The Deity of Christ
Part 3: The Only-Begotten Son
by Bill Wong
Begotten means Begotten
The Bible tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ is deity. God sent His only-begotten son into the world to save us from our sins that we may have eternal life:
16 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.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (NKJV)
1 John 4:
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Many who believe the Lord Jesus is deity do not account for what it means to be an only-begotten son. Most Christians say He is co-equal and co-eternal with His father God in a Trinity (1 God in 3 persons).
The Trinity doctrine states Jesus is “eternally begotten” (like eternally generated from God or some other way), and does not want to admit that being born is what begotten means, but if we look at its own words, the evidence is there:
“The Father is made by none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father, not made, nor created, but begotten.”
It says that neither is made nor created which is true. Then it says that the Father is not begotten while the Son is begotten which is also true. However, everyone knows in plain language, logic and fact that a father begets his son – the son comes forth from the “loins” of his father and the father comes before and is greater than his son. God is unbegotten, but His son is begotten by Him. God is the begetter and the Son of God is the begotten. If words are to have meaning, than since the father is the begetter and the son is the begotten, the father and son cannot be equal.
This is why the Nicene debate between Arians saying Jesus was created and not God/divine (which Jehovah’s Witnesses believe) versus a Trinity doctrine is a useless and “fixed” debate with both sides being false. Jesus is not created, because He was born of the Father.
Creation is ‘ex nihilo’ – from nothing (God saying “Be!” and it came to be) where the substance and even nature of the begetter does not pass down to the one who is created. But being begotten is different. Jesus is begotten from the very bosom of the Father and so the nature of God is passed down to Him, and He does have the nature of the begetter and is hence deity as the only-begotten Son of God. This is why He exactly represents God’s character and is in the form of God. The Word of God came forth from the very being of God Himself, but nevertheless had a beginning from His father – God is the source of life for His son. As God is eternal and exists in eternity, the father and son abide in eternity and in heaven.
The Arian/Jehovah's Witnesses' view is wrong when they say Jesus is not deity, but merely a created being, but most Christianity is also wrong when it ignores Biblical truth to say the Lord Jesus is “eternally begotten” as one in a triune godhead or in some other way the equal of His father which all contradict the Bible truth. These two views have completely clouded and hidden the truth.
In truth, if we use the term “eternally begotten” to mean co-equal with His father, then should we not just say that the Lord Jesus is unbegotten like His father? Doesn’t this co-equality really mean that they should be brothers or twins according to the Trinity doctrine?
Instead, the Trinity doctrine denies the true meaning of begetting a son and completely ignores what the Bible says about what makes the father and son different: one is the father and the other is the son – one begets the other. The Trinity doctrine opposes the fact that God is a God of order, not confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
The fact that Jesus is begotten means He is literally God’s son (as the Bible says) and owes His life to His father (as the Bible says) and is therefore able to die (as the Bible says).
However, a Trinity doctrine does not use the true definitions of the words ‘son’ and ‘begotten’ as they should. The Trinity doctrine wants everyone to believe that son is just a position and not actual familial descent. However, these two words go together. The fact that the Bible uses the term only-begotten along with son tells us that position is not in view at all, but actual begettal. The term only-begotten is used in the Bible to describe an only child.
The Bible tells us very directly how Jesus is deity – how Jesus is God. He is the Son of God. He is begotten by God as His only child. Jesus is God, because He is the only-begotten Son of God.
To be begotten means to be born. To be the only-begotten son is to be the only born (son, in this case). The begetter is always greater than the one who is begotten by him.
The meaning of the Lord Jesus’ death
The Bible states that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God in heaven who was sent into the world to reveal His father to us and also save us from our sins by humbling Himself to suffer and die for us as an atonement sacrifice.
Among believers of Christ who believe He is deity, there is confusion about how He is only-begotten. This is because two of the most important things in the Bible are not taken into account:
1) What it really means that the Lord Jesus was able to die and did die.
2) The monotheism of God is avoided, not seriously considered or not adhered to.
These believers generally fall into two groups:
A. The Trinity doctrine still states as truth that the Lord is the eternally begotten Son of God (or some other way) and is the complete equal of His father. The term “eternally begotten” is an oxymoron and it is only used to make the Son of God equal to His father in a Trinitarian roundabout way despite all the Biblical evidence to the contrary. It totally ignores the fact that if the Lord Jesus can die and His father cannot, then there is no possible way they can be equal (see article ‘Bible tells us Father alone is Immortal’ and section about the ‘Nature of God: Jesus is Deity but NOT in a Trinity doctrine’). The Trinity doctrine does not adhere to the Biblical monotheism of there being one God only, but instead makes God into three persons.
