I will declare the decree - These words are supposed to have been spoken by the Messiah. I will declare to the world the decree, the purpose of God to redeem them by my blood, and to sanctify them by my Spirit. My death shall prove that the required atonement has been made; my resurrection shall prove that this atonement has been accepted.
Thou art my Son - Made man, born of a woman by the creative energy of the Holy Ghost, that thou mightest feel and suffer for man, and be the first-born of many brethren.
This day have I begotten thee - By thy resurrection thou art declared to be the Son of God, εν δυναμει, by miraculous power, being raised from the dead. Thus by thy wondrous and supernatural nativity, most extraordinary death, and miraculous resurrection, thou art declared to be the Son of God. And as in that Son dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, all the sufferings and the death of that human nature were stamped with an infinitely meritorious efficacy. We have St. Paul's authority for applying to the resurrection of our Lord these words, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee;" - see Acts 13:33; see also Hebrews 5:6; - and the man must indeed be a bold interpreter of the Scriptures who would give a different gloss to that of the apostle. It is well known that the words, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee," have been produced by many as a proof of the eternal generation of the Son of God. On the subject itself I have already given my opinion in my note on Luke 1:35, from which I recede not one hair's breadth. Still however it is necessary to spend a few moments on the clause before us. The word היום haiyom, Today, Is in no part of the sacred writings used to express eternity, or any thing in reference to it; nor can it have any such signification. To-day is an absolute designation of the present, and equally excludes time past and time future; and never can, by any figure, or allowable latitude of construction, be applied to express eternity. But why then does the Divine Spirit use the word begotten in reference to the declaration of the inauguration of the Messiah to his kingdom, and his being seated at the right hand of God? Plainly to show both to Jews and Gentiles that this Man of sorrows, this Outcast from society, this Person who was prosecuted as a blasphemer of God, and crucified as an enemy to the public peace and a traitor to the government, is no less than that eternal Word, who was in the beginning with God, who was God, and in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: that this rejected Person was he for whom in the fullness of time a body was prepared, begotten by the exclusive power of the Most High in the womb of an unspotted virgin, which body he gave unto death as a sin-offering for the redemption of the world; and having raised it from death, declared it to be that miraculously-begotten Son of God, and now gave farther proof of this by raising the God-man to his right hand.
The word ילדתי yalidti, "I have begotten," is here taken in the sense of manifesting, exhibiting, or declaring; and to this sense of it St. Paul ( Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4;) evidently alludes when speaking of "Jesus Christ, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, του ὁρισθεντος Υἱου Θεου εν δυναμει, κατα Πνευμα αγιωσυνης, εξ αναστασεως νεκρων ; and declared (exhibited or determined) to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness." This very rejected Person, I this day, by raising him from the dead, and placing him at my right hand, giving to him all power in heaven and earth, declare to be my Son, the beloved one in whom I am well pleased. Therefore hear him, believe on him, and obey him; for there is no redemption but through his blood; no salvation but in his name; no resurrection unto eternal life but through his resurrection, ascension, and powerful intercession at my right hand. Thou art my Son; this day have I declared and manifested thee to be such. It was absolutely necessary to the salvation of men, and the credibility of the Gospel, that the supernatural origin of the humanity of Jesus Christ should be manifested and demonstrated. Hence we find the inspired writers taking pains to show that he was born of a woman, and of that woman by the sovereign power of the everlasting God. This vindicated the character of the blessed virgin, showed the human nature of Christ to be immaculate, and that, even in respect to this nature, he was every way qualified to be a proper atoning sacrifice and Mediator between God and man. I need not tell the learned reader that the Hebrew verb ילד yalad, to beget, is frequently used in reference to inanimate things, to signify their production, or the exhibition of the things produced. In Genesis 2:4; : These are the generations, תולדות toledoth, of the heavens and the earth; this is the order in which God produced and exhibited them. See Hebrews and Eng. Concord., Venema, etc.
