God or Son? John 1:18

Does John 1:18 say that Jesus was the begotten god/God, the only God or the begotten son?

There are many different translations of this verse but which one is actually correct? Let’s have a look at some of the translations. 

The KJV says begotten son

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. KJV

The ESV says the only God

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ESV

The  Jehovah Witness Bible the NWT says only begotten god

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is at the Father’s side is the one who has explained Him.

The NASB however says only Begotten God , with a capital G

John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.


It must be noted here, for sake of clarity, that God is the reading that most NT scholars accept as being the genuine reading. 

Before we get into the obvious, and in some cases serious theological ramifications that arise from some of these translations, the first thing we have to do is look at the Greek text. It has to be noted that there is a major (and theology changing) variant between the Greek manuscripts.

The Greek 

When it comes to manuscript support, as in weight of manuscript evidence,  there really is no question as to what the correct reading should be.

The Greek in the overwhelming majority of Greek texts, about 1630 manuscripts, reads “ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός” Ho monogenes huios , the only begotten son, just as the KJV has correctly translated it. (sorry have I given the answer away?) 

These manuscripts include
A (Alexandrinus 5th century),  Alexandrian 
C correction (Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus 5th Century),
E (Laudianus 6th Century)
F (Boreelianus 9th Century),
G (Seidelianus I) 9th Century)  ,
H (Seidelianus II) 9th Century) ,
K (Cyprius 9th Century)
M (Campianus 9th Century),
S (Vaticanus 354 10th Century),
U (Nanianus 9th Century),
V (Mosquensis II 9th Century)
X (Monasensis 10th Century),
Gamma, Delta, Theta, Lambda, Pi and Psi.

It is also the reading of the Old Latin
a (Vercellenis 4th Century)
aur (Aureus 8th Century)
b (Veronensis 5th Century),
c (Colbertinus 1200’s ,
e (Palatinus 5th Century,
f (Brixianus 6th Century),
ff2 (Corbeiensis II 5th Century),
l (Sarzanesis 6th Century)
q (Monasensis 600)

The Syriac Curetonian, Harclean, Palestinian, Armenian, Georgian, Slavonic and Ethiopic all read SON in this verse.

There are however, some variants of this reading, found in a number of manuscripts such as.

Manuscript 2546 (12 Century) reads ὁ μονογενὴς ὁ υἱός, Ho monogenes ho huios with the extra article, the only begotten the son 

Manuscripts 2479 (13th Century) and 2528 (13/14th century) read μονογενὴς υἱός, monogenes huios , without any article, only begotten son 

Manuscript 2192 (15th Century) reads ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός του θεου, ho monogenes huios tou theou, the only begotten son of the God 

Manuscript 1116 reads (15th Century)  μονογενὴς γαρ υἱός , ho monogenes gar huios,  the only begotten for son  (gar a primary particle)

However, there is a variant Greek text found amongst some of the Alexandrian manuscripts that reads as such “μονογενὴς θεὸς “
Monogenes theos,  only begotten God. Or as a lot of modern day “Greek” scholars and Bible critics like to render it..”unique” rather than only begotten. 

This text is found in the vast minority of manuscripts, 7 in total, 

P66* ( 3rd Century) -*varius dates are argued for this manuscript including 2nd and 4th centuries)
Sinaiticus 4th Century) 
Vaticanus 4th Century) ,
C* before correction (Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus 5th Century)
L (Regius 8th Century)
These do not have the article ὁ (ho/the) before μονογενὴς (only begotten God) 

ὁ μονογενὴς , ho monogenes theos  (the only begotten God) is found in P75 (3rd Century) minuscule 33 (9th Century) and in an early correction of Sinaiticus. 

The reading is very much a minority reading found amongst the  Alexandrian line of manuscripts. Of course this reading is found in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian line. 

