Only begotten translates monogenēs. This combines two words, namely monos (alone) and génos (family, offspring). This means that Jesus is God’s only true family.

Jesus is the Son of God, but that does not mean that He is God, for believers also are sons of God.  However, Jesus is God’s only begotten Son.  Begotten means to be born.  It is symbolic language, but that makes Him God’s only real family.

Overview

The title “Son of God” for Jesus Christ is found 50 times in the Bible.  By itself this title does not mean that Jesus is God, because believers are also sons of God.  But Jesus is God’s only begotten Son.  “Only begotten” translates the Greek word monogenēs.  Monogenēs combines two words, namely monos (alone) and génos (family, offspring).  This means that Jesus is God’s only family.  Believers are adopted as sons, but Jesus is God’s only real family.

Some think of Christ as God’s first creation.  But since He was “begotten,” He was not created.  To the contrary, God created “all things” through Him (Col. 1:16-17).

Others make the opposite error.  They think of Jesus as co-equal to the Father.  The article Jesus is not God shows that the Bible consistently makes a distinction between God and Jesus.  Furthermore, the article “God is the Head of Christ” shows that everything which Jesus has, He has received from His Father, even the Fullness of Deity.  Jesus is not equal to the Father, for the Father is “the only true God” (John 17:3).

However, as the only begotten Son of God, Jesus is infinitely above created beings.  From the perspective of created beings, Jesus has equality with God.

Jesus is the Son of God.

In the Bible the title “Son of God,” for Jesus Christ is found 50 times.  For instance:

Angel talking to MaryThe angel said to Mary, “the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

God referred to Him as “My beloved Son” (Mat. 3:17). This was at His baptism.

Jesus claimed, “I am the Son of God” (John 10:36; cf. Mat. 16:16, 17; 27:43; Luke 1:35; John 1:34; 1 John 5:5; 9:35-37; 10:36).

Paul referred to Jesus as “His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).

John explains the purpose of his gospel as: “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31).

The title “Son of God,” by itself, does not mean that Jesus is God, because believers are also sons of God.

Believers are sons of God.

Adam is the son of God in both the Old and New Testaments (Gen. 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Luke 3:38; Romans 8:14).

In the Old Testament both Israel (Ex. 4:22–23; Hosea 11:1) and the king (Psalm 2:7) were called God’s son.

But I say to you
Sermon on the Mount

The New Testament many times refer to believers as “sons of God.”  All four Gospels record Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peace-makers; they will be called sons of God.”  “All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).  “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).  See also Luke 20:35-36; 1 John 3:1; Phil. 2:15; John 1:12; Mat 5:9; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:19 and Galatians 3:26.

But Jesus is not only the Son of God; He is the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.

The apostle John wrote of Jesus as “the only begotten from the Father” (John 1:14);

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18).

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world” (1 John 4:9).

John wrote this because Jesus described Himself as God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16, 18).

Only begotten” translates the Greek word monogenēs.  This word is often interpreted as “only unique” or “one of its kind.”  The NIV translates monogenés as the “one and only”, for instance:”

The one and only Son, who came from the Father” (John 1:14, NIV).

Jesus therefore is God’s Son in a unique sense.  He, as Son of God, has no brethren.  But monogenēs means more than just unique:

Jesus is God’s only real family.

MonogenēsMonogenēs combines two words, namely monos (alone) and génos (family, offspring).  Monogenēs therefore means that Jesus is God’s only family.  Humans are adopted as sons, but Jesus is God’s only real family.

Some think of Christ as God’s first creation.  But since He was “begotten,” He was not created.  To the contrary, God created “all things” through Him (Col. 1:16-17).

Jesus is not God.

Trinity
Symbol for the Trinity

Others make the opposite error.  They think of Jesus as co-equal to the Father.    The article Jesus is not God shows that the Bible consistently makes a distinction between God and Jesus.

Take, for instance, the phrase “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:3).  Two Persons are mentioned.  One is God.  The other is Jesus (the Lamb).

Another example is Colossians 1:15, which says that Jesus is the visible image of the “invisible God”.

God is spirit” (John 4:24) and cannot be seen.

As another example, take one of the best known verses in the Bible: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1).

These are examples of perhaps a hundred or more phrases in the Bible that make a clear distinction between God and Jesus.  Other examples, from a quick scan of John and the first two chapters of Acts, include John 1:1, 18, 29, 36; 6:27, 46; 8:40; 13:3; 17:3 and Acts 2:22, 24)

Paul confirmed, “there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6).

The point is that Jesus is not God or part of the Being which the Bible identifies as the “only true God” (John 17:3).

Jesus is not equal to God.

Furthermore the article “God is the Head of Christ” shows that everything which Jesus has, He received from His Father.  This includes His authority to raise the dead and to judge.  He also received His teachings, His works, His disciples and even the Fullness of Deity from the Father.  Jesus is not equal to the Father.

Perhaps the reader assumes that, because the Father is God, the Son must also be God.  Note then that Jesus identified the Father as God, in distinction to Himself.  He said:

Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father” (John 6:46).

I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20:17).

Similar statements include John 6:27 and 13:3.  As indicated by the angel who brought the message of the Child to Mary, the New Testament refers to the Most High as God, to the exclusion of Jesus (Luke 1:32, 35).  Jesus would be called “the Son of the Most High” (v32).  Therefore he referred to the “Most High” as His Father and as God.

The following verses from John confirm (1) that the Bible maintains a distinction between God and Jesus, (2) that Jesus is subordinate to God and (3) that the title “God” is used exclusively for “the Father:

He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29; cf v36).  “On Him the Father, God, has set His seal” (6:27).  Jesus said, “you are seeking to kill Me (Jesus), a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God” (8:40).  “I proceeded forth and have come from God” (John 8:42).  “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God …” (John 13:3).  “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

Peter confirmed:

Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst” (Acts 2:22).

God raised Him up again” (Acts 2:24).

He is infinitely above created beings.

Given the reality that Jesus is distinct from God, how should we understand the statement that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God?  Begotten, in human language, means that God gave birth to Him.  “Only begotten,” in human language, means that He is the only One born of God.   But He was not literally born.  Words are symbols.  By describing Him as His Only Begotten Son, God explains to us, in human terms, to finite minds, that the Son is infinitely higher than created beings; closely related to God.  From the perspective of finite created beings, Jesus has equality with God.

Equality with GodPhilippians 2 tells us that Jesus had equality with God before He became a human being, and therefore still today.

 

Articles in the series: Is Jesus God?

1.    The three views of the Son
2.    Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.
3.    Jesus in Colossians
4.    Did Jesus empty Himself of equality with God?
5.    Who is the Word in John 1:1?
6.    Jesus is not God.
7.    God is the Head of Christ.
8.    In the Bible Jesus is called God.
9.    He is the Only Begotten Son of God.  Current article
10.  God created all things through His Son.  Next
11.  We must worship Jesus.
12.  Jesus has equality with God.
13. 
Who is Jesus? – Summary of the series of articles
14.  Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?