The Son of God: Eternal God or beginning in time?


The Vineyard Without beginning of days
From Everlasting The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever
Behold, I come With the Father
Eternal Life Son of God
By Him all things were created In the Beginning
Thy throne Mind in Christ
Before me My Redeemer
First and Last Before Abraham was
Enduring Love Downward Mobility
Beginning Where He was Before
Came down from Heaven In the Wilderness
Temple Vision The Firstborn
The Word Stands Forever From the Womb
At the Beginning of His way The Reproach of Christ
Root and Offspring Sons and Slaves
This Day I am Come
Epiphany The Ending of the Sonship?

Return to Answering Unitarian Universalism...

The Vineyard

Jesus told the story of the incarnation in parable form.  Since it was the Lord's story, He could have told it any way He liked; He could have told it the 'Oneness' Pentecostal way if He had chosen.  He didn't: "Then He began to speak to them in parables: 'A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower.  And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.  Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers.  And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.  Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some.  Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, "They will respect my son." But those vinedressers said among themselves, "This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours." So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard." (Mark 12:1-8).

So do we hear, from the Lord, about 'the Father' trekking to the vineyard, disguising Himself as 'the Son' once He reaches the boundary? No; we hear that He had a son, "his beloved", hanging about the premises, Whom He sent.




Without beginning of Days nor end of Life

The Old Testament is a book of types in which the realities of Christ and His Kingdom are set forth veiled, under shadows and figures.  One of these is Melchizedek, a shadowy mystery man who is revealed in Psalm 110 as a type of Christ.  In the Bible's vagueness about Melchizedek's background and genealogy — ordinarily essential information for establishing priestly credentials — the author of Hebrews finds a lesson about the eternal Son of God:

"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated 'king of righteousness,' and then also king of Salem, meaning 'king of peace,' without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually." (Hebrews 7:3).

Here we learn that "having neither beginning of days nor end of life" is an attribute of "the Son of God"!  What was dimly foreshadowed in the type shines forth in fullness in the antitype, Jesus Christ the Son of God, who is eternal.

"Nor does this objection disturb me, that the reality does not correspond with the figure or type, because Christ has a Father in heaven, and had a mother on earth; for the Apostle immediately explains his meaning by adding without descent, or kindred. He then exempts Melchisedec from what is common to others, a descent by birth; by which he means that he is eternal, so that his beginning from men was not to be sought after. It is indeed certain that he descended from parents; but the Apostle does not speak of him here in his private capacity; on the contrary, he sets him forth as a type of Christ. He therefore allows himself to see nothing in him but what Scripture contains. For in treating of things respecting Christ, such reverence ought to be observed as not to know anything but what is written in the Word of the Lord. Now, as the Holy Spirit in mentioning this king, the most illustrious of his age, is wholly silent as to his birth, and makes afterwards no record of his death, is not this the same thing as though eternity was to be ascribed to him? And what was shadowed forth in Melchisedec is really exhibited in Christ. It behooves us then to be satisfied with this moderate view, that while Scripture sets forth to us Melchisedec as one who had never been born and never died, it shows to us as in a mirror, that Christ has neither a beginning nor an end." (John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews).

This case falls to sway many dissenters, who insist that Melchizedek, the real man who lived in the age of the patriarchs, certainly had both a beginning of his life and an end of his mortal days. This is undoubtedly true, but the author of Hebrews is intentionally limiting his knowledge of this man to what the scriptures say about him. There is neither lineage nor tomb found for this man in scripture. If it is an overreach to conclude from silence that Christ had neither beginning of days nor end of life, this overreach is entirely accomplished by the inspired author of Hebrews:

"So glorious is the priesthood of Christ that the Aaronic model could not be an adequate picture of it. It pleased the Author of Scripture in His perfect wisdom to liken another man to the Son in respect to this matter. Melchizedek was made like Christ, but not Christ to Melchizedek. The likeness was derived partly from what was revealed concerning him in Scripture, and partly from the fact that much was hidden. That which was revealed showed Melchizedek to be a type of Christ in the two aspects of royalty and of worth of character, for he was 'King of righteousness,' and 'King of peace' (Heb. 7:2).

