There are several biblical references to people or persons described as children of God. To a new Bible student these references can be confusing, because in different places they refer to different types of people. This is not so much a translation issue as it is a context issue, since the word ‘children’ translates fairly well into the English from both the Hebrew and the Greek. To understand the reference in these different places we need to think about the context in which it is used in each place. That is always important when studying scripture. Taking bits and pieces of scripture out of context is often used in an attempt to support false doctrines and to try to justify unbiblical cultic teachings. When you read and understand scripture in context, however, you tend to stay on the right path. Let’s take a look now at some different biblical references to children of God.
Genesis 6:1-5. This passage trips up a lot of people, and understandably so. Here we are told that the Sons of God mated with the daughters of men and the result was a sort of super-race of man. There is a lot of speculation as to what this really means. Since the Bible does not give us any details, it all must remain speculation. The most common belief is that angels actually mated with human females during this time period and the Sons of God reference is therefore pertaining to angels. Whether or not they were (or have since become) fallen angels is food for further speculation. Whatever happened, it was pre-flood. Therefore the offspring all perished in the flood and consequently could not have been the same race of giants that Goliath was from.
Job 1:6. Another potentially confusing reference to the Sons of God which certainly seems to be pertaining to angels. This therefore lends some credibility to the thought that the Genesis 6 passage above is indeed referencing angles. Is Satan himself then included in this reference? I don’t think so, being as the scripture seems to go a bit out of its way to point out that he was there also. But it does bring up an interesting concept, that perhaps certain references are simply including all of Gods created beings, both human and angelic, as being his children. That idea is refuted by certain New Testament assertions, however, as we shall see in a moment – especially when speaking from an eternal perspective. But perhaps all created beings start out as God’s children, before rebelling and rejecting their Father.
Matthew 16:15-17. Here Peter proclaims that not only is Jesus the promised messiah of Israel (Christ is another word for messiah), but also the Son of the Living God. Jesus confirms his proclamation! Now we have something completely different. Jesus is described in scripture as the only begotten Son of God. This is where a new Bible student can start to get confused. Aren’t we all God’s children? What about the angels described as the Sons of God in the two Old Testament passages above? How now is Jesus the only Son of God?
The answer: Because the word Son has different reference here. When Jesus is described as the Son of God it is a unique title. Nobody else is a child of God the way Jesus is. Jesus is actually a being like God: Eternal from the beginning, all-powerful, omnipresent, and omniscient. This article is not the proper place to attempt to explain the concept of the Trinity. Suffice it to say that Jesus is the creator, along with the Father, and the rest of us (men and angels) are created beings. So when we say that Jesus is the Son it is a special reference, not like when we say we are God’s children.
John 1:12-13. Now we see that we can become the children of God by receiving Jesus and believing in his name. This should put to rest the idea that we are already, or can become, children of God apart from Jesus. We see here that there is an actual process for becoming the children of God, however quick and easy that process may be. Even if we entertain the idea that perhaps we were born as children of God, it is not automatically a permanent condition. God gave us free will and we need to make a choice at some point: Either to become children of God, or reject Him and go our own way. God will never force Himself upon anybody.
Jude 1:5-7. A terrifying illustration of the other choice. That is, what happens to those who choose the alternative of becoming the children of God.
So you see there are two ways to go and no middle ground available. Jesus will allow no neutrality on the issue of who he is to you. Those who are not against us are for us. All of us must personally answer the question that Pontius Pilot asked the crowd, “What shall I do with Jesus?” You must answer it too. Accept him or reject him. Receive him or ignore him. Confess him or deny him. What will you do with him? It is time to pick your side. Don’t you want to become a child of God?