The word became flesh = Jesus... ✓

Jesus is the son of God... ✓

Where does 'God the Son' fit in to this?

I know he isn't mention Biblically per se, but what is the foundation for this construct?

Biblical references only please.


"God the Son" as the 2nd person of the Trinity

The construct "God the Son" is the name for the 2nd person of the Trinity, referring to Jesus. The concept of Trinity itself grew in the early church father era after the last book of the New Testament was written, and therefore the construct doesn't appear in the NT.

But since the bishops of the early church needed a formulation to combat heresies in the first 300 years or so, they came up with the Trinitarian formula to define the Christian Godhead more precisely as one God in three Divine persons (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) who shares one substance, one nature and one essence. Obviously, for Jesus to be part of the Godhead, Jesus would need to "pre-exist" before His incarnation into a baby about 2,000 years ago, thus critical support for naming Jesus to be "God the Son" is the doctrine of the Pre-existence of Christ.

Biblical support for the preexistence of Christ

Your question asked for Biblical support for "God the Son", and thus asking for Biblical support for the doctrine of the preexistence of Christ. The early church, who relied on the teaching of the apostles (who wrote the NT in the first place), traditionally pointed to these passages for support:

About Jesus as "Word became flesh", you wondered why the Trinity isn't Father, Word, Spirit, questioning whether we are committing exegetical fallacy of eisegesis by equating Jesus with the Word. I think it is obviously NOT eisegesis if we read John's gospel as a unified literary work, following how John the apostle (the author of the Gospel of John) presented Jesus as a series of seven 'I AM' statements: Jesus as the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Light of the World (John 8:12), the Door (John 10:9), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25-26), the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), and the Vine (John 15:5). It then makes sense that in the Prologue (John 1:1-18) John began the presentation of Jesus with who Jesus essentially is before being born, as though Jesus was saying "I AM the Word". The conclusion of the Prologue vv. 14-18 made it clear that the "Word" in 1:1 is in fact Jesus, the main character in the book:

¹⁴And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ¹⁵(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) ¹⁶For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. ¹⁷For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. ¹⁸No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

Importance of proper interpretation

Yes, there are denominations which interpret the NT in such a way that denies the doctrine of Trinity (Jehovah's Witnesses, for example). Therefore there is a danger of reading the NT without respecting the NT authors's intention. If we read the early church fathers carefully we can see how they consciously followed a certain interpretation option which later leads to the Trinitarian formulation in the Nicene creed. This interpretation option they acquired from the apostles themselves, who taught them personally (see gotquestions.org article Who were the Apostolic Fathers). Thus the formula is NOT a new teaching invented in the 4th century, but developed organically from how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are depicted in the New Testament.

Further study: NT exegesis showing deity applied to Jesus

For a very detailed exegesis on how the New Testament authors applied the term θεός (Theos) to Jesus, a term which traditionally refers to God the Father, I recommend this highly significant 2008 book by Murray J. Harris, professor emeritus of New Testament exegesis and theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School: Jesus as God — The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus. This book makes the argument than even before Jesus was given the formal Trinitarian name "God the Son", the NT authors were already persuaded of the deity of Jesus.

Quote from the concluding paragraphs of the book:

The general conclusion of this investigation may be stated in the following way. While the NT customarily reserves the term θεός for the Father, occasionally it is applied to Jesus in his preincarnate, incarnate, or postresurrection state. As used of the Father, θεός is virtually a proper name. As used of Jesus, θεός is a generic title, being an appellation descriptive of his genus as one who inherently belongs to the category of Deity.⁹³ In this usage θεός points not to Christ's function or office but to his nature.⁹⁴ When this title is anarthrous (John 1:1, 18; Rom. 9:5), the generic element is emphasized. When it is articular (John 20:28; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1), the titular aspect is prominent.

In the christological use of θεός we find both the basis and the zenith of NT Christology: the basis, since θεός is a christological title that is primarily ontological in character and because the presupposition of the predominantly functional Christology of the NT is ontological Christology; the zenith, because θεός is a christological title that explicitly and unequivocally asserts the deity of Christ.