"In that much was hidden, namely, all record of his ancestry, his birth, and his death, he was displayed on the page of Scripture (and in that sense alone) as an abiding priest unrelated to any prior ministrant. Thus he typified Christ in the two further aspects of solitariness and permanency." (H. C. Hewlett, The Glories of Our Lord, p. 122.)

From Everlasting

"'But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.'" (Micah 5:2).

"This description of Christ's eternal generation, or his going forth as the Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, shows that this prophecy must belong only to him, and could never be verified of any other.  The going forth is used (Deut. viii. 3) for a word which proceeds out of the mouth, and is therefore very fitly used to signify the eternal generation of him who is called the Word of God, that was in the beginning with God, John i. 1, 2." (Matthew Henry Commentary).

The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever


  • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  •  (Hebrews 13:8).

Had Jesus Christ come into existence at some point in time, He could not be said to be "the same" yesterday, today, and forever, because non-existence is not "the same" as existence.

As the hymn puts it,

O how sweet the glorious message
Simple faith may claim:
Yesterday, today, forever,
Jesus is the same!
Still He loves to save the sinful,
Heal the sick and lame,
Cheer the mourner, calm the tempest -
Glory to His name!
Yesterday, today, forever,
Jesus is the same;
All may change, but Jesus never -
Glory to His name!
(Albert B. Simpson)



Behold, I come

The Bible records a pre-incarnation conversation between Son and Father on the topic of the upcoming incarnation: "So, coming into the world, Christ says: You did not want sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me.  In whole burnt offerings even for sin, you took no delight. Then I said: Behold, I come; in the scroll of a book it is written concerning me; to do, O God, your will." (Hebrews 10:5-7 Lattimore).

This is a quote of the Septuagint: "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and [sacrifice] for sin thou didst not require.  Then I said, Behold, I come: in the volume of the book it is written concerning me, desired to do thy will, O my God, and thy law in the midst of mine heart." (Brenton Septuagint, Psalm 40:6-8).  A ready volunteer, Jesus stepped forward "to do...your will".  Given that the flesh of the incarnation is the very topic of conversation: "you prepared a body for me" - said 'flesh' cannot also be one of the conversationalists!

With the Father

The Bible does not ever say that Jesus pre-existed His incarnation as the Father, but always that He was with the Father: "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." (John 17:5)

"I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father." (John 8:38).

Eternal Life

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life -- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us - that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:1-3).

"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20).

Son of God


  • “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'”
  • (Matthew 27:43).

Unitarians and 'Oneness' Pentecostals assert that words like 'Son' and 'begotten' imply a beginning in time.  While it's true that all earthly sons came into existence in time, the same is true of all earthly fathers -- and no one has ever plausibly claimed as a result that the Eternal Father had a beginning in time!  What differentiates 'begetting' from 'creating' is that like begets like, whereas one can make or create anything at all, like or unlike.  Begetting runs true to form; pigs beget pigs, sheep beget sheep.  Eternity is one of the essential attributes of Deity:

"Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God." (Genesis 21:33);
"Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." (Psalm 90:2).
"Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting." (Psalm 93:2);
"Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations." (Psalm 145:13).

'Oneness' Pentecostals understand 'begetting' in a weak, metaphorical sense, meaning no more than 'created'.  They do not understand the only-begotten Son of God to be of the same nature as His eternal Father, as would be a true-born son. However, the Bible evidence, including as does such strong and exclusive references as 'firstborn' and 'only-begotten,' cannot all be squeezed into this mold:




By Him all things were created

The 'Oneness' Pentecostals deny that 'the Son of God' existed at any time before a baby was born to Mary.  But "the son of His love" created the world! Surely the creation predates the incarnation: "...giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love...He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." (Colossians 1:12-17).

Hebrews testifies to the same state of affairs: "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds..." (Hebrews 1:1-2).  Given that it was "by His Son" that God the Father created the worlds, how plausible is it that there was no 'Son' in existence at the time!






Jesus Christ is the Creator!



In the Beginning

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2).