The Westcott and Hort text has μονογενὴς θεὸς, monogenes theos, only beggotten God,

θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. W+H 1881

The Westcott and Hort Text was primarily based on Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.  It must be noted that the reading of P66 and P75 were not available to Westcott and Hort when they produced their Greek text as both of these were discovered later. 

The reading is also found in  The Nestle-Aland and UBS text.

θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο.

Both texts have adopted the Alexandrian reading found in approx .3% of manuscripts. 

Hort claimed that the reading son υἱός was a “western” reading.

“It comes out with perfect clearness that υἱός is one of the numerous Ante-nicene readings of a ‘Western’ type (in the technical not the strictly geographical sense of the word).”)

However, what should be noted here is that Gorden Fee demonstrated that the text of Sinaiticus in John 1:1 through 8:38 is actually western and not Alexandrian. This can be found in Codex Sinaiticus in the Gospel of John: A Contribution to Methodology in Establishing Textual Relationships, in New Testament Studies 15, 1968-69

If son is a Western reading as Hort claimed and Sinaiticus is Western in this part, then Sinaiticus should read son and not God. 

I have written many articles against the so called oldest and best manuscripts. This is just another abnormal reading in Sinaiticus, a codex that is littered with abnormal readings, that are out of place or are one off readings that can only be found in the manuscript itself.   

James Snapp Jr postulated a theory regarding the reading that is found in Sinaiticus 

Sinaiticus very often has no Greek allies in the first chapter of John.  Why?  Partly because Codex D is not extant for John 1:16-3:26, but there is more to it than that.  I deduce that the text of John 1 in Sinaiticus is not merely Western; the copyist used a Western exemplar but freely drifted from its text.  Although in theory this could occur almost anywhere in the text’s ancestry, it seems likely that this array of readings originated as À’s text of John 1:1-8:38 was transcribed.  Sinaiticus’ copyist was obligated by a lacuna in his main exemplar to resort to a secondary exemplar, but he did not trust the secondary exemplar and felt free to take some liberties with its contents. ” 


It is likely that the reading of the exemplar of this codex read son rather than God but that the scribe consciously rejected this reading in favour of God. 

I would highly recommend reading the full article. 


So obviously the question has to be asked as this writing has asked, which one is correct?

Well if we go by majority rule then by a landslide it would be only begotten son. about 99.7% to be more accurate. It is very clear to anyone that has studied the available manuscripts that only begotten son is supported by the weight, of manuscript evidence, but, that isn’t the only or even always the best way to answer the question. So let’s see if there is anything else that would support the translation only begotten son.

Theological Problems

As I mentioned a little earlier some of the translations cause issues and some of the translation create down right theological heresies.

We know that Jesus is the referent in this verse.

So let’s have another look at them and see just what they say and the consequences of their translations.

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ESV

Here we have a God that nobody has ever seen being made known by the ONLY God (Jesus) . This God (Jesus) is the ONLY God. This only God, who has been seen (even though nobody has seen God) is by the Father’s side. The father is God so the ONLY God (Jesus)  is by God’s side ….nothing about this verse makes any sense whatsoever. Jesus is the ONLY God but he is by The father’s (who is God) side. How can Jesus be the Only God if God the father is also God. Even in the trinitaian claim this doesn’t work. The Only God is the triune God of which Jesus is a person of. It therefore is the triune God who is the only God. Jesus cannot be the only God as Jesus is not the triune God. 

The Bible says that the Father is God alone

1 Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls the Father the ONLY true God.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Thee in this verse is the Greek σὲ Se (you)  , Jesus very clearly NOT referring to himself.

John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

The watchtower makes Jesus a god (small g) a begotten god at that.

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is at the Father’s side is the one who has explained Him.

Here we most certainly have a God and a god. 2 gods. One God and a god. Whatever you do with this verse Jesus is called a god, clearly a created one. Most Christians (apart from JW ) know the very obvious problems with this translation.

