Jesus is monogenēs; only begotten; generated from the Father; His only true family.

Synopsis

Jesus is the “Son of God.”  That does not mean that He is God, for believers are also called sons of God.  But Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.

The Greek word translated “only begotten” is monogenēs.  Recently scholars argue that monogenēs means “unique.”  For example, the NIV translates monogenēs as “the One and Only.”  This article argues that monogenēs is correctly translated as “only begotten:

The word monogenēs cannot mean only “only” because:

1.  Mono itself means “only;”
2. None of the ancient examples of monogenês mean “only.”
3. Jesus is monogenês huios, but He is not God’s “only Son.”
4. Liddell and Scott do not define monogenēs as “unique.”
5. Jesus is monogenês theos, but He is not the “only God.”

Monogenēs includes the concept of a child.

As per Liddell and Scott’s A Greek-English Lexicon;
As all translations render monogenēs in John 1:14 and Hebrews 11:17;
As per the ancient uses of monogenês;

Monogenēs therefore means “only child,” but means more than that when Jesus is monogenês huios.

Monogenēs means “only begotten” because:

1.  Mono means “only” and genes means “born.”
2.  Monogenēs was always translated as “only-begotten.”
3.  Monogenês includes the concept of a child.
4.  That is how the Nicene Creed defined monogenēs.
5.  Jesus “was born of God” (John 5:18).
6.  He “live because of the Father” (John 6:57).
7.  He “proceeded forth and have come from God” (John 8:42).
8.  Seventeen of the 20 ancient examples of monogenes imply generation.
9.  Jesus is both “first born” and monogenes.

Conclusion

If monogenēs means “only begotten,” then monogenēs contains the notion of derivation or begetting.  This means that Jesus:

Was generated from the being of the Father;
Is the only One born of God; and
Is the Father’s only true family.

The above will now be discussed in more detail:

Jesus is the Son of God.

In the Bible the title “Son of God,” for Jesus Christ is found 50 times.  For instance:

Angel talking to Mary

The angel said to Mary, “the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

God referred to Jesus as “My beloved Son” (Mat. 3:17). This was at His baptism.

Jesus claimed, “I am the Son of God” (John 10:36; cf. Mat. 16:16, 17; 27:43; Luke 1:35; John 1:34; 1 John 5:5; 9:35-37; 10:36).

Paul referred to Jesus as “His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).

John explains the purpose of his gospel as: “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31).

The title “Son of God,” by itself, does not mean that Jesus is God, for believers are also sons of God:

Believers are sons of God.

Adam is called the son of God in both the Old and New Testaments (Gen. 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Luke 3:38; Romans 8:14).

In the Old Testament both Israel (Ex. 4:22–23; Hosea 11:1) and the king (Psalm 2:7) were called God’s son.

But I say to you
Sermon on the Mount

The New Testament many times refers to believers as “sons of God.”  All four Gospels record Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peace-makers; they will be called sons of God.”  “All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).  “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).  See also Luke 20:35-36; 1 John 3:1; Phil. 2:15; John 1:12; Mat 5:9; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:19 and Galatians 3:26.

But Jesus is not only the Son of God; He is the only begotten Son of God:

The Only Begotten

The apostle John wrote of Jesus as “the only begotten from the Father” (John 1:14; cf. 1:18; NASB):

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world” (1 John 4:9; cf. John 3:16, 18; NASB).

The Greek word translated “only begotten” in the NASB is monogenēs.  When applied to Jesus, “begotten” has some important implications, such as:

That Jesus came from the being of the Father,
That Jesus had a beginning, and
That Jesus is therefore subordinate to the Father.

The one and only

More recently scholars argue that monogenēs is not related to the verb gennao (“begotten“), but to ginomai (“to be“).  Monogenēs would then not mean the “only begotten” and will not have any implication of generation, but means “only unique” or “one of its kind.”  This understanding has been adopted by many modern versions.  For example, monogenēs in John 1:18, referring to Jesus, is translated as:

The One and Only (NIV)
The Only (ESV)
The unique (ISV)

Only Child

Other scholars disagree and argue that monogenēs, when used of persons, hs the meaning of an only child.  It is therefore possible to identify three possible senses of the word monogenēs:

One of a kind: meaning unique;
Only child, which means one of a kind within a parent-child relationship;
Only begotten, which additionally carries with it the concept of begetting or generation.  This implication is already present in the meaning “only child,” but is much stronger in “only begotten.”

