III. THE ONLY SON OF GOD

441 In the Old Testament, “son of God” is a title given to the angels, the Chosen People, the children of Israel, and their kings.44 It signifies an adoptive sonship that establishes a relationship of particular intimacy between God and his creature. When the promised Messiah-King is called “son of God”, it does not necessarily imply that he was more than human, according to the literal meaning of these texts. Those who called Jesus “son of God”, as the Messiah of Israel, perhaps meant nothing more than this.45

442 Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, for Jesus responds solemnly: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”46 Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on the road to Damascus, “When he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles…”47 “And in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.'”48 From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ’s divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church’s foundation.49

443 Peter could recognize the transcendent character of the Messiah’s divine sonship because Jesus had clearly allowed it to be so understood. To his accusers’ question before the Sanhedrin, “Are you the Son of God, then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am.”50 Well before this, Jesus referred to himself as “the Son” who knows the Father, as distinct from the “servants” God had earlier sent to his people; he is superior even to the angels.51 He distinguished his sonship from that of his disciples by never saying “our Father”, except to command them: “You, then, pray like this: ‘Our Father'”, and he emphasized this distinction, saying “my Father and your Father”.52

444 The Gospels report that at two solemn moments, the Baptism and the Transfiguration of Christ, the voice of the Father designates Jesus his “beloved Son”.53 Jesus calls himself the “only Son of God”, and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence.54 He asks for faith in “the name of the only Son of God”.55 In the centurion’s exclamation before the crucified Christ, “Truly this man was the Son of God”,56 that Christian confession is already heard. Only in the Paschal mystery can the believer give the title “Son of God” its full meaning.

445 After his Resurrection, Jesus’ divine sonship becomes manifest in the power of his glorified humanity. He was “designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead”.57 The apostles can confess: “We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”58

II. CHRIST

436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.29 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.30 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.31 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”32 From the beginning he was “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world”, conceived as “holy” in Mary’s virginal womb.33 God called Joseph to “take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, so that Jesus, “who is called Christ”, should be born of Joseph’s spouse into the messianic lineage of David.34

438 Jesus’ messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, “for the name ‘Christ’ implies ‘he who anointed’, ‘he who was anointed’ and ‘the very anointing with which he was anointed’. The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.'”35 His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power”, “that he might be revealed to Israel”36 as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as “the Holy One of God”.37

439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel.38 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.39

440 Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man.40 He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man “who came down from heaven”, and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”41 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.42 Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus’ messianic kingship to the People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”43

I. JESUS

430 Jesus means in Hebrew: “God saves.” At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission.18 Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, “will save his people from their sins”.19 in Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men.

431 In the history of salvation God was not content to deliver Israel “out of the house of bondage”20 by bringing them out of Egypt. He also saves them from their sin. Because sin is always an offence against God, only he can forgive it.21 For this reason Israel, becoming more and more aware of the universality of sin, will no longer be able to seek salvation except by invoking the name of the Redeemer God.22

432 The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,23 so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”24

433 The name of the Savior God was invoked only once in the year by the high priest in atonement for the sins of Israel, after he had sprinkled the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies with the sacrificial blood. The mercy seat was the place of God’s presence.25 When St. Paul speaks of Jesus whom “God put forward as an expiation by his blood”, he means that in Christ’s humanity “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”26

434 Jesus’ Resurrection glorifies the name of the Savior God, for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the “name which is above every name”.27 The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all they ask in this name.28

435 The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words “through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer, says: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Many Christians, such as St. Joan of Arc, have died with the one word “Jesus” on their lips.

