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His Only Begotten Son

It is possible that the most widely known verse of the Bible is John 3:16, "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" (NASB).  Almost all Christians know this verse by heart and rightly so.  It is the founding principle of Christianity.  It is the truth confessed by every Christian when obeying the gospel and saying, "I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God."


It is important that all Christians understand the depth of God's love for mankind which is demonstrated in John 3:16.  God loved the world to the extent that He gave His "only begotten" Son.  The phrase "only begotten" is accurately translated from a single Greek word "monogenes." This word is used in the New Testament in reference to only two relationships - Isaac's relationship to Abraham (Heb. 11: 17), and Jesus Christ's relationship to God the Father (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9).  It is an interesting coincidence that Abraham was also willing to sacrifice his "only begotten" son.  However, the application of the word "monogenes" to Christ's relationship to the Father has a much different and deeper meaning than for Isaac's relationship to Abraham.


In Jesus' relationship to the Father, God's "only begotten" indicates the unique position of Jesus as the Son of God.  He is the sole embodiment of the person and character of the One who sent Him.  The Scriptures speak to this fact, saying that Jesus is "the radiance of His (God's) glory and the exact representation of His nature" (Heb. 1:3) and "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15).  Jesus said of Himself that "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).  There is no other being that could hold this position but the only begotten Son of God.  The Father loves the Son deeply, and their relationship is intimate such that the Scriptures say, "The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:18).


The phrase "only begotten Son" does not indicate that Christ became the Son of God by incarnation.  In John 1:1, the Scripture says in reference to Jesus, "In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Thus, we see the eternal relationship of the Son and the Father.  Other verses indicate that Christ was already the Son of God when God sent Him into the world (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9).  So, Christ did not become the Son of God when He was born, but He has always been the Son of God.  The relationship of the Son of God and God the Father is not generational as it is with sons and fathers among mankind. We misunderstand their relationship if we perceive it in that way.  The Sonship of Christ does not depend upon birth.


Correctly understanding the relationship of the Father and the Son helps us to better understand the depth of God's love for us.  He loved us such that He gave up His Son, and the value of that great gift is in the Sonship of Christ.  To give His only begotten was the most that the Father could give.  How then could we not obey God?  How could we not praise God and thank Him for all of our lives?  The only acceptable response is to give ourselves in total submission in return for the great gift that He has given to us in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.


Stacey E. Durham



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