Realizing how lethal this verse was to his denial of the eternal Son, Faustus Socinus found a novel way out: that 'the Word' means a 'thought' or 'plan' in the mind of God the Father that someday He would create a savior.  But the Bible teaches that this same 'Word' created the world: "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made...He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (John 1:3-10).

Can a 'thought' or a 'plan' have created this entire huge world and everything in it? Can an imaginary or fictitious cause produce a real result? And is that how people talk: if I were to bake a cake while thinking about Alan Greenspan, would I then say, 'Alan Greenspan baked a cake'?




Thy throne

"But to the Son He says: 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom'...And: 'You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.  But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.'" (Hebrews 1:8-12).

Mind in Christ

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:4-8).  When Paul speaks of taking on "the likeness of men", he is referring to the incarnation.  So, prior to the incarnation, Christ Jesus, then "equal" with God the Father, displayed a "mind" of humility, humbling Himself and becoming "obedient".




He was before me

"This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'" (John 1:30).  When John the Baptist says that Jesus was "before" him, he cannot mean birth order; Luke's narrative records that John was born approximately six months before Jesus.

I know that my Redeemer lives

"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another." (Job 19:25-27).  Job doesn't say that he knows his Redeemer will live someday, he knows that "my Redeemer lives".

First and Last

"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, 'Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.'" (Revelation 1:17-18).  One cannot easily exhaust the implications of the title, "the First and the Last", an Old Testament name of God (Isaiah 48:12). At a bare minimum it's hard to see how 'the First' could be a Johnny-come-lately who didn't even exist until the days of Herod the King.


The First Page
The Last Page

The First Page of the Bible.

The Last Page of the Bible.


Before Abraham was

"Then the Jews said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.'" (John 8:57-58).

Jesus does not say, "I was," though even this much is beyond the horizon of many Unitarians, but "I AM," God's holy name. What was the character of the interaction between the pre-incarnate Christ and Abraham? How is it that "Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad?" One such encounter:




Enduring Love

"Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24).

Downward Mobility

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9).  When was He rich? As a babe in the manger? No, before that.

Beginning

"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God...'" (Revelation 3:14).  Another translation, the New English Bible, has, "These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the prime source of all God's creation...", reading this Greek word, 'arche', to mean origin, first cause: "...that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause" (Thayer's Greek Dictionary).

The same thought is expressed in Ephesians 3:9: "...and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ..."  Again, Jesus was present and active on the day of creation.  To be the 'origin, first cause, prime source' of all creation, He surely must have existed at the time!

Where He was Before

"What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?" (John 6:62).

The Lord calls His hearers' attention to the fact that it was the Son of Man who was on high "before." 'Oneness' Pentecostals 'correct' this to mean it was 'the Father' who was on high before...but perhaps no correction is called for.





Came down from Heaven

"And so it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit....The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven." (1 Corinthians 14:45-47).
"No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven." (John 3:13).
"He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all." (John 3:31).
"For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." (John 6:33).
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." (John 6:38).
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." (John 6:51).

If one was elsewhere at a prior time,— whether in heaven or in Altoona,— then surely one also existed.

In the Wilderness


  • “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.  For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”
  • (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

God had promised His "Presence" would go with the children of Israel in their wilderness wanderings, and this was Christ: "And He said, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" (Exodus 33:14). While this reference on its face does not suffice to prove eternity, but only that Jesus Christ already existed at the time of the exodus from Egypt, in fact it proves more than that to the reader who knows who is the Rock of Israel:




Temple Vision

The apostle John said that Isaiah had seen Christ's glory: "These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him." (John 12:41). After quoting Isaiah 6:9-10, John notes that Isaiah had said those things "when" he saw Christ's glory.  It is not obvious from Isaiah's account of the temple vision that he was seeing the glory of a then non-existent party:

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one cried to another and said:
'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!'
"And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke."

Though it's in the nature of things for prophets to see things which are not yet, Isaiah's reaction to this visitation displays no awareness that the "LORD of hosts" Whom he has seen -- Who John says is Christ -- is not slated to exist yet for centuries:

"So I said:
'Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The LORD of hosts.'" (Isaiah 6:1-5)

'Oneness' Pentecostals will be untroubled by this vision, claiming that Isaiah saw 'the Father', Whom they allow to have existed in Old Testament times.  But wait - why does Jesus say no man has seen the Father?: "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father." (John 6:46).




