Stream or download:
Monotheists, who do not believe in the Trinity, staunchly reject the tenet that Yeshua / Jesus is the “Son of God.” To such monotheists, the very notion that God would procreate is absurd.
What is this? God has a son?
On the other hand, trinitarian monotheists see biblical data, which support their belief that Yeshua / Jesus not only is the “Son of God” by personal verbal claim but also by unique birth.
A great focal point of these Trinitarians (of which I am included) is John 1:18, translated by the ‘old timey’ translations as:
18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
(KJV, underscore mine for emphasis)
Other modern translations yield this passage of Greek language as follows:
- “One and Only Son” – NIV, HCSB, Berean Study Bible
- “Unique One” – NLT
- “the Only God” – ESV
- “the only begotten God” – NASB
As one can witness, the passage presents a deal of difference for translators, not because the Greek language is ambiguous but because theological implications arise, depending on one’s approach to translation. ESV and NASB translators consider it necessary—due to the theological implications of the phrase—to help the text communicate its meaning by adding “God.” Others like HCSB, NIV and NLT stick more closely to the original, reflecting ‘Son.’ But, in an effort to honor the older translations (i.e. KJV), NASB maintains the translation “only begotten,” which it places in tandem with ‘God.’
So, is it proper to translate the passage as “only begotten?” And if so, why? To what end? In his article, Μονογενής = ‘only begotten’? Dr. Daniel B. Wallace recently visited the subject and analyzed the pertinent data in response to Charles Lee Iron’s assertion that translators should return to “only begotten.” The article leads a reader to lean away from “only begotten” in favor of other alternatives.
I largely agree with Dr. Wallace, but I also see room for Iron’s view. “One of a kind,” when the compound mono/GENES is used, deals with the taxonomy of Yeshua (Jesus), His classification upon incarnation (i.e. domain–>kingdom–>phylum–>class–>order–>family–>genus–>species).
Creation scientists use the word baramin to refer to created kinds (Hebrew: bara = created, min = kind). Because none of the original ancestors survive today, creationists have been trying to figure out what descendants belong to each baramin in their varied forms. Baramin is commonly believed to be at the level of family and possibly order for some plants/animals (according to the common classification scheme of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species). On rare occasions, a kind may be equivalent to the genus or species levels.
(Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/baraminology/what-are-kinds-in-genesis/ retrieved Nov. 24, 2016)
In writing monogenés, the Apostle John is telling us that, due to virgin conception by the Holy Spirit, Yeshua Nazaret is a completely different and unique kind of human creature, the only generation of His kind. This interpretation sustained by textual data (context as well as lexical value & and usages), both inside the holy Writ and in contemporaneous ‘secular’ texts. It also satisfies both Iron’s and Wallace’s findings and allows for (but limits) the logical ramifications of both sets of findings.
What are the theological ramifications of the interpretation? First and foremost, monogenés deals with Christology as it elucidates Yeshua / Jesus’ genome. He is within the human genus due to Mary’s egg & virgin womb, but He is of an entirely unique genetic platform, due to the Holy Spirit’s fertilization. He is the only direct God / Human hybrid, completely similar to yet unique from the rest of fallen humanity.
