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?
Recommended listening: Does the NT Teach that Jesus is God? (White vs Malik)