The Firstborn

In the widest sense, every living creature is an "offspring" of God: "...for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'" (Acts 17:28).

More intimately, the Bible speaks of believers as 'children of God':

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name..." (John 1:12);
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Romans 8:14).

But only Jesus is called the "only begotten" Son:

"No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." (John 1:18);
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16);
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." (1 John 4:9).
"Deliver my soul from the sword; my only-begotten one from the power of the dog." (Psalm 22:20, Brenton Septuagint).

So the manner of our 'Sonship' isn't the same as the "only begotten": rather, we're adopted children:

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5);
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:15);
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1:3-6).

Not only is Jesus called the "only begotten", He's also the "firstborn":

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." (Colossians 1:15);
"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10);
"But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him.'" (Hebrews 1:6).

It was at a point of time, the resurrection, that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God: "...the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." (Romans 1:1-4).  But it's one thing to be, another thing to be declared to be.  Jesus was the Son of God when born to Mary (Luke 1:32), as well as on the Day of Creation (Colossians 1:12-18, Hebrews 1:1-2).

Since first century Jews like Philo already realized that the Logos was the "first-born son" of God, deferring and delaying this Biblical title belonging to Jesus until the incarnation serves no purpose: "For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world, in which the high priest is the divine Word, His own first-born son." (Philo Judaeus, c. 25 B.C. - 45 A.D., On Dreams, Book I, XXXVII, 215).

In explaining these "only begotten" and "firstborn" references, 'Oneness' Pentecostals borrow a page from the Jehovah's Witnesses and claim 'begotten' means 'created', and that thus these must be references to the incarnation.  Yet by what logic could Jesus thereby be called either the "only begotten" or the "firstborn"?  Is one first born to Mary in the days of King Herod, after eras of human fruitfulness and multiplying, the "first" to be "born"...or One born in eternity, Who in the fulness of time came to be incarnate?  Truly one born in eternity trumps all born in time; He really is the "firstborn", just as the Bible says! He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man:




The Word Stands Forever

"The voice said, 'Cry out!' And he said, 'What shall I cry?' 'All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isaiah 40:6-8).
"Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89).

Who is this enduring "Word of God", in the Bible?  A barren vocable?  No, somebody: "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.  He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God." (Revelation 19:11-13).



The Word was God Identity
Philo Judaeus Creation
Anomalies Life-Giver
Interaction Theophanic Angel
God's Reason God's Wisdom




From the Womb

The early church used the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament completed prior to the first advent of Christ.  A scripture often quoted by the early church fathers touching on the eternity of Christ is Psalm 110:3.  You'd never guess why, from the wildly varying English translations of a corrupt Hebrew text of uncertain meaning.  But the Septuagint reads like so, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.  The Lord shall send out a rod of power for thee out of Sion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.  With thee is dominion in the day of thy power, in the splendours of thy saints: I have begotten thee from the womb before the morning." (Brenton Septuagint).  Here is how Justin Martyr quotes the passage: "From the womb, before the morning star, have I begotten thee." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter XXII); "In the splendors of Thy holiness have I begotten Thee from the womb, before the morning star." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter LXIII).  "Before the morning" means 'before time' -- i.e., in eternity.

The Peshitta reads, "Thy people shall be glorious in the day of thy power; arrayed in the beauty of holiness from the womb, I have begotten thee as a child from the ages." (George M. Lamsa translation).  The Vulgate for the Greek psalms reads, "ex utero ante luciferum genui te" (Psalm 109:3).  The only modern Bible I have come across with anything like the old text is the New American Bible, "Yours is princely power from the day of your birth.  In holy splendor before the daystar, like the dew I begot you."

This Psalm speaks of the Messiah, because Jesus Himself so applied it.  Matthew Henry says of Psalm 110, "This psalm is pure gospel; concerning Christ, the Messiah promised to the fathers and expected by them."  So if you had asked the Greek-speaking churchmen assembled at Nicaea for a proof-text on "begotten of the Father before all worlds", they'd have supplied Psalm 110:3.

