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Text Sermons : Greek Word Studies : Born (begotten, father of, conceived) (1080)(gennao)

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Born (begotten, father of, conceived) (1080)(gennao from genos = offspring, in turn from ginomai = to become) means to beget, to bring forth, to give birth, to procreate a descendant, to produce offspring, to generate. To beget Is spoken of men (Mt 1:2-16), whereas to bear is spoken of women. The passive voice means to be begotten or to be born.

The most notable uses of gennao are in the description of Jesus' virgin birth in which He was supernaturally "conceived (gennao) in her (Mary) of the Holy Spirit." (Mt 1:20) and His subsequent supernatural resurrection in which He is described as "begotten (gennao)." (Acts 13:33).

Gennao describes the commencement of life where previously none had existed. In fact most of the uses of gennao refer to biology (birth) but as noted some refer to spirituality (new birth). Gennao can refer literally to begetting or conceiving a child or figuratively to spiritually "begetting" a person, resulting in them finding new life when they are born again (Jn 3:3, 5) In a similar use Paul presents himself as the spiritual father of the Corinthians. (1Cor 4:15)

All of John's uses of gennao in his First John are figurative and refer to the impartation of spiritual life to one formerly dead in their trespasses and sins.

Gennao gives us English words like "generation," "genetic," "gene," and even Genesis, which in essence describes the birth of mankind!

In Acts 13:33 gennao is used of Jesus, the Father declaring "I have begotten You" quoting from Psalm 2:7. Compare similar uses of gennao in Heb 1:5 and Heb 5:5 ("I have begotten You" quoting Ps 2:7 again).

In Mt 1:20 gennao is used of conception of Mary by the Spirit.

In a figurative use in 2Ti 2:23 Paul uses gennao to describe the "birth" of an attitude as a result of sowing the seed of foolish and ignorant speculations!

In 1Cor 4:15 Paul uses gennao to describe his role as spiritual father of the Corinthians through the Gospel. Compare a similar use by Paul in Philemon 1:10 to describe in role in the spiritual birth of Onesimus. Zodhiates notes these two uses are "Spoken in the Jewish manner of the relation between a teacher and his disciples, to beget in a spiritual sense, to be the spiritual father of someone, that is, the instrument of his conversion to a new spiritual life." Detzler adds that "In the Jewish world gennao referred to the relationship between a master and his disciple. Entering upon that relationship was likened to rebirth. Therefore "birth" had both a physical and a spiritual meaning." (New Testament Words in Today's Language)

TDNT - “Begetting” as an Image of the Relationship of Master and Disciple. In the LXX and NT, as well as Greek in general, gennáo means “to beget” (father) or “to bear” (mother). Already in the OT teacher and disciple are depicted as father and son (2Kgs. 2:12). The rabbis adopt this usage to express the supremacy of the teacher and the respect of the pupil, but with no thought of actual begetting (cf. Mt. 23:8ff.). Paul actually uses the term gennán for the relation in Gal. 4:19, but since he begets through the word (1 Cor. 4:15; cf. Philemon 1:10), he is obviously not thinking in mystical terms but simply expressing more forcefully the common rabbinic concept. (Theological dictionary of the New Testament)

In 2Ti 2:23 Paul uses gennao figuratively to describe foolish and ignorant speculations which are to avoided because they beget (produce) quarrels. In 2Pe 2:12 Peter uses gennao to compare the false teachers to brute beasts ("born as creatures of instinct") who operate on instincts and who will be caught and destroyed.

Gennao was used in relation to keeping genealogical records as was accomplished by the Jewish Sanhedrin. The genealogy records were necessary to demonstrate that one met the qualifications for the priesthood, proving that one was from the tribe of Levi. The genealogy records were lost when the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. Jews today cannot definitely determine their tribe of origin. Ezra 2:62-63, 9:2 illustrate the importance of keeping the genealogical records. Genealogies preserved the lineage and heritage of God's people, especially in the OT where they passed through periods of national disruption (or exile).

