There are passages in the Bible that seem to indicate that God has multiple sons, while other scripture passages suggest that Jesus Christ regarded Himself as the son of man.  How can these passages be explained?

First, let’s consider a couple of passages that seem to indicate that God has multiple sons.  [Note:  When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible, except when we quote a non-biblical source that is using Scripture from a different version of the Bible.]

Sons of God

Genesis 6:1-2 states, “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.’

Gleason L. Archer, on pages 79-80 of his book entitled Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, says,

The term “sons of God” . . . is used in the Old Testament of either angels or men who are true believers, committed to the service of God.

The reasons for understanding Genesis 6:2 as referring to members of the covenant family, descendants of the line of Seth, are quite compelling.  Scripture clearly teaches that angels are spirits, “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14, NIV).  While they may on occasion appear in bodily form in the semblance of men, they have no physical bodies, and are therefore utterly incapable of carnal relations with women.

What Genesis 6:1-2, 4 records is the first occurrence of mixed marriage between believers and unbelievers. . . . [T]he “sons of God” in this passage were descendants of the godly line of Seth.  Instead of remaining true to God and loyal to their spiritual heritage, they allowed themselves to be enticed by the beauty of ungodly women who were “daughters of men” – that is, of the tradition and example of Cain.

In their book entitled When Critics Ask, Norman Geisler, Ph.D., and Thomas Howe, M.A., note on page 40,

Other scholars believe that “sons of God” refers to great men of old, men of renown.  They point to the fact that the text refers to “giants” and “mighty men” (v. 4).  This also avoids the problems of angels (spirits) cohabiting with humans.

Still others . . . speculate that the “sons of God” were angels who “did not keep their proper domain” (Jude 6) and possessed real human beings, moving them to interbreed with “the daughters of men,” thus producing a superior breed whose offspring were the “giants” and “men of renown.”  This view seems to explain all the data without the insuperable problems of angels, who are bodiless (Heb. 1:14) and sexless spirits (Matt. 22:30), cohabiting with humans.

Still others . . . speculate that the “sons of God” were angels who “did not keep their proper domain” (Jude 6) and possessed real human beings, moving them to interbreed with “the daughters of men,” thus producing a superior breed whose offspring were the “giants” and “men of renown.”  This view seems to explain all the data without the insuperable problems of angels, who are bodiless (Heb. 1:14) and sexless spirits (Matt. 22:30), cohabiting with humans.

Further support for the belief that the “sons of God” referred to in Genesis 6 are humans, rather than angels, is provided by Isaiah 43:6-7, in which God says, “Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

Another verse that refers to “sons of God” is Job 1:6, which says, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.”  (Job 2:1 is worded similarly.)  Geisler and Howe believe these “sons of God” are angels.  On page 225 of their book, they assert, “The angels are the “sons” of God in the sense that they are His creation.”

The clearest evidence that Jesus Christ is the only genuine Son of God is found in John 3:16, which declares, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Son of Man

If Jesus Christ was truly the Son of God, why did He refer to Himself as the “Son of Man,” a title that, according to Archer (on page 322 of his book), was “used of Christ thirty-two times in Matthew, fourteen in Mark, twenty-six in Luke, and twelve in John”?  Such a term seems to deny the deity of Jesus.

Daniel 7:13-14 states,

“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.

Archer explains on pages 322-323 of his book,

It was this celestial figure with whom Jesus identified Himself. . . .

This raises the question of what the title “Son of Man” . . . signified.  Why was the Messiah represented as a glorified human being rather than as the divine King of Glory?  The answer is to be found in the necessity of the Incarnation as indispensable to man’s redemption.  The fallen, guilty race of Adam could not have their sins atoned for except by a Sin-Bearer who represented them as a true human being as He laid down His life for their sake.

Geisler and Howe, on page 335 of their book, offer the following additional perspective:

[E]ven if the phrase “Son of Man” is a reference to Jesus’ humanity, it is not a denial of His deity.  By becoming man, Jesus did not cease being God.  The Incarnation of Christ did not involve the subtraction of deity, but the addition of humanity.  Jesus clearly claimed to be God on many occasions (Matt. 16:16-17; John 8:58; 10:30).  But, in addition to being divine, He was also human.  He had two natures conjoined in one person.

And, in his book entitled Rediscover Jesus, Matthew Kelly states on page 33,

So, when Jesus said, “I am the Son of Man,” he was saying:

I am the one Daniel spoke about. I have dominion, glory, and kingship. . . . Every nation will worship me. . . . People of every language will serve me. My dominion is divine. . . . I am the one you have been waiting for.

Conclusion

We believe the foregoing information makes it sufficiently clear that Jesus Christ is the only being who is inherently the Son of God. All other sons of God are sons of God by adoption (see John 1:12; Romans 8:14; Galatians 4:5; 1 John 3:1-2) and/or they may be angels.