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John 1:1 (KJV): In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In view of the above verse John 1:1 many believe that Jesus is God.

Why then is Jesus called the "the Son of God," if he is God?

Matthew 16:16 (NASB): “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God.”

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    Which verse are you trying to analyze? Matthew 16:16 or John 1:1? Or are you wanting to discuss theology/christology?
    – Ruminator
    Jan 9 '20 at 19:44
  • A Father does not create a Son. A Father begets a Son. Is that what you are asking about ?
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9 '20 at 19:50
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    @OzzieNicolas I don't understand your question. The scripture says 'Son of God'. That is what is revealed. What do you mean 'justify' ? It is what we are told by the scripture.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9 '20 at 21:37
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    The title Son of God does not denote divinity explicitly or implicitly. When tied to Christ then it’s clear it’s referring to God and not just any of the sons of God. Jan 15 '20 at 20:37
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    @ Nihil Sine Deo; The three greats of Bible translation J. Moffat, Edgar J Goospeed and Westcott, translate (On line) John 1:1 as follows. " THE Logos existed in the very beginning, the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine." To me if Logos/Word is with God then he cannot be God.So Jesus is a divine being so are the angels and even Satan are all divine beings. The Greek preposition , pros/with, denotes two separate persons, Logos/Word and the only true God. Jan 16 '20 at 19:50
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There's a lot of things going on even before Jesus ask the question at Matthew 16:13, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" I'm going to work backwards in addressing your point. The Apostle John said at John 20:30-31, "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. Verse 31, But these have been written that you may believe THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST THE SON OF GOD; and that believing you may have life in His name."

At Matthew 26 which is the trial record the following is what the high priest Caiaphas as Jesus to swear to at verse 63, "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD." According to Luke's account at Luke 22:70, Jesus says, "Yes, I am."

At John 19:7 (according to John's trial record) it says, "The Jews answered him, (that is Pilate), We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because HE MADE HIMSELF OUT THE SON OF GOD."

At John 10:30, Jesus said, "I and the Father, We are one." At verse 31, "The Jews took up stones AGAIN to stone Him." Why? Verse 33, "The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man MAKE YOURSELF OUT GOD." Notice that the Jews left out the word, "Son." The Jews understood what Jesus meant when He said He and His Father are One. That is they are one in nature and essence. This is why they accused Him of blasphemy. Jesus is not blaspheming if He and His Father are one in purpose. And of course they are but that is not what is meant here.

Jesus then "escalates" the conversation by quoting Psalm 82:6 by saying (verse 34) "Has it not been written in your Law, I said you are Gods?" Verse 35, If he called them gods to whom the word of God came(and the Scriptures cannot be broken), Vs36, do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, "You are blaspheming, because I said I AM THE SON OF GOD."

So why did Jesus quote Psalm 82:6? I believe what Jesus is doing is taking the Jew's statement about Him blaspheming to its logical conclusion. That is to show that the Jews are being inconsistent. In effect, Jesus is saying, "If you say that I am blaspheming, you must also hold that God is blaspheming because He said to those by whom the word of God came, "ye are gods." Jesus in fact draws a clear distinction between Himself and those by whom the word of God came when He says that He was sanctified and sent into the world by God.

I could bring in John 8:58 where the Jews picked up stones to stone Him for claiming to exist before Abraham was born and Jesus says, "I am." Instead I want to bring up John 5:17-18. "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. Vs18, For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

So what does it mean to call Jesus "the Son of God?" The following is what C.S Lewis said. "Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:160, while Christians are adopted sons of God (Romans 8:15-17). Christians are called adopted sons of God because we are different from God and must become His children (hence, adopted, not begotten). Jesus is not adopted because He never became God's Son, but has always been God's Son. Calling Jesus the only begotten Son of God means that He is of the same nature as God, not a different nature. To beget is to become the father of; to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers..

But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam...Now that is the first thing to make clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God, just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the same sense that Christ is."