One of the blessings of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been renewed respect for the Septuagint.  For centuries disrespected as a wildly non-literal, 'free' rendition of a Hebrew text not much different from the modern Masoretic text, it's now realized to have been a literal translation of a older Hebrew text differing from that of the Masoretes.  Thus, some of the 'stranded' New Testament citations of Old Testament verses one unhappily finds in the KJV translation, based on the Masoretic Hebrew, are starting to creep their way back into the Old Testament of modern Bibles, where the New Testament authors thought they belonged all along.  Try to find the Old Testament verse the author of Hebrews is citing in Hebrews 1:6: "And let all the angels of God worship him" -- you'll not find it in the KJV, it's 'stranded'.  It's Deuteronomy 32:43 in the Septuagint: "Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him..." (Brenton Septuagint); but it's found its way back, albeit in debased form, into the NRSV and NEB. While usually the newer versions bring nothing good, only loss and defacement, one can always hope. Might one day this explicit statement that God the Father begot the Messiah before the morning star find its way home, too?

Clement of Alexandria quotes this passage also,

"And do not suppose that my song of salvation is new in the same sense as an implement or a house.  For it was 'before the morning star [pro heosphorou]'; and, 'in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'  But error is old, and truth appears to be a new thing." (Clement, Exhortation to the Greeks, Chapter 1);

"'Awake, thou that sleepest,' He cries, 'and arise from the dead, and there shall shine upon thee Christ the Lord,' the sun of the resurrection, He that is begotten 'before the morning star [pro heosphorou]', He that dispenses life by His own rays." (Clement, Exhortation to the Greeks, Chapter IX).

How does one 'beget' a word?  The answer is found in scripture:

"My heart is astir with gracious words [logos LXX];
I speak my poem to a king;
my tongue is the pen of an expert scribe."
(Psalm 45:1, Tanakh, Jewish Publication Society)

Modern commentators perceive this as an autobiographical confession by the human writer of the Psalm, because, "...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34).  But the early church fathers realized the prophets do not speak from their own supply: "Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: 'Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.'" (Jeremiah 1:9).  Even those passages in Psalms which record the plaint of humanity abandoned by God, like Psalm 22, were found ultimately to be prophetic and thus divine, foretelling the words spoken by the Messiah on the cross.  So those early church writers who quote Psalm 45:1 as 'my heart has emitted my good word', were understanding the speaker here to be no mortal scribe, but the actual Author.

Another Septuagint reference proclaiming the pre-existence of Christ which has been 'lost' from the Masoretic text, is Psalms 72:5: "And he shall continue as long as the sun, and before the moon for ever." (Brenton Septuagint).  Justin quotes this passage as, "...and He shall co-endure with the sun, and before the moon unto all generations." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter LXIV).


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At the Beginning of His way

"The LORD possessed [qanah] me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,
Or the primal dust of the world.
When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,
Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in His inhabited world,
And my delight was with the sons of men."
(Proverbs 8:22-31).

Who is the speaker here?  A poetic fiction?  A very powerful poetic fiction, to be God's master craftsman!: "The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens; by His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew." (Proverbs 3:19-20). Paul proclaimed Jesus Christ as the "wisdom" of God: "For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).

An unfortunate translation of Proverbs 8:22 in the Septuagint helped to precipitate the Arian controversy.  But the Bible does not say God's Wisdom is created -- as if before inventing this novel thing, God had been a fool --, but known, found and declared:

"From where then does wisdom come?
And where is the place of understanding?
It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
And concealed from the birds of the air.
Destruction and Death say,
'We have heard a report about it with our ears.'
God understands its way,
And He knows its place.
For He looks to the ends of the earth,
And sees under the whole heavens,
To establish a weight for the wind,
And apportion the waters by measure.
When He made a law for the rain,
And a path for the thunderbolt,
Then He saw wisdom and declared it;
He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out." (Job 28:20-27).

