Is the doctrine of eternal generation biblical? What is the doctrine of eternal generation?
The doctrine of eternal generation is generally defined as the eternal act of the Father to generate the Person of the Son (Jesus). This in no way indicates that Jesus was created, but is an attempt to account for the Father/Son terms used in Scripture and the passages that speak of Jesus as "begotten of" the Father.
Because of the difficulty in making distinctions between Jesus being eternally generated from the Father (in which Jesus is considered eternal as are the Father and Spirit) and the unbiblical teaching of Jesus being created by the Father, some have objected to the doctrine of eternal generation as a biblical concept. This argument is not a recent one, but rather a historically important debate dating back to the Nicene Creed in the fourth century.
The Nicene Creed states, "I believe...in one Lord 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." These many distinctions seek to represent Jesus as eternal, yet in Father/Son relationship with the Father and part of the Triune Godhead. Stated in this manner, the doctrine of eternal generation is a biblical one that well represents the many ways in which Jesus is declared both the Son and eternal God.
For example, John 1:1-3 teaches, "In the In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." Colossians 1:15-17 adds, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
In Hebrews 1:3, the author states, "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." In John 10:30, Jesus declared, "I and the Father are one." Unique in Person yet one as God, Father, Son, and Spirit exist as Triune God. Eternal generation seeks to represent this biblical teaching. Though perhaps limited by human understanding in the ability to communicate this concept, the doctrine of eternal generation is the orthodox understanding taught in the Nicene Creed, developed in the creeds and teachings of the Reformers, and held by Christians today.
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