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!