One God, One
The Bible picture of God. The loving Father. The obedient Son. One in Spirit.
The Only Begotten Son
Many texts describe the Son's begetting from the Father
|The Word became flesh…the only begotten of/from the Father. (para: from, beside)
|You are my Son, this day I have begotten thee (Ps 2:7; Acts 13:33)
The only begotten
Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him. (KJV)
|God gave his only begotten Son. Heb 7:3 having neither beginning of days or end of life
|Having yet one son, His well-beloved, He sent Him also…This is the heir.
|Whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God guards himself
|God has sent His only begotten Son into the world Heb 10:5-7, Ps 40:6-8 preparation
The Greek word for "only begotten" is monogenes.
(monos=one, only; genes=genus, species, race, family, offspring, kind)
hence "one and only species" "one and only offspring" "one and only kind" "an only child"
This word only occurs
9 times in the NT; 5 times in the books of John it pertain to Jesus.
Every usage by John is in reference to Christ's Sonship: He is of the same genus as the Father.
He has the same divine nature. This was the argument made to counter Arianism.
Jerome (c.347-420) translated it to Latin unigenitum "only begotten" (generation, genealogy)
|The other 4 occurrences are:
|The widow of Nain's "only son"
|Jairus' "one only" daughter
|The father brought "mine only child" to be healed by Jesus after the Transfiguration
These three define monogenes as a parent's "only child". So does the fourth text:
Heb 11:17___Abraham was ready to sacrifice Isaac, his only begotten child
But Abraham also begot Ishmael;
Isaac wasn't his "only" child in a technical sense.
Yet, God did not consider Ishmael a legitimate child of Abraham.
Isaac was the "only begotten" child of Abraham and Sarah.
Unique, special, a miracle baby? yes, but also literally begotten from Abraham.
Gen 22:2___Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest…
monogenes is translated
"only begotten" by
KJV, Revised, American Standard, Douai-Rheims, Geneva, and Wycliffe Bible versions.
"For God louede so the world that He gaf His oon bigetun sone"
monogenes is translated
"only" "one and only" "unique" by
NIV, RSV, Good News, International Standard, Jerusalem, Living Bible, Message,
New American, New English, and Tyndale Bible versions as "His only son"
Heb 1:4____[Christ] being made so much better than the angels
Jesus is the only Being
ever begotten from God; and uniquely human-divine in nature.
Heb 1 addresses Christ in His divine nature; Heb 2: Christ in His human nature.
Phil 2:5-7 starts with Christ in His divine form, then Christ in His human form.
|He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest…the Son of God
|Jesus said, I am the Son of God
|A voice came out of the cloud saying, "This is my beloved Son"
|Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"
|Devils said, "You are Christ the Son of God."
written that you might believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
judged "because he has not believed
on the name of the only begotten Son of God"
he that overcomes the world,
but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Our victory over sin is directly linked to our acceptance that Jesus is the Son of God
the Son really begotten?
If not, he was either created (the Arian doctrine still held by Jehovah Witnesses)
or assigned the title of Son, a figurative, symbolic metaphor applied to one of the Godhead.
Both alternatives impoverish
the Father-Son relationship; both are sons in name only.
Creating a son is a poor substitute for the real thing; a created son is neither divine nor begotten.
The Arian alternative leaves the Son of God simply a divine Pinocchio.
A truly divine deity who plays make-believe Son likewise falls far short
of the intense personal ties held by a real Son and a real Father.
Arians cling to a created son in order to preserve the scriptural demands of monotheism: only one God.
Trinitarians sacrifice a real son in order to insure a co-eternal Godhead.
And belief in a co-equal Trinity forces the Godhead into simply assigning roles and responsibilities.
Some accept this position as was presented during the 1996 Week of Prayer:
"A plan of salvation was encompassed in the covenant made by the Three Persons of the Godhead, who possessed the attributes of Deity equally. In order to eradicate sin and rebellion from the universe and to restore harmony and peace, one of the divine Beings accepted, and entered into the role of the Father, another the role of the Son. The remaining divine Being, the Holy Spirit, was also to participate in effecting the plan of salvation." Gordon Jenson, Adventist Review Week of Prayer readings, Oct. 31, 1996, p. 12.
