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“Jesus – The Begotten Son of God” - Page 2

Now look at Acts 13:33 and Psalm 2:7. Treffry, Eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ, on Psalm 2:7: “Today I have become your Father”:

“This passage occurs 4 times in the scriptures, three times cited in the NT (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5 and 5:5). Hence we are assured of its importance and significance and equally of its impressiveness, which last of course must depend on the clearness with which it enunciates the truth and the consequent facility with which its meaning would be apprehended. It cannot therefore be obscure or enigmatic, nor can its sense be remote or recondite [so Ps. 110:1], uncertain or ambiguous. A text possessing these characteristics would not be quoted so often, especially as is the fact, without an accompanying explanation.

“A second remark, still more obviously true, is that in its proper sense, it must be appropriate to each discourse in which it appears. Hence of several interpretations the one to be preferred is the one which is most fully adapted to the whole; while, on the other hand, such as are limited in their aptness to but one example of citation are strongly to be suspected, if not summarily dismissed.

“A third circumstance, not to be wholly passed over, is that in every instance the passage is addressed to Jews. Its exposition therefore must be conducted on the acknowledged principles of Jewish theology [this applies whether addressed to Jews or others]. No sense which would not be appreciated by a Jewish reader can be other than incorrect. These rules, it is presumed, are so evident as not to demand formal proof, and if duly regarded will save much useless labor…

“Is it supposable that by generation the holy spirit  merely meant appointment; and that the phrase ‘I have begotten you,’ signifies only ‘I have constituted you’?  The ideas of generation and appointment are wholly dissimilar; and with the utmost latitude of figure, it seems impossible to understand how the one can be designed to convey the other. Nor is this the only objection which the phraseology of the passage suggests. For if it is a prophecy merely derivative of the Messiahship, the term ‘today’ will signify the day of the actual consecration of our Lord by the anointing of the spirit. But this is at variance with the fact, for, before that event, it will on all hands be admitted that he was the Son of God. [Yes, but how long before?]

“This exposition is prohibited also by the second of the above rules. Not to go further it is altogether inapposite, for example, to the discourse before us. The Apostle has to prove the superiority of Christ to the angels; and in order to do this, he is supposed to quote the declaration of Yahweh ‘You are the Messiah; this day I have appointed you that office.’ But this proves nothing, except that the Messiah was a divinely commissioned person, which of course no Jew would ever question.

“Nothing then seems more evident than that the passage under consideration [Ps. 2:7] cannot describe the designation of our Redeemer in his office and work. This opinion does not in any aspect possess the smallest plausibility and may therefore be decisively dismissed.

“Other expositors represent the passage as a prophecy of the resurrection of Christ, an interpretation which makes God the father and the earth or the grave the mother of our Lord. Apart from every other objection, the harshness and offensiveness of such a figure would, it is apprehended, be conclusive against the opinion. But a not less palpable reason for its rejection is that it supposes Christ to have become the Son of God at the resurrection, which is not the fact. Or to have become so in some peculiar and eminent sense, which as we have before shown, is equally untenable. Every expression in the NT which gives emphasis to the divine Sonship refers to a period before the resurrection.

“There are two other expositions of the passage. In both it is referred to the divine sonship; and our preference, on whichever side it may be, will not therefore affect the main point of our enquiry. Of these, the first supposes the immediate object of the oracle to be the resurrection, considered as the evidence or declaration that Christ was truly and in a proper sense the Son of God. In this case, according to an allowable Hebraism, the passage will signify ‘You are my Son; this day (of the resurrection) I have declared (and by indubitable evidence demonstrated) your (proper and divine) sonship.’ With the second opinion, the passage generally is explained, according to its literal sense, as an absolute affirmation of our Lord’s divine and real Sonship. And unless there is some weighty reason for preferring the more remote [and less literal] sense, no doubt can be entertained that the second opinion is to be preferred.

