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That everyone who thirsteth for the truth may obtain it, these publications are, as a Christian service, provided without charge. They levy but one exaction: the soul's obligation to itself to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. The only strings attached to this free proffer are the golden strands of Eden and the crimson cords of Calvary - the ties that bind.
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
"Angels that were loyal and true sought to reconcile this mighty, rebellious angel to the will of his Creator. They justified the act of God in conferring honor upon Christ, and with forcible reasoning sought to convince Lucifer that no less honor was his now than before the Father had proclaimed the honor which He had conferred upon His Son. They clearly set forth that Christ was the Son of God, existing with Him before the angels were created; and that He had ever stood at the right hand of God... Lucifer refused to listen. ...he flattered himself that he should yet have all the angels on his side, and that he would be equal with God Himself." The Story of Redemption, pg. 15-16.
Ever since the beginning of Lucifer's indulgence in his own corrupted wisdom in heaven, there has been confusion about and opposition to the truth of the exalted status of the Son of God due to His familial relationship to His Father. The truth of this uniquely special and close relationship between the Father and His only begotten Son which the Father of lights has "clearly set forth" through His angels unmasks the errors which originated from the one who indulged in coveting the Son's honor and position and in maligning heaven's Commander before others.
The confusion about the Son of God's relationship to His Father is evident in this world, and even among Seventh-day Adventists as is revealed by the following dialogue taken from the Q & A section of The Signs of the Times, June 2005 issue.
"Q. Why is Jesus called God's Son when He was always with God the Father and the Holy Spirit? – Charlene A. McKee, Medford, Oregon
"A. Jesus is called God's Son primarily because of His birth by the Virgin Mary, who was impregnated by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Thus, He was both a Son of man through Mary and a Son of God through the Holy Spirit. There is also a sense in which He was considered to be God's Son even before He was born into this world because of the subordinate relationship He held in relation to the Father at that time (Psalms 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14; Hebrews 1:5). He became the Son of God in yet another sense following His resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4)." emphasis added.
Not only is the questioner apparently uninformed as to why Jesus is the Son of God, but the answer does not "clearly set forth" the matter according to the Biblical revelation. Instead it tends to raise more questions than it attempts to answer. For one, saying "Mary, ...was impregnated by the Holy Spirit" suggests that the Holy Spirit is a father. But the Son already had a Father before He came to this world, for He was "the Son of God, ... before the angels were created." The Story of Redemption, pg. 15-16
After reading the foregoing Q & A, the readers of The Signs of the Times may wonder if Jesus actually has two fathers – the Father and the Holy Spirit. Or they may conclude that the Holy Spirit is actually the same Person as the Father - and thus that there are really only two Persons in the Godhead, the Father and Jesus. Or they may even be led to doubt that the Holy Spirit is actually another, separate, Person (which is the fundamental belief of the SDA church).
It is written, "God is not the author of confusion." Therefore, the confusion caused by the answer given in Signs must not come from an inspired understanding of the Bible on this subject, but rather from a wresting of the Scriptures – from a private interpretation.
Why Jesus is called God's Son was also part of the special message brought by E.J. Waggoner at the General Conference meeting in 1888. Waggoner said that the Son of God was born in heaven before His incarnation on earth (as we will see later). The fact that Christ was "begotten" before He came to this world was also a view that was held and promulgated by some of the Adventist pioneers long before 1888. This also will be shown later.
As revealed in The Signs Q & A section, the idea of Christ's birth in heaven prior to coming to be born on earth, as revealed in 1888, has not been generally accepted, nor is it being taught by Adventists today. Neither are the teachings of those pioneers who believed that Christ was begotten before He came to earth. Charlene didn't seem to be aware of Waggoner's or the pioneers' teachings, and The Signs answerer downplayed the idea by saying that "Jesus is called God's Son primarily because of His birth by the Virgin Mary."
Yet that is not what the angels in heaven "clearly set forth" when Lucifer was apostatizing, for they were setting forth His Sonship long before His birth through Mary, proclaiming that He became the Father's Son before the creation of the angels. And that is exactly the mission of this Question and Answer presentation – to clearly set forth Christ as having been the Son of God before the angels were created.
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THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION:
"The disciples did not yet understand Christ's words concerning His relation to God. Much of His teaching was still dark to them. They had asked many questions that revealed their ignorance of God's relation to them and to their present and future interests. Christ desired them to have a clearer, more distinct knowledge of God.
"These things have I spoken unto you in parables," He said; "but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in parables, but I shall show you plainly of the Father." John 16:25, (margin).
"When on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples, they understood the truths that Christ had spoken in parables. The teachings that had been mysteries to them were made clear. The understanding that came to them with the outpouring of the Spirit made them ashamed of their fanciful theories. Their suppositions and interpretations were foolishness when compared with the knowledge of heavenly things which they now received. They were led by the Spirit, and light shone into their once darkened understanding." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 266-267.
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES
How can I be right when we are talking about the things of God? There is so much beyond what I can comprehend.
"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." John 16:12-13.
One of the things which the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write to those disciples of Christ who were seeking truth was that
"... that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" Romans 1:19-20.
It is also written:
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever." Deuteronomy 29:29.
From these verses we learn that an examination of "the things that are made" (that which is "manifest in [us]"), made under the guidance of the Spirit of God, will bring into sharp focus a "clearly seen" revelation of God as far as "that which may be known" of the Godhead. Thus "those things which are revealed belong unto us...."
Thus we have the answer to the question of how we can be "right" in our speaking of the "things of God." That is, by humbly seeking to comprehend that which is revealed of God in His creation. In doing this we must heed the counsel,
"Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Proverbs 30:6. And,
"... neither shall ye diminish ought from it." Deuteronomy 4:2 .
The result which comes upon those who would either add to or diminish from the revelation that "the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" is that
"... the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness..." Romans 1:18.
The Jews in Christ's day, and even His own disciples were blinded by their own suppositions, interpretations and fanciful theories about the Son's relation to His Father. Similarly, many of Christ's disciples today are blinded by their own thoughts in this regards, as is evidenced by The Signs excerpt quoted in the Preface. Yet we may claim the promises today that we shall be led "into all truth" concerning Christ's relationship to His Father (Matthew 16:13-17) – that we shall understand clearly what now are mysteries, and that Christ shall "show you plainly of the Father." This includes why the Father is called "Father."
John 1:14 says, "And the Word was made 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."
I have been led to understand that though Jesus existed prior to His incarnation, it was only when He came into the world at His incarnation that He became the "only begotten of the Father." I have read commentators that say that "only begotten" (monogenes – Greek), means "one of a kind, preeminent, unique one," and not birthed nor created.
Also, commentators say that the phrase "first born" used in Hebrews 1:5, 6 is a different Greek word (prototokos), which they say means "preeminent." They interpret this to mean that Jesus has the rights, privileges, and authority of the first born – that He is the preeminent son, and that thus He was not then, or ever, born or created before he came to this world.
How then can it rightly be said that Jesus was literally "begotten" as God's Son before He created the worlds? Are all those commentators wrong?
It appears that those commentator's interpretations of the words "monogenes" and "prototokos" are being given more weight than the overall, clear cut testimony of the Scriptures themselves. For those who are aware of the way men have wrested the writings of Moses, the prophets, the apostles, and Christ's other disciples in regards to other doctrines (such as Christ's ministry in the heavenly Sanctuary, the Sabbath, etc.), such should not be a surprise. Christ, the very Word of God, was subjected to great abuse when He was on earth, so why would we expect that His written word would be free from misuse by self-seeking men and women? Such is the very case at hand.
For example, The King James version, the 1881 Revision of the King James version, the American Standard version, the New King James version all use the words "only begotten" in John 1:14, and "only begotten Son" in John 1:18 and John 3:16 & 18. Yet, in a number of modern versions (The Revised Standard version, the New American Standard, and others) the word begotten has been left out, even though it is in the Greek text. The RSV and NASV of John 1:14 read, "only Son," even though the word "Son" is not in the Greek text. In those same versions, John 1:18 and John 3:16 & 18, all read "only Son," even though the Greek manuscripts contain the word that is usually translated "begotten" in those verses.
Upon a close examination of the words "monogenes" and "prototokos" we shall see that those who leave the word "begotten" out of their translations, and interpret the words "firstbegotten" to mean "preeminent" (or something similar), are truly adding to, or diminishing the written word of God, for those words actually convey a much more distinctive and different meaning than what has been ascribed to them by most commentators and modern translators. Here are the texts (KJV) referred to and Greek words under consideration.
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten [monogenes] of the Father), full of grace and truth." John 1:14
"unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten [gennao] thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten [prototokos] into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Hebrews 1:5,6
(from Strong's Bible Dictionary)
3439 monogenes mon-o-gen-ace' from 3441 and 1096; only-born, i.e. sole:-- only (begotten, child).
3441 monos mon'-os probably from 3306; remaining, i.e. sole or single; by implication, mere:--alone, only, by themselves.
1096 ginomai ghin'-om-ahee a prolongation and middle voice form of a primary verb; to cause to be ("gen"- erate), i.e. (reflexively) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literal, figurative, intensive, etc.):--arise, be assembled, be(- come, - fall, - have self), be brought (to pass), (be) come (to pass), continue, be divided, draw, be ended, fall, be finished, follow, be found, be fulfilled, + God forbid, grow, happen, have, be kept, be made, be married, be ordained to be, partake, pass, be performed, be published, require, seem, be showed, X soon as it was, sound, be taken, be turned, use, wax, will, would, be wrought.
Note: Strong's often gives only the root of a word used, and not the actual form of the word in the text. Such is the case here.
Though Strong's and others give 1096, ginomai, as the root for "begotten" (the "genes" part of "monogenes"), it is actually derived from a more definitive form of that word, 1080, gennao. Gennao is the sub-root of "begotten." Ginomai has many meanings other than of the parent/offspring relationship, while gennao refers specifically to the family relationship. But gennao is actually only one form of another word which comes from ginomai, and that is 1085, genos, which narrows down the broad word ginomai, into a more specific parent/offspring relationship.
This point is important because there are also two forms used to express this family (genos) relationship: (1) gennao – the masculine one which is translated "begat" (which is what a male does), and (2) gennethe – the feminine one, which is used in John 3 where Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus about being "born" (gennethe – feminine) of a woman, and of the Spirit.
The "genes" part of "monogenes" comes from the more specific masculine form gennao because it is used in reference to Christ's family relationship to His Father.
Here we have the actual derivation of the genes part of monogenes:
ginomai (1096) < genos (1085) < gennao (1080) < genes (the masculine derivation as it relates to Jesus' Father).
ginomai (1096) < genos (1085) < gennethe the feminine form of gennao (1080) (used in reference to being born of a woman and of the Spirit). This detail is not noted in most lexicons, but is evident in the Greek New Testament.
What is also most notable here are some of the other words that are derived from genos (1085). They are:
genea (1074) – generation(s)
genealogeo (1075) – derive descent
genesia (1077) – birthday ceremonies
genesis (1078) – birthday
genese (1079) – birth
gennema (1081) – generation, fruit
gennesis (1083) – a begetting, nativity, birth
gennethos (1084) – they (those) that are born
Thus we see that the meaning of genes contains the family/parent/offspring relationship, and means exactly what it is translated in the KJV to be – "begotten." To assume anything else is to attempt to redefine the word. Yet that is exactly what many commentators attempt to do. Translators, on the other hand, attempt to avoid the reality of the matter by ignoring the presence of the word "genes" and translate only the word "mono" – "only."
The other word under consideration here is "prototokos" –
4416 prototokos pro-tot-ok'-os from 4413 and the alternate of 5088; first-born (usually as noun, literally or figuratively):-- firstbegotten(- born).
4413 protos pro'-tos contracted superlative of 4253; foremost (in time, place, order or importance):-- before, beginning, best, chief(- est), first (of all), former.
5088 tikto tik'-to a strengthened form of a primary teko tek'-o (which is used only as alternate in certain tenses); to produce (from seed, as a mother, a plant, the earth, etc.), literally or figuratively:-- bear, be born, bring forth, be delivered, be in travail.
5110 tokos tok'-os 1. birth a. the act of bringing forth b. that which has been brought forth, offspring 2. interest of money, usury (because it multiplies money, and as it were "breeds")
By these we see that the compound word prototokos, like monogenes, contains the idea of the acts involved in bringing forth an offspring, a child – the difference being that mono implies "only," while proto implies "first." Also, while genes implies the act of "begetting," tokos implies the act of "bringing forth" – the first, generally, betokening the masculine act of begetting; the second, the feminine act of giving birth to that which was formerly begotten. This feminine action involved in producing children depicted in the word tokos is more clearly seen by its use in the following texts.
"And she shall bring forth [tokos] a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matt. 1:21.
Tokos is also translated "delivered," the feminine performance in producing children, as we see here –
"Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered [tokos]; and she brought forth [egenneoen] a son." Luke 1:57
"And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered [tokos].... And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered [tokos], for to devour her child as soon as it was born [tokos]." Rev. 12:2, 4.
From these verses it is clear that the word tokos is used in the sense of birthing a child. There are other Greek words that are translated "bring forth," but which do not convey the idea of a parent/offspring relationship. Two of those are as follows:
"A good tree cannot bring forth [poieo- 4160] evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth [poieo]good fruit." Matt. 7:18.
"And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth [karpophoreo – 2592] fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred." Mark 4:20.
Thus we see that the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible writers to use the words that convey the idea of a true parent/offspring relationship when speaking of Christ's Sonship, and the Father's Fatherhood, that the truth of the matter may be clearly set before us.
Now that we have the basics of the words monogenes and prototokos before us, we will now look further into how each of these words are used in the Scriptures, and particularly in regards to the "only begotten" Son of God. The first one is
Let's look at two Greek words which convey the idea of "only" (mono) as in "only begotten." One is monogenes and the other monadikos. Monadikos is defined as "oner, singular, unique" (www.kypros.org/cgi-bin/lexicon). Had the Bible writers intended to convey "unique" (as many commentators contend), without relating the idea of a parent/offspring relationship, they would have used the word for it – monadikos, or something similar. But they did not. They employed the word monogenes.
The word monogenes is used nine times in the New Testament. Five of those are in reference to the Son of God. The others refer to the sons and daughters of men and women. One of the latter reads,
"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [monogenes] son." Heb. 11:17
We know from the Scriptural record that Abraham had fathered other sons besides Isaac – Ishmael was his firstborn through Hagar, and he had other sons through Keturah. But we also know that Isaac was Abraham's "only begotten son" through his first wife Sarah. In the subject context of Hebrews 11, we can see that the writer is using the similarity of God's only begotten Son who was promised to save His people and Abraham's son of promise – the son of his faith, and not the one of his unbelief (Ishmael), nor those of Keturah, because it was only Isaac, the one in whom rested the Covenant promises, whom Abraham was called to offer up in sacrifice.
In the beginning of the book of Hebrews the writer has set forth Christ as being so much better than the angels because He had "obtained a more excellent name than they" because He had received it by "inheritance" (Heb. 1:4). Then, in the 11th chapter he is comparing the offering of Abraham's "only begotten son" in the same sense – that Isaac also had obtained a more excellent name than Ishmael or the sons of Keturah because he, as the son of promise was to receive "by inheritance" the Covenant promises.
Also in the beginning of Hebrews, the writer sets forth Christ's inherited name and nature as being far superior to that of the angels, by quoting a number of Scriptures,
"For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Heb. 1:5, 6.
Now (in Heb. 11:17) he makes a comparison between Abraham's offering of Isaac, his literally "only begotten son" of Sarah (his wife through whom God had intended to bring about His promises), and the Father's offering of His "only begotten" Son. We must note that the King James translators were being consistent in translating the word monogenes in regard to both Christ and Isaac. If we are to assume that the word genes means "one of a kind, preeminent, unique one," then why were the translators consistent in using the English word which denotes an act of birthing – that is, "begotten"? The real problem here lies not in the Greek words, nor in the King James translation of those words, but in men wresting the meanings of those simple words from them, and placing upon them their private opinions and theories. Genes means the masculine act involved in the birthing process, and begotten means the exact same thing, and that is it – no more, no less.
Many do not want to entertain the thought that the Father may have engaged in activity that ends in reproduction because the only conception they have of such in their minds is that which the carnal mind perceives – that is, that sex cannot be holy. In doing this, they also are following in Lucifer's steps in trying to downplay the reason why Christ has preeminence above all the angels, including him – that being because the Son was "begotten," and the angels were created.