B. Of those who believe the Lord Jesus is deity, but not in a Trinity, most say there are only two persons – Father and Son, where some say the father is greater than His son (which is correct) while others say they are equal (making this Binitarian view similar to the Trinitarian and is also not correct). For the Binitarian view that believes the father is greater than the son, it does not explain why within the context of there being only one God, and makes it look like (and some even believe) there are two Gods. It does not address the nature of Christ or what only-begotten means in the context of the Biblical truth of the Lord Jesus being able to, and actually dying. For this doctrine, His being only-begotten is usually separated from His divinity and what it means to actually be able to die is never factored in. It does not adequately address the meaning of Biblical monotheism that there is only one God (the Shema – Deuteronomy 6:4, where YHWH is the 4-letter Hebrew name of God often translated Yahweh: ‘YHWH our God is one YHWH’ / ‘YHWH is our God, YHWH is one’). In fact, many who hold a Binitarian view actually believe that Jesus is also YHWH which is contrary to the Shema and what the Bible says.
Please see the section ‘Nature of God: the Shema’.
However, the Bible says what it means and means what it says when it speaks of the only-begotten Son of God.
To be begotten means to have a source for your life – a begetter. The Lord Jesus Himself states this:
26"For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; (NASB)
57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (NKJV)
This means there must have been a point of begetting – giving life, in the days of eternity. The Lord Jesus’ words tell us that He was not "eternally generated", but there was indeed a begetting in eternity. He was given life and He can only live because of His father. This is supported by the fact that the Lord Jesus can and did die, but only God, Jesus' father, cannot die:
1 Timothy 1:
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (AKJV)
1 Timothy 6:
16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see,
to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. (NKJV)
This statement of God’s immortality is immediately preceded by the statement “…God who gives life to all things…” in 1 Timothy 6:13. That His father is the one who alone has the power to resurrect Him also supports the Bible truth that His father gives life to all things including His son (see article: ‘Jesus does not raise Himself’).
If one can have an end and die, then one must have a beginning and His life came from another. This is the Bible declaration of truth. There is a begetter who gives life and has an only-begotten, who is the one given life.
However, let us be perfectly clear: when we say beginning, we are not talking about our concept of time, because God and His son exist outside of time. We are talking about one having a source for His life – His father. This is the begotten one’s “start” in eternity. Since God is eternal, then what comes forth from Him would be eternal. Since God is divine/deity, then what comes forth from Him is also divine/deity. However, since God is the source of life, the one He begets can never be greater.
We must also use logic. This is the same logic that is true and believers use to explain that God created the universe: the fact that the universe is expanding and will eventually perish in “heat death” (the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) is evidence that it must have had a beginning and the beginner is the Almighty God. Since the Lord Jesus was able to die – have an “end”, then likewise He must have had a beginning, but in eternity and from an eternal being.
It is very important to note that scientists attest to the fact that the universe and time came into existence together at some point. This means that though they may not admit it, this gives evidence that something existed “before” or “outside” of our concept of time and space. We know God exists and He is the creator who abides in eternity, outside of what we know as time and space – both our heavenly father and His son, the Lord Jesus, abide here.
If we hold to logic, then the truth that the Lord Jesus died means He had a beginning. This beginning is that He was only-begotten by God, as the Bible says, and this happened outside of time as we know it in eternity, because God and the Lord Jesus exist in eternity.
Similar to how John 1 tells us that though Jesus is God (deity), but yet He is not deity in the same way as His father, who is ‘the’ God, we have the same situation in regards to eternality. The Lord Jesus is eternal, but His eternality is not the same as His father’s and the reason for this would be directly related to the reason why only the father is called ‘the’ God, why the Lord Jesus calls His father the only true God (John 17:3) and His God (John 20:17; Revelation 3:12), and why Jesus was able to die for our sins. Also see article: ‘Part 1. Jesus is Deity’.
And just like we do not know how the Lord Jesus multiplied the fish and bread on two occasions to feed thousands, but we know it happened based on God’s Word – we may not know how things come about in the eternal realm, but we know it did because God said it did.
What God says is this: He has an only-begotten son and though God cannot die, His son can die. This means His son’s life has a source and that is God.
