What does it mean that Jesus Christ is "begotten, not made" as said in the Nicene Creed?
Discover the purpose of this phrase and its biblical sources as we examine the proper meaning of "begotten, not made."
'Begotten, Not Made' in the Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed, or Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, also known as the "Symbol of Faith" is the sole ecumenical creed as it is accepted as authoritative by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and major Protestant churches. It was adopted in its current form by the Christian fathers of the Ecumenical Councils, the First Council in Nicea (325 AD), and the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople (381 AD).
The phrase "begotten, not made" comes from the second sentence of the Creed in which the God-man Jesus Christ is defined for faithful and theological understanding, saying:
"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten,
begotten of the Father before all ages;
Light of Light, true God of true God;
begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father,
by whom all things were made."
Jesus is called the Only-begotten because He alone is begotten of the essence of God the Father, unlike the other children of God (men and angels), whose essence differs from that of the Father.
The next words, begotten of the Father before all ages, emphasize that the Son is begotten of the Father's essence before the beginning of time, which came into being along with the world. The universe may not yet have even existed, but the Son is eternally begotten of the Father.
To further emphasize the authenticity of Christ's divinity, the Creed states that He is begotten, not made of one (and the same) essence with the Father. Unlike all other beings, Christ is not a creation, but the offspring of the Father's essence.
Read the full Nicene Creed here and learn more about its significance in Christian history.
The Only Begotten Son
In the first chapter of John's gospel, the Apostle gives an explanation of who Christ is, the only-begotten Son of God the Father. Read the scripture passage of John 1:14-18 NKJV below presenting the biblical description of Jesus Christ:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' "
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Furthermore, the Apostle John describes the purpose of Jesus' incarnation in the third chapter of his gospel, including the very well-known John 3:16. Read the scripture passage of John 3:16-21 NKJV below:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
In John's first epistle, he summarizes the love of God in sending His Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ that we might live through Him eternally.
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." (1 John 4:9 NKJV)
Emphasis is added to each of the Bible verses above.
Sysoev, Daniel. The Law of God. New Jersey. Daniel Syseov Inc. 2016
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