When speaking of “the only begotten Son of God,” there may be some confusion as to what the term means. Angels are called the sons of God and born again believers are called the sons (or children) of God. But, only Jesus is called “the only begotten Son of God.” Why is that?
First of all, we must know what begotten means. The English word begotten is commonly used to refer to procreation: the fathering of children in a biological sense. This biological connection between human generations means the father and his child or children are genetically related. They are of the same species and share the same physical and spiritual makeup. They often even look alike. However, this understanding of begotten is not sufficient to explain what begotten means when used to express the connection between Jesus and God the Father. Why? Because it does not include the full meaning of the Greek word monogenes which is used in the Greek New Testament and from which begotten is translated.
Monogenes, according to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament has two definitions.
First, monogenes pertains to “being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship.” Monogenes is used in this way when Isaac is called Abraham’s “only begotten son” in Hebrews 11:17. In case you don’t know or have forgotten, the book of Genesis tells us that Abraham had eight sons. He begat Ishmael with Hagar. He begat Isaac with Sarah. And, he begat Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah with Keturah. (Yes, the Middle East is populated with Abraham’s descendants!) But, Isaac was accurately called Abraham’s only begotten son in the Hebrews statement because Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah and the only son of the covenant.
Note: Hebrews 11:17 is probably one of the scriptures critics use to point out mistakes in the Bible. It just goes to show that one must diligently study to avoid wrong conclusions!
Second, monogenes pertains to “being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind.”
Monogenes is used with this meaning by Jesus when He said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Contrary to what some believe, begotten/monogenes does not imply that Jesus had a beginning. No, the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus exists from eternity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. So, the English term “only begotten” is simply used to highlight the fact that Jesus shares the divine nature as the unique Son of God.
This second meaning of monogenes is also used in 1 John 4:9; John 1:14, 18 and John 3:18 These scripture verses reveal the truth I’m sharing with you. Please meditate on their clear meaning as you can understand it now.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9 NKJV
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NKJV
No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. John 1:18 NKJV
These verses say God the Father “sent” Jesus to us and “gave” Jesus to save us from our sins. They never say God created Jesus. He existed eternally with His Father as many verses tell us.
Jesus, as God, created all things that are in heaven and earth! In the book of Isaiah, Jesus is called Wonderful (full of wonders!), Counselor (full of wisdom), Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
In the book of Revelation He declares Himself to be the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end!
Jesus is never simply called “the begotten Son of God.” He is always called the “only begotten Son of God” because He is indeed Unique! One of a kind.
Angels and humans are called sons of God because God created them but only Jesus proceeds forth from the Heavenly Father as His Eternally Existing Only Begotten Son.
In the Bethlehem prophecy foretelling His birth in Micah 5:2, the scriptures say His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
We know He physically created and then visited with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
He walked with Enoch and then took him to heaven. He instructed Noah on the building the ark.
He spoke with Abraham about Isaac’s coming birth, the destruction of Sodom, the sacrifice of Isaac and the future of his descendants.
He comforted Hagar and assured her concerning Ishmael’s future. He spoke “face to face” with Moses on many occasions.
He appeared to Joshua as Commander of the Lord’s Hosts. He announced the coming birth of Samson to Manoah’s wife and later to Manoah.
He has been going forth throughout history as Micah said.
Don’t you find it comforting that Jesus takes such an interest in His people? I certainly do! And He takes an interest in us because He loves us! We rejected Him but He still loves us and makes a way for us to return to fellowship with Him and live forever.
Knowing Jesus and accepting Him as Lord and Savior is the only way to gain eternal life.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18 NKJV
Let me repeat: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV
Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, invites you through His Word and His Spirit to be saved. I pray you will respond. May God’s grace and peace be with you and yours forever.
- The Substance is Christ: Colossians 2:16-17 (bridgetwillard.wordpress.com)