I will declare the decree - We have here another change in the speaker. The Anointed One is himself introduced as declaring the great purpose which was formed in regard to him, and referring to the promise which was made to him, as the foundation of the purpose of Yahweh Psalm 2:6 to set him on the hill of Zion. The first strophe or stanza Psalm 2:1-3 is closed with a statement made by the rebels of their intention or design; the second Psalm 2:4-6 with a statement of the purpose of Yahweh; the third is introduced by this declaration of the Messiah himself. The change of the persons speaking gives a dramatic interest to the whole psalm. There can be no doubt that the word “I” here refers to the Messiah. The word decree - חק chôq - means properly something decreed, prescribed, appointed. See Job 23:14. Compare Genesis 47:26; Exodus 12:24. Thus it is equivalent to law, statute, ordinance. Here it refers not to a law which he was to obey, but to an ordinance or statute respecting his reign: the solemn purpose of Yahweh in regard to the kingdom which the Messiah was to set up; the constitution of his kingdom. This, as the explanation shows, implied two things:
(a) that he was to be regarded and acknowledged as his Son, or to have that rank and dignity Psalm 2:7; and
(b) that the pagan and the uttermost parts of the earth were to be given him for a possession, or that his reign was to extend over all the world Psalm 2:8.
The word “declare” here means that he would give utterance to, or that he would now himself make a statement in explanation of the reason why Yahweh had determined to establish him as King on his holy hill of Zion. There is great beauty in thus introducing the Messiah himself as making this declaration, presenting it now in the form of a solemn covenant or pledge. The determination of Yahweh Psalm 2:6 to establish him as King on his holy hill is thus seen not to be arbitrary, but to be in fulfillment of a solemn promise made long before, and is therefore an illustration of his covenant faithfulness and truth. “The Lord hath said unto me.” Yahweh hath said. See Psalm 2:2, Psalm 2:4. He does not intimate when it was that he had said this, but the fair interpretation is, that it was before the purpose was to be carried into execution to place him as King in Zion; that is, as applicable to the Messiah, before he became incarnate or was manifested to execute his purpose on earth. It is implied, therefore, that it was in some previous state, and that he had come forth in virtue of the pledge that he would be recognized as the Son of God. The passage cannot be understood as referring to Christ without admitting his existence previous to the incarnation, for all that follows is manifestly the result of the exalted rank which God purposed to give him as his Son, or as the result of the promise made to him then.
Thou art my Son - That is, Yahweh had declared him to be his Son; he had conferred on him the rank and dignity fairly involved in the title The Son of God. In regard to the general meaning of this, and what is implied in it, see Matthew 1:1, note; Hebrews 1:2, note; Hebrews 1:5, note; Romans 1:4, note; and John 5:18, note. The phrase “sons of God” is elsewhere used frequently to denote the saints, the children of God, or men eminent for rank and power (compare Genesis 6:2, Genesis 6:4; Job 1:6; Hosea 1:10; John 1:12; Romans 8:14, Romans 8:19; Philemon 2:15; 1 John 3:1); and once to denote angels Job 38:7; but the appellation “The Son of God” is not appropriated in the Scriptures to anyone but the Messiah. It does not occur before this in the Old Testament, and it occurs but once after this, Daniel 3:25. See the notes at that passage. This makes its use in the case before us the more remarkable, and justifies the reasoning of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews Hebrews 1:5 as to its meaning. The true sense, therefore, according to the Hebrew usage, and according to the proper meaning of the term, is, that he sustained a relation to God which could be compared only with that which a son among men sustains to his father; and that the term, as thus used, fairly implies an equality in nature with God himself. It is such a term as would not be applied to a mere man; it is such as is not applied to the angels Hebrews 1:5; and therefore it must imply a nature superior to either.
This day - On the application of this in the New Testament, see the notes at Acts 13:33 and the notes at Hebrews 1:5. The whole passage has been often appealed to in support of the doctrine of the “eternal generation” of Christ, meaning that he was “begotten” from eternity; that is, that his divine nature was in some sense an emanation from the Father, and that this is from eternity. Whatever may be thought of that doctrine, however, either as to its intelligibility or its truth, there is nothing in the use of the phrase “this day,” or in the application of the passage in the New Testament Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5, to sustain it. The language, indeed, in the connection in which it is found, does, as remarked above, demonstrate that he had a pre-existence, since it is addressed to him as the result of a decree or covenant made with him by Yahweh, and as the foundation of the purpose to set him as King on the hill of Zion. The words “this day” would naturally refer to that time when this “decree” was made, or this covenant formed; and as that was before the creation of the world, it must imply that he had an existence then.
The time referred to by the meaning of the word is, that when it was determined to crown him as the Messiah. This is founded on the relation subsisting between him and Yahweh, and implied when in that relation he is called his “Son;” but it determines nothing as to the time when this relation commenced. Yahweh, in the passage, is regarded as declaring his purpose to make him King in Zion, and the language is that of a solemn consecration to the kingly office. He is speaking of this as a purpose before he came into the world; it was executed, or carried into effect, by his resurrection from the dead, and by the exaltation consequent on that. Compare Acts 13:33 and Ephesians 1:20-22. Considered, then, as a promise or purpose, this refers to the period before the incarnation; considered as pertaining to the execution of that purpose, it refers to the time when he was raised from the dead and exalted over all things as King in Zion. In neither case can the words “this day” be construed as meaning the same as eternity, or from eternity; and therefore they can determine nothing respecting the doctrine of” eternal generation.”
