This past Lord's Day we recited the Nicene Creed. Afterwards a member asked me what it meant that Jesus was "begotten of the Father before all worlds." A synopsis might run like this:
To be be begotten of the Father is to say that, Jesus, while being co-eternal with the father, does not exist apart from the Father. His existence, though divine, is very much depended upon the Father. Or, to put it another way, "He is what he is because of God the father." Or, "the Son would be nothing at all if it were not for God the Father."
While the use of the term "monogenes" (only begotten) is used a number of times in Scripture, the best place to consider is John 5:16-47 (even though monogenes is not used, the idea is most certainly evident). Jesus here calls God his "own Father" making himself equal to God in a sense that no one else was (this is why the Jews got so mad and wanted to stone him!).
Yet, he went on to say that he did the same works as his Father, and even admitted that he could not do them apart from the Father (v. 19-24). Also, he said he had the right to judge, but this was only because the Father committed judgment to him.
Verses 21 & 25 are similar. Jesus says that he has power to raise the dead, but yet, he can do nothing on his own initiative! All the power he exercises is because of his Father who sent him into the world.
Verse 26 also illustrates this. Jesus says that he has life in himself. But he admits that it is only because his Father gave him this quality.
More could be added. But the point I think is expressed: Jesus is the eternally begotten of the Father (i.e. begotten before all worlds). Though he possesses uniqueness as divine, he is somehow (mysteriously, of course) dependent upon the Father.
 Adapted from Stuart Olyott’s work, The Three are One.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.