Children v. Sons
By Charles H. Welch
Several Greek words are translated ‘children’ in the A.V. New Testament.
The two words with which we are here particularly concerned are teknon and huios. Unfortunately the A.V. have not been quite consistent in their rendering giving us ‘child’ in seventy-seven occurrences and ‘son’ in twenty-one, as translations of teknon, and translating huios ‘child’ fifty times, ‘son’ 120, ‘Son’ 210 times. It is evident even from this survey, that teknon means ‘a child’ as distinct from huios which means ‘a son’, but there are passages where this distinction should have been made clear where precision is dulled by the translator. For example where John 1:12 reads ‘gave them power to become sons of God’ it should read ‘children’. So also that well-known passage in 1 John 3:1,2, ‘that we should be called the sons of God’, ‘now are we the sons of God’ must be altered to read ‘children of God’. John uses the word huios twentyfour times, but never of a believer.
It is Paul whose ministry speaks of the believer as a ‘son’ (Rom. 8:14,19), and the reader should remember when reading Galatians 3:7,26 to translate ‘sons’ here also. John’s ministry brings the believer into the family of faith, Paul takes him further and gives him the position of a son. This distinction will be better understood if the article on ADOPTION be read. Israel as compared with the nations have the place of ‘sons’ although the phrase ‘the children of Israel’ has become so commonly used that we do not suggest that we should attempt to alter it, only that we should remember, that where the A.V. reads ‘children of Israel’, the Greek uses the word huios ‘son’, remembering too the inspired consequence ‘if a son, then an heir of God’. It should also be remembered that all ‘sons’ must be ‘children’, but that all children need not necessarily be sons. Neither Peter, James nor John use the word huios of a believer, that is the exclusive testimony of the ministry entrusted to Paul.