The Only Begotten Son
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
From the time I was a child I heard Christ described as “the only begotten son.” Like many Christians I could quote John 3:16 from my youth.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Incredible as it may seem, although I heard this expression thousands of times throughout my life, I had never heard any minister, author, Bible teacher, or Christian explain what the words “only begotten Son” meant in a way that was clear and satisfying. There was always a nagging thought that something was missing, or not quite correct, in the common explanations of this Biblical expression. Following are a few more occurrences.
No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
I John 4:9
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
The Greek word translated as only begotten is “monogenes.” You may recognize elements of this word. The prefix mono means “one.” It is from this prefix that the English word “only” finds its way into the expression “only begotten.” The latter part of monogenes is taken from the Greek word ginomai. Strong’s Concordance defines this word in the following manner.
ginomai (ghin'-om-ahee); a prolongation and middle voice form of a primary verb; to cause to be ("gen"- erate), i.e. (reflexively) to become (come into being)...
What this Greek word is expressing is that Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah is the only Son that was directly generated from the Father. There are other beings that are referred to in Scripture as the “son(s) of God,” but none of these beings were the direct generation of Yahweh God, the Father of Yahshua. Consider the following Scriptures. In Luke chapter 3 we are given the supposed lineage of Yahshua through Joseph the husband of Mary. I use the word “supposed” because this is how the lineage is presented.
And when He began His ministry, Yahshua Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph...
The ensuing genealogy is interesting because it follows a very consistent pattern. Each man listed is declared to be the son of his father. Following is just a portion.
Yahshua Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos...
This lengthy genealogy continues all the way to its root in Adam, whereupon we read the following:
...the son of Adam, the son of God.
In my years growing up in church I never heard a minister or teacher define what the difference was between Adam’s creation and Christ’s creation. (Some may be troubled that I use the word “creation” in reference to Christ for many have been taught that Christ has always existed co-equal with the Father and is not a created being. Please be patient as I will address this momentarily.)
What was unclear to me in childhood was how Christ and Adam differed as sons of God. Both are called “the son of God.” Yet only Yahshua is called “the only begotten Son of God.” Did not God also beget Adam? Was not Adam the direct generation of God? The answer to these questions has in part been obscured due to the way in which various Hebrew words in the book of Genesis have been translated into English. For example, we read:
And God (Elohim) created man in His own image, in the image of God (Elohim) He created him...
Then the Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
When we read these statements in English we do not clearly see what was expressed in the Hebrew. The word Elohim is a plural word. The singular form is Eloah. Both words are masculine gender. Whenever the Bible uses the word Elohim as a reference to God (uppercase) it is a reference to the godhead. The godhead is comprised of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Because there is more than one member of the godhead, the Hebrew language uses the plural Elohim in reference to the godhead, rather than the singular Eloah.
In Genesis 2:7 the expression “Yahweh Elohim” is also a reference to the godhead. If the writer had meant to speak of the Father only, who is called Yahweh, he would have written “Yahweh Eloah,” or simply “Yahweh.” What is being communicated is that the godhead of Yahweh, which includes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, acted in concert to create man (Hebrew Adam). This becomes apparent in other verses in Genesis.
Then God (Elohim) said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...”
The words “us” and “our” indicate a plurality. The members of the godhead are speaking to one another when they say “Let US make man...” This raises an interesting point for consideration. If Adam was directly formed by Yahweh the Father, then we could not say that Yahshua is the monogenes, the only direct generation, of the Father. We have to look to other passages of Scripture to resolve this conundrum. In his gospel, the apostle John speaks of Yahshua as “the Word.” What John states about the Son of God is pertinent to our investigation.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
The apostle Paul provides further insight in his epistle to the saints in Colossae.
For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And He (the Son) is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him (the Son) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him.
Contained in these passages is a very important revelation. From the Father came forth the Son at the beginning of the creation. This is what is declared as the apostle states that “He (the Son) is... the first-born of all creation.” Yahshua the Son was the ONLY direct generation from the Father. All other things were created through the instrumentality of the Son. Both man and the angels were created directly by the Son. The Son did not create anything of His own initiative, however, for we are told that the Son ever lives to do the will of the Father.
Yahshua said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.”
I can of mine own self do nothing... because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
These verses, and many others, reveal that the Son has always existed to do the will of God the Father. Although it is common to depict God’s hands forming the creation, the Bible tells us that the creation was spoken into existence.
By the word of Yahweh the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.
For those who are quick of spirit, you may have noticed that a double meaning lies hidden in the verse above. Suppose we change one letter above from lower case to upper case. Consider what revelations would then come forth.
