Some have cited the earlier manuscripts of John 1:18 as proof that Jesus is Yahweh, since some of these manuscripts have "monogenes theos" (transliterated). Yes, there are ancient manuscripts that have "monogenes theos" in John 1:18. Most manuscripts have *huios* (son), but then most of these manuscripts are of more recent dates. For earlier manuscripts that give support for either rendering,
I couldn't make out some of the coding but I came up with at least the following manuscripts that have "monogenes theos" in John 1:18:
Papyrus 66 containing John 1:1-21:9
Papyrus 75 containing Lk 3:18-Jo 15:8
Therefore, we assume that John 1:18 was originally 'only-begotten god [theos, one of might]", which would mean that in the Bible Jesus is not only referred to as the only-begotten son, but also as the only-begotten mighty one [theos]. We should note that there are still other verses than John 1:18 that speak of Jesus as "only begotten son". (In the NAS, see John 3:16,18; Hebrews 11:17) His being "only-begotten mighty one" would not do away with his being "only begotten son," nor contradict each other, nor does it mean that Jesus possesses an alleged "dual nature" of being the Most High and also the son of the Most High. -- Luke 1:32,35.
Before being begotten as a human, Jesus was indeed begotten as the only-begotten THEOS, having been brought forth as the firstborn of every creature (Colossians 1:15), as a mighty spirit being, similar to, but of greater rank than the angels who are called ELOHIM in Psalm 8:5 (see Hebrews 2:7,9). The angels are mighty spirit beings, and thus they are called elohim, which is the same word that is rendered as God [plural intensive, where the plural is used in a singular setting as denoting superiority or the superlative] or gods [plural]. None of these elohim, however, were begotten, brought forth into being, directly by Yahweh, but all these powers of heaven were created through, by means of, the pre-human Jesus. -- Colossians 1:16.
In order to take the meaning of being brought forth into being out of monogenes, some have argued that the word monogenes only signifies "uniqueness", not that Jesus was actually brought forth into being.
Kittel's THEOLOGICAL DICTlONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Vol. 5, pp. 738-741) 1967, a work produced by trinitarians, observes that monogenes can have a broader meaning than only begotten. However, it goes on to state that when monogenes is used in the New Testament, "It means 'only begotten' in (John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9; John 1:18 the relation of Jesus is not just compared to that of an only child to its father. It is the relation of the only begotten to the father. In John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9 monogenes denotes more than the uniqueness or incomparability of Jesus. In all these verses He is expressly called the Son, and He is regarded as such in John 1:14. In John monogenes denotes the origin of Jesus. He is monogenes as the only begotten."
As Kittel notes, monogenes is used in reference to Jesus in John 1:14,18; 3:16,18; 1 John 4:9. The word monogenes is used of others than Jesus in Luke 7:11,12; 8:41,42; 9:38; Hebrews 11:17.
The instances in Luke confirms Kittel's observation that in the New Testament usage, monogenes does generally denote an only begotten son or daughter. Hebrews 11:17 is used of Isaac as the only-begotten son of Abraham, Ishmael no longer being present, and was not counted as heir. -- Genesis 21:10,12; Galatians 4:22,23,30.
Believing that John 1:18 did originally have the word THEOS, does this mean that John was saying that Jesus is Yahweh, the only Most High? No, it only means that John was attributing to Jesus the might, strength, power that he had before coming into the world of mankind to declare his God, and additionally John could also have been referring to the might and power that has been given to him after his resurrection. (Psalm 45:7; Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 1:2,6,9; Philippians 2:9; Colossians 2:10; Psalm 2:7,8; 110:1,2; Isaiah 9:6,7; Luke 1:32; Jeremiah 23:5; Daniel 7:13,14) We need to remember that the Hebrews used the same words for "God" of others than the Most High, but in a secondary sense of might, strength, power.
Realizing that Jesus ascended to the only true God, not that Jesus is the only true God, should tells us that John is not using THEOS of Jesus as he did of the God and Father of Jesus.
Hebraic Usage of the Titles for “God”
Jesus in his pre-human existence, indeed, was "a mighty one" who received life (was "begotten") from the Father (Colossians 1:15; John 17:1,3,5), and, not only that, at the time that John wrote his Gospel, Jesus had been raised from death as a mighty spirit being, and was indeed "a mighty one" residing in heaven with his God and Father, and thus figuratively, was in the bosom of his God and Father. -- John 17:11, 22; 20:21,17.
See also my studies:
The Only Begotten God
Did Jesus Have a Beginning?
Some studies written by others:
"The Only Begotten God"
God's Only Begotten Son
- ▼ 2013 (3)