De Moor V:8: The Proper Generation of the Son (John 5:26)


Frederic Adolphus Lampe

Not without advantage does our AUTHOR refer the text of John 5:26 to this. Of course, the Socinians, because they deny the true Deity of Christ, expound this passage very feebly, of the power given to Christ to announce the way of Life through the Gospel; of the immortal Life bestowed upon Him for an example to others after His suffering and death; and also of the power of conferring eternal Life in the name of the Father to those persevering in faith and obedience unto the end. But also the Most Illustrious LAMPE supposes that this passage is not able to be explained of the divine Life of the Lord, because the Donation of divine Life does not apply to an Independent and necessary Existence, in his judgment; hence he does not admit a Communication of divine Essence made from the Father to the Son, as if by this such a Generation is attributed to the Son as would be contrary to His divine and most perfect Life; and he indicates without obscurity that thus one cross over to the camp of the Semi-Arians, indeed, of the Tritheists: he also affirms that the distinction of the divine Persons is not to be sought in the Mode of Subsistence alone, unless we wish to symbolize with the Sabellians: he himself declines to define the Generation of the Son, because he thinks that the Scripture give one: at the same time, he attests that he holily acknowledges, freely confesses, and confidently asserts that the Generation of the Son of God is natural, pertaining to His divine Essence, Unique, Eternal, and absolutely Necessary, and that thus he also dissents from the Most Illustrious CREMER. Now, this passage in John he explains of the Economic Life agreeing with Christ as Mediator, of which, not the first step is signified here, to be sought in the hypostatic Union of the two natures by Incarnation; but the last, which is found in Messiah’s Resurrection and Exaltation for taking eternal royal power over the Church, concerning which the Prophets prophesied of old in words not dissimilar, Psalm 16:11; 21:4; Isaiah 53:10, and which were the reason of the calling and vivification of the Gentiles, concerning which John 5:25: consult LAMPE’S Commentarium upon this passage, and his labellum duobolarem adversus Fruitierium, and his Præfationem before tome 3 Commentarii in Johannis Euangelium.


Others do not speak of the human Life of Christ, but of His divine Life, yet they do not think that the words are to be explained directly of the Generation of the Son; but either of the inhabitation of the Deity in the human nature of Christ by the hypostatic Union according to the good pleasure of the Father; or concerning vivifying Life, which is agreeable to the Son of God, the Mediator, as θεανθρώπῳ/God-man, and which flows from the plenitude of the Deity inhabiting His human flesh.

Nevertheless, I believe to be preferable, if after the most excellent among the Fathers, HILARY, AMBROSE, AUGUSTINE, IDACIUS CLARUS,[1] ATHANASIUS, BASIL, and CHRYSOSTOM, together with PAREUS,[2] PISCATOR, GOMARUS, VOETIUS, COCCEIUS, and MARCKIUS, who cites the Authors just now enumerated and their words, Exercitation XXXVII, Part IV, Exercitationibus Textualibus, § 6, 7 (to which add URSINUS, Explicationum Catecheticarum, Question XXXIII, page 246; HARTMAN, Huysbybel, on this passage), we should acknowledge that in these words are found a true declaration of the Son of God’s divine Generation and Nativity, elsewhere related and set forth.



Let it be observed upon this matter, 1. That ὁ Πατὴρ, the Father, and ὁ Υἱὸς, the Son, are mentioned here quite emphatically and relatively to each other, so that the Son is the Son of this Father, Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, the Son of God, verse 25, not thus far considered as υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the Son of man, which sort He is distinctly called in verse 27; but these names of Father and Son are soon going to be used here most fittingly, when speech is made concerning that matters that are connected with these names by a closer bond.


