When did Jesus know he was the Son of God

We have had this discussion at my parish and a person I totally repsect has said that Jesus didn’t fully realize he was the Son of God till his baptism.
I always thought that he would have known from the very begining. When he is found in the temple and he tells Joseph and Mary that he was about his Father’s I would think that this indicates that he knows that he is the son of God.

Thanks for your help

From the Catechism:

Christ’s soul and his human knowledge

471 Apollinarius of Laodicaea asserted that in Christ the divine Word had replaced the soul or spirit. Against this error the Church confessed that the eternal Son also assumed a rational, human soul. (Cf. Damasus 1: DS 149)

472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”, (Lk 2:52) and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience. (Cf. Mk 6:38; 8:27; Jn 11:34; etc.) This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”. (Phil 2:7)

473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person. (Cf. St. Gregory the Great, “Sicut aqua” ad Eulogium, Epist. Lib. 10, 39 PL 77, 1097A ff.; DS 475) “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.” (St. Maximus the Confessor, Qu. et dub. 66: PG 90, 840A) Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father. (Cf. Mk 14:36; Mt 11:27; Jn 1:18; 8:55; etc.) The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts. (Cf. Mk 2:8; Jn 2 25; 6:61; etc.)

474 By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. (Cf. Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34; 14:18-20, 26-30) What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal. (Cf. Mk 13:32, Acts 1:7)

From the instant of His conception in Mary’s womb.

Remember the famous Visitation: John, in St. Ann’s womb, recognized Jesus in Mary’s womb. They knew.

And the famous episode of Jesus’ bar mitzvah … at a young age Jesus was teaching the priests in the Temple … for three days! And when Joseph and Mary caught up with Him, He scolded them: " I must be about My Father’s business."

There are so many of the essentials of the Catholic faith contained in the Rosary … and the more you recite the Rosary, the more that little episodes in Jesus’ life take on real meaning.

And if you get curious about some things, you can look them up in the New Testament and for their precedents in the Old Testament. Bible study is so much more meaningful when you start out with a specific question and follow it back and forth using the Bible and other documents as references. The next thing you know, you will be traveling to the Holy Land to walk where Jesus walked and to sit where Jesus sat. Just so you can see what He saw. [Of course, they didn’t have cars back then.]

Or, if you don’t have the money for a trip to the Holy Land, you could read Biblical Archeology Review. A lot of libraries have it. Or even watch “The Naked Archeologist” as the host / presenter visits the site of the house where Jesus lived in Nazareth or the site where Jesus was baptized. Or treks around the sites of Old Testament events or even struggles to find the places.

Sometimes I travel back in my mind … and I’m on a trip in a camel caravan and we stop for the night and set up the tents and light a fire and have a meal and recite the psalms.

Good answers above…I particularly appreciate the references out of the Catachism.

To the OP—
This question might need to be considered from two aspects corrosponding basically to the conscious and the subconscious…Or in this case we might want to say the “superconscious”…

we know in life that there are those who are naturally drawn toward good or evil from an early age. St Therese of Liseaux is an example of one who seemed to be especially protected, especially graced, from well before the age of reason.
Jesus likewise most likely grew in similar fashon. His “fully human” intellect would need time and experience to grow into the man who would save the world. In the meantime, his “fully God” Spirit (conscience?) would keep him safe, and lead him to where the Father needed Him to be.

My guess is that, at age twelve, he had not yet come to the fullness of realization since, after Mary and Joseph found Him in the Temple, he returned to Nazareth and "was subject to them and, “grew in wisdom and age and grace…” Yet it is clear from the passage that Jesus was far advanced in his understanding of Scripture which clearly is an evidence that His “God nature” was beginning to assert itself.

As to when he “knew” intellectually…I think that this was revealed to him in the desert. Here Jesus put all that he knew, and all that God promised to “the test”. He relied entirely on God by not eating, he resisted the efforts of the evil one to place detours and obstacles in His path. And at the end of it all, we aer told that “angels came and waited upon him”. It is at this point that Jesus became fully, consciously, and intellectually aware
After this, He came out of the desert to find John and be Baptized…Jesus already knew as the exchange between He and John intimates…The appearance of the Dove was a sign to the public, not a revelation to Jesus.