Arguments for Only-Begotten

To prove or disprove that Jesus was brought forth from the being of the Father is very important for our understanding of who Jesus is.  Some propose that if John thought that Jesus had been begotten by God, he would have said much more about is.  It is nevertheless proposed here:

That to limit monogenēs to meaning “unique,” as for instance in the NIV translation of monogenēs as “the one and only,” is not justified.

That monogenēs does contain the notion of derivation or begetting, and should be translated as “only begotten.”

The conclusion of this article is that Jesus came forth from the being of the Father.  This is already implied by the Father-Son relationship which one finds everywhere in the New Testament.  But this article particularly argues that monogenēs must be translated as “only begotten.”  This is done in four steps:

1.  The NIV interprets monogenēs to mean “only,” butmonogenēs must mean more than that.
2.  Monogenēs includes the concept of a child.
3.  
Monogenēs means more than “only child:”
4.  Monogenēs means “only begotten.”

1. Monogenēs means more than simply “unique” or “only:”

1.1 Mono means “only.”  If monogenēs also only means “one and only” or “unique,” then the ending genēs is redundant.

1.2 Below this article analyses the examples of the ancient uses of monogenês, both from the Bible and otherwise, on Wikipedia’s page on monogenēs.  None have the meaning of “only.”  Wikipedia concludes: Of the Liddell Scott references for “unique” (monogenes being used purely as monos) that leaves only Parmenides, which is no longer considered a likely reading of the Greek text.

1.3 The New Testament refers to Jesus as monogenês huios (son).  If monogenês means “only,” then this phrase means “the only Son.”  But Jesus is not God’s “only Son,” for God has many other (created) sons, as discussed above.  Monogenês huios must mean something more than “the only Son.”

1.4 Only the second meaning of monogenēs in Liddell and Scott’s A Greek-English Lexicon is “unique.” (The first meaning is “the only member of a kin or kind: hence, generally, only, single child.”)

1.5 Some variants of John 1:18 read monogenês theos (god).  This must mean more than merely that “only God,” for the Father is the only true God (John 17:3).

2.  Monogenēs includes the concept of a child:

2.1 The first meaning of monogenēs, in Liddell and Scott’s A Greek-English Lexicon, is generally, a single child.

2.2 The Greek of John 1:14 and Hebrews 11:17 does not contain the word for “son,” but even the NIV has to insert “son” to fairly reflect monogenēs in these verses, given the context.  E.g. John 1:14: “The one and only Son, who came from the Father.”

2.3 Fourteen of the 20 examples of the ancient uses of monogenês (see below) refer to a literal only child.

3.  Monogenēs means more than “only child:”

Based on the arguments above, monogenēs could mean “only child,” but it means more than “only child:”

3.1 The New Testament refers to Jesus as monogenês huios (John 3:16, 18, and 1 John 4:9 and in some variants of John 1:18).  Huios means “son.”  If monogenês means “only child,” and if monogenês huios also means “only child,” then huios is redundant.

4.  Monogenēs means “only begotten:”

4.1 Above it was argued that monogenês includes the concept of a child.  Monogenês therefore implies a single child that was begot.

4.2 Etymological origin

Mono means “only” and genes means “born.”  Monogenēs therefore originally literally meant “the only one born” or “the only-begotten.”  The word therefore did had the meaning of begetting.  The question is whether the etymological origin was still “live” as part of the meaning when the New Testament was written, or whether semantic shift has occurred.

4.3 Traditional translation

Monogenēs was always translated as “only-begotten,” even before the first English Bible.  This translation can be found in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate.  It translated monogenēs as the Latin unicus (only) when the word does not refer to Christ.  However, in the six verses where monogenēs refers to Christ, Jerome rendered it unigenitus (only-begotten).

Forananswer argues that Jerome probably followed Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D. 329 – 390), who sought to counter the Arian claim that Christ was a created being by arguing that Jesus was “begotten of the Father” (Nicene Creed).  It is alternatively possible that Jerome simply understood the correct meaning of the word monogenês.

From the Latin, “only begotten” entered into the English Bible.  Wycliffe’s Bible (1395 AD) reads:

John 3:16 For God lovede so the world, that he yaf his oon bigetun sone, that each man that bileveth in him perishe not, but have everlastynge lijf. 

