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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Although the phrase refers at times to heavenly beings (Genesis 6:1-4; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7; Psalms 29:1; Psalms 89:6), it usually denotes those people who acknowledge God as the source and goal of their life and who enter into a relationship of trust and love with God. All people are the creation of God, and as such all people bear the image of God and should therefore be treated with the greatest respect and dignity; but not all people can be called the children of God in the sense in which the phrase is used in the Bible. All people are, however, potential children of God.

Jesus was, is, and always shall be the preeminent Child of God. The parent/child relationship with God was completely realized only by Jesus (Matthew 11:27; John 3:35; John 13:3). Jesus had an unbroken knowledge of and communion with God (John 17:20-26; see Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). For Jesus, being God's Son meant knowing what God willed and doing what God willed (John 5:19,John 5:30; John 8:29; John 15:10; John 17:4; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8). The parent/child relationship (with the obedience implied in that relationship) so dominated the life and thought of Jesus that being God's Son was the defining characteristic of Jesus' being. Jesus was God's only begotten or unique Son (John 1:14,John 1:18; John 3:16,John 3:18; 1 John 4:9).

Of course, God intended for all people to be His children. God wanted all people to have an unbroken knowledge of and communion with Him. God wanted all people to know and do His will. God wanted the parent/child relationship to be the dominating characteristic of every life. But people in every place and in every time have rejected God as the source and goal of their lives and have refused to enter into a relationship of complete trust and love with God (Romans 3:23). People who continue to live in this state of rebellion against God or sin have lost the actuality of being God's children.

All people (“whosoever,” John 3:15) retain the potentiality of becoming children of God. This is so because God, out of His great love, gave His only Son for the salvation of the world (John 3:16). Jesus, in turn, gave to all who would receive Him the power to become children of God (John 1:12).

Phil Logan

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'CHILDREN (SONS) OF GOD'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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