Monogenēs: Unique, Not Only-Begotten

Does this word mean “begetting” in any way, as some would argue?

Commentaries, like the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, say of “monogenēs”, “It refers to His eternal generation from the Father”, on John 1:14. The words used in this verse by John, “monogenous para patros”, literally means, “the only One from the side of the Father”. Or “with the Father”. In John 1:1, a similar Greek preposition, “prós”, is used, with the same meaning as in verse 14. If we are to understand “generation”, then we would expect the correct Greek preposition to have been used, which is “ex (ek)” to have been used (monogenous ex patros).

If the Bible wanted to show that Jesus Christ is the “only begotten”, from God the Father, then we should see the correct Greek word used for this, which is, “monogennētos”. This is never used.

The early Church Creeds use language that is not from what the 66 Books of the Holy Bible Teaches, but, rather based on the theology of the time.

For example, when the Nicene Creed (AD 325), and others, use language like, “τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων”, “the One begotten out of the Father before all ages”, and “Φῶς ἐκ Φωτός, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ”, Light out of Light”, “True God out of True God”. This is clearly teaching a subordination in the Eternal Godhead, between the Father, Who is seen as “Fons Deitatis”, which is, “the source of Divinity”; and the use of the Greek preposition, “ἐκ”, is also for the purpose of showing that the Father alone is absolute God, and Jesus Christ is “God” in the sense that His Deity is “derived” from the Father. This is utter blasphemy! There is not a single hint in the entire Bible, to even suggest that the Father is in any way “primary” in the Godhead, and “greater” than Jesus Christ. Only during the Incarnation, Jesus Christ “humbled Himself”, as the God-Man, at which time He was “subordinate” to the Father; though completely coequal as Almighty God.

It is important to know, that the Nicene Creed, is based on the “creed” the Caesarean Creed of Eusebius, the historian, who was very much sympatric to the arch heretic, Arius! For the sake of compromise, and a fake “unity”, the Orthodox Church allowed this heretical “creed’s” language to be included in the Nicene Creed.

In 381 AD, we have the Creed of Constantinople, which focused on the Person of the Holy Spirit, especially to His Deity. In this Creed, there is a phrase on the Holy Spirit, “τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον”, “Who proceeds from the Father”. This is meant to be from Jesus’ own words in John 15:26. However, Jesus words are: “ὃ παρὰ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται”. Note the preposition that Jesus uses, “παρὰ”, which means, “from beside” the Father. This “Creed” has perverted the words of Jesus Christ, by changing this to, “ἐκ”, to show that the Holy Spirit is “derived” from the substance of the Father, and is therefore “subordinate” to Him in the Eternal Godhead!

Biblically and theologically, if at any time, God the Father did “beget”, or “generate” the Son, in the Godhead, in eternity past, then there is no way that Jesus Christ can be GOD, and must be a created person. Nor can Jesus Christ ever be equal with the Father, as the teaching of “eternal generation”, is that the Father is the “source” of the Son, and therefore is alone God in the fullest sense of the word. This is totally against the very clear Teachings in the 66 Books of the Holy Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, where Jesus Christ is YHWH, and 100% COEQUAL with the Father and Holy Spirit in the Eternal Godhead.

The Greek adjective, “monogenēs”, is used 9 times in the entire New Testament, Luke 7:12, 8:42, 9:38; John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17, 1 John 4:9. Out of these, only in the Writings of the Apostle John, is it used for Jesus Christ.

In the 3 passages in Luke, “monogenēs” is used for any “only” child. The verse in Hebrews is used for Isaac, a son of Abraham, where Versions like the King James, wrongly read, “only begotten”. Isaac is the second born son to Abraham, Ishmael was the Firstborn son.

In the Greek Old Testament, known as the Septuagint Version (LXX), “monogenēs”, is only used 4 times to translate the Hebrew word, “yâchîyd”. In Judges 11:34, the King James has “only”. In Psalms 22:20 and 35:17, it reads, “my darling”. In Psalm 25:16, it reads, “desolate”. Not once does the King James read, “only Begotten”. “yâchîyd”, is used only 12 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, Genesis 22:2, 12, 16; Judges 11:34; Psalm 22:20, 25:16, 35:17, 68:6; Proverbs 4:3; Jeremiah 6:26; Amos 8:10, and Zechariah 12:10. In these instances, the King James uses words like, “darling, desolate, only, solitary”, but never, “begotten”. In the passage in Genesis 22, when used for Isaac, the King James has, “only”, in each place. So, why did they translate the Greek “monogenēs, in Hebrews 11:17, which refers to this passage in Genesis, by, “only begotten”?

For the sake of word usage, the Apocryphal Old Testament, from the Greek, which was included in the 1611, King James Version, between the Two Testaments, “monogenēs, is used at least 6 times. In this edition of the King James, it uses, “only, one only, only begotten, alone desolate”. The one place that it has, “only begotten”, Tobit 8:17, “only” would have sufficed, as in the NRSV, “Blessed are you because you had compassion on two only children”

In the 3 places in Luke’s Gospel, the King James reads, “only”. In the other places, it reads, “only begotten”. The reference in Hebrews, is Isaac, who was the second son of Abraham, who has 12 sons. So, it is incorrect that “monogenēs” is translated as “only begotten” here, because Isaac was not the only child of Abraham.

