Only begotten

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by agedman, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. agedman

    agedman
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    Being that the Christmas season is rushing upon us, and as I was perusing through a thread in which the bible version issue came up, I got to thinking about the translation of a single verse.

    John 3:16

    To me the word "begotten" is extremely important, for it established that God's Word worked in the body of Mary to produce the embodiment of itself in the flesh as Jesus Christ is the only son naturally (or through natural human process) born of God.

    Therefore all believers must be "joint heirs" by adoption having been specifically chosen by God, not by man to such an estate.

    Now, the NIV leaves this out by stating that the relationship was that of "one and only Son." This seems to negate the heir ship of the believer. In fact "one and only" might be considered a term to prevent the belief in the any consideration that one might be a very heir by adoption. For if God has only one son, then all believers would be amiss calling God - Papa.

    The question I am asking, does the NIV usage present a real problem with Scriptures on the adoption of the believer as I am pondering, or is it all much ado about nothing and the term "one and only" interchangeable with and understood by the modern believer as "only begotten."
     
  2. jbh28

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    One and only...only....all refer to unique.

    There Greek word is monogenēs. It has the meaning of unique and in relation to a parent child relationship. the mono is the unique part, genes is the begotten part. We see this in the NASB and the KJV. With the ESV and NIV, we see "only Son" and "one and only Son." Having "Son" there shows that it's referring to the parent child relationship, and the only is the unique.
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    No, the NIV doesn't present a problem in the read. The word doesn't necessarily mean "begotten" though it isn't outside a reasonable translation. The word, μονογενῆ really means "one and only one" so the NIV is actually closer to the original meaning than the pedantic rendering the KJV.

    The problem certainly isn't lexical.

    Please note the translator's note from the NET Bible on this word (the NET uses "one and only Son"):
    Although this word is often translated “only begotten,” such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham’s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means “one-of-a-kind” and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (τέκνα θεοῦ, tekna qeou), Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).
     
  4. agedman

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    I understand that, and agree.

    However, I suppose I am questioning the word choice by the NIV. Seems that they could have made it much stronger using a word such as unique - or "one of a kind."

    The passage would read, "gave His only unique (or one of a kind) Son..."

    Using the stronger terms seem to have the same emphasis on the heir ship of the believers as the KJV has. An unskilled believer might not catch the unique place they hold as joint heir ship that perhaps wouldn't be misunderstood had the wording been stronger.
     
  5. agedman

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    I almost forgot.

    Yes, the Greek translation of monogenes really does mean single natural born as opposed to any adopted.

    So, the unique one and only naturally born son is perhaps the best. :)

    Any other suggestions?
     
  6. preachinjesus

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    I think the NIV is actually consistent with its translation philosophy here.

    Besides, I think you're attempting to impute the "heirship of believers" into the text where it doesn't accept it. The force of the context isn't about believers, it is about Christ and His mission.

    Your translation, while communicating your theological idea of the text, also doesn't flow well with the Greek. "One and only" is just fine. You might could say, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son..." - "only unique" seems repeatedly repetitious.
     
  7. Amy.G

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    The problem I have with "only son" is that God has many sons. Begotten means that Jesus is directly related to and came from God, not from the union of man and woman.
     
  8. agedman

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    Then why not use the word unique or natural born Son.

    Let me suggest the heir ship question is problematic. Not long ago I had a visit with a person who claimed that because He was the son of God, just as much as Christ, that he had authority to forgive sins and pray one out of hell. You can tell he was a Romanistic thinker.

    When I pointed out to him that the relationship Christ has to the Father is not the same as any adopted heir has, this person was indignant.

    The words "one and only" leave out joint heir relationship possibilities, but the words unique, or natural born do not. Perhaps the translation would be better "only natural born"
     
  9. agedman

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    I agree, Amy.G

    That is in part the problem I am presenting with the NIV translation of this single verse. It isn't that it is incorrect, but that it may lead to erroneous thinking of the relationship of Christ to the Father and our own ability to call God, "Our Papa."
     
  10. Aaron

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    Christ's title as the only begotten of the Father is not about the Virgin Birth any more than His title as Son. The Son has never been the Father or the Spirit. He has been, is and always will be the eternal Son of God, the only begotten of the Father.

    The title concerns His deity, not His humanity.
     
  11. The Archangel

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    There are a few misconceptions about "only begotten" that are being shared and understood here.

    As has been said the Greek word is μονογενής. There are two components to this word: the prefix μονο and the root word. The root word was understood the by the translators of the King James Bible to be γεννάω, the verb "born." So they applied "mono," meaning only, to "born" and got only begotten.

    It is my contention that many of the subsequent translators were reluctant to change this verse--because it is so beloved.

    But, more modern research has shed light on the root word in μονογενής. The root is not, as was supposed, γεννάω. Rather, the root is γενός, meaning family, class, or kind. (As an aside, this is the word from which we get "genus" in biological classification...as in Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.)