4.4 Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed (325AD) shows that the Church Fathers in the fourth century understood monogenēs as “only-begotten.”  The last part of the creed condemns their Arian opposition and gives us an overview of what the Arians believed, namely:

That there was a time when Jesus did not exist,
That He was created,
That He was made out of nothing, and
That He is not of the same substance or essence as God.

To this the Nicene Creed responded and described Jesus as,

monogenēs; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”

This phrase implies that monogenēs, when applied to Jesus, means “very God of very God, begotten.”  For that reason is Jesus “of one substance with the Father.” This shows that the Church Fathers understood monogenēs as meaning that Jesus came forth from the being of the Father; “very God of very God.”

4.5 – 1 John 5:18

1 John 5:18 in the NASB reads, “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”  The phrase “born of God” appears twice in this verse.  It is possible to read both as referring to ordinary believers.  But the NASB capitalized the “He.” This indicates that the translators believed that the second “born of God” refers to Jesus.  In support of this view:

Jesus keeps His people.  He said, “My sheep hear My voice … they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand“ (John 10:27-28; cf. John 17:15 and 2 Thess. 3:3).

If both instances of the phrase “born of God” refer to ordinary believers, then the believer keeps “himself,” as this word is translated, for instance, in the ASV.  But no man is able to keep himself.

4.6 Jesus also said:

As … I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me” (John 6:57), and, “I proceeded forth and have come from God” (John 8:42).

4.7 Ancient usage

Fourteen of the 20 examples of the ancient uses of monogenês (see below) refer to a literal only child.  3 of the other examples implies generation.  Seventeen of the 20 therefore implies generation.  One of the examples even refers to Jesus as both first born and monogenes.

God’s only true family

There therefore seems to be sufficient support for the translation “only-begotten.”  “Begotten,” in human language, means that God gave birth to Him.  “Only begotten” implies that He is the only One born of God.  He was not literally born, but “begotten” implies that Jesus came forth from the being of the Father; born out of the Father.

Some think of Christ as God’s first creation.  But, as argued by the Nicene Creed, since He was “begotten,” He was not created.  To the contrary, God created “all things” through Him (Col. 1:16-17).  See God created all things through His Son.

Jesus Is the only One born of God.  He is God’s Son in a unique sense.  As Son of God, He has no brethren.  Humans are adopted as sons, but Jesus is God’s only true family; infinitely above created beings.

Jesus had a beginning.

Begotten” also implies that Jesus had a beginning.  The Nicene Creed condemns “those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not’.”  The 381 decree elaborates and say that Jesus was “begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons).

If we accept that there never was a time when Jesus was not, then Jesus still could have had a beginning, for time itself had a beginning.  It is possible that Jesus was born of God when time started, or rather, time started when Jesus was born of God.  God, in contrast, had no beginning: God does not exist in time, rather time exists somewhere in God.

Ancient Examples

Wikipedia, on its page on monogenēs, provides examples of the use of monogenēs from antiquity.  What is important in these examples is not so much how the word has been translated, for these translations were made relatively recently.  What is important is the context in which we find the word, from which we attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the word:

Of the seven Classical Greek examples, six refer to a literal only child.  The seventh is from Plato’s Timaeus, where he referred to the “monogenēs and created Heaven.”

Of the five examples from the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament), three refer to a literal only child (Judges 11:34; Psalm 25:16; Jer. 6:26).  The other two use monogenēs in parallelism as a synonym for “my soul” (Psalm 22:20; 35:17), which can be understood as “my only life.” E.g. “deliver my soul from the sword, my only begotten (life?) from the hand of the dog.”  Later Jewish Septuagint revisions contained more examples of monogenēs and Wikipedia mentions two, both of which describe Isaac as Abraham’s only son (Gen 22:2, 12).

The New Testament contains 9 examples.  Five describe Jesus as the Father’s only Son (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 3:18; 1 John 4:9).  Three refer to a literal only child (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38).  Lastly, Hebrews 11:17 refers to Isaac as Abraham’s monogenēs.

Wikipedia lists four examples of Hellenistic Jewish usages.  Two refer to a literal only child.  One refers to Jesus as the first born (prototokos) and the monogenēs.  The fourth is translated as “his favourite son.”

