out" Son of God with power by his resurrection. This is helpful. But I would want to change your formulation slightly. Instead of saying, "He, who had always been the Son of God, became the Son of God in a new and powerful way by reason of his resurrection from the dead," I would prefer to say, "He, who had always been the Son of God, was manifested/confirmed to be the Son of God in a powerful way by means of his resurrection from the dead." I take the verb horizo in Rom 1:4 to mean "marked out" not "appointed."


At the risk of stating the obvious, the hypostatic union does tend to get a bit tangly, doesn't it?

Deity doesn't have degrees, but doesn't humanity have the threefold (or fourfold) state? - I think that is Paul's emphasis here; not the distinct origins of the two natures of Christ, but the pattern-fulfilling eschatological advance of Christ as the last Adam. Had Adam obeyed he would have passed from the probationary state of posse peccare to the confirmed and glorified state of non posse peccare. I think we have good cause to suspect this 'graduation' may have looked a lot like a grand coronation/adoption; he would have been declared a 'son of God' in a somehow 'more' sense of the words. Where Adam failed to be the man, Christ succeeded (in being 'the' Adam, 'the' man). He became one of us and as federal head accomplished what we couldn't, but also as forerunner traced out/trailblazed the path of 'ontological glorification' that we're to follow. Because he was raised, we shall be raised. Because he was declared son of God, we shall be declared sons of God - "this is what man was meant for and where Adam failed Christ prevailed...so we too shall prevail".

So, with this in mind, I don't see an issue with the idea of an ontological change in Christ post-resurrection (in his human, not divine, nature); no more hole in his heart, able to pass through doors, consummated transfiguration, etc. In the incarnation he became what he was not without ceasing to be what he was; that 'what he was not' part (so to speak) grew, learned, obeyed, and (can't we say?) after his resurrection 'was changed', was 'Spirit-ized'. He became the firstborn of/over the new creation by becoming something, in his human nature, more than (or at least different from what) he was before. And what that is we do not yet know, except we shall see him as he his, for we shall be like him, etc.

Does the text really disallow that Paul was aiming at Christ's human nature when saying 'Son of God'? That he couldn't have meant 'son of God' as the reward of his covenant-keeping (Phil 2, etc), speaking of him as archetypal 'man'? (I may be guilty of massive eisegesis here, and I don't yet know Greek...so I'm all ears.)

I've appreciated this series; the phrase "declared to be the son of God...by his resurrection" has fascinated me for years and I've found little to help me figure it out. Thanks also for the opportunity to chime in.


Aron, I just don't see the title "Son of God" as relating to his human nature. Consistently in the NT (in the Synoptic Gospels, in the Gospel and Epistles of John, in Paul, in Acts) it is a title of deity. For example, Paul's use of the sending-formula, "God sent his Son" (Rom 8:3; Gal 4:4), implies pre-existence and hence deity.

To quote Warfield: "The designation 'Son of God' is a metaphysical designation and tells us what He is in His being of being. And what it tells us that Christ is in His being of being is that He is just what God is. It is undeniable ... that, from the earliest days of Christianity on ... 'Son of God was equivalent simply to equal with God' (Mark 14:61-63; John 10:31-39)" (TCTPP, 77).

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