God created and still upholds all things through His Son.

Word of GodGod is the Source of all creative power and wisdom.  All things came into being by His word.  But the Word is also a Person; God’s only begotten Son.  The Bible consistently draws a distinction God and the Son, but also describes the Son as The Beginning, through whom God brought all things into being, and who upholds all things by the word of His power.

This is the third article in a series about who the Son of God is and what His relationship is with His Father, God Almighty.

The first article explains the three views of the Son.  Some people propose that the Son of God is a created being.  Others say that He was derived from the Father.  A third view is that He always existed; co-equal with the Father.

The second article shows that God is One, that the Bible contrast His Son with God, and that the Father is greater than the Son.

This third article discusses the Son as Creator and Upholder of the universe.

The Word in John 1

God’s word of creation

In the BeginningThe dramatic first verses of John 1 do not refer to “the Son” or to the “Son of God”, but to “the Word”.  Some therefore propose that “the Word” does not refer to the Son, but to the word which God spoke when He created all things.  Modern translations render “the Word” with a capital “W”, but all original documents have been written in capitals only.  Capitals and lower case therefore are only interpretations.

Let there be lightIt is possible that “the Word” in John 1:1-2 refers to God’s word, for “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).  The whole of Genesis 1 is about what God spoke, and it came to be.  The phrase “God said” appears 10 times in that chapter.

But the Word is also the Son

The Word is described as a Person.

What would be the logic of saying that “the word” which God spoke “was with God … was God … was in the beginning with God”? (John 1:1-2) These descriptions imply that “the word” is a Person.

God created through the Word, but God also created through His Son.

All thingsAccording to John 1:3 “all things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”.  “Him” in this verse is also an interpretation.  The original word means “the same”.  What 1:3 is saying is that all things came into being through the Word.

However, both Hebrews 1 and Colossians 1 say that all things came into being through the Son (Col. 1:13; Heb. 1:2).  This implies that “the Word” is “the Son”.  Note the word “through” in John 1, in Colossians 1 and in Hebrews 1 (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).

Since God created through His Son, it remains God that created.

The Word” is “the Light”, and “the Light” is the Son of God.

John 1:4 continues to explain “the Word” but changes the symbolism from “the Word” to “the Light of men”.  The subsequent verses continue to describe “the Light”, and do it in a way that refers to the Son:

John 1:6-8 says that John the Baptist came as a witness, to testify about the Light”.  John was the forerunner for the Son of God in human form.  John witnessed, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make straight the way of the Lord … among you stands One whom you do not know …” (John 1:23-26).  “The Light”, and therefore “the Word”, refers to Jesus, who is the Son of God in human form.

The True LightJohn 1:9-10 refers to “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.  He was in the world, and the world was made through Him”.  These verses confirm that the One through whom “all things came into being” (1:3) is also “the light of men” (1:4), and this One came into the world (1:9).  How could this be anybody other than the Son?

The Word became flesh.

Tested unto death
Son of God

John 1:14 again refers to “the Word”, and says “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”.  This can only be the Son of God.  He “descended from heaven” (John 3:13; 6:38, 62).  “I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23).  “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

But how can the Word be the Son?

There is therefore sufficient proof that “the Word” in John 1:1-2 refers to the Son.  But how must this be understood?  God did not create another Creator; He spoke the word.  All things came into being by the word of God.  But the Word is also a Person; “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18).  That Person later became flesh (John 1:14).  Not only was He “in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2), He Himself Is “the Beginning“ (Col. 1:18; cf. 2 Peter 3:4; Rev. 3:14).  He is “the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). This is both a truth and a mystery.  Let us be content to accept that the God is beyond human understanding.

Comparing Three Key Creation Passages

Consider the following three quotations:

Gospel of JohnJohn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

Colossians 1:13 His beloved Son15 … is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 … He is the beginning

Hebrews 1:1 God2 has spoken to us in His Son … through whom also He made the world 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

This is what theologians call high Christology; explanations with a high view of Christ. Various conclusions will now be drawn from the three passages:

God brought all things into being through the Son. 

All three quotations claim that God made “all things” “through Him”:

John 1:3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”.
Through HimCol. 1:16By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him”.
Heb. 1:1-2His Son … through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:2).

