The Apostles Creed: His only begotten Son
by Mark Grilus
We continue with our look at the next statement in this creed with regard to the Son. His importance is verified in that He should be so prominent as to be in half of all the statements of this creed.
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
The early Christian community would have been intimate with the person of Jesus, and the writings of the Old and New Testaments. The statement “only begotten Son” had a very specific meaning to these believers. Verses used to formulate this statement, (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1John 4:9) carry the meaning of only unique by nature and only one of its kind within a specific relationship. Both were applied to Jesus.
Isaiah 9:6 states, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” hinting at the eternal essence of His person. The writers used this word “begotten” rather than created to express this important concept. The Son as unique and sharing the same nature as the Father. This would be further developed in later creeds, specifically the Nicene Creed, to refute the error of the Arians. Arianism which rose in the fourth century, would teach that Jesus was a created being, and not eternal God by nature.
That the man Jesus is called “only begotten”, inseparably links His two natures together, that Jesus is both God and man, and is the Christ. He did not becoming the Christ, a heresy of the second century called Adoptionism. “Our Lord”, distinct from “the Lord,” speaks of a personal and right relationship that He has with his chosen people.
The Father and the Son have a unique relationship, which is not shared by the creation. We are called “sons of God” only by adoption (Ephesians 1:5). The Word, prior to the incarnation is coequal and coeternal. One cannot comprehend this, it is indeed a mystery. Scripture reveals to us Who God is, yet we are finite beings, who must accept what we read, and believe the great mysteries of God.