Text & Translations
If the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was begotten of God (as none other was before or since) is not true; then the prophecy of Psalm 2:
7 [I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee] could not be fulfilled in
him as inspiration clearly states (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5), and he is not the Messiah, the Savior of the world; and, we are yet
in our sins. If the fulfillment of this prophecy (where God says he has begotten Jesus) and applying the word "begotten" to Jesus
demotes him to creature status and denies his eternal existence because it states Jesus is "begotten," then God represents Him as so
in the Bible. The Lord rebuke such a position. It simply is not true! Therefore, if a demotion exists by the use of "begotten" in
reference to Jesus, it is presented by the word of God, not by the English phrase "only begotten." Thus, in the effort to get away
from the perceived demotion of Christ by the use of "begotten" in "only begotten" one runs right into the problem in the prophecy of
Psalm 2:7 and its fulfillment in Acts 13:3; Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5.
The concept of a begetting of Jesus is prominent throughout the Bible. The statement of God to the serpent after the introduction of
sin into the world implies begettal in the use of the word "seed" (Genesis 3:15). It is also inherent in the promise made to Abram and
those who followed concerning the Seed in which all nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:18; etc.). The prophecy of
Isaiah implies a begettal of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). The idea of begettal in all of these passages, as well as its implication and statement
in Matthew 1 and Luke 1, refers to the physical lineage of Jesus as the son of Abraham, the son of David, the Son of man. It is not a
normal begettal, as Mormonism would teach; but, as the angel declared unto Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the
power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of Cod"
(Luke 1:35). This is the begettal of Jesus of Nazareth: a begettal unlike any man born before or since. Thus, Jesus is the only
begotten Son of God.
This begettal of the man Jesus in no wise contradicts the pre-existence of the personality of Jesus as the Word of John 1:1: a pre-
existence of equality with the Father (Philippians 2:6-7). Rather, this begettal explains the mystery of godliness, "God made manifest
in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16); for Jesus was "made of woman" (Galatians 4:4) "of the seed of David according to the flesh"
(Romans 1:4) and simultaneously "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
The Arian controversy takes its name from Arius (256-336 a.d.). "It denied that the Son was of the same substance (Gk.
homoousios) with the Father and reduced him to the rank of a creature, though pre-existent before the world." (The New Schaff-
Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. I; Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI; 1949; p. 278). Arius, and all true
Arians, declared Jesus to be of a different essence (Gk. heteroousios) than the Father. It was in reaction to this heresy especially that
the Council of Nicea was convened in 325 a.d. Following the Council of Nicea, Eusebius of Nicomedia championed a modified form
of Arianism. "The Eusebians, or semi-Arians, taught that the Son was similar in substance (homoiousios^ to the Father; while the
Aetians (from Aetius, a deacon of Antioch who revived Arianism) and the Eunomians (From Eunomius, Bishop of Cyzius in Mysius)
taught that he was of a different substance (heteroousios), and unlike (anomios) the Father in everything as also in substance (hence
the name Heteroousiasts and Anomoians or Anomoeans)." (Ibid.; p. 28). Thus, one errs in his historical reference to the difference
between Arius and Athanasius as being between homoiousios and homoousios; it was between heteroousios and homoousios. The
later controversy was between homoiousios and homoousios.
One errs in applying this controversy to the use of the word "begotten" in reference to Jesus. The Nicene Creed, formed to combat
Arianism at Nicea in 325 a.d., reads:
"[We believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten of the Father, Light of Light, very God of very God,
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, who for us men, and for our salvation,
came down and was incarnate, and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven; from
cometh to judge the quick and the dead. And those who say there was a time when he [the Son] was not; and he was made out of
nothing, or out of another substance or thing, or the Son of God is created, or changeable, or alterable; — they are condemned by
the holy catholic and apostolic Church." (Ibid.; p. 279). Had the use of the word "begotten" in any way been supportive of Arianism,
it would not have found its way into this statement of the Nicene Creed.
It is true that Arius, according to Socrates, advocated the theory that "If the Father begat the Son, he must be older than the Son,
and there was a time when the Son was not; from thus it further follows that the Son has his subsistence (Gk. hypostasis) from
nothing." (Ibid.; p. 278). However, the controversy was not over whether Jesus was the "begotten" or "only begotten" Son of God
(as the Nicene Creed illustrates); but, over what was meant when it is said Jesus is the "begotten" or "only begotten" Son of God.
To charge those who utilize a "translation which makes Jesus 'only begotten'" with "unintentionally" advocating Arianism has no
foundation in the facts of history. As was noted above, the Arian controversy was not over whether Jesus was "begotten" or the
"only begotten," both sides agreed to that fact; the controversy was over what it meant that Jesus was the "begotten" or "only
begotten" Son of God.
It has been stated: "The phrase 'only begotten' is mongennes (a non-Biblical word)...." Since the word mongennes is not found in the
Bible, where is it found? A search of Biblical Greek lexicons or diction-aries leaves one without a reference to the word. A search of
classical Greek lexicons or dictionaries leaves one without a reference to the word. A search of modem Greek lexicons or
dictionaries leaves one without a reference to the word. Where in Greek literature of any period is the word mongennes found?
Before the word mongennes is accepted as the word which actually means "only begotten," it must first be proven that it is a word
at all. This reference to monogennes reminds one of the reference to mongennetos in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (Vol.
Ill; Abingdon Press: NY, Nashville; 1962). A search of classical, New Testament and modern Greek lexicons or dictionaries did not
turn up a single reference to this word either. When brother J. Noel Merideth asked brother Jack Lewis "to produce his references in
literature to this word monogennetos" after repeating the claim of The Interpreter's Bible Dictionary in the Gospel Advocate (May 1,
1986), brother Lewis replied: "In my opinion (without dilligent [sic] search) monogennetos is a hypothetical word formed on an
analogy with gennetos from gennao." (Christian Light; March 1987; p. 10). It is suspected that the answer to references utilizing
monogennes will be quite similar.
Reference to a non-existent word in order to establish the etymology and definition of another word does not inspire confidence in
the application of true scholarship to the question at hand.
The question is not what would another word mean, if there were such a word; but, what does the word used by the apostle John
(mono-genes) mean when used in reference to Christ? Even should there be such a word as monogennes or mongennetos, and even
should it be defined as "only begotten," that does not mean that mongenes would not, could not, and does not mean "only begotten."
John W. Dahms points this out in his article, "The Johannine Use of Monogenes Reconsidered" in New Testament Studies (April,
1983; pp. 222-232). The argument based upon mongennes (or mongennetos) is "begging the question." It is beside the point. The
point is: What does mongenes mean?
The sincerity of those who disagree is not at issue. I have no reason to doubt their sincerity. I have reason to question their position.
I love a brother in the Lord all those Christians who may accept this position. Everything that is written in response to those who
would accept this position is done with a tear in the eye and a cry in the voice. Indeed, a friend is one whom you love enough to tell
the truth to, even when you disagree. But, just because disagreement does not lessen the love of the heart; it does not minimize the
importance of the difference; nor, does it allow the difference to be overlooked. It makes the difference that much sadder: for it
tears the heart and rips the soul because of the estrangement it creates. It becomes the question of: Does the love which is felt for
the individual outweigh the love which you have for the truth and or the Lord? Let us always love the truth, and the Lord, more than
Also, let us remember the admonition of the apostle Paul, whether we are rebuking others, or being rebuked ourselves: "Am I
therefore become your enemy, because 1 tell you the truth" (Galatians 4:16)? Let the truth never make us enemies one of another.