"In the councils of heaven God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him' (Gen. 1:26, 27). The Lord created man's moral faculties and his physical powers. All was a sinless transcript of Himself. God endowed man with holy attributes, and placed him in a garden made expressly for him." The Youth's Instructor, July 20, 1899. (Selected Messages, Vol. 3, p. 133)
Among the "physical powers" given Adam as "a sinless transcript" of his Creator was the ability to produce offspring – the ability to beget. But certain commentators and translators won't accept the simple Scriptural statements in this regard, instead wresting the meaning of those verses to the destruction of themselves and the society they have been given to uplift.
Additionally, there are Greek words which would be better suited to express "preeminence" without introducing the procreative idea that monogenes contains. But the Holy Spirit did not move the Bible writers to use those words. The emphasis of Hebrews 11:17 is not upon Isaac, nor his preeminence, however. It is speaking of Abraham and his faith and that which demonstrated his faith – the offering up of his only begotten, beloved son in obedience to God's voice. Thus, in John 3:16, monogenes, is used in order to highlight the Father's character – that being that He, like Abraham, offered up One who was literally of Himself, and to Whom He had the most intimate bond of love.
Monogenes cannot be used to describe some of the Son's other characteristics, such as His uniqueness, preeminence or of Him being one of a kind without stretching the word beyond its simple meaning – that of being "only begotten." While an only begotten one may be truly unique and one of a kind, it's a real stretch of the word to say that because of that he or she has preeminence over anything. How can one have preeminence over his brothers or sisters when he has none – as such is the case of an only begotten one? It is not like one who has the rights (preeminence) of a firstborn of many brothers, for there are no other brothers of an only begotten one. The only way that the one with the rights (preeminence) of the firstborn has such is because he was literally the "first" born relative to others.
Monogenes also carries the meaning of blood lines and generations. The concept of blood lines is not found in the ideas "one of a kind, preeminent, unique one." However, the idea of blood lineage is key to knowing that Jesus is also God. Why is He God? Because of who His Father is – the Father who begat Him. The Biblical use of the Father and Son relationship conveys the thought of a generational condition between the two of them. This thought Jesus sought to convey in saying,"...my Father is greater than I." John 14:28.
This same thought is carried in Hebrews 11:17, for Abraham, "that had received the promises" went ahead and offered up the one through whom God had said the covenant will be established, that is, Isaac (Gen. 17:21) – his blood line – his "seed" (Gen. 15:5), one from his next generation – one that he was greater than. Abraham, in faith, not only was willing to give up his only begotten son in obedience to God's command, but was also willing to give up his own hopes and the salvation of the world in obedience, for the promised Savior was to come from the seed of Isaac. Thus he was willing to sacrifice all of His future generations.
Abraham was also willing to face the heartbreak he would bring to Isaac's mother, Sarah, his wife, due to his obedience to God's voice. For Isaac was not just Abraham's "only begotten" son, but also Sarah's firstborn, only conceived, son.
In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as "the son of David" (Mat. 1:1). But He is also said to be "of the seed of David" (Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8). The Greek for "seed" in those verses is sperma. The words "son" and "seed" are directly related. To be of the seed of someone, is to be their child. To be the child of someone, is to be of their seed. What then of the only begotten (monogenes) Son (huios) of God? The language itself points to the conclusion that the Son (huios) of God is of the seed (sperma) of the Father. If Jesus is the Son (huios) of David and of the seed (sperma) of David, then logic dictates that if He is the Son (huios) of God, He is also of the seed (sperma) of the Father. The word monogenes supports this conclusion because its meaning denotes the masculine act involved in procreation.
The Jews took up stones to kill Jesus because He testified that He was the Son of God in a more exalted sense than they were. The Jews thought of themselves as being of the seed of Abraham, and through that lineage they had their right to the sonship of God. They also saw that they had a spiritual genesis to God through His Spirit, but not in the sense that Jesus was professing to have. But Jesus made it clear that He had a greater inheritance than that, for He was the Seed of the Father, the only begotten of the Father. He was telling them that His genesis (genos – family line) was from a much earlier time, a time before Abraham, a time even before creation, as suggested in the term "I am" (John 8:58). This controversy is at the heart of the dialog in John 8:33-59.
The remaining usages of monogenes in reference to the Son of God (John 1:14, 18, 3:18; 1 John 4:9) mean just what they do in reference to Isaac being the only begotten son of Abraham. They mean that the son is of the seed (sperma) of the father; that the son is of the lineage of his father; that the son is after the "kind" and nature of the one who begat him; that the son has inherited the father's characteristics, etc. In the case of the only begotten Son of God, these statements testify to the fact that the divine nature of Jesus had been imparted from the Father to the Son through the act of begetting. It is written:
"... He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." Heb 1:4
More on this aspect will be given further on in this study.
The places where monogenes is used relative to human children other than Isaac are these:
"Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only [monogenes] son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her." Luke 7:12.
"For he had one only [monogenes] daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him."Luke 8:42.
"And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only [monogenes] child." Luke 9:38.
There is no indication that those children held a "preeminence" over any one. The implication is clearly that they were the "only" [mono] child of each of the persons. Thus the commentators who try to give the meaning of "preeminence" to monogenes are doing what the devil did – "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John:8:44).
Also, Paul shows the parental/offspring sense of gennao when he used the word figuratively, as follows –
"For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten [gennao] you through the gospel." 1 Cor. 4:15.
Paul's usage of gennao in 1 Corinthians 4:15 makes it clear that there is room to speak figuratively in regards to begetting (gennao), that it does not always have to be literal. But its figurative usage does not disqualify the literal meaning as shown by the following verse which is speaking of a literal, physical experience.
"A woman when she is in travail [tikto] hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered [genneoe] of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born [egennete] into the world." John 16:21.
Now we will look at the way the other word under consideration is used in regards to the Son of God –
Prototokos is used in Heb. 1:5, 6 and is translated "firstbegotten." In Matt. 1:25 it is translated "firstborn."
"And knew her not till she had brought forth (tikto) her firstborn (prototokos) son: and he called his name JESUS." Matt. 1:25.
Prototokos is said to be the "alternate" of tikto (5088). Tikto means "to bring forth, bear, produce – of a woman giving birth." It is used of the pregnant and delivering woman in Rev. 12:2, 4, 5 and is used to describe Jesus' earthly birth experience in Matt. 1:25. In Matt. 1:25, it is easily seen that the words are "alternates" as Strong's says.
Does prototokos mean preeminent when applied to Christ? The Greek language has another word, proteuo, which is translated "have the preeminence" in Col. 1:18.
"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn [prototokos] from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence [proteuo]." Col. 1:18
The King James translators used "firstborn" seven times, and "firstbegotten" twice, for prototokos. Neither in Strong's definition, nor in the KJV translation is found the thought of preeminence. However, the thought of being born or begotten is definitely conveyed. Both the Old and the New Testaments have separate words for preeminence – mowthar and proteuo respectively. They also contain words that mean "firstborn" or "firstbegotten" – bekowr and prototokos respectively. Bekowr never carries the meaning of preeminence. Neither does prototokos. Bekowr is translated mostly as firstborn, but also as "firstling," "eldest," or "eldest son."
The problem with bringing in the meaning of "preeminence" to prototokos is that it is adding interpretation to the word that simply is not there. What does it mean that Jesus is the "prototokos from the dead" (Col. 1:18)? Is the word being used figuratively, or literally? In light of the fact that others, such as Moses, were resurrected before Jesus was, it is evident that prototokos is being used figuratively. That is, the promise of His resurrection is the basis for all resurrections. That figurative usage does not in the least take away from prototokos its true meaning of "first-born or first-begotten," and change it to "preeminence."
Therefore, when it is written, "And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten [prototokos] into the world..." the verse does not carry the thought of Jesus' preeminence, but rather of Jesus being the first begotten, the first born. And since He was not the first begotten "in" the world, but, rather, He was brought into the world as the firstbegotten, then the verse suggests that He was begotten before any others were begotten – before creation. Likewise, in Colossians 1:15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn [prototokos] of every creature" carries the thought of Jesus having been the very first "born" of every creature that was later born, each after his own kind – Jesus after the divine, the others after their lower orders.
The Controversy Over Words
The controversy over these two words seems clear. When monogenes is used in reference to humans it is understood to mean only begotten by procreation, or only procreated. When used in reference to the only begotten Son of God the meaning of the word is modified by many commentators and translators so that Jesus becomes unique and one of a kind – no longer the only begotten Son. When prototokos is used in reference to humans it indicates the first born child. Yet when used in reference to Jesus, it is given a twist – that He is preeminent and not born.
