Friday, June 3, 2011


     The adjective monogenes is used in the Septuagint (Judges 11:34; Psa. 21:21;
24:16; 34:17), and in the Greek N.T. (Lk. 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Jno. 1:14, 18; 3:16,
18; Heb. 11:17; 1 Jno. 4:9)

     The older English versions of the N.T. translate monogenes with the phrase
"only begotten," though that is not what the word means. Monogenes means
that which is the only one of its kind within a specific relationship, one and only,
only, unique; single of its kind. The comprehensive Greek lexicons and word
books of N.T. Greek indicate that such is the case. (cf. BDAG, p. 658; Thayer,
pages 417-418; Moulton-Milligan, pages 416-417, etc.)

     In Lk. 7:12 monogenes is used of "an only son of his mother." In Lk. 8:42 it
is used of  Jairus' "only daughter." In Lk. 9:38 it is used of a man's "only child."
There is a sense of strong personal attachment in each of these passages. The
"only son," "only daughter," and "only child" were obviously beloved, or dearly

     In Jno. 1:14 monogenes is used to describe Jesus as "the only  Son from
the Father." (ESV) The NIV 2011 uses the phrase "one and only Son" in order
to convey both the Son's uniqueness and the Father's personal attachment to
him. In Jno. 1:18 monogenes conveys the Son's uniqueness in that he is in
closest relationship with the Father and he makes the Father known in a way
that no one else does. In Jno. 3:16 monogenes  implies that the Son is unique
and precious to the Father, and as a demonstration of his love for humanity,
God gave him to be sacrificed for the whole sinful world. The distinctiveness
and uniqueness of God's Son are also seen in Jno. 3:18, for it is through him
and in his name that salvation is granted.

     In Heb. 11:17 Isaac is called the monogenes son of Abraham. He was
Abraham's unique son in that he was the one through whom Yahweh promised
descendants too numerous to count. "It is through Isaac that descendants shall
be named for you." (Heb. 11:18; NRSV)

     In 1 Jno. 4:9 monogenes is used of Jesus as the unique Son of God who
was sent into the world, "so that we might live through him." (ESV) God sent
his beloved, one of a kind Son to be the means through which those who believe
in and obey him might have life!

     Monogenes is used in the N.T. to convey the idea of uniqueness, one and
only, the only one of its kind, and by extension it includes a strong personal
attachment to that which is "one and only."
                                                                                                     Ron Daly

Copyright 2011


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