Trinitarian Creationists would assert that whereas God breathed life directly into the genus of mankind in the beginning, and whereas humanity fell from that state (corrupting our race, even to our genetic code); in contrast, Yeshua’s human genome and human nature are directly and biologically “of God” or “from/of the Father,” …meaning He is necessarily the same as God, the Father, in His incarnate state. Jesus is—in nature—the same as the Father. No human alive other than Jesus can claim these features. In other words, the Second Person of the Eternal Trinity (i.e. the Word) was made to become flesh and fully dwell among us (John 1:14), as Humanity 2.0—Yeshua Nazaret. He is indeed begotten by means of Holy Spirit conception, but that fact does not diminish His pre-existence from all eternity. As the Apostle John writes:
John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”
(John 1:15 NASB)
It is therefore not incorrect to translate monogenés as “only begotten.” By doing so, one refers to Yeshua / Jesus’ miraculous conception. He was indeed and undeniably biologically produced. But, it is also correct to translate monogenés as “Unique One” or “One and Only Son [of God],” as it specially alludes to the fact that Yeshua is the only one of his genomic kind, which according to Isaiah, can be propagated and recognized by the Father:
…He will see His offspring… (Isaiah 53:10 NASB)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
Secondly and lastly, the interpretation holds tremendous theological ramifications that pertain to soteriology. In verses 12 and 13 of John 1, the text reads:
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (KJV)
From these two verses, one gathers that anyone who receives Jesus as the uniquely begotten Son of God, believing on His Name (i.e. referent to his title as Yeshua ha’Mashiach / Jesus the Messiah), will in turn be granted authority (adoptive right) to be titled ‘sons of God’ …after the genus of Jesus, and leaving off the genus of the fallen Adamic race. Yet, more than that, the Apostle writes these are also themselves born “of God,” if in that state of belief. The conferred birth reveals a changed nature (Jesus’) which comes upon those who are, according to Jesus Himself, ‘born again’ of the Spirit (John 3:3-8). Is it safe to say that God rescues and redeems believers down to the DNA level? Absolutely! Those who believe will receive the genetics of the Messiah,
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed (lit. sperma), but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23 KJV)
So then, one may conclude that one who receives Yeshua / Jesus of Nazareth by believing he is the uniquely begotten Son of God receives both an exchange of nature (essence) and an exchange of genus (physicality), both of which can only be fully realized hereafter,
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2 NASB)
He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself. (Philippians 3:21 HCSB)
“Just so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
Perhaps the greatest travesty in the history of Protestant, biblicist, conservative evangelical churches is our confusion in giving off “an aroma of death unto death” when thinking we give off “the aroma of life into Life.” What is the litmus test against this confusion?
A. To realize YOU (old self) are not sufficient to give off the proper fragrance. (V. 16)
B. To note the proper fragrance is defined as “KNOWLEDGE OF HIM” and it is “the aroma of Christ [reconciling us] to God” (vv. 14-15)
That is, we cannot be scented with the fragrance which attracts people to Christ, unless we are exuding relational knowledge of Jesus at every turn. In application: If we are not exalting Christ in order to favor of our non-essential, denominational pet doctrines and particular brand of ‘Churchianity,’ then we are merely “peddlers of God’s Word,” and we stink like rotting corpses.
(2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
vv. 1-6 — About true giving and the destruction of the 2nd Hebrew Temple (fulfilled 70 A.D.)
vv. 7-9 — Jesus answers the Disciples’ request for the signs of the 2nd Temple’s destruction with a description of “things that must first take place,” and that, ‘the end does not follow immediately (after the “first things”). The ‘things that must first take place’ are the wars of the Jews, circa 70 A.D. and the destruction of the 2nd Temple. Jesus also states the Disciples should not be misled by false Christs and by claims that “the time” (of the Kingdom’s establishment) is near. [The Disciples erroneously looked for an immediate establishment of Christ’s Kingdom up until the time of his post-resurrection 40 days and Pentecost; BUT after the Spirit did come (Acts 1-2) and helped the Apostles understanding, they all looked toward an imminent “gathering together” (i.e. rapture). They no longer looked toward an imminent establishment of the Kingdom.] What Christ clearly teaches is THERE IS A TIME PERIOD BETWEEN THE DESTRUCTION OF THE 2ND TEMPLE AND THE END.
vv. 10-11 — Jesus describes the signs of “THE END” and prefaces it by saying, “Then…” (or, “at that time”).
vv. 12-19 — Jesus describes THE PERIOD BEFORE THE END. Our Lord regresses from digression in discourse by saying, “But before all these things [ref. signs of the end, vv. 10-11].” This is what the Disciples and the CHURCH AGE Saints can expect. Verse 19 reminds readers of Luke 9:24, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” This is Christ’s promise of reward for martyrs during the Church age. See also Matthew 10:39; 16:25.