The simple fact of the matter is this:
If the Lord is “eternally begotten” or in another way the complete equal of His father, then the Lord Jesus should not be able to die. However, since He was able to die, this means He is not His father’s equal. It also indicates the Lord Jesus has a source of life and a beginning (His father, God) which means He was begotten in the days of eternity, beyond time.
This truth cannot be avoided. To say it is anything else will be to distort and make a mockery of the Bible’s words and what it says, the meanings of words, logic and sense.
To say they are equal in all ways and ignore the truth of what the Lord Jesus being able to die means, is to make a liar out of God, the Father, who says He alone cannot die. Of course, everything makes sense when we listen to the words of the Bible: the Lord Jesus was begotten by His father and hence has a beginning from His father in eternity and therefore can also die.
Monogenes (Strong’s #3439); from 3441 and 1096; only-born, i.e. sole: - only, only begotten, only child
In every case the word ‘monogenes’ is used, it is used to describe a parent-child relationship.
Many modern Bible translations do not translate it as “only-begotten”, but instead translate it as “unique” or “one of a kind” – “one and only”. But this does not indicate or describe any parent-child relationship. If one were to say “my only-begotten” without any specification of son or daughter, we can see where it would automatically mean an only child. However, if we say “my only-begotten” where it means unique, then what are we saying – this is my “unique” what? This is just simply not applicable. It is my only child, not my unique child. This only detracts from the fact that the Father begat His son – has an only child, which inherently implies the father is greater.
When we talk about children and specifically a son in the case of the Lord Jesus, how could it mean one of a kind? The Bible uses it to mean an only child. It is obvious the Lord Jesus is not one of a kind, because He is begotten by His father who is the same kind! If the Lord Jesus is of a kind, then He is of the God kind. If the Lord Jesus is of a kind, then He is of the child kind. He is the only-born/only-begotten child (son) of God. If the Son of God is “unique” or “one of a kind”, then we should admit that this is because He is the only one begotten by God.
Or even more, if the Son of God is “unique” and “one of a kind”, then why don’t we admit the real reason He is unique? The reason He is unique is not only because He is the only one begotten by God, but also, because He is the only-begotten Son of God, He can die where His father cannot.
Either “only-begotten” or “one and only” do not take away from the Bible truth that He is the only one begotten by God and because of this, can die for the salvation of the creation.
Also, for God to have to tell us that His son is unique is questionable and redundant, and does not tell us anything about His relationship with His son and why He is unique. Of course He is unique. But what is a unique son supposed to mean? It does not make sense, is useless and describes nothing.
Indeed, this is exactly the same thing that happens with Jehovah’s Witnesses when they argue the Bible says Jesus is ‘a’ god and not God/deity (adjective describing His divine nature). Why would God have to tell us Jesus is a mighty one? Especially when even judges and kings are called that? It is redundant at the least and entirely deceptive at most.
Saying it is not only-begotten, but is instead "unique" denies the obvious definition that an only-begotten is an only child. It keeps “safe” the idea of a Trinity by avoiding the troubling issue of one who begets and one who is begotten. For there to be an only child is to mean there is a begetter and the one begotten.
We can also see the meaning of a word from the way it is used in the Bible.
Listed below are the places in the Bible where ‘monogenes’ is used not pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself:
12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother;
and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
42 for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went,
the multitudes thronged Him.
38 Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, "Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up
his only begotten son, (NKJV)
We can see that the word ‘monogenes’ means only-born child. Note: Hebrews 11:17 is referring to Isaac as the legitimate heir of the promises by Abraham’s wedlock to Sarah who has claim to his father’s inheritance.
Indeed, the Bible truth that only son is in view and not “unique” is found in Genesis 22 itself where Abraham is prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. All believers know this is a type of what God will do with His very own son Jesus. Genesis 22 mentions only son 3 times:
2 He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."
12 He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
16 and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, (NASB)
The Bible is clearly not saying that Isaac is Abraham’s unique son, but that Isaac is his only legitimate son and heir. And since we know Isaac is a type of the Lord Jesus, we cannot say that Jesus being called only-begotten means “unique”. To continue to insist it means “unique” is to ignore this type that God uses to reveal the truth of who His son Jesus is and what He has done for the atonement of our sins. God reveals in Genesis 22 His plan of salvation through His only-begotten son who alone is worthy to cleanse us of our sins.