But the Bible presents much
more than simple role-playing by a group of gods.
Scripture places such an emphasis on a real Son begotten by a real Father,
that if such a charade of artificial play acting is all that really exists,
these terms are nothing more than a cruel hoax.
Num 23:19__But "God is not a man that He should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent."
Jesus had a lot to say about His Father and His relationship with Him.
|The Son comes from the Father
|He which is of (from) God, he has seen the Father.
|[Christ] is from [the Father]. (This could apply to the incarnation)
|[Christ] proceeded forth and came from God…he sent me. (So could this)
|[Christ] came out from God. (This is more explicit. But could still be either)
|surely [Christ] came out from [the Father]
|[Christ] came forth from the Father and came into the world [incarnation]
this, His disciples said,
"Lo, now you speak plainly, and speak no proverb."
Now Jesus distinguishes between his proceeding forth, coming forth, out from
the Father and coming into the world. A difference is made.
And the disciples acknowledge it.
(Jehovah, God the Father) said unto my Lord (Adonai, His Son),
Sit thou at my right hand…
from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth…
a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
|Jesus quoted this verse
|Peter quoted it at Pentecost
|Paul quoted it to show the relationship between the Son and the Father
has called me from the womb…
he has made my mouth like a sharp sword.
Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
The Lord that formed me from the womb to be His servant…
for a light to the Gentiles That you may be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
This speaks of Christ. He
is His Father's servant, His salvation. The second Adam is also the second Israel.
He comes forth out from the Father, called from the womb of the morning of time.
These references to a womb are in reference to time, certainly not God!
Personifying an abstraction makes this womb very much a methaphor
for when the Son was begotten-- at the birth of the dawn of time.
But it does not explain how. Both births, divine and human, are mysteries of Godliness.
John 15:1___I am the true Vine, and my Father is the gardener (husbandman). We are the branches.
We are branches from the Vine, Jesus. He was planted by, is tended to and nurtured by His Father.
Rom 11:16__If the root be holy, so are the branches
Likewise, if the Root (God
the Father) be divine, so is the Branch (the Son of God)
The Gardener is greater than the Plant; and the Plant is greater than its branches.
But Jesus also came from the Father before His incarnation, before creation..
Prov 8:25___"Before the hills I was brought forth"
"And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: "The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting. . . . When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him." Proverbs 8:22-30." Patriarchs and Prophets p. 34
Though some reject the
application of Proverbs 8 to Christ, Ellen White did not.
It is interesting, however, that she or her editors omitted in the ellipsis verses 24 and 25 "When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth". This remote time "before creation" is exhibited as evidence that God is from everlasting. But Ellen continued to quote Proverbs 8 and apply it to Christ without the ellipses.
|Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Proverbs 8 may be discredited as only a personification of Wisdom, but the Bible indicates that
|Christ [is] the power of God, and the wisdom of God
"made unto us wisdom, and righteousness,
and sanctification, and redemption."
|in [Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Two persons were involved in the creation of the world: a Father and Son.
hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?
Who hath gathered the wind in his fists?
Who hath bound the waters in a garment?
Who hath established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?
Christ was the Son of God before He came to Earth
glorify me with your own self
with the glory which I had with you before the world was
Christ, the Stone, comes from the Eternal, from the Divine Quarry of God Himself.
|He is the "Stone cut out of the mountain without hands"
|He is the divine Word, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
of this stone is the mountain of God,
mount Horeb where Moses first met Christ
|In the mountain of His holiness, Mount Zion, the sides of the north.
|We, also, are come unto mount Sion…and to God the judge of all.
|Jesus Christ of Nazareth…is the stone…which is become the head.
|He is the Rock of Ages "cut out" from His Father. (Dan 7)
The Rock has a God, who is the God of the Rock
|Blessed be my Rock; and blessed be the God of the Rock of my salvation.
|The Lord God lays in Zion a tried, precious, sure foundation Stone
|We are built upon the foundation, Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone
So we, too, are born from the Rock. We must be born again "cut out" from Him.
as lively stones, are built up into a spiritual house,
cut from the Living Stone.
|You who seek the LORD: look to the Rock whence you are hewn.
|Of the Rock that begat you…the God who formed you.
petros (Gr. small pebble, sand)
but born from Him, Petra (Gr. the massive Rock)
There exists a hierarchy of cascading relationships.
|For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and bones. Like Eve from Adam.
|God did foreknow and predestinate Him to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren.
|You are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
Christ comes from God; we
come from Christ; woman comes from man.
