God’s Word for You
Acts 13:32-33 I have begotten you
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, May 29, 2020
32 “And to you we proclaim the gospel: The promise that was made to the fathers, 33 God has fulfilled for us, their children, by sending Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’”
The emphasis of this verse is that God promised the little nation descended from Abraham, the Israelites, that the Savior would come through them. And he fulfilled this promise among them. Israel was never a vast nation. In the days of Moses, while thriving in Egypt, they grew from a family of seventy or so into a nation of 600,000 grown men (Numbers 1:46), a number that implies a total nation of at least two million. This number did not grow much during the years of occupation under Joshua and the period of the judges, and due to war, famine, and plague, was probably the population, more or less, right up to the time of the Assyrian exile.
As his sermon continues beyond these verses, he will make a point about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (verses 34-36), but here he uses the same word, “raising,” for the act of sending Jesus into the world, raising him up from the people of Israel (this is why I have translated anastesas “sending” rather than “raising up,” for clarity). Paul quotes Psalm 2 to show that this is what he means. “Today I have begotten you” is a proclamation by God the Father about the appearance of God the Son in the world. This was the promise made to God’s people from the very beginning, before the birth of the man Israel, before the call of his grandfather Abraham, all the way back to the Garden of Eden. While God pronounced judgment on Adam, Eve, and the serpent, he promised to send the one who would crush and pulverize the power of the devil, the child of Eve, the Seed of the woman. When Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God could say: “Today I have begotten you” just as he had promised through David.
There might be some question about David as the author of this Psalm, just as there are some manuscripts, mostly from central and western Europe, that have “the first Psalm” instead of the second. When the Psalms were read in the synagogues, Psalms 1 and 2 were always read together, so it might be natural for some copyists to count them as one poem. Hebrew manuscripts have always tended to separate the Psalms by some means, often by a certain amount of extra spacing, but Greek and Latin translations were usually more frugal with blank space, scrunching things together. Therefore anyone familiar with Hebrew would call the Psalm “Why Do the Nations Conspire?” (or, “Why Do the Heathen Rage?”) “the second Psalm,” but Greek- and Latin-speakers might think of it as part of the first. The Holy Spirit prompted Paul (and Luke) to call this a Psalm of David even though David’s name does not appear in it. David wrote at least half of the Psalms, and the Second has so much in common with the 75 we know he wrote that it is no stretch at all to include this one as another one of his.
God the Father said this about Jesus at his baptism: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We might argue theologically as to what part of Jesus’ ministry is being described by this sending of Jesus, but surely it includes his suffering and death on the cross as well as his resurrection from the dead. It is the act by which Jesus saved us, which included a string of necessary events. In the temple, there was a series of actions that had to be carried out for a sacrifice: the animal was selected, brought forward, accepted, presented, killed, its blood poured out around the altar, its flesh cut into portions, some or all was burned, some might be shared in a sacred meal between priest and worshiper (and their families), and finally the disposal of the remainder in a special place outside the camp. So it was with Jesus. There could be no resurrection without the burial. There could be no burial without his death. He could not die apart from the crucifixion. He could not be crucified apart from the judgment of Pilate that he was innocent, yet given over into the hands of his enemies. Between those acts he was also tortured with the whip, which likewise had to fall in place with the other things. He could not be judged by Pilate without being judged by the Sanhedrin and high priest. That would not have taken place without his arrest, and before that his betrayal. Prior to that he had to be opposed by those who were the true enemies of the Jews and of God’s people, and that opposition didn’t spring up from nothing, but from his preaching, teaching, and his many miracles. So all of these things are caught up in the words, “I have begotten you.”
The Father begat the Son for our salvation, and for no other reason. Our salvation was the motive for the promises and prophecies, and those were fulfilled by the historical acts of Jesus, including his death and resurrection. All that took place for our sakes because our loving God had mercy on us. Keep asking him for his mercy, and keep worshiping him for what he did for us through his Son.
Pastor Timothy Smith