I apologize for the clumsy way that I have attempted to explain above. I’m sure I’ve used poor terms or wrong terms to try and express myself. I only hope that those reading it will understand the gist of what I tried to express.


My webpage on this matter freewebs.com/orthodoxcatholic/allknowing.htm

St Cyril perhaps explained Christ’s knowledge as a man the best: “God the Word gradually manifested his wisdom proportionally to the age which the body had attained.”

Jesus was never ignorant of who He was, since God cannot be ignorant

Catholic teaching on the matter refers to the “fusion” of a human nature and divine nature as the “hypostatic union”. This union between human and divine is truly a “mystery of faith” that man cannot understand.

We know that God sent his only begotten Son to suffer and die as the Redeemer of mankind. WHY he did so by sending his Son through the conception of Him with Mary as his mother and the Holy Spirit as His “father” is not known. God could have easily sent his Son to earth in adult, human form and allowed his work to begin as an adult, but He obviously did not.

In studying this subject, I have concluded that God chose to allow the Redemption to take place using his Son aging as a normal human because it would be more “meaningful” than if Jesus just suddenly appeared, was killed, and then rose. We humans, I believe, are able to take away from the episode of Christ’s life and death much more with Christ having lived a full life as a child, boy, and man, than if Christ had just appeared as man.

Although the divine nature of Christ possessed the full body of knowledge (which is unlimited) as the two other persons of the triune Godhead - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - I believe that the only “limitation” on Christ was the fact that he totally assumed human form. As such, he was subject to all of the calamaties that could befall any other man, with one caveat.

I mentioned this on another thread - the question was asked: as He was also human, was Christ capable of being “afflicted” with all of the things that go along with being human: colds, fever, stomach aches, headaches, insect bites, etc.? I believe the answer is yes, he was. But at the same time, because Christ’s presence on Earth served ONE primary purpose - the redemption of mankind - I believe that anything that might have detracted or “derailed” this purpose was “prevented” from occurring by God. For example, could Christ, while walking and meditating in the mountains, have slipped and fallen into a ravine and died of thirst or could a rock have loosened and fallen on top of him and crushed him to death? Practically and physically speaking - yes, these things COULD have happened. But, as I just said, I think that Christ enjoyed a unique “protection” from such calamaties that might have led to Christ not being able to fulfill his mission. So in this respect, I believe he enjoyed a protection unlike any other human.

But in the end, we know that Christ HAD to experience many things that a man would experience: love, sadness, crying, pain, suffering, and ultimately death.

I know it sounds like one is “punting on 3rd down”, but I do not believe it is incorrect to characterize the way in which the hypostatic union occurred as being a true “mystery of faith”. We simply have to throw up our hands on some matters and accept that the way in which God worked in some ways are simply too complicated or mysterious for us to fully comprehend.

I hope this makes sense.

P.S. I take issue with the person in the OP’s parish who said that Christ did not realize he was God’s son until he was baptized by John the Baptist. Christ fully knew he was God’s son BEFORE he was baptized by John the Baptist - we know this from reading scripture alone. Recall that when Jesus approached John to be baptized, John said that HE was the one who should be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus “corrected” John and said that it was proper that John should baptize Jesus, and so it was done.

Thank you all so much for the beautiful answers. I have learned from each of you.

I am embarrassed to say I have 3 Catechisms and the compendium in my home and never thought about looking for this info there. :o

We started Jeff Cavins Great Adventure bible study at our parish a few years ago and since then I have been trying to study and learn and yes I have dreamt of visiting the Holy Land.

Please don’t take issue with the person at our paish. I am sure I probably misunderstood them. Reading these repsonses I beleive this is what they were saying. I may not have “gotten” it because inside I was thinking ‘what, how could this be, what about when etc’

Thanks again.

God Bless.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.