The Rock is cut out of God; we are lively stones cut out of Christ.
Christ is the image of His Father; we are conformed to the Image of Christ.
Son is the Branch
The Branch is used in Scripture to denote royal descent: Eze 17:6,12; Dan 11:7
Even as Jesus calls His followers "branches" from Him, the Vine, so He is the Branch from His Father.
|I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH [Hebrew: netser; Greek: nazar…Nazarene]
shall grow out of [Jesse's] roots:
and the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him.
|I will cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David Jer 23:5,6
|In that day shall the Branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious
whose name is the BRANCH…shall grow up out of his place…
and he shall build the temple of the LORD…and be a priest upon his throne
(the King of kings) is the true Vine,
we (a royal priesthood) are the branches.
|Lucifer (Satan) the Branch-want-to-be will be "cast out like an abominable branch"
If the Son truly was begotten,
He is a literal Branch of God's own divine substance,
the Rock cut out without hands from the Mountain of God in the sides of the North
to form an express image of the Father, a real Son, just as eternal as the Mountain.
Both an Entitled
Son and a Branch Son can be fully divine in nature, fully God.
But the first, the Entitled Son, is a son in name only, by proclamation, nomination, appointment…
be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son" (2 Sam 7:14)
He was "appointed heir of all things"
The second, the Branch, is a true son, a true Vine, by virtue of His true birthright inheritance.
Heb 1:4___He "obtained a more excellent name by inheritance"
"Who is Christ? He is the only begotten Son of the living God. He is to the Father as a word that expresses the thought-as a thought made audible. Christ is the word of God… Christ was the likeness of God, the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person." Youth Instructor, June 28, 1894
"The Eternal Father, the unchangeable one, gave his only begotten Son, tore from his bosom Him who was made in the express image of his person, and sent him down to earth to reveal how greatly he loved mankind." Review and Herald, July 9, 1895
Heb 1:6 when he brings in the first begotten into the world …let all the angels of God worship him. "The dedication of the first-born had its origin in the earliest times. God had promised to give the First-born of heaven to save the sinner." EGW, Desire of Ages p. 51
was the Son begotten?
There are several possibilities:
1. "Eternally begotten" The mystical Catholic position.
Desiring to retain both a begotten and an eternal Son, they make the begetting an eternal process.
But these are contradictory ideas: Eternal has no beginning; Begotten must have one.
So they teach "the Father eternally brings forth the Son in a continual birth" or emination.
2. Begotten in eternity. "This day" in the infinitely distant past "In the beginning," before creation.
"from the days of everlasting" before the creation of men and angels...
So far back in time, it is actually before time, i.e., within the confines of eternity past.
Somehow God "brought forth" part of Himself to become a Father and beget a Son.
3. At the incarnation, God's Spirit/Word begat the Son of God from divinity into humanity at Bethlehem
This view eliminates a pre-incarnation Son of God: He "shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35)
Before this Christ was the "Word", "the Angel of the Lord" or Michael, the Archangel
4. At the Resurrection. Begotten from mortality into immortality when God "raised up Jesus again" Acts 13:33 He then became "the first begotten of the dead" Rev 1:4
5. He was never really
begotten. This is just an expression to convey an affectionate relationship.
God always existed but at some point decided to form mutualyl assigned relationships for Himself.
Part of God accepted the Father role, another the Son, and yet another the Spirit.
The Father-Son relationship
might be diagrammed for each of these like this:
Son at Bethlehem or Before?
