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StanJ

What Nicene Creed better reflects the reality of the Bible?

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There are two versions of the Nicene Creed that exist today. The first one was written in 325 AD for the Council of Nicea and the second one in 381 AD for the Council of Constantinople. IMO, they should have stuck with the first version because the second one makes a couple of statements that are just not scripturally accurate.

I would like to deal with the one that I think is the most problematic.

 

"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds."

 

In my understanding of Scripture, this statement goes against what Matthew 1:20 and John 1:14 state.

 

Comments?

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"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds."

 

In my understanding of Scripture, this statement goes against what Matthew 1:20 and John 1:14 state.

 

Comments?

 

Hello Stan,

 

The complete statement reads,

 

"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made."

 

I think the Nicene Creed should be taken in historical context, knowing the Arianism controversy would greatly help a person attempting to understand the Creed.

 

On the subject of the word used, "begotten", lemme ask you Stan, what does it mean, and what did the authors of the Creed mean to convey?

 

Do you belong to the Oneness Pentecostals, Stan?

 

God bless,

William

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Questions like this are the reasons catechesis for communicant membership needs to be re-introduced into churches that have rejected it. Seriously.

 

If you think those verse are "against" the Creed, then I don't know how you come to such a poor conclusion.

 

All texts should be read in the context of other passages of scripture. Scripture alone interprets scripture.

 

I suggest you read Col. 1 with particular reference to verse 15

 

Not to mention:

 

John 1:1,2,14, 18

John 3:16

Heb 1:5

 

Just off the top of my head.

 

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The complete statement reads,

 

I think the Nicene Creed should be taken in historical context, knowing the Arianism controversy would greatly help a person attempting to understand the Creed.

 

On the subject of the word used, "begotten", lemme ask you Stan, what does it mean, and what did the authors of the Creed mean to convey?

 

Do you belong to the Oneness Pentecostals, Stan?

 

God bless,

William

 

Yes I know, that's why I posted the link so everybody could see it but I'm more concerned about the wording that they added in 381 that was not in the 325 version.

I also understand that the main necessity for issuing the Creed was to combat Arianism. Sadly this 381 addition just compounded the problem of understanding the triune nature of God. No wonder so many people, down through the millennia, have been confused about the Trinity if they were using this Creed to base their beliefs on. In my opinion there is no need for this addition as the 325 original version worked quite well. Today with our current Canon of scripture, I really see no reason for people to be referring to a 2000 year old Creed when the Bible does more than an adequate job at portraying who are triune God is.

The Greek word used here is μονογενής (monogenēs) and connotes the only physically born Son of God. It has no application in the spiritual sense only in a physical sense. How could you possibly think that I might be Oneness Pentecostal just by this OP?

 

 

 

 

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Questions like this are the reasons catechesis for communicant membership needs to be re-introduced into churches that have rejected it. Seriously.

If you think those verse are "against" the Creed, then I don't know how you come to such a poor conclusion.

All texts should be read in the context of other passages of scripture. Scripture alone interprets scripture.

I suggest you read Col. 1 with particular reference to verse 15

Not to mention:

John 1:1,2,14, 18

John 3:16

Heb 1:5

Just off the top of my head.

I find it amazing that Martin Luther fought so hard to get away from Roman Catholicism and yet the denomination that bears his name still uses many RCC terms.

I pointed out a very specific part of that Creed and yet you fail to address it, so how about you address it and then maybe we can have some kind of productive discussion. FYI none of the verses you quote support that Jesus was begotten before all the worlds. If you believe that is the case, then you contradict Matthew 1:20, so which is it?

 

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I find it amazing that Martin Luther fought so hard to get away from Roman Catholicism and yet the denomination that bears his name still uses many RCC terms.

I pointed out a very specific part of that Creed and yet you fail to address it, so how about you address it and then maybe we can have some kind of productive discussion. FYI none of the verses you quote support that Jesus was begotten before all the worlds. If you believe that is the case, then you contradict Matthew 1:20, so which is it?

 

Martin Luther didn't try to get away from the Catholic church; he tried to reform it and bring it into alignment with the Bible. It was only after the church rejected and excommunicated him that he formed a new organization.

 

Matthew 1:20 refers to the conception of Jesus as a human; the creed refers to his divine nature. There is no contradiction between them.

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There are two versions of the Nicene Creed that exist today. The first one was written in 325 AD for the Council of Nicea and the second one in 381 AD for the Council of Constantinople. IMO, they should have stuck with the first version because the second one makes a couple of statements that are just not scripturally accurate.

I would like to deal with the one that I think is the most problematic.

 

"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds."

 

In my understanding of Scripture, this statement goes against what Matthew 1:20 and John 1:14 state.

 

Comments?

Stan I can see how you would think that phrase is problematic but I would encourage you to look at the creed within its own historical, theological, and literary context.

 

First, Arianism was still a problem. I won't go over the detail of Arianism because I am sure you know them.

 

Second, they were also dealing with Apollinarism which they condemned at Constantinople.

 

Third, the last part of that section states that Christ is Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.

 

The purpose of creed (at least in part) was to refute Arianism (and Apollinarism). Now given the beliefs of Arianism (i.e. Christ is a created being), and the purpose of the creed (i.e. to refute Arianism), don't you think there is absolutely no reason they would have put anything in the creed that even implied the Son was created because that would defeat the whole purpose of the creed and thus support Arius' view?

 

 

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Matthew 1:20 refers to the conception of Jesus as a human; the creed refers to his divine nature. There is no contradiction between them.

His divine nature is the Word, as John 1:14 clearly states. Jesus was not begotten of the father before all worlds. He was begotten by Mary when he was.

That is definitely a contradiction. No one wants to interpret the wording the Creed as saying that the father was before the world's then that's fine I have no problem with that but most people take it to mean that Jesus was begotten before the worlds and that is absolutely not factual according to scripture.

 

 

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Stan I can see how you would think that phrase is problematic but I would encourage you to look at the creed within its own historical, theological, and literary context.

 

First, Arianism was still a problem. I won't go over the detail of Arianism because I am sure you know them.

 

Second, they were also dealing with Apollinarism which they condemned at Constantinople.

 

Third, the last part of that section states that Christ is Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.

 

The purpose of creed (at least in part) was to refute Arianism (and Apollinarism). Now given the beliefs of Arianism (i.e. Christ is a created being), and the purpose of the creed (i.e. to refute Arianism), don't you think there is absolutely no reason they would have put anything in the creed that even implied the Son was created because that would defeat the whole purpose of the creed and thus support Arius' view?

 

Yes I know all about this and I understand that arianism was ONE of the reasons the Creed was created. My issue is not with the original Creed my issue is with the second one and the part that I highlighted which nobody seems willing to deal with, at least so far. Jesus was begotten the day he was born in Bethlehem. That's what begotten means. It has to do with being born a human being. It has nothing to do with creating spirits, or for that matter birthing spirits. Hebrews 1:3 explains the hypostatic union, so in my view there's nothing that scripture doesn't address as far as the divine nature of Jesus. For sure it doesn't say that Jesus was begotten before the beginning of time. Why would anybody want to claim a Creed as their statement of faith when it does not accurately reflect what Christianity is about? Christianity is about claiming Jesus as our God and savior. As far as Arius is concerned, this Creed really didn't help did it, because there are still unitarians among us today, but we now also have denominations that believe that only Jesus is God.

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My issue is not with the original Creed my issue is with the second one and the part that I highlighted which nobody seems willing to deal with, at least so far.
I believe I am.

 

Jesus was begotten the day he was born in Bethlehem. That's what begotten means. It has to do with being born a human being.
This is were you are making your mistake. The Greek word μονογενής means "unique, one of a kind." Any up to date scholarly Greek lexicon prove this point. The Greek verb "to give birth, to bring forth" is ἀποκυέω. Another common verb is γεννάω (i.e. "to beget, to become a parent").

 

For sure it doesn't say that Jesus was begotten before the beginning of time.
You are basing your argument upon an English word and not the Greek text.

 

Why would anybody want to claim a Creed as their statement of faith when it does not accurately reflect what Christianity is about?
The problem is you have made up your mind about what the authors meant. They all believed in the trinity. They all believed Jesus was not a created being. They all believed he was God. It makes no sense for them to write a creed which goes against those beliefs. You are not trying to understand what they meant by using certain terms and phrases but are reading into them what you think they mean which would be antithetical to their thinking. Edited by Origen
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I believe I am.

Not that I saw evident in your last post.

This is were you are making your mistake. The Greek word μονογενής means "unique, one of a kind." Any up to date scholarly Greek lexicon prove this point. The Greek verb "to give birth, to bring forth" is ἀποκυέω. Another common verb is γεννάω (i.e. "to beget, to become a parent").

μονογενής (monogenēs) connotes "only born", which is directly from Mounce's Reverse Interlinear Greek translation. Moo & Wallace both agree.

You are basing your argument upon an English word and not the Greek text.

The English translation of the Greek... Are you saying that the English translation is wrong? As I have already stated I prefer the original version and not the second one.

The problem is you have made up your mind about what the authors meant. They all believe in the trinity. They all believed Jesus was not a created being. They all believe he was God. It makes no sense for them to write a creed which goes against those beliefs. Also, you are not trying to understand what they meant by using certain terms.

What they meant has been translated if you're trying to tell me that's not what they meant then please do so and not just equivocate. My issue is not really that what they wrote in the second rendition was wrong according to scripture, my issue is that many Christians support the Nicene Creed when in fact the Nicene Creed is not fully in line with scripture. If you can explain to me where in scripture it says that Jesus was begotten before the beginning of time then please do so but in my 45 years experience of studying the Bible, I haven't seen it once.

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Not that I saw evident in your last post.
That is because you do not care to read and understand but had rather simply react.

 

μονογενής (monogenēs) connotes "only born", which is directly from Mounce's Reverse Interlinear Greek translation.
Clearly you do not understand Mounce.

 

First, in every case Mounce translates the Greek word μονογενής as "only son" (or "one and only son") not "only born" when it refers to Jesus.

 

 

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we gazed on his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son, himself God, the one who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

 

John 3:16 For this is how God loved the world: he gave his one and only Son that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

John 3:18 The one who believes in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

 

 

Nowhere does Mounce ever translate μονογενής as "only born" because that is not what the word means. Mounce knows it and that is why he does not translate it as "only born."

 

 

Perhaps you are referring to Mounce Greek Dictionary. The entry reads "only-begotten, only-born, Lk. 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Heb. 11:17; only-begotten in respect of peculiar generation, unique."

 

Moreover, Mounce himself says of his dictionary: "This dictionary is not designed to replace a full dictionary (such as A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Frederick William Danker) or a word study (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology) but it will help for reference." This is a layperson's dictionary and the definitions are short glosses, not full treatments.

 

Moo & Wallace both agree.
I doubt it, given your errors with Mounce. Cite the sources so that I may check them.

 

The English translation of the Greek... Are you saying that the English translation is wrong?
Not wrong. Merely misunderstood given the language and the faulty understanding of the English terms.

 

What they meant has been translated if you're trying to tell me that's not what they meant then please do so and not just equivocate.
You must not know what equivocation means. If you think that English always reflects the Greek perfectly you are sadly mistaken.

 

If you can explain to me where in scripture it says that Jesus was begotten before the beginning of time then please do so but in my 45 years experience of studying the Bible, I haven't seen it once.
There it is. That is the view you believe they have. That is what you think they meant. You simply have no understanding of this topic because you are forcing your view of what you think they meant upon the text. Edited by Origen

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I find it amazing that Martin Luther fought so hard to get away from Roman Catholicism and yet the denomination that bears his name still uses many RCC terms.

 

Why would that even be a problem? The terms are useful. You ought to try to understand them before you throw them out and replace them with your own.

 

I pointed out a very specific part of that Creed and yet you fail to address it, so how about you address it and then maybe we can have some kind of productive discussion. FYI none of the verses you quote support that Jesus was begotten before all the worlds. If you believe that is the case, then you contradict Matthew 1:20, so which is it?

 

Every verse referring to the Jesus as God the Son adds to the above cited verses which shows he was begotten before all worlds. Unless of course you don't understand what that means, which after sifting through the thread seems to be the problem.

 

Typical pentecostal. Pontification without knowledge.

 

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Why would that even be a problem? The terms are useful. You ought to try to understand them before you throw them out and replace them with your own.

 

Every verse referring to the Jesus as God the Son adds to the above cited verses which shows he was begotten before all worlds. Unless of course you don't understand what that means, which after sifting through the thread seems to be the problem.

 

Typical pentecostal. Pontification without knowledge.

 

I understand them perfectly I was born and raised in the RCC.

What verses exactly refer to Jesus as God the son?

The only person I really see pontificating here is RevT.

Thanks for coming out.

 

 

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That is because you do not care to read and understand but had rather simply react.

Your post are the ones that are reactive my friend, I am simply stating facts that you don't care to address or can't.

First, in every case Mounce translates the Greek word μονογενής as "only son" (or "one and only son") not "only born" when it refers to Jesus.

So are you suggesting Jesus wasn't born, or are you suggesting he was the only son but God had a daughter?

Most modern translations use only son or one and only son because using the word only born is redundant unless one wants to strive about words, which apparently is what was going on when they release the second version of the Nicene Creed in 381 ad. A son or a daughter is born they don't miraculously appear out of nothing. The point is that the Creed says 'begotten before all time', and that is not factual, so please try to stick to the issue and not run down these rabbit trails.

Nowhere does Mounce ever translate μονογενής as "only born" because that is not what the word means. Mounce knows it and that is why he does not translate it as "only born."

He translates it as only son for the same reason they got rid of begotten which means the same as born. It is commonly understood that his son can't be a son unless he is born or adopted but that still means that he was born. So what exactly are you saying Jesus wasn't born or Jesus was adopted?

Strong's defines μονογενής as; only born, that is, sole: - only (begotten, child).

Perhaps you are referring to Mounce Greek Dictionary. The entry reads "only-begotten, only-born, Lk. 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Heb. 11:17; only-begotten in respect of peculiar generation, unique."

Moreover, Mounce himself says of his dictionary: "This dictionary is not designed to replace a full dictionary (such as A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Frederick William Danker) or a word study (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology) but it will help for reference." This is a layperson's dictionary and the definitions are short glosses, not full treatments.

No, I'm talking about his translation and his site; https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/monogenes

Not wrong. Merely misunderstood given the language and the faulty understanding of the English terms.

Which despite all your bravado you don't seem to be able to clarify one iota.

You must not know what equivocation means. If you think that English always reflects the Greek perfectly you are sadly mistaken.

You must really believe you're the smartest person in the world when it comes to exegeting scripture, and YOU are very much mistaken.

There it is. That is the view you believe they have. That is what you think they meant. You simply have no understanding of this topic because you are forcing your view of what you think they meant upon the text.

How about you contribute to the discussion instead of making all these supercilious comments? You have a lot of negative things to say about me but you have nothing positive to contribute to the conversation so unless you intend on doing so I'm just going to put you on ignore.

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Your post are the ones that are reactive my friend, I am simply stating facts that you don't care to address or can't.
I did address it but for some reason you are unable to comprehend it.

 

So are you suggesting Jesus wasn't born, or are you suggesting he was the only son but God had a daughter?
I am suggesting we try and understand what they thought, what they wrote, what they believed, rather than your method of claiming they are wrong without even trying to understand what they wrote and why they wrote it.

 

Most modern translations use only son or one and only son because using the word only born is redundant unless one wants to strive about words
Clearly a comment made by someone who does not know Greek nor has read anything on this topic.

 

A son or a daughter is born they don't miraculously appear out of nothing. The point is that the Creed says 'begotten before all time', and that is not factual, so please try to stick to the issue and not run down these rabbit trails.
Oh I am. Again, that is the view you believe they have. That is what you think they meant. You simply have no understanding of this topic because you are forcing your view of what you think they meant upon the text.

 

He translates it as only son for the same reason they got rid of begotten which means the same as born.
Mounce translates it that way because that is what the word means and he says so in his dictionary.

 

It is commonly understood that his son can't be a son unless he is born or adopted but that still means that he was born. So what exactly are you saying Jesus wasn't born or Jesus was adopted?

Strong's defines μονογενής as; only born, that is, sole: - only (begotten, child).

I wish everyone would understand that Strong is an out of date source. Moreover it is not a scholarly lexicon.

 

No, I'm talking about his translation and his site; https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/monogenes
That is the same thing I posted and clearly you did not read it. Mounce states: "only-begotten in respect of peculiar generation, unique." Learn how to use a dictionary.

 

Which despite all your bravado you don't seem to be able to clarify one iota.
Where are Moo and Wallace? Cite the sources you claim support your case. You can't because they don't.

 

You must really believe you're the smartest person in the world when it comes to exegeting scripture, and YOU are very much mistaken.
First off I was not exegeting Scripture but defining a Greek word according to scholarly sources. Second, I was addressing one part of the creed you posted. Third, I do not think I am the smartest person in the world but being smarter than you is not that difficult give how low you set the bar.

 

How about you contribute to the discussion instead of making all these supercilious comments?
Sorry but you must have missed it again.

 

You have a lot of negative things to say about me but you have nothing positive to contribute to the conversation so unless you intend on doing so I'm just going to put you on ignore.
That is a good idea. I would not want you to be confused by evidence, facts, and intelligent arguments. That would no doubt prove too much for you.

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On the topic of μονογενής and what it means, the word does not mean "only born" but "unique, one of a kind." This has been known for quite some time. Lets look at the two sources (referenced in post 12) Mounce mentions in regard to μονογενής.

 

(1) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd Ed. (William Bauer, revised and edited by F. W. Danker: University Of Chicago Press, 2000). BDAG (as it is abbreviated) gives two definitions for μονογενής (p. 658).

 

1. pert. to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship, one and only, only

2. pert. to being the only one of its kind or class, unique (in kind)

 

(2) New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Moisés Silva editor, Zondervan: 2014, 4 Vols.) NIDNTTE (as it is abbreviated) states:

 

As applied to Jesus, μονογενής clearly is used to mark him out uniquely above all earthly and heavenly beings. The rendering "only-begotten" goes back to Jerome, who used unigenitus in the Vulg. to counter the Arian claim that Jesus was not begotten but made. Although the vb. γεννάω G1164, "to beget," is common in the Johannine writings, it is not normally applied to Jesus (the only exceptions are John 18:37; 1 John 5:18b), and in any case μονογενής is formed from the noun γένος (see above, GL), not from the vb. γεννάω (although both terms are ultimately derived from γίνομαι G1181, "to become, be born," etc."). Thus the meaning of the compound is "of a single kind" (it is used in this sense of the Phoenix, 1 Clem. 25.2).

 

To be sure, the identification of Jesus as μονογενής does allude to his origin as Son of God (cf. esp. John 1:14, 18) and poss. also to the notion of begetting (cf. F. Büchsel in TDNT 4:741). The primary focus, however, is soteriological (3:14–18; 1 John 4:9–10). Thus the meaning of the term is centered "in the Personal existence of the Son, and not in the Generation of the Son" (B. F. Westcott, The Epistles of St John [1883], 170; see also D. Moody, "God’s Only Son: The Translation of John 3:16 in the Revised Standard Version," JBL 72 [1953]: 213–19). In addition, John makes the point that Jesus, as μονογενής, is the one who can say, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).

 

 

These are not the only sources on this subject. The Net Bible note 37 for John 3:16 states:

 

Although this word is often translated "only begotten," such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham’s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means "one-of-a-kind" and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (τέκνα θεοῦ, tekna theou), Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).

 

The UBS Translators' Handbook on the Gospel of John states:

 

Only Son is the rendering of all modern translations. there is no doubt regarding the meaning of the Greek work used here (monogenēs); it means "only" and not "only begotten." The meaning "only begotten," which appears in the Vulgate, has influenced KJV and many other early translations. this same Greek work is used elsewhere in the New Testament in Luke 7.12; 8.42; 9.38; and Hebrews 11.17.

 

Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. (Horst Balz & Gerhard Schneider, Eds: Eerdmans, 2002, 3 Vols.) p. 439.

 

1. The adj. μονογενής appears 9 times in the NT: 3 times in Luke (7:12 and 9:38 of a son, 8:42 of a daughter), 4 times in John as a designation of Jesus’ relationship to God (1:14, 18; 3:16, 18), in 1 John 4:9 (with the same meaning as the Gospel of John), and in Heb 11:17 (of Isaac).

 

2. Μονογενής means only, one of a kind, unique (derived from μόνος and γένος). This basic meaning is found in Plato Ti. 92c (of the heaven: εἷς οὐρανὸς ὅδε μονογενής); Wis 7:22 (of the Spirit of Wisdom); Cornutus Theologia Graeca 27 [49:13] (of this one and only world: εἷς καὶ μονογενὴς ὁ κόσμος; likewise Plutarch Moralia 423a); 1 Clem. 25:2 (of the phoenix).

 

Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Based on Semantic Domains. 2nd Ed. (Johannes P. Louw & Eugene A. Nida: American Bible Society, 1989, 2 Vols.) p. 591.

 

μονογενής, ές: pertaining to what is unique in the sense of being the only one of the same kind or class — ‘unique, only.’ τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν ‘he gave his only Son’ Jn 3:16; τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἀπέσταλκεν ὁ θεός ‘God sent his only Son’ 1Jn 4:9; τὸν μονογενῆ προσέφερεν ὁ τὰς ἐπαγγελίας ἀναδεξάμενος ‘he who had received the promises presented his only son’ or ‘… was ready to offer his only son’ He 11:17. Abraham, of course, did have another son, Ishmael, and later sons by Keturah, but Isaac was a unique son in that he was a son born as the result of certain promises made by God. Accordingly, he could be called a μονογενής son, since he was the only one of his kind.

 

There is simply no doubt as to the meaning of the Greek word and it is not "only born."

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