FIRSTBORN ONLY BEGOTTEN CREATED
Some people say the words ‘firstborn’ and ‘only begotten’ mean that Jesus is the only ‘born’ Son of God.
But, how could He be the first born Son AND the only born Son?
And what is meant by ‘only begotten‘?
Is Jesus eternal or created?
Concerning the word firstborn:
In the Bible the word firstborn is used two ways: in the ‘physical’ sense and in the ‘spiritual’ sense.
#1. Jesus is Mary’s firstborn Son in the physical sense.
#2. Jesus is also referred to as firstborn in the spiritual sense…..firstborn over many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29), and firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15) This refers to His preeminence and sovereignty above all other beings and all created things:
For those whom He (God) foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that He (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29 ESV
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Colossians 1:15 NIV
In the ABOVE verses, Jesus is referred to as the firstborn.
But in the verse BELOW, King David is also referred to as the firstborn, even though he was the YOUNGEST son of Jesse:
And I will appoint him (David, Jesse’s youngest son) to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. Psalm 89:27 NIVEllicott’s Commentary for English Readers:
Psalm 89:27 Firstborn.–Jesse’s youngest son (David) BECAME the firstborn, the favourite son of God. Here, of course, the epithet is extended to all the Davidic succession.
Psalm 89:27 – Also I WILL MAKE HIM (David) my firstborn. There is but one true “Firstborn” – “the Only Begotten of the Father.” All other so called “firstborns” – as Israel (Exodus 4:22), Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:9), David – are reflections or representatives, in some way or other, of the real and only true “Firstborn.” Higher than the kings of the earth; literally, the most high above the kings of the earth; i.e. standing to the other “kings of the earth” as “the Most High” to his angelic ministers. Psalm 89:27
Jesus is also called the firstborn from the dead:
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. Colossians 1:18 ESV
…..and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, Revelation 1:5 NIV
GREEK have preeminence.
Verb – Present Participle Active – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s 4409: To have preeminence, be chief, be first. From protos; to be first.
Lazarus came back from the dead before Jesus. Yet, we see above that Jesus is called the firstborn from the dead.
14So Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” John 11:14,15 BSB
44The man who had been dead came out with his hands and feet bound in strips of linen, and his face wrapped in a cloth. John 11:43,44 BSB
Concerning ‘only begotten‘:
Compare these next 2 verses: the SAME GREEK WORD for ‘only begotten’ is used in both, regarding GOD’S ‘only begotten’ Son AND regarding ABRAHAM’S ‘only begotten’ son:
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. John 3:16 KJB
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Hebrews 11:17 KJB
one and only son, STRONG’S / GREEK
Adjective – Accusative Masculine Singular
Strong’s 3439: Only, only-begotten; unique. From monos and ginomai; only-born, i.e. Sole.
However, when Isaac was born to Abraham, he ALREADY HAD another son, Ishmael:
Abraham was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. Genesis 16:16 ESV
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Genesis 21:5 ESV
Hebrews 11:17 refers to Isaac as Abraham’s only begotten son, because Isaac was unique & special. He was the one born of God’s promise and covenant.
Likewise, Jesus fulfilled the promise of the coming Messiah and the new covenant. Jesus is unique, special, one of a kind.
Is Jesus a created being?
We live in a PHYSICAL universe, governed by physical laws. God is SPIRITUAL. Who He is, – this is hard for us as physical beings to comprehend,
God, who is eternal and has no beginning!
ONE God, yet AT THE SAME TIME THREE persons!
All things came into being through Him(Jesus), and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. John 1:3 NASB
…..not even ONE thing came into existence….that includes Jesus. He is not created.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 ESV
Then God said, “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness. Genesis 1:26 ESV
……….ONE God, THREE persons
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known. John 1:18 BSB
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. John 1:1 BSB
The following is an excerpt from a message by John Piper Before Time Began, Jesus Was:
John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.” Those words “in the beginning” in Greek are identical to the first two words of the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). I don’t think that’s an accident.
“Jesus was there not only before matter; he was there before time. He did not come into being; he just was.”
What John is saying is that before there was any matter, before anything had been made, Jesus was. “In the beginning was the Word.” So, there at the beginning, when those things were brought into being, he was there already. That’s the point of “in the beginning.” And another confirmation that John is thinking that way is that the very next thing he tells us about Jesus’s action is everything was made through him. So, creation is in his mind as he writes the words, “in the beginning.” Jesus was there as the Son of God in the beginning.
Let me say it in an Einsteinian way, and then I will give you the biblical phrase for Einstein’s theory of relativity. Jesus was there not only before matter; he was there before time. Because the twentieth century brought the discovery that matter and time are coextensive. No matter, no time. Kind of a controversial thing biblically sometimes. But listen to the great doxology. Now, I don’t think the biblical writers knew the theory of relativity. They just knew truth. Jude 25:
To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
He’s lifting up his doxological praise of Jesus Christ and he says, “Before all time, and now in these times of the ages, and forever, glory be to him.” Or take 2 Timothy 1:9:
[God] gave us grace in Christ Jesus before the times of the ages.
So, when John says, “In the beginning was the Word,” echoing Genesis 1 — the wider references to being before time is meant to communicate that before anything else was, he was. So, get the time right. He did not come into being — he just was.