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) all use gennao of literal birth. In the genealogy records of Matthew, the NAS translates gennao father of whereas the more literal Young's translates it begat. It is not until John's Gospel that gennao is used with its figurative sense to describe spiritual birth (Jn 1:13, 3:3-8), in which a soul experiences a radical change which involves their total personality (cp 2Cor 5:17 where "new" = kainos = brand new, not just a "makeover!")

Lawrence Richards - This phrase is also found primarily in John’s writings (Jn 1:13; 1 Jn 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18). The spiritual rebirth believers experience does not come through any natural process. God is the actor who effects the new birth in those who believe and receive the Son (Jn 1:12–13). New birth makes us children of God (v. 13) and leads to moral transformation. One who is born of God does what is right (1 Jn 2:29). While we may fail at times, no one born of God “keeps on sinning.” God’s life is planted within our reborn personality. “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 Jn 3:6, 9; cf. 1 Jn 5:18). Another expression of the new life we receive from God is found in our love for one another (1 Jn 4:7; 5:1–2). Love and purity of life are sure to follow new birth, for God’s own life swells within the twice born. We who have become God’s children through faith are destined to grow into Jesus’ likeness. (New international encyclopedia of Bible words)

Vine's summary - "to beget," in the Passive Voice, "to be born," is chiefly used of men "begetting" children, Matthew 1:2-16; more rarely of women "begetting" children, Luke 1:13,57 , "brought forth" (for "delivered," in this ver., see No. 4); Luke 23:29; John 16:21 , "is delivered of," and of the child, "is born" (for "is in travail" see No. 4). In Galatians 4:24 , it is used allegorically, to contrast Jews under bondage to the Law, and spiritual Israel, AV, "gendereth," RV, "bearing children," to contrast the natural birth of Ishmael and the supernatural birth of Isaac. In Matthew 1:20 it is used of conception, "that which is conceived in her." It is used of the act of God in the birth of Christ, Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5 , quoted from Psalm 2:7 , none of which indicate that Christ became the Son of God at His birth. It is used metaphorically (a) in the writings of the Apostle John, of the gracious act of God in conferring upon those who believe the nature and disposition of "children," imparting to them spiritual life, John 3:3,5,7; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18; (b) of one who by means of preaching the Gospel becomes the human instrument in the impartation of spiritual life, 1 Corinthians 4:15; Philemon 1:10; (c) in 2 Peter 2:12 , with reference to the evil men whom the Apostle is describing, the RV rightly has "born mere animals" (AV, "natural brute beasts"); (d) in the sense of gendering strife, 2 Timothy 2:23 . (Beget, Bear, Born - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words - Bible Dictionary)

Related derivatives of gennao include -
anagennáo (313) = to give new birth (1Pe 1:3, 23);
artigennetos (733) = newly born, newborn child (1Pe 2:2)
génnema (1081) = offspring (Mt 3:7, 12:34, 23:33, 26:29, Mk 14:25, Lk 3:7, 12:18, 22:18, 2Cor 9:10)
génnesis (1083) = birth (Mt 1:18);
gennetós (1084) = born (Mt 11:11; Luke 7:28, Job 14:1; 15:14; 25:4).
Gennao - 97x in 65v - Usage: bear(1), bearing children(1), became the father of(4), became...father(1), begotten(4), bore(1), born(41), Child(1), conceived(1), father(37), Father(1), gave(1), gives birth(1), produce(1).

Matthew 1:2 Abraham was the father of (begat) Isaac, Isaac the father of (begat) Jacob, and Jacob the father of (begat) Judah and his brothers.
3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.
4 Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon.
5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.
6 Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.
7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa.
8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah.
9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah.
11 Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.
13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor.
14 Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud.
15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob.
16 Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

Comment: Every use of gennao in Mt 1:2-16a is in the active voice conveying the idea that the subject "fathered" the offspring who followed. However when it comes to Joseph, the last use of gennao in the genealogy is in the passive voice. In other words Joseph did not "father" Jesus. Jesus "was born". As the following verses make clear (Mt 1:18-25), this use of the passive voice points toward the conception brought about by God the Holy Spirit and not by the man Joseph! How fascinating that the Spirit orchestrated every detail in Jesus' genealogy and birth, including even the inspiration of the passive voice in Mt 1:16b! Is God sovereign!

