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CHRIST AND THE BIBLICAL PHRASE,
"ONLY BEGOTTEN"

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A) THE TRUE EXPLANATION.

B) OTHER EXPLANATIONS (NOT DEFINING THE TRUE EXPLANATION).

C) FROM MY FAVORITE BIBLE COMMENTATOR.

 

 

A) THE TRUE EXPLANATION

 

 

Seriously consider that Christ was not the “first born” child ever upon the earth at that time; not the “first” or “only begotten” child appearing at that time in history.  Therefore, what does the phrase really mean?

 

The translation “only begotten,” is found only in the writings of John (John 1:14 & 18; 3:16 & 18; 1Jo. 4:9).  It originated with the Roman Catholic church and entered into early English translations of Scripture under the influence of the “Latin Vulgate,” the official translation of the Scriptures of the Roman Catholic church.

 

The phrase originates and comes to us from Psalm 2:7, and has to do with God the Father giving His Son dominion and rulership (read Psalm 2:8 to confirm that).  This is the true meaning of the phrase, “only begotten;” and has nothing to do with being a “created being.”  In other words, this is an “Enthronement” term, or “Coronation” term.  It speaks to the “setting up” of Christ as King.

 

This phrase should ONLY be studied under the context of Hebrews 11:17.  We know that Abraham had a total of six (6) sons.  Thus, the phrase should ALWAYS be understood as “uniqueness,” and not “origin.”  The Apostle John and Paul are the only ones to use this phrase.  It has led to attacks upon the Divinity of Christ and the formation of false religious systems such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  What makes no sense (Non-Sense) is that, “If God did not die for your sins, you are still in them and no longer able to be saved.”

 

Another way to understand why our God would use this form of language, is to discover Exodus 4:22:  “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.”  Here we can clearly distinguish that Israel was not the first nation to ever exist; nor is it created right then before Pharaoh’s eyes.  By contrast, Moses is explaining that God considers Israel to be the “first” nation to fallow His Will; thus making them “first in rank” in regard to all the nations upon the face of the earth; shocking Pharaoh who considered his nation to be so.

 

 

B) OTHER EXPLANATIONS (NOT DEFINING THE TRUE EXPLANATION)

 

 

John, Chapter One, Verse 3, should clear all of this up in that, “All things were made by Him [the God-Man Jesus]; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”  This would conclude that Christ pre-existed everything that was made.  Even God couldn’t exist without (God) the construction of Jesus; thus, concluding that Jesus is God.

 

However, let us take a serious look at this dilemma of translation.  Accurately reflecting the Greek, various older Latin manuscripts, such as the “Vetus Latina,” which do indeed antedate the “Latin Vulgate,” 382 A.D., by Jerome, read as “only” alone, rather then “only begotten.”  However, that would not represent the Psalm 2:7 verse being referenced to by John.  By contrast, the concept that Christ “was born of the Father before all creation,” appears first in the writings of Origen, about the year 230 A.D.; Jerome’s influence.

 

The Greek word “monogenes,” is from two words meaning “only,” and “kind,” and thus properly translated would be “unique,” or “only,” or “only one of a kind.”  John is the only one who uses the word “monogenes” when speaking of Christ.  Absence of the definite article in the Greek either makes “monogenes” indefinite, “an only one,” or makes it an expression of quality, in which case John would be saying, “glory as of an only one [Who had Come] from beside the Father.”

 

This Greek word “monogenes” is used nine times in the New Testament.  In four of the uses it designates the relationship between parents and a particular child.  As an example, if we go to Luke 7:12, we can see that the son of the widow of Nain is described as, “the only son of his mother.”  The text emphasizes that this was the “only” child, either left alive, since she could have begotten others, or that she had ever had.  The point is, that this is the pre-eminent child, the “only one” of any importance.  The same applies to Jairus and his, “one [and] only daughter,” in Luke 8:42.  Thus, we can see that “monogenes,” is translated as “only.”

 

Looking more closely at Luke 8:42, we can see that the emphases is not on the fact that she was his “only begotten” daughter, which she was, but that she was his “only” daughter, and the tragedy of losing her would be great.  In Luke 9:38, we have the male child possessed by a demon who is described by the father as his, “only child.”  He is a “precious” child because he was the “only child” he had conceived, or that was still living.

 

By Contrast, in Hebrews 11:17, “monogenes” is used of Isaac, who was by no means Abraham’s “only begotten” son, or even his first-born son.  But he was the “son of the promise,” and as such, he was the “only son” destined to succeed his father as heir to the birthright (see Gen. 25:1-6; Gal. 4:22-23).  This places Isaac in the position of being the “only” one of Abraham’s sons having the “pre-eminence” and “position” of “heir-ship,” or “head-ship.”  Can you see now that the term really means, “Only One of importance?”

 

Similarly, in respect to the five texts in John’s writings of Christ, the translation should be one of the following:  “unique,” “precious,” “only,” “sole,” “the only one of His kind,” but NEVER “only begotten.”  In fact, if we go to the meaning of “monogenes” in John 3:16, we would see that “monogenes” identifies Jesus as the “only” “unique” means of salvation.  No other, or anything “begotten,” or anything “created” for that matter, could suffice for the saving of mankind.

 

The same principle applies in First John 4:9, where we find that the word “monogenes” is used, “because that God sent His Only begotten [“begotten” not belonging here] Son,” “that we might live through Him.”  No “created” being could accomplish this for us.  We are saved by the Biblical fact that God Himself died for our sins, not a “created being,” else your hope of salvation is lost, or else an angel or some other created being could have been our Savior.

 

 

C) FROM MY FAVORITE BIBLE COMMENTATOR

 

 

“Christ took upon Himself humanity, that He might reach humanity.  Divinity needed humanity; for it required both the Divine and the human to bring salvation to the world.  Divinity needed humanity, that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man.”  DA:296.

 

“. . . although Christ’s Divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man.  The human did not take the place of the Divine, nor the Divine of the human.  This is the mystery of Godliness.  The two expressions ‘human’ and ‘Divine’ were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality [like the Father and Son relationship, yet still God].  Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His Own.  His Deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty.”  ST, May 10, 1899; 5BC:1129.

 

“In Christ, Divinity and humanity were combined.  Divinity was not degraded to humanity; Divinity held its place,” RH, February 18, 1890; 5BC:1082; 1SM:408; 7ABC:445; 1888M:533.

 

“The only way in which the fallen race could be restored was through the gift of His Son, equal with Himself, possessing the attributes of God.  Though so highly exalted, Christ consented to assume human nature, that He might work in behalf of man and reconcile to God His disloyal subject.”  RH, November 8, 1892.

 

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