Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Going Deep! Why Does The Bible Call Jesus "God's Only Begotten Son"?

Ever wonder why the Bible calls Jesus "the only begotten Son" in John 3:16?  Jonathan Edwards, the American pastor-theologian of the 18th century and the guy who is better known for his sermon entitled, "Sinners In The Hands of an Angry God" has a robust take on that question which I want to try and accurately summarize here.  If you'd rather go straight to the horse's mouth, so to speak, just get yourself a copy of Edwards' unpublished essay on The Trinity. You might want to pick up a dictionary specializing in 18th century terms and prose while you're at it.  If you don't have the time to pick those up you can take your chances with my summary.

First things first though--Edwards understood that the word "begotten" was not being used to speak about the Son of God as having a point of beginning, origin, or birth.  Rather, the word was used, especially in John's writings, to communicate the idea of the Son of God existing as a "unique and one of a kind" type of Being completely equal to and always existing alongside the Father as a separate person from the Father (Jn. 1:14, 18; 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:9).  So, how is it then, if the Father and the Son are two separate co-equal and co-eternal divine Persons that the Father is the "begetter" and the Son is the "begotten"?  What does the Bible mean when it states that the Son is begotten of the Father?

Essentially, Edwards makes the point that because God is unlimited in His knowledge He knows everything perfectly and comprehensively about everything and everyone including Himself.  Now, knowing everything there is to know about me may not seem like a big deal but God knows everything there is to know about everyone without exception.  And if that still doesn't impress you, try this on for size--God knows Himself and everything there is to know about Himself as an Infinite Being with a perfect, full, and totally comprehensive knowledge.  In other words, God, Who is, by virtue of His being Infinite, unknowable, knows fully and comprehensively everything there is to know about Himself.  That is impressive!

Edwards explains that God has always had perfect and totally comprehensive knowledge of Himself.  Therefore, God's perfect knowledge of Himself is as eternal as He is.  Furthermore, because God's knowledge of Himself is absolutely perfect in every detail His knowledge of Himself is really nothing less than a perfect reduplication of Himself.  It could not be otherwise.  If God's knowledge of Himself is absolutely perfect, all-encompassing, and fully comprehensive then for it to be all those things it would have to be more than a mere picture, thought, reflection, or idea--it would have to be a real person just like Him.   For how could God have a perfect knowledge of Himself and it not be exactly the same as Him?!  And if it is the same as Him it must be another person just like Him in every way completely equal to Him and as eternal as he is.  It  would have to be the One we call Jesus.  (2 Cor. 4:4, 6; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:15, 19; 2:9;  Heb. 1:3)

Edwards put it this way:

". . . that idea which God has of Himself is absolutely Himself.  This representation of the Divine nature and essence is the Divine nature and essence again: so that by God's thinking . . . there is another Person begotten, there is another Infinite Eternal Almighty and Most Holy and the same God, the very same Divine nature.  And this Person is the second Person in the Trinity, the only Begotten and dearly Beloved Son of God; He is the eternal, necessary, perfect, substantial and personal idea which God hath of Himself."

This, then in very simplified terms is Edwards answer to how Jesus Christ can be co-eternal and co-equal with the Father so as to have never begun yet still be begotten.    

1 comment:

Sara-Grace said...

Wow! That is deep!!! I'm glad you explained it me a lot to chew on with my mind today!

Pursuing the Glory of Christ as though He were the most important pursuit in all the world--Because He Is!

" Looking for the Blessed Hope and the appearing of The Glory of our Great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Titus 2:13