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A Scholarly Study on Monogenes

(Extracts from "Is Christ God" by Terry Hill)

Study Series:Begotten/Pre-existent Son/ God's Oneness with His Son/Is Christ God

Source on Monogenes: Is Christ God, pgs.14-22/Terry Hill

Scholarly Note on "Monogenes"

In the finality, to a great extent, an author‘s intent of the use of monogenes must

be determined by the context in which it is written. This would apply to how any

word is understood. This is because words, depending upon the context in which

they are written, can change in meaning

Monogenes (to generate; to bring forth)

―In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word

was God.‖ John 1:1

In order to fulfil the purpose in writing his Gospel (that Jesus was the Christ, the

Son of God), the very first thing that the Holy Spirit led John to write was that

Christ, in His pre-existence, ―was God‖. From the outset therefore, John was

saying to his readers that there are two divine personages who are both rightly

termed God (Gr. Theos). This was the opening thrust of his Gospel. John then

proceeded to reinforce his opening words. He did this by saying that all things

were made by the Word and without him was not any thing made that was made

(John 1:3). Christ therefore, says John, is our Creator. This is the highest possible claim to divinity. Only divinity is not created.

John describes Christ as ―the only begotten of the Father‖ (John 1:14), ―the only

begotten Son‖ (John 1:18, 3:16), ―the only begotten Son of God‖ (John 3:18) and

God‘s ―only begotten Son‖ (1 John 4:9). On each occasion the Greek word

translated ―only begotten‖ is μονογενήρ (monogenes). John is the only Bible

writer who uses this word with respect to Jesus. He uses it each time to denote

the unique relationship between God and Christ (a father/son relationship). Luke

and Paul used it in exactly the same manner (a parent/child relationship)

although not with respect to Christ (Luke 7:12, 8:42, 9:38 and Hebrews 11:17).

The basic meaning of monogenes is the only one of a generated kind or type.

Applied to a child it generally means a parent‘s only born son or daughter (of sole descent, without siblings).

Some maintain that monogenes (an adjective) does not contain the idea of

begetting. They say it only means unique. This view though, particularly in the

light of how this word was used by those whose mother tongue was Greek,

appears to have very little foundation. I am thinking primarily of those who

formulated the creeds of Nicaea and Constantinople etc. The Creed of Nicaea

(AD 325) begins by saying

―We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things visible and

invisible; And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the

Father, only-begotten [monogenes], that is, from the substance of the

Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not

made, of one substance with the Father, through Whom all things came into

being, things in heaven and things on earth,…‖ (Creed of Nicaea AD 325)

By those who formulated this creed, Christ is said to be the ―only-begotten‖

(monogenes) of the Father. This is exactly the same as say the Scriptures. This

is why the creed also says that Christ is ―begotten from the Father‖, also

―begotten not made‖. In his Gospel, John clearly says that Christ is the only-

begotten (monogenes) of God. The Greeks knew exactly what was meant by

monogenes (μονογενήρ). In this creed it is contrasted with being made or

created. The word translated ―begotten‖ in these two clauses is the participle

γεννηθένηα. It means literally begotten or born. It is very difficult to believe that

the people who formulated this creed did not understand their own language.

As recently as the 1980‘s, the English Language Liturgical Commission (ELLC)

completed a translation of the Nicene Creed. This new translation is said to be

truer to the original Greek than many other English translations. The whole

purpose of the ELLC is to translate as accurately as possible the various creeds

and prayers etc.

Monogenes linguistically

According to Strong‘s concordance, the word monogenes is a compound of two

words. These are monos and ginomai. The word monos means sole or only

(one/single/alone) whilst ginomai means to cause to be or to become. Its basic

meaning (Gr.– gen) is to produce or generate. It is a form of primary verb (an

action word). It is used over 260 times in the New Testament. This is where it is

often translated ―made‖, ―become‖, ―come‖ (as in come to pass), and ―became‖

etc. In John‘s Gospel alone there are 48 occurrences.

In modern times, particularly since the publication of the RSV (late 1940‘s/50‘s),

various scholars have taken the view that the suffix -genes (of mono-genes) is

not derived from gennao (meaning beget) but from -genos (meaning kind or

type). They reason therefore that monogenes should not be rendered only

begotten but the only one of its kind or type. This was the view of Dale Moody

who was mentioned earlier (see Journal of Biblical Literature, December 1953,

Vol. 72 No 4 pages 213-219).

