We call Jesus the son of God that became the son of man. And yet, Jesus is God per the doctrine of the trinity. Why don't orthodox Christians address him as God when talking about him and praying? Is there a biblical basis?

  • This question seems to have the assumption that God is not a Trinity. Since the Trinity is a prominent theological position, it seems this question should be specifically directed to those who hold to a non-Trinitarian viewpoint. Otherwise, it's easily explained that Jesus was speaking to the Father. Please reword this. I removed the -1 for now.
    – Narnian
    Dec 27, 2012 at 20:43
  • Are you asking for Orthodox Christians as in Eastern Orthodox (Capital "O") or as classic Christianity (lowercase "o")?
    – Narnian
    Dec 27, 2012 at 20:50
  • lowercase, "o" - mainstream.
    – user1054
    Dec 27, 2012 at 20:50
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    That's like asking why people don't always call Mr. Obama "Commander-in-Chief". This question seems an example of refute-this. Has your research turned up any particular reason we should use just one of his titles? What criteria do you think Christians use for picking one form of address over all others? Dec 27, 2012 at 21:16

5 Answers 5


Trinitarian Christians most often refer to Jesus by name or by the title of "The Son of God" to distinguish between the Three Persons of the Godhead. (The title of "The Son of Man" is a specific reference to a prophecy in Ezekiel with which Jesus identifies Himself.)

The Doctrine of the Trinity can be explained as such:

  • Jesus is God
  • The Father is God
  • The Spirit is God
  • The Son is not the Father. Jesus is not the Spirit.
  • The Father is not the Son. The Father is not the Spirit.
  • The Spirit is not the Son. The Spirit is not the Father.

Jesus had a specific role in that He is the One who became a man. Neither the Father nor the Spirit did so. So, we often reference Jesus specifically because of His role in redemption.

However, we may refer to Jesus as God and be correct in doing so. Indeed, we often say the "God became a Man," and we mean by this that The Son of God became a Man--not the entire Trinity.

So, to answer your question, we don't refer to Him as God all the time, because we are identifying and distinguishing Him for His Incarnation, Vicarious Sacrifice, and Resurrection. Yet, we can and do refer to Him as God at times--just not as often as we refer to Him by His Name or His titles.

See this question for more information on the Biblical Basis for the Trinity.

  • Thanks for the answer. While I believe it would require too much effort to ask for references to support the doctrine of the trinity, you answer has no references at all. It is as if the readers should assume that you're right.
    – user1054
    Dec 27, 2012 at 21:27
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    @DanAndrews This question does not ask for a Biblical basis for the Trinity. If it had, it would be a duplicate. The answer to this question should be sufficient reference: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/72/…
    – Narnian
    Dec 27, 2012 at 21:32
  • I'm not asking for the definition of the trinity. You're being really defensive about the trinity. I'm just asking, why wouldn't we just call Jesus "God" all of the time? Is there an biblical basis for not doing so? Would the disciples refer to him as God?
    – user1054
    Dec 27, 2012 at 21:33
  • +1 and that should put you over the edge. Congrats on reaching 20k! Hope to join the 20k club myself by spring. ;-) Jan 4, 2013 at 1:34

Calling Jesus the "son of God" implies that he is God. This may not be a persuasive argument if it were not for Jesus being the only-begotten son of God. Angels, although sons of God, are not begotten. Christians, although sons of God, are begotten via regeneration, not generation. Only Jesus, the only-begotten son of God, is begotten via generation. He shares the same nature as his Father. His Father is God; therefore, he is God. I am human because my father is human.

Again, Jesus is the "only-begotten son of God." That means that he is the same nature as his father, and his father just so happens to be God Almighty. This means that Jesus is also God Almighty. Hence, in the Athansian Creed, it is written, "Deus est ex substantia Patris ante saecula genitus," that is, "He is God, from the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds..."

In Oration XXIX, Gregory Nazianzen wrote,

"If you mean that the Uncreated and the created are not the same, I agree with you; for certainly the Unoriginate and the created are not of the same nature. But if you say that He who begat (i.e., the Father) and he who was begotten (i.e., the Son) are not the same, the statement is inaccurate. For it is in fact a necessary truth that they are the same. For the nature of the relation of Father to Child is this, that the offspring is of the same nature with the parent."

  • Luke 1:35 pretty clearly lays this out. Jesus is called 'Son of God' because he is literally begotten by God in the womb of Mary. It doesn't mean he's of the 'same nature', rather that he is physically conceived by the power of God. "“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." May 30, 2022 at 17:33

This is an "ironic" question? The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy for simply claiming to be the "Son of God." Look at the trial record at Matthew 26:63, "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You (that is swear to us by the living God), that You tell us whether You are the Christ/Messiah, THE SON OF GOD."

At Luke 22:70 Jesus says, "Yes, I am." Then at Matthew 26:65, "Then the high priest tore his robes, saying. "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy."

Can you imagine what would have happened if He just came out and said, "I am God?" Jesus did not just come out and say, "I am God" because He would have been excluding the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is also why at John 8:58 He said, " I am." meaning that He existed before Abraham was even born. The Jews picked up on this and knew exactly that Jesus was referring to Exodus 3:14.