The presentation of the Creator as consisting of more than one Person is not unique to the New Testament.  On the first page of the Jewish Scriptures, describing the creation of this world (Gen. 1:1), God refers to Himself as “Us”, saying “Let Us make man in Our image”, which, with the knowledge we have from the New Testament, includes His Son.

We therefore conclude as follows:

A. God is the Source of all creative power and wisdom.
B. The Father is greater than the Son (John 14:29).

There was no time when the Son did not exist.

He is before all thingsHe is before all things” (Col. 1:17).  He is “from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2), “before the world was” (John 17:5).  Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

John 1:1 begins with the words “in the beginning”.  “The Word … was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2).  This phrase probably comes from the first verse in the Bible, which reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

John 1:1-3 links “the beginning” to the creation event.  The beginning is therefore when all things were brought into being.  Colossians also relate “the beginning” (1:18) to the creation of all things (1:15-16).  Before “the beginningnothing existed.  There was no time before that, so to talk about the Son existing with the Father before that time is an anachronism; time did exist.

While the universe had a “beginning”, God has no beginning, for He is eternal (Rom. 16:26).  God exists beyond time.

We can therefore conclude that there was no time when the Son did not exist, for God also created time through the Son.  But to make any statement that He always existed co-equal with God is treading into an area which is beyond human comprehension.

All things” include the universe and everything in it.

All three quotations claim that the Son made “all things”.  Hebrews 1:1 says He made “the world”, but then verse 3 says He upholds all things, which implies that “the world” is a synonym for “all things”.  Colossians 1:16 defines “all things” as “in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities”.  The ancient people had no idea how large the universe is.  (Neither do we.)  We therefore can conclude that the Son created the universe and everything in it.

God continues to uphold all things through the Word. 

The title “the Word” also indicates the Son’s permanent role as the One through whom God continues to speak to uphold all things.

Upholds all things
Upholds all things

Col. 1:17In Him all things hold together”.
Heb. 1:2-3His Son … upholds all things by the word of His power”.

He became a human being as part of His work to uphold all things.  He became a human being to redeem this world.

Col. 1:13 God, through the Son, “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son”.
1 Tim. 1:16 “Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself”.

The Son contrasted with God

As a child I was taught to think about God the Father and God the Son, but that is not exactly how the Bible presents the Son.  As shown in the previous article, the Bible consistently draws a distinction God and the Son, as if the Son is not God.  The three creation passages quoted above do the same:

The Word was with God” (John 1:1-2).
His beloved Son … is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:13-15).
God …  has spoken to us in His Son … through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:1-2)

Consider some of Paul’s statements, randomly selected:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father” (2Th 2:16)
God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:1)
Our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thess. 3:13; cf. v11)

But between such statements we find statements such as “the Word was God” (John 1:1).  And it is said that God made all things through Him and that the Son “upholds all things by the word of His power“.  This series of articles is evaluating three option, as mentioned above.  The last article will bring the evidence together into a conclusion.

Series

This is the third in a series of seven:

(1) The three views of the Son of God.
(2) God is One, the Son contrasted with God and the Father is greater than the Son.
(3) What the Son does: He made and still upholds all things by the word of His power.
(4) What the Son is: Fullness of Deity
(5) The Son is worshiped.
(6) The Son is Yahweh of the Old Testament.
(7) Conclusion: Is He created, derived or eternally co-equal?

John 17:3 – God is One; The only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent

John 17:3 summarizes this article, for it makes the three points discussed in this article:
      1 –  God is One; There is but one true God.
      2 – Jesus is contrasted with the one true God.
      3 – The Father is greater than the Son, for He sent Him.

The previous article explains the three views of the Son of God:

(1)   A created being
(2)   Derived from the Father
(3)   Always existed; co-equal with the Father.

The current article compares the Son to the Father.

God Is One.

God is OneThe Bible declares that God is One;

There is no other God besides Me …
For I am God, and there is no other
” (Isaiah 45:21-22).

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”. (Deut. 6:4-5)

When the scribes asked Jesus what the most important commandment is, He started by quoting this truth from Deuteronomy:

The foremost is, ‘hear, o Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:28-30).

