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Note: This is in NO way a troll or a poke at any faith that believes in the doctrine of the Trinity but rather is simply a question for clarity.

There are several passages within the bible that refers to Jesus Christ as the "Son of God" or where He Himself refers to a "Father" who was in Heaven:

  1. Luke 1:35 (Mary inquires of an angel how it's possible for her to ear a child while being a virgin)

    The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God

  2. Luke 2:49 (Joesph and Mary share their concern of Christ leaving them at the age of 12. This is His response)

    And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

  3. Matthew 3:17 (The baptism of Christ)

    And lo a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

  4. Matthew 26:39 (while suffering in the Garden of Gethsamane, Christ prays to the Father)

    and prayed saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

In these passages, and many others, it appears that God and Jesus Christ are separate being. My limited understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity is that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are "One". How does this doctrine fit with these scriptures?

8

For a fairly detailed explanation of the Trinity, see this answer. But the gist of it is that God is three in person and one in nature.

Since then, there are three persons in God, they exist in relationship. The terms Father and Son express the relationship between two of the persons; these terms do not speak in any way to the nature of God.

The question of how the relationship of Father and Son makes sense in the divine eternity is somewhat complex. Begetting is a concept which we are less in tune with in our modern western culture, but it speaks to an idea of bringing into existence by the process of reproduction, giving rise to; bringing about. It is the act of reproducing something of the same nature as the original being.

In our experience, begetting is temporally limited; a Father must be born and then mature before he begets. But when he begets it's another person of like nature (note that a person begets of similar nature, but God, being inifinite, necessarily begets of perfectly identical nature).

However, in God's eternal present, begetting occurs in the immediate eternal such that there never was a time when the Son was not, but yet the Son is a second person in eternity arising from the nature of God.

In my thinking, and this is just my thought, it's as if the nature of God necessitates from all eternity that there be three persons for relationship and communion.


As something of an aside, a further point of confusion that arises is because Jesus "put off" his divine nature in order to be incarnate as a man:

Phil 2:6-8

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

and again:

Heb 2:9

9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

In order to properly be able to redress the disobedience of Adam, it was necessary for Christ to enter our dimensions of time and space and to function in obedience as a man. To this end, scripture teaches he emptied himself of his divine nature; he was the same person, but with a temporarily (that is, within the dimensions of our temporal existence) diminished nature. He chose not to exercise his God-nature except via the Holy Spirit as a man.

So while on earth, Jesus functioned in a limited capacity, as a man invested with the Holy Spirit. Thus he said, "the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing":

John 5:19

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

Note there is a duality of sorts here; Jesus is still God in person, but has emptied himself of his divine attributes in order to become man.

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An important thing to remember is that God is spirit and, as Creator of the physical universe of time, space, and matter, existed and exists outside of that.

So, when the Father refers to Jesus as the Son, it doesn't mean that one day the father got old enough, married a wife, and had a son. That is a physical reality, whereas God is spirit (John 4:23).

The Father-Son relationship need not be biological, because a man may adopt a son as his own. Nonetheless, the father-son relationship that we experience reflects the relationship of God the Father and God the Son. It doesn't mean that their relationship had to be biological, but it identifies what the relationship is like.

The Scriptures indicate that the Father sent the son into the world (John 3:17 and others). The Son doesn't send the Father, but the Father does send the Son.

The same is true with regard to us being the bride of Christ. We aren't one day going to marry Him and have sexual relationships with Him to produce children. That's nonsensical. However, the physical groom-bride relationship reflects something about the spiritual relationship with Christ and the church.

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Analogically, Jesus is the son of a human, yet fully human. This can illustrate how your question can be succintly answered, but I'll go in a bit more detail. Humans are separate persons so that if one human dies, humanity doesn't die. God's word cannot be separate from him, else he isn't God.

There is a distinction between God and his word, but the word isn't separate like a father is from his son. Imagine as Tertullian would put it in Against Praxeas the times in which you speak within yourself as though you're interacting with another. Your reason isn't separate from you, but intimate and distinct within you. So it is with God.

As to God's son, you can say Jesus and God are separate as pertaining to the humanity. The Father did not suffer the crucifixion. Jesus is the incarnation of God's word, performing deeds by the will of God and showing the perfect image of God.

