The Eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ
(Originally Posted on Fundamentally Changed)
The eternal sonship of Jesus is a very important doctrine. It is also a doctrine that cannot be fully comprehended by mortal man. On the other hand, mortals must this doctrine as being true. Remembering that God is spirit and is not bound by time, space, and material/bodily constraints, will help us to more readily accept this truth. Being the Son of God means that Jesus is God. The Son has the nature of the Father. This means that the Son is eternal. Though He was begotten and not made, the Son is eternal. While these things are hard to be understood, let us attempt to attain a rudimentary knowledge of them.
God The Father Begat God The Son
As we consider the fact that God the Father begat God the Son we must see that the nature of God demands the understanding that this begetting is neither temporal nor physical. It is an eternal begetting because the Son is God and God is eternal. The Father did not beget the Son in time. Neither is it a physical begetting, but it is spiritual in nature. Numerous New Testament verses testify that God the Father is the Father of Jesus (2Cor 1:3; Eph 1:2,3;3:14; Col 3:19;1Pet 1:3 are a few examples.).
John gives us a wonderful and rich passage concerning the eternal generation of the Son by the Father. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ” (John 1:1-3,14) KJV The Father’s glory shines forth in His only begotten Son who is the image of the Father.
Before Jesus was ever begotten in the womb of the virgin Mary He was the Son of God. The sonship of Jesus is not a physical sonship, but a spiritual one. As Isaiah prophesied of the coming of Jesus, he told us, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ( Isaiah 9:6) KJV This passage tells us that Jesus was the Son before He became a man; He was given as the Son. Not only so, but He is one with His Father, which tells us that the Son of God is God. We again read, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” ( John 3:16,17) KJV The Son was given and sent thus testifying to the fact that Jesus was the Son before He became a man.
There has never been a time when God in all of His glorious perfection did not have a complete comprehension of who He is. Never has there been a time in which God did not have a full understanding of all His nature and His deeds. In the midst of this perception that God has of Himself is to be found the fact that God delights in Himself; He is the happy God (1Tim 1:11). This idea, love, delight, and contemplation of His own perfections is so complete that it stands forth as another person. This person is the second person of the Godhead, the Son of God. This is a begetting in a spiritual sense because the One begotten is truly the eternal offspring of the Father. The Son is eternally begotten, because there has never been a time that God has not had this perfect delight in, and understanding of, who He is. This means that the Son is eternal, having no temporal beginning. It also means that the Son is indeed divine in all facets of His nature. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:1-8) KJV This passage speaks volumes about this wonderful truth. It tells us that the Son is of the same character as the Father, that He is the Son who is begotten of God, is due worship, and is God. God the Father plainly declared that He begat the Son, saying “ For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” ( Hebrews 1:5) KJV God the Father spoke from Heaven on two different occasions acknowledging Jesus as His Son. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” ( Matthew 3:16,17) KJV “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” ( Matthew 17:5) KJV
The Father’s Witness to The Son
The Father bore witness to the Sonship of Jesus at least three times while He was on earth. The first was at His baptism: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16,17) KJV The second time was when He spoke to Peter, James, and John in the Mount of Transfiguration: “ While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5) KJV Finally, the Father testified of the Sonship of Jesus when He raised Christ from the dead. Paul said that He was “ declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4) KJV This is, I believe, a faithful representation of the Sonship of Jesus Christ, our Creator and Redeemer.
Why This Issue on The KJVO Debate Blog?
Someone may ask why we would choose to deal with this doctrine on the KJVO Debate blog. The reason is that there are those who declare that the differences between the King James (Authorized) Version and the post KJV versions in John 1:18 are heretical differences. This aim of this article is to show that calling Jesus the only begotten God is by no means heresy. In fact, we have used the much revered (and worthily loved) KJV to do so.
Here is the verse as seen in the KJV, ESV, and NASB:
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 Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Jn 1:18). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
No one has ever seen God; ?the only God, who is at the Father’s side,?he has made him known.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 1:18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
?No one has seen God at any time;?the only begotten God who is ??in the bosom of the Father, ??He has explained Him.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Jn 1:18). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
We grant that there is indeed a difference to be found. The difference is in words, but not in doctrine. The difference could probably be explained to us by scholars on either side of this issue. It is not our intention to deal with the textual issue in this article. It is our intent to show that the doctrine of the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ is in both the KJV and the newer versions.
It is not heretical to declare that Jesus was begotten of the Father. Jn 1:14 tells us that He is the only begotten of the Father. The ancient confessions declare that He was “begotten, not made.” We have seen above that it is orthodox truth to believe that Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. To call Jesus the only begotten Son of God is to declare that Jesus is God from all eternity; to declare that He has no beginning nor ending.
Sadly, in their zeal for the truth of God’s Word, many King James Only-ites are found guilty of heresy by denying the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ. The heresy is not found on the part of those who accept the newer versions, but on the part of many KJVO believers. (The newer versions actually make the deity of Christ clearer in this verse. ) KJVO believers would do well to open up their Bibles and a good theology so as to learn of God the truth of His Word on this point.