October 23rd, 2011  |  Published in New Roman Missal

Have you noticed that we use words in church that we don’t use anywhere else? In the revised translation of the Gloria, for example, we will use the word “begotten.” Do you know anyone who says they were begotten of their father or mother? I doubt it.

To say “only Begotten Son” when speaking of Jesus carries a different meaning than “only Son of the Father.” “Only begotten” is from the Greek monogenes, a word used nine times in the Greek New Testament. It is a compound word, mono, meaning only, and genesis, meaning birth. Monogenes is used five times by the evangelist John, three times by Luke and once by the author of the Book of Hebrews.

Only begotten is applied to Jesus. The scriptures teach that God’s people are “sons of God” (see Romans 8:14). Modernists contend that Jesus was simply just another son of God. Absolutely not so! Jesus’ Sonship was understood as indicative of deity (see John 10:36,38). Monogenes is used
of Jesus’ Sonship. Jesus is the “only begotten Son.” Jesus is the Son of God who has no brothers or sisters. . . He is of nature or essentially Son of God, and so in a very different sense from that in which humans are made by Him children of God (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, pp. 417, 418). Beloved, God’s people are adopted “sons of God,” Jesus is the only Son of God by His very nature (see Romans 8:14- 16).

As God’s monogenes, Jesus enjoys unique glory (see John 1:14). The only begotten declared God (see John 1:18). Jesus being of the same essential nature as the Father could reveal God as no other could (see John 14;8-11). The only begotten is the ultimate expression of God’s love (see John 3:16 and 1 John 4:9). Therefore, Jesus is uniquely and singularly the Son of God, the only one. To realize the only begotten Son of God gave His life for us is indeed humbling. What a difference a single word makes