The next logical question is, has Inspiration given us a reason to change the basic meaning of monogenes and prototokos when applied to God, as opposed to humans? Or has the father of lies had a hand in obfuscating the truth through confusing the basic meanings of words? One of Lucifer's objects of hatred and jealousy is the Son of God because of the exalted state He has "by inheritance."
The unwarranted changes given to the meanings of the words, monogenes and prototokos, when used in relation to Jesus, fit in nicely with certain novel theological ideas by which Christianity has been heavily influenced. One of these influences is what has become known as "monotheism," or the belief in "one" God. Monotheism has different meanings to different people. Some understand it to mean that the Creators of heaven and earth are "one" – regardless of the fact that They are actually multiple Persons. Others take it to mean the multiplicity of the Person spoken of in the Bible (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), are just an expression of "one" Being – God. Yet others take it to mean that God is only "one" Being, with no offspring nor equals.
If God is only one Being, then gender and reproduction play no role, for gender and reproduction suggest the existence of more than one being of like nature, procreation, blood lines, children, and bringing forth seed after its kind. Casting the meanings of prototokos and monogenes in a celibatory light works for those who want to interpret the word "monotheistic" to mean "one" Being. This includes many Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. For example, Muslims and other believers in the Qur'an are taught about their god, Allah, that
"He begets not, nor was He begotten." Sura 112 – Qur'an
Allah is the perfect preeminent, unique, one of a kind god. He is certainly not monogenes (only begotten) nor prototokos (firstborn) in the unadulterated meanings of those words. Though if the meaning of those words were altered to that which has been proposed by many Christians today, then Allah would have no problem being described as monogenes and prototokos. For he would then be unique and preeminent. A translation and commentary of Sura 112 reads:
"112:2 Allah is the One Who is the Absolute, the Independent, the Self-sufficient, Ever Dependable, the One who is always there [to help]; the Eternal Besought of all, upon Whom all depend but Who depends upon nothing.
"112:3 He begets not, nor is He begotten [Neither did He give birth to any one, nor is He Himself a product of the process of procreation. He has no children (2:116, 6:101, 16:57, 19:35, 112:3), no parents (112:3) and not any wife (6:101). He is the One, Unique, Single (112:1). He has brought into existence every living being through the process of creation (6:101), not by procreation from Him]
"112:4 There is none who is or can ever be His equal, His like or comparable unto Him."
The true God of the Bible and of Creation – the One who is united (one) – is a family centered God – a God of love and giving, a God of holy sexual relations, procreation and bringing up of children. God is love and love shares and pours itself out for others. Satan is self centered and without love, and seeks to end life, not produce it, or reproduce it.
The Jews also use "monotheism" to describe their religious belief regarding God. Though the Biblical word for the Creators of heaven and earth, Elohim, is plural, they insist that there is only one Being. They base this on the statement, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" (Deu. 6:4). When elohim is used for foreign gods, they, and the English translators, think of it as plural – meaning a multiplicity of "gods." Yet when Elohim is applied to YHWH they, and the English translators, use the singular, "God." This, in spite of the fact that Moses was simply telling the Israelites that the Gods were "one" (united), which was contrary to all of the peoples around them, for their idea was that the gods [elohim] were in opposition to each other.
The leaders of Judaism use the term "plurality of majesty" to explain away the plurality of the word Elohim. By this they mean that the singular ("one") God has many discernably different attributes.
While both the Jews and Muslims have respect for many of the teachings of Jesus, they both say that He was wrong when He claimed to be the literally "begotten" Son of God.
Other ideas which have greatly influenced Christianity are the Nicene (325 A.D.) and Athanasian Creeds (4th century). While both creeds admit to a degree that the Son was begotten, and not created, they also bring in the idea that there couldn't be a time when the Son was literally born of God. The Nicene and Athanisian creeds are to some degree or another influencing just about all of Christianity up to the present time and seem to be largely responsible for the general view of the Trinity these days.
How could there ever have been a time when Jesus was begotten and born if "there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the Eternal God?" (Evangelism, p.615).
First, though the words "eternal God" appear in the holy Scriptures, the words "eternal Father" do not. This fact is most significant in understanding the truth of the matter. Therefore, we will address this question by keeping in mind that we are not to add to, nor detract from, that which is written for our understanding. We firmly believe that
"God is not the author of confusion" 1 Cor. 14:33. And that
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." Deut. 29:29. Also that
"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Prov. 25:2.
It is written:
"... that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." Rom. 1:19-20
Nature speaks "clearly" of her Creator, requiring only a Spirit-guided interpretation in order to understand her mysteries. Every son and daughter of the human race comes forth from their parents, and those parents, also came forth from their parents, and so forth all the way back to the very first two humans. Thus if the words "Father" and "Son" have any absolute meaning, it is only that which is revealed in the creation. And, as God, the Father, has chosen to give us the words "Father" and "Son" to "clearly" depict Himself and Christ, then we dare not add to, nor diminish the meanings of those words in order to make them fit any preconceived opinions we may have.
Some will not accept the simple truth that the divine Son proceeded forth from the divine Father at some point in the eternal ages past, and will create theories and explanations to attempt to obscure the truth that even the very youngest of children can understand. But of those who have no love for the truth, it is written,
"Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Rom. 1:21-22.
Some comments from some of the early pioneers of the Advent movement on this matter are worthy of prayerful consideration. The first one is regarding the Biblical statements that God has "sent" His only begotten Son into the world (John 3:17, 34; 6:29; 8:42; 10:36; etc.).
"The idea of being sent implies that He was the Son of God antecedent to His being sent. To suppose otherwise is to suppose that a father can send his son on an errand before that son has an existence, which would be manifestly absurd. To say that God sent 'His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,' is equivalent to saying that the Son of God assumed our nature; he must therefore have been the Son of God before his incarnation." J.M. Stephenson – Review & Herald, Vol. 6, No. 13, p. 99, par. 10, Nov. 7, 1854.
"To say that the Son is as old as His Father, is a palpable contradiction of terms. It is a natural impossibility for the Father to be as young as the Son, or the Son to be as old as the Father... If the inspired writers had wished to convey the idea of the co-etaneous [equal age] existence, and eternity of the Father and Son, they could not possibly have used more incompatible terms." Ibid.  added.
That is the truth, brothers and sisters, isn't it? We know that God did not give us His written word to confuse us. He used the words "Father" and "Son," and created us with relationships revealing the truth about the Godhead in order for us to say Amen, and praise His holy name in awe and wonder.
When speaking of the relative ages of the Father and the Son, we must accept the fact that we are speaking of the time of eternity. But in doing this we must also realize that we are right now also in the days of "eternity," for eternity existed before there were any cycles of created things to mark the passing of time, and will continue to exist now that there are things created to mark its time. It is written of the eternal future that
"... it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD." Isa 66:23.
Ellen White describes the future as "the endless cycles of eternity" Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 699.
So regarding the relationship of the "Father" to the "Son" in the time of eternity before there were the things by which we mark its passing we need to look again to that which has been created to "clearly" see "that which may be known of God" as it has been "manifest in [us]." To understand this we must look at another revealed mystery. It is written of Levi, the son of Jacob –
"Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him." Hebrews 7:9-10.
From this we see that God considers a person to be present with, and "in close fellowship with" his or her father while yet inside of them – a portion of them being there as a seed in their father (and another portion being in the seed of their mother). Modern science has discovered that which was understood by the writer of the book of Hebrews. That is, that a man's offspring are present with him from his very birth. Though the cells which will eventually develop into his productive seed (and thus his child) must go through a change when he matures before they are ready to fertilize an egg, they are present within him from his birth.
So, according to the revelation God has given us in nature, by which we are to be able to so "clearly" see the "invisible things of Him" that we are without excuse, Christ, before he was born a divine Being, was in "close fellowship" with His Father, being in His loins.
"I saw a throne, and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus' countenance and admired His lovely PERSON. The Father's PERSON I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light covered Him. I asked Jesus if THE FATHER HAD A FORM LIKE HIMSELF. He said HE HAD, but I could not behold it ..." Early Writings, p. 54. She could not behold "it" (the Father's FORM) because she was mortal. The immortal shall behold Him, along with the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a PERSON.