Whilst one may argue for the validity of this view, it must be remembered that

each time monogenes is used in Scripture it is always with reference to a son or

daughter. In such cases therefore it would be impossible to divorce the idea of

begetting from monogenes. This is because in order to exist, a child would need to have been begotten (born). In other words, when speaking of a child (whether son or daughter), the idea of begetting is intrinsically built into monogenes. This is

regardless of which stem of genes is considered to be the valid one. Look at it

this way: If it is said that David is the only son of Mr and Mrs Smith, it would

automatically suggest that David had been born (begotten). It would not be

sensible to reason otherwise.

In an article I came across on the Internet, its author, Charles Lee Irons, makes

this observation

―But what about the etymological argument that the –genēs portion of

monogenēs comes from genos (―kind‖) rather than gennao (―beget‖)? This

argument collapses once it is recognized that both genos and gennao

derive from a common Indo-European root, ǵenh (―beget, arise‖).[4] This

root produces a fair number of Greek words having to do with biological

concepts of begetting, birth, and offspring. In fact, the word genos itself

sometimes means ―descendant‖ (Rev. 22:16). True, it can also mean ―kind‖

in a scientific or classification sense where literal biological descent is not in

view (e.g., ―different kinds of languages‖ [1 Cor 14:10]). But the scientific or

classification usage is a metaphorical extension of the literal biological

sense, since the abstract concept of ―kind‖ is modeled on the embodied

biological experience of the similarities shared by offspring descended from

a common parent.‖ (Charles Lee Irons, Let‟s go back to „only-begotten‟, 23rd November 2016),

Some months ago I came across a website called ‗Ask a Greek‘. Its proprietor,

Mr. Harry Foundalis Ph. D, offers to answer questions regarding the Greek

language. Those who are interested will find it here

I took this opportunity to ask Mr. Foundalis the meaning of monogenes. After all, I

reasoned, he is Greek, and by the look of his website, a person very well versed

in linguistics. After a series of emails in which he explained that monogenes

definitely conveys the idea of only-begotten/only-born etc, he replied to a

question I had asked concerning the relationship of the words ginomai (as

mentioned above) and monogenes. Here is what he wrote

―Some linguistic information regarding the Greek word ―monogenes‖

(μονογενήρ) follows:

Monogenes‖ consists of two parts:

 the prefix ―mono-‖

 and the suffix ―-genes‖

The meaning of the prefix ―mono-‖ is: ―single‖, ―alone‖, ―only‖. This prefix is

found in English words such as: ―monophonic‖ (of a single auditory source),

―monochromatic‖ (of a single color), ―monologue‖ (a soliloquy), ―monopoly‖

(having exclusive control of a market) ―monosyllabic‖ (of a single syllable),

―monotheistic‖ (of belief in a single god/God), ―monotonous‖ (of a single,

unvarying tone, hence: boring), and many more, all ultimately of Greek


The meaning of the suffix ―-genes‖ is: ―born‖, ―begotten‖. This can be

understood by the following information.

The suffix ―-genes‖ (in Greek: ―-γενήρ‖) consists of two morphemic parts:

 the root ―-gen-‖ (―-γεν-‖)

 and the ending ―-es‖ (―-ήρ‖)

The role of the ending ―-es‖ is to convert the word into an adjective in the

masculine or feminine gender, nominative case, singular, and that is the

grammatical role of the word ―monogenes‖.

The root ―-gen-‖ comes from the aorist stem of the verb ―ginomai‖ (that is its

Koine Greek version; its Classic Greek version is: ―gignomai‖), meaning: ―I

become‖ and ―I am born to‖. For instance, the opening line of Xenophon‘s

―Anabasis‖ reads:

Δαπείος καὶ Παπςζάηιδορ γίγνονηαι παῖδερ δύο,...


Two children are born to Darius and Parysatis,...

An explanation of what the aorist stem is follows.

Every Greek verb (not only in the ancient but even in the modern language)

comes in two ―flavors‖: the present or progressive flavor, and the aorist or

instantaneous flavor. Each of the two flavors is used in the formation of

some tenses, in all their moods. The present flavor is used in the present,

imperfect, and perfect tenses, whereas the aorist flavor is used in the past

and future tenses.

For the verb ―ginomai‖, the present-flavor stem is ―-gin-‖, whereas the aorist-

flavor stem is ―-gen-‖.