2. When it is affirmed of the Father, that ἔχει ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτῷ, He hath life in Himself, it shall not denote the mere power of communicating life and blessedness to creatures: contrariwise, the Most Illustrious HONERT observes, præfatione in Ursini Theses Catecheticas, part II, chapter I, page 46, that ἔχείν τι ἐν ἑαυτῷ, to have something in oneself, properly denotes something that thus truly and intimately pertains to some Person or thing, concerning which the speech is made, so that not only is it not able to be separated from the same, but also they are not able to transfer it to other persons or things outside of its essence, although they might demonstrate the same by its operations abroad. Thus is found to have the root in himself, in Matthew 13:21; to have the love of God in himself, John 5:42; to have life in himself, John 6:53; to have eternal life abiding in himself, 1 John 3:15. And he observes that the same expression is thus also to be explained here of a thing immanent in God, rather than of life transferring to creatures by divine Power. This expression is able no more properly and emphatically to be explained than of Divine Life, that is, the divine Essence active of itself, because of which He is called the Living God in opposition to dead Idols and all the rest, which in dependence have life only from Him as the fountain of Life; but especially the Father is thus called both the Living God, Matthew 16:16, and the living Father, John 6:57, because He has life, and possesses it altogether immutably in Himself, with complete independence. In which manner LAMPE also expounds this expression by the prior hemistich of this verse as used of the Father.


3. Moreover, when the same expression, ζωὴν ἔχειν ἐν ἑαυτῷ, to have life in Himself, is used of the Son, that is to be explained in the same manner of the divine Essence active of itself, in the Same Number, which the Son also immutably and independently possesses; all the more, because, α. the conjunction καὶ/also, καὶ τῷ υἱῷ, also to the Son,[3] expressly indicates the communion of this Life in the Son with the Father: and, β. ὥσπερ/as, at the beginning of the verse, signifies perfect agreement in the independent possession of the Numerically Same Essence and divine Life, with the use of this particle collated with verses 21[4] and 23.[5]


4. But, as the Father and the Son completely agree in Essence and its Independent possession, so one distinction in the Mode of Subsistence here obtains: that is, the Father ἔχει ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτῷ, has life in Himself, in such a way that He receives the same from no one. The Son possesses the same Life with the Father, yet in such a way that He has the same from the Father, who ἔδωκε τῷ υἱῷ, etc., has given to the Son, etc., namely, through Generation, just as among men fathers are also said to give life to their sons. And so this Giving is to be explained of an action, not passing, external, or temporary, but immanent, internal, and eternal; not essential ad extra, but personal ad intra; through which the Father shared divine Life with the Son. In which manner, with the propriety of the words preserved, here is found a description of the divine Generation of the Son, a description of such a sort that a more plain and perspicuous could never be given.


5.This also best agrees with the Context, in which the Lord expresses His Equality with the Father, arising from divine Filiation, asserted against the Jews, who were denying it, verse 18.The Lord proves His thesis, α.from the divine Works that He was fulfilling in the communion and name of the Father, both set forth in general, verses 19 and 20, and in particular with the resurrection and vivification of the dead mentioned, verse 21, and the judgment, verse 22.β.From the Honor and Worship common to Him with the Father, to the bestowal of which, agreeing with the Son by force of the divine Nature, upon Him, every one is all the more compelled by the divine Works just now mentioned, which had been committed to the Son by the Father, which the Lord explains both more generally, verse 23, and more specifically, verses 24 and 25.γ.Not only His Equality with the Father, but also His divine Filiation, He asserts through the Numerically Same Life with the Father, communicated to Him be the Father, as the true reason of the Equality with the Father, mentioned previously, both in Works, and in Honor, verse 26, which natural Communication of the divine Life is expressly distinguished by that which is Economical, and given to Him as the Son of Man, verse 27:see our AUTHOR’s Exercitation upon this passage, which is XXXVII, Part IV, Exercitationibus Textualibus.

[1] Idacius Clarus was a fourth century Spanish bishop of Emerida. He opposed and persecuted the Priscillians (Docetic Dualists). His Apologeticus is lost. [2] David Pareus (1548-1622) was a German Calvinist, serving the Reformed Church as a minister, churchman, and professor. He wrote a commentary on the whole Bible, and it was held in high estimation among the Reformed. His Commentarius in Epistolam ad Romanos was burned publicly at Oxford and Cambridge in 1622 by order of the Privy Council of James I because of his comments on Romans 13, in which he upholds the right of resistance to tyranny. [3] John 5:26: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself (ὥσπερ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ἔχει ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτῷ, οὕτως ἔδωκε καὶ τῷ υἱῷ ζωὴν ἔχειν ἐν ἑαυτῷ)…” [4] John 5:21: “For as (ὥσπερ) the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so (οὕτω καὶ) the Son quickeneth whom he will.” [5] John 5:23: “That all men should honour the Son, even as (καθὼς) they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”

ABOUT US

Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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