It is a universal law that a son shares the same nature as its father. Now, there is something else at work here. The Jews have "idioms." One of those "idioms" is know as the "son of" idiom. For example, the title "sons of the prophets" is used throughout 1 Kings 2: to declare and authenticate the fact that the "sons" were indeed real, honest-to-goodness prophets. the distinguishing nature that the "father" and the "sons" share here is the gift of "prophecy" which they alone had.

This "idiom" is throughout the Bible including the New Testament. Son of peace (Luke 10:6) refers to a peaceful person. Sons of thunder is at Mark 3:17. One more, "Son of perdition (John 17:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) is the lost one or son of hell. Judas and the antichrist fit the bill here.

You will also notice that Jesus Christ Himself oftentimes referred to Himself as "the Son of Man" and the "Son of God." The "Son of Man" idiom demonstrates the human nature of Jesus on His mother's side. I think we have gone full circle in demonstrating that the meaning of the "Son of God" in the case of Jesus Christ is not just a son of God like men or angels. A question I like to ask based on the trial of Jesus is: "Why would the Jews accuse Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be the son of God when the Jews themselves claim to be sons of God?"

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  • 'Born of the Spirit' and 'born again' are gennao which is mostly translated 'beget'. 'Beget' is the word chosen by the Spirit to describe the indwelling of Spirit within the believer. 'Adoption' is huiothesia which may be translated 'sonship'. 'Now are we the sons of God' says the apostle. This is more wonderful than I think you appreciate. (Just sayin'.) (+1).
    – Nigel J
    Jan 10 '20 at 4:49
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    This is a good answer, but is poorly formatted and 'feels' like a wall of text. I'd suggest practising use of quotations, bold/italics for emphasis, and headings to give your answer a clearer flow at a glance.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jan 28 '20 at 8:55
  • I did a simple search for "are one" in the Tanakh. Guess what 1 verse (gen 41:25) has this. So this whole concept of 2 people in 1 3 people 1 is not a Jewish belief. The greek bible uses "are one" over and over to say that Jesus and God are one. Jesus and his disciples spoke in Aramaic and I am sure "are one" was not even used. I think all this is made up by the greek church fathers. God Bless
    – Yeddu
    May 3 at 14:26
  • try the search for yourself. make sure you Select Tanakh as the search scope biblegateway.com/keyword/?resultspp=500
    – Yeddu
    May 3 at 14:26
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Isaiah 48:3 God declares that He is an eternal speaking God and that his verbal declarations existed "from the beginning".

I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.

There is only ONE GOD but he is a complex God having more than one operative capacity. Three specific "eternal operative capacities of God" are referenced by God himself in Isaiah 48:16:

Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

This amazing invitation to mankind reveals the Godhead as being ONE God having those three operative capacities. The Lord GOD and His Spirit are the two senders. The speaker is clearly the Word of God--that Sent One--that one called, “me” in this scripture, who we will find would at a certain point later in time, be sent and made visible flesh and blood upon this earth as the Son of God/Son of Man, and named Jesus, the Christ.

In the second Psalm, the eternal LORD God also verbally "said":

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

Yes, Jesus--that eternal invisible spiritual Word of God-- was "made" visible flesh, "made" of a woman, "made" under the law, "made" the seed of the woman, at a certain point in time--on a certain day in time--NOT BY any man, nevertheless, by the Spirit of God THROUGH a woman.

This is easily explained in Genesis. 5:1-2 where the woman--Eve-- was "created" as part of that single jointly united spirit, being both male and female, yet called by ONLY ONE name, "Adam"--not Adam and Eve:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

Then, while still a joint spiritual part of Adam--still jointly male and female--Adam was "formed" of the dust of the ground and "made" a single complex living soul. FINALLY and LASTLY, that woman, Eve, was "made" a single, flesh-and-blood living soul SEPARATE FROM ADAM when she was "formed"--a process of making to completion--out of the rib of Adam, genetic matter and all. As it is beautifully written in 1 Timothy 2:13-15:

"For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

Therefore, the "Word of God" existed eternally as God being a spiritual integral part of the complex Creator God. He was THEN--at a point certain in time--"made" a flesh and blood living soul as the only begotten Son of God. He therefore BECAME that promised "seed of the woman" Savior through the virgin, Mary. He also BECAME that promised King of Kings through Joseph--the son-of-David heir of David's throne. First the eternal Word of God, then ALSO, beginning at a certain point in time, the Son of God/Son of man--now resurrected and eternally forever.