⁹³. The word generic needs careful definition. As used here, it does not refer to a class that incorporates many divine beings, but to a category involving a single entity ("God"), a category which nevertheless is distinguishable from other categories. It is the same use of genus as when one describes God as sui generis.

⁹⁴. In the sentence "Winston Churchill was a Britisher and a prime minister," "Winston Churchill" is a proper noun, "Britisher" a generic title, and "prime minister" an official title. A parallel sentence would be "Jesus Is God and King."

Further study: Trinitarians vs. objections to the preexistence of Christ

For further study on the preexistence of Christ and how Trinitarians addressed modern objections, I recommend this 1997 JETS paper: "He Came Down from Heaven": The Preexistence of Christ Revisited by Douglas McCready. He later wrote a highly cited book He Came Down from Heaven -- The Preexistence of Christ and the Christian Faith published by IVP in 2005 reviewed here.

Some quotes from the paper (emphasis mine):

Christ’s preexistence is not “a luxury of theological speculation, which we could set aside in the interest of simplication.”³ It is important because it shows the extent of God’s concern for our need. The doctrine says it was God the Son, possessor of the fullness of deity with the Father from eternity, who took human existence to himself so that we might enjoy eternal life with God. Jean Galot notes that the doctrine situates God’s decision to save us before time, showing that God’s attitude toward a fallen humanity is fundamentally gracious and loving.

Historically most exegetes have agreed that Paul, Hebrews, John, and other NT writings affirm that the Son of God existed prior to his incarnation. Oden reminds us that this affirmation is no optional point in Christian theology. The affirmation even appears in settings that precede Paul’s writings, which themselves date from only 20 to 35 years after Jesus’ death. John Knox emphasizes that these references to Christ’s preexistence appear not in contexts that stress preexistence but instead mention it incidentally in the process of making some other point, as if preexistence were a generally understood and accepted teaching.⁴

This doctrine was not the result of early Christianity’s encounter with Hellenism. It arose out of the early Church’s Jewish roots. Justin Martyr identified the preexistent Christ with the angel of the Lord of the OT, and Novatian concluded that Abraham’s visitor on the eve of Sodom’s destruction was the same preexistent Christ. This is not to say that Jews of the period would have been comfortable with any really preexistent being sharing any measure of deity with God the Father. After all, the claims Christianity makes in conjunction with this doctrine are what made Christianity a different religion from Judaism.

Study of the background for a preexistent Son of God who became incarnate shows it to be a belief without parallel. Larry Hurtado says, “Although the doctrinal reflections on Christ continued and developed over several centuries, the essential steps in treating the exalted Christ as divine were taken while Christianity was still almost entirely made up of Jews and dominated by Jewish theological categories.”⁵

This means Hellenistic religious and philosophical concepts could have played no significant role in developing the early Christian belief in Christ’s preexistence. Christian thinkers at least as early as Paul were driven to belief in Christ’s preexistence by their belief about who Jesus of Nazareth was and what he became at his resurrection. A doctrine of incarnation required preexistence. The developing understanding of the NT writers can be seen in the sending statements of the synoptics, the Johannine prologue, 2 Cor 8:6, Gal 4:4, Phil 2:6–11 and Hebrews 1, to list only the most prominent passages. Objections to belief in Christ’s preexistence have had in some way to deny the apparent meaning of these texts.

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  • Ty. yet the son was born ~2000 yrs ago, so why isn't he trinity Father, word and spirit as the 'word' was in the beginning? And not a biblical reference to be seen... so it's "extra-biblical' then? As nowhere does Jesus or anyone else claim he was God. – user47952 May 26 at 2:15
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    Hi. You asked a question about what Christsns believe and it was answered. Comments are not the place to argue that those beliefs are wrong. If there is something about the answer you don't understand please ask another question. – DJClayworth May 26 at 2:56
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    @user48152 You didn't ask whether Trinitarians say "In the beginning was Jesus" - you would need to do that as a separate question. – curiousdannii May 26 at 7:56
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    @user48152 I think your confusion is partly that for Trinitarians, the Word has always been the Son of the Father and didn't become the Son when he was born. – eques May 26 at 14:11
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    @EdwinAshworth That's great! This site is more like Christian Studies so Christians of all stripes as well as non-Christians can understand Christianity better within the limits set by our creator. But of course, taking the understanding to heart and commit our lives to the teaching is our personal responsibility. Welcome to the site! Looking forward to read your postings: questions / answers. – GratefulDisciple Jun 2 at 17:20