For example, for this verb, to form the 1st person singular, past tense (a

tense properly called ―2nd aorist‖ in this case, for this verb has no 1st aorist

form) we need to add three constituents:

1. the ―aorist augment‖ e- (ἐ: a mandatory prefix that signifies past in

Greek, and is suspected to have existed in the Proto-Indo-European


2. the stem -gen- (-γεν-),

3. and the 2nd-aorist ending -omen (-όμην),

thus getting the form egenomen (ἐγενόμην: ―I became‖, or ―I was born‖).

The aorist stem -gen- has passed, through Latin, into English words, all of

which are associated with generation or birth, such as:

 generate, generation (as in creation), generator

 genesis (origin, the coming into being, birth)

 gene (the biological unit by which rebirth is achieved)

 genetic (―of genes‖)

 genus (a group of entities born from a common source)

 general (derived from gener-, i.e., ―something that creates‖)

 progenitor (a direct ancestor)

 ... and many more.

Perhaps the most interesting observation to help us understand the

meaning of the entire suffix ―-genes‖ (―-γενήρ‖) in ―monogenes‖ is to see

other Greek words where this suffix exists. Notice how, when added to the

prefix, in each case and without a single exception, ―-genes‖ results in the

meaning of ―born, begotten‖. All of the following are adjectives, just like


 homogenes (ὁμογενήρ): someone who was born together

(―homo-‖) with others: ―of the same race or family‖. Today, this

word is used to mean those Greeks who were born outside of

Greece (e.g., in the USA, Australia, Russia, or wherever else in

the world) but belong to the Greek nation due to their Greek ancestry.

 heterogenes (ἑηεπογενήρ): the opposite of homogenes: born of

a different (―hetero-‖) race or family.

 eugenes (εὐγενήρ): born of noble ancestry, hence: noble, an

aristocrat. This is the root of the word ―eugenics‖, the study of

hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.

 endogenes (ἐνδογενήρ): someone or something that has been

generated from within (―endo-‖) some greater whole; endogenous,

inherent, intrinsic. A common use is in endogenes aitia = ―intrinsic


 engenes (ἐγγενήρ): similar to endogenes, it means ―intrinsic‖.

Again, we can talk of an engenes aitia = intrinsic cause

 thnisigenes (θνηζιγενήρ): someone or something destined to

die (―thnisi-‖) no sooner than he/she/it is born. A thnisigenes child

is one that is born but has such serious medical problems that the

child cannot hope to avoid death. More often, this word is used

metaphorically, for, e.g., an agreement: a thnisigenes symphonía

(θνηζιγενήρ ζςμθωνία) is an agreement destined to collapse soon

after it is made.

 diogenes (διογενήρ): born/sprung from Zeus. The true root of

the word ―Zeus‖ is ―Dio-‖ (e.g., in the genitive case: Dios = of

Zeus; a cognate of Theos = God, and of Latin Deus). This adjective was used as a flattering title for kings and princes. This

was the origin of the name ―Diogenes‖ (Διογένηρ, stressed on the penult).

 protogenes (ππωηογενήρ): born originally, the initially born entity or cause.

 gegenes (γηγενήρ): born in the land (ge-, γῆ = gaea), a native of the land.

Adding to the above list, we could write:

 monogenes (μονογενήρ): born as a single son or daughter, lacking siblings.‖

(Harry E. Foundalis, Ph.D., cognitive science and computer science, 24th March 2018),

In an earlier email, again expressing that monogenes does carry the idea of only

begotten/only born etc, Mr Foundalis wrote to me stressing how obvious it was to him (as a Greek person) that genes conveys the idea of begotten/born etc.

―That the suffix ―-genes‖ means (meant, and still means) ―born‖ is beyond

any doubt, and to argue for it makes me feel like trying to explain I am not

an elephant‖ (Email, Harry Foundalis to Terry Hill, 23rd March 2018)

In another email, Mr Foundalis did agree that the second constituent of genes is

γένορ (genus) meaning type or kind but in agreement with my reasoning (see

above), he did make clear that when applied to a child it could only mean born.

His reasoning was, as is mine: How can anyone be an only child without being

born? Mr Foundalis also explained

―This brings me to the meaning of γένορ in Greek. This word has two

meanings: one is the notion of grammatical gender; but the other one, the more common one and the only relevant one in this discussion, is

the progeny. Thus, in Modern Greek, ηο γένορ μος (and in Ancient Greek: ηὸ

ἐμὸν γένορ) means ―my kin‖, the people who have been born together with

me, and with whom I share plenty of genes. Γένορ in Greek is not the same

as genus in English, no matter how similar the two words look, letter-for-

letter. Genus means (copying from the American Heritage Dictionary): ―A

class, group, or kind with common attributes‖. That‘s not the Greek γένορ,

and I think that‘s at the crux of the misunderstanding. A γένορ (besides the

grammatical gender) is not just a class/group/kind, but a set of people who

share many genes. The notion of birth is inherent in γένορ. Non-native

speakers of Greek are probably missing this point.‖ (Ibid, 14th April 2018)

To put this in a very small nutshell, the word γένορ (that we in English usually

regard as genus) means in Greek, of near kinship (family). The idea of birth

(being born/begotten) is inherent in γένορ.

