“ONLY BEGOTTEN SON?” What does it mean? “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).” Oftentimes children will misquote John 3:16, and say that God gave His only forgotten Son. Perhaps there is more truth to this than we realize. For the most part Jesus Christ is forgotten and rejected of men. We believers have the wonderful privilege of telling men and women about Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the “only begotten Son”, according to John 3:16. In John 1:14, He is the “only begotten of the Father.” What is this phrase speaking about? We know that Jesus Christ is God and man. Jesus Christ is God in human flesh (II Corinthians 5:19). Two thousand years ago, God came to the earth taking on Himself human flesh in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each Christmas we celebrate this wonderful event.
Isaiah the prophet foretold that God would come to the earth. Over twenty six hundred years ago, Isaiah said, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Jehovah), make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3).” How would God come to visit the earth? Seven hundred forty two years before Jesus came, Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).” Immanuel is an untranslated Hebrew word meaning “God dwelling with you.” Here we learn that God was going to visit the earth by taking on a human body born of a virgin.
The Apostle John tells us in John 1:1-4, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And the Word was made 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.” The fleshly body (human body) which God took upon Himself was fathered by God Himself. Jesus Christ had no human father. It is very interesting to note that Jesus NEVER ONCE called Joseph His father. In fact the Bible makes it very clear that Joseph was not the father of Jesus.
If Joseph had been the father of Jesus, then Jesus would have been a sinner because the sin nature is passed on through the man. Romans 5:12 tell us, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Jesus would have been disqualified as our Savior had Joseph been his father.
Jesus is repeatedly called “the Son of God” and also “the Son of Man”. The phrase “son of” means to have the same nature as, in essence be the same as, to be identical, etc. Therefore, the phrase “The Son of God” means that Jesus is God and that he has the very nature of God. The phrase “The Son of Man” means that Jesus is Man and that he has the very nature of man. The disciples James and John were called “the sons of Thunder”. This did not mean that their father was Mr. Thunder. They were the children of Zebedee, but they had the nature of thunder. Evidently they were hotheaded fellows with a quick temper. The phrase “only begotten Son” is a reference to the fact that the flesh that God took upon Himself was begotten of the Father.
Mary was used of God as the host to bring forth the body of Jesus’ humanity. When the angel told Mary that she would conceive and have a son, she replied, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man (Luke 1:31-34)?” The angel responded by saying, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).”
After Mary became pregnant, Joseph became alarmed because he knew that he wasn’t the father. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they come together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily (divorce her) (Matthew 1:19).”
Rather than have Mary stoned to death, he was ready to have a quiet divorce when God spoke to him. “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceive in her is of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20).” God also told Joseph that all this was done that the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 might be fulfilled about the virgin birth (Matthew 1:23).
Adam was created by God out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). Eve was fashioned by God out of one of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:21-22). The rest of the human race has come into the world as the natural result of the relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus Christ is the unique exception. Jesus (as a man) had a human mother, but God was His father. This will never be repeated. It will never happen again. Jesus Christ is the ONLY begotten of the Father (John 1:14). Yet at the same time Jesus is God. Isaiah the prophet made the distinction in Isaiah 9:6, where we read, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his mane shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” “A child is born” refers to the flesh which has a birthday. “A son is given” refers to Christ’s deity (God is eternal and gave Himself).
John 3:16 reminds us of this wonderful doctrine of the incarnation of God in a human body. Jesus was then to die on Calvary to pay for the sins of all mankind, so that all who would trust (believe) on Christ would not perish, but have everlasting life.
Why not trust Christ as your Savior today!
“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. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 4:9-10).”