What’s the Meaning of “Begotten” in John 3:16?

Graffiti says "Jesus"

Dear Pastor Andy, what does “begotten” mean in John 3:16? I promise I’m not trying to be antagonistic, I really want to understand your point of view. I come from an LDS/Mormon background, and while I don’t believe in a lot of what I believe in, the idea of the Trinity still confuses me. It doesn’t make sense to me that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are really one personage. If Jesus is God, then doesn’t that mean He wasn’t watching over the rest of the earth when He was man? Please take me seriously, for I really want to understand your point of view and to know what it means for you in the concept of trinity. Anyone could look up a definition of something, what I’m looking for is how you interpret it.

My Reply:
I was reading the beliefs of a Messianic Jewish site the other day, and I believe their translation of the Trinity makes the best sense to somebody who’s confused about it. They said that God revealed Himself throughout the Gospel in 3 ways, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.

  • God the Father: Jesus continued to point to Him…remember, Christianity is about a relationship with God through His Son (God the Son), Jesus Christ. And when we enter into this relationship, we receive the Holy Spirit.
  • God the Son, which is Jesus, which is God in the flesh. But John also tells us in his first chapter that Jesus was the one who created everything that exists. This isn’t to say that the other 2 parts didn’t create, but insists that Jesus is God.
  • We know that the Holy Spirit dwells in God’s people, both in the New and Old Testaments. Genesis also tells us that the Spirit of the Lord hovered over the waters. And Jesus talks of the Holy Spirit as being the mediator that’s needed in order for us to communicate with God, who also supplies us with spiritual gifts.

John 3:16, “begotten”: When Jesus is called God’s “only begotten Son”, the actual translation from the Greek is “God’s one and only Son.” John made this point because some off-religions (a.k.a. “cults”) and false teachers at the time said that God had other children, and that Jesus was just one of them. Being from the LDS, I’m sure you’re familiar with such teaching that Jesus and Satan were brothers. But John tells us that this isn’t true, and that Jesus is the ONLY Son of God.

1 Comment

  1. Per my Greek Study Bible, the Greek word “monogenes” means “only”. Jesus is indeed the ONLY Son of God (Satan is not God’s other son nor Jesus’ brother). But praise Jesus that we may have a true relationship with Him when He says “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). As we wait for Jesus’ second coming (after His first coming, aka the true meaning of Christmas), Merry CHRISTmas and “peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (Luke 2:14)!

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