Divine filiation (divine sonship) is the Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God by nature, and when Christians are redeemed by Jesus they become sons (and daughters) of God by adoption (1 John 3:1-2, 2 Peter 1:4) [1].

Divine filiation is at the core of Christianity. "Our divine filiation is the centerpiece of the Gospel as Jesus preached it. It is the very meaning of the salvation He won for us. For he did not merely save us from our sins; He saved us for sonship." [2]

In fact, the name 'Christian' indicates a new way of being, to be in the likeness of the Son of God. As sons in the Son, we share in salvation, which is not only the deliverance from evil, but is first of all the fullness of good: of the supreme good of the sonship of God" [3]. "We can adore the Father because he has caused us to be reborn to his life by adopting us as his children in his only Son: .. through the anointing of his Spirit who flows from the head to the members, he makes us other "Christs." "...you who have become sharers in Christ are appropriately called "Christs." [4]

The divinization of man through sonship is real and metaphysical. It is not metaphorical, i.e. a mere comparison with a real thing that is similar. In the Christian religion, God is really Father, and does not just act like human fathers. And God really made us share in his nature, and thus we are really children. Not in the same level as the Only Begotten Son, but truly sharing in his filiation and his divinity [3].
  1.  The Bible (Revised Standard Version- Catholic Edition)
  2.  Scott Hahn (2002). First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity. Doubleday Religion.
  3.  John Paul II (1997). Message for World Day of Peace. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
  4.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2782 (2012), 2nd ed.; Libreria Editrice Vaticana


"When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, [...] in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!". So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God."
                             (Galatians 4:4-7)



Consequences of being God's sons and daughters for Christians

Since divine filiation is fundamental for the Christian life, a foundational point, then the various aspects of the Christian life follow from it, as shown by the frequent allusions of the Catechism to divine filiation:

  • Abandonment to God the Father's providence, since Jesus said that "your heavenly Father knows what you need." (Mt 6:31; CCC 305) [1,2]. Thus Benedict XVI said in Deus caritas est, "Immersed like everyone else in the dramatic complexity of historical events, [Christians] remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when his silence remains incomprehensible." [3]
  • Becoming child-like in piety, because it is a condition for entering the Kingdom. (Mt 18:3-4; CCC 526)
  • Confidence to call God "Father" and asking him for gifts. "Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us . . . and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask.... What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?"
  • Viewing the liturgy as "a meeting of God's children with their Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit." (CCC 736; 1153)
  • Loving the Church, for God "gathers all his children into unity." (CCC 845), and the Church is "the house of all God's children, open and welcoming". (CCC 1186). And with this the Christian keeps the communion of the saints. (CCC1474)
  • Giving importance to baptism, by which the Christian become a child of God. (CCC 1243). The Christian should realize the "greatness of God's gift... by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians become children of God, partakers of the divine nature." (CCC 1692)
  • ​​Playing the role of the prodigal son. Because the "new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin," (CCC 1420) the Christian has the sacrament of healing called the sacrament of Reconciliation which "bring about restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God." (CCC 1468) "The whole of the Christian life," says John Paul II in his first encyclical Redemptor hominis, "is like a great pilgrimage to the house of the Father, whose unconditional love for every human creature, especially for the "prodigal son", we discover anew each day." [4]
  • Living in imitation of Christ: "Following Christ and united with him, Christians can strive to be "imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love" by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the "mind . . . which is yours in Christ Jesus," and by following his example." (CCC 1694)
  • Practicing obedience. "Although he was a Son, [Jesus] learned obedience through what he suffered. How much more reason have we sinful creatures to learn obedience - we who in him have become children of adoption." (CCC 2825)  
"Prodigal Son" (Charlie Mackesy, 2000) 
  1.  The Bible (Revised Standard Version- Catholic Edition)
  2.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2782 (2012), 2nd ed.; Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  3.  Benedict XVI (2006). Deus caritas est. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
  4.  John Paul II (1979). Encyclical Redemptor Hominis (The Redeemer of man). Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
  1.  The Bible (Revised Standard Version- Catholic Edition)
  2.  (CCC) Catechism of the Catholic Church, (2012), 2nd ed.; Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  3.  Benedict XVI (2006). Deus caritas est. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
  4. John Paul II (1979). Encyclical Redemptor Hominis (The Redeemer of man). Libreria Editrice Vaticana


  1. Father's Love Letter
  2. 'Abba Pater', with John Paul II (1999)
  3. Abba Pater (by The ADVENTure)
  4. 'Father of Mercies' - talk by Dr. Scott Hahn (2016)