If monogenes does not include the idea of begetting but only carries the idea of

one only (single/sole/unique) of a type or kind, then to what does the latter refer

when speaking of a monogenes child (meaning if the child is said to the only one of a kind or type)? In other words, what would this kind or type be? Would it be his humanity? His kindred? His race? His colour? If so, this would mean he was

the only human being in existence: either that or the only one of his kindred or

race, or colour in existence. This would necessitate all other humans, or all others of his kindred or race or colour, having gone into extinction (no other of this kind

existing). This therefore cannot be a satisfactory understanding of monogenes.

Amongst present-day theologians there is ongoing conjecture over monogenes.

Some emphasise the unique aspect of it (only) whilst some stress the come to be

(begotten/brought forth/born) aspect. The conclusion as to what it was that John

originally meant by his use of this word can only be decided upon by the weight

of evidence – which as far as I am concerned is that Christ is uniquely brought forth of God (in manner which has never been revealed). He is therefore the only begotten of God. His Sonship therefore is unique.

In his Greek dictionary, Bill Mounce, the renowned Greek Scholar, describes

monogenes as

―only-begotten, only-born, Lk. 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Heb. 11:17; only-begotten in

respect of peculiar generation, unique, Jn. 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 Jn. 4:9* Bill Mounce, Greek Dictionary)


If John had wanted to say one and only (unique), it is very strange as to why he

should have used the word monogenes. The Greek have a word meaning one or

one and only. It is monos. They also have a word for son. It is huios. Why

therefore, if John had only wanted to say only son or one and only son did he not

simply use monos huios? It would also have avoided all the confusion of

monogenes. An even more appropriate word that John could have used (if he

had wanted to say only Son or one and only Son) is μονόπαις (monopais). This

word actually means an only child. It is found in pre-New Testament literature.

This would have suited the ―only child‖ at Luke 9:38 perfectly but Luke used

monogenes. To me the writer was emphasising that the child was the only one of the man‘s genes – meaning his only offspring. Notice too that the word child is a supplied word.

Mark refers to ―one son‖ (see Mark 12:6) but he does not use monogenes.

Instead he has heis huios. This is what John could have written if he had only

wanted to say of Christ, only Son or one and only Son. By using monogenes

though, the stress was on Christ being the only begotten of God (only begotten of

that genes).

We also need to give consideration to John‘s usage of monos. He used this word on a number of occasions (John 5:44, 6:15, 6:22, 8:9, 8:16, 8:29, 12:24, 16:32

[2], John 17:3). It is translated as only and alone. Two very relevant usages are

"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do

not seek the glory that is from the one and only [monos] God? John 5:44 NASB

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only [monos] true God, and

Jesus Christ whom You have sent.‖ John 17:3 NASB.

This leads us to give consideration to something very important. Nowhere in

Scripture is the word monogenes applied to God. For this there must be a very

good reason. After all, He is referred to at Mark 12:32, Romans 3:30, 1

Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:6, 1 Timothy 2:5 and James 2:19 as the ―one God‖.

If monogenes conveys only the idea of one and only, why not use it with respect

to God? As it is, it is never applied as such. This alone suggests it is meant to

convey considerably more than one or one and only.

In the Bible, angels are called the sons of God (Job 38:7). Adam was also called

the son of God (Luke 3:38). Those who are born again through God‘s Spirit

(those who experience conversion) are called sons of God (Romans 8:14-15).

John needed to differentiate therefore between Christ and these other sons of

God. This would be the reason why he used the word monogenes. Thus he said

that Christ was the only begotten of God (John 1:14, 1:18, 3:16, 3:18, 1 John

4:9). This could not be said of any of the other sons of God. None of them were

begotten in such a manner of God. Christ therefore, in this sense, is definitely


Whilst monos huios or heis huios (or perhaps even monopais) would have

conveyed the idea of the only son or one and only son, this would have failed to

specifically convey that Christ was the only-begotten of the Father. In other

words, it would have concealed Christ‘s unique generation from God (―God from

God‖, ―true God from true God‖ as says the creed of Nicaea). It would therefore

have concealed Christ‘s unique relationship (Sonship) to God. This idea therefore of monos huios or heis huios, which would be without the idea of generation from

God (not begotten), could easily have led to the idea of two Gods, or, if the Holy

Spirit was also included, a triad of Gods.

