Standing in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia, distinguished from the Antioch of Syria, Paul addressed the Jewish leaders concerning Jesus the Christ. Paul’s sermon (which carried them historically from Abraham, through Egyptian deliverance, the subsequent wandering of the wilderness, and the eventual conquest and division of the Promised Land), would finally highlight upon David, the King of Israel (Acts 13:17-21). In Paul’s sermon it is important to note that everything which was being discussed alluded to scripture well-known by the audience in question. “Of David’s seed”, Paul declared, “hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Savior: Jesus” (Acts 13:23).
It was upon this foundational concept that Paul would launch the remainder of his message; the identity of the individual known as Jesus, whom they had rejected and crucified. By connecting Jesus to the seed of David, Paul was making a direct reference to various Old Testament writings which carried strong Messianic language (Ish. 11:1-2; Jer. 23:5-6). Paul further built his case leading them to the eventual rejection and subsequent crucifixion, yet continuing in the vein that alluded to scriptures these men would have known. Paul’s sermon was a revelation involving the fulfillment of numerous prophecies they were supposed to have anticipated and recognized (Ish. 50:6; 53:5, 7; Ps. 22:16-18; Deut. 21:23).
Everything, Paul was declaring, was fulfilled exactly as scripture had declared; the birth of the Messiah and His eventual rejection and subsequent death at the hands of those He had come to save. Suddenly, while the words of Jesus` death and burial hung in the air, Paul declared, “But God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13:30). Following the train of thought dealing with scriptural fulfillment , Paul then connected the resurrection of Christ to Psalms 2:7, which states: “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:33; Psalms 2:7).
This verse, (Acts 13:33), has been a scripture grossly overlooked or hotly contested in certain circles. It is vitally important to recognize that Acts 13:33, while following a series of points which focus on prophetic fulfillment in relation to Jesus the Christ, also presents the resurrection as a fulfillment of another Old Testament scripture. Paul is not speaking of the birth of Christ nor is Paul speaking of issues relating to the Godhead. Paul is clearly referring to the resurrection of Jesus after being held for three days in a tomb following His death on the cross. One issue that arises out of this understanding revolves around the concept of Christ’s being “begotten.”
In most cases the idea of Christ being begotten would automatically take on the conceptual thought of the birth of Jesus (Matt. 1:18, 25). However, in this instance, this is clearly not the case. According to the Greek, the common usage of “begotten” in relation to birth is the word monogenēs, which is the combination of two words, “mono” and “genes.” Translated this means one of a kind (Zodhiates, 1994). The birth of Jesus was literally the birth of a child that was “one of a kind.” Jesus was clearly the “only begotten of the Father” (Jn. 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 Jn. 4:9). The implications of this are far reaching, so much so, that Jesus “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phi. 2:6). To clearly understand the concept of being begotten in Acts 13:33, an emphasis on the divinity and humanity of Jesus must be viewed.
Unlike the first Adam who was created in the image and likeness of God strictly by God alone, Jesus was “made of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). There is a direct connection in Galatians to the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15 which speak of the “seed of the woman” and the victory her seed will accomplish over sin and death. It is obvious that woman does not produce seed, thus there is a strong allusion to something supernatural, later revealed by the prophetic words of Isaiah who declared, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Ish. 7:14). Initially woman had been built from man (Gen. 2:22), but now scripture declared that a seed would be built from the woman with the purpose of restoring lost dominion and righting a relational separation. This seed was made of a virgin woman through the active power of the Spirit of God (Matt. 1:20).
However the action of conception and birth of Jesus alone did not suffice to fulfill the promise declared in Genesis 3:15. Jesus had come into the world, “made under the law”, for the sole purpose of “redeeming them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:5). Humanity, due to the disobedience of the first Adam, was born under sin and thus servants to sin (Rom. 6:17-21). Not only was humanity in bondage but they were also lifeless in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). It was for this redemptive cause that the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the worlds” (Rev. 13:8), would come and be “led as a sheep to the slaughter” (Acts 8:32).
It was in a garden that Jesus would wrestle with the temptation of the flesh to throw off the weight of redemption’s demand, yet it was in that garden that the Second Adam would obey the will of the Father (Lk. 22:42). Calvary was the ultimate choice whose decision was also made in a garden (John 19:41). The first Adam was disobedient unto death whereas the Second Adam was “obedient unto death” (Phi. 2:8). Calvary by itself is an incomplete picture without the subsequent events of the burial and resurrection of Jesus; for this is the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). To borrow the words of Holy Writ: “If Christ be not risen,” then our preaching and faith is in vain (1 Cr. 15:14).
When Paul quoted from Psalms 2:7 and made the declaration that Christ was begotten after His resurrection there is a subtle change in the Greek in relation to being “begotten.” In this instance, instead of “monogenus” the word used is “gennao.” According to Vines Expository Dictionary, “It (gennao) is used metaphorically in the writings of the Apostle John, of the gracious act of God in conferring upon those who believe the nature and disposition of “children,” imparting to them spiritual life”(Vine, Unger, & White, 1985). While the concept of begetting, birthing, and child-bearing is present in the word, there is a heavy connection towards a spiritual birth rather than a physical birth.
Something incredible occurred through the death, burial, resurrection that brought about the connection of Psalms 2:7 in relation to Jesus’ resurrection. When God declared, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” the idea being presented was the work of the Second Adam and the restoration of the relationship between son and Father that had been broken in the garden. The resurrection that occurred in the book of Acts through the infilling of the Holy Ghost was not possible without Jesus becoming “begotten” in the sense of a spiritual act. Scripture reveals that Jesus came to give us life, and “life more abundant” (John 10:10). At the point of His resurrection, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power” (Rom. 1:4), and this directly connected to various scriptures which refer to the restoration of dominion and son ship through the work of redemption and resurrection.
Jesus became the “first begotten of the dead” (Acts 26:23; Rev. 1:5) yet not in the sense of physical death. It was through the death, burial, and resurrection that Jesus enabled humanity to receive the “power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12) by becoming, as the Second Adam, declared to be “the begotten Son.” Through this act humanity could then become joint-heirs with Christ by being in Christ and thus sons of God. It was a reconciliation of a relationship lost (Rom. 5:10). It is important to grasp that soon after the resurrection that Jesus told Mary, “go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). This is a direct result of the fulfillment of Psalm 2:7 which declared, “This day have I begotten thee.”
This second instance of being given life and subsequently being begotten had nothing to do with humanity. It was strictly an act of God that resurrected Jesus. Jesus was the “first fruits of the dead” (I Cor. 15:20), thus signifying that He was the first of many more that would come after Him. Paul went on to state, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22). Humanity which was “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) was quickened through the active regeneration (New Birth) initiated at Pentecost, and thus, “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).
On the Day of Pentecost, the declaration of Jesus to Nicodemus occurred, “ye must be born (gennao) again” (John 3:3). The 120 and those that followed become the harvest which had been declared through the first fruit, the firstborn of the dead, Jesus the Christ. The power to become sons of God was made possible through the Second Adam being resurrected and glorified and declared a Son through the action of the Spirit of God that raised the body up from death. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co 15:55-57).