By the Word of Yahweh the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.
At some time determined by the Father, the Son of God began to act to accomplish His Father’s will by forming the creation; the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. “For by Him (the Son) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible.” Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, affirms this truth as he speaks of the Son of God under the simile of Wisdom. That the Son of God is Wisdom is affirmed in various Scriptures.
I Corinthians 1:24
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Observe then the parallels between the declarations of the apostles John and Paul, and the words of King Solomon.
Proverbs 8:12, 22-30
I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion... Yahweh possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From everlasting (literally, “the age”) I was established (anointed), from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, nor the first dust of the world. When He established the heavens, I was there, when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when the springs of the deep became fixed, when He set for the sea its boundary, so that the water should not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was beside Him, as a master workman...
“As a master workman” the Son of God formed the heavens and the earth, mankind and angels. When the apostle Paul states “whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him,” those beings named are members of the heavenly host. They are angelic beings. The Son of God has created them all.
Some are offended when they hear it taught that the Son of God is a created being. They fear that to believe Yahshua was created of the Father in some way diminishes His divinity. Yet, those who would “rightly divide the word of God” cannot escape the truth of the Son’s creation. At the same time, the Son of God is preeminent among the creation, for He is the only begotten of the Father. He is the only direct generation of God. All other things were created by the Son, and for the Son. The apostle Paul continues to extol the surpassing greatness of the Son of God in his epistle to the Colossians.
And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
It is in the son’s ministry of reconciliation, the returning of all the creation to a state of peace and oneness with the Father, that we find an affirmation of the truth that the Son of God came forth from the Father at some time in the distant past, and at the end of the ages He will return to the Father.
I Corinthians 15:25-28
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.
In the end of the age when all things that came forth from the Son are subjected to the same, the Son will in turn return to the Father that God may be “all in all.” Paul writes of this mystery elsewhere.
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.
The English word “sum” is derived from the Latin “summa.” When the Romans would add together figures they would put the total, the sum, at the top of the list of numbers. This is the opposite of how people in English speaking nations do sums. The expression “to sum up” is a direct reference to the Roman practice of placing the sum at the top of a list of figures. It is from the Latin summa that we derive the English word “summit,” meaning the highest point.
When Paul wrote to the Ephesians he had the Roman practice of summing up in mind. Consider that when we sum up a list of numbers that the sum necessarily encompasses and contains everything that is being summed. The reconciliation of the heavens and earth will only be accomplished when all that is contrary to the nature of God has been removed. All rebellion and all sin must cease. Those who were angry with God, the rebels and the wicked, must repent and be purified by fire before all can be summed up in Christ. There can be nothing unholy, and no rebellion, that is contained in the Son of God.
“I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, 'Only in Yahweh are righteousness and strength.' Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him shall be ashamed.”
The fact that these former rebels are ashamed reveals that repentance has come to them. That they would freely confess that “Only in Yahweh are righteousness and strength” demonstrates that the ministry of reconciliation has been fully accomplished by Yahshua, the Son of God.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Yahshua Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
When Yahweh’s plan of the ages has finished its course, all that came forth from the Son will be reconciled to the Father. All things, whether in heaven or on earth that have been in a state of rebellion and sin will be brought to a state of peace and righteousness. All will be subjected to, and summed up in, the Son of God. He will in turn be subject to the Father so that He is “all in all.” This is the glorious cycle of creation established by the Father. Solomon observed the cycle of creation in that which is observable on earth.
The sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; And on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again.
Thus, we see in the creation cycle the preeminence of the only begotten Son of God. At the same time we understand that the Father is the source of all. It should not be surprising to anyone to learn that the Son had to arise out from the Father. The very words “son” and “father” convey a sense of order. A father always exists before a son. Likewise, a son always comes out of a father. Mankind was created in God’s image. The mystery of the godhead is revealed in humanity. Even as a man contains seed that must come out of the man to form something in his image, so too did the Son of God proceed out of the Father.
Some may still be troubled, supposing that recognizing the Son as a creation (generation) of the Father somehow diminishes His divinity. A believer may inquire, “How can Christ be the direct generation of the Father and yet be One with the Father?” There are mysteries contained here, but Yahweh has not left us without understanding. In the creation itself Yahweh has demonstrated the glorious mystery of the godhead. He has revealed the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through the example of speech. Having written on this subject previously in the book God’s Plan of the Ages, I will repeat a passage from that writing here.
Some years back I was meditating upon the doctrine of the Trinity. I wanted to understand the nature and relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yahweh, as He often does, brought understanding through means of a parable.