"Created to be 'the image and glory of God' (1 Corinthians 11:7), ADAM AND EVE had received endowments not unworthy of THEIR high destiny. Graceful and symmetrical IN FORM, regular and beautiful IN FEATURE, THEIR countenances glowing with the tint of health and the light of joy and hope, THEY BORE IN OUTWARD RESEMBLANCE THE LIKENESS OF THEIR MAKER [the Godhead]. NOR WAS THIS LIKENESS MANIFESTED IN THE PHYSICAL NATURE ONLY." Education, p. 20. [Brackets added]
"In the beginning, man was created in the likeness of God, not ONLY IN CHARACTER, BUT IN FORM AND FEATURE." The Great Controversy, pgs. 644, 645.
"Man was to bear God's image, BOTH IN OUTWARD RESEMBLANCE AND CHARACTER." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.
"...the human mind should become intelligent in regard to the PHYSICAL STRUCTURE. ... HERE JEHOVAH HAS GIVEN A SPECIMEN OF HIMSELF; FOR MAN WAS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD." Medical Ministry, p. 221.
"In the councils of heaven God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (Gen. 1:26, 27). The Lord created man's moral faculties and HIS PHYSICAL POWERS. ALL WAS A SINLESS TRANSCRIPT OF HIMSELF. God endowed man with holy attributes, and placed him in a garden made expressly for him." The Youth's Instructor, July 20, 1899. (Selected Messages, Vol.3, p. 133).
These inspired testimonies are in perfect harmony with the Bible declaration that "that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made."
While children of creation are "clearly seen" as being of their parents, children of adoption are not, requiring that you have to discover by other means than "seeing" that they were adopted. Also, those who take the title "son" without having a blood relation through procreation and common parentage, are not at all "clearly seen" as being a true son. Some people might refer to another person as their child though the connection may only be intellectual or emotional. However, adopted sons and sons of title only have not been begotten nor born of their second "parents" and neither are they "clearly seen" as having any relation that they have "by inheritance" to their secondary parents at all.
Another one of the pioneers had this to say on the subject:
"As Christ was twice born, once in eternity, the only begotten of the Father, and again here in the flesh, thus uniting the divine with the human in that second birth, so we, who have been born once already in the flesh, are to have the second birth, being born again of the Spirit, in order that our experience may be the same, the human and the divine being joined in a life union." W. W. Prescott, April 14, 1896, Review and Herald, p. 232.
A.T. Jones had this to say:
"He who was born in the form of God took the form of man." General Conference Bulletin, 1895, p. 448.
"He came from heaven, God's first-born, to the earth, and was born again.... He whose goings forth have been from the days of eternity, the first-born of God, was born again in order that we might be born again." Review and Herald, July 7 – August 1, 1899 (See also, Lessons on Faith, p. 154.)
More recently, another leader said:
"For Jesus to become one with us He had to be born again; He had to become an earthly man. And for us to be one with Him, we have to be born again, born of the spirit. The difference is that Jesus was first born a spiritual, a divine being, and second a human being." Victor T. Houteff, 1 Timely Greetings, No. 49, p.6, 7.
"Having been pre-existent with His Father (Heb. 1:1, 2; John 1:1, 2), and then having been re-born in Bethlehem, Immanuel manifestly represents the "born again" Christians (John 3:3)..." Victor T. Houteff, War News Forecast (Tract 14), pg. 35.
I know that the Bible says that Jesus is God's "Son," but does not that word mean something different when applied to Him?
According to common understanding, there is a contradiction in the idea that Jesus is God's Son, but was never actually born as such. In applying the word "son" to someone, it is a given that at one time after his parents were around the "son" was born. Let us consider Psalms 2:7 and the Hebrew meaning of "son" as found there. The Hebrew word for son is ben. Of the 4,906 usages in the KJV OT, 4,556 or 93% of them are translated as "son, children," or "child." The first usage of ben is in Gen. 3:16, "in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children [ben]" clearly speaking of the process of birth and of bringing forth new life that was not existent with their parents from the beginning (to a young child it may seem as if their parents have been around since time began).
The term "son" or ben is used synonymously with "seed" or zera.
"And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son [ben], and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed [zera] instead of Abel, whom Cain slew." Gen. 4:25.
It is written of Christ –
"I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son [ben, or, seed – zera]; this day have I begotten thee." Psalms 2:7.
Thus the meaning of "Son" as found in Psalms 2, which is understood to apply to Jesus, is synonymous with Seed.
The testimony of the Scriptures in regards to the Son of God, the Seed of the Father, directs our minds to the Son of God having "proceeded forth and come from God" (John 8:42) at some point before the creation. The unstable sands of opinion and tradition may say differently, but that is of no consequence to a seeker of the truth.
Seeing no basis in that which is "clearly seen," and that which is "manifest in" us, to support the position that the title "only begotten Son" of God means nothing more than having the "rights, privileges and authority of the first born," and of being "the preeminent son," without having ever been born as a Son of divine heritage and nature, the idea is concluded as being untenable to the evidence. Furthermore, said thought diminishes the sacrifice of the Father in giving His "only begotten" Son, one with whom He has the most intimate personal relationship. It is as if to says that He gave His adopted Son – for that is what an adopted son is – a son who comes about not through his father's seed, but from outside his father's blood line and upon whom the title "son" is bestowed, whether formally or casually.
Had God intended to illustrate that Jesus was not the only begotten Son of God in the sense that humans can understand begetting, He could have created the baby Jesus and simply put Him up for adoption and sent an angel to Mary and Joseph telling them to go adopt this special child. He could have also directed Abraham to sacrifice a child that had been adopted instead of his only begotten son, Isaac. In the sacrificial system, He might have directed people to sacrifice fruit, rather than lambs, as well. For lambs are begotten creatures, and in the taking of the young and killing them is depicted the suffering of the parents who lose their offspring.
Yet in doing any of those things the sacrifice of the Father would not have been as great as it truly was in giving His "only begotten" Son. Only a true parent can fully understand such a sacrifice. To say that He willingly gave One who was anything other than His most intimate offspring is an insult to the Father, for He knows better, and has stated such in His holy word – "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Did not Jesus only become the "Son" of God when He was born of Mary?
As to when the Son of God became the Son of God, it was not at the incarnation, for at the incarnation, He became the "Son of man," as we read,
"Wherefore when He [God's Son] cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou [the Holy Spirit] prepared Me [the Son]." Heb. 10:5.
"For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham." Heb. 2:16.
"Nearly two thousand years ago, a voice of mysterious import was heard in heaven, from the throne of God, "Lo, I come." "Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me. ... Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me), to do Thy will, O God." Heb 10:5-7. In these words is announced the fulfillment of the purpose that had been hidden from eternal ages. Christ was about to visit our world, and to become incarnate. He says, "A body hast Thou prepared Me." Had He appeared with the glory that was His with the Father before the world was, we could not have endured the light of His presence. That we might behold it and not be destroyed, the manifestation of His glory was shrouded. His divinity was veiled with humanity,--the invisible glory in the visible human form." The Desire of Ages, p. 23.
It is written that the Father gave "His only begotten Son" (John 3:16), and that this sacrificial gift was "foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Pet. 1:20). Thus he could not give His Son unless he first had a Son to give. It was in the counsels between the Father and Son before the world was made that the decision was made that the Son would condescend to take on humanity and be a sacrifice for their sins, should they fall.
As noted before,
"Angels ...clearly set forth that Christ was the Son of God, existing with Him before the angels were created..." The Story of Redemption, pg. 15.
In order for the angels to "clearly set forth that Christ was the Son of God" prior to the time the angels were created it is necessary that He was indeed just that, the Son of God, at that time. The fallen angels evidently understood the message, for when they encountered Him later when he was on earth they acknowledged that truth –
"And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God" (Mark 3:11). It is worth noting that these spirits did not cry out that He was "the Creator," "Michael," "Jesus," the "Christ" or "the Branch" or anything else. They called Him that which was "clearly set forth" to them prior to their fall from heaven – that He is and was the Son of God.
There is also another lesson "clearly seen" in this regards in the account of the creation of the first man, who was made in the "image and likeness" of God. We know that the Father was at one time alone and not yet a father by the fact that Adam, the father of mankind, was initially alone. We find the term "eternal God" in the Bible (Deu. 33:27), but not eternal Father, indicating that at some point God became a Father, and that the Son became the Son. Adam, while alone, came to a realization that his ability to express love was hindered by the lack of a suitable companion – a companion of his kind. Adam's realization mirrored that which the eternal God had come to know ages earlier. The remedy was to create a family of Gods (a Godhead) and later to mirror that event on earth in the creation account of the story of humanity. Man's family is "clearly seen" and is "manifest in" us, revealing to us and the universe that which God had brought about in Himself. It is because this story is manifest in each of our lives and all around us in the web of humanity so that we are without excuse as Paul says if we do not thankfully accept it as being "the truth of God" (Rom. 1:25).