Matthew 1:20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Virgin Birth - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Virgin, Virgin Birth - Holman Bible Dictionary
Virgin Birth - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Matthew 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

Matthew 19:12 "For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it."

Matthew 26:24 "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."

Mark 14:21 "For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."

Luke 1:13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child (begotten) shall be called the Son of God.
57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.

Wayne Detzler - In our day of easy abortion, birth is particularly important. When speaking of the coming Christ, the angelic announcement employs this word to describe the fetus. The Greek New Testament uses the word gennao (to bear) when referring to the conception of Jesus (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:35). (Note: These texts equate "birth" with "conception.") A similar identification of conception with birth is found in a dialogue between Jesus and some Pharisees (John 9:34). Whether one considers the Old Testament (Ps. 139:13-16; Jer. 1:5; Ps. 51:5) or the New Testament, the Bible paints a picture of personality which commences at conception. Thus abortion is a crime against a real person. (Ibid)

Luke 23:29 "For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.'

John 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Comment: Exact meaning of "blood" is uncertain, but the ancients thought blood was important for the development of the fetus. It may refer to the genetic contribution of both parents and so be equivalent of "Human descent" (NET Note). "Will of the flesh" is a reference to sexual desire (in the normal biologic sense, not in an evil sense). "Will of man" is similar to will of flesh, but lays emphasis of the man's (husband's) decision or more generally "of any human volition whatsoever." (NET Note).

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"
5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of (perfect tense = describes a past completed action with continuing effect and speaks of permanence of the effect) the Spirit is spirit.
7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of (perfect tense = describes a past completed action with continuing effect and speaks of permanence of the effect) the Spirit."

Comment: Again is the word anothen, which can mean either again or from above (as in Jn 3:31). In a sense, both meanings are true when the Spirit births new life in a sinner who believes in Christ. In a temporal sense, it is a second "birth" albeit spiritual not literal, although that is the way Nicodemus interpreted anothen. In a "spatial" sense, it is from above, from the place where God is enthroned.

Zodhiates - Gennao, to give birth. This verb is never used in the NT in connection with baptism as if baptism physically introduces a person into the kingdom of God.

New Birth - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
New Birth, the - Torrey's Topical Textbook
Regeneration - Holman Bible Dictionary
Regeneration - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
Regeneration (2) - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
Regeneration - Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
Regeneration - Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament
Regeneration - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

John 8:41 "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God."

NET Note: "We were not born as a result of immorality!" is ironic, because Jesus' opponents implied that it was not themselves but Jesus who had been born as a result of immoral behavior. This shows they did not know Jesus' true origin and were not aware of the supernatural events surrounding his birth. The author does not even bother to refute the opponents' suggestion but lets it stand, assuming his readers will know the true story.

Detzler - Satan also has spawned spiritual progeny. They have the same habits as their father. Even a religious exterior cannot hide their true, sinister natures. Jesus developed this idea when He confronted the Pharisees (Ed: More accurately these were Jews who had believed! Jn 8:30-31). They claimed kinship with Abraham, but Christ called them sons of Satan (Jn 8:38-47). (Ibid)

John 9:2 And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?"
19 and questioned them, saying, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?"
20 His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
32 "Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. (Robertson comments - "Perfect passive participle of gennao. This is the chief point and the man will not let it be overlooked, almost rubs it in, in fact. It was congenital blindness.)

John 9:34 They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" So they put him out.

