ONLY BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER
The apostle John uses this title at least four times. He tells us that 'God sent his only begotten Son', 1 John 4. 9; God 'gave his only begotten Son', to the cross, John 3. 16; on the mount of transfiguration, Christ displayed His intrinsic glory 'as of the only begotten of the Father', John 1. 14; and we ought to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God, John 3. 18.
Clearly the term 'only-begotten', in reference to Christ, cannot refer to natural generation, since He is eternal. And it need not refer to natural generation, since Isaac is said to be the only-begotten of Abraham, Heb. 11. 17. Yet Abraham had many sons including Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael, however, was not the son of promise through whom the Messiah would come. Thus, Christ as the only-begotten is the promised seed of the woman, Gen. 3. 15, and the special and uniquely-loved Son of His Father.
Luke records three miracles of the Lord, each of which involved an only child. In each case, the children were either dead or near to death. We are reminded of the only-begotten Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. It shows the Lord's tenderness to those whose precious and unique treasures had been taken away. He understood; He was the ultimate 'only-begotten'. He brought joy to the funeral procession of the only son of the widow at Nain, Luke 7. 12. Jairus had a recently deceased, twelve year old daughter whom the Lord raised, Luke 8. 41-42, 49-56. Then a man at the foot of a mount presented a demon-possessed only son who was living, but near to death, Luke 9. 38-39.
Isaac and Joseph are two noteworthy sons in Genesis. Isaac is a picture of Christ, the only-begotten Son. Joseph, however, with his special coat, pictures our Lord as the well-beloved Son. 'Well-beloved', is only used of Christ in the Gospels the Father's words at the Lord's baptism and transfiguration, in the parable of the husbandmen, and in Matthew 12. 18.
By adoption our Father has many sons and daughters whom He loves dearly, and among whom we are counted. But He has just one 'only-begotten' to whom all the glory is due. May we give Him 'the glory as of the only begotten of the Father'.