God the Son

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See also: Son of God
God resting after creation – Christ depicted as the creator of the world, Byzantine mosaic in Monreale, Sicily.

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[edit]

The term "God the Son" is not found in the Bible,[1][2] but is a term found in later Christian sources.[3] By scribal error the term is in one medieval manuscript, MS No.1985, where Galatians 2:20 has "Son of God" changed to "God the Son".[4]

The term in English follows Latin usage as found in the Athanasian Creed and other texts of the early church:

  • In Greek "God the Son" is Theos o Iios,[clarification needed Where is this used?] Θεόςυἱός (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). The term "deus filius" is found in the Athanasian Creed: "Et tamen non tres omnipotentes, sed unus omnipotens. Ita Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus [et] Spiritus Sanctus." (distinct from filius Dei genitive "son of God"), but this phrase is also translated "So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God".[5]

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[citation needed] in relation to the "Holy Trinity" (ha-shilush ha-kadosh 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[edit]

The term "deus filius" is used in the Athanasian Creed and formulas such as Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus Spiritus Sanctus: Et non tres Dii, sed unus est Deus.[6]

The term is used by Saint Augustine in his On the Trinity, for example in discussion of the Son's obedience to God the Father: deo patri deus filius obediens.[7]

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.' "[8] 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."[9]

The Augsburg Confession (1530) adopted the phrase as Gott der Sohn.[10]

In medieval art God the Son is depicted as Christ as here in The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.

New Testament[edit]

A manuscript variant in John 1:18 (Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς Θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πατρὸς, ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο) has led to translations including "God the One and Only" (NIV, 1984) referring to the Son.[11]

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.

Later theological use of this expression (compare Latin: Deus Filius) reflects what came to be the 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 a 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]

The term "God the Son" is rejected by antitrinitarians.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Burnap, George Washington (1845). Expository lectures on the principal passages of the Scriptures which relate. Boston, Massachusetts: James Munroe and Company. p. 19. Retrieved 2015-01-18. There is no such phrase in the Bible, as 'God the Son,' or 'God the Holy Ghost.' 
  2. ^ Rhodes, Ron (2001). The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Zondervan, Michigan: Zondervan. p. 258. ISBN 0310232171. Retrieved 2015-01-18. Oneness Pentecostals argue that Scripture never indicates that Jesus' sonship is an eternal sonship. The term 'eternal Son' is never found in the Bible. Nor is the term 'God the Son' in the Bible. 
  3. ^ Hick, John (1993). The Metaphor of God Incarnate: Christology in a Pluralistic Age (2nd ed.). Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 31. ISBN 0664230377. Retrieved 2015-01-18. One notes that it does not aspire beyond the pre-trinitarian notion of 'Son of God' to the properly trinitarian idea of 'God the Son.' 
  4. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (1993). The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies On The Text of The New Testament. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 86. ISBN 9780195102796. Retrieved 2015-01-18. ... 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. 
  5. ^ Philip Schaff (1877b), The Creeds of Christendom.
  6. ^ 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."
  7. ^ 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?"
  8. ^ Jacques Forget (1910) in the Catholic Encyclopedia article "Holy Ghost"
  9. ^ MacMullen translation 1888 http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160390.htm
  10. ^ 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)."
  11. ^ John 1:18 in 16 versions
  12. ^ Lant Carpenter Unitarianism – the doctrine of the Gospel 1811 p. 97

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