In the Old Latin New Testament, “monogenēs”, is translated by, “unicus”, from where we get the English, “inique”. In the 4th century, when the scholar Jerome produced his Latin Vulgate, he used the Latin, “unigenitus”, which answers to the Greek, “monogennētos”.

In Bible translations like the King James, and some of the older ones, translate “monogenēs”, only when used for Jesus Christ, as “only begotten”. In the other instances it is usually, “only”, with a few exceptions.

On the meaning of “monogenēs”, we have:

"the only member of am kin or kind: hence, generally, only, single, unique" (H G Liddell and R Scott; A Greek-English Lexicon, p.1144. Revised Edition)

"Lit. it means 'of a single kind', and could even be used in this sense of the Phoenix (1 Clem.25.2). It is only distantly related to gennao, beget. The idea of 'only begotten' goes back to Jerome who used unigenitus in the Vulg. to counter the Arian claim that Jesus was not begotten but made" (Colin Brown, Ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. II, p. 725)

"Single of its kind, only; used of only sons or daughters...used of Christ, denotes the only son of God or one who in the sense in which he himself is the son of God has no brethren" (J H Thayer; Greek-English Lexicon, p.417)

"only...Also unique (in kind) of someth. that it the only example of its category...'unique and alone'" (W F Ardnt and F W Gingrich; A Greek-English Lexicon, p.529)

"The Usage outside the NT. In compounds with genēs, adverbs describe the nature rather than the source of derivation. Hence monogenēs is used for the only child. More generally it means “unique” or “incomparable.” The LXX has the first sense in Judg. 11:34 and the second in Ps. 22:20. agapētós occurs in Gen. 22:2, 12 where monogenḗs might have been used (cf. Mk. 1:11), but while the only child may be “beloved,” the terms are not synonymous." (G Kittel and G Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 607. single vol ed)

“Μονογενής means only, one of a kind, unique (derived from μόνος and γένος). This basic meaning is found in Plato Ti. 92c (of the heaven: εἷς οὐρανὸς ὅδε μονογενής); Wis 7:22 (of the Spirit of Wisdom); Cornutus Theologia Graeca 27 [49:13] (of this one and only world: εἷς καὶ μονογενὴς ὁ κόσμος; likewise Plutarch Moralia 423a); 1 Clem. 25:2 (of the phoenix).

(Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament)

For the Lord Jesus Christ, the definitions given by Kittel, “unique” or “incomparable”, are the best.

In John’s Gospel, the very first verse clearly teaches the Eternity of Jesus Christ, “en archēi ēn ho logos”, “in the beginning was the Word”. This “beginning” is not Genesis 1:1, which is the Creation of the Universe, as this is in John 1:3. This is eternity past, as seen in the words of Jesus in John 17:5, “Now, Father, Glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed”. For those who doubt the absolute Deity of Jesus Christ, and His coequality with the Father, this one verse should remove any doubts. Jesus says that He had the SAME Glory that the Father has, which they have JOINTLY, since Eternity past! No one who is not Himself YHWH, can ever utter these words.

Back to John 1:1, we then read, “ho logos pros ton theon”, “the Word was in the presence of God the Father”, which shows their distinction as Persons. And then John goes on to say, “kai theos ēn ho logos”. There are some who totally misunderstand what John writes here. Had John written, “ho theos ēn ho logos”, then John would have meant by the repeated Greek article, “ho”, that “The Word” is “all of God”, and no one else, as the two terms would be interchangeable, each having the article. However, in the previous sentence, John as already show the distinction between “the Word” and “the God”. The use of “theos”, here without the article, is for the purpose of showing, WHO “the Word” is, that He is also GOD.

In verse 14, John goes on to say, that this “Word”, Who is “Almighty God”, as the Father, “became flesh”, at the Incarnation, through the Virgin Mary.

In verse 18, the original reading has, “theon oudeis heōraken pōpote ho monogenēs theos ho ōn eis ton kolpon tou patros ekinos exēgēsato”. Literally, “God no one has ever seen, the Unique God Who is forever in close relation with the Father, He has revealed”.

In this verse, which has the oldest and best textual support for “ho monogenēs theos”, shows the UNIQUENESS of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Eternally Almighty God, and Coequal with the Father, becomes Incarnate, as The God-Man, fully God and fully Man, except for sin, as before the Fall. As the Apostle Paul writes, "God was manifested in the flesh", as in the Original.

This verse also shows, against the heresy of “Unitarianism”, that there are TWO distinct Persons, Who are both called GOD. Note, that neither case is the definite Greek article used (theon, theos), which focuses on the Essential Deity of the Father and Jesus Christ.