NET Note: The disciples assumed that sin (regardless of who committed it) was the cause of the man's blindness. This was a common belief in Judaism; the rabbis used Ezek 18:20 to prove there was no death without sin, and Ps 89:33 to prove there was no punishment without guilt (the Babylonian Talmud, b. Shabbat 55a, although later than the NT, illustrates this). Thus in this case the sin must have been on the part of the man's parents, or during his own prenatal existence. Song Rabbah 1:41 (another later rabbinic work) stated that when a pregnant woman worshiped in a heathen temple the unborn child also committed idolatry. This is only one example of how, in rabbinic Jewish thought, an unborn child was capable of sinning.

John 16:21 "Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.

John 18:37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

Comment: The Incarnation was for this purpose.

Acts 2:8 "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?

Acts 7:8 "And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac [became the father] of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
20 "It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father's home.
29 "At this remark, MOSES FLED AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he became the father of two sons.

Acts 13:33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, 'YOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.'

Acts 22:3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.
28 The commander answered, "I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money." And Paul said, "But I was actually born a citizen."

Romans 9:11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

1 Corinthians 4:15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.

Galatians 4:23 But the son by the bondwoman was born (perfect tense = stands on record) according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.
24 This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.
29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh (natural descent) persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.

2 Timothy 2:23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce (cause to happen with implication of the result of existing circumstances) quarrels.

Philemon 1:10 I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment,

Hebrews 1:5 For to which of the angels did He ever say, "YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU"? And again, "I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME"?

Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, "YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU";

Hebrews 11:12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.

2 Peter 2:12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,

Comment: Perfect tense emphasizes their continuing state as living like brute beasts.

1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith.
18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
Gennao - 187 verses in the Septuagint - Gen 4:18; Ge 5:3-4, Ge 5:6-7, 9-10, 12-13, 15-16, 18-19, 21-22, 25-26, 28, 30, 32;6:4, 10; 10:8, 13, 15, 24, 26; 11:10-12; 17:20; 22:23; 25:3, 19; Ge 46:20-21; 48:6; Ex 6:20; Lev 18:9; Nu 26:29, 58, 60; Dt 4:25; 28:41; 32:18; Jdg 11:1; Ruth 4:18-20; 2Sa 5:14; 2Kgs 20:18; 1Chr 1:10, 34; 2:3, 10-12, 17-18, 20, 22, 36-38, 44, 46, 48-49; 3:4; 4:2, 8, 11-12, 14, 17; 6:4-6; 7:15, 32; 8:1, 7-9, 11, 32-34, 36-37; 9:38-40, 42-43; 2Chr 11:21; 13:21; 24:3; Ezra 10:44; Neh 12:10-11; Job 3:3; 5:7; 38:21; 42:13, 17; Ps 2:7; Pr 8:25; 11:19; 17:17; 23:22; Eccl 4:14; 5:14; 6:3; Isa 1:2; 9:6; 39:7; 45:10; 49:21; 66:9; Jer 2:27; 16:2-3; Ezek 16:20; 18:10, 14; 21:30; 23:37; 31:6; 36:12; 47:22; Hos 5:7; 9:16; Zech 13:3, 5;

Gennao is used often in the Septuagint to render yalad (?????, 3205), “to bear, bring forth, beget, be delivered.” This verb occurs in all Semitic languages and in nearly all verbal forms. The noteworthy exception is biblical Aramaic. However, the Aramaic verb is well attested outside the Bible. The verb yalad occurs about 490 times in the Bible.

One of the most notable uses of gennao in the Septuagint is in Isaiah 9:6 "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called onderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

In the messianic Psalms two familiar passages employ a form of gennao in the Septuagint translation. Ps 2:7 (quoted in Acts 13:33 and Heb 1:5; 5:5) states, “Thou art my Son; Today have I begotten Thee.”

There are numerous passages in the Septuagint where the translators used a form of gennao to express the idea of “begotten” (e.g., Genesis 5, the generations of Adam; Genesis 11, the generations of Shem, etc.). In Deuteronomy 32:18 the Lord is the “Rock Who begot” Israel, who gave Israel “birth” as a nation, a distinct people group (see similar idea in Isaiah 1:2 = "Sons I have reared" [Lxx = gennao = begotten]).

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