Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to the other installments are listed at the end of this article.

In our study of the Apostle's and Nicene Creed, we have moved from God the Father to God the Son. The Apostle's Creed is pretty much "cut and dry" on the subject. …and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord.

But the Nicene Creed is a bit more detailed. Almost poetic.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made…

Begotten, Not Made

The writers of the Nicene Creed seem intent on stressing that Jesus was "begotten." It's a word we—those of us who grew up on the King James Version, no matter what version we now use—have known since we memorized our first Bible verse. Specifically, John 3:16.

We recited the word "begotten" whether we knew what it meant or not.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary[1], begotten is an inflective form of the word "beget." To beget is "to procreate as the father." Of course we know what this means in the physical. Fathers beget sons and daughters. Mothers give birth to.

The biblical story of the natural birth of Jesus is a familiar, if not controversial, one. Somewhere around 6 BC, a young (probably around 13 or 14) Jewess named Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel and told that the long-awaited Messiah would come from her womb.

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." ~~Luke 1:34-37

This Should Be Of No Surprise To Anyone

While the sudden appearance of an angel should and would certainly be a shock to anyone, Mary must have realized the significance of Gabriel's words. The Jewish people as a whole had been looking for…waiting for…the Anointed One. In their Scriptures (which we refer to as the Old Testament), there are over 700 prophecies that He will come. One of them reads:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.[2]~~ Isaiah 7:14

It has been argued that the Hebrew word for virgin, `almah, in actuality means "young woman." This is not so. An `almah was a virgin of marriageable age, who would logically in the culture of the ancient Hebrews, be young.