And James also wrote God is One:

Christianity and Judaism are monotheistic religions, compared to the surrounding cultures with their multitudes of gods.

The Bible clearly and repeatedly distinguishes between God and Jesus.

For instance, while Joseph and Mary were still carrying the baby Jesus around, God told Joseph where to go (Mt 2:12, 22).  And Jesus said:

John 17:3

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

This verse confirms that God is one, and then continues to contrasts Jesus to God.  Paul similarly wrote:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)

Image of the invisible GodHe (Christ) is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), which implies He is not “the invisible God“.

God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 6:13).

The book of Revelation several times contrasts Christ with God, for instance “the throne of God and of the Lamb (Christ)” (Rev. 22:3; see also 14:4; 11:15; 21:22-23; 22:1, 3).

These are merely a few examples of the many, many instances where the Bible contrasts God with Jesus, implying that Jesus is not equal to God.  One may protest by noting that these quotations all apply—not the Son of God before He became a human being—but to the human being named Jesus.  We must also remember the point made in the previous article, namely that “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7).

The Father is greater than the Son.

The names Father and Son imply that the Father is greater than the Son.  The quotations below also indicate that the Father is greater than the Son.  As stated, to become a human being, the Son emptied Himself (Phil. 2:6-7).  It may therefore be argued that the statements below have been made in the context of the Son after He emptied Himself.  However, the phrases in bold orange seem to say that the Father was greater than the Son even before He became a human being, and will always remain greater than the Son:

The Son can do nothing of HimselfThe Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19; cf. John 14:31).

I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (John 8:28; cf. 5:30).

The works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36).

My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16, cf. 17:3).

The Father therefore told His Son what to do and the Father has sent His Son to this world.  These things happened before He became a human being and provide evidence of the Son’s eternal subservient position, relative to the Father.

the Father is greater than IJohn 14:28 records Jesus saying, “If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I”.  He made this statement while talking about going to the Father, implying that the Father will be greater than Him even after He has returned to the Father.

The Father … has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35).

The Father has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).

Paul concluded, “the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3).  Paul made this statement long after Jesus ascended to heaven.  We therefore need to accept that the Father always has been and always will be greater than His Son.

Conclusion

This article states that God is One and that the New Testament contrasts Jesus with that one true God.  The New Testament also claims that the Father is greater than the Son.  If this was all we knew about Jesus, we would have had to conclude that He is not divine.  But in the articles to follow statements will be analysed which seem to confirm the Son’s divinity.  The last article in the series combines all this evidence into a conclusion.

Series of Articles

This is the second in a series of seven articles:

(1) The three views of the Son of God.
(2) God is One, the Son contrasted with God and the Father is greater than the Son.
(3) What the Son does: He created and upholds all things.
(4) What the Son is: fullness of Deity
(5) The Son is worshiped.
(6) The Son is Yahweh of the Old Testament.
(7) Conclusion: Is He created, derived or eternally co-equal?

The Son of God emptied Himself to become a human being, but who is He really?

Jesus as babySome people propose that the Son of God is a created being.  Other say that He was derived from the Father.  A third view is that He always existed; co-equal with the Father.  When He became a human being, He emptied Himself of wisdom, power, knowledge, and became a helpless human baby named Jesus.  But who is He really?

Three views

Created – Some people propose that the Son of God is a created being; the first created being, who created all other things, but nevertheless a created being.

Fathers of the faithDerived – A second view, held for instance by the Fathers of the Christian church, was that the Son of God, as to His divine nature, was not created, but was “derived” from the Father; eternally generated by God the Father; came forth from the being of God. Hence, the Nicene creed speaks of him as:

Begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made”.

Co-equal – A third view is held by those who hold that a derived being cannot in any proper sense be “God”.  They argue that His Son always existed; co-equal with the Father.

Emptied Himself 

Emptied HimselfThis discussion is complicated by the information that, when He became a human being, “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7).  He emptied Himself of wisdom, power, knowledge, and became a helpless human baby named Jesus, having to learn like any other human being.  But although He emptied Himself of supernatural powers, He remained the same Person as before.  We need to keep this in mind when we think about Him.  For instance, He said that He only does what the Father tells Him.  If that was because He “emptied Himself”, His dependence on God does not help us to understand Who He really is.