It's important to remember that the phrase "God the Son" is a man made theological construct coined with the intention of summarizing biblical truth much like the phrases "trinity", "vicarious atonement", or "plenary inspiration". The importance is not in the finding of these phrases within the canon of scripture but in determining how well they represent scriptural truth. We cannot find "God the Son" in scripture but we do find "Son of God" and so we must determine what is meant by this term and then see if and how the theological trinitarian construct "God the Son" is valid.

In the genealogy in Luke's gospel Adam is referred to as the son of God:

the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. - Luke 3:38

Angels are also referred to as sons of God:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them - Job 1:6

And Jesus is referred to as the son of God:

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: - Romans 1:3-4

The distinction between Jesus as son and the other sons lies in the means by which son-ship is acquired.

Adam was created:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. - Genesis 1:27

As were the angels:

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. - Psalm 148:2-5

Jesus was begotten in distinction to created beings:

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ - Acts 13:32-33

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? - Hebrews 1:5

The passage from Acts links Jesus' son-ship to his resurrection from the dead and it might be misconstrued that, therefore, the 2nd person of the trinity had a beginning. However the passage from Romans indicates that Jesus' son-ship was 'declared' or 'defined' in the resurrection and not 'begun'.

Alternatively the Incarnation might be supposed as the beginning of the son-ship of Jesus and in one sense (but not the full sense) that would be accurate. As the son of man and as born of a woman in the natural way (except for his conception) Jesus had a definite beginning in the flesh. As such he is both referred to as the last/final/ultimate Adam and at the same time contrasted with the first Adam in the same verse:

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. - 1 Corinthians 15:45

It could be further supposed that the Incarnation as the beginning of the son-ship of Jesus the God/man is equivalent to saying that the Son of God has a beginning but that would be a mistake. Jesus was human because he was born of a woman and his humanity had a creation date (birth, conception, whatever is preferred for the purposes of this topic). However the son of God was not created, as were Adam and the angels, but begotten. Begotten is a term that describes the father's role. A child is born of a mother and begotten of a father. A child has two parents and will have attributes of both father and mother through begetting and bearing. Jesus had a human mother and so possesses full humanity. Jesus had infinite, eternal God as father and so possesses full deity.

There is a clear principle in Scripture (and also by science and common sense) that like begets like. That which is begotten of God must, therefore, be God or else the begetting did not occur. By way of example, if a female horse births a mule then we know the begetting was not of a male horse but of a male donkey because attributes of both are demonstrated. If the foal is all horse, then there was no donkey involved.

Jesus urged the people of his day to believe not just his words but his actions:

The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” - John 10:33-38

He ate and slept and walked and bled and died just as do all humans. Because he was born of a woman he displayed human attributes. By this we are to infer that he possessed every human attribute even though the display of each attribute is not recorded for us.

He performed miracles, forgave sin, commanded demons and lives forever just as God does. Because he was begotten of God he displayed Divine attributes. By this we are to infer that he possessed every Divine attribute even though the display of each attribute is not recorded for us.

That is why in referencing Psalm 45 the author of Hebrews equates the Son with God:

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God's angels worship him.” Of (toward/about) the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” But of (toward/about) the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. - Hebrews 1:6-8

The phrase "Son of God", as it applies to Jesus, makes him singularly unique in that He is begotten of God. Since like begets like, God begets God. Since God is infinite and eternally self-existent in his being then that only Son which is begotten of God must also be infinite and eternally self-existent in his being.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (‛ôlâm ‛ôlâm). - Micah 5:2

From ancient days (‛ôlâm ) is the vanishing point. To repeat it, as it is repeated in Micah, is to say "to the horizon...and again" or "keep going to the horizon until you arrive there". It is a Hebrew expression of eternity and is often rendered 'everlasting' or 'forever and ever' in English.

Micah's prophesy applies this term,‛ôlâm‛ôlâm, to the origin of the promised King in the past. This promised King is revealed to us in the New Testament as Jesus, the begotten Son of God and we may keep going to the horizon of the past over and over again in search of the point of his origin and it will never be reached: The Son is begotten of eternal God and is therefore eternal. He is both begotten of God AND has never not existed.

It is stated in the Westminster Confession 2.3 that this "God the Son" is eternally begotten of the Father and a 1975 ecumenical version of the Nicene Creed echoes this language. The man made phrase "God the Son" then is an attempt to encapsulate the body of scriptural revelation into an easily remembered form so as to aid in teaching and defense against faulty doctrine. Like any theology it's only validity is in it's accurate representation of biblical truth.

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  • A very nicely written explanation with only a couple of significant flaws. Seeing as I'm not allowed to 'critique' the trinity here, we'll leave it at that. – user47952 May 30 at 22:43
  • @user48152 I am interested in what you have to say. Apparently there is a chat feature available but I don't know how to access it. Do you? – Mike Borden May 31 at 11:49

God the Son? To say the Father is God, is equal to saying "God the Father." In like manner, to say the "Son is God," is equal to saying "God the Son." Does the Bible use the exact words, "God the Father," yes. Does the Bible use the exact words, "God the Son," no. Does the Bible teach and clearly say that Jesus Christ is God, yes.

John 1:1-14. At John 1:1, "In the beginning" does not have the definite article "the" so it literally reads, "in beginning." So Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning" and so does John 1:1. John 1:2, "He/This one" was in beginning with God."

The main thought of Genesis 1:1 is "WHAT HAPPENED" IN THE BEGINNING. John 1:1 is teaching WHO EXISTED in the beginning. In other words, John's beginning "antecedes" the Genesis beginning extending without an initial beginning into eternity past.

John 17:24, "Father, I desire that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou had given Me, for Thou did LOVE ME BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD." The same idea is presented at John 17:5.

Prophets were sent without preexisting, Jesus was sent from outside the world of flesh, into it, to redeem His people. You also have verses that declare plainly that Jesus is God. John 20:28, 2 Peter 1:1 and others. And yes, I know there are those who try and dispute these verses but the text of Scripture should always speak for itself. What it does not say, it cannot mean.

You also made this statement in the comments section. "ok, he didn't pre-exist because the word became flesh ~2000 yrs ago. You cannot say 'in the beginning was Jesus'! That's called eisegesis.

For your information "God the Son" did preexist His incarnation and was known as "The angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament. He first appears at Genesis 16:7 to Hagar and at verse 13 she identifies Him as God. This is all I'm going to say on this topic and I will be happy to prove it at another time. Now you know why I can say, "God the Son."

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  • Ephesians 3:15 in the NAS [BibleHub] '[the Father], from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,' is reasonably expanded '[the archetypal Father] who in the first instance defines rather than is (helpfully) portrayed by (even outstanding) examples of fatherhood on Earth .... Every family on Earth and in Heaven being a reflection (however marred) of the relationships within the Godhead, and intended to be a true reflection ....' Rationalising breaks down because we have daughters in families, and no counterparts of the Spirit. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 2 at 10:47

In the beginning was (past) the Word and the Word became flesh and so now is flesh. As a result of leaving His place with God, and becoming human and giving Himself for us, God has acted:

5...which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father [properly "Father God" as the article is not present]. (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

As a result of taking on human form, the Word has been given a Name above all Names. Obviously that cannot be Logos as Greek and Jewish philosophers also had their "logos." Moreover, Scripture clearly states God has the prerogative to change a name (i.e. Abram becomes Abraham). Thus when Scripture indicates a new name has been given, the old one should no longer be used.

Jesus now "fits in" on the basis of surrendering His initial position and becoming human to experience death on the cross, Jesus Christ is [now] highly exalted so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow (i.e. worship) and confess Jesus Christ is "Lord" (i.e. God) which will bring glory to Father God.

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