vv. 20-24 — Jesus moves back to describing the (then) future course of the Hebrew nation. Jesus foretells THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE (v. 22), which is from the time of the Jewish Revolt (66 A.D.) to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple under the Roman Emperor, Titus (70 A.D.). Just as Jesus warned those who mournfully watched his death march on the day of His crucifixion (Luke 23:26-31) of “The Days of Vengeance,” he warns his Disciples… who later experienced the dispersion from Jerusalem,… of which Peter, Paul and Jude all write. The time period from the destruction of Jerusalem to the time of the end is called the TIMES OF THE GENTILES (see also Romans 11:25), which is simultaneous and synonymous with ’The Period Before the End.”
vv. 25-36 — Jesus describes the “SIGNS OF THE END OF ‘THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES’”… which is synonymous with “The End” (vv. 10-11). The “great signs in heaven” mentioned in v.11 are expounded here in v. 25; and there are more signs. The end of the Times of the Gentiles will be a process. It will be the same as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, (a.k.a. The Great Tribulation Period, The Apocalypse). At verse 27, Jesus says, “Then…” as a marker of discourse, revealing what will be the very end of the “End of the Times of the Gentiles.” When Christ appears in a cloud with power and great glory, the end of the End of the Times of the Gentiles will be marked. “But, when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” Christ adds. So, Jesus unequivocally states that the End of the Times of the Gentiles will have a beginning, a middle and an end. He gives us the signs of its beginning and of its end.
How can someone know that the Kingdom of God is near? Look for “these things” (vv. 25-26) to happen [after the other things have happened]. It is as dependable as knowing that summer is near when the fig trees start putting out leaves. In other words, it will be like clockwork…tick…tick…tick.
The context of Luke 21:36 is Jesus’ address to his Disciples about the (then) future course of Jerusalem and the Jewish people… about what the Jewish people (as an ethnicity and political nation) can expect near to the time of the Son of Man’s return to establish His (Hebrew) Kingdom. The reader may know Jesus addresses the Hebrew nation, since these verses follow his prediction of the Destruction of the Temple and Fall of Jerusalem (70 A.D.)—an event which has put Jerusalem into the hands of Gentile nations even until now, as it will be until the end of the Time of the Gentiles. Thus, Christ is prophetically describing the future path of the Hebrew people as an ethnically homogenous political entity among the other nations. [vv. 20-24]
In verses 25-36, Christ continues to speak to the Hebrew nation as a whole, which disbelieved Him as their Messiah. “This [perpetuated] generation” [of disbelieving Jews] will not pass away—giving way to believing Israel (Rom. 11)—until ALL the Tribulations of Jacob’s Trouble have taken place (v. 32). So, in verse 34, Jesus prophetically warns the ethnic Jews to ‘be on guard, so you don’t get drunk & depressed in the cares for life beyond hope’ [imp. for a true Messiah] when “That Day” (Day of the Lord) falls on the Jewish ethnic people like a trap… (allusion to the trick of the Anti-Christ prince). Instead, the ethnic Jews who find themselves in the worst (2nd half) of the 7 year span of Jacob’s Trouble should be alert and pray consistently that they might be “strengthened” (by hope of the true Son of Man’s return) to escape [lit. physically flee] all those things, which Jesus says must soon occur (during Jacob’s Trouble)…. At the end of which, all remaining Jews will physically stand before the Son of Man on earth. This is the contextually consistent interpretation, which complements Matthew 24:13, “but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” The Church often overlays itself onto prophecies meant for the Hebrew people.
What I observe in the Luke 21 passage does not negate the pre-trib rapture, nor does it uphold a post-trib view. I am pre-trib in my rapture view. I also try to interpret in context, so that I know what I can ascribe to the Church and what I must fairly ascribe to Hebrew people. My hermeneutic leads me to be dispensational that way.