The name only begotten Son of God! What a wealth of glorious truth there is in the name of our Saviour! Everything else we believe about him depends on the truth of this name. If he were not the only begotten Son of God, he would be nothing to us.
The name is part of the biblical truth that Jesus Christ is God, equal in all things to the Father. Though many today deny it, even the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day understood what he was claiming. When he called himself the Son of God, they took up stones to kill him for blasphemy (John 8:59; John 10:30-42). They understood far better than many do today. The cults, oneness doctrine, and other anti-trinitarian teachings read the name only begotten Son of God and do not even recognise what it means. It ought either to be the truth to them, or the most horrible blasphemy, for the name only begotten Son teaches his divinity even more powerfully than the name Son of God. It shows that among all God’s children, Jesus is unique, the eternal and natural Son of God.
The truth expressed in this name only begotten Son is often compromised by the modern Bible versions. Not only do they retranslate many important verses like 1Timothy 3:16 so that they make no reference to Christ’s divinity, but they also retranslate this name, usually as “only son” (Revised Version, Revised Standard Version, English Standard Version) or “one and only Son” (New International Version), something that is not even true. Jesus is not the only son of God; he is the “only begotten son” (John 3:16, 18). We are sons of God also, but we are not “begotten.” We are sons “adopted” by grace for Christ’s sake.
We must understand that not only is this name an exact and literal translation of the Greek, but is the name with which the church of Christ has defended the truth of his divinity against all comers. It ought not, therefore, be tampered with by those who claim to be retranslating the Word of God, even if their efforts are legitimate, although we believe they are not.
Another aspect of the great truth that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son is that his sonship is the basis and reason for ours. For this reason he is also called the “firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23) or “first begotten” (Hebrews 1:6). In Scripture the firstborn is the one who opens the womb (Exodus 13:2). As firstborn in the family of God, Jesus is the one who opens the way out of the “womb” of death and the grave for all his brethren when they are reborn into God’s family as sons and daughters. Without him we would be as children who come to birth, but could not be brought forth. Looking ahead to his work as firstborn, every firstborn was specially dedicated to God in the Old Testament.
Like the other names of Christ, this is not a name that can be confessed abstractly. The only way for me or you confess this name is to say that the only begotten Son of God is my God. And to say that he is my God is to find in his divinity, as it is uniquely expressed in this name, a sure foundation for believing in him and hoping in his mercy.
By Rev R, Hanko in “Doctrines According to Godliness.”