Pisidian Antioch, Paul's Sermon & the Reaction, Part 2, Section 2
by John Lowe
Thou art my Son
This psalm has been widely understood to be Messianic, that is, referring to the Messiah; Jesus Christ—“Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ” (Acts 4:25, 26). Christ was anointed by God, with the Holy Ghost, from His birth, and at His baptism, to be prophet, priest, and King. The apostle shows that the Messiah would be recognized as a king; that this was decreed by God, and that he had been begotten for this purpose. All this is shown as happening following the raging of the pagan, and the counsel of the kings against him, and must, therefore, refer, not to his eternal generation or His incarnation, but to something happening after his death; that is, to his resurrection, and His establishment as King at the right hand of God. Christ is called the Son of God for various reasons. In Luke 1:35, it is because he was begotten by the Holy Spirit—“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35). In this passage, it is on account of His resurrection. In Romans 1:4, it is also said that he was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead—“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).The resurrection from the dead is represented in some sense as the beginning of life, and it is with reference to this that the terms "Son," and "begotten from the dead," are used to express a thought similar to “the birth of a child is the beginning of life.” Accordingly, Christ is said, in Colossians 1:18, to be "the first-born from the dead,” and in Revelation 1:5; he is called "the first begotten of the dead"; and with reference to this restoration or beginning of life He is called a Son. And regardless of any other senses in which He is called a Son in the New Testament, the apostle has proved here:
(1) That he is called a Son from his resurrection; and,
(2) That this is the sense in which the expression is used in Romans 1:4 and Psalm 2.
This day have I begotten thee
“This day have I begotten thee”—it is evident that Paul uses the expression here to imply that the Lord Jesus is called the Son of God because he raised him up from the dead, and that he means to imply that it was for this reason that he is called the Son of God. This interpretation by an inspired apostle establishes the meaning of this passage in the psalm (Ps. 2), and proves that it is not used there with reference to his incarnation, but that he is called his Son because he was raised from the dead. And this interpretation agrees with the purpose of the psalm. In Psalms 2:1-3 the psalmist records the coming together of the rulers of the earth against the Messiah, and their efforts to cast off His reign. This was done, and the Messiah was rejected. All this pertains to the Messiah on the earth, not to his previous existence. In Psalm 2:4-5, the psalmist shows that their efforts would not be successful; that God would laugh at their tactics; that is, that their plans would not succeed.
Christ, who was begotten of the Father before the worlds were created, was declared before men and angels to be the Son of God, when he was raised from the dead in the power of an eternal life.The words "this day" would naturally, in the connection in which they are found, refer to the time when the "declaration" was made. The purpose was formed before Christ came into the world; it was executed or put into effect by the resurrection from the dead.
”Have I begotten thee”—this evidently cannot be understood in a literal sense. It literally refers to the relation of an earthly father to his children, but in no such sense can the term “begotten” be applied to the relationship of God the Father to the Son. It must, therefore, be figurative. The word sometimes figuratively means "to produce, to cause to exist in any way"; and the idea is expressed in other places in the Bible:
• 2 Timothy 2:23: "Unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender (beget) strifes."
• 1 Corinthians 4:15: "In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” Here, it refers to the work of the apostles in securing the conversion of sinners to the gospel.
• Philemon 1:10: “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds.”
• John 1:13: “Which were born (begotten), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”It is applied here to Christians.
• John 3:3:“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
In all these places it is used in a figurative sense to denote "the beginning of spiritual life by the power of God”; thus, he raised up Christ from the dead, and imparted life to his body; and hence, he is said figuratively to have begotten him from the dead, and in so doing sustains toward the risen Savior the relation of father.
It is against the whole sense of the New Testament to ascribe the origin of Christ's Sonship to His resurrection. It is not as if Christ at His resurrection began to be the Son of God; but, on that day He was seen to be so, since while he was in a human condition it was not so apparent.
34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.
And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead
The verse coming before this one was not intended by the Apostle Paul to be a proof of the resurrection, as much as it was to show how faithful God was in fulfilling that promise spoken of there; here the apostle’s intention is to substantiate Christ’s resurrection, and show that it was in agreement with the prophesies which have to do with Him. And finally, He will show that He actually did it by quoting another passage of Scripture.
Now no more to return to corruption
It appears from this clause that Paul already has the words of Psalm 16:10 in his mind, though he has not as yet referred to it. “For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10).
“No more to return to corruption” may have been added to show that Christ's resurrection was a final victory over death; not like that of Lazarus, or the Shunammite's son, or Jairus's daughter, but, as St. Paul himself says in Romans 6:9, "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him."He will never die again, and be laid in a grave, and there undergo corruption, which was the case of those mentioned above. It was also the case of those who were raised from the dead by the prophets, under the Old Testament, or by Christ himself, before his death and resurrection; for these were raised to a mortal life, and died again, and were buried, and saw corruption; but Christ was raised up from the dead, never to die again, but to live forever, having in his hands the keys of hell and death, and being the triumphant conqueror over death and the grave; in proof of which some verses are taken from the Old Testament, and appear in the remainder of this passage.
The word "corruption" is usually used to signify "putrefaction, or the rotting away of a body in the grave; it's returning to its native dust." But it is certain that the body of Christ never in this sense saw corruption.
He said on this wise
That is, “God said so,” or “He said thus,” or “God said after this manner.”
I will give you the sure mercies of David
“The sure mercies of David” are those which were promised to David. Now the mercies which were promised to David are all included in this, that by this Son of David (which our Lord and Saviour is frequently and truly called), God would erect and establish an everlasting kingdom; which could not be done, unless Christ rose again, and obtained the victory over death and the grave. All the promises God has made to his church in any age concerning Christ, are sure and faithful, holy and just.
Here he tells us that this eternal exemption of Christ from death was promised or implied in Isaiah 55:3—“Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” In this place “the sure mercies of David” means the blessings of the covenant of grace, which the Messiah by His sufferings and death was to ratify and secure for all His people. Now, if He had only died, and not been raised from the dead, these blessings would never have been ratified and made secure for them; therefore, when God promises His people that he will give them the “sure mercies of David,” or the Messiah, he promises that the Messiah shall not only die to procure mercies and blessings for them, but that He shall rise again from the dead, in order to make sure that they receive them.