Q: Was Jesus Created, If He Is Called The “Only Begotten Son”?
The term “only begotten Son” appears multiple times in scripture and on the surface it looks as if Jesus was actually created by God the Father. Let’s take a quick look at this phrase to see what scripture reveals about it, as well as what it would have meant to the original hearers.
The phrase “only begotten” comes from the Greek word “monogenes [μονογενής]. This word is variously translated into English as “only,” “one and only,” and “only begotten.” The word “monogenes” refers to a one-of-a-kind, so to speak, mono –one, and genes – kind. The word is more closely related to uniqueness than being created.
Passages the word is used:
The scriptures do not use the word begotten in a way that would depict birth or coming into being, rather it is used to refer to uniqueness when pertaining to Christ.
Now, some will say that the word “Son” implies His creation. Conceivably, God the Father existed eternally but Jesus appears to be created a finite time ago when He is mentioned as the son or offspring of God. Consider, Psalm 2:7
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.”
That sure sounds convincing, and many cults have used this verse as an argument for their assault on the Deity of Jesus. But let’s keep reading, perhaps the New Testament can shed some light on this passage. Let’s look in Acts 13 to see how Luke refers to this Psalm. Acts 13:30-31,
But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
(Notice that this is describing the Resurrection account of Jesus. Now let’s read the very next verse for the proverbial punch-line). Acts 13: 32-33
32 We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
“You are my son; today I have become your father”.
Here we can clearly see that Luke is referencing the Resurrection as the day Jesus became the “Son” of God.
The phrase “only begotten Son of God” refers to the uniqueness and resurrection of Christ, thus, it simply has no purchase on undermining the Deity of Christ when it in fact honors Him. The beginning of John is a prime example and understanding the word “begotten” and “father” (implies son), exemplifies the depth of meaning and continuity of theme, in this passage.
John 1:1-3, 14 [NASB]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. […] 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The phrase “only begotten Son” therefore, does not imply that Jesus was created by God, it actually speaks to the uniqueness and resurrection of Christ as accepted by classical Christian doctrine. Allowing the bible to interpret itself is paramount, in order to understand the content of any passage. Though we might be familiar with a certain passage, it’s important that we do not neglect the content based solely on a superficial familiarity with our most commonly recited passages.