Tag Archives: Taco Bell

A Long Post About “Begotten” and Awkward Outbursts

I hate it when someone tells me that they are listening to me, but then do other things while I am talking. For example, when I talk to my wife, I prefer that she put down the phone, the dishes, the laundry, and quit sending emails and texts when I have something important to tell her (notice I used the word “and,” not “or” in the list of things she does). Call me selfish, but it is important to me that I know someone is listening when she says she is.

The reasoning for this preference of mine became embarrassingly evident last night at Taco Bell. My wife said she was listening to me, but only partly so. I will now share with you how I know this to be true.

The Subject

Yesterday (Sunday) morning I preached a sermon drawn from John 3:16. It was a powerful message stressing the grace of a loving God who would give His One and Only Son, Jesus, as a ransom for our souls. It was a message that also stressed, among other things, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Therefore, part of the sermon dealt the Greek word monogenēs (translated “only begotten”).

So, last night, after church and choir practice, my family and a friend went to Taco Bell for a late night gut bomb. As we sat there in the restaurant, my wife asked me to go back over some of the things I shared regarding the King James word “only begotten.” As I began to do so, I noticed she was only half-listening as she tried to maintain another conversation with our two daughters sitting with us.

I shared how that it was unfortunate for so many KJV-only-ers to come down harshly on other translations that change “only begotten Son” to “One and Only Son.” Many claim that the change is an attempt to pervert Scripture; to deny the divinity of Jesus. Yet, what many don’t understand is that the word “begotten” is not the best word that could be chosen to support the very biblical doctrine of the Trinity.

“Only-Begotten”

The King James Study Bible’s notes on John 3:16 explain monogenēs (translated “only begotten”) in the following way (note the highlighted parts):

The Greek word monogenēs is used by John to convey only the unique relationship between God the Father and Jesus as the Son of the Father. It serves to distinguish Christ as the only Son of God, in contrast with the many children of God. The uniqueness of this relationship is further emphasized by the fact that we become the children of God whereas Jesus always was the Son of God.[1]

Note, nothing is said about why the word “begotten” was used in the first place, nor what the  definition of monogenēs actually is. According to sources such as A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, the Louw-Nida Greek Lexicon, the Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint, and the Greek Lexicon of the Septuagint, the word translated “only-begotten” actually means “unique,” “only,” and “the only member of a kin, only-begotten, only (of children) Jgs 11,34; id. (of God) Od 14,13; alone in its kind, one only.”[2]

So, even though “only-begotten” can be used to translate monogenēs, it is obvious that the actual theological meaning implied is that Jesus is the One and Only, totally unique, never created, always God, Son of God – the Word made flesh. Therefore, in my opinion, it is unnecessary for KJV-onlyists to condemn the translating of monogenēs into language that more accurately reflects the theology they are actually trying to preserve.

I find the following selection from Eardmans Bible Dictionary very interesting…

The KJV translation of Gk. monogenḗs “only, unique, one of a kind,” used (following Vulg. Lat. unigenitus) with reference to both Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) and Issac (Heb. 11:17). Most other translations consistently read “only,” while the NIV translates “the one and only” with regard to Jesus. In English “only begotten” implies a created being, an implication not conveyed by the Greek term (cf. Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38).[3]

As I explained to my wife and a friend, there is nothing wrong with changing a word to better reflect the actual meaning, especially when the modern understanding of the word being used tends to give credence to an un-biblical, heretical theology!! Consider the following section (especially the bolded parts) from Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible

The phrase “only-begotten” is not an accurate translation and should not be used in any of the nine passages. This phrase is derived from the Latin Vulgate (a translation of the Bible from about the 5th century which has been quite influential on other translations) and reflects certain theological debates about the person of Christ. …Ultimately the phrase “begotten not made” leads to what theologians call the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son. …“Only-begotten” is an incorrect translation. The idea being stressed is the uniqueness of Jesus’ relation to the Father. [4]

The irony is that I am the one who will be slammed and denigrated as a liberal “operative of Satan” who wants to change the Truth of Scripture. In the meantime, I am doing nothing but trying to “take heed unto…thy doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:16).

The Punchline

So, sitting in Taco Bell, I talked with my friend about monogenēs, at one point breaking down the word into its two parts, “mono” and “genes.” Unfortunately, sometime in the conversation I made a slip and mixed my words, saying “homogenes” (as in homogeneous). When I looked at my wife and asked, “Are you even listening?” She loudly, where everyone in the whole stinking place could hear her…

“HOMO! I got it! I GOT the HOMO!”

Here’s a lesson: if Greek bores you, keep silent about it in public places.


[1] King James Version Study Bible ., electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997).

[2] Johan Lust, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint : Revised Edition (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart, 2003).

[3] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 782.

[4] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1590.

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