Theological use of 'Begotten'

The theological use of [begotten] makes the infinite difference between human begetting and divine begetting explicit by the addition of the word eternal.17 What is temporal is part of this world that God created; what is eternal is divine. When God created the world he created time. He himself is not limited or constrained by time. He is the Lord of time. Thus to speak of the eternal begetting of the Son is to speak of what takes place within the life of God, of a reality outside of human experience, not definable in human categories, and not bounded by temporal constraints.


United Trinitarian Works

The Bible teaches clearly that no divine work is the work of any one person of the Trinity. Their works unite them not distinguish them.5

In the Bible no divine act or operation is ever depicted as the work of one divine person in isolation from the other two. The three persons baptize as one (Mt 28:19), bless as one (2 Cor 13:13) and minister through believers as one (1 Cor 12:4-6). Creation is a work of God involving the Father, Son and Spirit (Gen 1:1;Jn 1:2-3; Col 1:16; Heb 1:10). So too is election (Mt 11:27; Jn 3:3-9; 6:70; 13:18; Acts 1:2; Rom 8:29; Eph 1:4; 1 Pet 1:2). And so too is salvation On 3:1-6; Rom 8:1-30; 2 Cor 2:6; Eph 1:3-14). When it comes to divine rule both the Father and the Son are named "Lord," the supreme ruler, and it would seem also the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:17). In the book of Revelation the Father and the Son rule from the one throne (Rev 5:13; 7:10). Last, it is to be noted that judgment is ascribed to both the Father and the Son (Ps 7:8; 9:7-8; Rom 2:16; Rev 16:7; Mt 25:31-32; Jn 5:27; Acts 10:42; Phil 2:10).

Divine Self-Differentiation and Eternity

Divine self-differentiation takes place within the life of God in eternity; what takes place in history simply reveals what is true in eternity....God is triune for all eternity; events in the world neither make him triune nor explain how he is eternally triune. God is certainly revealed in the economy as Father, Son and Spirit, three distinct persons, but it is the Bible that tells us these three persons coexist for all eternity and that these three divine persons are in fact one God. Thus what the doctrines of the eternal generation of the Son and procession of the Spirit do, and do well, is explain how the one God is eternally three persons and how the divine three persons are the one God.


Eternal Subordination Implies Ontological Subordination

It would seem impossible to speak of the eternal subordination or submission of the Son without falling into both the errors of subordinationism and tritheism. This is why with one voice the church has never allowed differing authority as a basis for differentiating the divine persons. Evangelicals who speak of the eternal subordination or submission of the Son attempt two strategies to avoid the charge of subordinationism. The first and most common is to argue that the subordination or submission of the Son envisaged only speaks of his functional or role subordination, not his ontological subordination. If the so-called differing function or role of the Father and the Son referred only to the operations of the divine persons, which could change and thus would not be person-defining, as these sociological terms normally indicate, then their reply would have force. However, the so-called distinctive roles or functions of the Father and the Son, namely, the Father's ruling "role" and the Son's obeying "role," are in fact eternal, necessary and person-defining.45 They eternally distinguish the Father as the Father and the Son as the Son. If this is the case, then what differentiates them is not their "role" but who they are, their very being. The Son's eternal subordinate "role" is dictated by who he is, his being. This is the error of ontological subordinationism.

The force of these two terms should be noted. The word eternal refers to what is divine. God alone is eternal, all else is temporal. The word necessary, in theological and philosophical usage, refers to what could not be otherwise. It is something true in all possible worlds. If the Son of God is eternally and necessarily subordinate or submissive, then it means this status defines his person or being. It speaks not of how he functions or his "role" but of his ontology-what makes him who he is. He is the subordinate Son, and he cannot ever be otherwise; he does not simply function subordinately.

Beholding the image of God

The ministry of the word, I say, is like a looking-glass. For the angels have no need of preaching, or other inferior helps, nor of sacraments, for they enjoy a vision of God of another kind; and God does not give them a view of his face merely in a mirror, but openly manifests himself as present with them. We, who have not as yet reached that great height, behold the image of God as it is presented before us in the word, in the sacraments, and, in fine, in the whole of the service of the Church....Our faith, therefore, at present beholds God as absent. How so? Because it sees not his face, but rests satisfied with the image in the mirror; but when we shall have left the world, and gone to him, it will behold him as near and before its eyes.


John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:12

The Continuing Moral Law

The moral law reflects God’s holy will and it continues as a “perfect rule of righteousness” for all humanity, whether under the law or under the gospel (WCF 19.2; LC 93; SC 40). It is summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments revealed through Moses, which in turn are summed up in the two great commandments as stated by Christ (Matt. 5:17–19; 22:37–40; WCF 19:2; LC 98,102, 122; SC 41,42).


Sufficient and Efficacious Old Covenant Types

The covenant of grace was administered in the time of the law “by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances.” The phrase, “other types and ordinances” shows that typology functions as a general rubric to summarize the symbols and ordinances of the old covenant. The standards remind us that those types were “sufficient and efficacious” for the time of the law and by them believing Israelites enjoyed the “full remission of sins, and eternal salvation” (WCF 7.5). Yet this is true only because they were more than symbols for that covenant administration. They also functioned as types of the fullness to be unveiled with Christ’s coming. Their ultimate efficacy is dependent upon their functioning as types. The tabernacle, ritual sacrifices, priesthood, mercy seat, annual feasts and the Sabbath were the means by which God communicated the spiritual realities, which they pre-figured. But the level to which that substance could be received was not the same. This is the nature of the case with types. The type comes “on a lower stage of development in redemption,” and its anti-type comes later “on a higher stage.”[39] Continuity relates them, degree distinguishes them.