The Difference between Teknon and Huios as used in the New Testament.

178 191 The word teknon (from tikto to bear) is used for "child," irrespective of sex, as descended by birth from its natural parents. (See Matt. ii. 18.) Whilst huios, "son," is the word used to distinguish a male from a female child (see Matt. x. 37), it is also used in a general sense to denote descendants as representing the family or line of the particular person. (John iv. 12.) When we look into scripture to find the use of these words, in reference to the relationship of a believer to God, we remark that the word huios — son — is the word always used in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and teknon does not occur in the book, whilst in the Gospels and Epistles of John teknon (child) is used to express that relationship with only one exception, which will be referred to hereafter. The word huios occurs frequently in John, as applying to Christ, or in the simple sense of male child, or descendant, (and once in John xvii. 12, son of perdition), never (save in John xii. 36, the exception referred to), in allusion to a believer's relationship to God.

Our English version does not give the distinction, as both words are translated promiscuously, "child" and "son." A Greek Testament, or the Englishman's Greek Concordance, will show the distinction, and at the end of this paper a list of the transposed renderings is given. When we consider the character of the Epistle to the Hebrews as contrasted with the writings of John, we shall find a key to the difference, and it is one which opens up many other portions of scripture where the words are used.

The Gospel and Epistles of John treat, as all admit, of life and nature, and they teach that the life which a believer has is the same that is in Christ, and the nature is derived from God and is thus divine. On the other hand the "Hebrews" takes up the position rather than the nature of a believer, and shows his heavenly calling and access to God in contrast with the earthly calling and distance from God of the Israelites.

Hence we find, as we might expect, that John uses the word teknon — child — expressive of a being deriving its life and nature from another, as children do from their parents, whilst in Hebrews we have huios — son — expressive of the distinctive position and dignity which a son has in a household. The former word "teknon" carries with it more thought of internal intimacy, moral characteristics, community of life and nature, whilst the latter word "huios" directs the mind to a position given or recognised and the dignities resulting from it. A "child" delights in the intimacy and affection of the family, a "son" may have to submit to parental authority (Heb. xii.), but will be displayed in manifested glory. (Heb. ii. 10.) If we turn to Romans viii. 19, 21, we find this very distinction carefully brought out, as we read of the "liberty of the children of God," on the one hand, and on the other the "manifestation of the sons of God."

In further development of this, we shall find a distinction made between that which morally characterises a person, that is, his nature, and that which his ways externally proclaim him to be, and the two words under consideration are respectively applied to each. The distinction is more subtle, and not quite so easily grasped in some cases, but it will be found that it always assists in understanding the subject to which the words apply. For example, in Ephesians ii. we read in verse 3 of "children of wrath," where the apostle is speaking of the condition in which they were "by nature," but when he speaks of that which they had manifested themselves by their acts to be, he says in verse 2, "sons of disobedience." Again in Romans viii. 16, where the purely internal action of the Spirit (testifying to our spirit) is spoken of, the words tekna Theou children of God, is used, but in verse 1-4, where the leading of the Spirit is in question, but may he displayed externally, we find huioi Theou — sons of God, in Romans ix. 20. It is clear from the context that the question is of positional relationship owned by God, and so, as we should expect, it is "sons" and not "children" as in our version.

In John xii. 36 (the exception referred to) we find the expression "sons of light," and on examination of the context, we find that the Lord urged on those whom He addressed to have faith in the light that they might become (that is, get into the position of) "sons of light." In Ephesians 5:8 we find almost the converse of this, where the apostle exhorts them to display in walk the moral characteristics which were theirs already as "children of light."

By observing the distinction between the words we shall find a connection in passages, which does not appear to exist as they are now translated. For instance, in Galatians iii. 26 the Greek is, "For ye are all SONS of God, through faith in Christ Jesus," and we see at once how beautifully Galatians iv. 6 is connected with it, "And because ye are SONS, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father."

It is scarcely necessary to add that the same person may be, and the believer of course is, both "child" and "son;" but the comparison of such passages, for instance as John i. 12, and Galatians iii. 26, where the Greek gives "children" in the first, and "sons" in the second, enables us to appreciate the value of the precious distinction which the Holy Ghost has marked by the use of the different words, and surely it is a loss to us when we do not apprehend what He has pointed out. It is not necessary to trace out here all the passages where the words are used, but we shall find that, although in some cases the exact distinction may not be easily seen or of great importance, we shall always be helped in our understanding of scripture by noting where the difference exists. There is one use of the word teknon (child) which may be noted in conclusion, because it bears on the person of the Lord. It is used, just as with us, in an affectionate way, "My child, go and do so-and-so," (see Matt. ix. 2; Matt. xxi. 28,) and in this way the Lord is addressed by His mother (Luke ii. 48), "Child (teknon), why hast thou thus dealt" etc., but in no other passage is this word applied to Him. It may be that this word is not applied to the Lord, because as He was never less than "God over all," it would be inconsistent to use one implying life and nature derived from another, or it may also be because it might appear to weaken the thought of His deity on the one hand, or of His true humanity on the other, if He were called teknon anthropou or teknon theou. There is no such difficulty about huios, because this word does not, like teknon, necessarily include by implication the time or manner of becoming hiuos — referring simply to position. Hence we find huios anthropou and huios Theou. The more we examine the word of God, the more do we discover the wonderful wisdom of Him who inspired it; and we find also that not a word can be altered without a positive loss to our souls. J. S. A.

teknon (child) is translated "son" in the following passages: — Matthew ix. 2, Matthew xxi. 28; Mark ii. 5, xiii. 12; Luke ii. 48, Luke xv. 31, Luke xvi. 25; John i. 12; 1 Corinthians iv. 14, 17; Philippians ii. 15, 22; 1 Timothy i. 2, 18; 2 Tim. i. 2, ii. 1; Titus i. 4; Philemon 10; 1 John iii. 12. It is also translated "daughters" in 1 Peter iii. 6.

huios (son) is translated "child" in the following passages: — Matthew 5:9, 45, Matthew viii. 13, Matthew ix. 15, Matthew xii. 27, Matthew xiii. 38, Matthew xvii. 25, 26, Matthew xx. 20, Matthew xxiii. 15, 31, Matthew xxvii. 9, 56; Mark ii. 19; Luke i. 16, 5:34, Luke vi. 35, Luke xvi. 8, Luke xx. 34, 36; John iv. 12, John xii. 36; Acts iii. 25, Acts 5:21, Acts vii. 23, 37, Acts iv. 15, Acts x. 30, Acts xiii. 10, 26; Romans ix. 26, 27; 2 Corinthians iii. 7, 13; Galatians iii. 7, 26; Ephesians ii. 2, 5:6; Colossians iii. 6; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Hebrews xi. 22, xii. 5; Revelation ii. 14, Revelation vii. 4, Revelation xii. 5, Revelation xxi. 12. It is also translated "foal" in Matthew xxi. 5.