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The Appelation 'Son'

The meaning of the term 'Son' is central to the discussion: what exactly are we saying when we say that the Son is the 'Son' of God—what kind of relationship between persons does this denote? Moreover, how, if He is the Son of God, is He Himself God: doesn't that imply there are two Gods in view, that they can be distinguished from one another, 'God' and 'His Son'?

In trinitarian Christianity, the 'sonship' of the Son (in contradistinction to so-called adoptive sonship: Luke 3:38; John 1:12; Mt 5:44-45 etc.) denotes the sharing of a nature: 'Father,' 'Son' (John 16:27-29; 1:1b vs. 1:1c; Mt 1:23b).

What do 'Father' and 'Son' as non-uninterchangable appelations mean? Simply that one gives (in the eternal, rather than temporal, sense) the divine nature—'to be the one God'—to Another. Thus the former is called a 'Father' and the latter 'Son.' So it has nothing to do with the 'oldness' of the Father, or the 'recentness,' as 'newly begotten,' of the Son, since they are eternal, but rather a statement of fact about the relationships within the one God from all eternity. It also means the Son is God in this very sense: has the nature of the one true God (John 16:15).

So He isn't separate from God, but is definitional to God.

How, then, is He not a separate God, if He is the Son of God, yet Himself God?

First, I would note that it isn't a trintarian invention to both differentiate the Father and the Son and yet affirm their both equally being God. Scripture clearly does so:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word with God, and the Word was God.

In Greek it's clear what is being attributed to the Word/Son here:

  • Was already present when the beginning came about (v. 3): εν αρχη ην
  • Was with God (the Father: v. 14): ην προς τον Θεον
  • Was Himself God: και θεος ην

Ergo, necessarily, there is distinction of Persons within the one God, because we only believe in one God.

Second, trinitarians don't assume that God is unipersonal (there being one God tells us nothing extra about the one God).

Thirdly, and in answer to the abovementioned question, as you may have deduced, 'God' in 'the Son of God' John 1:14/'Word of God' Revelation 19:13 referes to none other than the Father. This is why we find Scripture referring to the Father as simply God, and the Son and Holy Spirit usually in terms of Him: because this reflects the ontological dependancy of Son and Spirit upon the Father for existence as God.

Trinitarians can even say that the Father is "the only true God" (John 17:3) Why? Because to be God, whether the Father or Son, is to be the only true God (there isn't a way to be God while not being the only true God!). After all, why would the Father not be able to be called 'the only true God' in trinitarian theology? If the Father is God, and to be God is to be the only God because there are no other Gods, then the Father is the only true God. But this applies to anyone who is God, even the Son and the Holy Spirit; it's not exclusive, in otherwords, of God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

TL;DR the 'God' in 'Son of God' doesn't indicate 'this thing over here which is exclusively God which this thing over here is Son of' but rather the opposite: that the Son shares the nature of the Father, who is also God. They are the one God, because God is not Unitarian and doesn't anywhere claim to be.

A Word about the Ineffability of God in General

'Son' especially does not denote a literal begetting of offspring (as though the Son were the product of a divine sexual act)—'beget,' 'Father,' 'Son' are anthropomorphisms, as God doesn't create audible Words when He 'speaks,' with His 'mouth,' nor does He literally, sexually 'beget;' they rather describe, by analogy with human experience, something about the divine nature which otherwise is utterly incomprehensible.

The Incarnation

When "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14) He, to become a true and not ficticous man, took on a real human nature free from sin, and so exposed Himself to the limitations of men. But personally ('who is that man really?') He is the eternal Word (John 8:58 "...Before Abraham as, I am") in the flesh. That's why we can even say that "the Lord of Glory" and "the First of the Last" was crucified and killed (1 Corithians 2:8; Revelation 1:17-18)! Because 'God died and doesn't exist anymore?' No, because He who is personally God, not a human person, and took on a human nature, did in that human nature. It's also why the Church has always recognized Mary as Mother of God (Θεοτοκος), because the One she bore is God—it began as and continues to be a Christological (more so than Mariological) doctrine.

