"Today" in Hebrews 1:5/Psalm 2:7
On November 1, 2006, John MacArthur was the guest on Albert Mohler's radio program.During that program, MacArthur graciously took calls from listeners. One of these calls (starting at 31:29 in the program) concerned MacArthur's teaching on "incarnational sonship." Addressing this issue, MacArthur said the following:
Let me make it real simple. He is eternally God. Jesus Christ is and always will be the eternal God- a member of the Trinity. He is eternally One of Three. And I don't have any problem with calling Him the eternal Son therefore. But I do understand that there is a uniqueness to His incarnation in that the Scripture says, "This day have I begotten Thee." And that's related to His incarnation.
Now, I entirely agree with the above quote (as well as the rest of MacArthur's statements on this radio broadcast), except for the last two sentences of the quote.
But before I explain why I disagree with these sentences, I must mention that MacArthur, more than any other, is like a modern day John Calvin in terms of his careful exegesis of Scripture. Like Calvin, MacArthur has explained God's Word in such a way to provide spiritual nourishment for his congregation, truly engaging in pastoral ministry week after week. Like Calvin, MacArthur's pastoral ministry has yielded a set of commentaries on the Bible that have been beneficial to the Church as a whole. MacArthur truly deserves to be announced- as he once was by Albert Mohler when he spoke at SBTS chapel- as the expositor.
So, having said all that, to attempt to correct MacArthur's understanding of a verse of Scripture feels a bit like trying to show Lennox Lewis how he should throw a punch.
But, as they say, 'Biblical and Theological Studies students at Southern Seminary rush in where angels fear to tread.' So I'll go ahead and say that in this case I think MacArthur got it wrong.
The verse MacArthur mentioned was Hebrews 1:5 (the verse that, for him, started the original "incarnational sonship" controversy, as he points out in the article linked above), which is a quote from Psalm 2:7.
The question that must be answered about this verse is, "What day is 'Today'?" In other words, when the Scripture says, "TODAY I have begotten You," what day is in view? Now common sense informed by the basic story of Jesus would indicate that this refers to the incarnation. But common sense is no substitute for allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. So, what day is Today according to the verses in the immediate context of "Today I have begotten You"?
When viewing these verses in context, these references to the Day that the Son is begotten do not seem to refer to the incarnation, but rather to the resurrection and the specifically the coronation (the time after His ascension when Jesus is crowned as the universal King, seated at the right hand of the Father).
1. In Acts 13:33, Psalm 2:7 is also quoted and it is clear that the day that the Son is begotten is related to the resurrection of Jesus, as is indicated by the immediate context, and even within this verse with the phrase, "raised up." Jesus is spoken of as being begotten "today" in terms of the resurrection in a similar way as He is referred to as the firstborn from the dead in Colossians 1:18.
2. We must remember that “begotten” can carry the sense of being “brought forth.” In this sense, Jesus was begotten as God's Son on the Day that He "sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high," for on this Day His glory was brought forth before all the heavenly hosts. Psalm 2:7 also uses the phrase “this Day I have begotten You” to refer to the coronation of the Son, as seen in the context of Psalm 2:6,
"But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain."
The coronation is also seen to be the Day in Hebrews 1:5, which flows from Hebrews 1:3b-4:
"When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they."
Labels: Bible study