In the verses referring to the Lord Jesus, this would not be any different. God would not have chosen to use the word ‘begotten’ at all if all He wanted was to say “unique”. The Bible means to say that Jesus was God’s only born son, not “unique”:
14 And the Word became 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.
18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
16 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.
18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already,
because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
1 John 4:
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world,
that we might live through Him. (NKJV)
The Lord Jesus is often spoken of as both the son of man and the Son of God, but many never stop to think what being someone’s son – being begotten from or being descended from someone, really means. After all, as the Son of God who became a man to suffer and die for our sins, why do people always say as the son of David He is descended from the line of David, but never consider that as the Son of God He is the descendant of God? This is really what being the only-begotten son means. The Lord Jesus is God’s only child – the Lord Jesus is the descendant of God, His father; the Lord Jesus comes from the line of His father, God, before coming to the earth through the line of David.
As a man He came forth from the line of David, but as deity He came forth from the line of God.
As the son of David – a man, He is descended from David. But, as the son of YHWH, who is God, He is descended from YHWH and hence also God (deity) by lineage.
So when we take all this together, what the Bible tells us is that only-begotten means the Lord Jesus is the only-born child of God – the Father begat a son, an only son; the Lord Jesus is an only child. As the only child of God, He is unique, but that does not take away from the fact that this is because He was begotten.
Kind begets kind; nature to nature. A cat begets a cat; a human being begets a human being; and God begets a son who is also God by nature. The Son of God is of the same kind of being as the Father who begets Him; He is God. And then the only-begotten Son of God took on human flesh to suffer and die for us.
The Lord Jesus was the only-begotten Son of God before He came in the flesh
There are views that believe the Lord Jesus is deity, but yet scoff at the idea that God can have an only-begotten son since heaven in the days of eternity. These views sarcastically ask: Where is His wife? Besides the fact that this ignores the Bible declarations of an only-begotten son in heaven, it also questions the power of God. Is anything impossible for Him to do?
And frankly, how is this scoffing any different than the scoffing of Islam that also asks how can God have an only-begotten son without a wife? Even further, how is this different than Islam again and other religions as well as atheists, who even say the virgin birth is impossible and did not happen? Doesn’t a woman need a man/husband, they mock. And again, with this viewpoint, should we even believe Adam and Eve were created from dust? Don’t they need a father and mother?
Just let the Bible speak for itself and not put up a wall of our own understanding to the truth: just as Adam and Eve did not need a father and mother, and Mary did not need a husband, God has an only-begotten son without the need of a wife.
The Lord Jesus being able to, and then actually die for us, proves that He is only-begotten by God in heaven in eternity. Unfortunately, many people continue to not know or acknowledge what the Lord Jesus’ death truly means, but completely overlook and ignore this crucial truth.
It is because the truth about the Lord Jesus’ being able to die for us is not accounted for, that there exists differing views of what being the only-begotten son means and when He was begotten.
There are also views that state the Lord Jesus did not become the only-begotten son until His virgin birth by Mary. This can only partially be true if we consider that God begat a son through Mary by the power of His spirit. However, this is obviously for His human birth and does not preclude nor can be used to contradict the Bible’s declaration that the Lord Jesus was the only-begotten Son of God before when He was still in heaven, whom God has sent down to us to reveal God to us and to die in our place for our salvation.
Yet other views state that Jesus became the only-begotten Son of God only when He was raised from the dead to claim His kingship through the line of David (like becoming a son during a coronation and therefore, between the virgin birth and His resurrection, He was a son just like you and I). This is cited:
7 I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. (AKJV)
23 Of this man's seed has God according to his promise raised to Israel a Savior, Jesus:
32 And we declare to you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the fathers,
33 God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you. (AKJV)
However, this definition of kingship is used in a figurative sense and avoids the real meaning of what being
begotten is. The figurative does not nullify the Bible’s declaration that God’s only-begotten son was sent from
heaven and died for our sins; instead it strengthens it. In Psalm 2, the Lord Jesus is declaring He is not a son of
the gods or a god as the pagan rulers declare themselves, but He is the divine only-begotten Son of God, from
the days of everlasting as in Micah 5:2, who was born – only-begotten, for the express reason to redeem the
creation and rule as its king:
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
37 Pilate therefore said to him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. (AKJV)
Indeed, it is only because He is the only-begotten son in heaven that He can even qualify to inherit anything including the title of King – and why all things were created by Him as this son. God gave His only-begotten son life for the sole reason that God is love and Jesus will redeem and inherit creation and rule. In other words, Jesus is the only-begotten Son in heaven who came as a man, begotten of a woman to atone for our sins by His sacrificial death, and was raised to eventually rule as the king over all.
