Daily Plumer – Hebrews 1:5 – Of the Father’s Love Begotten: What does the Bible teach concerning the generation of Christ?

“Respecting the generation of Christ these things are generally confessed and received by learned and sound divines:

1. He is in this epistle twice said to have been begottenof God, 1 :5; 5:5. The same is declared in Ps. 2:7. Indeed this last place is quoted in the other two, as containing a truth familiar to the Jewish church, and undisputed by any believer in God’s word.

2. He is five times in the New Testament called the only begotten, John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; I John 4:9. In four of these cases the word only begotten is followed by the word Son.

3. He is five times called the first-born, or first-begotten (for the Greek word is rendered both was), Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:!5, 18; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5. Nor is this all, for

4. In human generation the father is older than his son; but in divine generation the Father was never without the Son, nor the Son without the Father.

5. Therefore as the Father is eternal, so is the Son eternal, and so his generation is eternal.

6. The generation of God’s Son is not a transient act, but for ever the Father communicates to him his being, essence and nature.

7. As the Son would not be the Son without the Father, so the Father would not be the Father without the Son. There is ‘a necessary mutual subsistence of him that begetteth, and of him that is begotten, in and with one another: “Thou in me, and I in thee,” John 17:21.’ Without the Father the Son never was, nor would he be; so without the Son the Father never was, nor would he be.

8. In the generation of the Son, the whole nature, substance, and essence of the Father is communicated, so that he is Lord, God, Jehovah.Yet

9. In the generation of his Son, the Father parts with nothing. In other words he is not diminished by communicating his nature to his Son.

10. The generation of God’s Son is divine and above the comprehension of man, as are many things respecting God. Yet the scripture makes it clear that the best idea we can form of the relation between the first and second persons of the Godhead is best expressed by the terms Father and Son, beget and begotten. God himself has chosen these terms, and so we know they are fit. Here we should rest, and not take these terms and overstrain them, making them mean what they were never designed to teach. On such a subject conceits are wholly out of place.

11. There is nothing in the doctrine of the Sonship of Christ that in any way denies or impair the doctrine of the divine unity. On this point God’s word is as clear as on the Sonship of Christ. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, is one Lord” [Jehovah], Deut. 6:4. Nor is the New Testament less decisive: “There is but one God;” “There is none other God but one;” “God is one;” “There is one God and one Mediator,” 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; Gal. 3:20; 1 Tim. 2:5. When we say God is one, we mean to assert: 1. That there is no plurality of Gods, that there are not three Gods, nor two Gods, but one God; 2. That the uncreated, underived substance of God is not mixed, nor compounded, and that it does not consist of parts; 3. That the divine essence is indivisible, inseparable. One reason why we cannot say much of unity is that it is a simple idea, and therefore incapable of much explication. When we once get any simple idea we can commonly say but little more concerning it.”

(These hopefully daily remarks come from William Swan Plumer’s 1872 commentary on the epistle to the Hebrews.)




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