Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Does "only begotten Son" in John 3:16 indicate that Jesus Christ is a created being?

Misinterpretation: This verse refers to Jesus as God's "only begotten Son."  The Jehovah's Witnesses tell us that Jesus is God only begotten son in the sense that he was directly created by the hand of God (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, 918).  He is thus a lesser god than God the Father.

Correcting the Misinterpretation: The words only begotten do not mean that Christ was created but rather mean "unique" or "one of a kind" (Greek: monogenes).  Jesus was uniquely God's son by nature- meaning that he has the very nature of God.  It is significant that when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, his Jewish contemporaries understood him to be claiming deity in an unqualified sense and sought to stone him: "We have a law, and according to that law he [Jesus] out to die, because he made himself out to be the Son of God" (John 19:7 NASB, insert added).  They thought Jesus was committing blasphemy because he was claiming deity for himself.

Many evangelicals believe that Christ's sonship is an eternal sonship.  Evidence for Christ's eternal sonship is found in the fact that he is represented as already the Son of God before human birth in Bethlehem (John 3:16-17; cf. Prov. 30:4).  Hebrews 1:2 says God created the universe through his "Son"- implying that Christ was the Son of God prior to the Creation.  Moreover, Christ as the Son is explicitly said to have existed "before all things" (Col. 1:17; compare with vv. 13-14).  As well, Jesus, speaking as the Son of God (John 8:54-56), asserts his eternal preexistence before Abraham (v. 58).  Seen in this light, Christ's identify as the Son of God does not connote inferiority or subordination either of essence or position.

Taken from Correcting the Cults by Norman L. Geisler and Ron Rhodes, p. 166.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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