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Only Begotten

ONLY BEGOTTEN (μονογενής, G3666, at times translating יָחִיד, H3495).

The word μονογενής, G3666, with its variations μουνογένεια and μουνόγονος, occurs in Gr. lit. in Hesiod, the Orphic Hymns, Parmenides, Plato, Herodotus, Apollonius Rhodius, Antoninus Liberalis and in a number of Gr. inscrs. While often signifying “sole descent” or “the only child of one’s parents,” in Hesiod’s Work and Days 374, Theogony 426, 448, and the Orphic Hymns 29:2, 32:1 and 40:16, it means “peerless,” “matchless,” “of singular excellence,” “unique,” or “the only one of his/her kind,” expressions denoting quality more than descent.

Bibliography F. Kattenbusch, “Only Begotten,” HDCG (1908), II, 281, 282; P. Winter, “ΜΟΝΟΓΕΝΗΣ ΠΑΡΑ ΠΑΤΠΟΣ,” Zeitschrift für Religions-und Geistesgeschichte, V (1953), 335-365; D. Moody, “God’s Only Son,” JBL, LXXII (1953), 213-219; F. Büchsel, “μονογενής, G3666,” TDNT, IV (1967), 737-741.

Article 2

(a) He reveals the Father: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (Joh 1:18). Men therefore behold His glory, "glory as of the only begotten from the Father" (1:14).

(b) He is the mediator of salvation: "God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him" (1 Joh 4:9; Joh 3:16); "He that believeth not (on him) hath been judged already" (Joh 3:18). Other elements in His uniqueness may be gathered from other passages, as His sinlessness, His authority to forgive sins, His unbroken communion with the Father, and His unique knowledge of Him. To say that it is a uniqueness of nature or essence carries thought no farther, for these terms still need definition, and they can be defined only in terms of His moral consciousness, of His revelation of God, and especially of His intimate union as Son with the Father.


The reading "God only begotten" in Joh 1:18 the Revised Version margin, though it has strong textual support, is improbable, and can well be explained as due to orthodox zeal, in opposition to adoptionism. See Grimm-Thayer, Lexicon; Westcott, at the place