In order to avoid a pre-incarnation begetting and "beginning" for Jesus,
some have solved the problem by not having a Son of God until He is born of Mary in Bethlehem.
also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee
shall be called the Son of God." (not yet called the Son of God)
declare the decree: (in the future, not yet)
the Lord hath said unto my Lord, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee."
bringeth in the first begotten into the world,
He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him." (they didn't before this)
Ellen White comments on this "dangerous error" in Great Controversy, 1888 p. 524:
"Another dangerous error, is the doctrine that denies the divinity of Christ, claiming that he had no existence before his advent to this world...it directly contradicts the plainest statements of our Saviour concerning his relationship with the Father, his divine character, and his pre-existence." "Before Christ came in the likeness of men, he existed in the express image of his Father." (reprinted in Youth's Instructor, December 20, 1900)
But this is not a case of
"either or". Scripture states that the Son of God was begotten
1. Before the foundation of the world when He came out of and proceeded forth from God
2. As the babe in Bethlehem when the Word became flesh, and
3. From the tomb when God raised Him up, resurrecting Him from the dead.
Christ was already
God's begotten Son when He was given and sent to this world.
God had a Son to give.
|For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son
|Herein is love…that He (God) loved us, and sent His Son
John 3:6____That which is born of flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Jesus told Nicodemus that a man must be born again; we must have two births.
John 3:5____Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God
Scripture speaks of two
births for man and the Word.
There is both a spiritual and physical aspect to these births.
First, when we enter this world, we are physically born of the flesh (mortal),
then, at the resurrection, we will be physically born of the Spirit (mortal shall put on immortality).
Next, when we accept Christ as Saviour, we are spiritually born into the body of Christ.
Then, at baptism, we die to self and are raised to newness of life, spiritually born of Christ's Spirit.
As we are born twice, the Word was born twice, but in reverse order from us.
Jesus was first physically born of the Spirit, then born of the flesh "made of a woman" (Gal 4:4)
Since our parents are flesh
we are naturally born of flesh and we are flesh.
"that which is born of flesh is flesh"
We walk after the flesh, in captivity to the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:1,2; 7:23)
But since the Father
is Spirit (John 4:24) Christ was naturally born of the Spirit. Consequently,
He is spirit.
And Jesus, who was born of God, knew no sin. (2Cor 5:21)
|Whosever is born of God does not commit sin
|For this purpose the Son of God was manifested
Then, Jesus, who knew no
sin, was born again, "born of a woman" (Gal 4:4) "made flesh" (John
that He might "condemn sin in the flesh" (Rom 8:3) and "destroy the works of the devil" (1Jn 3:8)
Thus, He was first born of the Spirit (as the Son of God), then of the flesh (as the Son of man).
This double birth picture of Christ was commonly believed and published in the 1890s.
"As Christ was twice born,--once in eternity, the only begotten of the Father, and again here in the flesh, thus uniting the divine with the human in the second birth." W.W. Prescott RH April 14, 1896, Pg 232.
"He was born of the Holy Ghost. In other word, Jesus Christ was born again. He came from heaven, God's first-born, to the earth, and was born again." A.T. Jones Lessons on Faith, Aug. 1, 1899, Pg. 154.
"In His humanity He was a partaker of the divine nature. In His incarnation He gained in a new sense the title of the Son of God. Said the angel to Mary, '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 God' (Luke 1:35). While the Son of a human being, He became the Son of God in a new sense. Thus He stood in our world--the Son of God, yet allied by birth to the human race." EGW, 1SM 226, 227
Son is Born not Created
A creature is created by a creator from different materials and qualities than those of the creator.
A sculptor creates a piece of art out of clay or marble or bronze, not out of human flesh.
A son is born from a parent
and has the same material, the same substance and qualities as the parent.
A human father has human descendents; the divine Father has a divine Son.
The testimony of the Bible is that Jesus was born not created.
He was begotten, He was born of God His Father.
But if He was born, He had a "beginning." How could He then be God?
First of all, as we have already noted, only one Being in the universe is the Supreme God of heaven.
|There is none other God but one…there is but one God, the Father
|Thee [Father] The only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent
one God, and one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus
|The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
But Jesus is the Son of
God; He has the same divine nature as His Father.
He has within him the fullness of the Godhead because he came out of God his Father.
His God nature is no less divine than that of his Father,
as a rock is the same substance as the mountain.
Let's look at John 1:1 again.
John 1:1,2__In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
The italicized "the" shown
here before the word "beginning" indicates it is a supplied word.
