Why is Jesus called the only begotten Son of God?

This article is a follow up to the recent article regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses. A reader submitted a comment defending the Jehovah’s Witnesses as Christians. I did not approve the comment but want to respond to an objection raised in the comment. Before doing so I want to interject some comments about commenting on this blog.

I filter every comment. I will only approve comments which further legitimate discussion about the topic at hand. Comments which ignore the substance of the article, which raise questions already addressed in other posts or which regurgitate the long standing assertions with little regard to the Bible are going to be rejected. Comments which ask vaild questions or raise pertinent points that are profitable for discussion will be approved. This is not a debate blog. This is not a forum for everyone to spout their opinions- Mark Zuckerberg invented a place for that. This blog is an intentional teaching and evangelizing tool that answers questions about the Bible and Biblical Christianity. I am unapologetically the supreme dictator of the comment section and will only approve comments which in my sole discretion I consider as furthering worthwhile conversation.

I did not approve the comment about Jehovah’s Witnesses but do want to respond to one statement. The commenter said, “Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . do not deny the words of God Who does not tell lies and declares Jesus to be His only begotten son.” If Jesus is eternally God and equal with the Father in essence, nature and power then why does the Bible call him the Son of God? Why is Jesus presented as begotten of God if He has always existed as God?

The title of Son of God is used of Jesus in reference to His incarnation. In other words, Jesus was the Son of God in His birth as a human by the working of God. Jesus is the begotten of God because the supernatural power of God worked through miraculous means for His birth. Mary gave birth to a baby boy by the working of God without the usual biological means of becoming pregnant. Jesus is the only begotten because He is the only One born of woman without a human father.

The gospel of Luke calls Adam the son of God. Jesus is far greater than Adam but this comparison is helpful in understanding why Jesus is called the Son of God. Adam was the son of God in the sense that he came into existence without parents because God created him. Similarly, Jesus became a man because of the direct working of God. Jesus was born fully human, while remaining fully Divine, because of the supernatural working of God in Mary’s body.

Jesus is not the Son of God because at some point in eternity past God the Father brought the Son into existence. Jesus is the Son of God becaus He came into the world, becoming human through the miraculous working of the Father and the Spirit.

“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.”
John 3:16

In what way is Jesus begotten of God?

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” At Christmas we remember the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ birth is of universal importance because Jesus is God who set aside His Divine prerogatives, clothed Himself in humanity and suffered the punishment of man’s sin so men can be saved. John 3:16 famously describes Jesus as the “only begotten Son.” That Jesus is begotten of God may seem to be at odds with the Biblical doctrine that Jesus is the eternal God. If Jesus is the eternally existent God, in what way is He begotten of God?

Psalm 2:7 presents a powerful promise of the coming Messiah. God comforts His servant David with the promises He will establish His own Son as King of Jerusalem who will reign over all the earth. The Messianic promise of God is certified by the Divine decree, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” In the New Testament Paul declares that Jesus is the Son decreed by God in Psalm 2. The begottenness of Jesus is the eternal decree of God to establish God the Son as the Messiah of Israel who would reign as King over the entire earth.

John 1:14 connects the incarnation- God the Son’s taking to Himself humanity- with His being begotten. Jesus is begotten of God in His birth into the world. Jesus was not conceived by natural means but by the power of God uniquely working to generate a child. Jesus’ begottenness is the working of God to miraculously create a body for the Son within Mary’s womb. His begottenness is in the working of God to send the Son of God, the seed of woman, into humanity to become the Savior of man.

God the Son is the eternally existent God who created all things. He is fully God and equal with the Father in existence, eternality, infinity, majesty, power and glory. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply the least inferiority. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply a point in eternity in which the Father existed alone without the Son or the Spirit. Jesus is described as begotten because of the Divine decree that the Son would take upon Himself humanity. Through His humanity Jesus would become the Savior of those who trust Him and He would be the conquering King that would rule all the earth. Jesus is begotten in His human personage and in His Messianic work. God the Son did not spring into existence on Christmas day (or nine months before His birth). God the Son has no source nor origination. The Son of God is fully God, the second person of the Trinity, who shares entirely in the identical, eternal essence and existence of the Triune Godhead.