This article uses the title “Son of God” to refer to Him in His true identity, while the name Jesus is used to refer to Him as a human being.

Humility Required

This subject requires humility, for humans are unable to understand God.  “His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are unfathomable” (Rom. 11:33).  The Lord warned:

As the heaven are higheras the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts
”. (Isaiah 55:9)

We must accept that “we know in part … now we see in a mirror dimly … now I know in part” (1 Cor. 13:9-12).  It is our privilege to study about Him, but we must do it with humility, for “the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons” (Deut. 29:29).  Even with what is revealed in the Bible, we may feel frustrated because we do not understand, but we need to accept our inability to understand with joy, for it confirms His greatness.  If we able to understand Him, He would have been a very small God, indeed.

We do understand to some extent, and we will in all eternity know more and more of Him, but there will always remain an infinity beyond.  That may scare us, for we do not know what the future holds.  But let us then rejoice that God has revealed Himself in Jesus as trustworthy and merciful.

Logic distorts 

We must be very careful to not use logic to supply that which the Bible does not reveal.  Human logic will serve to lead us away from the truth.

Articles

To evaluate these views, this article first discusses a number of texts.  At the end of the article these concepts are brought together into a conclusion.  The articles in this series are:

God and His Son: God is One. The Father is greater than the Son.
What the Son does: created all things and continues to uphold all things.
What the Son is: fullness of Deity
The Son is worshiped.
The Son is Yahweh of the Old Testament
Conclusion: Is He created, derived or co-equal?

If God is One, is Jesus God?

The Bible teaches that God is One and clearly distinguishes between God and and His Son of God, but also says that all the fullness of Deity dwells in Jesus. How do we reconcile these facts?

Summary

God is OneThe Bible does refer to the Son of God as “God”, but the Bible also refers to created beings as gods.  Could Jesus be “a” god, and not “the” God?  This article analyzes what the Bible says about the Son of God.

We must firstly acknowledge that humans are unable to understand God, for “His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are unfathomable“.  It is our privilege to study about Him, but we must do it with humility.

Jesus is God’s “beloved Son”.  The name “Son of God”, by itself, does not mean that Jesus is God, because human believers are also called “sons of God”.  However, Jesus is the “one and only Son” of God.  He is God’s Son in a unique sense.

His Son descended from heaven.  He existed before he became a human being.  He is “from … the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2); “before the world was” (John 17:5).

The Father is the Source of all creative power and wisdom, but He created everything through His Son, both things in the heavens and on earth.  The Son also “upholds all things by the word of His power”.  The Son is therefore very different from the created sons of God.

Since His Son created all things, he is before all things (Col. 1:17).  The Bible writers refer to the mysterious “beginning”, saying that His Son was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2).  More emphatically, it is said that He isthe Beginning“ (Col. 1:18).

It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him” (Colossians 1:19).  This means, in the first place, that the Son is completely dependent on the Father.  The Father has sent Him (John 5:36; 7:16), the Son can do nothing of Himself (John 5:19, 30) and also does nothing on His own initiative.  He only says and does what the Father tells Him to do (John 7:16; 8:28, 30; 14:31).  But secondly it means that “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).  This means, amongst other things, that the Son is the Judge, with “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2), and that He has “life in Himself” (John 5:26) to give “life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21).

All things have been created … for him” (Col. 1:16).  All must honor the Son even as they honor the Father (John 5:23).  God commanded all the angels to worship His Son (Hebrews 1:6-8).  While we are instructed to worship only God (Rev. 19:10), the Son is worshiped on earth and by heavenly beings (Rev. 5:8-9).

No one has ever seen God at any time, but His Son, who is the visible image of the invisible God—the exact representation of God’s nature, has explained Him (John 1:18; Col. 1:15; Hebr. 1:3):  In His Son, appearing in a form that we can comprehend, God becomes known, visible and audible to the creatures of this universe.

YHVHAdam and Eve heard the sound of the “LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8).  The name LORD is YHVH, pronounced as Jehovah or Yahweh.  Yahweh also appeared to Abraham in the form of a man (Genesis 18:1).  It is proposed here that YHVH, who walked in the garden, and who appeared to Abraham, is the Son of God, that later became the human named Jesus.  This proposal is based on the following:

God is the Creator, but His Son created everything.