'Qanah' literally means 'possess', just as the KJV literally translates it; only by extension could it imply 'creation' if that is the manner of coming into possession:

"H7069 BDB

1) to get, acquire, create, buy, possess
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to get, acquire, obtain
1a1a) of God originating, creating, redeeming His people
1a1a1) possessor
1a1b) of Eve acquiring
1a1c) of acquiring knowledge, wisdom
1a2) to buy
1b) (Niphal) to be bought
1c) (Hiphil) to cause to possess"

It is translated 'buy' or 'possess' in the KJV: "Buy 46, get 15, purchased 5, buyer 3, possessor 3, possessed 2, owner 1, recover 1, redeemed 1, misc 7; 84" (Sword Project).

'Wisdom' is one of several names of Jesus in the Old Testament:


Theophanic Angel
Wisdom


Reproach of Christ

"By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward." (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Christ's people continue to suffer reproach for His name: "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified." (1 Peter 4:14). How did Moses share "the reproach of Christ"? He prophesied a Messiah to come (Deuteronomy 18:15), but those who reproached him: Pharaoh, the rebellious children of Israel,-- are not recorded to have thrown this future prophecy in his face. Rather Israel's personally following Christ in the wilderness brought them to share in His reproach. It is unclear how this could be if He did not exist at the time.



Root and Offspring

Jesus Christ is both the "root" and "offspring" of David:

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16).

"Offspring" as born in the flesh, "Root" as pre-existing.

Sons and Slaves

'Only begotten' doesn't mean the Son of God had a beginning, because time is not a condition of God's life, but only of ours. In their haste to avoid misunderstanding on this point, modern versions like the NIV translate 'monogenes' as 'one and only' or 'unique:' "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (John 1:18 NIV); "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV). In defense of this translation they offer Hebrews 11:17, which describes Isaac as Abraham's "only-begotten" (monogenes), even though Ishmael was the elder.

Why is Isaac so described? A contemporary Jewish author who wrote in Greek, Philo Judaeus, also describes Isaac as Abraham's only son, but unlike the author of the letter to Hebrews, he explains why he calls him that. Philo Judaeus is not an inspired author, and his 'allegorical method' often leads to results which are just silly. Nevertheless his understanding of 'sons' and 'slaves' might shed light on the language in Hebrews.

According to Philo, it all comes down to one son (Ishmael) being the son of a slave, and therefore illegitimate, and the other son (Isaac) being the son of the citizen wife, and therefore legitimate. Genesis says, "And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife." (Genesis 16:3), but Philo does not conclude that Hagar too was Abraham's lawful wife, because she was still a slave. Keturah likewise was not a wife: "But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country." (Genesis 25:6).

We are the heirs of centuries of legal tradition which, perceiving the unfairness of penalizing a child for the circumstances of his birth, over which he had no control, entitles illegitimate children to a legal claim on their father. The child's guardian can sue the father for child support, even though the father was never married to the mother. But under Mosaic and also Hellenistic law, illegitimate children had no such rights. They were not even citizens, or members of the assembly: "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 23:2). These law codes looked to the good of the community in discouraging single parenting rather than to what was fair to the child. After all our modern way of doing things may give the child a monthly check, but not a loving father in the home to play with him and teach him. That is not fair to the child either! Illegitimate children had no inheritance rights, no title to the father's property. (If they had, that in and of itself would have been enough to bring the slavery system down!) They were not really even sons to Greek-speakers:

"And this is why he only says that he will give her one son. And now he called it a son, not speaking carelessly or inconsiderately, but for the sake of showing that it is not a foreign, or a supposititious, nor an adopted, nor an illegitimate child, but a legitimate child, a proper citizen, inasmuch as a foreign child cannot be the offspring of a truly citizen soul, for the Greek word teknon (son), is derived from tokos (bringing forth), by way of showing the kindred by which children are, by nature, united to their parents. And, says God, 'I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations'. . ." (Philo Judaeus, On the Change of Names, XXVI. 147).

This is the point that Philo stresses, that Isaac was legitimate: "A legitimate son is borne to the wise man by his wedded wife, a beloved and only son, very beautiful in his person, and very excellent in his disposition." (Philo Judaeus, On Abraham, XXXII. 168).