Philippians 2:5-11, given as an exmaple by St. Paul of immense humility, shows us a few things:

  • The preincarnate Word, later to be called Jesus when He was born as man of Mary, had equality with God He set aside out of love for us, not by changing His nature, but in that He took on a lesser one.
  • He is exalted by God even as man, so that at the name of Jesus every tongue confess etc.—a passage taken straight from the Old Testament and clearly in reference to the only true God, and applied to Jesus, because He is God in the flesh. When the Son is 'given' something He doesn't have, it is only in that He is man. E.g John 17:5.

I hope your question is answered somewhere in there.

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The simplest way I have to explain this is to look at an intrinsic quality of God (a quality that doesn't depend on anything else, or being compared to anyone) is Love.

First, good or powerful is not an intrinsic quality as that is a relative quality, in that God is good compared to Satan but perhaps not compared to Christ.

OK, Love requires three things: a lover, a receiver of the love and the relationship between them.

So, God the Father is the lover, Jesus is the recipient (the beloved) and the Holy Spirit is the manifestation of their love.

So, though they are three distinct beings, they are one God also.

This is a simple way to explain something that is beyond our ability to understand based on reason alone, as explained by Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica, and a good starting point is Book 1, Question 32, Article 1: Whether the trinity of the divine persons can be known by natural reason?.

To look at what Aquinas wrote regarding the Son and the Father you can look at Question 33: The person of the Father

UPDATE:

I reference Thomas Aquinas often as he has a fantastic approach to using reason to look at these. This question in his book deals with your question: The person of the Father.

An image is not equal to the original, as, if you look at a mirror, you seen an image, but it is flat, and the original person is not, so you just see a small part of the person.

Unfortunately, anything I can write to answer this will go back to Aquinas, as his answer is probably the most complete starting point, as he looks at not only the image of God in man, but whether image and likeness are different and in between he looks at other issues on this subject.

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I believe your question is not asking why is Jesus called “the Son of God” but rather why does it appear that they are distinct persons Son and Father if God is ONE(singular)

In these passages, and many others, it appears that God and Jesus Christ are separate being. My limited understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity is that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are "One". How does this doctrine fit with these scriptures?

The issue is that you have skipped right over to the Greek and failed to recognize that the trinity is a Hebrew OT understanding.

When you read in the Greek God is one, that instantly triggers in your mind, singular and numerically one. But in the Hebrew the word is not one but echâd. This word used in multiple scenarios points to unity.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (echâd).” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:24

But they are clearly two distinct persons who are echâd. If it were singular then it would have used the Hebrew word yachid. Unfortunately that’s not used to reference God in the OT and that puts a lot of anti-trinitarians in a difficult position. Take for example the famous and well known

“"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God (Elohim), the LORD is one (echâd)!” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭

Also if you get deeper in the Hebrew instead of El (singular) it’s Elohim (plural)

So you are right. It is two distinct persons Father and Son. Add to that the Holy Spirit. They are echâd, drawing from the same source, moving in the same direction and united in all things.

There is only one God. There are not many Godkinds. There are three persons in the Godhead. There is only one humankind but there are billions of humans and we are not necessarily echâd but God is echâd and He is Other. There is none like Him.

There are also gods but they are created finite beings, so they don’t qualify in the same tier as God who is uncreated and infinite.

Trinity is difficult to understand in English from a Greek mindset but makes perfect sense in the Hebrew because echâd is used and not yachid.

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In Luke 1:35 notice that the "holy one" to be born from Mary will be called " the Son of God".

The context says that God's power will overshadow Mary; i.e impregnate her via fertilizing her egg with an original-sin-free sperm cell.

Hence, the child who is called "holy one" will be called "the Son of God" because of his incarnation.

On the other hand, the Word is called "only born Son" before his incarnation (John 1:1, 18, John 3:16,18, 1 John 4:9).

Hermeneutically, the incarnate Word will be called or declared to be God's Son at his resurrection per Romans 1:4. It is because of his incarnation that he will be made known to the world as God's Son who is consubstantial with the Father at his resurrection per Hebrews 1:5, 5:5, Acts 13:33.

