BORN OR FATHERED? A Word Study

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Van, Jan 18, 2015.

  1. Van

    Van
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    The Greek Word under study in this post is G1080, gennao, and is usually translated as either begat (men fathering children) or born (women delivering children.) When someone is born, that primarily indicates the action of the female parent, but if someone is fathered, that indicates the action of the male parent. In this post we will take a look the translators choice and consider if another choice might be more faithful to the authors intended message.


    Whoever is at the present believing in Christ, has been fathered by God in the past. Many times we will see grammatical arguments asserting the start or beginning point of belief is in view, and therefore we were fathered before we believed. However, if God is the one who decides whether we are "believing" or not, then the fathering would be contemporaneous with God deciding to accept our faith.

    However, all that is beside the point, the issue is should this verse be translated traditionally (born), or as does the NET (fathered.)

    The NET footnotes indicate by looking at 1 John 2:29 and 1 John 3:9 we see that John is using paternal imagery, and therefore "fathered" is indicated rather than born.

    Now to the nub of the issue, if "fathered" is in view rather than born, can the presentation of the gospel, having also believed, be referred to as "fathering?" Or is “fathering” God’s action of sending the Spirit of His Son into our born anew hearts? If we look at 1 John 3:9 we see we have God's seed in us and the "seed" is Christ, so this seems to be saying “fathering” is putting the Spirit of Christ in us.

    If we look at little closer at how the words translated either born or fathered as used in 1 John, we see some more distinctions.

    1) If we transliterate the Greek word found at 1 John 2:29, we get gegennEtia. The tense can be translated has "has been born or fathered" and because it is preceded by "out of Him" we can see that fathered fits better. Thus "has been fathered by God" seems to be the intended message.

    2) Similar, but not exactly the same construction can be found at 1 John 4:7 and 1 John 5:1 (in the first appearance of our word) and again could be translated as "has been fathered by God.

    3) In four other places, 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:1 (in the last appearance of our word), 1 John 5:4, and 1 John 5:18, we get a slightly different form of our word (gegennEmenos) followed by "out of God." Here the closest translation would be "having been fathered by God."

    4) Finally, a little different form is found in the middle usage of our word in 1 John 5:1, with "being fathered" i.e. an ongoing fathering being our best choice. Thus, if we love the One fathering us (alluding to the ongoing nurturing of the Holy Spirit) we will love those others fathered by God.

    Putting it all together, we get this for a fresh translation of 1 John 5:1, "Everyone believing Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God and everyone loving the One fathering is also loving the others fathered by Him."

    Matthew 1:20 provides the first NT example where the traditional translation of one of the forms of "gennaw" is translated "conceived,” but it would seem the idea is actually that which is in her was fathered by the Holy Spirit. Again the construction includes "out of ... a form of God.”

    John 1:13 seems a case where it is actually difficult to determine if born or fathered should be used. We have the construction "out of God fathered" but not very many translations follow that nuance. (See YLT and Weymouth New Testament) which have "begotten." More on this verse later.

    In John 8:41, since the action of being generated is directed at Mary, i.e. born of prostitution, born fits best.

    John 18:37 again presents a case where "fathered" fits better, to my eye at least, because come into the world is redundant to born but not to fathered.

    In Acts 13:33 we see begotten which is archaic and would be better translated "fathered."

    2 Timothy 2:23 could be translated ... they father quarrels.

    Philemon 1:10 could be translated "fathered."

    In Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5 begotten could be translated "fathered."

    I think that covers the full spectrum of translation choices, outside of the examples from 1 John, where a change to "fathered" seems sound.

    If the verse indicates "born or fathered" out of Mary, then born and not fathered is indicated. Thus at Matthew 1:16 Jesus was "out of Mary" therefore born.

    The one difficult verse is John 1:13 where "out of God" is present. The difficulty is in the "not of bloods" at the start of the verse. This may refer to the joint contribution of a biological conception, thus John is comparing not human fathering to Godly fathering, but human caused conception with God caused conception. So, even though the NASB footnotes "begotten" for born, and both the YLT and Weymouth NT, use begotten, I think John was presenting human effort, thus born addresses both humans as not party to the new birth, but it is doubtful biology is actually in view.

    The plural of "blood" appears many times in the OT (Septuagint) almost always referring to having blood on their hands, i.e. guilty of bloodshed; bloods only seems to appear here at John 1:13 in the NT. Because the meaning is not clear, you can find a bunch of guesses, including mine (biological generation of life), but two other views appear quite frequently, (1) guilty of bloodshed, or guilty of adultery thus “not of bloods” saying not of sinful man, and (2) a Jewish mistaken view that their blood line, i.e. the bloods back to Abraham, had some merit in and of itself. However, Jesus counters this with "you must be born anew." This second view, I find persuasive, and therefore continue to think "born" is the idea, but for a different reason. Not of bloods saying “not of Jewish heritage.”

    Therefore John 1:13 seems an outlier, with born of God presenting the contrary idea of not born of Jewish parents. It seems to me, all the other examples provide straightforward and self recommending cases for the use of “fathered” rather than “born.”
     
