We begin with the metaphors, Son and Father.
1 Let us take the beginning of our study from the secret of the divine generation, and first set down what one must hold about it according to the testimonies of sacred Scripture. Then we may set out the arguments against the truth of the faith which unbelief has invented; by achieving the solution of these we will be pursuing the purpose of this study.
2 Sacred Scripture, then, hands on to us the names of “paternity” and “sonship” in the divinity, insisting that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. One finds this most frequently in the books of the New Testament. Thus, Matthew (1: 27): “No one knows the Son but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father but the Son.”
With this Mark begins his Gospel, saying: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” John the Evangelist also frequently points to this, for he says: “The Father loves the Son and He hath given all things into His hand” (3:35) and “As the Father raises up the dead, and gives life: so the Son also gives life to whom He will” (5:21). Paul the Apostle also frequently inserts these words, for he calls himself in Romans (1:1-3) “separated unto the gospel of God, which He had promised before by His prophets in the holy scriptures concerning His Son”; and says in Hebrews (1:1): “God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these days hath spoken to us by His Son.”
3 This is also. given us, although more rarely, in the books of the Old Testament. Thus, Proverbs (30:4) says: “What is His name, and what is the name of His Son, if you know?” One reads it also in the Psalms (2:7; 88:27): “The Lord said to me: You are My Son”; and again: “He shall cry out to Me: You are My Father.”
4 To be sure, some would like to twist these last two sayings into another sense, so as to refer “The Lord hath said to Me: You are My Son” to David; and so as to ascribe “He shall cry out to Me: You are My Father” to Solomon.
Nevertheless, the additions in each instance show that this cannot be quite the case. For David cannot be fitted into this addition: “This day have I begotten You” (Ps. 2:7); nor into this one: “I will give You the Gentiles for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession” (2:8); since David’s kingdom was not extended to the utmost parts of the earth, as the history of the Book of Kings shows.
No more is the saying: “He shall cry out to Me: You are My Father” fitting to Solomon, since there follows: “I will make His rule to endure for evermore: and His throne as the days of heaven” (Ps. 88:30). Hence, one is given to understand that because some of the things joined to the texts mentioned are suitable to David and Solomon, some absolutely unsuitable, what is said of David and Solomon in these words is said, as customarily in Scripture, figuratively of that other in whom the whole is fulfilled.
Notes Don’t forget we often (or used to, in days gone by, and still in many languages and cultures) refer to those much younger as “son” and those older as “father”, “uncle”, and “grandfather”. But everybody knew what was, and wasn’t, meant.
5 However, since the names of “Father” and “Son” follow on a generation, Scripture has not been silent about the very name of “divine generation.” For in the Psalm (2:7), as was said, one reads: “This day have I begotten You.” And Proverbs (8:24-2.5): “The depths were not as yet and I was already conceived: before the hills I was brought forth”; or, according to another reading: “Before all the hills did the Lord beget me.” And Isaiah (66:9, 8) also says: “Shall not I that make others to bring forth… Myself bring forth, says the Lord? Shall I that give generation to others be barren, says the Lord your God?”
We grant that one can say that this text must be related to the multiplication of the children of Israel returning from captivity into their own country, because earlier this is said: “Zion has been in labour and has brought forth her children.” But this does not defeat our purpose. For, however the essence of it be adapted, the essence of it which is given from the voice of God remains fixed and stable thus: If He Himself grants generation to others, He is not sterile. Nor would it become Him who makes others generate truly to generate Himself not truly but by a likeness. For a thing must he more nobly in its cause than in that which is caused, as was shown. Again, it says in John (1:14): “We saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father”; and later: “The only-begotten Son ho is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared him” (1:18). And Paul says: “And again when He brings his first-begotten into the world He says: ‘And let all the angels of God adore Him’” (Heb. 1:6).