The resurrection from the dead is just proof of the Lord Jesus’ claim to be the literal and only-begotten Son of God (not like the sons of God as in angels or men) who created all things and will therefore rightfully inherit it, and has died for our sins as the Messiah and Savior of Israel and the entire world:
4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (AKJV)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by Him 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 through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
that in all things he might have the preeminence. (AKJV)
God’s declaration to His son: “You are my son, this day I have begotten you” did not happen in the days the Word became flesh or afterwards, but in the days of eternity. The Almighty begot a son who inherits His name (Hebrews 1:4-5) and the form of God (Philippians 2:5-6) – a form that allows Him to die for our sins where His immortal father cannot. Hebrews 3:1-6 tells us that Moses is only a servant in the household of God, but the Lord Jesus is greater as the son over the house. Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the Tabernacle which Moses was instructed to build was only a copy of the house of God in heaven. So where Moses is a servant and there is an earthly copy of God’s house, we know that the Lord Jesus is greater: the original – the house of God in heaven, has over it the only-begotten Son of God; the Lord Jesus is already the Son who presides over His father’s house in heaven before He ever came to earth as a man.
Views that believe Jesus is the only-begotten in the days of His flesh and afterwards, fail to realize that the Lord Jesus, first and foremost, comes from the line of His father, God, before coming to the earth through the line of David. It is only in this way He deserves to be heir of all things and can die for our salvation.
These views contradict the Biblical statement that God has an only-begotten son in heaven who was sent into the world and distorts the gospel completely. For if God did not send His only-begotten son who was this son in heaven, than who was it that was sent? This leads to all kinds of conclusions including that there is more than one God which is absolutely against the monotheism of God and the Bible, or that a created being was sent. It also removes the awesome truth of what God is love means (for what great extents does God go to redeem us, and how painful was it for God, to see the son He gave life to endure such suffering and die, and then forsake Him for 3 days?) and there are many other issues. However, it is indeed as the only-begotten son of God that the Lord Jesus died for our sins:
10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (NKJV)
All of the Lord Jesus’ statements concerning His relationship with His father support and can only be understood within the context of being the only-begotten Son of God even before His time on earth as a man. It indicates a continuity of His relationship with His father; He was the only-begotten Son of God both before and after His days in the flesh:
18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (NKJV)
Comment: At what time was the only-begotten Son of God in the bosom of His father? Was it only after His human birth or His resurrection? Or was it in eternity and then He stepped into time and came down to earth as a man to reveal His father to us? He is the only-begotten son in heaven, because it is only in this way that He fully knows His father and then there is a reason for Him to have to leave His father’s side in the first place to come down and declare God to us. The son then does make the decision to leave His father to declare God and fulfill the will of God.
1 John 4:
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world,
that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. (AKJV)
Comment: Some try to explain this away as saying it is talking about Jesus being a son after the fact of His virgin birth or resurrection, but this ignores the direct statement that the Lord Jesus was already this only-begotten son and was sent as this son. It also ignores the fact that sending His only-begotten son to die for our sins only has meaning if the Lord Jesus was already this only-begotten son. Otherwise, are we saying that Jesus died for our sins not as the only-begotten Son of God (only becomes this son after He is raised)? Then what exactly was He when He suffered and died for us? What does this do to the worth of His blood and the gospel?
19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. (NKJV)
37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (NKJV)
26 "I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world."
27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father.
28 So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
29 "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."
38 "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father."
42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. (NASB)
Comment: Was He already an only-begotten son when He came forth from God or did He come forth from God as an only-begotten son only at the virgin birth (this excludes His resurrection which has not occurred yet when He spoke these words)? The context indicates He was already this son in heaven who heard from and was instructed by His father in heaven, and then was sent to earth to fulfill the will of His father.
37 "I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.
38 "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father."
39 They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus *said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham.
40 "But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.
41 "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God."
42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.
51 "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death."
52 The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.'
53 "Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?"
54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God';
55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word.