The NASB however, goes one step further than even the WT has gone

They translate the verse the same way as the WT but rather than using the small g they go full heresy and use the capital G

John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. NASB

They haven’t just created a god they have created a God. If we use this translation, the translation of the NASB we have 2 Gods. The NASB have completely and utterly destroyed the fundamental belief in Christianity that there is ONE God (even if they disagree on how that God is singular, Trinity, oneness, unitarian ect.) You simply cannot have 2 actual Gods and remain Biblical.

Here we have a God nobody has seen and a BEGOTTEN God…..can a God be begat how does a God get begat? They certainly can’t get begotten if they were always God which the father is. If the father hasn’t been begotten then another God has been begotten by the father. 100% heresy and anyone using this version either hasn’t read this verse in this version , has chosen to ignore it or worse has accepted it then tried to make this fit their theological views or even worse still,  fitted their theological views around this verse.

This is a Gnostic reading. We know this is a gnostic reading because we have very clear evidence it was a Gnostic reading. 

In 1945 with the discovery of the Hag Hammadi Library in Egypt we find a composition called Trimorphic Protennoia 

            “Then the Perfect Son revealed himself to his Aeons, who originated through him, and he revealed them and glorified them, and gave them thrones, and stood in the glory with which he glorified himself. They blessed the Perfect Son, the Christ, the only-begotten God.  And they gave glory, saying, ‘He is!  He is!  The Son of God!  The Son of God!  It is he who is! The Aeon of Aeons, beholding the Aeons which he begot.” 
It also states 
 “Now those Aeons were begotten by the God who was begotten – the Christ – and these Aeons received as well as gave glory. They were the first to appear, exalted in their thought, and each Aeon gave myriads of glories within great untraceable lights, and they all together blessed the perfect Son, the God who was begotten.”


Hort was not aware of this as this had yet to be discovered at his time, and so he could not have utilised it within his own work. 

Hort even went as far as stating that there was no temptation from the Valentinians or any other known Gnostic system to invent the reading. 

 “Neither in the Valentinian nor in any other known Gnostical system could there have been any temptation to invent such a combination as μονογενὴς θεός.” 1876 Horts dissertation. 

However, this again simply is incorrect. As we see in the writings of Eusebius of Caeserea. 

 In Ecclesiastical History Book 5:28 we find an excerpt from  Little Labyrinth, composed by Caius which specifically makes accusation that this is exactly what had happened. 

6. How then since the opinion held by the Church has been preached for so many years, can its preaching have been delayed as they affirm, until the times of Victor? And how is it that they are not ashamed to speak thus falsely of Victor, knowing well that he cut off from communion Theodotus, the cobbler, the leader and father of this God-denying apostasy, and the first to declare that Christ is mere man? For if Victor agreed with their opinions, as their slander affirms, how came he to cast out Theodotus, the inventor of this heresy? (Theodotus was the leader of the Valentinians) 


13. We will add from the same writer some other extracts concerning them, which run as follows:

They have treated the Divine Scriptures recklessly and without fear. They have set aside the rule of ancient faith; and Christ they have not known. They do not endeavor to learn what the Divine Scriptures declare, but strive laboriously after any form of syllogism which may be devised to sustain their impiety. And if any one brings before them a passage of Divine Scripture, they see whether a conjunctive or disjunctive form of syllogism can be made from it.

14. And as being of the earth and speaking of the earth, and as ignorant of him who comes from above, they forsake the holy writings of God to devote themselves to geometry. Euclid is laboriously measured by some of them; and Aristotle and Theophrastus are admired; and Galen, perhaps, by some is even worshipped.

15. But that those who use the arts of unbelievers for their heretical opinions and adulterate the simple faith of the Divine Scriptures by the craft of the godless, are far from the faith, what need is there to say? Therefore they have laid their hands boldly upon the Divine Scriptures, alleging that they have corrected them.