If because some refused to believe the truth of the Godhead as being revealed in the things that are made, and God gave them up to all kinds of uncleanness in regards to their own reproductive functions (Romans 1:24-28), then the converse would also be true. By accepting the truth of the Godhead, and of God's heavenly family (without spiritualizing it away), God will cleanse us and lead us to a righteous and holy use of our sexuality. Please see our study, The Only Safe Sex is Holy Sex for more on this matter.
Is not the writer of Heb. 1:5 speaking of the incarnation when he quotes Psalms 2:7 "Thou are my Son: today I have begotten thee?"
Upon a simple examination of the context of that verse, we will see that he is referring to the time before the incarnation. That chapter begins:
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." Heb. 1, 2.
When did God, the Father, appoint His Son to be "heir of all things?" Before He created all things by the Son.
"As the divine Sufferer hung upon the cross, angels gathered about Him, and as they looked upon Him, and heard His cry, they asked, with intense emotion, "Will not the Lord Jehovah save Him?" . . . Then were the words spoken: "The Lord hath sworn, and He will not repent. Father and Son are pledged to fulfill the terms of the everlasting covenant. God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Christ was not alone in making His great sacrifice. It was the fulfillment of the covenant made between Him and His Father before the foundation of the world was laid. With clasped hands they had entered into the solemn pledge that Christ would become the surety for the human race if they were overcome by Satan's sophistry." The Faith I Live By, p. 76.
Hebrews 1 continues:
"Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" Hebrews 1:4, 5.
The word "made" therein is derived from the same root word that the word "begotten" is – meaning that Christ became, was "made," by a parent/offspring relationship, better than the angels. It is a wholly different word than that found in verse 2, where it says that Christ "made the worlds."
Thus far in this chapter we are being told of the creation and its Creators, and are not introduced to Christ's incarnation until the next verse. Therefore, we see that Christ's being "appointed" as (set forth as) "heir" of all things, and His having obtained a better name than the angels occurred before His incarnation. Following this we are introduced to things relating to His incarnation –
"And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." verse 6.
In Acts 13:33, Psalms 2:7 ("Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee?") is quoted in reference to the resurrection of Jesus. Also, Rev. 1:5 calls Christ the "first begotten of the dead." How then can that verse be applied to His literal birth in heaven?
The verses in question present a real dilemma for Bible students because they contain matters which seemingly contradict other portions of Scriptures, and it requires great humility to rightly understand this phenomena. The apostle Paul says,
"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.... For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.
The complication in this matter comes from the fact that in Hebrews 1:5, Psalms 2:7 is being applied to the incident of Christ becoming God's Son and obtaining thereby a name better than the angels, while Acts 13:33 is applying the same verse to His resurrection. It would be doing an injustice to the Scriptures to say that Christ only became God's Son, obtained His heirship and a better name at His resurrection.
Only those who can understand that God allows His servants to sometimes apply verses in a manner out of their perfect context will be able to see the wisdom in the allowance of such at those times. We will give some relevant examples of this phenomena.
The first, and most understandable for Seventh Day Adventists, is the matter of the leaders of the Advent movement prior to Oct 22, 1844, teaching that the "sanctuary" that was to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 "days" (Dan. 8:14) was the earth, rather than the heavenly sanctuary. Those who took part in the movement had ample evidence that God was in the movement, in spite of the error as to the actual event. Looking back at the situation it is clear that God had allowed the whole thing to transpire as it did in order to separate out a people who would trust fully in God's leading, even if it meant having to cast aside some private opinions and applications of Scriptures that brought them to where they were when God called them to come up higher.
Another example of this type of incident is that of the ministry of John the Baptist. It is obvious that in preaching of the coming of the Messiah that John was applying Scriptures which were not in their perfect context as to the time of their fulfillment. This we know from the fact that even after John had baptized Jesus, had witnessed the Spirit rest upon Him, and had directed the people to follow Jesus rather than himself, he not long thereafter had to inquire if Jesus was truly the One who was to come and establish the kingdom (Luke 7:18-35).
"Like the Saviour's disciples, John the Baptist did not understand the nature of Christ's kingdom. He expected Jesus to take the throne of David; and as time passed, and the Saviour made no claim to kingly authority, John became perplexed and troubled. He had declared to the people that in order for the way to be prepared before the Lord, the prophecy of Isaiah must be fulfilled; the mountains and hills must be brought low, the crooked made straight, and the rough places plain. [Isa 40:4; Lu 3:5] He had looked for the high places of human pride and power to be cast down. He had pointed to the Messiah as the One whose fan was in His hand, and who would thoroughly purge His floor, who would gather the wheat into His garner, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. [Mt 3:12; Lu 3:17] Like the prophet Elijah, in whose spirit and power he had come to Israel [Lu 1:17], he looked for the Lord to reveal Himself as a God that answereth by fire....
"In his mission the Baptist had stood as a fearless reprover of iniquity, both in high places and in low. He had dared to face King Herod with the plain rebuke of sin. He had not counted his life dear unto himself, that he might fulfill his appointed work. And now from his dungeon he watched for the Lion of the tribe of Judah to cast down the pride of the oppressor, and to deliver the poor and him that cried. [Job 29:12] But Jesus seemed to content Himself with gathering disciples about Him, and healing and teaching the people. He was eating at the tables of the publicans [Mt 11:19; Lu 7:34], while every day the Roman yoke rested more heavily upon Israel, while King Herod and his vile paramour worked their will, and the cries of the poor and suffering went up to heaven.
"To the desert prophet all this seemed a mystery beyond his fathoming. There were hours when the whisperings of demons tortured his spirit, and the shadow of a terrible fear crept over him. Could it be that the long-hoped-for Deliverer had not yet appeared? Then what meant the message that he himself had been impelled to bear? John had been bitterly disappointed in the result of his mission. He had expected that the message from God would have the same effect as when the law was read in the days of Josiah and of Ezra (2Ch 34; Ne 8; 9); that there would follow a deep-seated work of repentance and returning unto the Lord. For the success of this mission his whole life had been sacrificed. Had it been in vain?
"John was troubled to see that through love for him, his own disciples were cherishing unbelief in regard to Jesus. Had his work for them been fruitless? Had he been unfaithful in his mission, that he was now cut off from labor? If the promised Deliverer had appeared, and John had been found true to his calling, would not Jesus now overthrow the oppressor's power, and set free His herald?
"But the Baptist did not surrender his faith in Christ. The memory of the voice from heaven and the descending dove [Mt 3:16,17; Mr 1:10,11; Lu 3:21,22], the spotless purity of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit that had rested upon John as he came into the Saviour's presence [Joh 1:29-36], and the testimony of the prophetic scriptures,--all witnessed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Promised One." The Desire of Ages, p. 215-216.
So in considering the use of Psalms 2:7 in Acts 13:33 in the context of Christ's resurrection, we must conclude that it is used there figuratively, rather than literally. We say this because on the day that Christ was resurrected, many of the saints which were dead and in their graves also were resurrected then (Matt. 27:52, 53), but Psalms 2:7 does not apply to them.
The other text under consideration is Rev. 1:5:
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten [prototokos] of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." Rev. 1:5.
It must be admitted that the words "the first begotten of the dead" are not accurate to the Biblical facts, if they are taken to be strictly literal – meaning that Jesus was the first person ever resurrected. We say this because there were people who were resurrected before Jesus. One was Moses (Jude 9). The son of the widow who aided Elijah (1 Ki. 17:17-24) was another. Others were: the man whose dead body came in contact with Elisha's dead bones (2 Ki. 13:20, 21); those two children who were resurrected during Christ's ministry (Luke 8:41-56; 7:12-15) ; and Lazarus (John 11:43). Therefore, the phrase "the first begotten of the dead" must have a different meaning.
In the case of the resurrection, Christ came out of the tomb into the air and light, just as a newborn does when he is born. Figuratively speaking, it was like being born, as His new life began at that time – His life after His death as the Lamb of God. At the incarnation, He also experienced a coming into being at that time, but only as the Son of man, because He was already the Son of God. In order to become human He had to die to self in a sense – to give up the glories of heaven, and allow Himself to take on human form. So, there was another form of death and resurrection, or birth to new life.