56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
57 So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."
Comment: John 8:58 states that before Abraham comes to be, Jesus is already present (Jesus pre-existed Abraham). The context this statement comes from is Jesus’ conversation with the Jews where the Jews said they are descendants of their father Abraham, but Jesus says God is His father. To be someone’s descendant is to come from that person’s lineage (ie. Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob/Israel, Jacob/Israel begot the 12 tribes of Israel and so on). The Bible is making a two-fold statement here: first, that Jesus is the descendant of God, only-begotten by Him; second, He is the only-begotten Son of God before Abraham.
28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. (AKJV)
Comment: Again, does He come forth from His father as not an only-begotten son and then returns to His father as an only-begotten son? The Bible does not say that He was God's son in some other way and then only becomes only-begotten later. He is the only-begotten son since in heaven.
5 And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory,
which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world. (NASB)
Comment: Again, He was the only-begotten Son of God before He came into the world.
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness
of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, (NKJV)
Comment: This confirms that Jesus was already God’s son before coming in the flesh and is a confirmation of Philippians 2:6-7 which shows us the Lord Jesus is indeed the only-begotten son who is of the same form as His father:
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
And again, the Lord Jesus was the only-begotten son in heaven who was sent to die for our sins, because if He was not, than what/who exactly did God deliver up as atonement for our sins:
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Romans 8 above reminds us again of the truth of Genesis 22 and the near sacrifice of Isaac being a type and foreshadow of what God will do and provide: His only-begotten son who alone can atone for our sins. Romans 8 and Genesis 22 makes it abundantly evident that Jesus was already the only-begotten son in heaven and then God delivered up His son for us all – sending His son from heaven into the world, to die for our sins. God delivering up His son started in heaven; He did not send another God person to become His son. He was the son of God before in heaven and died as this son who came to earth for us.
The gospel of Christ has no meaning if He was not God's only-begotten son in heaven who became flesh to cleanse us from our sins, and as this only-begotten son who created, justly inherits all that He has created.
Please also see the article: 'Jesus always refers to Himself as God's son since in heaven - if a Trinity is true, He should know when He will return'.
Problems if the Lord Jesus was not only-begotten in heaven, but only upon earth
How is He the heir?
Even if we ignore the fact that the Lord Jesus was only-begotten in heaven and therefore deity who can die for us, there are other issues which show why He is only-begotten in heaven and not on earth.
If Jesus was not the only-begotten Son of God in heaven before, then all of His references to what He was and did before He came to the earth would not be counted toward His authority of being the Son of God in the flesh and after.
Or put another way, if He was not the only-begotten Son of God before He came in the flesh, then He cannot truly be said to be the heir of all things. He would be disqualified. Why? For the simple, but very profound reason that all the things He ever did before coming in the flesh would not have been done as the only-begotten Son of God – and therefore are negated from His inheritance, because they were done when He was not actually this son.
It is for this reason that people cannot say that before He became flesh and was in heaven, the Lord Jesus was not the Son of God, begotten or otherwise. If people state that He was not a son, then neither can He be a legitimate heir.
Did these things happen when the Lord Jesus was the only-begotten Son of God or something else:
8 But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of
gladness beyond your companions."
10 And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same, and your years will have no end." (ESV)
Is it not God’s son in heaven who has created all things:
3 I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.
4 Who has ascended up into heaven, or descended? who has gathered the wind in his fists? who has bound the waters in a
garment? who has established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if you can tell? (AKJV)
He would also be adopted and not be legitimate
This may seem a small matter to those who believe He was not the Son of God before in heaven, but it definitely is not a small matter. It actually puts both God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ into the questionable position of the Lord Jesus Himself being adopted in some way into the inheritance allowed of a true son, because if He was not already a son, then He had to be made one (via a virgin birth or resurrection). But this cannot be. He must be a true son from the very beginning and not only upon the virgin birth or being resurrected from the grave.
For example, if an only child – a son, was adopted by a family, he would be his father’s heir. Yes, he would inherit what his father has, but would not a true son hold even greater, natural and automatic status as the heir of his father and not require an adoption into His father’s inheritance?
We must always remember the Bible says we are the adopted heirs, because He is the true heir. However, if the Lord Jesus Himself was not the true and only-begotten Son of God before coming to earth, then in actuality, He is also adopted (by being begotten as a son only during the virgin birth or resurrection) and the words of the Bible make no sense. His only claim to preeminence would be that He was adopted “first” as son and heir. The Bible does not teach that the Lord Jesus had to be adopted as a son in order to inherit all that is His father’s. Instead, the Bible teaches that He was never anything else but the only-begotten Son of God since in heaven and before coming to earth, who created all things and deserves all things.
