Sunday, March 9, 2014

Is Jesus the Father? Properly Understanding the Terms "Father" and "Son"

Oneness Pentecostals hold the belief that Jesus Christ is the same Person as God the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is in stark contrast to the mainstream Christian dogma that teaches that Jesus Christ ("God the Son") is the second Person in the Godhead, distinct but not separate from God the Father and "God the Holy Spirit", while all three exist in the same divine essence. As a result, Jesus is referred to by Apostolic Christians as the Father. This also causes Trinitarian Christians to accuse the Oneness crowd of teaching that Jesus is His own Father. This is not what we believe at all.

Many Oneness people do not completely understand that there is distinction between the manifestations of the Father and the Son. The term "Father", in relation to the incarnation, refers to deity alone, while "Son" refers to humanity and deity united in Jesus Christ. The terms "Father" and "Son" refer to how these two ways in which God is subsisting relate to one-another. While they are the same divine Person (Yahweh), in the context of the incarnation the Father cannot be called the Son, nor can the Son be called the Father.

The term "Father" is used in various different ways when referring to God. God refers to Israel as His Son in Hosea 11:1: "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." God is the Father of Israel in the sense that He redeemed Israel and chose that nation. God is also our Father in creation. Malachi 2:10 says, "Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?" This is further shown in Luke 3:38 when Adam is referred to as the son of God. We are also the spiritual children of God, like in Galatians 4:6 which states, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father." King David is also referred to as a son of God in Psalms 2:7, "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." David is called this because God chose him and anointed him as the king of Israel, and also because of David being a man after God's own heart (I Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). 

Jesus is referred to not only as the Son of God, but as the only begotten Son of God. The term "only begotten" comes from the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic words monogenes, yachid, and ekhidaya. This word is better translated as "unique", as Jesus is the unique Son of God. The term "Son of God" when referring to Jesus is also a confession of His divinity. 

"But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God."- John 5:17-18

"I am my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?"- John 10: 30-36

The Jews understood that Jesus was claiming to be of the same essence as Yahweh, and they reacted as if He was blaspheming because they did not believe that His Words were true. The term "Son of God" is used similarly to "Son of man". "Son of man" does not mean that Jesus is not human, but it is a Semitic idiom for a human being. "Son of God" does not mean that He isn't God, but that He is God Himself made manifest. 

Jesus's close relationship to the Father is also a reason behind His being called His Son. John 1:18 says, "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." The phrase "in the bosom of the Father" is the same one used of John the Apostle in John 13:23. This denotes a special relationship and a place of prestige. Because Jesus has such an intimate relationship to the Father, He is able to communicate and reveal Him to us. Matthew 101:27 says, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."

Now that we have established the meaning behind "Father" and "Son" in relation to Jesus and Yahweh, now let's see how Jesus can be referred to as the Father. Jesus cannot be referred to as the Father, as stated previously, in the same way as "Father" is used when speaking of the incarnation. Jesus is however the Creator (John 1:3), therefore He can be called the Father in that way. We are also the children of Christ, as Isaiah 53:10 speaks of Christ seeing His seed (posterity). Jesus has no physical descendants, so this must be speaking of those who have faith in Him. So yes, Jesus Christ is the same Person as God the Father, but is distinct from Him. A simple way of putting it would be "The same Person, different manifestation." Jesus is our Father through creation and adoption through the Holy Spirit, but Jesus is not His own Father. I hope this article was a blessing and brought a greater understanding of the Father and Son's relationship!