“So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’ (Hebrews 5:5 ESV).
Hidden away behind this passage are some questions that require careful thought. One such question is this: “if Jesus is God from all eternity, then how can Hebrews 5:5 say concerning Him, ‘…today I have begotten you’“? Furthermore, the fact that God became Jesus’ Father on a certain day seems to indicate that there may have been a time when Jesus did not exist, or a least a time when God was not His Father.
We can address these questions by first taking a closer look at what this verse actually says. For instance, “You are my Son…” simply acknowledges the relationship that exists between the God, the Father, and God, the Son.
Next comes this reference to, “today I have begotten you…” We can address this portion of Hebrews 5:5 by remembering that human beings are subject to the constraints of time. In becoming a human being, Jesus also subjected Himself to the limitations of “today” much like anyone else.
With these things in mind, let’s tie these parallel elements together. First, the relationship between the Father and Son has always existed throughout eternity. This is why Hebrews 5:5 can say, “You are my Son…” But in view of the fact that the Son stepped out of eternity and took humanity upon Himself (along with all the restraints that are imposed upon time-bound human beings), it is also proper for God to say, “…today I have become your Father.”
Furthermore, we can say without reservation that Hebrews 5:5 does not mean Jesus is a created being or somehow came into existence, as some cultic organizations would have us believe. In the original language of this passage, the word “begotten” caries several different meanings. Those definitions include “to bring forth,” “to be born,” “to be a parent to any one” and “to constitute as son, to constitute as king, or as the representative or viceregent of God.” (1) It is significant to note that none of those references include “to create” or “bring into existence.”
Finally, we can benefit from the efforts of scholars and commentators who have dealt extensively with these questions over the years. It is well worth our time to familiarize ourselves with their work, lest we fall prey to those who preach “…a gospel that is different from the one you accepted” (Galatians 1:9 GNT).
(1) G1080 gennao Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/gennao