Books & Words to Inspire


Understanding Scripture in Light of a Jewish Timeline

Son of God - Part of Trinity


Sometimes I feel Christianity has created more confusion than clarity around the role of the Godhead. I think the term Son of God has been so used and misused that we tend to forget the original meaning of the term. One can argue that the term is widely used in the Gospels so why the concern? The concern is not the term but the definition of the term. Over time, the way mankind thinks of terms changes and can get distorted from its original intent. We often think of "son" and "father" as not being equal and so I think we have fostered the idea that the Son of God is not really equal to God himself and thereby people start to think that they are actually two different entities. Some have tried to counter this by saying, "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit" but I think people often feel that three entities are being described. It is only a matter of subtlety you say? Perhaps; but even in his earthly ministry, Christ made subtlety important.

One day the Sadducees were asking Jesus about the validity of the resurrection (Mt 22:23-28). How did Jesus respond? He stated that they did not know the scriptures (Mt 22:29). They were incensed. Jesus told them that God stated, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Mt 22:32; Ex 3:6). Therefore, God was not their God; but is their God. Tense was very important. Yahweh was their God when on the earth and continued to be their God. As Jesus stated, "[God] is not the God of the dead but of the living" (Mt 22:32). Therefore, Jesus implied that life continues after death and therefore supportive of a resurrection. Hmmm, implication of scripture is just as important as direct statement in scripture.

So let's see if there are implications about God in the Old Testament. Many say that the idea of God as Trinity is not stated in the Old Testament and so is only a concept developed by Christians. Well, let's see if that is true. We don't have to go far to find a subtle clue. Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning, God created...." So let's see what is being stated here. God, or in Hebrew, Elohim, created. This is a plural noun but used with a singular verb. How clever. Subtle? Yes. Important? Yes.

If that was the only place we find such a clue then we might question the intentionality of this verse. However, there is another critical juncture in scripture that also speaks to God being Trinity.

When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He met them at Mt. Sinai. The first encounter was quite ominous. They saw huge billows of smoke and fire coming from the north and descending on the top of the mountain (Ex 19:16-19). God even spoke to them and it sounded like thunder, the earth shook, and the people were very frightened. So much so that they asked God to speak only to Moses and then he relay God's message to them (Ex 20:19). There was no one that day that wanted to stand up and say, "I have a few issues with you God. Let me get them off my chest." No, they knew their place and it was not one of righteousness. Who can argue that this encounter was with the first person of the Godhead, who we today term, God the Father?

However, a few chapters later, we have a very unusual occurrence. Moses, Aaron and his sons (the priests of their day), and 70 leaders of the people met with God and ate with Him (Ex 24:9-11). This is a stark contrast to their previous encounter as described above. God suspended his original requirement that they could not approach him—because this was on his terms, not theirs. This showed a more personable side of God. This was the second component of the Godhead - the one who later came to earth in human flesh—the one who had walked and talked with Adam and Eve—the one of the Godhead who has always reached out to mankind. The one we today term, God the Son.

Then not too far later, we see the third component of the Godhead. Scripture states that God's spirit indwelled the 70 leaders who Moses had chosen so they could understand what God wanted them to do to help administrate God's will to the people (Nu 11:24-25). It is not too hard to see that this is the one we today term, God the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, although not stated specifically, even the Old Testament is in agreement with God as Trinity. Why is this important? Who else can be Trinity? No one. Who else could be omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient yet still become human? No one. Therefore, God is unique and there is no other entity who can be his equal. Being Trinity allows him to be the most efficient relationship builder—ever!

This is what the Gospel writers were trying to portray about Christ—his uniqueness. He was born to a human woman but through the Holy Spirit—not through a human man (Mt 1:18). Because he was born, hence the term "son." Not a normal son, but the Son of God, meaning he originated from God but not separate from God. God's uniqueness is personified, not decreased. Who else could do that? No one. All of God put into a human form. He was brought low (Pp 2:7-8) in the sense he agreed to abide by some human limitations but not be limited by them. He still performed all the responsibilities as part of the Godhead. Again showing his uniqueness.

Therefore, next time you hear the term Son of God, think how the Gospel writers thought: uniqueness personified. It will bring a whole new level to your understanding of God, and a way for us to understand and show our humbleness toward Him.