Have I begotten thee - That is, in the matter referred to, so that it would be proper to apply to him the phrase “my Son,” and to constitute him “King” in Zion. The meaning is, that he had so constituted the relationship of Father and Son in the case, that it was proper that the appellation “Son” should be given him, and that he should be regarded and addressed as such. So Prof. Alexander: “The essential meaning of the phrase “I have begotten thee” is simply this, “I am thy Father.” This is, of course, to be understood in accordance with the nature of God, and we are not to bring to the interpretation the ideas which enter into that human relationship. It means that in some proper sense - some sense appropriate to the Deity - such a relation was constituted as would justify this reference to the most tender and important of all human relationships. In what sense that is, is a fair subject of inquiry, but it is not proper to assume that it is in anything like a literal sense, or that there can be no other sense of the passage than that which is implied in the above-named doctrine, for it cannot be literal, and there are other ideas that may be conveyed by the phrase than that of “eternal generation.” The word rendered “begotten” (ילד yâlad ) determines nothing certainly as to the mode in which this relationship was formed. It means properly:
(1) to bear, to bring forth as a mother, Genesis 4:1;
(2) to beget, as a father, Genesis 4:18; and then
(3) as applied to God it is used in the sense of creating - or of so creating or forming as that the result would be that a relation would exist which might be compared with that of a father and a son.
Deuteronomy 32:18: “of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful.” Compare Jeremiah 2:27: “Saying to a block (idol), Thou art my father, thou hast begotten me.” So Paul says, 1 Corinthians 4:15: “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel.” The full meaning, therefore, of this word would be met if it be supposed that Yahweh had given the Messiah this place and rank in such a sense that it was proper to speak of himself as the Father and the Anointed One as the Son. And was there not enough in designating him to this high office; in sending him into the world; in raising him from the dead; in placing him at his own right hand - appointing him as King and Lord - to justify this language? Is not this the very thing under consideration? Is it proper, then, in connection with this passage, to start the question about his eternal generation? Compare the notes at Romans 1:4. On this passage Calvin says (in loc.), “I know that this passage is explained by many as referring to the eternal generation of Christ, who maintain that in the adverb today there is, as it were, a perpetual act beyond the limits of time, denoted. But the Apostle Paul is a more faithful and competent interpreter of this prophecy, who in Acts 13:33 recalls us to that which I have called a glorious demonstration of Christ. He was said to be begotten, therefore, not that he might be the Son of God, by which he might begin to be such, but that he might be manifested to the world as such. Finally, this begetting ought to be understood not of the mutual relation of the Father and the Son, but it signifies merely that he who was from the beginning hidden in the bosom of the Father, and who was obscurely shadowed forth under the law, from the time when he was manifested with clear intimation of his rank, was acknowledged as the Son of God, as it is said in John 1:14.” So Prof. Alexander, though supposing that this is founded on an eternal relation between the Father and the Son, says, “This day have I begotten thee may be considered as referring only to the coronation of Messiah, which is an ideal one,” vol. i., p. 15. The result of the exposition of this passage may therefore be thus stated:
(a) The term “Son,” as used here, is a special appellation of the Messiah - a term applicable to him in a sense in which it can be given to no other being.
(b) As used here, and as elsewhere used, it supposes his existence before the incarnation.
(c) Its use here, and the purpose formed, imply that he had an existence before this purpose was formed, so that he could be personally addressed, and so that a promise could be made to him.
(d) The term “Son” is not used here in reference to that anterior relation, and determines nothing as to the mode of his previous being - whether from eternity essentially in the nature of God; or whether in some mysterious sense begotten; or whether as an emanation of the Deity; or whether created.
(e) The term, as Calvin suggests, and as maintained by Prof. Alexander, refers here only to his being constituted King - to the act of coronation - whenever that occurred.
(f) This, in fact, occurred when he was raised from the dead, and when he was exalted to the right hand of God in heaven Acts 13:33, so that the application of the passage by Paul in the Acts accords with the result to which we are led by the fair interpretation of the passage.
(g) The passage, therefore, determines nothing, one way or the other, respecting the doctrine of eternal generation, and cannot, therefore, be used in proof of that doctrine.