Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Only Begotten

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KJV alternate rendering of the Greek monogenes ( John 1:14 ,John 1:14,1:18; John 3:16 ,John 3:16,3:18; Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9 ). Elsewhere the KJV rendered the term “only” (Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42; Luke 9:38 ). The phrase “only begotten” derives directly from Jerome (340?-420 A.D.) who replaced unicus (only), the reading of the Old Latin, with unigenitus (only begotten) as he translated the Latin Vulgate. Jerome's concern was to refute the Arian doctrine that claimed the Son was not begotten but made. This led Jerome to impose the terminology of the Nicene creed (325 A.D.) onto the New Testament.

Monogenes is used for an only child ( Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42; Luke 9:38 ). The writer of Hebrews used monogenes of Isaac with full knowledge that Isaac was not Abraham's only child ( Hebrews 11:17-18 ). Here monogenes designates Isaac as the special child of promise through whom Abraham's descendants would be named.

KJV, NAS render monogenes as “only begotten” when referring to Jesus. NIV renders the term “One and Only” (Compare the NAS margin, “unique, only one of His kind.”) Other translations (REB, NRSV, TEV) render monogenes consistently as “only.” John used monogenes to designate the unique relationship which Jesus shares with God. John is careful to reserve the term Son for Jesus; believers are children ( John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2; 1 John 5:2 ). As unique Son of God, Jesus makes God's glory known in a unique way (John 1:14 ,John 1:14,1:18 ). As the One and Only Son, Jesus is the unique gift of God, the giving of God's own self for salvation (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9 ). Because Jesus is the unique representative of God, rejection of Jesus is tantamount to rejection of God. Such rejection results in swift condemnation (John 3:18 ).

Chris Church

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Only Begotten'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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