God the Son

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God resting after creation - Christ depicted as the creator of the world, Byzantine mosaic in Monreale, Sicily. Monreale god resting after creation.jpg
God resting after creation – Christ depicted as the creator of the world, Byzantine mosaic in Monreale, Sicily.

God the Son (Greek : Θεὸς ὁ υἱός, Latin : Deus Filius) is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. [1] The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus as the incarnation of God, united in essence (consubstantial) but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (the first and third persons of the Trinity).



The phrase "God the Son" is not found in the Bible, [2] [3] but is found in later Christian sources. [4] By scribal error the term is in one medieval manuscript, MS No.1985, where Galatians 2:20 has "Son of God" changed to "God the Son". [5]

The term in English follows Latin usage as found in the Athanasian Creed and other texts of the early church: In Greek "God the Son" is ho Theos ho huios (ὁ Θεόςυἱός) as distinct from ho huios nominative tou Theou genitive, ὁ υἱός τοῦ Θεοῦ, "Son of God". In Latin "God the Son" is Deus (nominative) Filius (nominative). The term deus filius is found in the Athanasian Creed: "Et tamen non tres omnipotentes, sed unus omnipotens. Ita Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus [et] Spiritus Sanctus." (distinct from filius Dei genitive "son of God"), but this phrase is also translated "So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God". [6]


The term deus filius is used in the Athanasian Creed and formulas such as Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus Spiritus Sanctus: Et non tres Dii, sed unus est Deus. [7]

The term is used by Saint Augustine in his On the Trinity , for example in discussion of the Son's obedience to God the Father: deo patri deus filius obediens. [8] and in Sermon 90 on the New Testament "2. For hold this fast as a firm and settled truth, if you would continue Catholics, that God the Father begot God the Son without time, and made Him of a Virgin in time." [9]

The Augsburg Confession (1530) adopted the phrase as Gott der Sohn. [10]

Jacques Forget (1910) in the Catholic Encyclopedia article "Holy Ghost" notes that "Among the apologists, Athenagoras mentions the Holy Ghost along with, and on the same plane as, the Father and the Son. 'Who would not be astonished', says he (A Plea for the Christians 10), 'to hear us called atheists, us who confess God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Ghost, and hold them one in power and distinct in order.' " [11]

New Testament

Stained glass window of Jesus, Peter and Paul Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia. Vitrazh v Petropavlovskom sobore.jpg
Stained glass window of Jesus, Peter and Paul Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia.

"Son of God" is used to refer to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark at the beginning in verse 1:1 and at its end in chapter 15 verse 39. Max Botner wrote, "Indeed, if Mark 1:1 presents the "normative understanding" of Jesus' identity, then it makes a significant difference what the text includes". [12]

The Logos or Word in John 1:1 ("In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God), is often interpreted, especially by Trinitarians, to identify the pre-existent Jesus with this Word.[ citation needed ]

The disputed Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7) includes the Son in the formula "For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one." [13]

Christians believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). [14] Jesus identified himself in New Testament canonical writings. "Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' " (John 8:58), [15] which some Trinitarians believe is a reference to Moses in his interaction with preincarnate God in the Old Testament.  "And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you." ' [Exodus 3:14] [16]

A manuscript variant in John 1:18 (Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς Θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πατρὸς, ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο) has led to translations including "God the One and Only" (NIV, 1984) referring to the Son. [17]

Later theological use of this expression (compare Latin: Deus Filius) reflects what came to be the standard interpretation of New Testament references, understood to imply Jesus' divinity, but with the distinction of his person from another person of the Trinity called the Father. As such, the title is associated more with the development of the doctrine of the Trinity. Trinitarians believe that a clear reference to the Trinity occurs in Matthew 28:19 , "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Dissenting views

Groups of both trinitarian and antitrinitarian Christians reject the term 'God the Son' to describe Jesus Christ (as well as 'God the Holy Ghost' to describe the Holy Spirit). Jehovah's Witnesses reject the term along with the word 'Trinity' as extrabiblical terminology, along with the Deity of Christ.

