God the Son
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God the Son (Greek: Θεός ὁ υἱός) is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (the first and third persons of the Trinity).
In these teachings, God the Son pre-existed before incarnation, is co-eternal with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit), both before Creation and after the End (see Eschatology). Son of God for some draws attention to his humanity, whereas God the Son refers more generally to his divinity, including his pre-incarnate existence.
Source of the term
The term "God the Son" is not found in the Bible, but is a term found in later Christian sources. The term is added into one medieval manuscript, MS No.1985, by scribal error where Galatians 2:2 "Son of God" is changed to "God the Son".
The term in English follows Greek and Latin usage as found in the Athanasian Creed and other texts of the early church:
- In Greek "God the Son" is Theos o Iios, Θεός ὁ υἱός (as distinct from o Iios nominative tu Theu genitive, ὁ υἱός του Θεού, "Son of God").
- In Latin "God the Son" is Deus (nominative) Filius (nominative) as in "Omnipotens Deus Pater est, Omnipotens Deus Filius, Omnipotens Spiritus Sanctus" (and as distinct from filius Dei genitive "son of God").
The distinction holds true in other modern languages apart from English, for example:
- In Hebrew "God the Son" (Elohim ha-Ben אלוהים הבן) is used in modern Israeli Christian literature in relation to the "Holy Trinity" (ha-shilush ha-kodesh השילוש הקדוש). As distinct from the term "son of God" (ben Elohim בן אלוהים) as found in the Hebrew New Testament.
Use of the term
The term is used in Athanasian Creed and formulas such as: "God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit: And not three gods, but God is one"—Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus Spiritus Sanctus: Et non tres Dii, sed unus est Deus.
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.' " Saint Augustine in Sermon 90 on the New Testament says, "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."
The expression "God the Son" is not used in the Bible, either Old or New Testament. Son of God occurs in the singular only in the New Testament, while the term is found in the plural in both Testaments as "sons of God." In Genesis 6:2ff the "sons of God" have children by the "daughters of men." The expression "Son of God" referred not only to filiation, but to persons having a special relationship with God. The New Testament authors, writing in a time when monotheism had become the normative Jewish belief, considered these passages to be prophetic of God the Son being further revealed as the Son of God. The New Testament books of Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Hebrews both quote Psalm 2:7, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father."
But the term "Son of God" is used to refer to Jesus in the first gospel of Mark at the beginning in verse 1:1 and at its end in chapter 15 verse 39. In the Hellenist culture of the New Testament milieu was a reference to divinity.
Later theological use of this expression (compare Latin: Deus Filius) reflects what came to be 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. A clear expression of this Trinitarian belief is found 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." John the Evangelist is understood to identify Jesus with the pre-existent Logos or Word, the second person of the Trinity, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."[John 1:1]
- God in Christianity
- Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament
- Pre-existence of Christ
- Son of God
- Sons of God
- Bart D. Ehrman The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament 1996 p.86 "... 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."
- 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."
- 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?"
- Jacques Forget (1910) in the Catholic Encyclopedia article "Holy Ghost"
- MacMullen translation 1888 http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160390.htm
- 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)."
- Jewish Encyclopedia: The Pious as Sons of God. "The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha contain a few passages in which the title "son of God" is given to the Messiah (see Enoch, cv. 2; IV Esdras vii. 28–29; xiii. 32, 37, 52; xiv. 9); but the title belongs also to any one whose piety has placed him in a filial relation to God (see Wisdom ii. 13, 16, 18; v. 5, where "the sons of God" are identical with "the saints"; comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] iv. 10). It is through such personal relations that the individual becomes conscious of God's fatherhood, and gradually in Hellenistic and rabbinical literature "sonship to God" was ascribed first to every Israelite and then to every member of the human race (...)" By: Kaufmann Kohler, Emil G. Hirsch
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Son of God, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14142b.htm.
- John 1:18 in 16 versions
- Lant Carpenter Unitarianism – the doctrine of the Gospel 1811 p. 97
- Catholic Encyclopedia: The Blessed Trinity
- The Jewish Encyclopedia: Son of God—by Kaufmann Kohler, Emil G. Hirsch
- Jesus' Divinity—by christians.eu