The Eternal Sonship of Christ (1)

Alexander Hume Rule

The Eternal Sonship of Christ

Des Moines, Iowa, November 15, 1894.
My dear J

...The more I look into the matter, the more I am convinced that the term "only begotten" cannot be limited to His birth into the world. I believe John 1:14,18 carry it back into eternity. In verse 14 it is His personal glory "as an only begotten with a father," not something that came true only by His birth into the world. And in verse 18 it is "only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father"-something that never had a beginning. It is an eternally subsisting relationship - not His relationship with God, as Messiah born into the world, according to Psalm 2 and therefore a time relationship. If begotten could be limited to His birth into the world in time, it would of course upset W―, but I do not think it can, and besides, W―would say that Psalm 2 was long before. But it is not a question of upsetting W―, but of truth as to the personal and eternal glory of the Son. Of course the objection is raised as to the term implying a "begetter" as Mr. G says, and also priority of existence, but that will not stand. The term "Son" implies just as much in this respect, and Mr. G does not deny that He was "Son" from eternity. It might be said the term "Son" does not necessarily mean birth relationship. This is true, but there would be no less difficulty as to "adoption."

Now as to the time relationship He was "begotten." Psa. 2 says this. But in the eternal relationship there is no scripture which speaks of the act of begetting. It only states what He was as Son with the Father, "an only begotten"-"only begotten in the bosom of the Father" - not one who was "begotten." I think this is important.

The same difficulty might be raised as to "firstborn of every creature." Mr. W. would apply that to His birth ages before the foundation of the world. Of course we know it is wrong. The term "firstborn" expresses His position in relation to the creature, without any question as to the time of His birth. "Only begotten" expresses His relationship to the Father as Son, a place that no other has. We are "sons" by birth and by adoption, but He alone is an "only begotten," and Scripture does not say it is either by "birth" "or adoption." It is, I believe, what He is simply, from eternity to eternity.

I think, too, it is important to see that in Heb. 1, a passage Mr. G relies on in connection with Psa. 2, He is not called the "only begotten." It is "This day have I begotten Thee," and "the first begotten." It is time relationship to God and to the creature that is expressed in these two terms, though what He is in His own Person is brought out in the first three verses, "Son," "brightness of God's glory, and exact expression of His substance." His place with, and in the bosom of, the Father is not the point here, and so "only begotten" is not used.

A person might not be clear as to these expressions, but, to deny that "only begotten which is in the bosom of the Father" is an eternally subsisting relationship, would be serious error, robbing the Son of His glory, and the Father of His eternal delight, as well as weakening the truth of the gospel in the expression of God the Father's love in giving "His own," "His only begotten Son."

I am glad my attention has been called again to the subject, for I think it has served to give me a clearer apprehension of the Scripture use of these terms.... I got help years ago from him [J.N.D.] on Psa. 2, and Heb. 1. The other is what I have gathered in a general way-held when a U. P., though not with the same dearness....

From: Selected Ministry of A. H. Rule Volume 2

[continue: Letter no 2 ]

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