John 3:16 says, “For God so loved that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” At Christmas we remember the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ birth is of universal importance because Jesus is God who set aside His Divine prerogatives, clothed Himself in humanity and suffered the punishment of man’s sin so men can be saved. John 3:16 famously describes Jesus as the “only begotten Son.” That Jesus is begotten of God may seem to be at odds with the Biblical doctrine that Jesus is the eternal God. If Jesus is the eternally existent God, in what way is He begotten of God?
Psalm 2:7 presents a powerful promise of the coming Messiah. God comforts His servant David with the promises He will establish His own Son as King of Jerusalem who will reign over all the earth. The Messianic promise of God is certified by the Divine decree, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” In the New Testament Paul declares that Jesus is the Son decreed by God in Psalm 2. The begottenness of Jesus is the eternal decree of God to establish God the Son as the Messiah of Israel who would reign as King over the entire earth.
John 1:14 connects the incarnation- God the Son’s taking to Himself humanity- with His being begotten. Jesus is begotten of God in His birth into the world. Jesus was not conceived by natural means but by the power of God uniquely working to generate a child. Jesus’ begottenness is the working of God to miraculously create a body for the Son within Mary’s womb. His begottenness is in the working of God to send the Son of God, the seed of woman, into humanity to become the Savior of man.
God the Son is the eternally existent God who created all things. He is fully God and equal with the Father in existence, eternality, infinity, majesty, power and glory. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply the least inferiority. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply a point in eternity in which the Father existed alone without the Son or the Spirit. Jesus is described as begotten because of the Divine decree that the Son would take upon Himself humanity. Through His humanity Jesus would become the Savior of those who trust Him and He would be the conquering King that would rule all the earth. Jesus is begotten in His human personage and in His Messianic work. God the Son did not spring into existence on Christmas day (or nine months before His birth). God the Son has no source nor origination. The Son of God is fully God, the second person of the Trinity, who shares entirely in the identical, eternal essence and existence of the Triune Godhead.