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William Perkins on the begotten Son

William Perkins (1558-1602) wrote this pithy summary of the Jesus Christ the Son as the second person of the Trinity in his A Golden Chain. I am not, strictly speaking, a theologian, so this strikes me as a very helpful and simple explanation of the Son’s trinitarian relationship to the Father in amongst all of the current controversy.

The Son is the second person, begotten of the Father from all eternity. Although the Son is begotten of his Father, yet he is of and by himself very God, for he must be considered either according to his essence, or according to his filiation or sonship. In regard of his essence, he is autotheos, that is of and by himself very God, for the deity which is common to all persons is not begotten. But as he is a person and the Son of the Father, he not of himself, but from another, for he is the eternal Son of his Father and thus he is truly said to be very God of very God. For this cause he is said to be sent from the Father. This sending taketh not away the equality of essence and power, but declareth the order of persons. For this cause also he is the word of the Father; not a vanishing, but essential word, because as a word is, as it were, begotten of the mind, so is the Son begotten of the Father; and also because he bringeth glad tidings from the bosom of his Father.1

Christ is very God, is sent from the Father, and brings glad tidings from Him.

  1. William Perkins, ‘The Golden Chain or the Description of Theology’, ch. X, in The Work of William Perkins, (Appleford: The Sutton Courtenay Press, 1970), p. 182

By Simon Kennedy

Simon is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland. He resides in Geelong, Victoria with his wife and four children.