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    Thank you for your input : Notice in Isaiah 48:16 and the following scriptures do not refer to the Holy Spirit as a separate entity or person but rather links it, with God's divine power. In the O.T. the inspired writers never define the Holy Spirit as anything other than the power of God. " The angel answered her, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence what is born will be called holy, Son of God. (J Moffat Luke 1:35) Compare Micah 3:8 KJV ,Zechariah 4:6 KJV. In Acts 4:8 can Peter be filled with Holy Spirit if the spirit is a person Jan 11 '20 at 9:00
  • The term, "person" is first translated from the Hebrew plural, "paniym." Paniym may reference one of the facets or attributes of a single identity. Gen. 1:2) stresses the single identity of the One body of the cosmos identified by the Hebrew dual phrase, "the heaven and the earth". Gen 6:13, "All flesh" (a single group understood") is come before "me" (paniym) .... through "them" (the single group of paniym). I do not use the word person as being an individual being of the One true God, but rather, an individual operative capacity which may have it's own unique characteristics or facets. Jan 13 '20 at 2:52
  • Ozzie, I need to point out that each "paniym" translated as as "face" in Genesis 1:2 are Hebrew plurals (but always used as singular.) In this case, the "paniym" of the deep and the "paniym" of the waters refer to a single body--the "heaven and the earth." The first references the depth of those waters, whereas, the second references the body of matter of those waters filling that space. That matter, "mayim" (waters) is a Hebrew dual, an inherent twosome, (but always used in a singular sense.) Before being divided, the "mayim" was one single body of waters, making up the entire cosmos. Jan 19 '20 at 2:40
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – steveowen
    Nov 26 '20 at 20:21
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This is a good instance of a logical fallacy technically called "complex question". This fallacy means that a question contains an information which is taken for granted by a questioner as an indubitable truth, while in reality this purported truth is perfectly questionable and not at all legitimate to be received and accepted without scrutiny. In particular, this question entails a questionable information sneaked as it were in the question as a true information that "Son of God" cannot be "God".

But why? "Son of God" can very nicely and cozily be "God", for the theological metaphor of "sonship" implies the identity of nature, for all sons in the natural, created world bear 100% of nature of their fathers. If Son/Logos has 100% nature of the God Father for all eternity, then Son/Logos is 100% God alongside with the Father.

Just for an illuminative example, to restate your question in another dimension for an analogy: "Why is the RAIN called a SON OF A CLOUD if RAIN is also absolutely CLOUD in its substance of H2O?"

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  • Another very good contribution. Keep them coming please.
    – Dottard
    Nov 28 '20 at 8:59
  • @Dottard Thanks for encouraging, will try to, as my dense schedule may allow me, for I teach and have to check homeworks of pupils on a daily basis. Nov 28 '20 at 9:33
  • In that case, you must be a very good teacher to have such natural wisdom. Your students are very privileged indeed.
    – Dottard
    Nov 28 '20 at 9:35
  • @Dottard Thanks again, I blush with this compliment; yet I would not consider my posts here as very original, for mostly I summarise and crystallise the tradition of Capadocians and John Chrysostom, whom I cherish the most. Nov 28 '20 at 19:23
  • If Bob is son of Frank, Bob is not Frank. Yes, Bob inherits certain things from Frank, but Bob just ain't Frank! So you have to say that 'Son of God' is short for 'Son of God the Father'. Otherwise the title makes no sense. Feb 12 at 5:42
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The most straightforward answer is that the question contains a false premise, namely, that those who used the title 'Son of God' intended for it to be taken or thought of Jesus as God Himself.