Since the Son created the world, He would logically remain intimately involved in events on earth.

No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).  It therefore was not God who appeared in the form of a man; it must have been His Son.

God gave His name to Moses as “I AM” (Exodus 3:1-16).  This name implies He exists without cause.  By claiming, “before Abraham was born, I am”, Jesus identified Himself as the great “I Am” (John 8:58).

The voice calling, “Clear the way for the LORD (YHVH)” (Isaiah 40:3) is applied to John the Baptist (Mat. 3:1-3; John 1:23), who cleared the way for the Son.

Psalm 102:25-28, which says that the creation will wear out like a garment, but God—the Creator—will endure, is applied by Hebrews 1:8-12 to “the Son”.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 indicates that Christ followed the Israelites through the wilderness and provided for their spiritual sustenance.  He is the One with which Moses spoke on Mount Sinai.

Jesus said that “the Scriptures … testify about Me” (John 5:39).  The Scripture refer to the books of the Old Testament only.

Names used for YHVH in the Old Testament are also used for His Son.  These include Bridegroom, Shepherd, Savior, Rock, True and Faithful Witness, Light, Alpha and the Omega, and the First and the Last.

It is therefore proposed that it was His Son that created the world in six days, that rested on the seventh day and whom Adam and Eve “heard … walking in the garden”.  It was also the Son that gave the Law to Moses, and who led the Chosen Nation to the Promised Land.

In conclusion, the apparent contradiction that we have to explain is that the Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and His Son, but also says that “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).  There are things that we humans do not know because it has not been explained to us.  There are also things that we humans simply are unable to understand, even if it is explained to us.  With the knowledge that we do not understand God, the following is proposed:

This universe consists of time, space and matter, but God the Father exists outside time, space and matter.  It is impossible for us to imagine what exists outside time, space and matter, but that is where the wisdom and power, that created our universe, came from.

Scriptures identify the Son as “the Beginning”.  This is understood to say that He is the Beginning of time, space and matter.  Consequently, one cannot separate the universe from the Son; God brought the universe into being by bringing His Son into being.  His Son is that immense explosion of Energy that brought this universe into being.  He is the “big bang”; not an uncontrolled explosion, but an incomprehensible planned and guided explosion.  But He is also a Person, by which I mean that He is aware of Himself and aware of other living beings.  He is not only a Person; He is an intensely loving Person.  He was willing to become a human being and even to die at the hands of evil men, because He loves His sinful creatures.

It is hoped that this explanation maintains the distinction between God and His Son, but also explains the Son’s divine attributes: “By him all things were created” (Col. 1:15, 16).  “He is before all things” (1:17).  He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).

(1) The Bible declares that there is only one God; God Is One.

God is OneThere is no other God besides Me …
For I am God, and there is no other
” (Isaiah 45:21-22).

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”. (Deut. 6:4-5)

When the scribes asked Jesus what the most important commandment is, He quoted Deuteronomy:  “The foremost is, ‘hear, o Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:28-30).

And James wrote: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19).

The Bible is a monotheistic religion.

(2) The Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and Jesus.

Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)

He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

The book of Revelation several times contrasts Christ with God, for instance “the throne of God and of the Lamb (Christ)” (Rev. 22:3; see also 14:4; 11:15; 21:23; 21:22; 22:1).

Paul also distinguished between “God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 6:13).

There is therefore a definite difference between Jesus and God.  This implies that Jesus is not God.

(3) The Bible refers to Jesus as God.

The prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6, given hundreds of years before He became a human being, refer to Him as “Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”.

He would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

The Word was God” (John 1:1). A little later John refers to the “Word” as “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18)

When Jesus showed his wounds to Thomas, Thomas responded: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

Titus 2:13-14 refers to Him as “our great God and Savior”.

How do we reconcile these facts?

So, on the one hand the Bible indicates that God is one and clearly distinguishes between God and His Son.  But on the other hand Jesus is called “God“.  The Bible does sometimes refer to created beings as gods (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34).  Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Could it be that Jesus is “a” god, and not “the God?  What is the relationship between God and Jesus?  Is Jesus another God, subordinate to the Father, but of the same nature?  Or is He a created being?  We will now analyze the Bible text to provide answers to these questions.

