By Dr. Anne Davis
What does it mean that Yeshua is the only begotten Son of God?
We learn that Yeshua is the ONLY “begotten” son of God in John 1:14, 18, which means he has been born as a son of the God whom he calls Father. Yet, God declares that He is the Father of Israel, and God calls the people of Israel His firstborn son (Ex 4:22; Deut 32:6). Therefore, the children of Israel are also sons of God. Furthermore, to add to our riddle, all Gentiles with faith in Christ Jesus are called sons of God as well (Gal 3:26). So, what is happening? What does it mean that Yeshua is the ONLY one who has been “begotten” as a son of God?
I suggest we can understand this concept through the Hebraic sense of time, which is not linear. Linear time views the past as over and the future has not yet happened. However, the Hebraic understanding perceives God IN time because He is the Creator of time. So, God is in all aspects of time, and to the extent that we are “one with God”, we can be with Him in all aspects of time. Let me give you some examples.
When we first become children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, God perceives us as completely holy and righteous. We learn that powerful concept in Genesis 1:27. “God created mankind in His own image,” which is expressed in the completed Hebraic sense of time. That means He created mankind (including you and me) in a perfect condition. Even more startling, when God rested on the seventh day, His work was finished because that is also expressed as a completed act. I don’t know about you, but the completion of God’s work appears to be still future to me. And God’s people are certainly not yet completely righteous and holy. So, how do we explain this apparent anomaly of God’s creation of holiness in His people and the completion of His creation when we see that there is more to be done?
I suggest we can perceive the Hebraic sense of time as follows. When God makes a promise, we can consider it done because it will happen. And what about the present time? When we walk in righteousness, walking as Jesus Christ walked (1 John 2:6), we are manifesting now what God has completed in the past by promise and will complete in the future. We are now in the process of becoming righteous.
So, those with faith in Christ Jesus are sons of God by a past promise. They become sons of God when they demonstrate righteousness by walking in the ways of God in their lives today. And they will be sons of God at some time in the future when God’s work is complete.
Now let’s look at God’s work as a birth process. When a person first belongs to God, they are “conceived” as sons of God. Those with faith in Christ Jesus are now in the birth canal but the birth has not yet occurred. Yeshua, on the other hand, has been birthed or “begotten” as a completed, perfect creation, which is what we will be some day also.
I suggest it’s critically important that we understand this birth process because, according to the Hebraic sense of time, we can bring the future into our lives today when we truly believe in a way that leads to a walk of righteousness. So, let me leave you with the encouraging words of Yeshua. “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace,” (Heb 4:16), which we can do when we bring the future into our lives today.
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Dr. Anne Davis is a professor of Biblical Studies who enjoys working with graduate students to enhance their exegetical skills for exploring the depth of Scripture.