The basic grammar here makes no sense. If Bob is the Son of Frank, then Bob is not Frank. If Jesus is the 'Son of God' and also 'God', then the term 'Son of God' must be short for something like 'Son of God the Father'. That at least makes sense.

Moving to the typical translation of John 1:1, it is a head-scratching sentence. If you are with someone, you can't be that someone. So again, the sentence would have to have an implicit add-on of 'the Word was with God the Father, and the Word was God.' As you note in one of your comments, though, there is another way to translate that sentence, as is done by Moffatt. "The Logos existed in the very beginning, the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine." This has the virtue of making sense as written. It is possible to not be God, but be a divine being.

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  • Interesting idea. What other beings are not God but divine beings?
    – Dottard
    Feb 12 at 9:45
  • I don't know, but see Psalm 82:6, quoted by Jesus in John 10:34. "Ye are gods." The judges representing God become 'gods' - in some sense divine beings. The word for 'gods' at John 10:34 is 'theoi'. John 1:1 is 'theos', same word basically. Feb 12 at 17:22
  • so are there many "gods" that we serve or only one? Just trying to understand your position. My question to you above was directed at the NT not the OT - what persons are divine?
    – Dottard
    Feb 12 at 20:58
  • That's the whole point. There's One God. The judges are representatives of God and so divine. As is Jesus, but even moreso. Feb 12 at 21:42
  • @OneGodtheFather- You have my vote on this one. Apr 28 at 4:03
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John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Q. Why then is Jesus, called the "the Son of God," if he is God?

Many may believe that Jesus is God because Jesus is the 'logos become flesh' and the logos is God, therefore Jesus must be God.

Is this understanding the result of poor exegesis?

John does not say, 'In the beginning was Jesus'. So we must not - must not think in those terms because they are unfounded - that is not what God gave John to write. The next illogical step is to think, if Jesus is the logos and was in the beginning somehow, then he must have made all things as the logos/word/Son - therefore Jesus made all things.

And then they quote in their defence interpretations like

For by him all things were created Col 1:16 ESV

which is not what Paul intended, but rather 'through him'. If one misunderstands God's plan from the beginning, one would miss the significance of Jesus, who is the crux, the core, the essence of ALL that God was doing. In fact we are told in Genesis that we are made in God's image. This is only completed in Christ - only in him are we in God's image (more on this later). And so we get the sense that everything that IS, humans included, are to become as God initially intended, 'through' Jesus - the way, the life, the truth. So through Jesus, all things are each brought to the intended fulness of their creation. We will bear God's image as the following verse indicates. No one fully bears God's image while still a sinner - even a forgiven one.

1 Cor 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.

And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. v49

If God says we are made in His image, we ought not presume time frame for this to be completed. God hasn't stopped creating, in Jesus, He is just getting started!

Or Heb 1:2 'through whom He made the universe' (nonsense - it should be 'ages'), or John 1:3 'through Him all things were made' - still thinking logos is Jesus or Jesus is logos. No, John writes logos because it is not Jesus!

When we read on in John 1, the 'logos became flesh'.

When did that happen? When did the logos become flesh? Jesus was never flesh before he was conceived by God's spirit and Mary. And in that flesh he died. 1 Pet 3:18

So the Jesus who is flesh, cannot be, 'in the beginning', as the logos.

We know that God cannot die - He is immortal, yet Jesus died. As the concept of two natures is unbiblical, and beyond the scope of this answer, it must be left aside. So from God and Mary a baby boy was born - called Jesus, titled Immanuel, meaning, 'God with us'. A child was born in Isaiah's day (not to a virgin) with the same title - he wasn't God either.

But Jesus, holy, sinless from birth, unlike every child since Adam who has been born in sin and lived under the 'law of sin and death', Jesus was different. He was to be the final Lamb, the perfect sacrifice for all men, indeed for all creation - all things - past present and future, are redeemed in/through Jesus. The new heavens and new earth are only possible in Jesus - because of what he accomplished by defeating evil - as a man. Not as a god/man.