This subject requires humility, for it is impossible to understand God.

The first thing we have to say is that we microscopic human beings are unable to understand God.  The Lord warned:

as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts
”. (Isaiah 55:9)

Humans should therefore not think that they are able to understand God.  His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are unfathomable (Romans 11:33).  When this document talks about God, let it be with this knowledge. It is our privilege to study about Him, but we must do it with humility, for “the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons” (Deut. 29:29).

Colossians 1:15-19

Colossians 1:15-19 is Paul’s most comprehensive explanation of the Son of God.  This article often refers to this passage:

Col. 1:13 … His beloved Son … 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

John 5

John 5 is another important chapter when discussing the Person of the Son.  In that chapter Jesus heals a man who had been ill for 38 years (vv1-9).  He told the man “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk” (v8).  But it was the Sabbath (v9), and the Jews stopped the man, saying “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet” (v10).  The man told the Jews that Jesus healed him (v15).  When the Jews confronted Jesus, He responded, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (v17)  “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He … was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (v18).  Jesus then responded to the claim that He made Himself equal to God. This article also frequently draws from this explanation.

He is the One and Only Son of God

Paul referred to Jesus as “His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).  Similarly, during His baptism, God called Him “My beloved Son” (Mat. 3:17).  Jesus also called Himself the “Son of God” (Mat. 16:16, 17; 27:43; John 9:35-37; 10:36).  By itself the name “Son of God” does not mean that Jesus is God, because human believers are also called “sons of God” (for instance Luke 20:35-36; 1 John 3:1; Phil. 2:15; John 1:12; Mat 5:9; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:19; Galatians 3:26).  The man Adam and certain heavenly beings are also called sons of God (Genesis 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Luke 3:38).  However, Jesus is the one and only Son of God:

John 3:16For 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” (John 3:16 – NIV).

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9 – NIV).

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father” (John 1:14 – NIV)

The NASB translates the phrase “one and only” in these verses as “only-begotten

His Son existed before He became a human being.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Before Abraham was, I amHe is “from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2), “before the world was” (John 17:5).  He “descended from heaven” (John 3:13; 6:38, 62).  Jesus also said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) and “I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23).

God created and still upholds everything through His Son.

John refers to Jesus as “the Word” (see John 1:14), and wrote that “all things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3).

Colossians refers to “His beloved Son” (1:13) and reads, “by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (1:16-17).”

Hebrews 1:2 refers to “His Son … through whom also He made the world” and in Hebrews 1:10 God said of His Son: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands”.  “He (His Son) … upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebr. 1:3).

The presentation of the Creator as consisting of more than one Person is not unique to the New Testament.  On the first page of the Jewish Scriptures, describing the creation of this world (Gen. 1:1), God refers to Himself as “Us”, saying “Let Us make man in Our image”, which therefore included His Son.

The Father created “all thingsthrough His Son.  The word “through” indicates that the Father is the Source of all creative power and wisdom, but His Son created everything.  His Son created this universe, including this world.

Since the Son created all things (not all “other” things, as some suppose), He is very different from the created sons of God.  For this reason, and because He is God’s one and only Son, we may refer to Him as “the Son of God”, with a capital “S”, to differentiate Him from the sons of God.

He is The Beginning

Since His Son created all things, He “is before all things” (Col. 1:17).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2).  Colossians 1:18 is more specific, saying that He isthe Beginning“.  This implies a high level of unity between the Son and this universe.

Fullness Of Deity

“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:19).  This may be analyzed into two points.  The first is that the Son is fully dependent on the Father

The Father is greater than the Son; God is the head of Christ.

The names Father and Son imply that the Son is not equal to God. 

The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).

I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (John 8:28).

I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).

The works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36).

My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16).

Jesus said, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28) and “I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (John 14:31).

Paul concluded, “the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3).

All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form.

All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). 

The Son has “life in Himself” (John 5:26) and “gives life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21). 

“The Father … has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35).  He has “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2).  

The Father has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).  The Son has “authority to execute judgment” (John 5:27).  As stated in Matthew 25:31-33, “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”.

