God the Son: The Only Begotten

We have been examining the doctrine of the Trinity in recent newsletters. Having looked at the Trinity as a whole and at God the Father specifically, we will now draw our attention to the second person of the Godhead: God the Son.

The Son of God bears a unique relationship with the Father. John the Evangelist describes Him as “the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14), or, as the old King James Version puts it, “the only begotten Son from the Father.” Scholars debate the exact way to translate this phrase into English, but John’s meaning is clear: there is a unique relationship between the Father and the Son. The Son of God is uniquely the Son of the Father like no one else. We, by virtue of our salvation, are sons of God, but only through adoption. The second person of the Trinity however is the only entity who was begotten by the Father. We, as adopted children of God, are by nature different from the Father. We are dependent creatures, He is the independent Creator, but the Son of God is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). There is a unique relationship between the Father and the Son.

Because of this unique relationship that the Son has with the Father, Scripture teaches us that the Son is like the Father in every way. As alluded to above, He is the “exact imprint of [God’s] nature (Hebrews 1:3). In all the essential ways, the Son is like the Father. As our catechism teaches, “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 4). This isn’t just true for the Father, but also for the Son whom He has eternally begotten. All that is true of the Father is true for the Son. All of the Father’s attributes are the Son’s as well. He’s the spitting image of the Father. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul wrote that “in [the Son] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). The Son is as much God as the Father is.

Such truth is hard to fathom, and yet what’s even harder to fathom is the fact that the Son of God, while having all the attributes, all the perfections, all the rights, and all the privileges of being God, became a man. The eternal Son of God became a finite son of man. In obedience to His Father, He condescended, He stooped low, and became like us so that He could save us. The Son of God, eternally begotten by the Father, was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. The Son of God, who does not change, to whom nothing can be added, “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). The Son of God, who knew nothing but the perfect blessedness of fellowship with the Father and Spirit, experienced the unmitigated suffering and wrath on the cross for sinners. The Son of God was made like us in every respect, so that He could remove our sins from us by dying in our place (Hebrews 2:17). Next time, we will explore more of the mystery of the Son’s incarnation.

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