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Begotten of God
What is the meaning of the term, “begotten”?
The word, beget, means to procreate as a sire (male progenitor, the father), to generate, to produce. In the English language, the father begets and the mother conceives. According to W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the Greek word, gennao, is used:
Of men begetting (Matthew 1: 2-16)
Of women bearing (Luke 1: 13, 57)
Of conception (Matthew 1: 20)
Of the act of God in the birth of Christ (Acts 13: 33; Hebrews 1: 5; 5: 5)
In the Passive Voice, to be born
Allegorically (Galatians 4: 24)
The same is true of the word, apokeuo. (James 1: 18)
Is the concept of “begotten by God” appropriately applied to God’s children?
In the natural realm we find that those begotten by their father, and conceived by their mother, after the appropriate gestation period, are born to become children of their father and mother. Since Jesus used this model to help us understand spiritual realities, we would expect to find the concept of “begotten” applied in the spiritual realm. Consider the following verses. The newer versions tend to obscure the concept in their translations but the KJV has several references.
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1: 18) KJV
For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus, I (Paul was an agent of God) have begotten you through the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4: 15) KJV
I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, who I (Paul was an agent of God) have begotten in my bonds (Philemon 10). KJV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1: 3) KJV
Being born again (begotten again), not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever (1 Peter 1: 23) KJV
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born (begotten) of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him that is begotten of him (1 John 5: 1) KJV
We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (1 John 5: 18) KJV
God begets us when the word of God, the seed, is implanted in the heart and begins to develop. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. This is marked by receiving Jesus by believing in His name. (John 1: 12, 13; Romans 10: 17)
We must believe:
Our faith is perfected or completed when we are led to be obedient to the faith and obey the gospel. (Acts 6: 7; 1 Thessalonians 1: 6- 10; James 2: 14- 26)
God has given obedience of faith so that we may know when God reckons our faith for righteousness.
Belief is a function of the heart. Romans 10: 9, 10
The word is implanted in the heart. (James 1: 21; Luke 8: 15)
When we are begotten of God:
God begets us through the word of God, the incorruptible seed. (1 Peter 1: 23)
God begets us through the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4: 15)
God begets us by the seed. (Luke 8: 11)
Why is there difficulty in translating the word, gennao (the primary word under consideration)?
The difficulty is from:
We must always consider the context of the passage. If it speaks about coming to faith, the word, the seed, the gospel then we can correctly understand the passage to be speaking of a begettal. If the subject is already a believer, such as Nicodemus, we conclude that it refers to a “birth”, a coming forth.
What is the definitive passage in regard to the begettal?
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born (begotten) not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1: 12, 13).
Those that receive Christ by believing in His name are given the right to become children of God. They believe, but they have not been born of water and the Spirit. They do not become children of God immediately upon believing. Coming to faith is the essential first step in the regeneration process. Being born (begotten) is in the past tense; the new birth is still future for them.
What is the result of not making the connection between the begettal and coming to faith in God?
If we fail to make this connection then we have failed to
understand the first step in spiritual regeneration. If we do not understand
the first step we will invariably misunderstand the second step, the new birth,
being born of water and the Spirit. Many will confuse the spiritual begettal
with the birth. They will assume they have been born again by coming to faith.
Others place the birth before begettal. Some of these assume one is regenerated
by “baptism,” such as infant “baptism,” before the infant comes to faith.
Others of this latter category teach God gives the Spirit to the elect in order
to come to faith. In either case they have the cart before the horse.
Regeneration consists of:
1. being begotten by God by the implantation of the word and coming to faith.
2. then being born again of water (baptism) and the Spirit (being immersed in
and receiving the Spirit to dwell in us).
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Last Update 09/26/12