If Christ is not literally a son – and we know the Bible continually speaks of Him

as a son – then how is He a son? If He is not truly a son then He must be a son

metaphorically. This would mean we have two divine beings (the Father and the

Son), both of whom, in their own individual right, are God (neither begotten of the

other), This would mean we have two Gods. This though is not Scriptural. John

therefore chose a word (monogenes) that showed Christ‘s true relationship with

God therefore avoiding this conclusion. Christ was, and still is, God‘s only

begotten Son.

Those who promote the idea that monogenes only has reference to kind or type(without begetting) are faced with a very serious dilemma. This is because with respect to Christ it must be asked, what is this kind or type? It cannot be

pertaining to Christ as a divine person. This is because the Father is also a divine person. Christ therefore, as far as His divinity is concerned, cannot be one of a

kind or type (unique). This immediately brings us back to the realisation that

monogenes must be with reference to Christ‘s relationship to the Father, which in turn brings us back to His Sonship. It is His Sonship therefore that must be one of a kind or type. This is because He is the only begotten (monogenes) of God.

There is something else to consider here. This is the Creed of Nicaea mentioned

earlier. We noted it said

―We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things visible and

invisible; And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the

Father, only-begotten [monogenes], that is, from the substance of the

Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not

made, of one substance with the Father, through Whom all things came into

being, things in heaven and things on earth,…‖ (Creed of Nicaea AD 325)

The entire point of this creed was to show that the Son was ―of one substance

with the Father‖. This is why the creed says that Christ is begotten ―from the

substance of the Father‖. What though if the word monogenes is only said to

mean one and only? We would need to ask ―one and only what‖? As has already

been concluded (see above), it could not mean divine person. This would

automatically rule out the Father as being divine. It would certainly mean that He

and the Father were of a different kind (type). This reasoning would have

completely destroyed the very purpose of formulating this creed. Those who

formulated it though knew that monogenes would not destroy it. They could not have thought therefore that this word meant one and only. It must be to do with the Son‘s generation from the Father, meaning His Sonship. He is the only

begotten of the Father.

From the above we can readily see that at John 3:16, the word monogenes could

not simply mean only or one and only (without the idea of begetting). This would violate the fact that its suffix is -genes. In other words, if John had wanted to say

at John 3:16 (and other places) that Christ is the only son or one and only Son,

he would only have needed to use monos (not mono + genes). It needs to be

remembered too that he did write monogenes huios (son) – not just monogenes.

He was obviously emphasising more than simply one and only Son. He was

emphasising that the Son alone is begotten of the Father.

Common sense dictates that those whose mother tongue was Greek knew their

own language. To reason otherwise is not intellectually sound. It can only be

concluded therefore that the translators of the KJV had it right. Monogenes does

mean only-begotten.

On the basis of Paul‘s usage of monogenes in Hebrews 11:17, some have objected to this conclusion. They say that Isaac was not the only begotten of

Abraham because he had a number of sons. The verse in question says

―By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had

received the promises offered up his only begotten [monogenes] son‖ Hebrews 11:17.

We need to remember here that those to whom Paul was writing were

descendants of a people who had been the recipients and custodians of the

Old Testament Scriptures. It was absolutely imperative therefore that in

expressing himself to them he wrote in harmony with these writings. In

Hebrews 11:17, the apostle was referring to when God had said to Abraham

―And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and

said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said,

Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into

the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the

mountains which I will tell thee of.‖ Genesis 22:1-2

―And he [God] said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any

thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not

withheld thy son, thine only son from me.‖ Genesis 22:12

Notice in each of these verses that there is an occasion of the word ―son‖ in

italics. This is because it is a supplied word (supplied by the translators of the

KJV). It is not in the original text. In these verses, God actually refers to Isaac as

Abraham‘s ―only‖ (Heb. Yachiyd).