The KJV doesn't italicize it. But in the Greek there is no definite article:
Greek: En arche .......en ..ho logos
In beginning was the Word
Therefore, John is not speaking
of a particular beginning, but a quality of original circumstances,
not a specific time, but some time before anything else or relative to everything else.
Also notice that in the Greek there is a definite "the" before the first occurrence of "God":
Greek kai ho logos hen pros ton theon,
and the Word was with the God
There were two beings at
the beginning: "the" Word and "the" God.
The Word was "the eternal life" that later was made manifest, and incarnated in human flesh.
1Jn 1:2___The eternal life that was with the Father was made manifest to us.
The God that the Word was
with is the Father.
But in the next phrase there is no definite article before "God."
Greek kai theos hen ho logos.
and God was the Word
Some attempt to capitolize
on this to make this "theos" somehow less than the "ton theon".
But the Greek language uses such a construction to indicate not identity but quality.
The wording indicates that here "God" is a quality, "Godness", "divinity", God's nature.
Both the Logos Word and the Theon God have the same divine nature, theos;
theos was the Word, and obviously, so was God
The difference between
identity and quality can be illustrated by the situation with
Adam and Eve:
In the beginning was the woman, and the woman was with the man, and the woman was man.
Eve was with Adam, but she wasn't Adam, she was human.
So, while Jesus is not ton theon, God the Father, He is theos, the divine Son of God the Father.
Jesus used the same Greek word order without a definite article when referring to Judas.
John 6:70___ Jesus said, "One of you is a devil". The Greek syntax: "devil is one of you"
Jesus wasn't saying that
Judas was Satan (if so He would have said "One of you is the devil")
Nor was He saying that Judas was a devil (if so He would have said "One of you is devil")
But Jesus used the same construction here that John does in chapter 1 (and God was the Word)
"Devil is one of you" expresses the idea that Judas was exhibiting the same qualities of the devil himself.
|Thus John 1:1 is translated as such in several versions:
|"what God was, the Word was"
|"the Word was the same as God"
|"the Word was divine"
|"the Logos was divine"
And if Christ was begotten
by, born of, brought forth from God,
He is just as divine, has just as much theos Godness as His Father.
This qualifies Him to have the same nature as God, to receive the same honor and worship.
|God said, Let all the angels of God worship Him. (Septuagint of Deut. 32:43)
|They worshiped Him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God
|That all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
|John's conclusion was "that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God"
We, too, are children of God, sons and daughters of God.
Our inheritance is in Christ; Jesus' inheritance is in His Father.
We will be like Christ, as Christ is like His Father. 1John 3:2
We will sit with Jesus in His throne, as Jesus sits with His Father in His throne. Rev 3:21
Just because the Son of God might not be as old as God the Father, does not make Him any less divine.
Likewise, a human son is no less human than his father just because he is younger.
6th century Greek hymnographer, Romanos the Melodist, wrote a song commemorating the nativity:
"He who was born before dawn, from Father without mother,
today without father, has been made flesh from you"
"The Son of God shared the Father's throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both …Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will. The Son of God had wrought the Father's will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due." Patriarchs and Prophets p. 36
But maybe the Son can
be considered just as old as the Father.
In the Bible, a begotten or born son can even be considered to have existed before his birth!
Heb 7:9,10___Levi paid tithes in Abraham for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him
Levi is given credit for
paying tithe even though he was not yet born!
What was Levi's beginning? Before his great grandfather had begotten his grandfather!
believe that Jesus was created from nothing and had a beginning.
Trinitarians believe that Jesus was neither created nor literally born as an event in time
But the Bible teaches that the Son of God was begotten of His Father and, as such, is also eternal.
|"from everlasting", from the "days of eternity".
|He is the true Witness, the Chief (arche, i.e. first, top) of the creation of God
The KJV says "beginning
of the creation of God." This is misleading.
Arche is not first in time sequence, but first in rank and status.as in Archangel, Archbishop, Archenemy.
We use the term "First Lady" to indicate the highest ranking woman in the land;
not that the President's wife was the first woman to come to America.
Jesus was not created; He was begotten, born of God, cut out without hands.
Because He is the only Son begotten from God, He is not only first in rank but also first ever.
"…not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person…" EGW, Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895
Continued: The Eternal Son