  2. Van

    Van
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    In summary the NASB95 translation of G1080 could be updated to (1) eliminate obsolete words (begotten) and (2) improve transparency and concordance, and (3) change born to fathered where appropriate.
    1) Change begotten to fathered, Acts 13:33, Phm. 1:10, Hebrews 1:5, and 5:5.
    2) Changes to improve transparency and correspondence:
    a) Matthew 1:20 Change "conceived" to "fathered."
    b) Luke 1:35 Change "child" to Holy One "born" of you...
    c) Luke 1:57 Change "give birth" to "bore."
    d) Acts 7:29 Change "became the father" to "fathered."
    e) 1 Cor. 4:15 Change "became your father" to "fathered."
    f) Gal. 4:24 Change "bearing children who are to become slaves" to "birthing into slavery."
    g) 2 Timothy 2:23 Change "produce" to "father." ​

    3) Change born to fathered
    a) John 8:37
    b) 1 John 2:29
    c) 1 John 3:39
    d) 1 John 4:7
    e) 1 John 5:1
    f) 1 John 5:5
    g 1 John 5:18
     
  3. Van

    Van
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    If we think about "fathering" at its most basic, and crude perhaps, we think of someone putting something into something and depositing something which results in life.

    Moving as rapidly as possible away from the biological parallel, if we plant the seed of the gospel in "fertile" soil and the result is a born anew Christian, we can say we "fathered" that Christian. At least that is one way Paul uses the word.

    Now, of course, we must always say even if we plant the seed, it is God who causes the increase, i.e. the new life. So if God credits a person's faith in the gospel, our planted seed, and transfers the person spiritually into Christ, we again have the picture of God putting something (the believer) into something (the spiritual body of Christ). And then finally, we have the picture of God, after causing a person to be born anew in Christ, then putting something (the Holy Spirit) into something (our spirit/soul) completing the "inception" of fathering. However, we still have the "parenting" aspect of fathering, and thus we are "fathered" by the Holy Spirit putting understanding of spiritual meat within us.

    Thus, when we see "fathered, or fathering" and the like, we must consider which of the 3 aspects of fathering is in view.
    1) Presenting the gospel upon fertile soil
    2) God crediting their faith as righteousness and transferring them into Christ and sealing them in Christ we the Holy Spirit, or
    3) The on-going nurturing (enlightenment, conviction, and training) by the Spirit of Christ in our lives. ​
     
  4. Bro. James

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    This may not be germane to the discussion: Someone observed, "Any virile male can be a sperm donor to father a child; but it takes a God fearing man to be a Dad.

    We have lost sight of what "ABBA" might mean.

    Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

    Bro. James
     
  5. Van

    Van
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    I would file that thought under category 3, on-going nurturing.
     
  6. Deacon

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    Why would anyone what to be feathered by God?
    Van, you've gone to the birds.

    Rob
     
  7. Van

    Van
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    Well I suppose you are referring to some male bird sitting on eggs, using feathers to keep them warm, as fathering/feathering. Still a Cat 3, provided the cat does not reach the nest. :)
     
  8. Van

    Van
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    Examples:
    Category 1, Fathering = planting the seed of the gospel in fertile soil
    Philemon 1:10, " I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have "fathered" in my imprisonment"

    Category 2, Fathered = God transferring believers into Christ and sealing them in Christ with the Holy Spirit.
    1 John 5:1, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God,..."

    Category 3, Fathering = on-going nurturing by the Holy Spirit
    1 John 5:1, "...and everyone loving the One fathering...."​
     
  9. Yeshua1

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    And the main point of all of this is?
     
  10. Van

    Van
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    When you read or study a verse or passage that says beget, begotten, born, birth, father, fathered, etc, consider what is actually being said, born or fathered, and if fathered, what is meant, category 1, 2, or 3? Yeshua1, think of it as meditating on the word of God.
     
  11. Yeshua1

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    And its not a way to indicate how John 3:16 should be rendered?
     
  12. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    The terms are anthropomorphic expressions as God does not actually have sperm, or actually have a female side with an actual womb. It is an anthropomorphic term that merely denotes that God is the SPIRITUAL LIFE ORIGIN and coming into a new spiritual world - the kingdom of God.

    Moreover, new birth is described as a CREATIVE act of God and God created all things by an EFFECTUAL CALL, as he called into existence what did not previously exist - 2 Cor. 4:6; 1 Thes. 1:4-5
     
  13. Van

    Van
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    Hi Yeshua1, as I have posted in response to your endless questions before, monogenes means one kind, or one of a kind. It does not mean fathered, born, or any of your favored archaic words.
     
  14. Yeshua1

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    Jesus is still the ONLY begotton Son of the Son of the father though, as he is such by nature, and we by adoption!
     
  15. Van

    Van
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    You can hold to your belief, Yeshua1. Monogenes means one of a kind, not begotten or fathered. Scripture says we are looking forward to our adoption as sons at Christ's second coming. Again your beliefs are without foundation in scripture, whereas I can cite Romans 8:23, and Dr. Wallace's footnote on John 3:16.
     
  16. Yeshua1

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    We are right now adopted into the family of God, as His children, sealed by the Spirit, and THAT marking is what will allow us to be glorified by Jesus when he returns!

    And Jesus is the only Begotten of God, being "very God of very God"
     

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