The Holy Spirit created His fleshly body when He was born into this world (Heb 10:5). Similarly, the Holy Spirit created His body anew when He was resurrected – born from the dead.
Having already spoken in detail about prototokos in the previous section, there is no need to repeat the entirety of it in relation to Rev. 1:5. However, the point about literal usage and figurative usage is worth keeping in mind in this case. In Rev. 1:5, Jesus is said to be "first begotten of the dead." This is a figurative use, for there were others raised from the dead before He was chronologically speaking.
Did not the doctrine that Christ was literally born before he came to this earth come to the Seventh Day Adventist church, but was rejected by its leaders, including Ellen White?
While it is true that said doctrine did come to the church in 1888 through E. J. Waggoner, and it is also true that it was rejected by the general leadership, there is no evidence that it was rejected by Ellen White. Rather, the record shows that she both accepted the message, and taught it also.
Here is what Elder Waggoner taught:
"It is true that there are many sons of God, but Christ is the "only begotten Son of God," and therefore the Son of God in a sense in which no other being ever was or ever can be. The angels are sons of God, as was Adam (Job 38:7; Luke 3:38), by creation; Christians are the sons of God by adoption (Rom. 8:14, 15), but Christ is the Son of God by birth."
"The Scriptures declare that Christ is "the only begotten son of God." He is begotten, not created. As to when He was begotten, it is not for us to inquire, nor could our minds grasp it if we were told. ...There was a time when Christ proceeded forth and came from God, from the bosom of the Father (John 8:42; 1:18), but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning."
It is worthy of consideration that Waggoner's message came in 1888, and Ellen lived until 1915. Yet there is not one word from Ellen White's pen showing a danger in Waggoner's ideas regarding the Son being literally "begotten." On the contrary, she supported his ideas by writing nearly the same thing in 1895 that Waggoner had taught –
"A complete offering has been made; for 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,'-- not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection." Ellen G. White in The Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895.
Note that she puts a clear distinction between sons who are created or redeemed (adopted), and the Son who was "begotten." Therefore, we would do well to accept the clear distinction and not think that Christ is any less God than is the Father due to the fact that He was "begotten" – for "created" means something wholly different than "begotten." The very fact that she used the clear language she did (as did the Bible writers) is proof in and of itself that she was not confused on the subject, nor was thinking that the matter was so mysterious as to be beyond expression in human language.
If Waggoner's message was indeed a message sent of heaven it is expected that only a minority would accept it, for at no time in history has a heaven-sent message been accepted by the majority (at least at first). This we say because Jesus said, "No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better." (Lu 5:39). With this understanding it is easy to see that the common opinion would have been for the brethren to think that Waggoner was wrong. However, such a general reaction has nothing to do with whether the message is heaven sent or not. The parable of the ten virgins shows that symbolically half the church will not gather the extra oil when it is available, presuming instead that they have enough oil with them to take them all the way to the house of the Bridegroom.
Of necessity, then, it is to be expected and understood that whether Waggoner's message was heaven sent or devil sent, there would have been opposition to it from one class or the other. The wise will carefully weigh the matter before the Lord, accepting it simply because it is true, giving no heed to those who would foolishly dissuade them from it.
Luke 1:35 says that the angel Gabriel told Mary that "... that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Does that not mean that it was at that time that He became God's "only begotten Son?"
John 1:1, 2 states,"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God."
The phrase "in the beginning" takes us back to Gen. 1:1. They are the first three words in the Bible. What do we know about "in the beginning?" Well, there were Gods (The Hebrew word, Elohim, is plural, though they who misdefine "monotheism" translate it as "God," singular) who created heaven and earth. This indicates that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all there prior to the creation. They counseled together, and came up with the idea of the creation, and then, "in the beginning," They created it.
John 1:1, 2 is simply stating that fact in regards to the Son – that the Son (the Word) was there in the beginning and was the Creator (Eph 3:9), as it goes on to say. This refutes those that say that Christ was a part of the creation and was a created Being. He was not created, He was begotten. He was there in the beginning , as the Word, as God's Son, prior to creation, and in fact, was the Creator of all things.
Speaking of Christ in His incarnation, Ellen White says,
"Who is Christ?--He is the only begotten Son of the living God. He is to the Father as a word that expresses the thought, -- as a thought made audible. Christ is the word of God. Christ said to Philip, 'He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.' His words were the echo of God's words. Christ was the likeness of God, the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person.
"As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son. Jesus, the outshining of the Father's glory, 'and the express image of his person' (Hebrews 1:3), was on earth found in fashion as a man. As a personal Saviour He came to the world. As a personal Saviour He ascended on high. As a personal Saviour He intercedes in the heavenly courts. Before the throne of God in our behalf ministers 'One like unto the Son of man.' Revelation 1:13." Sons and Daughters of God, p. 21.
The questions here are; When did God have the "thought" of having a begotten Son? and, When was that thought first "made audible?" Those who say that Christ only became the "only begotten Son of God," the "word of God" "made audible," when He was born of Mary must set aside the testimony in John 1:1, 2 in order to believe such, for those verses clearly declare that He was the Word "in the beginning," not merely when He came to this world.
It is also evident that God's "thought" "in the beginning" was to show forth the parent/offspring principle of His character, for Christ was the "express image" of that part of the Father's character – the Father's Person. But having His own Son was still not enough to fully express His parent/offspring (family) "image" and "likeness," for He created this world and the innumerable unfallen worlds, and designed to populate them with many other parents and offsprings.
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." Eph. 3:14, 15.
Ellen White states that "In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived." The Desire of Ages, p. 530.
One can see from the context of Ellen White's statement quoted above – that life is found in Christ – that she was writing about the resurrection of Lazarus and about what Christ meant when he said, "I am the resurrection, and the life." She is saying that Christ, prior to the incarnation was not a created being – not human, nor angelic – He was God. An essential quality of God is that in God is life, "original, unborrowed, underived." In humanity is life also. But that life is not original, it is borrowed and derived from God. Even our own children do not derive their life from us, they derive it from God, as we have, and do. This is the key to understanding how Christ was literally born the Son of God, yet did not borrow or derive life from the Father. This is holy ground we are on here.
To understand this, we must again look at what has been created in the image and likeness of God (Elohim – plural, Gods) – mankind. All of mankind's lineage is traceable back to Adam, to his seed. But though we all came from Adam, he is not the One from whom we have our life. He was only the one who carried us in his lions. That is, his seed was alive within him when he came into existence, just as any son born today has (or should have) living seeds within him. The life in Adam's seeds, and thus in his offspring, was no more borrowed nor derived from Adam than was the breath that was in his nostrils.
Thus it is and was with Christ. Though He was at one time in His Father's loins, He was there as alive as was the Father, though not fully manifest. The Father did not create Christ then infuse life (divinity) in Him, Christ had it while He was in the Father, just as we have life when we are in our father's loins (as was Levi when he paid tithes in Abraham). This we know from the image and likeness God made of Himself, and which he gave to us to understand these things. We would be on dangerous ground should we attempt to get above these things, or cast them aside.
Is not Waggoner's 1888 teaching about Christ being born before He came to this earth just a revival of an old heresy from as far back as AD 230 – "The idea that Christ 'was born of the Father before all creation' appears first in the writings of Origen, about AD 230. Arius, nearly a century later, is the first to... affirm that He was 'begotten of God before all ages.' The idea that Christ was 'begotten' by the Father at some time in eternity past is altogether foreign to the Scriptures." Seventh Day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p. 902.
That opinion expressed by the author(s) of those statements in the Bible Commentary are not sustained by any Ellen White statements that infer that the doctrine that Christ was begotten before He created the worlds, as taught by E. J. Waggoner, is any form of heresy, let alone an "old" one. The lack of any Spirit of Prophecy statements in support of that which is published in the Bible Commentary is most significant considering the fact that Ellen White was around for 27 years after Waggoner expressed his beliefs. In the absence of any clear-cut statement from the Spirit of prophecy to the effect of saying that Christ was literally born before He created this earth is in error, we must conclude that the thoughts stated in the Bible Commentary are merely the private opinion of the author(s).
Moreover, when we take into consideration the following statement from her pen, it is apparent that she was moved to take a position opposite to that in the Bible Commentary.
"A complete offering has been made; for 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,'-- not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, BUT A SON BEGOTTEN in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection." Ellen G. White in The Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895.