“The only reason for the declarative sense is found in a part of Paul’s discourse at Antioch in Pisidia, recorded in Acts 13:16ff. The passage supposed to favor the declarative view is as follows: ‘And we declare to you glad tidings, how the promise which was made to the fathers, God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that he raised up Jesus again, as it is also written in the second psalm, “You are my Son, this day I have begotten you.” And as concerning the fact that he raised him from the dead, never again to return to corruption, he spoke in this way: “I will give you the sure mercies of David.” Therefore he says in another psalm: “You will not allow your holy one to see corruption”’ (vv. 32-35). Here then it is supposed that the fulfillment of the prophecy is distinctly referred to our Lord’s resurrection.

“But this may be rationally doubted. The word again (v. 33) has been inserted by our translators without any sufficient warrant [translations are tricking you!], while the participle, anastesas, raised up’ does by no means necessarily suggest the resurrection. In fact when the verb does have the sense of resurrection, it is usually connected with some determining phrase, such as ‘from the dead.’ Otherwise its meaning simply is to raise up, or passively to be raised up. This is the general, if not the invariable usage throughout Luke’s narrative.   (For example see Acts 3:22, 26; 5:6, 17, 34, etc.)  More particularly, Peter, in his discourse on the day of Pentecost, speaks of God having promised to  raise up Christ (anastesein) to sit on the throne of David (Acts 2:30). So also in the prediction of the great prophet (Deut. 18:15-18) the word is twice employed with the same purpose by the LXX and this passage is quoted by the same Apostle on another occasion (Acts 3:22). In these examples the reference is 6 Focus on the Kingdom obviously NOT to the resurrection, but to the natural production and the official elevation of Christ.

“Throughout the whole of the discourse in the synagogue at Antioch, in the use of this and the synonymous word egeire, the Apostle maintains a clear distinction to the same effect. Thus v. 22: ‘He raised up David.’ v. 23: ‘Of this man’s seed God raised up Jesus.’ v. 30: ‘But God raised him from the dead.’ v. 33: ‘God has fulfilled his promise in that he raised up Jesus. And as for the fact that he raised him FROM THE DEAD, no more to return to corruption, he said…’ In the latter examples there seems an emphatic contrast between the natural production or official appointment and the resurrection from the dead. This is intimated in the particles at the beginning of v. 34, as well as in the other peculiarities of its structure. Had the allusion in this and the preceding verse been the same, the words ‘from the dead,’ if not inserted in each (vv. 33 and 34) would at least have occurred in the former, their omission in the latter not being of so great importance to the sense. The fact, however, is directly the reverse. The legitimate conclusion, therefore, seems to be that the Apostle begins to speak of the resurrection in the 34th verse and not in v. 33.

“There is yet one other consideration which I apprehend may be regarded as decisive against the alleged reference to the resurrection. It is that the divine promise here referred to is explained in v. 23 as fulfilled in raising  up Jesus, not from the dead, but of the seed of David. ‘The promise made to the fathers,’ says Outrein, ‘God did not fulfill in the first place and principally by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but by sending him in the flesh and by appointing him to the various functions required of him.’

 “It may be added that the introduction of the doctrine of the resurrection renders the divine oracle under consideration less appropriate than it otherwise would be to the passages where it occurs. Such an allusion does not happily harmonize with the magnificence of the 2nd Psalm. It affords no proof of Jesus’ superiority to angels, but tends rather to a contrary conclusion…On the whole therefore it may fairly be doubted whether there exists any valid evidence in favor of the declarative sense of the passage before us. And hence we have no alternative but to explain it according to its literal acceptation, as an absolute affirmation of the divine Sonship of Christ. That this is the exposition which would most readily occur to the Jew,  is too evident to require any detailed proof.”1 [Treffry goes on to speak of an eternal day and an “emanitive production.” But he gets Acts 13:33 right!]

The time of the generation of the Son as the seed of David is clearly described in Matthew and Luke. The collapse of the word “today” into a meaningless eternity means abandoning the proper meaning of “today” and eliminates the Truth of Scripture.



1 Treffry, Eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ, London, 1849, pp. 281-285.

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Reprinted with permission from Focus on the Kingdom Volume 14 No. 11, August, 2012

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