Analysis of these ancient examples

In summary, of these 27 examples of monogenēs, 6 refer to Jesus.  Since we are trying to understand what these six mean, we are only really interested in the other 21:

14 of the 21 refer to a literal only child.

Three refer to Isaac.  Abraham also fathered Ishmael, from the slave girl Hagar, and six other sons, from Keturah.  Isaac therefore was not Abraham’s only son.  The monogenēs in Hebrews 11 can be ignored because it is probably simply a quote from the Greek translation of the Old Testament.  The two in Genesis 22:2 and 12 translate the Hebrew yachid.  While the LXX renders yachid as “beloved” (Greek: agapētos), Aquila renders it as monogenēs in Genesis 22:2.  “Beloved” is therefore perhaps one of the nuances of monogenês.

Once monogenēs is translated as “favourite son.”  The context confirms this meaning.  This may be combined with Aquila’s rendering of yachid in Genesis 22:2 as “beloved.”

One refers to “only-begotten and created Heaven.”  The subject is the creation, or begetting, of heaven as a unique birth, as opposed to the birth of more than one cosmos.

Twice monogenēs is used as synonym for “my soul” which may be understood as “my only life.”

Conclusion from these ancient examples

Since Hebrews 11 can be ignored, there are 20 usable examples.  14 refer to a literal only child.   3 carry the meaning of beloved.  2 means “my only life” and the last one refers to the creation of the heavens.  It is noteworthy that Jesus, in one of the quotes, is referred to as first born (prototokos) and monogenes.

It is therefore concluded:

That the translation used by the NIV (“one and only”) does not have any support from these examples.

17 of the 20 refer to a parent-child relationship.  Monogenês should therefore at least be translated as “only child.”

But “only child” implies begetting or generation.  “My soul” may also be understood as the life that was created for me.  The example of the created heavens also include generation.  All examples therefore have the implication of generation and begetting.

Articles in the series: Is Jesus God?

1.    The three views of the Son
2.    Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.
3.    Jesus in Colossians
4.    Did Jesus empty Himself of equality with God?
5.    Who is the Word in John 1:1?
6.    The New Testament uses the title “God” only for the Father.
7.    God is the Head of Christ.
8.    In the Bible Jesus is called God.
9.    Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God.  Current article
10.  God created all things through His Son.  Next
11.  We worship Jesus.
12.  Jesus has equality with God.
13. 
Who is Jesus? – Summary of the series of articles
14.  Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?

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

Jesus as babySome 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. 
When He became a human being, He emptied Himself of wisdom, power, knowledge.  He became a helpless human baby. 

Three views

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

Fathers of the faithDerived – A second view, held for instance by the Fathers of the Christian church, is 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 the form of God and of equality with God.  He became fully and truly human, 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 these things in mind when we think about Him.  For instance, He said that He only does what the Father tells Him to do.  If that was because He “emptied Himself,” then His dependence on God does not help us to understand Who He eternally is.

Humility Required

This subject requires humility, for humans are not able 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 … see in a mirror dimly” (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 Scriptures, we may feel frustrated because we do not understand, but we need to accept our inability to understand with joy, for then we also realize a little bit of His greatness.  If we were able to understand Him, then He would have been a very small God indeed.

We do understand to some extent, and in the new heavens and new earth we will always continue to learn more and more about Him, but there will always remain an infinity beyond.  That may scare us, but let us rejoice that God has revealed Himself in Jesus as trustworthy and merciful.

Logic distorts 

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

Summary: The three views of Jesus Christ

Created: Some propose that He is a created being; the first created being, who created all other things, yet still a created being.

Derived: The Fathers of the Christian church proposed that He was eternally generated by God the Father; that He came forth from the being of God; begotten not made”.

Co-equal: A third view is that He always existed; co-equal with the Father.

Articles in the series: Is Jesus God?

1.     The three views of the Son  – Current article
2.    Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.  Next
3.    Jesus in Colossians
4.    Did Jesus empty Himself of equality with God?
5.    Who is the Word In John 1:1?
6.    Jesus is not God.
7.    God is the Head of Christ.
8.    In the Bible Jesus is called God.
9.    He is the Only Begotten Son of God.
10.  God created all things through His Son.
11.  We must worship Jesus.
12.  Is Jesus God?
13. 
Summary of the series of articles
14. Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?

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

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?

This article has been replaced and expanded into a series of articles.  Please see Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.

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).

TO: General Table of Contents