Ellen White could not have made her belief much plainer than that, except by using Waggoner's own language, which is:
"It is true that there are many sons of God, but Christ is the "only begotten Son of God," and therefore the Son of God in a sense in which no other being ever was or ever can be. The angels are sons of God, as was Adam (Job 38:7; Luke 3:38), by creation; Christians are the sons of God by adoption (Rom. 8:14,15), but CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD BY BIRTH." Christ and His Righteousness, p. 12.
There is no difference in the substance of those two statements. Ellen White was not trying to mystify the subject by using the word "begotten." Quite the contrary. She was trying to simplify the matter by using the simplest language she could.
There have always been those who bring charges of heresy against new light. Jesus was considered by the Jewish leaders to be such a blatant heretic that they felt that God would justify them in killing Him. And what was the cause of their enmity against Him? Hear their own words:
"Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
"Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
"The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God....
"Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" John 10:31-33, 36.
It was not long before that time that Jesus was confronted by the Jewish leaders on that very same matter. At that time the conversation went like this:
"Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
"Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that He is your God: Yet ye have not known Him; but I know Him: and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know Him, and keep His saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
"Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." John 8:54-58.
When Jesus said "I am," what did he mean by that – i.e., "I am" what? His words clearly indicated that He was saying that He was the only begotten Son of God who was such "before Abraham was!" It is also clear that that is exactly what the Jews understood Him to be saying, and that that is what they wanted to stone Him for. He did not trace his Sonship to his birth by Mary, as some try to make it appear. He took His hearers minds back before His incarnation, even before Abraham's time.
So for Origen, or anyone else for that matter, to preach that Christ was begotten before the creation is in perfect harmony with Jesus' own testimony. Though Origen held some heretical views on other matters, we cannot assume that there was not some truth mingled with his errors, for the errors themselves held no power to bring him to the place of prominence he held at the time.
Seventh Day Advensits should be well aware of the situation where a true preacher of truth can also hold forth error. The errors held by William Miller and associates regarding the nature of the cleansing of the sanctuary they were announcing, and even which sanctuary it was that was to be cleansed is a perfect example of this situation. William Miller also thought the light of the third angel's message were heretical and he refused to accept it. But that does not detract from the message he was given to bear in the light that was then shining upon the matter. But there isn't much difference between the effects of Origen and William Miller's preaching, except to degree. Origen's errors mingled with the truth he was preaching resulted in the church's falling away from the gospel. Likewise many accepted Miller's opinions and thereby remained in darkness and confusion simply because they idolized a man, or their own similar private opinions on the matter at hand.
Also worth noting is the definition of the word "heresy" itself. Its meaning is given as, "any opinions or doctrines at variance with the official or orthodox position." The entire Protestant Reformation, of which Adventists claim to be a part, is based in heresy according to this definition, and according to the church which gave birth to the need for the reformation – the Roman Catholic Church. The very word "protestant" suggests an outspoken "variance" against what is considered by some to be the orthodoxy and the official positions of the church.
So, if the brand of heretic were applied to Origen and Arius, either now, or in their day, it means only that they had opinions which, to one degree or another, differed from those opinions which had been canonized by the institution of religious authority of that day or this day – and that only by one (or some) of the varying religious authorities that existed then or now. That is, Origen's general teachings are considered quite Orthodox by the "Catholic" churches, and even some "Protestant" ones, but not by others. The opposite is true of Arius. But concerning Arius, we have a little different situation – that being that we don't really know exactly what Arius taught because all we have of what his views may have been we get from those who wrote in opposition to his beliefs, for we do not have any of his actual writings, and such writers do not always give a fair representation of their opponents. So, in quoting and commenting on someone else's statement in any matter as to fully establish whether or not a position is heretical (such as what the writers of the Bible Commentary have done), we are left with having to go directly to the Bible, with the Holy Spirit's aid, in order to come to any conclusion in any matter. No commentary is of any value unless it is inspired. In applying a generalized label of heresy on everything a person teaches, and thus thereby casting off everything they teach, seems to be a defective means of investigating truth.
Due to the general leadership of the SDAs rejecting Waggoner's 1888 teachings on Christ being born before He created the world, God brought a test upon them by allowing an erroneous view of the Godhead to come in among them. In the early 1900's many SDAs were accepting pantheistic theories. Books and articles were being published among SDAs on said "new light." But the Spirit of Prophecy spoke out against those theories in order to combat that heresy. It is for these reasons that the gift of prophecy in the remnant church is of vital importance in keeping our feet on the path of truth. The Seventh Day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5 is not an example of that guiding principle and mark of the remnant church – it being filled with much speculation and presumption mixed with truth.
Notice the statement from the Commentary, "The idea that Christ was 'begotten' by the Father at some time in eternity past is altogether foreign to the Scriptures." The idea that Christ was begotten by the Father at some time in eternity past is not altogether foreign to the Scriptures; however, it is altogether foreign to those who view God as having attributes like Allah, the pope, or the god of this world (Satan) – gods who have not a thing to do with procreation and the love that is manifest in it. A god who is not involved in procreation is a god who does not know the love of having children, nor of being a child and having parents. What a lonely and insensitive picture of god that is. And such a god would not be the family of Gods who created a world full of creatures who procreate and multiply themselves in loving family relationships. "God is love." (1 John 4:8). God is a family. What else is suggested by the terms "Father" and "Son?"
The whole matter of what Waggoner said and the backlash it created in the church is most interesting. The pantheistic theories of Kellogg and others in 1902-3 really shook up the church. At the heart of those theories is the notion that God is not a Person, but only an influence pervading all nature. These theories were able to come in because the church was rejecting the sanctifying, empowering influence contained in the truth concerning Christ's inherited, begotten nature. God was saying to them, Take all of the truth of the literal family relationship in heaven as They are seen in an image on earth, as it is written, or have none of it at all, and take the path of darkness that leads to destruction.
God countered this through Ellen White – showing her that the Holy Spirit, while exerting an influence, was nonetheless another divine "Person."
A SPECIAL REVELATION
Sister White states in Acts of the Apostles, p. 52, that the nature of the Holy Spirit was a "mystery", and that "silence is golden," for "God has not revealed it." Though this book was published in 1911, it was "An amplification of the latter part of Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 3 (1878), and Sketches From The Life Of Paul (1883) which books, long out of print, it replaced." Index to the Writings of E.G. White, p. 3205, Vol. 3. But,
"It was AFTER the Minneapolis Conference, and especially as Mrs. White was preparing the chapters for The Desire of Ages (1898) concerning the promise of the bestowal of the Holy Spirit, that messages came to this people with increasing frequency, fullness, and clarity on the PERSONALITY of the Spirit, and His crucial place in the plan of redemption. In EARLIER statements the neuter form "it" was more often used when referring to the Holy Spirit. The HOUR HAD COME FOR CLARIFICATION AND EMPHASIS upon this supreme provision in the salvation and enabling of man." The Coming of the Comforter, Leroy Froom, p. 63.
Some of the "clarification and emphasis" which came follows:
"We need to realize that the Holy Spirit,...is as much A PERSON as God is A PERSON..." Evangelism, p. 616.
"The Holy Spirit is A PERSON,..." Ibid.
"He must also be a DIVINE PERSON,..." Ibid, p. 617.
"And God said, Let US make man in OUR IMAGE, after OUR LIKENESS;...So God created man in His OWN IMAGE, in the IMAGE OF GOD created he Him; MALE AND FEMALE created he Him. Genesis 1:26, 27.
"In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He Him; MALE AND FEMALE created He them; and blessed them, and called THEIR name Adam, ...Genesis 5:1, 2.
The word translated "man" here refers to "mankind" not exclusively to a male.
"That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20.
In Testimonies for the Church, Volume 8, she wrote quite a bit countering the pantheism that was leavening the church. The emphasis of her testimony was upon Christ's Sonship and the Father's Parenthood. But, as the church was already stumbling over this glorious reality, the fullness of the matter could not be brought forth – that being the fact that in order for the Father to have literally begotten the Son, there had to be a Mother involved in the process. As the Holy Spirit is another person in the Godhead, there is strong evidence from the things that are seen that the Holy Spirit is Christ's heavenly Mother. This is further sustained by the fact that the Hebrew word for Spirit (Ruah) is feminine. This hidden manna, though, is the subject of another study.
We can either spiritualize away the reality of the true family relationship in the Godhead, or accept it, as IT IS WRITTEN.
Doug Mitchell and Steve Penners
Living Waters Branch
P. O. Box 1004
Kingsland, Texas 78639
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