I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD

The Good News: God has sent his Son

422 ‘But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.’1 This is ‘the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’:’2 God has visited his people. He has fulfilled the promise he made to Abraham and his descendants. He acted far beyond all expectation – he has sent his own ‘beloved Son’.3

423 We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He ‘came from God’,4 ‘descended from heaven’,5 and ‘came in the flesh’.6 For ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. . . And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.’7

424 Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’8 On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.9

“To preach. . . the unsearchable riches of Christ”10

425 The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him. From the beginning, the first disciples burned with the desire to proclaim Christ: “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”‘11 It And they invite people of every era to enter into the joy of their communion with Christ:

 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.12

At the heart of catechesis: Christ

426 “At the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son from the Father. . .who suffered and died for us and who now, after rising, is living with us forever.”13 To catechize is “to reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God’s eternal design reaching fulfillment in that Person. It is to seek to understand the meaning of Christ’s actions and words and of the signs worked by him.”‘14 Catechesis aims at putting “people . . . in communion . . . with Jesus Christ: only he can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.”15

427 In catechesis “Christ, the Incarnate Word and Son of God,. . . is taught – everything else is taught with reference to him – and it is Christ alone who teaches – anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ’s spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with his lips. . . Every catechist should be able to apply to himself the mysterious words of Jesus: ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.'”16

428 Whoever is called “to teach Christ” must first seek “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”; he must suffer “the loss of all things. . .” in order to “gain Christ and be found in him”, and “to know him and the power of his resurrection, and [to] share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible [he] may attain the resurrection from the dead”.17

429 From this loving knowledge of Christ springs the desire to proclaim him, to “evangelize”, and to lead others to the “yes” of faith in Jesus Christ. But at the same time the need to know this faith better makes itself felt. To this end, following the order of the Creed, Jesus’ principal titles – “Christ”, “Son of God”, and “Lord” (article 2) – will be presented. The Creed next confesses the chief mysteries of his life – those of his Incarnation (article 3), Paschal mystery (articles and 5) and glorification (articles and 7).

 

 


1 Gal 4:4-5.
2 Mk 1:1.
3 Mk 1:11; cf. Lk 1:5, 68.
4 Jn 13:3.
5 Jn 3:13; 6:33.
6 1 Jn 4:2.
7 Jn 1:14,16.
8 Mt 16:16.
9 Cf. Mt 16:18; St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4 3: PL 54,150 – 152; 51,1: PL 54, 309B; 62, 2: PL 54, 350-351; 83, 3: PL 54, 431-432.
10 Eph 3:8.
11 Acts 4:20.
12 1 Jn 1:1-4.
13 CT 5.
14 CT 5.
15 CT 5.
16 CT 6; cf. Jn 7:16.
17 Phil 3:8-11.

 

IN BRIEF

413 “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. . . It was through the devil’s envy that death entered the world” (Wis 1:13; 2:24).

414 Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.

415 “Although set by God in a state of rectitude man, enticed by the evil one, abused his freedom at the very start of history. He lifted himself up against God, and sought to attain his goal apart from him” (GS 13 § 1).

416 By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human beings.

417 Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called “original sin”.

418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called “concupiscence”).

419 “We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, “by propagation, not by imitation” and that it is. . . ‘proper to each'” (Paul VI, CPG § 16).

420 The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us: “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20).

421 Christians believe that “the world has been established and kept in being by the Creator’s love; has fallen into slavery to sin but has been set free by Christ, crucified and risen to break the power of the evil one. . .” (GS 2 § 2).

 


257 St. Augustine, Conf. 7,7,11: PL 32,739.
258 2 Thess 2:7; 1 Tim 3:16.
259 Cf. Rom 5:20.
260 Cf. Lk 11:21-22; Jn 16:11; 1 Jn 3:8.
261 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.
262 Jn 16:8.
263 Cf. 1 Cor 2:16.
264 Cf. GS 13 § 1.
265 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513; Pius XII: DS 3897; Paul VI: AAS 58 (1966), 654. 
266 Cf. Gen 3:1-5; Wis 2:24.
267 Cf Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9.
268 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800.
269 Cf. 2 Pet 2:4.
270 Gen 3:5.
271 1 Jn 3:8; Jn 8:44.
272 St. John Damascene, De Fide orth. 2,4: PG 94,877.
273 Jn 8:44; cf. Mt 4:1-11.
274 1 Jn 3:8.
275 Rom 8:28.
276 Gen 2:17.
277 Gen 2:17.
278 Cf. Gen 3:1-11; Rom 5:19. 
279 St. Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua: PG 91,1156C; cf. Gen 3:5.
280 Cf. Rom 3:23.
281 Cf. Gen 3:5-10.
282 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.
283 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.
284 Rom 8:21.
285 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.
286 Cf. Rom 5:12.
287 Cf. Gen 4:3-15; 6:5,12; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 1-6; Rev 2-3.
288 GS 13 § 1.
289 Rom 5:12,19.
290 Rom 5:18.
291 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512.
292 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1514. 
293 St. Thomas Aquinas, De Malo 4,1.
294 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1511-1512
295 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513.
296 DS 371-372. 
297 Cf. DS 1510-1516.
298 Council of Trent (1546): DS 1511; cf. Heb 2:14.
299 Cf. John Paul II, CA 25.
300 Jn 1:29.
301 Cf. John Paul II, RP 16.
302 1 Jn 5:19; cf. 1 Pet 5:8.
303 GS 37 § 2.
304 Cf. Gen 3:9,15.
305 Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22,45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20.
306 Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.
307 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 73,4: PL 54,396.
308 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,1,3, ad 3; cf. Rom 5:20.