16. That I am not speaking falsely of them in this matter, whoever wishes may learn. For if any one will collect their respective copies, and compare them one with another, he will find that they differ greatly.

17. Those of Asclepiades, for example, do not agree with those of Theodotus. And many of these can be obtained, because their disciples have assiduously written the corrections, as they call them, that is the corruptions, of each of them. Again, those of Hermophilus do not agree with these, and those of Apollonides are not consistent with themselves. For you can compare those prepared by them at an earlier date with those which they corrupted later, and you will find them widely different.

18. But how daring this offense is, it is not likely that they themselves are ignorant. For either they do not believe that the Divine Scriptures were spoken by the Holy Spirit, and thus are unbelievers, or else they think themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and in that case what else are they than demoniacs? For they cannot deny the commission of the crime, since the copies have been written by their own hands. For they did not receive such Scriptures from their instructors, nor can they produce any copies from which they were transcribed.

19. But some of them have not thought it worth while to corrupt them, but simply deny the law and the prophets, and thus through their lawless and impious teaching under pretense of grace, have sunk to the lowest depths of perdition.

Let this suffice for these things.
Eusebius Church History book 5 


Some of the writings of Theodotus can be found in  Extracts from Theodotus.


  “The Valentinians understand the verse, ‘In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God” like this:  they say that “the Beginning” is the “only Begotten,” and that he is also called God, as also in the verses which immediately follow, it is explained that he is God, for it says, ‘The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.’  Now they say that the Logos – in the beginning (that is to say, in the Only Begotten, in the Mind and the Truth – indicates the Christ, the Logos and the Life.  Wherefore he also appropriately called him God who is in God, the Mind.   ‘That which came into being in Him’ – the Logos – ‘was Life,’ the Companion.  Therefore the Lord also says, ‘I am the Life.’” 
            Therefore the Father, being unknown, wished to be known to the Aeons, and through his own thought, as if he had known himself, he put forth the Only Begotten, the spirit of Knowledge which is in Knowledge.  So he, too, who came forth from Knowledge, that is, from the Father’s Thought, became Knowledge, that is, the Son, because ‘through the Son the Father was known.  But the Spirit of Love has been mingled with the Spirit of Knowledge, as the Father with the Son, and Thought with Truth, having proceeded from Truth as Knowledge from Thought.  And he who remained ‘Only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father’ explains Thought to the Aeons through Knowledge, just as if he also had been put forth from his bosom; but him who appeared here, the Apostle no longer calls ‘Only begotten,’ but, ‘as Only begotten,’ ‘Glory as of an Only Begotten.’  This is because, being one and the same, Jesus is the ‘Firstborn’ in creation, but in the Pleroma is ‘Only begotten.’  But he is the same being to each place such as can be contained [in it]. 
            The author (ceasing to quote his Gnostic source) then says in Part 8:  “But we maintain that the essential Logos is God in God, who is also said to be ‘in the bosom of the Father,’ continuous, undivided, one God.”
Extracts from Theodotus. 6-8 

Clearly Hort’s claim cannot be held true amongst such evidence to the contrary.  The reading God, it can most certainly be argued, is a gnostic reading changed by a Valentinian scribe in order to align with their beliefs regarding the word . This reading later became popular in Alaxandria, under the misconception that it affirmed the deity of Jesus, which is a mistake. A mistake that is still being made by some today. 

James Snapp Jr, a trinitarian textual critic proposes the reading theos entered in through the Gnostics. 

”  I submit that μονογενὴς θεός entered the text of John 1:18 in a manuscript used by Gnostics – a manuscript in which the text of this verse had already been altered (via a mild harmonization to 1:14) so as to contain no explicit reference to the only begotten Son, but only to the Only-Begotten.  A Valentinian scribe added θεός to reinforce Gnostic doctrine about the pre-existent Word as a celestial persona consisting of God’s first thought. This reading became popular in Egypt not only among Gnostics, but also among the orthodox, who gave it an altogether different significance, affirming the deity of Christ. ” 
The Text of the Gospels: John 1:18 – The Only Begotten Son

It is very possible that Heracleon, a Valentinian Gnostic utilised a form of this verse that contained neither son or God and simply read the only begotten. 