The evolved and gradual revealing of the deity starts out with the concept of 'God' based on original words that imply power. God was a word secular society also used. It seems to mean the divine being, regardless of wether he is the true God or not. The Bible defines this divine being as actually only One, that is in contrast to all the many gods of the pagans. The concept developed at the time of Moses is that this 'God' is Jehovah (or Lord) which means I AM, the One God defined as he who alone is eternally before all things.

As we find the concept of the trinity more fully developed upon the actual appearance of the Son in the flesh, the name Lord is transferred to Christ so that Jesus takes the title Lord, that is the One and only God. Therefore if we pray 'Dear Lord Jesus' we are praying 'dear the one and only God - Jesus.'

However in the clear light of the trinity the word 'God' is generally used to refer to the initial more ancient conception of God as the original powerful one. God is therefore usually pertaining to the Father. The reason why the Father is most often associated with 'God' is because the Father is in a sense the 'originating person' of the eternal trinity, whom the Son proceeds from. The Son is like the word 'proceeding' 'from' the Father.

As our prayers are more frequently made to the Father, we often say 'Dear God' meaning 'Father'. The Father as the originator within the Trinity is the giver of gifts including the Son and the giving of the Spirit, so it is naturally that the normal pattern is to pray to The Father whom we seek help and aid. But although this is the more common pattern the scripture does refer to Jesus as simply 'God' and so we could also pray to the Lord Jesus and say 'God' if we want, it just probably does not happen frequently because when we think of the Son we think of Him as the incarnate God and so we also think of him as a man also.

As the Son is God the scripture sometimes directly uses the term directly to the Son:

But of the Son he says, “ Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8, ESV)

In Titus we see the terms used as synonyms. First God as the Father, then God as the Son:

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. (Titus 1:4, ESV)

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13, ESV)

  • "Father as the originator" sounds as if the father existed before the trinity.
    – user1054
    Dec 28, 2012 at 15:35
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    @DanAndrews - True. 'Father' usually exists before 'Son' but the words are not meant to be interpreted from the standpoint of time. There are meant to imply a type of two way and equal relation between the Father and Son ... before time was created. Cheers.
    – Mike
    Dec 28, 2012 at 15:52
  • If the Son is Fully God of Fully God, did the Son proceed from Himself? In that case whether you pray to the Father or the Son you are just praying to God. Why not just keep praying to the Father in all prayers, as Jesus taught? Sorry I don't mean to sound blasphemous just asking. Jan 3, 2015 at 22:34
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    As I recall the Greek Orthodox church split because among other things they wouldn't accept that the Holy Spirit proceeded only from the Father but not from the Son. I don't understand why people feel they need to get these things right when salvation doesn't seem to depend on it. Besides how do we really know any of that for sure? Jan 3, 2015 at 22:36
  • Both Titus 2:13 and Hebrews 1:8 are grammatically ambiguous. Titus 2:13 can be translated "while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Savior’s glory, Jesus Christ" which makes a lot more sense of how Paul talks elsewhere. Similarly, Hebrews 1:8 can be translated as "Your throne is God". If you take the given translation, though, the 'God' being talked about is clearly subordinate (has a God, is an image of God, and so on). 'God' in both Hebrew and Greek has range of meaning, and Jews didn't take the Psalm being quoted in Hebrews 1 as referring to Yahweh having a God. May 30, 2022 at 17:25

The doctrine of the Trinity states that there is one God, who exists in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

Son of God is therefore the title for the second person of Trinity. It is a clear identification for the second person of Trinity. When Jesus came into this world, the true nature of One Almighty God was also revealed through His message (NT). God the father was revealed in OT (We though find references to Trinity in OT as well in amorphous manner). Second person was revealed by arrival of Jesus and the third person was revealed after Jesus was glorified. That’s how we find most of the references to God the father in OT, God the Son in Gospels and majority of the references in explaining God the Holy Spirit, after Jesus was glorified.

It is not that the term Son of God does not mean that Jesus is God. Just like the term Son of Man means that Jesus is a man, so is the Son of God means Jesus is God. God took a human birth and that’s how the title Son came to him though He was Himself is God. God is revealed as human to man.

The Jewish leaders understood exactly what it meant by the phrase “Son of God and precisely this understanding of the phrase led them to ask for Jesus’ death sentence.

To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. The Son of God is “of God.” The claim to be of the same nature as God—to in fact be God—was blasphemy to the Jewish leaders; therefore, they demanded Jesus’ death

Jesus is the image of God to mankind. God - omnipotent, revealed Himself to mankind, in Christ. There are many verses in Bible where we see that in Christ, the invisible God is revealed. Jesus was with the Father before the world began. Christ, as God the Son, is the Creator of all things. God in all His fullness, dwelt in Christ, reconciling the world. We see that Christ, as the Son of God - God's representation, is God manifest and revealed to the world. Angels, prophets, and things can reveal to us something about God. But they could not be said to be Son of God. God alone can reveal God hence Jesus is Son of God, same as God. It takes God to reveal Himself to mankind.

  • "To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God." This theory is first clearly articulated long after the 1st century. 'Son of God' is a title probably mostly derived from Psalm 2, and used as a co-referent for the Messiah. Ancient Jews did not appear to think this was a claim of deity. Consider Nathanael's response in John 1:49. "“Rabbi,” Nathanael answered, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”" Did Nathanael really just out and call Jesus God? Seems unlikely, especially when in the same sentence he calls him 'Rabbi', a term for a human teacher. May 30, 2022 at 17:30

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