"In the second place, after he [Abraham] had become the father of this his only legitimate son, he, from the moment of his birth, cherished towards him all the genuine feelings of affection, which exceeds all modest love, and all the ties of friendship which have ever been celebrated in the world. . . But the man who gives the only beloved son that he is possessed of performs an action beyond all powers of language to praise, as he is giving nothing to his own natural affection, but inclining with his whole will and heart to show his devotion to God." (Philo Judaeus, On Abraham, XXXV. 194-196).
"But Abraham, marvelling more and more at the love of his wife for her husband thus continually being renewed and gaining fresh strength, and also at her spirit of forecast so desirous to provide for the future, takes to himself the handmaid who had been approved by her to the extent of having a son by her. . .So then he speedily had a son by this handmaid, but at a very distant period after this he had also a legitimate son, after he and his wife had both despaired of any offspring from one another." (Philo Judaeus, On Abraham, XLVIII. 253-254).

Paul also stresses that Hagar was a slave, Sarah a free woman: "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman." (Galatians 4:22). So that is the point of the "only-begotten" in Hebrews 11:17, not that 'monogenes' means 'one and only' or 'unique.' This incidentally was also true of Athenian law in most periods, that a man could register as his 'son' only the offspring of his lawful, citizen wife. While it is difficult for modern readers to share in the mind-set that illegitimate children are 'slaves' not 'sons,' that is the correct road to go down in understanding Abraham's "only-begotten" younger son.




This Day

It might seem at first glance that Psalm 2:7 testifies to the Savior's birth in time, not eternity:


  • “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”
  • (Psalm 2:7).

However, what does 'this day' mean to the everlasting God?:

“None of these testimonies, however, sets forth distinctly the Savior’s exalted birth; but when the words are addressed to Him, 'Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee,' this is spoken to Him by God, with whom all time is today, for there is no evening with God, as I consider, and there is no morning, nothing but time that stretches out, along with His unbeginning and unseen life. The day is today with Him in which the Son was begotten, and thus the beginning of His birth is not found, as neither is the day of it.” (Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book 1, Chapter 32).

I am Come

Some people feel that Jesus' 'I am Come' sayings give evidence for Jesus' pre-existence of His incarnation (never mind for now the part about coming from heaven):


  • “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
  • (Matthew 5:17).


  • “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
  • (Matthew 10:34)


  • “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”
  • (Matthew 10:35).


  • “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?”
  • (Luke 12:49).


  • “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: . . .”
  • (Luke 12:51).


  • “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”
  • (John 5:43).


  • “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.”
  • (John 9:39).


  • “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
  • (John 10:10).


  • “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”
  • (John 12:46).


Detractors point out that God 'sends' the prophets, and John the Baptist is said to have 'come:' "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil." (Matthew 11:28); "For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." (Matthew 21:32).

However these do not seem to be true parallels, because what is striking about the 'I am Come' statements is that they ascribe self-directed intentionality to the 'coming.' If 'I come' in response to some self-conscious directive that I myself experienced as a motivating factor, then I cannot have first come into existence when I arrived. At a bare minimum, it would be pretentious for a created being to announce portentiously, 'I have come into this world'. . .the catcalls from the crowd would begin, 'Did you just parachute in from Mars?'



Epiphany

The word 'epiphany' means appearance or manifestation. It is used six times in the New Testament, five of those times, 2 Thessalonians 5:8, 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:8, and Titus 2:13, referring to the Second Coming. The word itself is not used only of deity. The use of this and related terms in the Septuagint tends somewhat in an elevated direction, "Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine [επιφανον LXX]; and we shall be saved." (Psalm 80:3). More to the point is its use in 2 Timothy 1:10, where it refers to the incarnation:

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing [επιφανειας] of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles." (2 Timothy 1:8-11).

We do not usually refer to somebody's birth into this world as a appearance or manifestation, because this would tend to imply that the party already existed prior to entry into this world.

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The Ending of the Sonship?

