Only begotten Son — Does only begotten Son mean Jesus was created?
This article answers two questions: “Was Jesus created?” and “What is the meaning of “begotten Son”? These questions arise because John 3:16 says that Jesus was the only begotten Son.
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)
Meaning of Only Begotten Son
The Greek word for “only begotten” in John 3:16 is monogenes. It is a compound word made of two other Greek words, monos meaning “only” and kenos meaning “kind or race.” If we combine these words together, we have “only kind” or “unique.” That is, Jesus is the only begotten Son.
An example that helps us understand the meaning of monogenes is found in Hebrews 11:17-18.
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” Hebrews 11:17-18 (NASB)
In order to understand the meaning of “only begotten Son” in this verse, it is important to remember that Abraham had eight sons: Ishmael (Genesis 16:15), Issac (Genesis 21:3) and the six other sons by Keturah who were: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah (Genesis 25:1-2). Issac was not Abraham’s first born son. He was Abraham’s special son (Genesis 17:19). He was the son God promised to Abraham and Sarah and the son for whom God had special plans.
Next notice that Isaac is called “only begotten” in Hebrews 11:17-18. Now was Abraham’s only son Isaac? No! Abraham had eight sons. This helps us understand that the Greek monogenes word has been mistranslated and, consequently, misunderstood. Monogenes does not mean Jesus was born. The Greek word monogenes means “unique” or “one and only.” Some of the newer Bible translations such as the New Century Version, New International Version, and the New Living Translation are now using the correct wording. Here is the NIV’s wording,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
Was Jesus Created?
Since monogenes means “unique one,” we should understand John 3:16 to mean that Jesus was not created. He was the unique Son of God the Father. Monogenes does not refer to birth, being conceived, or created. The message of Scripture is that Jesus has been God and will continue to be God eternally. Jesus is God. Yet within the trinity, God the Father declared the second person of the Trinity to be called the Son when He took on human flesh in order to become our Savior. For more information visit “What is the meaning that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Jesus is the one and only Son of God. He was not created and He was not made. Since the expression “Son of God” was an ancient expression meaning that Jesus was and is God, Jesus is the one and only God. He is the eternal One!
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