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Study Resources :: Dictionaries :: Only Begotten

Dictionaries :: Only Begotten

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Only Begotten:

on'-li be-got-'-'n (monogenes): Although the English words are found only 6 times in the New Testament, the Greek word appears 9 times, and often in the Septuagint. It is used literally of an only child: "the only son of his mother" (Lu 7:12); "an only daughter" (Lu 8:42); "mine only child" (Lu 9:38); "Isaac.... his only begotten" (Heb 11:17). In all other places in the New Testament it refers to Jesus Christ as "the only begotten Son of God" (Joh 1:14,18; 3:16,18; 1 Joh 4:9). In these passages, too, it might be translated as "the only son of God"; for the emphasis seems to be on His uniqueness, rather than on His sonship, though both ideas are certainly present. He is the son of God in a sense in which no others are. "Monogenes describes the absolutely unique relation of the Son to the Father in His divine nature; prototokos describes the relation of the Risen Christ in His glorified humanity to man" (Westcott on Heb 1:6). Christ's uniqueness as it appears in the above passages consists of two things:

(a) He reveals the Father: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (Joh 1:18). Men therefore behold His glory, "glory as of the only begotten from the Father" (1:14).

(b) He is the mediator of salvation: "God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him" (1 Joh 4:9; Joh 3:16); "He that believeth not (on him) hath been judged already" (Joh 3:18). Other elements in His uniqueness may be gathered from other passages, as His sinlessness, His authority to forgive sins, His unbroken communion with the Father, and His unique knowledge of Him. To say that it is a uniqueness of nature or essence carries thought no farther, for these terms still need definition, and they can be defined only in terms of His moral consciousness, of His revelation of God, and especially of His intimate union as Son with the Father.

The reading "God only begotten" in Joh 1:18 the Revised Version margin, though it has strong textual support, is improbable, and can well be explained as due to orthodox zeal, in opposition to adoptionism. See Grimm-Thayer, Lexicon; Westcott, at the place

Written by T. Rees

See BEGOTTEN

See PERSON OF CHRIST

See SON OF GOD

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
1 Strong's Number: g3439 Greek: monogenes

Only Begotten:

is used five times, all in the writings of the Apostle John, of Christ as the Son of God; it is translated "only begotten" in Hbr 11:17 of the relationship of Isaac to Abraham.

With reference to Christ, the phrase "the only begotten from the Father," Jhn 1:14, RV (see also the marg.), indicates that as the Son of God He was the sole representative of the Being and character of the One who sent Him. In the original the definite article is omitted both before "only begotten" and before "Father," and its absence in each case serves to lay stress upon the characteristics referred to in the terms used. The Apostle's object is to demonstrate what sort of glory it was that he and his fellow Apostles had seen. That he is not merely making a comparison with earthly relationships is indicated by para, "from." The glory was that of a unique relationship and the word "begotten" does not imply a beginning of His Sonship. It suggests relationship indeed, but must be distinguished from generation as applied to man.

We can only rightly understand the term "the only begotten" when used of the Son, in the sense of unoriginated relationship. "The begetting is not an event of time, however remote, but a fact irrespective of time. The Christ did not become, but necessarily and eternally is the Son. He, a Person, possesses every attribute of pure Godhood. This necessitates eternity, absolute being; in this respect He is not 'after' the Father" (Moule). The expression also suggests the thought of the deepest affection, as in the case of the OT word yachid, variously rendered, "only one," Gen 22:2, 12; "only son," Jer 6:26; Amo 8:10; Zec 12:10; "only beloved," Pro 4:3, and "darling," Psa 22:20; 35:17.

In Jhn 1:18 the clause "The Only Begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father," expresses both His eternal union with the Father in the Godhead and the ineffable intimacy and love between them, the Son sharing all the Father's counsels and enjoying all His affections. Another reading is monogenes Theos, "God only-begotten." In Jhn 3:16 the statement, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son," must not be taken to mean that Christ became the Only Begotten Son by Incarnation. The value and the greatness of the gift lay in the Sonship of Him who was given. His Sonship was not the effect of His being given. In Jhn 3:18 the phrase "the Name of the Only Begotten Son of God" lays stress upon the full revelation of God's character and will, His love and grace, as conveyed in the name of One who, being in a unique relationship to Him, was provided by Him as the object of faith. In 1Jo 4:9 the statement "God hath sent His Only Begotten Son into the world" does not mean that God sent out into the world one who at His birth in Bethlehem had become His Son. Cp. the parallel statement, "God sent forth the Spirit of His Son," Gal 4:6, RV, which could not mean that God sent forth One who became His Spirit when He sent Him.

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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