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John 3:16 - ‘He gave His only begotten Son’.


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John 3:16 - ‘He gave His only begotten Son’.

Watchtower teaching: JWs teach that the term ‘Son of God’ refers to Jesus as a separate created being, just as Isaac was called Abraham’s ‘only begotten son’ (Hebrews 11:17), and that Jesus as ‘Son of God’ was not God Himself. JWs claim that Almighty God is the Father of Jesus in the same sense that Abraham is the father of Isaac. JWs claim that God is the senior, and Jesus is the junior - in time, position, power and knowledge.

The Bible teaching: Isaac was not Abraham’s ‘only son’. Abraham had begotten a number of other sons, such as Ishmael, Zimram, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah (Genesis 25:2). The term ‘only begotten Son’ means that Isaac was Abraham’s unique son. Hence Jesus is ‘the only begotten Son’ in the sense that no-one else is as unique as Jesus. Jesus is alone all that God is. ‘All things that the Father hath are mine.’ (John 16:15).

If Christ has all the attributes that the Father has, then Christ is God, because only God has eternality, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.

Question: What did ‘Son of’ mean among the ancients? The idea that the title ‘Son of God’ indicates inferiority to the Father, is based on a faulty conception of what ‘Son of’ meant among the ancients. Though it can mean ‘offspring of’ in some contexts, it also carries the more important meaning: ‘OF THE ORDER OF’

It is used in this way as follows:
i) ‘The sons of the prophets’ (I Kings 20:35) meant ‘of the order of the prophets’;
ii) The ‘sons of the singers’ (Nehemiah 12:28) meant ‘of the order of the singers’;
iii) ‘Of the sons of Asaph’ (Nehemiah 11:22) meant ‘of the order of Asaph’.

Hence, the phrase ‘Son of God’ means ‘of the order of God’ as a claim to Christ’s undiminished Deity.
Ancient Jews and Orientals used the phrase ‘son of’ to indicate sameness of nature and equality of being. When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, His Jewish contemporaries fully understood that He was claiming to be fully equivalent to God.
Hence, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jews said, ‘We have a law, and by our
law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God’. (John 19:7).
‘he said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.’ (John 5:18).

Ask: If the phrase ‘son of’ meant sameness of nature and equality of being among the ancients, as historical records clearly show, then what does this tell us about the meaning of the phrase ‘Son of God’?

Christ was Son of God before His human birth:

i) ‘For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world . . .’(John 3:17).
That Christ, as the Son of God, was sent into the world, implies that He was the Son of God before His incarnation.
ii) Proverbs 30:4 shows God as the Creator who has a Son: ‘What is his name, and what is his son’s name?’
This speaks of God the Father and God the Son in present tense terms in OT times.
iii) ‘the form of the fourth is like the Son of God’. (Daniel 3:25).
Nebuchadnezzar threw three men into the fiery furnace, yet he saw the Son of God walking with them in the furnace. The Masoretic Text and Septuagint reads, ‘Son of God’(singular) not ‘a son of the gods’ as in the JW New World Translation and the NIV.

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