Oneness Pentecostals, who affirm his divinity, object to the term as an unauthorized reversal of the language of Scripture which describes him 40 times as the "Son of God." [18] [19] The Church of Christ, which accepts both the Deity of Christ and the trinity doctrine, also avoids the term because they stress the importance to 'Call Bible things by Bible names, and talk about Bible things in Bible ways.' [20]

While most mainstream Christian denominations hold God the Son to be "begotten of [...] the substance of" God the Father, and therefore one part of a single whole, [21] the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are in fact three separate beings. [22] This is not to be confused with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which does maintain the one-ness of the trinity. [23]

See also

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  1. Gilles Emery (2011). The Trinity: An Introduction to Catholic Doctrine on the Triune God. Catholic University of America Press. ISBN   978-0-8132-1864-9.
  2. Burnap, George Washington (1845). Expository lectures on the principal passages of the Scriptures which relate. Boston, Massachusetts: James Munroe and Company. p.  19 . Retrieved 2015-01-18. There is no such phrase in the Bible, as 'God the Son,' or 'God the Holy Ghost.'
  3. Rhodes, Ron (2001). The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Zondervan, Michigan: Zondervan. p. 258. ISBN   0310232171 . Retrieved 2015-01-18. Oneness Pentecostals argue that Scripture never indicates that Jesus' sonship is an eternal sonship. The term 'eternal Son' is never found in the Bible. Nor is the term 'God the Son' in the Bible.
  4. Hick, John (1993). The Metaphor of God Incarnate: Christology in a Pluralistic Age (2nd ed.). Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 31. ISBN   0664230377 . Retrieved 2015-01-18. One notes that it does not aspire beyond the pre-trinitarian notion of 'Son of God' to the properly trinitarian idea of 'God the Son.'
  5. Ehrman, Bart D. (1993). The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies On The Text of The New Testament. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 86. ISBN   9780195102796 . Retrieved 2015-01-18. ... by adding precisely the words that had earlier been omitted, tov viov, but in the wrong place, making the text now read 'faith in God the Son ...' neither of the other expressions ('God even Christ,' 'God the Son') occurs in this way in Paul.
  6. Philip Schaff (1877b), The Creeds of Christendom.
  7. F. Donald Logan A history of the church in the Middle Ages Page 10 2002 "It was later to be summed up in the Athanasian Creed: Ita deus pater, deus filius, deus spiritus sanctus, Et tamen non tres dii, sed unus est deus. (Thus, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, Yet not three gods but one God."
  8. Luigi Gioia The theological epistemology of Augustine's De Trinitate 2008 "... the obedience of Christ on the cross is the obedience of God the Son to God the Father: 'what greater example of obedience' ... exemplum qui per inobedientiam perieramus quam deo patri deus filius obediens usque ad mortem crucis?"
  9. MacMullen translation 1888 http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160390.htm
  10. The Augsburg Confession: a commentary Leif Grane, John H. Rasmussen – 1987 "GT: "Dass Gott der Sohn sei Mensch worden, geborn aus der reinen Jungfrauen Maria" (that God the Son became man, born of the virgin Mary)."
  11. Jacques Forget (1910) in the Catholic Encyclopedia article "Holy Ghost"
  12. Botner, Max (Jul 2015). "The Role of Transcriptional Probability in the Text-Critical Debateon Mark 1:1". Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 77 (3): 468, 467–480.
  13. "1 John 5:7". Biblia.com. Faithlife. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  14. "John 3:16 | The New King James Version". Biblia. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  15. "John 8:58 | The New King James Version". Biblia. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  16. "Exodus 3:14 | The New King James Version". Biblia. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  17. "John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known". bible.cc.
  18. Son of God: The Title Son of God Affirms Jesus Christ's Divine Nature
  19. Jesus is the Son of God; not God the Son
  20. New Philadelphia Church of Christ
  21. Schaff, Philip (1877). The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes. Vol. i. New York: Harper & Brothers. pp.  28-29.. See also Creeds of Christendom.
  22. Dahl, Paul E. (1992). "Godhead". In Ludlow, Daniel H. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Mormonism . New York: Macmillan Publishing. pp. 552–553. ISBN   978-0-02-904040-9.
  23. Our Beliefs from the Community of Christ Website: https://cofchrist.org/our-beliefs/