Summary: Explores Paul’s concept of begetting someone through the Gospel in Philemon 10 & 1 Cor 4.15.


Philemon 10


1. Over the last two weeks I have laid before you the truth of God’s Word about the importance of Church and the importance of Gospel preaching. I have done so in an attempt to offset the de-emphasizing of Church and the de-emphasizing of the preaching of the cross that’s so evident in Christendom today.

2. This morning we deal with another issue, one far less familiar to those who claim to be Christians. My text is Philemon 10. Please turn there. Once you find that verse please stand for the reading of God’s Word: "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds."

3. Critical to this morning’s message is the last phrase, "whom I have begotten in my bonds." Paul informed Philemon, a Christian brother and friend, that while in a Roman jail he had begotten one named Onesimus.

4. Closely akin to this phrase for my purpose this morning is First Corinthians 4.15. Please turn there, as well. "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

5. There are five different ways in which the word "begotten" is used in God’s Word. Let me quickly review the other four ways before settling on the way the word is used in these two verses I’ve read to you.

6. The most obvious and literal use of the word "begotten" is in reference to a father siring a child, such as in Genesis 5.4, where it reads "And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years." The word is used in this way 8 times in the Bible. The other 16 times the word is found in the Bible "begotten" is used in something other than a strictly literal way.

7. The word is used once poetically to describe God bringing the rain, Job 38.28: "Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?"

8. About 9 times the word is used in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ, describing Him as "the only begotten Son" of God. Used this way the word does not speak of siring or bringing into existence, but emphasizes the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ’s eternal relationship with God the Father.

9. Then there are several places in Scripture where the word "begotten" is used to describe the new birth of the Christian. First Peter 1.3 is one of three or four such verses: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope . . . ."

10. Lastly, "begotten" is used a couple of times in connection to the Lord Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead. Revelation 1.5 describes the Lord Jesus as "the first begotten of the dead."

11. So you see, the word "begotten" is a word that possesses a range of meanings, depending on the context in which the word is used. But the verses that I initially read to you, First Corinthians 4.15 and our text, Philemon 10, deal with one aspect of the word’s meaning that I want us to consider today.

12. Have I begotten you? I ask that question using "begotten" in the same sense Paul used it to describe his relationship with Onesimus. He had "begotten" Onesimus while he was in a Roman prison with the man.

13. Have I begotten you? I also ask that question using the word "begotten" in the sense Paul used it to describe to the Corinthians his relationship with them in First Corinthians 4.15: "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

14. Recognizing that no mere human being plays anything more than an instrumental role used by God in bringing about the conversion of a sinner, the apostle Paul does point out that, as a gifted man under whose ministry those people had been converted, he enjoyed a unique relationship with them.

15. I ask again, Have I begotten you? Does this kind of relationship that existed between Paul and those converted under his ministry exist between you and me? Let’s explore the subject a bit by examining,


Again, let me emphasize that there is nothing in God’s Word that would suggest or imply that Paul played any role other than that of a spokesman for God, preaching to the lost the unsearchable riches of Christ and seeking to guide inquiring sinners to the Savior. Paul was an instrument in the hands of God, as every God-called preacher earnestly desires to be such an instrument in the hands of God, used to bring the lost to Christ. That disclaimer properly stated, what did Paul mean when he said that men were "begotten" by him and when he implied to the Corinthians that he was their one spiritual father, though they had many spiritual teachers?

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