What authority does He have?
And what about the credibility of His claim that He is the Son of God? If He was a son only upon a virgin birth or only upon resurrection, then the unique, special and true meaning of being the Son of God would be lost (along with His authority). This lack of authority and credibility is especially pronounced for the belief that He became a son only upon His resurrection, when we consider all the times He and others declare Him to be the Son of God (Matthew 16:16; 26:63-64; John 1:34). The Bible does not reveal that what the Lord Jesus really meant was that He was not a true son yet. This is stretching all credulity. And what of the multiple times God declared that the Lord Jesus was His son (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35). The disclaimer of Jesus not being the only-begotten son yet also does not exist and asks us to suspend our belief again.
Indeed, the belief that He was not already the only-begotten Son of God before coming to earth leads to the fact that it can be said that any being could have become the Son of God. Drawn to its conclusion, this line of thinking underlies the beliefs of some who say there are two or more Gods where Jesus is not a true and only son or that Jesus is a created being.
But the Bible reveals that the power with which the Lord Jesus spoke was with the authority of being the only-begotten Son of God in heaven who backed up all He said and did by revealing His relationship with His father, first in heaven and now upon earth. As the very image of God, the Lord Jesus came to reveal His father to us all and He can only truly do this by being the only-begotten Son of God in heaven, as evidenced by Him always referring to the relationship with His father since before coming in the flesh.
Whose blood was shed?
And again, what can be said about the blood of Christ that washes away our sins? Whose blood was it that washed away our sins? If we say that the Lord Jesus was truly only-begotten upon His resurrection, then we are saying that the blood shed for us was not the blood of the only-begotten Son of God – the true Son of God, because it did not happen yet. We are saying it was not the only-begotten Son of God who hung there and was crucified. This is impossible – the Bible declares that He was the only-begotten son in heaven from where He was sent and who was crucified for us.
To say otherwise does away with the gospel and Bible truth, and reduces the preciousness and reality of what the blood of Christ really is. As His blood was being shed, it was the blood of the only-begotten Son of God, and not the blood of the figurative Son of God or a son of God like we are considered to be, who will be a true only-begotten son later after the resurrection.
Also then, how are we to understand Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22? The Bible reveals that Abraham and Isaac are types for God and the Lord Jesus: what Abraham was prepared to do with Isaac, God actually does do with Jesus. But note: this can only be true if, just like Isaac was already Abraham’s only-begotten son (by true lineage) before his attempted sacrifice, the Lord Jesus was likewise already the true Son of God before He was crucified. He was already that true son or the typology falls apart.
Again, was He the only-begotten Son of God who was suffering or just a figurative or other son in the verse below?
8though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (NKJV)
He is the Only-Begotten in heaven – Conclusion
The views that the Lord Jesus was only-begotten at the virgin birth or was only-begotten at His resurrection are not Biblical and go against the context of the Bible and God’s perfect plan through His son. They contradict the Bible truth of what God intended all along – that all things be created through His son and for His son in order that He be the true heir of all things.
2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things,
through whom also He made the world. (NASB)
Hebrews 1:2 is speaking to us in the context of the Son of God already being a son in heaven when He created the world.
It is as the only-begotten Son of God before He ever walked the earth in the flesh, and through whom God created all things, that the Lord Jesus alone qualifies and deserves to inherit all things, both in heaven and on earth.
The Bible truth is it is only because the Lord Jesus was only-begotten by God in the days of eternity, that He has the authority, legitimacy and ability to come in the flesh – born of a woman, to die to pay the price for our sins, and then be raised in glory to eventually inherit all things. He fulfills all meanings of only-begotten, but it all starts with the Lord Jesus Christ being the only-begotten Son of God in heaven. If this were not so, everything would be meaningless.
It alone explains who is the begetter and who is the begotten without distorting the meanings of these words as well as the meaning of the words: father, son, die/death, immortal, etc. It alone explains what God is love means. It alone explains the Lord Jesus’ perfect and righteous legitimacy as heir. It alone explains how as creator, He can, was willing, and did, die for the salvation of the creation. It alone explains that the monotheism of God is absolute and all glory goes to the Father in Jesus’ name, because the Lord Jesus Christ Himself – His life, His humility, obedience and sacrifice, His everything – all points to the Father who is above all.
This is part 3 of 7 about the Deity of Christ. Please proceed to part 4: 'One True Heir'.