Origen while arguing against Heracleon quoted him in regards to his understanding of John 1:18, in the quote he simply refers to the only begotten. It must be noted that Origen utlised “son of God” in his own reference to the verse. 

The first begins with This was He of whom I said, He that comes after me, and goes down to The only-begotten Son of God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared him. Heracleon supposes the words, No one has seen God at any time, etc., to have been spoken, not by the Baptist, but by the disciple. But in this he is not sound. He himself allows the words, Of his fullness we all received, and grace for grace; for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, to have been spoken by the Baptist. And does it not follow that the person who received of the fullness of Christ, and a second grace in addition to that he had before, and who declared the law to have been given by Moses, but grace and truth to have come through Jesus Christ, is it not clear that this is the person who understood, from what he received from the fullness of Christ, how no one has seen God at any time, and how the only-begotten who is in the bosom of the Father had delivered the declaration about God to him and to all those who had received of His fullness?
Origen commentary on the Gospel of John (book VI) 

God was later added to this reading to form the reading only begotten God. 

 The reading only begotten God became popular amongst Arians who used the term because it brought into view derived existence, begotten and thus not eternal. 

As we have previously seen this is the reading of the JW Bible the NWT 

John 1:18  No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is at the Father’s side is the one who has explained Him.

Notice that they have small g god, just as they do in John 1:1 

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

They consider Jesus to be a god but not God. 

Unlike what many trinitarians will argue that only begotten God shows the deity of the son, the evidence would seem to suggest the reading was actually used contrary to this and was derived and used to show the opposite.


Now let’s look at a version that I haven’t even looked at and examined yet. The NIV …I couldn’t leave out the NIV.

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

This rendering is found nowhere, in any manuscript that we have anywhere. It’s a composition, a conglomerate of manuscript readings and literally added in words. The NIV, therefore, is an authority of its own. 

So we have the weight of manuscript evidence supporting the KJV and Begotten son, we also have major theological problems with rendering the text using god or God. Even if you believe that Jesus is God the rendering of this verse as anything other than the begotten son has major problems that simply cannot be resolved.

Supporting Evidence

But we have even more supporting evidence.

The reading of the KJV is also supported by and attested to by an array of early written sources that quote this verse in the way that the KJV has translated it (earlier than the supporting manuscript evidence). These include but are not limited to:


Irenaeus used both readings (Around 180AD) 

6. For no man, he says, has seen God at any time, unless the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared [Him]. John 1:18 For He, the Son who is in His bosom, declares to all the Father who is invisible. Wherefore they know Him to whom the Son reveals Him; and again, the Father, by means of the Son, gives knowledge of His Son to those who love Him.
Irenaeus Book 3 chapter 11:6 

  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 But as He who works all things in all is God, [as to the points] of what nature and how great He is, [God] is invisible and indescribable to all things which have been made by Him, but He is by no means unknown: for all things learn through His Word that there is one God the Father, who contains all things, and who grants existence to all, as is written in the Gospel: No man has seen God at any time, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; He has declared [Him]. John 1:18
Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 chapter 20:6


11. If, then, neither Moses, nor Elias, nor Ezekiel, who had all many celestial visions, saw God; but if what they did see were similitudes of the splendour of the Lord, and prophecies of things to come; it is manifest that the Father is indeed invisible, of whom also the Lord said, No man has seen God at any time. John 1:18 But His Word, as He Himself willed it, and for the benefit of those who beheld, did show the Father’s brightness, and explained His purposes (as also the Lord said: The only-begotten God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared [Him]; and He does Himself also interpret the Word of the Father as being rich and great);
Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 Chapter 20:11 


Irenaeus only utilises “as it is written in the Gospel” in relation to the only begotten son. 