  • I think you're making a pretty big leap to indicate that "overshadow her" equates to "impregnates with an original-sin-free sperm cell" – warren Jul 31 '13 at 14:30
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If Christ is considered the 'Son of God' then how is He a part of a Trinity?

Answer:

To help us better understand the concept it's better to visualize the Most Holy Trinity and the Son of God with the use of our senses.

The picture below is the Last Vision of Sis. Lucia

enter image description here

Vision of Most Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Fatima at Tuy, Spain, June 13, 1929 ~ It was at this time, at the most solemn apparition of the whole series of Fatima apparitions, that Our Lady said to Sister Lucy: "The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father to make, and to order that in union with him and at the same time, all the bishops of the world make the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to convert it because of this day of prayer and worldwide reparation

In the Last Vision of Sis. Lucia we can see the Image of an old Abba Father on above the Cross and next the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and Jesus Christ the Son of God Crucified.

The picture also showed the Theotokos and on the right side there was an imprinted text "GRACES & MERCIES".

Now, how can this image better help us picture why Jesus Christ the Son of God is also a member of the Most Holy Trinity, Why?

Jesus Christ is the LOGOS or the WORD of God destined to be Incarnated to Redeem the Fallen Humanity, because there's is no animal not even human sacrifices can redeemed the fallen humanity back in the garden of Eden when our first parents fall into Satan temptations. The Fall of Adam and Eve since all mankind are their descendants by God's Holy Decree also inherited their fallen nature.

So, the only sacrifice acceptable to God is a sacrifice of no less than God Himself. and this was accomplished thru LOGOS Incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ soul is a mystery, although it is a human soul the bible tells us it pre-existed in eternity in the bosom of the Father.

New American Standard Bible

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.(John1:18)

When we say bosom, Jesus substance is the same with the Father. That's why Jesus said;

"I and the Father are one.” (John10:30)

and St.Paul tells to the Collossians what is the humanity of Jesus is as the Son of God;

"The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. "

In conclusion, the Most Holy Trnity is One God in Three Divine Person as the Jesus Christ taught the Apostles how to Baptize before sending them to cleanse all mankind of the original sin inherited thru Adam the progenitor of mankind.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,"(Matthew28:19)

As a bonus, I would like to you to watch and ponder this video link as the image above is of the Crucified Jesus with the Abba Father & the Holy Spirit and the Theotkos on the left side and the right side was the printed text "Graces & Mercies" is written in Genesis1:1.

Genesis1:1 is the Blueprint of God's Divine Plan that reveals to us that God foreknew that Adam & Eve will fall to temptation and that the sending of Jesus to Redeem mankind is not because Adam & Eve committed the original sin but the Omnipotent God in desiring to share His Glory to created mankind has to conceive a Divine Plan how every human being can enter His Kingdom.

And Genesis1:1 revealed that there's only one way for mankind to enter the Glory of Heaven and that is what Jesus Christ humanity offers it's called the "Way of the Cross".

Jesus in Genesis: 1. The First Word of the Bible https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmnUkNT55gU&t=1s The video would tell us that God conceptualize first His Divine Plan and who are the Key Players to fulfill His Dream of having a created mankind achieve Theosis/Divination for it to be worthy to enter His Kingdom. The Divine Plan is very simple "God will create a soul and the soul will need a human body to animate and that soul must return to God Divinized or Glorified, How?

The soul of man can only be Divinized/Theosis by embracing the only way, only one way that what's Jesus Christ had shown to all of mankind, that's why God the Father sent Him to show us the Way. What is the Way?

"THE WAY OF THE CROSS" is the only way to enter God's Kingdom.

So, going back to the picture above with the printed text "GRACES & MERCIES" on the right side and on the left side is the Theotokos. It tells us that in order for us to follow Jesus Christ all the Way to the Foot of the Cross we need "GRACES & MERCIES" and like Jesus we need a Mother on our side. That's why Jesus agonizing "AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS" commanded all the Redeemed;

"Woman BEHOLD your Son, son BEHOLD your Mother." (John19:27)

The Hebrew word "BERESHIT BARA ELOHIM" if you can decipher and digest it as it is not milk but solid food then you are already matured christian as St.Peter said;

"Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly—as infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready, 3for you are still worldly.(1Corinthian3:1-3)

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