He is God’s only Son; the visible image of the invisible God. The fullness of Deity dwells in the Son, for He received it from the Father. The Father gave Him to have life in Himself and authority over people.
Fullness of Deity
“It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Col. 1:19). More specifically, “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).
“Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to havelife in Himself” (John 5:26), “so the Son also 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 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”.
Only Begotten Son of God
Paul referred to Jesus as “His beloved Son” (Col. 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).
Human believers are also called “sons of God” (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). Also 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 not only the Son of God; He is “the only begotten from the Father” (John 1:14; cf. 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9 – NASB). The Greek word translated “only begotten” is monogenés, and means one of its kind. The NIV translates this phrase as the “One and Only”:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …” (John 3:16 – NIV).
“He sent his one and only Son into the world” (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)
There are many created sons, but only one begotten Son. He, as Son of God, has no brethren. He is God’s Son in a unique sense. God made all things through Him. He is very different from the created sons of God. He is the only “Son of God”, with a capital “S”
Image of the invisible God
God is unknowable, invisible and incomprehensible. He “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). Human beings cannot comprehend a Being that is everywhere, that exists without cause, and is not limited by time and space.
“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). When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father“, Jesus responded:
“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)
He is God’s visible face and the God’s audible voice; the Word of God (John 1:1, 14). His Son in all respects looks exactly like His Father. Since the Father is invisible, He does not physically look like the Father, but the Son “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His (God’s) nature” (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.
In previous articles it was shown that God is one, that the Bible clearly and consistently distinguishes between God and His Son, and in various ways says that the Father is greater that the Son:
Jesus said it Himself.
God made all things through the Son.
“The fullness of Deity dwells in Christ”, but He received it from the Father (Col. 1:19; 2:9).
He has “authority over all flesh” because “the Father … has given all things into His hand”.
He is God’s “only begotten” Son.
He has “life in Himself”, but the Father gave the Son to have life in Himself (John 5:26).
He is the visible image of the invisible God.
These things indicate the Father’s supremacy over the Son, but in the next article it will be shown that the Son is called God, and that He is worshiped.
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?
God 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
The 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.
It 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.
According 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.
John 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.
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:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Wordwas with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 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 Son … 15 … 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 God … 2 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 1:3 “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”. Col. 1:16 “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”. Heb. 1:1-2 “His 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 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 beginning” nothing 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.
Col. 1:17 “In Him all things hold together”. Heb. 1:2-3 “His 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 Fatherand 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.
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 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.
(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.
The 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:
“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)
“He (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 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 whosent 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.
John 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 hasgiven 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.
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?
Some 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?
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.
Derived – 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.
This 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.
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 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.
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.
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?