Just like a human son is brought forth by his human father, the heavenly Father—the Source of everything—brought forth His Son.  The Son received His power from the Father.

We must worship only God, but His Son is Worshiped.

In the book of Revelation John twice tried to worship an angel, and in both instances the angel’s response was the same:

Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God” (Revelation 19:10; compare 22:9).

Notice this is an instruction to worship God alone.  Also in Revelation 14:7 we are told to “worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters”.  But then we find that the Son is worshiped:

Jesus said, “All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).

God commanded all the angels to worship His Son (Hebrews 1:6-8).

The “four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a … golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8-9).

Jesus was worshiped by His disciples after He walked on water (Mat. 14:28-33), after He was resurrected (Mat. 28:8-9; 16-17), and He did not prevent them from doing so.

God highly exalted Him … so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:5-11).

This is related to the concept that “all things have been created … for him” (Colossians 1:16).  He will always be King of this universe.  The Father “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (1:13).  His “kingdom … will never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44).

Christ Reveals God. 

God, the Father, “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).  “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18).  The Son “is the (visible) image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).  His Son in all respects looks exactly like His Father.  Since the Father is invisible, the Son does not physically look like the Father, but “He (His Son) is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His (God’s) nature” (Hebr. 1:3):

The Son is the Father’s visible image.  He is God’s visible face and the God’s audible voice; the Word of God (John 1:1, 14).  God is unknowable, invisible and incomprehensible.  Human beings cannot comprehend a Being that is everywhere, that exists without cause, and that is not limited by time and space.  In His Son, appearing in a form that we can comprehend, God becomes known, visible and audible to the creatures of this universe.

When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father“, Jesus said to him:

Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8-9)

YHVH

Adam and Eve heard the sound of the “LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8).  The name LORD is translated from YHVH (Strong 3068)—the proper name of the God of Israel—pronounced as Jehovah or Yahweh.

Yahweh also appeared to Abraham in the form of a man (Genesis 18:1). Abraham was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day (v1).  When he looked up, he saw three men (v2).  One was the LORD and the other two were angels (19:1).  He invited them in (18:2-5).  Sarah made bread cakes (18:6) and Abraham slaughtered a choice calf (18:7).  After they ate, the Lord promised that Sarah would have a son within one year (18:9-15).  The LORD also promised Abraham that he will become a great and mighty nation (18:16-19).  The LORD further said that Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin is exceedingly grave (18:20-21).  The two angels (see 19:1) went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD (18:22), negotiating with the LORD about Sodom and Gomorrah (18:23-33).  The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate (19:1).

It is proposed here that YHVH, who appeared to Abraham, was the one and only Son of God, that later became the human named Jesus.  This proposal is based on the following:

When God said, Let Us make man in Our image” (Gen 1:26), He included His Son.

Our Lord and our God … created all things” (Rev. 4:11; Eph. 3:9).  “Fear God, and give Him glory … worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev. 14:7).  But, as we have seen, God created everything through Jesus.

Since the Son created the world, He logically remained intimately involved in events on earth.

No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).  He “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).  It therefore was not God who appeared to Adam or Abraham in the form of a man; it must have been the Son.

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” and gave His name to Moses as “I AM” (Exodus 3:1-16).  This name implies that He exists without cause.  By claiming, “before Abraham was born, I am”, Jesus identified Himself as the great “I Am” (John 8:58; also 8:24, 28).

The voice calling, “Clear the way for the LORD (YHVH) in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3) is applied in the New Testament to John the Baptist (Mat. 3:1-3; John 1:23), who cleared the way for the Son, which implies that the Son of God is YHVH.

Psalm 102:25-28 says that the creation will wear out like a garment, but the God, the Creator will endure.  This is quoted in Hebrews 1:8-12, but the God, the Creator, is replaced with “the Son”:

Psalm 102:24 O my God … Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son He says …
25 Of old You founded the earth 10 You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth
And the heavens are the work of Your hands. and the heavens are the works of Your hands
26 Even they will perish 11 they will perish
but You endure but You remain
And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing and they all will become old like a garment, 12 and like a mantle You will roll them up
You will change them and they will be changed. like a garment they will also be changed.
27 But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end. but You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end.”