Jesus said, 'I am a man who has told you the truth' John 8:40

Insisting Jesus is God, is denying his very words to the contrary. Not merely denying, but making him a liar! Should we list the many passages speaking of Jesus the man? There are so many, including from his Father and God. For Jesus to say he is a man and be testified as such over and over, and not say he is also God - is disingenuous and fraudulent.

Jesus is the logos made flesh - the word of God, the image of God, the form of God, the Son of God, the heir of God, the servant of God, the Lamb of God, the authority of God, the presence of God, the foreknown of God, the comforter of God, the wisdom of God, the glory of God - none make him God. Is God the Lamb, the image, the foreknown, the heir? NO.

In John 3:16 we read perhaps the most quoted verse,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

We understand that 'gave' means to offer as a sacrifice - just as Abraham did. Just as the type practised through the nation of Israel for centuries. Jesus perfect sacrifice was greater than all these combined - being actually perfect, not in physical measure, but in spiritual. Of course Jesus wasn't perfect when born - he was made perfect through obedient suffering. See more on that here; What does "made perfect" mean in Heb 5:9?

This all planned before the foundation of the world - God would bring forth a unique son - like none before him. Revealed to be a son of the line of David, prophesied to come and to die, to rule and conquer - even evil itself through death.

Can we imagine Jesus being a God the Son or the logos or both - made flesh and mortal? If Jesus is always God, then we must develop the two natures idea - one died, the other didn't - could not.

So is God faking it - by not really giving His only son (as He asked Abraham to do) but a copy, a flimsy human son that was just made up to die?

Why then is Jesus , called the "the Son of God," if he is God?

He isn't called the son because he is God, but because God is his Father. And from Mary his mother, he is also the son of man. We see that Jesus is the same nature of his Father, but nowhere is he shown to be the same substance-nowhere.

Precisely because Jesus is not God, or the eternal substance of God, he can be who he needs to be - a perfect sacrifice! His purpose and mission is the focus of God's plan pre-arranged from the foundation. So when the logos became flesh, then God could finish what He started - allowing, no giving His son to die - to be murdered, that His creation could be redeemed.

That's why Jesus said, 'before Abraham was, I am'. It doesn't say he existed before Abraham, but he is before him in precedence in God's plan from the beginning in Gen 3.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

In fact, Gal 3:16 confirms, as the seed promised, Jesus must be after Abraham in timeline, but always before in precedence and importance!

now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ.

Abraham knew of the one to come, and God blessed him with a sure awareness of it in faith and some kind of vision - as did several others God blessed with a glimpse into the future.

Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day, and he saw it and rejoiced.” John 8:56

Hebrews 11:13 All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar.

The logos, even if it is an eternal person, cannot die. Jesus can and did as God's unique fleshly son. Even once raised from the dead by his God, Jesus still says he is not a spirit. How can God not be a spirit?

Luke 24:49 a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.

Jesus spoke of coming from heaven - naturally, this must be understood, as he also said, I am not of this world. Meaning his nature is of God, being holy and uncorrupted. Remember Jesus spoke of his disciples as also not being of this world - not because they were God, but because they were God's.

they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world

There is no good reason or support to think Jesus has the same substance as God - as some persist with, 'the Father and I are one'. This is clearly explained in John 17:11,21 as having the same purpose etc. To think this confirms 'one substance', is making the word say which it does not.

Jesus is the firstborn (or first-fruits) of many brethren. He is the first of all men - because he also, is a man. Not like any others that God had called 'son' - Jesus was without sin.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Col 1:15

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Rom 8:29.

As noted earlier, here we see the process of image fulfilment. (Of course, Jesus is firstborn from the dead of creation, not the first of everything at the beginning Col 1:18)

Could we be God's brothers, God's brethren? No, we are God's children as Jesus is God's son - in him our creation is completed. Finally, like Jesus and IN and through Jesus, we are in God's image.

We may join the unique son of God as other sons of God. The word of God has been accomplished in great glory by Jesus, the word, plan, truth and grace of God - made flesh!

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