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Calvin, Psalm 2 and eternal generation

February 11, 2009

In his Commentary on the Psalms John Calvin writes the following on Ps. ii.7

When God says, I have begotten thee, it ought to be understood as referring to men’s understanding or knowledge of it; for David was begotten by God when the choice of him to be king was clearly manifested. The words this day, therefore, denote the time of this manifestation; for as soon as it became known that he was made king by divine appointment, he came forth as one who had been lately begotten of God, since so great an honor could not belong to a private person. The same explanation is to be given of the words as applied to Christ. He is not said to be begotten in any other sense than as the Father bore testimony to him as being his own Son. This passage, I am aware, has been explained by many as referring to the eternal generation of Christ; and from the words this day, they have reasoned ingeniously as if they denoted an eternal act without any relation to time. But Paul, who is a more faithful and a better qualified interpreter of this prophecy, in Acts 13:33, calls our attention to the manifestation of the heavenly glory of Christ of which I have spoken. This expression, to be begotten, does not therefore imply that he then began to be the Son of God, but that his being so was then made manifest to the world.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2009 3:24 am

    On January 31, on my “Reiterations” blog, I posted the same comments by Calvin on Psalm 2:7. Great minds think alike!

  2. February 12, 2009 7:07 pm

    I knew I’d read it recently but I couldn’t think where!

  3. June 10, 2009 5:03 pm

    Calvin has an interesting point in relation to Psalm 2, but the doctrine of eternal generation is still very important and entirely Scriptural. I recently heard James White debate a Jehovah’s Witness on the deity of Christ and because he would not proclaim eternal generation, he was standing on shaky ground and could not offer good responses to valid questions the JW had.

  4. June 12, 2009 4:47 pm

    Thanks for your comment Cody, how would you construct an argument in favour of eternal generation if Ps. 2:7 cannot be used as proof? For what it’s worth, I would appeal to Ps. 2:7 using Rahner’s formula.

  5. June 16, 2009 5:31 pm

    I would start by appealing to various Scriptures, for instance:
    “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God [or Son], he has revealed him” (John 1:18)

    John 5:26 “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.”

    Colossians 1:19 “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.”

    It seems that Jesus is begotten not in the sense that He is made or born a human, but that He is the eternal Son of the Father, before time. Not in exactly the same way that we have sons, but something at least somewhat similar to it. The Son finds His life in the Father, who is the Head of the Son. If this were not so, John 5 would not say that the Father had GRANTED life to be in the Son. This is historical Orthodox Christianity, as even the Council of Nicea argues:
    “Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.”

    This is also implicit in Jesus being called “the Word,” a Jewish concept in the Aramaic translations of Scripture (the Targums) of God using His Word (aramaic “Memra”) to create the universe– this Word comes from God and is identified with God, but is also a mediator between God and creation. The Word comes from the very being of God and is not created, but is an extension of God and submits to Him.

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