Hippolytus (190s). “For John also says, ‘No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
Contra Noetum 5

Tertullian who stated  “Well, (I must again ask) what God does he mean? It is of course the Father, with whom was the Word, the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and has Himself declared Him.”  Against Praxeas 15-6

The Epistle of Hymenaeus (270).  Written and signed by Hymenaeus the bishop of Jerusalem. Also signed by a further 5 bishops.
 (Theophilus, Theotecnus, Maximus, Proclus, and Bolanus) The letter was written against the teachings of Paul of Samosata.   Eusebius of Caesarea summarised the letter. 

Eustathius ofAntioch (d. 337).  Chapter 18, De Engastrimytho Contra Origenem,
(The citation is in Volume 18 of Migne’s Patrologia Graece, in column 652, digital page #333.) 

Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373). Defense of Nicea 5:7 Quotes the verse in defense of Jesus being the begotten son and not created.
Also in Discourse 2 he quotes the verse.

Hilary of Poitiers (310-367)

“Let him speak to us in his own familiar voice:  No one has seen God at any time, except the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.  It seemed to him that the name of Son did not set forth with sufficient distinctness His true divinity, unless he gave an external support to the peculiar majesty of Christ by indicating the difference between Him and all others.  Hence he not only calls Him the ‘Son,’ but adds the further designation of the Only-begotten,’ and so cuts away the last prop from under this imaginary adoption. For the fact that He is Only-begotten is proof positive of His right to the name of Son.”  

 Book Six of On the Trinity chapter 39

Hilary uses except here, this supports the reading found in W

          Interestingly Hilary uses “only begotten God” on numerous occasions in his writings, However when citing John 1:18 he uses only begotten son.

Ignatius even states that the SCRIPTURE says only begotten son “And there is also one Son, God the Word. For “the only-begotten Son,” saith [the Scripture], “who is in the bosom of the Father.” Epistle of Ignatius to the Philippians:

Phoebadius of Agen (mid-300s). 338
“For John says, ‘No one has ever seen God except the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father.”
Against the Arians (Contra Arianos) Chapter 12 part 4

Gregory Nazianzus (329-390)Then the Son is only-begotten:  ‘The only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father,’ it says, ‘He has declared Him.”
Third Theological Oration  chapter 17

Irenaeus “For ‘no man, hath seen God at any time,’ unless ‘the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared [Him].’ For He, the Son who is in His bosom, declares to all the Father who is invisible.” Against Heresies 202 AD

It must be noted that Irenaeus also uses only begotten God once in Book 4, in 20:11

Clement of Alexandria (150-215) also quotes both readings

Only begotten God – Stromateis 5:12
Only begotten son – Who Is the Rich Man Who Shall Be Saved, part 37 and Stromateis 1:26

Eusebius of Caesarea (early 300s) is another who can be cited on both sides although it could be argued against his use of only begotten God.
Abbot tested the usage of Eusebius of the verse.  De Ecclesiastica Theologia, Book 1, chapter 20, in paragraphs 4, 5, and 7, and Book 2, chapter 23, and a comment on Psalm 73:11, and a comment on Isaiah 6:1, where the entire phrase, “the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father,” are used to support the only begotten son.

De Ecclesiastica Theologia, Book 3, chapter 7 uses only begotten God.

Others that could be quoted who quote the verse using the begotten son are and again not limited to.