1 Corinthians 10:1 reads “our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea … 4 and … were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ”.  This refers to the exodus from Egypt, where they passed through the red sea (Exodus 14:29) and the LORD went before them in cloud by day to show them the way (Exodus 13:21).  Once, when the Israelites became very thirsty, the LORD told Moses to “strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink” (Exodus 17:6).  In 1 Corinthians 10 that rock is used as a symbol of Christ, saying that it was Christ that guided and taught them through Moses in the wilderness.

Jesus said to the Jews, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39).  The Scripture refer to the books of the Old Testament, and Jesus therefore said that the Old Testament testifies about Him.

Names used for YHVH in the Old Testament are also used for His Son:

  • In Hosea 2:19 the LORD (YHVH – v16) said “I will betroth you to Me forever”. In Mark 2:19 Jesus described Himself as the bridegroom.
  • In Psalm 23:1 YHVH “is my shepherd”. In John 10:14 Jesus calls Himself “the good shepherd“.
  • In Isaiah 43:11 YHVH says “there is no savior besides Me”. In John 4:42 the Samaritans declare that Christ is “the Savior of the world”,
  • Psalm 18:31 describes YHVH as a rock. In 1 Corinthians 10:4 the spiritual rock from which Israel has been drinking in the wilderness, was Christ.
  • In Jeremiah 42:5 YHVH is the “true and faithful witness”. Revelation 3:14 describes Christ as such.
  • In Psalm 27:1 “the LORD (YHVH) is my light and my salvation”, but in John 8:12 Jesus said “I am the Light of the world”.
  • The Lord God said “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8), but the one who is coming quickly (Rev. 22:12), namely Jesus (Rev. 3:11), said “I am the Alpha and the Omega ” (Rev.22:13).
  • The LORD, the King of Israel, said, “I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me” (Is. 44:6; see also 48:12, Rev. 1:8). But in Revelation Jesus said “I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:17-18; 2:8; 22:13, 16).

It therefore was His Son that created the world in six days, that rested on the seventh day and whom Adam and Eve “heard … walking in the garden” (Gen. 1:8).  It was also the Son that gave the Law to Moses, and who led the Chosen Nation to the Promised Land.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the apparent contradiction that we have to explain is that the Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and His Son, but also says that “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).  There are things that we humans do not know because it has not been explained to us.  There are also things that we humans simply are unable to understand, even if it is explained to us.  With the knowledge that we cannot understand God, the following is proposed:

This universe consists of time, space and matter, but God the Father exists outside time, space and matter.  It is impossible for us to imagine what exists outside time, space and matter, but that is where the wisdom and power, that created our universe, came from.

Since God created everything through Him, the Son of God came into being before the universe.  Scriptures identify the Son as “the Beginning”.  This is understood to say that He is the Beginning of time, space and matter.  Consequently, one cannot separate the universe from the Son; God brought the universe into being by bringing His Son into being.  His Son is that immense explosion of Energy that brought this universe into being.  He is the “big bang”; not an uncontrolled explosion, but an incomprehensible planned and guided explosion.

Since the Son created everything, He also created time.  Scientists estimate the age of the universe at 13.8 billion years.  Time started at the moment the universe came into existence.  There was therefore NO time that the Son did not exist, because there is no such thing as time before He created time.

But He is also a Person, by which I mean that He is aware of Himself and aware of other living beings.  He is not only a Person; He is an intensely loving Person.  He was willing to become a human being and even to die at the hands of evil men, because He loves His sinful creatures.

The Son is the Word of God (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13).  The Son is how God appears in this universe defined by time, space and matter.  He is the revelation of God with whom His creatures may communicate as with a fellow creature; to be “God with us” (Mat. 1:26).

God brought the universe into being by bringing His Son into being, but the invisible God remained intimately involved in the universe.  God was intimately involved in the creation of life on this planet, billions of years after the universe came to be (Gen 1:26).  It is God that sent His only-begotten Son to become a human being, so that everybody that believes in Him would not die, but inherit eternal life (John 3:16).  God is the Savior; the Son is the means by which He saves.

It is hoped that this explanation maintains the distinction between God and His Son, but also explains the Son’s divine attributes: “By him all things were created” (Col. 1:15, 16).  “He is before all things” (1:17).  He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).

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