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?
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.
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."
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)
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.