Why Did the Father Call His Son God?
By Paul Chung
In Hebrews 1:1-9 we note that the speaker is God the Father and that He is addressing His Son and calling Him “God.”
Verse 2 says that Christ was “appointed heir” of all things. An HEIR is defined as a person who is legally entitled to inherit the property or rank of another on that person's death or at the appointed time when the person is to receive his recognition. In this case, Christ the Son received an “INHERITANCE” from His Father. If Jesus was the heir, then whatever he was to receive as the rightful heir, He did not possess it before.
But what did He receive?
His “NAME,” His authority and His power! In other words, Jesus being the one and only begotten Son of the living God received by virtue of His birthright all of the attributes that His Father possessed.
Verse 4 says, “Being made so much better than the angels, as he has by “INHERITANCE” obtained a more excellent “NAME” than they.” Verse 8 says that this more excellent “NAME” is the name “God,” which was given by the Father to His Son. “Unto the Son He [God] saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”
And so this name “He has by “INHERITANCE.” It is not a “NAME” that was bestowed but a “NAME” that was “INHERITED” from His Father.
Christ not only inherited His name but other things as well. Name means authority (Mark 11:9, John 5:43), and it also means character and nature (Exodus 33:18-19, Exodus 34:5-6). The name Adam means human for example.
When people have children, they not only inherit the name of their parents but they also inherit the nature of the parents, which of course is human nature. In like manner, Jesus inherited the same name as His Father, just as a child inherits the name of the parents, and not unlike a human offspring, Christ also inherited the nature of His Father, which is His divine nature.
Christ also inherits His Father's life. “For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself.” John 5:26. If Jesus had always existed alongside the Father as the Trinity doctrine claims, then God could not have given life to His Son as He would have always had life. But Scripture reveals this is impossible.
Thus there is only “ONE” true God. Jesus is not "THE" God in this sense, He is the “Son of God.” He carries the “NAME” of God by virtue of His “INHERITANCE.” And because He is the Son of God, He is “EQUAL” with God.
“God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ HAS BEEN GIVEN an exalted position. He HAS BEEN MADE equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son.” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 268)
Note that Ellen G. White endorsed what this Adventist pioneer wrote below who also explains very clearly.
“This name [God] was not given to Christ in consequence of some great achievement, but it is His by right of inheritance.
Speaking of the power and greatness of Christ, the writer to the Hebrews says that He is made so much better than the angels, because “He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Heb. 1:4.
A son always rightfully takes the name of the father; and Christ, as “the only begotten Son of God,” has rightfully the same name.
A son, also, is, to a greater or less degree, a reproduction of the father; he has, to some extent, the features and personal characteristics of his father; not perfectly, because there is no perfect reproduction among mankind. But there is no imperfection in God, or in any of His works; and so Christ is the “express image” of the Father's person. Heb. 1:3.
As the Son of the self-existent God, he has by nature all the attributes of Deity.
It is true that there are many sons of God; but Christ is the “only begotten Son of God,” and therefore the Son of God in a sense in which no other being ever was, or ever can be.
The angels are sons of God, as was Adam (Job 38:7; Luke 3:38), by creation; Christians are the sons of God by adoption (Rom. 8:14,15); but CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD BY BIRTH.
The writer to the Hebrews further shows that the position of the Son of God is not one to which Christ has been elevated, but that it is one which He has by right.” — (E.J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, p. 11-12)
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” Hebrews 1:3
An image is never the original but always a likeness or duplication of the original. Christ is the Son of God and therefore the express image of His Father. It would be incorrect to say that the Father is the image of His Son because the Father is the original. In the same manner it would be incorrect to refer to Christ as the true or original God since He is the image of the True God. In this sense the Father is the Only True God as Christ Himself has declared in John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
"Who [Christ] is the image of the invisible God" Colossians 1:15
Again, an image is a reflection or a reproduction of something original… An “express image” means a perfect or a precise reproduction. Christ is the perfect reproduction of His Father, who is the true and original God.
Notice what Ellen White says about the Son's personality,
“I saw a throne, and on it sat the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. I gazed on Jesus’ countenance and admired his lovely person. . . . I ASKED JESUS IF HIS FATHER HAD A FORM LIKE HIMSELF; HE SAID HE HAD, BUT I COULD NOT BEHOLD IT.” (Letter From Sister Harmon, Day-Star, March 14, 1846, par. 7)
“A complete offering has been made; for 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,'—NOT A SON BY CREATION, as were the angels, NOR A SON BY ADOPTION, as is the forgiven sinner, but a SON BEGOTTEN IN THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF THE FATHER’S PERSON, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection.” (Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895 par. 3)
“From eternity there was a complete unity between the Father and the Son. THEY WERE TWO, YET LITTLE SHORT OF BEING IDENTICAL; two in individuality, yet one in spirit, and heart, and character.” (The Youth Instructor, Dec. 16, 1897 par. 5)
"The Son of God was next in authority to the great Lawgiver. He knew that his life alone could be sufficient to ransom fallen man. He was of as much more value than man as his noble, spotless character, and exalted office as commander of all the heavenly host, were above the work of man. He was in the express image of his Father, NOT IN FEATURE ALONE, BUT IN PERFECTION OF CHARACTER." (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 91)
Notice what the Scriptures reveals about God’s bodily features:
“And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” — Exodus 33:20
“And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” — Exodus 33:23
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” — Number 11:23
“But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.” — 1 Samuel 13:14
“Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.” — Isaiah 40:2
“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? — Isaiah 66:1
“But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” — Luke 11:20
“The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” — Psalm 11:4
1 Samuel 8:21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.
Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” — Daniel 7:9
Note: The Bible describes God as a personal being, having a distinct bodily features, i.e face, mouth, hands, feet, etc. He is not a formless entity. Moreover Christ bears His Father’s image not in feature alone, but also in character.
Servant of the Lord also said,
“The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, IS TRULY GOD IN INFINITY, BUT NOT IN PERSONALITY.” (Ellen G. White, Manuscript 116, Dec. 19, 1905, ‘An Entire Consecration’)
Waggoner, an Adventist pioneer, explains in words that are easier to understand making what Ellen White said above easier to comprehend.
“Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He was begotten, not created. He is of the substance of the Father, so that in his very nature he is God; and since this is so “it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” Col. 1:19 ... While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time. He is also greater in that he had no beginning, WHILE CHRIST'S PERSONALITY HAD A BEGINNING.” (E.J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889)