Meaning of "Begotten"

The Bible says “This day I have begotten you.” This would seem possible to interpret more as a point in time rather than “eternally bogetten”.

What does it mean to say that Jesus is “eternally begotten”? Is it a continuous state? We know that Jesus is not begotten in the human sense so I am interested what the Church means by begotten.

Well first, let us ignore Arius and his squabblings that have been preserved by various groups to date. Jesus is God, plain and simple, in the orthodox style. (That is not to say that a Mormon poster or anyone else can’t provide their ideas, but for all my purposes here.)

From my understanding, the Son is eternally being begotten: He is generated by the nature of the Father for all eternity. This simply cannot change because God’s nature does not change. He is eternal, and the Father cannot stop producing Him (which would be as if God just ceased to exist: He can’t!)

Interestingly enough, three sources I found for the eternal generation of the Son are all Calvinist. (Protestant or Calvinist sources do not have a differing version of theology proper, so it’s fine for us to use.) The teaching is summed up as this:

The eternal generation of the Son… is the teaching that the Son is eternally begotten by the necessary will of the Father, but that the Son is not created or caused, and that neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit are dependent upon the Father or any other member of the Godhead for existence.

The eternal generation of the Son is a statement on the relationship within the Trinity between the Father and the Son before the incarnation. Therefore, the term is not in reference to causation but to nature and relationship. The eternal generation of the Son must be understood to mean that the Father did not bring the Son into existence, which would deny the full immutability and deity of the Son. [Source]

This article is the best I have seen yet on the matter, with a simpler definition than the above:

There is a particularly ancient view called Adoptionism. The idea is that Jesus was born as an ordinary man, except He did not sin and He did His duties. When He was baptised, He was adopted by God in a literal sense, but He was not God nor could He ever be. (Bart D. Ehrman takes this as the first view of the Christians, but he is one of the only modern scholars to do so.)

If it was at one point in time, it would be to say that Jesus “moved up.” (He cannot, He’s already God.)

Just means uncreated.

Cyril of Jerusalem:

  1. If then thou hear the Gospel saying, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham Matthew 1:1, understand according to the flesh. For He is the Son of David at the end of the ages Hebrews 9:26, but the Son of God Before All Ages, without beginning. The one, which before He had not, He received; but the other, which He has, He has eternally as begotten of the Father. Two fathers He has: one, David, according to the flesh, and one, God, His Father in a Divine manner. As the Son of David, He is subject to time, and to handling, and to genealogical descent: but as Son according to the Godhead , He is subject neither to time nor to place, nor to genealogical descent: for His generation who shall declare ? God is a Spirit John 4:24; He who is a Spirit has spiritually begotten, as being incorporeal, an inscrutable and incomprehensible generation. The Son Himself says of the Father, The Lord said unto Me, You are My Son, today have I begotten You. Now this today is not recent, but eternal: a timeless today, before all ages. From the womb, before the morning star, have I begotten You.

Yes, you’re approaching my question. What does it mean to be “spiritually begotten”? Also, as eternal, then is being begotten a continuous state?

If you look at Cyril’s elaboration, together with John’s expression that before the World was made, The Word was / with / is, God, you begin to see what this means; ‘…but eternal: a timeless today, before all ages…

The understanding is that He was begotten prior to time and when time ends it will all have been ‘a moment’ to God.

Confined to linear time thinking we reduce Divine things to that frame and wonder about how long are things that may be an eye blink in reality to He who thought all this into what we know and yet to know.


Thanks Richca and Deconi. Certainly deep. We read at mass sometimes not to “strain our brains” too much (paraphrasing :slight_smile: ). Ultimately even experts in physics will never understand the universe outside of just accepting that this is how God created it, let alone understanding God Himself. I think ultimately God allows us to understand and see what we are ready for as He chooses. Perhaps contemplation about such as how Jesus is begotten is a form of prayer, knocking at the door, and repeated contemplation is like the widow and the judge, as a form of showing to God that we thirst for understanding. There is no one else to seek but God and once we find Him, we are free. :slight_smile:

Did Matthew and Luke originally have “This day I have begotten you” e.g. in Matthew 3:17?

No, I don’t believe so. I don’t think there is a bible, catholic or protestant, old or new, which translates Matt. 3:17 and similar verses in the other gospels as ‘This day I have begotten you’. Apparently, there is no evidence to suggest a variant reading such as this. Matt. 3:17 is simply “This is my beloved Son” or a variant according to the RSV catholic edition “This is my Son, my/the Beloved.”

If one refers to the commentary of Luke 3:22, one finds mention of “this day I have begotten you”.

I have read that there were one or more original Gospel manuscripts wherein Matt 3:17 and/or Luke 3:22 had the phrase “this day I have begotten you.” and they were removed by AD 325. Also see Psalm 2:7 and Hebrews 5:5.

Apparently there were debates in the early Church over the incarnation e.g. Faustus and St. Augustine.

Also suggest see Romans 1:3-4 and it’s commentary here:

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