    So, it is best to understand the translation of μονογενής to be "only one of His kind."

    Now, as was stated earlier, we do see μονογενής used to describe only children in the LXX. However, when we see the usage in the New Testament, we must be very wary about saying it means "only begotten."

    Why?

    Well, when we read Hebrews 11:17 we see Isaac described as Abraham's "only son," his μονογενής. The problem is that Isaac was most certainly not Abraham's only son. Abraham fathered Ishmael before he fathered Isaac.

    So, in the Hebrews passage, it must be understood that μονογενής means "unique." Another way of translating it, however, is that Isaac was the son of the promise just as Christ is the son of the promise.

    The word μονογενής in John 3:16, more precicely, means "unique," "only one of His kind," or "Son of the promise."

    The Archangel
     
  12. jbh28

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    thanks for that info.
     
  13. freeatlast

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    The NIV is a liberal rendering and it is always a problem.
     
  14. TCassidy

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    How do you explain the wording of the Nicene Creed where it says " . . . begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, . . . " (Πιστεύω εἰς ἕνα Θεόν, Πατέρα, Παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων. Καὶ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων·) That creed was originally in Greek and was then translated into Latin. The various forms of the creed, Nicea in 325, Constantinople, 381, seem to agree with the "begotten" understanding.

    By the way, I agree that the meaning of the word is "one of a kind" (monogenas - one genus and parallels the created "kind" of Genesis 1) but have trouble reconciling that with the wording of the Nicene Creed. :)
     
  15. percho

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    YLT 1 John 5:1 Every one who is believing that Jesus is the Christ, of God he hath been begotten, and every one who is loving Him who did beget, doth love also him who is begotten of Him:

    We are begotten children of God. What makes us so and how did we come about being so? Not of woman, are we? Do we have as children of God a mother?

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
    monogenēs = one of a kind begotten
    Matt 1:20 fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived (begotten) in her is of the Holy Spirit.

    1 Cor. 11:8,9 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

    11,12 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman [is] of the man, even so [is] the man also by the woman; but all things of God

    Now Jesus is of God by the woman, the man child and the only so begotten of God.

    Jesus is the only begotten of God by woman, whereas we are begotten of God in a different manner.
     
  16. The Archangel

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    Without delving too far...I think we have to remember that monogenes can mean "only child." I still think, however, that it seems that the emphasis is on his uniqueness, not his begotten-ness.

    Of course, the "only-begotten" text is found in the the 381 text and the 325 text is different. I don't know which version is posted in Greek on Wikipedia. It looks like it's the 381 text (because monogenes is in the text). But, without comparing the 325 Greek text to the 381 Greek text, I can't be certain.

    Still, it would appear the major thrust of the creed, in either version, is to emphasize His eternality, which makes sense since the Nicene Creed helped to codify doctrine against the Arians (who claimed there was a time when Jesus was not).

    In this sense the "begotten" might harken back to John 3:16 in order to show that Christ is of the same essence as the Father. As such, "begotten" stands reinforced by "not made."

    So, again, I think the scope of the Creed is, perhaps, different than arguing for one the understanding of "only one born" or "one of a kind."

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  17. Iconoclast

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    Well, when we read Hebrews 11:17 we see Isaac described as Abraham's "only son," his μονογενής. The problem is that Isaac was most certainly not Abraham's only son. Abraham fathered Ishmael before he fathered Isaac.

    So, in the Hebrews passage, it must be understood that μονογενής means "unique." Another way of translating it, however, is that Isaac was the son of the promise just as Christ is the son of the promise.

    The word μονογενής in John 3:16, more precicely, means "unique," "only one of His kind," or "Son of the promise."

    The Archangel


    I have been working on an idea for a few years now...that i think ties in here.
    The uniqueness could be explained by the idea of Jesus as the true covenant Son...that was in type Israel.....in the first Exodus...
    The Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of what Moses and Israel typified.

    Jesus is the unique and true Covenant Son.....and us In Him as the Holy nation, His body the church.....

    All of the Servant song passages in Isaiah.....speak of this..particularily..Isa 49:1-8

     
  18. convicted1

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    BINGO!!! :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:

    You must be a carpenter Sissy, because you keep hittin' these verses on the head of the nail.
     
  19. convicted1

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    Agreed!! :thumbs:

    You know, eventhough we lock horns once in a while, I find that we agree on quite a few things.....which is always a good thing. :thumbs:





    Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth, fulfilled all the prophecies concerning Himself in the OT scriptures. He is the only One who came directly from God, and not by the union of sperm-egg.
     
  20. agedman

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    So,

    We then should see the verse translated with the words:

    "gave his one, only, covenant, unique, begotten natural born son"

    Anymore ideas that would show that the NIV might need to be strengthen on this verse?
     

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