AND HE SHALL BE CALLED Only Begotten Son
by Lynda Schultz
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Number 3 in a mini-series on the names of Christ
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” —John 3:16 (KJV)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16 (NIV)
THINK ABOUT IT
It isn’t a new idea, given that there is actually nothing new under the sun, but it is popular these days to look for the ‘god’ inside us. The implication is that we are our own gods and that we simply have to discover the power that is already ours. This New Age philosophy appeals to a self-centered, egotistical world.
In a sense this belief is a deviation from a central truth of the scriptures. John 1:12 refers to the believer as a child of God — “yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave them the right to become children of God”. Then we have passages like the one in Romans: “you received the spirit of sonship...we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (8:15, 16). Some religious groups considered to be ‘mainline’ teach that we are sons in the same sense that Christ is a son of God. It is not a far leap then for the New Agers to move from sonship to godship — why not?
It is critical therefore to understand the expression, “only begotton Son” that we find in John 3 and in other parts of the Scripture.
Walvoord and Zuck in their commentary explain why the New International Version translates the expression from “only begotten” to “one and only”. They write: “God’s love was expressed in the giving of His most priceless gift—His unique Son (cf. Rom. 8:3, 32). The Greek word translated one and only, referring to the Son, is monogene, which means ‘only begotten’ or ‘only born-one’. It is also used in John 1:14, 18; 3:18; and I John 4:9”.1
The idea of course, is that this Son was the only born-One of God.
Read Ephesians 1:5. If Jesus is the ONLY born-son of God, what are we?
The picture is even more impressive in Galatians 4:4-7. Fill in the blanks:
“but when the time had fully come, God sent ________ Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might __________ the ______________
_________________. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of ________ Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba’, Father. So you are _________________, but a son; and since you are a son, God has _____________________”.
Jesus the “only born-one” of the Father is unique. We will never become Him, though we are called on to be like Him (Romans 8:29). The great theologican Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote: “It is also true that God the Father is the father of all who believe, but this relationship begins in time whereas His relationship to the Son has been from all eternity. Though difficult to understand, the Scriptures are clear that Jesus Christ was always the Son of the Father and that He did not become a Son by divine choice, by His incarnation, baptism, death or resurrection. Jesus Christ is not a Son merely by title nor does He have a temporary relationship in connection with His part in the program of redemption...it is intrinsic in His person. If the Father is eternally the Father, then Christ must be eternally the Son.”2
We become sons of God at a particular time in history, the moment we accept Christ as our Saviour. He always was THE Son. We are adopted into the family. Christ IS the family.
PRAY ABOUT IT
Father, I thank you for giving your Son up so that I could become a member of your family through faith in Him. Lord Jesus, I thank you for being willing to give up heaven and all the rights and privileges of the Son of the house, to be born of Mary, to become a man, to identify with us, and to offer yourself in my place on the cross. Thank you for allowing me to share, even on the smallest scale, relationship with your Father. I praise you and I thank you for that privilege. Amen.
ACT ON IT
To be a son of a family is a wonderful privilege. But what is special about being an adopted son, a chosen child?
In some families, an adopted child is looked upon by the other siblings as a usurper and treated badly because of it. Only in God’s family can it be said that the Son of the house gave His life so that others could be adopted into the family. For some the experience of being adopted is not pleasant and can leave deep emotional scars. What other differences are there between the human adoptive family and belonging to the family of God with Him as your Father?
What is now yours as a child, a son, of the family of God?
As an adopted child with all the rights of inheritance of the Son of house, how can you express your gratitude to your Father?
1. The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament edition, John F. Walvoord 7 Roy B. Zuck, SP Publications, 1983, pg. 282.
2. Systematic Theology, Volume One, Abridged Ed., Lewis Sperry Chafer, SP Publications, 1988, pg. 197
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