Much could be said here concerning the fact that the word ―only‖ is translated

from the Hebrew word Yachiyd but space is limited. Suffice it to say that in the

Scriptures, this word is translated ‗only son‟ (Genesis 22:2, 22:16, Amos 8:10,

Zechariah 12:10), ‗only‘ (Judges 11:34), ‗darling‘ (Psalm 22:20 and 35:17),

‗desolate‘ (Psalm 25:16), ‗solitary‘ (Psalm 60:6) and ‗only beloved‟ (Proverbs 4:3).

Note that the words in italics are again supplied words.

God had promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. This was even

though Sarah was past childbearing age. In order to ‗help‘ God, Abraham

produced a son by Sarah‘s handmaiden Hagar. This son‘s name was Ishmael.

Ishmael though was not the son promised by God. Isaac was the promised one.

In calling Isaac ―thine only‖ [yachiyd] therefore, God was emphasising this fact to Abraham. God was leaving Ishmael out of the question.

Isaac was a son by the promise of God. He was caused to be by God. God

though did not promise that Ishmael should be born. He had been the result of

human devising. Isaac on the other hand was special. His existence was a

miracle. He was definitely one of a generated (begotten) kind or type. Paul

therefore chose a Greek word that would suit this perfectly. It was monogenes.


―God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto

the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his

Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the

worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his

person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by

himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:‖

Hebrews 1:1-3

These three verses are comparable with the first three verses of that which John

would write 30 or so years later in his Gospel. John said that the Word was with

God and was God; also that by the Word were all things made that were made

(John 1:1-3). Paul says that the Son is ―the brightness‖ of God‘s ―glory‖ and the

―express image‖ [Gr. σαπακηήπ] of God‘s ―person‖, also that through Him the

worlds were made. If both authors were inspired they must be saying the same

thing. In other words, Christ being the ―express image‖ of God‘s person must be the equivalent of saying He is God.

Strong‘s concordance transliterates the Greek word σαπακηήπ as charakter. It

appears that originally this was an engraving tool or a marker (engraver) but later came to be known as the impression or engraving itself. It is from where we

derive the word character. This is the only place in the Bible where this word is

used. This is why there can be no comparison of usage.

As do many scholars, Strong describes this word as meaning an exact

impression or precise reproduction of persons or things that are original. An

impress in wax is not that which did the impressing. A stamp on a coin is not the

die that causes the impress. A footprint in the sand is not the foot that made the

print. Each is distinct from the other, but there is the closest of relationships

between the original and the impression. Without the original there would not be

an image. It is also interesting to note that such an impression is always an

integral part of the very substance of which it is impressed (like an impression in wax). It is cut (formed) from the substance but remains a part of it.

The Abingdon Bible Commentary of 1929 (compiled by some 66 professors of

biblical exegesis, biblical languages, theology, Christian doctrine and church

history etc.) has the following to say with reference to the words ―express image‖


―The word translated ‗very image‘ means, literally, the stamp cut by a die,

and so the impress made upon a seal; thus the phrase signifies that the

essence of the divine nature was stamped on the Person of Christ. He was

the ‗impress of God‗s essence.‖(Professor H. T Andrews, D.D., The Abingdon Bible Commentary, 1929) [found on pg.32]


―God has sent His Son to communicate His own life to humanity. Christ

declares, ‗I live by the Father,‘ My life and His being one. No man hath seen

God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father,

He hath declared Him. ‗For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He

given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to

execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.‘ The head of every

man is Christ, as the head of Christ is God. ‗And ye are Christ‘s, and Christ

is God‘s.‘ [1Cor.11:3]‖ (Ellen G. White, Lake Union Herald, December 2nd 1908,

„Extracts from unpublished Testimonies‟)

From the above we can see the reason why the life that is in Christ is ―life,

original, unborrowed, underived‖. It is because it is the Father's life (the life of

God). The Father is said to be the source of this life. As it says here, it is ―the

Father's life‖ that flows ―through the beloved Son‖. As Jesus made clear, the

Father who has life in Himself had ―given‖ Him (God‘s Son) to have life in Himself(John 5:26).

Here again we see the Father in the primacy. As Ellen White said,

the Son had ―received‖ this life from the Father. The concept is very simple to

understand. The Father and the Son 'share' the same divine life (the life of God) yet the Father is the primal source. Notice that the Father is referred to as ―the

great Source of all‖. Again as it says here ―God has sent His Son to communicate

His own life to humanity‖.

These words and thoughts from the spirit of prophecy do not deny the begotten

concept. They confirm it. They are describing the type of life that is in Christ

(divine life – divinity). This is why it is referred to as ―life, original, unborrowed,

underived‖. Divinity is self-existing. For its existence,