As I was sitting before the Father He asked me, "If you want to see the soul of a man, how would you view it?" I knew the soul to be invisible. It will not show up on an x-ray, or a CAT scan or MRI. A person cannot take a picture of the soul of man. Nonetheless, the soul can be seen. Yahshua said,
"The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
The heart is a metaphor of the soul. A man's soul can be seen in His words. Do you want to know if a soul is evil, listen to the words that come from a man's mouth. One can discern if a man is lustful by listening to his words. If the man is ruled by anger in his soul, his words will reveal it. Rebellion, covetousness, jealousy, pride, envy, and every evil characteristic of the soul of a man is exhibited in a man's speech.
The righteous man is also known by his words. You can discern whether a man is pure in heart, whether he is loving, merciful, patient, longsuffering, humble, and selfless by observing his conversation. Surely a man's soul is revealed through his words.
As the Father directed me to contemplate these things, He revealed to me the relationship of the Spirit and the Son to Himself through the parable of speech. Every created thing was crafted with masterful design to show forth hidden mysteries of the kingdom of God. Yahweh has revealed the Trinity through the miracle of speech.
Every word begins with a thought in the mind of man. The thought is made visible as a man exhales air from his lungs and shapes identifiable sounds as the air passes over the vocal chords. These sounds exit the man as words, and the words reveal the hidden things inside the soul of man.
Yahweh the Father is Spirit. No one has seen the Father at any time. The apostle John shared the following words of inspiration with the saints.
No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].
God wanted to make Himself known to the creation. Yet a physical creation cannot see that which exists in Spirit alone. Yahweh had to do something to reveal Himself even as a man must do something to make the thoughts of his mind known to others. Yahweh formed a Word.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Yahweh exhaled His Spirit and formed a Word. It was a perfect Word that fully revealed Himself. This Word became flesh so that mankind could perceive it. The Word is the Son of God. The Son has perfectly declared, manifested, and made known the Father.
Yahshua said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father..."
When the Father wanted to reveal Himself to creation He formed the Word. As the Father showed this to me He showed me the process by which a word is formed. We utter forth speech as we breathe out. Yahweh designed speech to be accomplished in this manner. Speech is accomplished by the exhalation of man's breath.
Throughout the Bible the word for Spirit is always related to the word for breath, air, or wind. In the Old Testament the word is "ruach." The first occurrence is found in the second verse of the Bible.
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit [ruach] of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
This same word is used in the following verses.
All in whose nostrils was the breath [ruach] of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind [ruach] to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged...
When man who has a body of flesh breathes out his exhalation is air. When Yahweh who is Spirit breathes out, His exhalation is Spirit. Even as man's breath is used to form words, so was the exhalation of the Spirit of God used to form Christ, "the living Word."
The angel answered and said to (Mary), "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God."
What Yahweh did in sending His Son to the earth in the form of man was a physical re-enactment of what the Father did in the very beginning of the creation. He breathed out His Spirit and formed the Word, the only begotten, directly generated Son of God. This Son is a perfect expression of the thought, mind, character and being of the Father. All that pertains to the Father was embodied in the Son. Yet, the Son’s body in His original creation was different from the human form He took on when He was born of a virgin woman. The Son of God received a heavenly body. It was a body of great glory and immeasurable power. By the exercise of this body He created all things. We are told that when the time came for the Son of God to be born of a woman in order to redeem mankind, He had to lay aside the glorious form of His first creation.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Yahshua, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
When the time came for the redemption of man to take place, Yahweh prepared a different body for His Son. It was a body like unto our own.
Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,"Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me...”
From the beginning of the creation the Son existed in the form of God. His was a celestial body. He was the heavenly vision of the invisible God. As the Son, Yahshua was granted the wisdom, character, and power of God the Father. By exercise of these attributes, and in subjection to the Father, the Son created all things.
If you are able to receive these things, you can then understand what is meant when the Bible describes Yahshua as “the only begotten of the Father.” In a sense we can say that all things have come forth from the Father. Yet, only one being was the direct generation, the monogenes, of the Father. This is the Son, the firstborn, the preeminent One of all creation.
Adam came forth from God, but he is not a direct generation of the Father. He was formed by the Son through whom all things both visible and invisible were made. The angels came forth from God, but neither were they directly generated by the Father. It was the Son who created principalities and powers, thrones and dominions. All things were created by Him and for Him.
It has been granted to mankind to become sons of God, yet there will only ever be one who is the only begotten Son of the Father. He issued forth at the very beginning of the creation. He is before all things, and through Him all things consist and hold together. Glory and honor belong to the Son of God!
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