I read this on a Calvinist website (emphasis mine):

Monogenes – This fallacy has existed for years and caused much confusion and damage. It is thought by many to be derived from monos (only) and gennao (to beget), hence “only-begotten”, however this is untrue. The word is found in John 1:14, 18: 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17; and 1 John 4:9. The KJV is famous for using the wording “only begotten”, though it did not originate there. This mis-translation of the Greek word has existed for centuries, and can be found even in some of the best early church creeds, such as the Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creed. The best translation would probably be something like unique, special, well-beloved son, as the two Greek words which it is comprised of properly suggest: monos (only) and genos (type, class).

Do Calvinists reject that the Son was eternally "begotten of the Father before all ages" (ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων)? Or is this just an argument about the meaning of the word μονογενής as a standalone adjective?

Thanks in advance.

  • Offhand I would say that calvinists do NOT believe that "there was a time when Jesus was not". Put another way, they believe in the eternal preexistence of Christ. But this requires a documented answer...
    – rje
    Jan 21, 2019 at 17:29
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    Thanks for your comment, however, my question is not about the pre-existence of Christ, but that He was begotten before all ages of the Father. Jan 21, 2019 at 18:02
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    Calvinism is orthodox, Chalcedonian Christianity, so I'd say they'd agree that He was begotten before all ages, of the Father. Calvin's quibble with Arminius wasn't about Christ's begotten-from-eternity nature.
    – rje
    Jan 21, 2019 at 22:13
  • Can you give a link to the actual page rather than that site's front page?
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 21, 2019 at 22:30
  • @curiousdannii Updated. Jan 21, 2019 at 22:57

2 Answers 2


The Calvinistic position, traditionally, is not that the Son is (as stated in the question) 'begotten of the Father before all ages', but, rather, that the Son is :

eternally begotten of the Father.

A very informative article by Benjamin W. Swinburnson states it thus :

This doctrine, as classically defined in Reformed theology, states that God the Father, by an eternal personal act, by necessity of nature, generates the person (not the essence) of the Son by communicating to him the whole indivisible substance of the Godhead, without division, alienation, or change.

And his article, in detail, argues that John Calvin did so teach.

The begetting, so taught, is a matter of an eternal begetting, without beginning, without ending, outside of time. It is an eternal matter - between the Father and the Son - and is fulfilled in one Spirit.

  • You should know that "eternally begotten" directly and exactly equivalent to the Greek expression "begotten before all ages." I'm accepting your answer. Thanks. Jan 22, 2019 at 13:32

From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism#God):

Traditionally, Reformed theologians have also followed the medieval tradition going back to before the early church councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon on the doctrine of the Trinity. God is affirmed to be one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Son (Christ) is held to be eternally begotten by the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeding from the Father and Son.

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