The Gospel of God Concerning His Son

V. W. J. H. Lawrence

The Only-Begotten

I desire by the Lord's help to unfold a few thoughts concerning the great truth of Jesus as the Only-begotten Son of God; and as I wish to be brief, I would entreat my readers to search out this holy theme for themselves. For I believe the right apprehension of this truth to be a vital matter for everyone, and on it largely depends our faith in the Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Firstly, I will notice the words used in Scripture and their references, of which our word Only-begotten is the just and suitable translation. The Greek word Monogenees occurs nine times in the New Testament, Luke 7:12; 8:42: 9:38; John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; Heb. 11:17; 1 John 4:9. It also occurs four times in the LXX., Judges 11:34; Ps. 21:21; 24:16: 34:17. In the LXX. it translates the Hebrew word “yah-gheed” from the root “yah-ghad” meaning to be joined, to be united together, etc. (See Gesenius and others). This word occurs twelve times in the Old Testament, and in certainly eight instances defines a relation wholly unique, yet a real relation; and though the LXX., render sometimes by “agapeetos,” this cannot affect the inner sense and meaning of the Hebrew word. Strictly speaking, according to the sense of the realities described by them, the word monogenees is a just and satisfactory translation of yah-gheed, for it has been so used. Clearly for instance, Jer. 6:26 is fully akin to Gen. 22:2, 12, 16 (yah-gheed), and the Spirit of God has graciously interpreted this for us in Heb. 11:17 by monogenees. Hence we can affirm that, even if monogenees may be regarded at times as a synonym for agapeetos, yet it is only so by inference; its meaning is distinct from that of agapeetos (see Cremer, Alford and others), and introduces a wholly unique glory, a relation which has none like it; there can be but ONE monogenees, and he such that his being so results from a real relation. Agapeetos of itself contains no specific reference either to monos or to genos, of which our word is compounded. There are reasons for the Spirit's use of monogenees, and we need to understand them. Our word must not be emptied of its Divine meaning.

I turn now to the use of the word in the New Testament, and especially its use in reference to our Lord. That which strikes us most is the fact that John alone applies it to Jesus; and, hence, it must have specific reference to that presentation of the Son of God more particularly committed to him. (I notice in passing that both the words Logos and Huios were already in use in regard to the Messiah in Philo's writings; whereas, by the Spirit, the apostle, leaving Philo's speculations on one side, gives us Divine truth regarding the Person of the Son of God). The next point of importance lies in this, that Luke, knowing the word, employs it three times, yet never refers it to the Lord. Now this is passing strange, if, as some foolishly assert, it must be limited to the Humanity of Christ, and bespeaks a relation proper only to His birth into the world. To Luke that particular truth was committed, yet he never once used the word in reference to our Lord; whilst John, who never refers to the virgin birth of Jesus, applies it definitely and precisely to His relation to God the Father. Surely this should be evidence enough for any honest heart who is not wilfully blind to, and hopelessly prejudiced against, the truth of Divine Sonship.

Now an examination of John's use of monogenees in reference to the Lord Jesus shows beyond a doubt its essentially Divine meaning. Jesus is the “Only-begotten" in His Divine nature and in His eternal existence. He is from with the Father, is in the Father's
bosom, is given as the revelation of the fulness of God's love, is as to faith on His Name the supreme test for men, is sent into the world, as the Only-begotten. It is His eternal relation and glory; ineffable as to the manner of it, yet real and blessed in revelation to our hearts, we worship the Son of God in that relation, the Father's only Son, who in His great eternal love has come near to us by lowly grace and suffering to make the Father known.

A Divine Economy

"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; … Colossians 1:24-29.

The Apostle Paul had become a servant of the church, but it was according to a Divine “economy” (oikonomia). He had not constituted himself to this ministry; he was a chosen vessel, appointed of God to the revelation of the mystery. It is thus of the utmost importance to realise the necessity for this Divine economy if the saints were to become intelligent in the mystery.

Let us notice, however, another fact of vital importance: before the apostle refers to this economy, and the manifestation of the mystery hidden from ages and from generations, he unfolds the essentially Divine glory of Him who is the Centre of these eternal realities, even the Divine glory of the Son of the Father's love (Col. 1:13-17). A Divine system of things must possess a Divine centre. Nothing may be wanting, either as to love, glory or might, in Him who is this centre, which shall find its expression in this manifested mystery. Only the Divine Son could be the centre of these Divine and heavenly things. Hence the apostle labours to unfold that glory, the glory of the Son, essentially and eternally Divine in that glory. For only the Divine and eternal Son could be the centre of Divine and heavenly things. What grace this is, that has given to us the knowledge of the Father and the Son! The purposes are the purposes of the Father's love; the Son, their Divine centre, comes to give effect to them on the basis of redemption. For if the Son of the Father's love is not Son in an essentially Divine and eternal sense, then He is not as Son commensurate with this system of Divine and heavenly things. But He is the Divine Son, out of Heaven, eternally One with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

James Taylor's Teaching: Another Gospel

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8-9.

I will first quote two Scriptures which show clearly enough the gospel which Paul preached relative to the Son of God, and one illustrative of John. "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Galatians 4:4-5. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Rom. 8:3. "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." 1 John 4:9. Three supreme realities regarding the Son of God are here presented to us; (1) He has been sent forth from God (exapesteilen), (2) He is God's own Son (ton eautou huion), (3) He is God's only-begotten Son sent into the world (eis ton kosmon). And these realities are the foundation of the “gospel.”

Now James Taylor's teaching utterly denies these great truths. For according to his gospel, God did not send forth from Himself His Son, for He had no Son to send; nor, for him, is Jesus the Divine Son, that is, Son of God in His Divine Nature. Further according to his gospel, God has never had a true real Son, an only-begotten Son, whom He could send into the world. Is this, then, the Apostles' doctrine? Is this the gospel that Paul preached? Is this the truth of the Son of God that John proclaimed, for which the martyrs died? Away with such a thought! The doctrine of the Apostles has been the faith of the church: that God had one true real Son, Son in the Divine Nature, His only-begotten Son, the Son by whom also He made the worlds, and He has given and sent into the world that glorious Son, to accomplish redemption, to be the revelation of His own infinite and eternal love. Truly James Taylor's teaching is another “gospel;" and this is the solemn judgment — If any man preach any other gospel unto you … let him be accursed.”

The Williams Press Limited. Riverside Works. Newport. Mon,