Christians often refer to God as “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.” That is a correct statement, but at first glance, we might conclude that the “Son” came from the “Father.” That is understandable when we think in purely human terms. We all know that sons have fathers.
Our confusion can be furthered when we read texts like Psalm 2:7 where God says, “…You are My Son, Today I have begotten You,” or John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (NAU)
Because they have become confused, many false religions teach that God the Father created Jesus. Among them are the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Hindus, and Muslims. Maybe you have wondered about this too.
Let’s examine some things that will clear up this confusion. While the original words in the Old Testament and the New Testament for “begotten” are often used to refer to “bring into being,” when these words refer to Jesus, they mean “the only one of its kind.” The English Standard Version correctly translates John 1:14 as “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.” In Psalm 2:7 God was saying, “. . . You are My Son, Today [I see you as the only one of your kind.]”
A related teaching about Jesus is that He is the FIRSTBORN. Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
It makes no sense to think that Jesus was the first person ever born. God the Son has always been just as God the Father as always been. FIRSTBORN is a position of prominence. A longstanding tradition in Jewish culture gave that prominence to the firstborn son in every family. He was given extra privileges and responsibilities, a place of preeminence. There are several examples of people who were given the position of FIRSTBORN without being born first, however. Jacob is an example. God told his mother that Romans 9:12 … “The older will serve the younger.”
When the Bible refers to Jesus as “the Son of God” it has nothing to do with how He came into existence. Instead, it refers instead to the rank or honor of His position. Speaking of Jesus the Messiah, God the Father announced that “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27).
Firstborn refers to first in rank or honor. Jesus is not one among equals, but the One who has the supreme place of honor among all creation. Jesus Himself made it clear that His position is different from the Father’s position, but that has nothing to do with who existed first. For example, Jesus acknowledged that God the Father and God the Son have different positions. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30).
Keep these truths in mind as you read Colossians 1:15–18: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
The next time you hear that Jesus is the Son of God let it move you to worship Him as the eternal, all-powerful Creator who demands and deserves our constant affection. “Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:11–12).