Was the Son begotten continuously or just once?

This question revolves around the begetting of the Son before the creation of the universe NOT his incarnation.

Was the Son begotten continuously forever?


Was the Son begotten once forever?

  • 1
    Please edit your question to define "beget continuously". Nov 2, 2013 at 8:40
  • If my answer to you question about Jesus equality with God does not sufficiently answer your question here will try to expand my answer to make it more inclusive.
    – BYE
    Nov 2, 2013 at 12:54
  • Cecil Beckum. Your other answer was perfect to that question even though I might not completely agree with you. Could not have done as well. Answer this one here for future reference. Nov 2, 2013 at 17:42
  • This is debated even within Protestantism, so unfortunately this appears to be an opinion-based / truth question. Jan 27, 2017 at 5:27

4 Answers 4


One of the best (if not the best) Augustinian/Thomistic theologians is Frank J. Sheed. His great work “Theology and Sanity” is an excellent guide for contemplating questions like these.

Sheed writes:

What, then, is time? Philosophers use the word in two closely related senses; most of us find that one of these is sufficient for us. Time, say the philosophers, is the duration of that which changes; time, say the philosophers again and we with them, is the measurement of the changes of the universe. What is common to both statements is the relation of time to change. Where nothing changes, time has no possible meaning. Thus time and the universe started together. God is infinite and therefore changeless. He is “the Father of lights with whom there is no change or shadow of alteration” (James 1:17). He possesses the utter fullness of existence, so that nothing can go from Him, for He already possesses all. The universe He created is a changing universe. And because change belongs to it and not to God, time belongs to it and not to God. To repeat, time and the universe started together: time is the ticking of the universe.

If we say, “Jesus was begotten before the universe was created,” then we are stating something that has no meaning at all. Before is a word of time, and there could be no time before the universe because time began with the universe. To say “before the universe” means when there wasn't any “when”; which is to say that it doesn't mean anything at all. The same is said about the phrase, “how many times was (was is also a time word) Jesus begotten.”

Frank Sheed goes on to discuss processions in eternity:

There may still remain one error clinging to our knowledge of the processions of the Persons in the Blessed Trinity because of our own immersion in time. As far as the statement of it goes, we are not likely to make the error of thinking that the Son is in some way less eternal than the Father, or the Holy Spirit in some way younger than the Father and the Son. We know that there is no succession in eternity, no change in God. God the Father did not first exist as a Person and then become a Father. God, by the very act of being God, generates his Son; God the Father and God the Son, by the very act of being God, spirate the Holy Spirit. As I say, there is not likely to be any error in our statement of this: the error will tend to cling to our idea in such a way that when we are looking directly at it, we do not see it, yet it is profoundly there: and, because time is so deeply woven into all our experience, our advance in the knowledge of God depends upon our deliberate effort to rid our mind of it.

According to the historical Church's creeds and councils, the only valid answer is, "Christ is eternally begotten only of the Father."

The Nicene Creed was formulated by the Early Church Fathers to authoritatively define the Christological absolutes that orthodox Christians hold:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

According to this formula, Christ is "the only begotten Son of God." While being eternally "begotten from the Father before all ages," he was "by the Power of the Holy Spirit incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man." It is precisely because Jesus of Nazareth was eternally begotten/born (fully God and fully Man) before all ages, that the Blessed Virgin Mary can properly receive the coronation of being named "Theotokos," or Mother of God.


The question seems to be based on the idea that the internal relations between the persons of the Holy Trinity are in some sort of time --- in particular that the begetting of the Son by the Father happened at a single moment or continued through an interval (perhaps an infinite interval) of time. I don't think that's the case. More importantly, as far as I know, Catholic theologians regard God as not being bound by time, but rather existing separately from time.

I think modern physics provides some support for this theological position. General relativity describes a very close relationship between space, time, and matter. So knowing that God created matter, one can reasonably conclude that space and time themselves were also created by God, not existing somehow separately from Him.


When the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would become Pregnant and bear a son, he told her that she would be overcome by the Holy Spirit.

Luk 1:35 KJV

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The Holy Ghost himself placed the seed of God into Mary's womb which combined with Mary's seed then grew into the baby Jesus.

Because Jesus had both the seed of man which he inherited through Mary his mother and the seed of God which the Holy Spirit placed in the womb of his mother Mary, Jesus was both man and God.

This is no different than the fact that you are the son of both your mother and your father, and have characteristics of both of them.

Mat 1:18 KJV

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Mat 1:20 KJV

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

That seed from the Holy Ghost is eternal therefore the Deity part of Jesus is also eternal.

  • This is an interesting point of view. But, wouldn't this mean then, that Jesus did not exist as a person before the virgin birth? Nov 4, 2013 at 14:35
  • @christianity.stackexchange.com/users/5568/jlaverde To the contrary if the egg which was Mary's contribution pre existed the birth of Jesus, so would the seed of God which not only would be pre existing , but also by the nature of God be eternal. All of those characteristics of God were displayed on Earth by Jesus; (omniscience, omnipotence, etc.)
    – BYE
    Nov 4, 2013 at 15:03
  • Understood, but I will make an emphasis in the same question as it was the central point of the question. Wouldn't this mean then, that Jesus did not exist AS A PERSON before the virgin birth? Nov 4, 2013 at 16:19
  • @christianity.stackexchange.com/users/5568/jlaverde who can know what form the deity Jesus had before the birth of Jesus the man. Since many believe; and I am one of them, that Jesus pre incarnate appeared in human form several times in the Old Testament; was that the same form as the physical Jesus or not. any response on my part to that question would be pure conjecture. I do believe that he could choose what form he appeared in.
    – BYE
    Nov 4, 2013 at 19:27

I do not know when God put himself into threes but as far as I know he alway has been in threes. 1)GOD 2)the word of GOD 3) His Holy Spirit now this is before Christ. the holy spirit or ghost if you prefer came upon mary and placed the seed/ word of God into her and the word was made flesh. So now we have 1)God the Father 2) God the Son 3) His Holy Spirit. Sorry to put my personal opinion here but I believe that God the Father is the greater of the three because the Holy Spirit( his essence) and the Son both serve the Father. Never once that I have read in the Bible does it say otherwise. Now I know that theologians have said they are the same but like i said it is my personal opinion. So to answer the question, No God the Son did not exist before Christ. But the word of God did and Christ is the word, so yes he was there all along but not has the Son. He was begotten to us when the word was made flesh sent to die for our sins.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .