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The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Accusations Against Jesus Answered

Don Stewart :: Why Was Jesus Called the Only Begotten Son?

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Why Was Jesus Called the Only Begotten Son?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 7

In a number of places in Scripture, Jesus is called the only “begotten” Son. For example, John wrote the following:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NASB)

In this context, Jesus is called the only “begotten” Son.

We also read that Jesus was begotten of God the Father. John explained it in this manner:

And the Word became 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)

It has been argued that the idea behind begotten is “born” or “generated.” This means that Jesus became God’s Son at a certain point in time. The question is, “What point in time did Jesus become the only begotten Son?”

Was Jesus Created?

Some believe this means Jesus Christ was created. Since we use the term begotten to refer to the man’s role in conception, it is argued that Jesus must have been somehow conceived or begotten by God the Father. However, this is not what the Scripture says. Jesus Christ was the Creator, not a being that was created.

There are a number of ways in which this term is understood. They are as follows.

Option 1: Jesus Was Begotten in Eternity

Some argue that Jesus was begotten in eternity, not time. At some point in eternity past Jesus became God’s Son. While He is the eternal God He was not the eternal Son of God. He only became the Son some time before He came to earth.

Option 2: He Became the Son of God While He Was Here on Earth

Others argue that Jesus became the Son of God sometime during His time on the earth. Either at His birth, baptism, or resurrection, He became the Son.

Option 3: The Word Begotten Means Unique

There is also the position that the Greek term monogenese means “unique.” The idea behind the word has nothing to do with time. Indeed, it has to do with His matchless character.

This being the case, the word does not have anything to do with the time when Jesus became the Son. It is stressing the fact of His one-of-a-kind character. Thus, what is being taught here is that Jesus is the one and only Son of God the Father.

We read the following in the gospel of John:

Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. (John 1:14 NET)

This view seems to best fit the facts. We do know from Scripture that Jesus Christ was not a created being but rather has been God for all eternity.

Summary – Question 7
Why Was Jesus Called the Only Begotten Son?

In the New Testament, Jesus is called the “only begotten Son.” There has been much discussion as to what is meant by the term “only begotten” and its relationship to the Person of Jesus Christ.

Some feel it means that Jesus’ existence began at some point in time. However the Bible clearly says this is not the case. Jesus has always been the eternal God.

The question then becomes, “Has Jesus Christ always been the eternal Son of God or did He become the Son at some point in time?”

Some believe that Jesus was begotten in eternity past as God’s Son.

Others think it means that Jesus became God’s Son sometime during His time here upon the earth. The Bible does not clearly answer this question as to when that may have happened.

The best answer is that the Greek word translated, “only begotten” in this context actually means “unique.” Therefore, what is stressed is that Jesus is God’ one and only Son. Thus, it would have nothing to do with the time He became “the Son.”

What we do know is this: the Bible teaches that God the Son has always existed since He is the eternal God.

Does the Book of Proverbs Teach That Jesus Is a Created Being? ← Prior Section
Why Was Jesus Different from Other Miracle Workers of His Time? Next Section →
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