Note: This topic has been written on a sixth-grade level in order to provide understanding to both adults and children.
Trinitarians believe that Jesus is the human name of one of three persons in the Godhead, the Son (also called the Word), and that He is eternal (no beginning or ending) begotten (born).
Before we delve into this topic, let’s look at a Biblical principle. The Bible instructs us to have several ‘witnesses’ when establishing any fact (Matthew 18:16; II Corinthians 13:1). In a courtroom, it is very hard to convict or prove innocence if there is only one witness; whereas, if there are two or more witnesses with the same testimony, the point becomes more believable. If someone cannot show you at least two verses that support what he or she believes, then you should be very careful when accepting their word.
What does “Jesus is eternally begotten” mean?
How can someone who had no beginning be born? That is contradictory, or opposite. We all know when we were born. If you and I have a birth date, we couldn’t have been around (or existed, lived) forever. No one is the same age as their father; when we were born, our father had to have already been alive before us. Let’s look at the Bible to see what we can explain. Isaiah 9:6 tells us that a Son will be born. Matthew 1:18-25 describes a conversation between Joseph and an angel foretelling the birth of Jesus (Foretell: v. to predict; to tell before an event happens; to prophesy). Luke 1:30-35 describes the conversations between the angel and Mary foretelling the birth of Jesus. Galatians 4:4-6 reminds the church of the birth of Jesus.
These events happened about 2000 years ago. We know that Jesus had a beginning. (To enable a child to understand the following history portion, we have referred to the “pagan-turned-Christian leaders” as the “mixed-up leaders.” These leaders are also known as the Post-Apostolic fathers.) (For more historical detail, see our lesson entitled “There is One God.”)
What do Trinitarians mean when they say that Jesus, the Son, is the second person of the Godhead?
Trinitarians believe that the One God is made up of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The apostles never taught this. In fact, it was considered heresy (blasphemy, or lies) until about 170 AD. Between the time of John’s death (about 100 A.D.) and 170 A.D., the argument centered on a belief in two persons, Father and Son.
You see, the “mixed-up leaders” were trying to mix the Christian teachings with their pagan teachings. Christianity had become so popular that there were more Christians than there were pagans, because many pagans became Christian in name only just to be part of the majority, or “the crowd.” Because the “mixed-up leaders” did not have a true relationship with God, they tried to use their minds (human thinking/philosophy) to reason out, or explain, the differences between their pagan background and Christianity. (Any time we rely on the wisdom of man, we will make mistakes.)
Again, let’s look at the Bible. Isaiah 9:6 describes Jesus using two phrases:
1. “The mighty God.” The Hebrew word used here is “El.” This is the same word used in the Old Testament when talking about the Creator.
2. “The everlasting Father.” Wait! They just said He was the Son. How can He be two people at the same time? He can’t. There is only one God.
It is important to understand two points:
1. “Father” or Holy Ghost”: we are referring to the Spirit of God.
2. “Son”: we are talking about the human part of Jesus.
John 1:1-14 talks about the Word being God and becoming flesh. “Word” comes from the Greek word “logos,” which means a “spoken or written word” (concept or idea). At the beginning of time, God had already had the idea of coming to earth as Jesus. He knew that if He didn’t come, we would never be able to live in a way that was pleasing to Him.
In John 10:30-33, Jesus was in the temple teaching and made the statement, “I and my Father are one.” The Jews wanted to stone him! Why? Because they understood Him to be saying, “I am God.”
In John 14:8-11, Philip asks to be shown the Father. In verse 9, Jesus scolds him by asking, “I have been with all of you for a long time. Don’t you know me yet, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (GOD’S WORD)
Colossians 2:9 states that the fullness of the Godhead dwelled in the body of Jesus Christ.
The Bible teaches that God robed himself in flesh and came to earth as Jesus. He was born of Mary (a virgin), and fulfilled every prophecy that was recorded in the Old Testament about the Messiah. Because He was born of Mary (a human), the man Jesus had a beginning. The Jews knew the Messiah would be God in flesh. They also knew that there is only one God. They were just so unaccustomed (or unused) to feeling God’s presence that they refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah! We know that He is the Messiah. Therefore, He must have been the one true God in flesh!
Copyright © 2004 Growing with God 2 by Mark and Glenda Alphin
Definitions derived from Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of American English
Scripture quotations marked (GOD’S WORD) are taken from the Holy Bible, God’s Word Translation. GOD’S WORD is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations.
If you are interested in further information on this topic, we recommend the book entitled Essentials of Oneness Theology, written by David K. Benard.