Augustine, Jerome, Theodotus, Alexander of Alexandria, Archelaus and Ambrose, Gregory of Elvira, John Chrysostom, Adimantus

For the sake of honesty I shall now include some of those that support the reading only begotten God

Basil (330-379)
“We ask them to listen to the Lord Himself, distinctly setting forth the equal dignity of His glory with the Father, in His words, ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father,’ and again, ‘When the Son comes in the glory of His Father,’ ‘that they should honor the Son even as they honor the Father, and, ‘We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,’ and, ‘The only-begotten God which is in the bosom of the Father.’  Of all these passages they take no account, and then assign to the Son the place set apart for His foes.  A father’s bosom is a fit and becoming seat for a son, but the place of the footstool is for them that have to be forced to fall.”
De Spiritu Sancto  chapter 15 (he also uses it in chapter 18 and 27 

Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444)

He makes several references to only Begotten God
Commentary on John, chapter 10 , Five Tomes Against Nestorius

others that could be cited The Ethiopic Version (300s or 400s) , Didymus the Blind (313-398) De Trinitate although Didymus may not in fact be the author, The Peshitta (late 300s) it has ihidaya Alaha -alaha is syriac for God 

We have the Nicene creed that states only BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD.

NICENE CREED 325 A.D. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, BEGOTTEN OF HIS FATHER BEFORE ALL WORLD, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, BEGOTTEN, NOT MADE, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;

Internal evidence: 
When examining the internal evidence we need to ask what reading makes the most sense and which is more likely to have been implemented. 

The term only begotten God is used nowhere else in scripture while only begotten son is used by John numerous times. 

John 3:16 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 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.


We also see other references to the begotten son 

Acts 13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

Based on the numerous references to son when used in conjunction with only begotten or begotten, the internal evidence would suggest that the only begotten son is the higher probable reading. 


The final evidence I shall present are the past translations of the Bible itself where the verse has been translated as  begotten son.

Again they include but are in no way limited to .

Wycliffe Bible 1395
Tyndale Bible  1525,
Coverdale Bible 1535
The Great Bible 1540
Bishops’ Bible 1568
And the Geneva Bible 1587

The modern Greek Bible uses the Greek that supports the KJV
“Ουδεις ειδε ποτε τον Θεον· ο μονογενης Υιος, ο ων εις τον κολπον του Πατρος, εκεινος εφανερωσεν αυτον.”

Now, I want to deal with the word begotten. As you will probably have noticed, if you were not already aware, most modern versions do not translate μονογενὴς monogenesis monogenés begotten but rather as renderings like unique or the one and only. It has become commonplace to assert that monogenés does not mean only begotten at all. 

It was Dale Moody that presented the argumentation against only begotten in 19 53  in the Journal of Biblical Literature which you can find here 

Richard N. Longenecker took the arguments presented by Dale Moody and included them in an article called The One and Only Son. This article was became chapter 11 of the book The NIV: The making of a contemporary translation by Kenneth L Barker. 

However, Michael Marlowe, a researcher, has since shown most of the arguments to not hold water. 

Longenecker’s work was flawed, and so his conclusion based on flawed research was, in fact, itself flawed. 

On example of the flawed research of Longnecker, comes in his claim that μονογενὴς is used of Abrahams son Isaac, in Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:6 and Genesis 22:12 of the text of the Septuagint. 

However, this is factually incorrect. The Septuagint does not read μονογενὴς in any of these verse. It is actually in Hebrews 11:17 where μονογενὴς is used of Isaac. 

But when we analyse the text we will see that the writer of the book of Hebrews was simply using the word in order to draw a correlation between the averted sacrifice of Isaac and the actual sacrifice of Jesus (who sacrificed himself). 

In verse 19 of the same chapter, just 2 verses later, the writer, literally states that this is figuratively. 

Hebrews 11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. KJV 

Hebrews 11:19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. ESV

I would suggest reading this article by Charles Lee Irons on the meaning of monogenés   Here 


The reading of the KJV is supported by manuscripts, history, common sense and is correct theologically.  ALL the other readings create problems that cannot be resolved without ignoring the problems that they cause. There is evidence of the reading God having been corrupted and deliberately inserted into the texts through Gnosticism which of course should be rejected at once. 

The correct reading of the verse is Begotten son.

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Categories: Is Jesus God?


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