What does the Bible mean when it refers to the Son of God as “begotten”?
This word, combined with the word “only,” indicates “unique” or “one of a kind.” It also means “one and only.” In other words, Jesus is uniquely the Son of God. He is God’s only Son. God had only one Son bearing His perfect likeness.
You may recall how that in answer to God’s promise, Abraham and Sarah had a son, Isaac, in their latter years. Because of the age of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac’s birth was miraculous. Hebrews 11:17 reads,
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac and he who had received the promises’ offered up his only begotten son.
The phrase “only begotten” here carries the same idea as “only begotten” in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
As Isaac was unique and one of a kind in miraculously being born to parents beyond their childbearing years so that God’s promises to Abraham could be fulfilled and Christ could come through that line, how much more can we also see Christ Himself as being unique, God’s Son Whom He sent to be our Savior; not through some angel or in some other way. We have a great and loving God.
The word “begotten” does not indicate that Jesus Christ did not always exist. The apostle John wrote of Christ’s preincarnate work, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). Jesus always existed as the second Person of the Trinity.
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