Tag Archives: John 3:16

Bible Word Study – μονογενῆ (monogene)


μονογενῆ. This is a compound noun, formed with an adjective and a noun steam, μονο and γενon that have a semantic range of various meanings such as, “one, only, unique” or “one of its kind” and “offspring, family, beget.” (see. NIV, ESV, and NASB Study Bible).

NIV translate this word in John 3:16 as one and only; ESV renders its meaning to only , while NASB translate the word only begotten.

The frequency of μονογενῆ is only 9 times in the New Testament (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9). The same word can be found 10 times in Septuagint translation (LXX) in Judges 11:34; Psalm 21:21; 34:17 and apocryphal writings like Psalm of Solomon 18:4 and Odes 14:13 to denote one and only one; unique of its kind.[1] μονογενῆ is used to describe the relationship of Abraham with Isaac.

The question is, how then is it different that Jesus as the only begotten Son of God from a widow’s only son (Luke 7:12) or Jairus’ only daughter when the same word μονογενῆ is used to talk about these relationships?

In the Johannine literature, the same word μονογενῆ is used to entitled to talk about the relationship of Jesus with the Father. The uniqueness of Jesus and his divinity is centralized in the uses of the word μονογενῆ in John and 1 John. The meaning is transcending and heightened to talk highly about Jesus being only-begotten or begotten of the Only One[2] who has no other competent gods or deities. No other relationship comes close to the Father other than Jesus in Apostle John’s writing. Having said this, the uniqueness of Jesus as the One and Only Son of the Father, the implication is that Jesus is the exclusively above all beings in both earthly and heavenly realm. Therefore, μονογενῆ has the soteriological meaning[3] when it is applied to Jesus.

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[1] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Mille, Analytical Greek Lexicon (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), Bibleworks v.9.

[2] Frederick W. Danker, ed., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), 658.

[3] Verlyn Verbrugge, ed., The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 840.

Scripture Reading: John 3:16-21


ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 3:16-21

1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)

16ουτως γαρ ηγαπησεν ο θεος τον κοσμον ωστε τον υιον τον μονογενη εδωκεν ινα πας ο πιστευων εις αυτον μη αποληται αλλ εχη ζωην αιωνιον

For God so loved the world that [3the Son 2His only begotten 1He gave] so that everyone believing in him should not perish but have eternal life

17ου γαρ απεστειλεν ο θεος τον υιον εις τον κοσμον ινα κρινη τον κοσμον αλλ ινα σωθη ο κοσμος δι αυτου

[2did not 1for God 3send the Son] in the world that he might judge the world but that [2might be saved 1the world 3through him]

18ο πιστευων εις αυτον ου κρινεται ο μη πιστευων ηδη κεκριται οτι μη πεπιστευκεν εις το ονομα του μονογενους υιου του θεου

the one believing in him is not judged; the one not believing already has been judged because not he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God

19αυτη δε εστιν η κρισις οτι το φως εληλυθεν εις τον κοσμον και ηγαπησαν οι ανθρωποι μαλλον το σκοτος η το φως ην γαρ αυτων πονηρα τα εργα

and this is the judgment: that the light has come into the world and [2loved 1{the} men] more the darkness than the light;  [was for the works of them were evil.

20πας γαρ ο φαυλα πρασσων μισει το φως και ουκ ερχεται προς το φως ινα μη ελεγχθη τα εργα αυτου

for everyone practicing/acting the foul deeds hates the light, and does not come to the Light so that [2might not 3be admonished/reproved 1the works of his]

21ο δε ποιων την αληθειαν ερχεται προς το φως ινα φανερωθη αυτου τα εργα οτι εν θεω εστιν ειργασμενα

but the one doing the truth comes to the Light that [2might be revealed 1of his the works] that [2in God 1have been wrought].

The Gospel of John 3:16-21 [Literal Translation]

16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten the Son so that everyone believing in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send the Son in the world that he might judge the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18The one believing in him is not judged; the one not believing already has been judged because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the judgment: that the Light has come into the world and the men loved  the darkness more than the Light because the works of them were evil. 20For everyone practicing/acting the foul deeds hates the Light, and does not come to the Light so that the works of his might not be admonished. 21But the one doing the truth comes to the Light that the works of his might be revealed that have been wrought in God.