Is the doctrine of eternal sonship biblical? What is meant by eternal sonship?
The doctrine of eternal Sonship is the teaching that Jesus has always, eternally existed as the Son of God. In contrast with the view that teaches Jesus "became" the Son of God when He was born in Bethlehem, eternal Sonship affirms Jesus has existed as God's Son for all eternity.
Is the doctrine of eternal Sonship biblical? Dr. H.A. Ironside noted, "The assertion has been made that while Scripture plainly teaches that our Lord was the Eternal Word, it nowhere declares that He bore the name of Son until His incarnation. This is a tacit denial of the Eternal Father as truly as of the Eternal Son, for if the Son was not in the Trinity from eternity, how then could the Father have any such title until Christ was born of Mary?" (source: http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/article/10136)
This reasoning suggests that Jesus is unchanging in His nature, including His role as the Son of God. He was not only a Son in a functional or human sense, but has been the Son of God eternally. His being the Son is part of the eternal and internal relational structure of the Trinity.
Several passages of Scripture clearly affirm this view as biblical. For example, John 3:16 teaches, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." When Jesus was "given" He was already known as God's Son.
Second, at the baptism of Jesus the voice of God the Father states, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). Jesus, the eternal second Person of the Triune Godhead, was noted as being in an eternal relationship with the Father as His beloved Son.
Third, John 1:14 states, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." The Word (Jesus, eternal God) is described as the only Son from the Father. Logically, if God the Father, as a Father, is eternal, then God the Son would likewise be eternal.
Fourth, Hebrews 1:2 teaches, "In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." This statement shows that the world was created through the Son. Jesus was Son of God when the world was created, not only when He came to earth. Colossians 1:16 adds that not only the world, but all things, were made by Him, Jesus the Son of God: "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him."
Because of these and other biblical statements, the eternal Sonship of Jesus has been held as an orthodox view of the church throughout its history. The Nicene Creed (325) affirmed this belief as did later creeds. The eternal Sonship of Jesus is an important biblical teaching that has been recognized throughout the history of the church.
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