The most ominous 'Oneness' Pentecostal doctrine is the 'Ending of the Sonship'.  Not content to deny eternity to 'the Son' prior to the incarnation, they place Him on death row at the close of the millenium! Here is how David Bernard, 'Oneness' apologist, expresses it:

"The Ending Of The Sonship
"Not only did the Sonship have a beginning, but it will, in at least one sense, have an ending. This is evident from I Corinthians 15:23-28...Verse 28 says, 'And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.' This verse of Scripture is impossible to explain if one thinks of a 'God the Son' who is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father. But it is easily explained if we realize that 'Son of God' refers to a specific role that God temporarily assumed for the purpose of redemption. When the reasons for the Sonship cease to exist, God (Jesus) will cease acting in His role as Son, and the Sonship will be submerged back into the greatness of God, who will return to His original role as Father, Creator, and Ruler of all. Ephesians 5:27 describes this same scene in different terms: 'That he [Christ] might present it to himself a glorious church...' Jesus will present the church to Himself! How can this be, in light of I Corinthians 15:24, which describes the Son presenting the kingdom to the Father? The answer is clear: Jesus in His role as Son, and as His final act as Son, will present the church to Himself in His role as God the Father." (David Bernard, the Oneness of God, Chapter 5).

Was Mary's baby boy born only for planned obsolescence, to be tossed aside when His usefulness was at an end? No! Those who love the Son need not fear, we will live in His presence in the life to come:

"The Word became flesh, not for a seasion, but forever. We shall see Him in the midst of the throne, 'a Lamb as it had been slain,' bearing the marks of Calvary, yet possessing all the attributes of Deity. The Throne itself will belong to God and to the Lamb. Thus the purposes of the Incarnation lay hold both on time and eternity. Far-reaching they are, including the whole scope of our Lord's mediatorial dignity and ministry. These very purposes demand One in whom Deity and humanity shall be indissolubly united, and are forever met in the fullness of our beloved Savior." (H. C. Hewlett, The Glories of Our Lord, p. 51).

Jesus' hearers expected Christ to abide for ever: "The people answered Him, 'We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, "The Son of Man must be lifted up"? Who is this Son of Man?'" (John 12:34).  Though their understanding of the two advents of Christ needed work, their insight into scripture was sound: the Old Testament does portray an everlasting covenant of love and fellowship between God the Father and His Messiah, enduring to all eternity.  How many scriptures must one rip out of the Bible to do away with the eternal fellowship between God the Father and His Messiah? A partial sample:

"He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be his Father, and he shall be My son..." (2 Samuel 7:13-14).
"O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance...Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.  For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:5-11).
"I have found My servant David; With My holy oil I have anointed him, With whom My hand shall be established; Also My arm shall strengthen him...He shall cry to Me, 'You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.' Also I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My mercy I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall stand firm with him.  His seed also I will make to endure forever, And his throne as the days of heaven...My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.' Selah." (Psalm 89:20-37).
"Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s Son. He will judge Your people with righteousness, and Your poor with justice...They shall fear You As long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.  He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more...His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun.  And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed." (Psalm 72:1-17).
"The LORD has sworn and will not relent, 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.'" (Psalm 110:4).
"Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." (Isaiah 9:7).
"I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14).

Nor does the New Testament dissent:

"He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1:32-33).
"And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever." (John 8:35).
"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion over Him." (Romans 6:8-9).
"And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end." (Hebrews 3:5-6).
"Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).

Bizarrely, Dr. Bernard is willing to allow the "body" of 'the Son' to go marching on, albeit evidently devoid of soul and spirit: "Although the glorified body of Christ will continue to exist, all the reasons for the reign of the Sonship will be gone and all the roles played by the Son will be over." (Ibid.) Perhaps as a macabre tourist attraction, like Lenin's plasticized corpse? Jesus is the first-fruits of those who sleep: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept." (1 Corinthians 15:20). His resurrection is the surety and assurance of our own future rising; yet the 'Oneness' Pentecostals want it known that the Lord's resurrection, upon which our own is patterned, was only temporary, and not to eternal life! Or perhaps we are to take comfort in the thought that our bodies, too, will go marching onwards as untenanted zombies. This is a good case in point showing that, once you turn onto the exit ramp off the Bible highway, there is no telling at what strange and unwelcome destination you will end up.