IN BRIEF

380 “Father,. . . you formed man in your own likeness and set him over the whole world to serve you, his creator, and to rule over all creatures” (Roman Missal, EP IV, 118).

381 Man is predestined to reproduce the image of God’s Son made man, the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), so that Christ shall be the first-born of a multitude of brothers and sisters (cf. Eph 1:3-6;Rom 8:29).

382 “Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity” (GS 14 # 1). The doctrine of the faith affirms that the spiritual and immortal soul is created immediately by God.

383 “God did not create man a solitary being. From the beginning, “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). This partnership of man and woman constitutes the first form of communion between persons” (GS 12 # 4).

384 Revelation makes known to us the state of original holiness and justice of man and woman before sin: from their friendship with God flowed the happiness of their existence in paradise.

 

 


218 Gen 1:27.
219 GS 12 # 3.
220 GS 24 # 3.
221 St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue IV, 13 “On Divine Providence”: LH, Sunday, week 19, OR.
222 Cf. GS 12 # 1; 24 # 3; 39 # 1.
223 St. John Chrysostom, In Gen. sermo 2, 1: PG 54, 587D-588A.
224 GS 22 # 1.
225 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 117: PL 52, 520-521.
226 Acts 17:26; cf. Tob 8:6.
227 Pius XII. Enc. Summi pontificatus 3; cf. NA 1.
228 Pius XII Summi pontificatus 3.
229 Gen 2:7.
230 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.
231 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.
232 Cf. I Cor 6:19-20; 15:44-45.
233 GS 14 # 1; cf. Dan 3:57-80.
234 Cf. Council of Vienne (1312): DS 902. 
235 Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3896; Paul VI, CPC # 8; Lateran Council V (1513): DS 1440.
236 1 Th 5:23. 
237 Cf. Council of Constantinople IV (870): DS 657. 
238 Cf. Vatican Council I, Dei Filius: DS 3005; GS 22 # 5; Humani generis: DS 3891.
239 Cf. Jer 31:33; Dt 6:5; 29:3; Is 29:13; Ezek 36:26; Mt 6:21; Lk 8:15; Rom 5:5.
240 Cf. Gen 2:7, 22.
241 Cf. Is 49:14-15; 66: 13; Ps 131:2-3; Hos 11:1-4; Jer 3:4- 19.
242 Gen 2:18.
243 Gen 2:19-20.
244 Gen 2:23.
245 Gen 2:24.
246 Gen 1:28.
247 Cf. GS 50 # 1.
248 Gen 1:28.
249 Wis 11:24.
250 Cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1511.
251 Cf. LG 2.
252 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:16, 19.
253 Cf. Gen 2:25.
254 Cf. I Jn 2:16.
255 Cf. Gen 2:8.
256 Gen 2:15; cf. 3:17-19

 

IV. MAN IN PARADISE

374 The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory of the new creation in Christ.

375 The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice”.250 This grace of original holiness was “to share in. . .divine life”.251

376 By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man’s life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.252 The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman,253 and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called “original justice”.

377 The “mastery” over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence254 that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.

378 The sign of man’s familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.255 There he lives “to till it and keep it”. Work is not yet a burden,256 but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.

379 This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God’s plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents.