I intentionally chose a controversial title for this topic because this may be a stronghold that has prevented God’s children (born-again believers) from fully accepting their identity in Christ. May the Holy Spirit open the eyes of our understanding to receive the truth of who we are as children of God that we may better relationally know our perfect Father and his immeasurable love.
We are all familiar with John 3:16 ~“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life..” but, that isn’t precisely how that verse should be read.
The word translated “only begotten” should more accurately read “unique” or “one of a kind”. I just heard this recently and immediately knew that I had to search the Scriptures myself to see if it was true and it is. I believe this is important because “begotten” literally means “to begat or born of”.
John 1:12,13 ~ “12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.“
The word used at the beginning of verse 13 literally means begotten. So anyone who is born-again; is literally a begotten child of God! They are not the unique begotten Son of God. That title is given to the Word made flesh, Jesus. But, how else can we be children of God unless we were born of (or begotten) of God?
It occurred to me that mistranslations like this may be a great hindrance in our growth. We probably all understand the power of our “subconscious” and know that we have more thoughts passing through our minds than we can control or realize. Misunderstanding one of the foundational verses in Christianity will surely have a negative effect on the rest of the structure! It’s no wonder we have had trouble really believing with our heart that we are also literally God’s children. Because this verse should be part of our sure foundation but our understanding of this verse may have become a stumbling block in front of the promise of our identity in Him!
God’s words are all true and will not fail but, the translators didn’t interpret everything exactly right. It’s a beautiful thing that we can all carry different versions of the Bible to church in our arms every week and not be divisive; because none of us are outwardly carrying a “perfect version. The only perfect Word of God is the Word that is inside of us…Jesus, himself! He is the Holy Seed, the living and abiding word that we were begotten of!
Consider how the ISV translated John 3:16
~ “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his unique Son so that everyone who believes in him might not be lost but have eternal life. “
But, you have to use the WEY version to find the word “begotten” in John 1:12,13 ~ “But all who have received Him, to them—that is, to those who trust in His name—He has given the privilege of becoming children of God; 13who were begotten as such not by human descent, nor through an impulse of their own nature, nor through the will of a human father, but from God.”
The Bible is really deep and some of those profound truths have been obscured my misunderstanding of words. It is written in Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
Truth that sets us free also protects us from being destroyed.
The truth is that the “born-again” believer IS a begotten child of God! Jesus is not the only begotten child of God, He is the completely unique Son of God but we are all begotten of God!
“For it was fitting for Him (God), for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.11For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”(Heb.2:10,11)
The Father has begotten many children and is bringing many children to maturity and glory! He is pleased to call us His children and He loves us the same that He loves Jesus! (John 17:23)
“For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
*Added Later* Heb.11:17 also demonstrates that the term often translated “only begotten” is better translated “one-of-a-kind” or “unique ~ “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,”
But, we know that Abraham had previously begat Ishmael through Hagar. Ishmael was literally Abraham’s first born (begotten) son but, Isaac was Abraham’s unique son.