The Bible calls Jesus the only begotten Son of God, that is, the only Son brought into being by God, and it is also called the first-born, that is, the first in a series of children of God. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God the Father begot a Son, Jesus Christ, and only one Son, through whom He could be known. “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). This verse in the Gospel of John reveals that God, the Father, has never let Himself be personally known to men; this would only be accomplished through His Son. It was not Moses who made the name of God the Father public and known, but Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son. “And I have made Thy name known to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). Also, the only way possible to salvation is through faith in the only begotten Son of God. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
The apostle John declares that men can only become children of God from the starting point of faith in Jesus Christ; and that whoever believes receives the power to become a child of God; that is, it is not God who engenders His own children. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13). In this text, John reveals that those who were born of flesh and blood, and of the will of man, are not and cannot be children of God. Faith in Jesus causes man to be birthed of the Holy Spirit and receive power to become a child of God. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ ” (John 3:3).
If Jesus is the only begotten Son, he cannot be the first-born. It would be a contradiction. Why does the Apostle Paul state that Jesus is the first-born among the children of God? “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom.8:29). What is the explanation to this impasse? Paul gives us the key in Col. 1:18, “He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead” Jesus is the first-born in the Church, to the Christians, but to the universe and to this world—to all men—He is the only begotten Son. Jesus is the only one to be born as the incarnate Word. “And the World became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And more, Jesus is the first-born among the dead, that is, the first one to rise unto eternity, as Paul has said: “…that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23).
This mystery is thus solved. Christ is the only begotten Son, because He is the only one brought into being by God; He is the first in the Church to rise from the dead, and we will be His brothers and sisters if we rise up as He rose up. So, Paul says: “…having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12).
In the New Testament it gets very clear and well proven that the Father had only one Son in the likeness of men, that is, Jesus Christ; and that that men became children of God only by believing in Jesus, receiving Him as Savior, and being buried with Him to be raised up with Him and live a new life, that is, a life just like the one that Jesus lived (Rom. 8:29). Also, John says: ” …the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). “…because as He is, so also are we in this world” (John 4:17).
If men can become children of God through Jesus alone, how can it be explained that Elohim (God), or Jehovah, had so many children even before Jesus came into the world? The children of Elohim and the children of Jehovah, of the Old Testament, are not the children of God of the New Testament. If Jehovah and Elohim are two names for the same God, the dilemma remains. The God who had many children in the Old Testament is not the same God of the New Testament, who had only one child, called, for this reason, the only begotten Son. Those children of God from the times before Christ were not begotten by the word of the Gospel, but by the law of Jehovah, which Peter calls the perishable seed. “…for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23). The Law is the perishable word because it produces the sinful passions of the flesh (Rom. 7:5).
We will transcribe verses of the Old Testament, which reveal that that God had sons who were not begotten from Jesus. “…the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose” (Gen. 6:2). These children of God were corrupt, and so were destroyed by their father, in the Flood (Gen. 6:7). This happened before the Law. Let us consider the times which came after the Law: ” You are the sons of the Lord your God” (Deut. 14:1a). “You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth. And the Lord saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters” (Deut. 32:18,19). “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the Lord speaks, ‘Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me’ ” (Is. 1:2).
The Old Testament is full of verses, which reveal that the children of Jehovah are not the same children that God begot from Jesus. Well, different parents have different children. The children of Jehovah, produced by the flesh are not the children of God the Father, which are produced by the Holy Spirit. “… it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants (Rom. 9:8). And Jehovah declared that he is the God of all flesh (Jer. 32:27).
Dear reader, choose the right Father for yourself, and do not choose the father that is the destroyer, whose name is Jehovah.
By Pastor Olavo S. Pereira