Is Jesus eternal? That was one of the main questions addressed at the first Council of Nicaea. They encapsulated the answer to our question inside the Nicene Creed… but they used an odd word to do it. What does the word “begotten mean”?

Here is the creed:

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.

Begotten in this sense refers to the special relationship between Jesus and God. In the Hebrew meaning of the word, “begotten” refers to a son being the same as the father. Just the way that Isaac was “begotten” of Jacob. He was the same as him.

Our special guest for this episode is Professor Gerald Bray.

What do you think? Should they have used a different word?

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