Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Adult Sunday School Notes -

John: Believing On The Christ, The Son Of God, For Eternal Life
Part V: Believing On Christ As The Creator God Incarnate: An Addendum On Monogenes
(John 1:14, 18)
  1. Introduction
    1. In our last lesson in this series, we taught that the Greek New Testament word, monogenes has as its lexical definition two meanings, (a) "only, unique [in kind]" and (b) "only begotten," according to the well-known lexicon by Arndt & Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 1967, p. 529.
    2. Upon later extensive research, however, I hold this lexical meaning errs due to doctrinal and linguistic corruption, that monogenes should mean "only, unique" exclusively and NOT also "only begotten."
    3. This matter involves the presentation of Bible truth, and 1 Peter 4:11a directs me to teach the very words of God, so I have put a notice in the last lesson on the error (see physical attachment), and explain it here:
  2. Believing On Christ As The Creator God Incarnate: An Addendum On Monogenes, John 1:14, 18.
    1. Linguists James Hope Moulton and George Milligan in The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, 1972, p. 416-417, claim monogenes "is literally one of a kind,' only,' unique,' ( unicus), not only-begotten,' which would be monogennetos (unigenitus), and is common in the LXX [Septuagint] in this sense . . . It is similarly used in the NT of only' sons and daughters . . . and is so applied in a special sense to Christ in Jn. 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18 and 1 Jn. 4:9, where the emphasis is on the thought that, as the only' Son of God, He has no equal and is able fully to reveal the Father." (brackets ours)
    2. Also, Abbott-Smith (A Manual Greek Lexicon of the N. T., 1968, p. 296) and Joseph Henry Thayer (Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T., 1963, p. 417-418), authoritative lexicons on New Testament Koine Greek, and Liddell & Scott (Greek-Eng. Lex., 1968, p. 1144), an authority on Classical Greek, each claim that monogenes is etymologically derived from mono + genos ("only" + "kind")!
    3. Thus, to explain how monogenes came to mean "only-begotten," we examine Church History as follows:
      1. Around A. D. 215, Origen used the Alexandrian school's errant non-literal method of interpreting the Bible to conclude that Christ in Colossians 1:15 in the Greek N. T. was the "firstborn ( prototokos) in creation," not the "firstborn over creation" versus what the context teaches. Origen thus wrote: "Jesus Christ Himself . . . was born of the Father before all creatures," which errant translation the Jehovah's Witnesses make today. (De Principiis, Preface, cited in Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church, 1959, p. 74-75; Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 672) Nevertheless, Origen did not understand monogenes in the N. T. to mean "only-begotten," but "only, unique." (Doug Kutilek, "The Uniqueness of the Son," ; I am indebted to Kutilek's comprehensive treatment on this.)
      2. Later, Arius adopted Origen's claim and added that if Christ was born of the Father, He was "in no way one with the Father in essence or eternity" (Ibid., Walker, p. 107), so the A. D. 325 Council of Nicea rightly repudiated his view as the Arian heresy (John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, 1974, p. 12).
      3. However, Arius and/or his followers ALSO presumed that genes in monogenes in New Testament statements about Christ had etymologically derived from gennao , to "beget." Thus, even the Nicean Council, in its creed aimed at countering Arianism, conceded to the errant Arian presupposition on the etymology of monogenes and stated that Christ was [wrongly] "begotten" though [rightly] "not made" (Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., 1966, p. 34-35; Ibid., Kutilek)
      4. Later, Jerome in the Latin Vulgate, the King James Version translators and others followed the Nicean Creed, adopting this errant Arian etymological presupposition, writing Christ was the "only Begotten."
      5. However, evidence that monogenes means "only, unique," not "only-begotten," survives in Hebrews 11:17: there, Isaac is called Abraham's monogenes, and since Abraham beget Ishmael over 13 years before he beget Isaac (Gen. 17:25; 18:10; 21:1-3), monogenes can NOT there mean "only begotten."
Lesson: Monogenes in the Greek New Testament has been mistranslated by heretical Arian and errant linguistic influence to read "only begotten" where it should always read "only, unique." Thus, John did NOT open the door in using monogenes to counter his John 1:1-3 claim that Christ is Eternal God!

Application: May we believe that Jesus Christ was never begotten so that He came into existence, but that He is assuredly the Eternal God come in the flesh as the UNIQUE (monogenes) God Incarnate!