The First and the Only Begotten

Jesus is called the Only begotten (John 3:16) and the First begotten [born] (Hebrews 1:5) in scripture? Let us see what these two terms actually mean. 

When the bible uses the phrase “begotten” for Jesus, some also think this points to a literal birth of Christ. They think Jesus had a beginning somewhere in the eternity past. In other words, the idea is, Jesus was made or brought into existence at some point in the eternity past by God the Father. Understanding the terms, the only begotten and the first begotten will leave no room for this erroneous idea that Christ had a beginning.

Was Jesus “Made” into existence or is He the “Maker” of all things?

John 1:1,3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Note: Without "Jesus"was not any thing made that was made; everything was made by Jesus. Therefore, Jesus cannot be made, rather He is the Maker [one who made all things] (Col 1:16).

Can Jesus be our savior if Jesus is not eternal?

Romans 6:23 Wages of sin is death

Note: Wages of sin is what sort of death? Eternal death. Only the one with eternal life can pay the penalty of eternal death. That’s why Jesus has to have eternal life (John 1:4). He is not a created being nor a being with a beginning!


What is the Greek word for “only begotten”?

The greek word is:

H3439 – monogenes

Note: Literally the Greek means ‘of a single [monos] kind [genos]’. Hence we get the meaning “unique, only, one of a kind”.

What does the word only begotten mean?

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham when he was tired offered up Isaac and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son

Note: Abraham had at least two sons (Gal 4:22). Why is Isaac called the Only begotten son? The word "only" is singular which means there is only one Son and no other. Is Isaac called the only begotten because he is literally, the only begotten son, or is he the only Son with a promise? He was the only Son with a promise (Hebrews 11:17) and Isaac was a type of Jesus. The term only begotten therefore emphasizes not on the birth aspect but on the uniqueness of the son. Jesus is the only one with a promise. He is the unique Son of God. There is none else.

How is Jesus the only begotten in relationship to the Father?

Who declares the Father?

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time the only begotten son who is in the bosom of the Father He has declared Him

Note: The only begotten Son is the only one that declares the Father. In order for man or creation to know about God [the Father], Jesus must declare about the Father.

Who shows Father's glory [character]?

John 1:14 And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth

Note: Jesus is the one who shows the glory [character (Exodus 33:18-19)] of God the Father.

Who expresses the Father's character always?

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power when he had by himself purged our sins sat down in the right hand of the majesty on high

Note: Notice the word “being” which signifies Jesus was and is always the brightness of Father's glory. He is the "only one" who always reveals the Father’s character. God the Father somehow does not seem to reveal himself. Who reveals him? Jesus Christ. For God the Father, Jesus is the only one that will express him.

Colossians 1:15 who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature

Note: God the Father is the invisible God. Therefore we cannot see God the Father. Christ is only one who will reveal the Father to his creation. If the Father does not have Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son, can the Father reveal himself? What does the bible say? God the Father is invisible.

What did God the Father give up by giving the only begotten Son?

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Note: Jesus is the only one who reveals the Father. When God the Father gave his only begotten son Jesus, God the Father effectively gave up his self image. He gave up his visible expression. He gave up the only way he can express himself. In other words, He gave up himself! Did God the Father make a great sacrifice? Yes, He did!

Did the only begotten Son gave up the form of God to reveal the Father to the mankind?

Philippians 2:6-8 Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself and became obedient unto death even the death of the cross

Note: The word “being” signifies always. Christ was always in the form of God. But then there was change. Jesus had the form of God and he took upon him a form of a [man] servant. Note carefully; God the Father gave up his self expression when he gave us his only begotten Son. God the Son gave up his form of God when he took upon the form of man. Is Christ still God? Yes, in the form of Man. Christ is still the Son of God but in the form of the Son of man (Revelation 14:14).

Only begotten - conclusion: Christ is the one who has always been there to reveal the Father. He is the only begotten, the unique Son of God. He is not a Son with a beginning, but a unique Son!


Is there a difference between First begotten and the Only begotten?

If I say, this is my “only” son, how many sons do I have? One

If I say, this is my “first” son, how many sons do I have? More than one!

So if Jesus is the first begotten, how many sons does the Father have? Let’s us see!

When is Christ called the First begotten?

Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angles said he at any time thou art my son this day have I begotten thee and again I will be to him a father and he shall be to me a son? And again when he bringeth in the first begotten in to the world he saith let all the angels of God worship

Note: God says to the Son, “this day I have begotten thee”.

When was Christ called the first begotten? What day is “this day”?

Acts 13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children in that he hath raised Jesus up again as it is also written in the second psalm thou art my son this day have I begotten thee

Note: When Jesus was resurrected, Father proclaimed “thou art my Son this day have I begotten”. Begotten as what? The only begotten? No! Begotten as the First begotten. Therefore, when Jesus was raised to life, he became the first begotten. He always was and is the only begotten (unique) Son of God revealing the Father, but He became the first begotten Son when he was resurrected.

When Jesus is the First begotten son, how many sons will God the Father have? Does Jesus become a son or the Son?

Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angles said he at any time thou art my son this day have I begotten thee and again I will be to him a father and he shall be to me a son? And again when he bringeth in the first begotten in to the world he saith let all the angels of God worship

Note: When Jesus is the First begotten, Jesus becomes “a” son. “First begotten into the world” refers to his resurrection back to our world! He was always "the" only begotten Son, the unique Son of God – the one who reveals the Father. But when he became the First begotten, he also became “a” Son which means many will rise after him.

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness and the first begotten of the dead and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood

Note: Jesus is the first one that was resurrected from the dead. But hold on a second. Wasn’t there any one resurrected before Jesus? At least Moses (Jude 9)! Moses should be the first one to be resurrected but why is Jesus called the first begotten? Here is the answer. Without the first, can you have the second? No! Can you have a second son without the first Son? The answer is No! Therefore, this means without the resurrection of Jesus, Moses could not be resurrected. So Moses was resurrected based upon the promise or the fact that Jesus will be resurrected. If Jesus did not resurrect from the dead, Moses will have to come down and die.

What meaning does the word "firstborn" signify?

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body the church who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead: that in all things he might have the preeminence

Note: Jesus is called the first begotten when he was resurrected. The term firstborn also means preeminence which signifies that without him, there is no resurrection. When it says He is the "first born of every creature" (Col 1:15), it means without him, there is no creation.

So what does first begotten of the dead really mean?

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow he also predestinate to be conformed o the image of His son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren

Note: Firstborn among many brethren means by his resurrection, He becomes our first brother who was resurrected. Jesus is our God [the Son] as well as our brother. Isn’t it wonderful that the Son of God became a Son of man so that sons of man can become sons of God? God the Father gave up his only begotten Son and in return he received many Sons.

So what is the difference between the term first begotten and the only begotten?

The Son of God : Christ was always and will be the only begotten Son, the unique Son of God who reveals the Father.

A son of God : But Christ is the First begotten when he was resurrected and he became a son meaning, God will have many other Sons who will be resurrected because of him. Who are those sons and daughters?

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we the sons of God

See also: