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Bible Commentary Adam Clarke

Only-Begotten God (John 1:18)

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The Protestant Church proclaims, 'Sola Scriptura!,' Latin for, 'scripture alone.' Their first statement of belief is, "The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy..." But, the majority, as will be illustrated,  really do not believe, 'all,' the scriptures, which includes theologians, ministers and Bible translators; John 1:18 being a prime example. John 1:18 just does not fit into their preconceived or taught theology, causing them to rebel against what Yahweh has written, replacing it with what they would like it to say. Their rebellion, for over 200 years, will be illustrated. The finger prints of our adversary are all over this corruption, whether the men who are taking part in this assault are deceived or just children of the adversary. I praise and thank Yahweh for those who did not rebel, such as Joseph Rotherham and the people who produce the NASB, along with others but rather took the unpopular theological position of writing Yahweh's words, as recorded in the text, rather than man's words.

This study can be as in-depth as one desires. As an investigator, one must only take into consideration the facts and not what people think of the facts. John 1:18 is as follows, "No one, hath seen, God, at any time: An Only Begotten God, The One existing within the bosom of the Father, He, hath interpreted him" (Rotherham). Many theologians do not like the phase, "Only-Begotten God," so they have changed it to, "one and only Son, who is himself God (NIV);" "unique One, who is himself God (NLT);"  "the only God" (ESV)," to name only a few examples (Appendix A). The Greek words of the ancient text (175-200 AD) we are discussing are, 'monogenes theos.' Monogenes is mono, meaning alone and genes, meaning born or to be. "In the NT the term occurs only in Luke, John, and Hebrews. Isaac is monogenes in #Heb 11:7, and the son of the widow at Nain, {#Lu 7:12 } the daughter of Jairus, {#Lu 8:42 } and the demoniac boy {#Lu 8:42 } are all only children." Theos means a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities. The Word Study Greek English New Testament (Greek New Testament UBS 3rd Edition) translates monogenes theos at "only [mono] born [genes] God [theos]." (Appendix B)

Theologians will call John 1:18 a controversy but they know it is not. An article written in 1861 written by Professor Ezra Abbot, titled, "ON THE READING "ONLY-BEGOTTEN GOD," IN JOHN 1.18;WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE STATEMENTS OF DR. TREGELLES," discussed the theologian's problem.

"In John 1:18, which reads in the common version: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him," it has long been known to scholars that important critical authorities, instead of the expression "the only-begotten Son," have the remarkable reading, "only-begotten God." The manuscripts that contain it, though not numerous, are of the very highest rank, including both the famous Vatican manuscript, and the newly discovered Codex Sinaiticus of Tischendorf. This reading has also a respectable support from the ancient versions, and has been supposed to be attested by a great majority of the ancient Fathers, both Greek and Latin. Though not adopted into the text of any edition of the Greek Testament yet published, its genuineness has been maintained by Dr. S. P. Tregelles, the most eminent among English scholars in the department of textual criticism; and it will undoubtedly be presented as the true reading in his long expected edition. It would also have been received by Lachmann into his text, had he been aware of the authorities by which it is supported."

He then ends his article by questioning the text, by stating, "But there is another aspect of the internal evidence, which must strike every one who reads the passage in question with attention. "No man hath seen GOD at any time; the only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Is it not evident that the introduction of the phrase "only-begotten God," after the use of the word "God" alone and absolutely, immediately before it, is a harshness which we can hardly suppose in any writer?   Does not the word "Father," in a sentence like this, almost necessarily imply that the correlative "Son" has just preceded? And is there anything analogous to this expression, "the only-begotten God," in the writings of John, or in any other part of the New Testament?" (Appendix C)

In 1876, Fenton John Anthony Hort, of the renown, Westcott & Hort, wrote a dissertation upon this very verse titled, "Two Dissertations on MONOGENES THEOS in Scripture and Tradition." His conclusion is that the phrase, 'monogenes theos (god)' is correct and the KJV's, 'monogenes huios (son),' is incorrect. He states, "The former of these Dissertations is an attempt to examine in some detail a single point of textual criticism, the true reading of a phrase occurring in a cardinal verse of the New Testament. Once only has the evidence been discussed with anything like adequate care and precision, namely in a valuable article contributed by Professor Ezra Abbot to the American Bibliotheca Sacra of October 1861. After having long had occasion to study the matter pretty closely, I am unable to accept the conclusions drawn by this eminent biblical scholar; and accordingly it seemed worth while to place on record the results of an independent investigation. My own opinion has not been formed hastily. Some years passed before increasing knowledge and clearness of view respecting the sources of the Greek text of the New Testament convinced me of the incorrectness of the received reading in John 1:18. This conviction did not however remove the sense of a certain strangeness in the alternative phrase transmitted by the best authorities; and for a considerable time I saw no better solution of the difficulty than a conjecture that both readings alike were amplifications of a simpler original. It was a more careful study of the whole context that finally took away all lingering doubt as to the intrinsic probability of the less familiar reading [monogenes theos]." (Appendix D)

Nestle's Greek New Testament 4th Edition was published in 1904. The ADVERTISEMENT reads, "The text of this Greek Testament was in the main first published by the Bible Society of Württenberg at Stuttgart in 1898. It was prepared for that Society by Professor Eberhard Nestle, D.D., of Maulbronn, and he revised the several editions which followed the first one. By the kind permission of the Württenberg Society the British and Foreign Bible Society was permitted to adopt its latest text (the 4th) and to publish it in England under Dr Nestle's care in 1904. The text is the resultant of a collation of three of the principal recensions of the Greek Testament which appeared in the latter half of the 19th century, viz. those of Tischendorf, editio octava 1869–72 (as reproduced in the 4th edition by Oskar von Gebhardt, 1898); of Westcott and Hort, 1881 (impression of 1895); and of Bernhard Weiss, 1894–1900 (second edition 1902). The readings adopted in the text are those in which at least two of these editions agree..." John 1:18, in his Greek New Testament, reads, 18 Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς Θεὸς [monogenes theos] ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πατρὸς, ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum 28th Edition, published in the 1950's reads the same way.

Joseph Rotherham published his 1878 New Testament, from the Greek text of Tregelles, with John 1:18 reading, "No one has seen God at any time: an Only-Begotten God —The One existing within the bosom of the Father he interpreted [him]." His latest version, published in 1902, declares the same phrase. The ASV and the RSV of 1901 both read, only-begotten son, as does the KJV and the NKJV, even though the ancient Greek text stated otherwise. The present translations, other than Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, that are faithful to John 1:18 are:
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (NASB)
No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is at the Father’s side is the one who has explained Him. (New World Translation)
No one has seen God [His essence, His divine nature] at any time; the [One and] only begotten God [that is, the unique Son] who is in the intimate presence of the Father, He has explained Him [and interpreted and revealed the awesome wonder of the Father]. (AMP)
Notable manuscripts were discovery in 1952. They are called the Bodmer Papyri, two of which, P66 and P75, dating from 175-200 AD, contain monogenes theos in John 1:18. These manuscripts agree that the phrase, 'only-begotten god,' is the Word of Yahweh, yet many theologians become stiff-neck to the things of Yahweh, when it contradicts what they desire to believe. Moses told Israel, "For, I, know thy perverseness, and thy stiff neck,—lo! while I am yet alive with you today, ye are, quarrelling, with Yahweh, and how much more after my death" (Deu. 31:27)? The woman caught in adultery, John 7:53-8:11, as is well known, is no part of the Gospel of John (also absent from the above two manuscripts), yet Bible translators leave it in their Bibles. The only-begotten god, in John 1:18, is in the text but the majority of the translators corrupt it, knowing all along it is the Word of Yahweh.
This behavior illustrates the spiritual contest, from the inside, we are in and it is only getting worse with, so-called Bibles, such as the NIV and NLT. For instance, even in the book titled, "A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament," (published in 2001) the discussion on whether the only-begotten god (monogenes theos) belongs in John 1:18, is still in question; they giving the phrase, 'almost certain,' acceptance. These individuals know the text but fight Yahweh to the bitter end, fully knowing Galatians 1:8, which states, "But, even if, we, or, a messenger out of heaven, announce a glad-message aside from that which we announced unto you, accursed, let him be!" They have chosen to be accursed by Yahweh, in order that they can be well pleasing to men. They state:
John 1:18 monogenes theos {B} [B means 'almost certain']

"With the acquisition of P66 and P75, both of which read theos, the external support of this reading has been notably strengthened. A majority of the Committee regarded the reading monogenes huios (son), which undoubtedly is easier than monogenes theos, to be the result of scribal assimilation to Jn. 3:16, 18; 1 Jn 4:9. The anarthrous use of theos appears to be more primitive. There is no reason why the article should have been deleted, and when huios (son) supplanted theos it would certainly have been added. The shortest reading, the monogenes, while attractive because of internal considerations, is too poorly attested for acceptance as the text. Some modern commentators take monogenes as a noun and punctuate so as to have three distinct designations of him who makes God..." Monogenes theos, in John 1:18, was recognized and recorded over 150 years ago, but these scholars still reject what Yahweh has written, even after manuscripts P66 and P75 witness to this very truth. These are the same scholars who unanimously agreed that the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) has no part in the Gospel of John, but they decide to leave it in the text, enclosed within double square brackets. Yahoshua stated, "For this reason, in parables, unto them, do I speak,—because, seeing, they see not, and, hearing, they hear not,—neither do they understand (Mt. 13:13).

What are we to learn of this finding? Why does it really matter? How John 1:18 is translated identifies those who are attempting to be Yahweh's faithful scribes from those who agenda is not fidelity to the text but rather fidelity to the desires of men, making their Bibles (I can't call them translations because they are not) accursed, according to Galatians 1:8. The NIV and NLT Bibles  are amongst the top four selling Bibles, while the NASB is number seven, comparing these four Bibles, we witness:

No one, hath seen, God, at any time: An Only Begotten God, The One existing within the bosom of the Father, He, hath interpreted [him]. (Rotherham)
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (NASB)
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (NIV)
No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. (NLT)

What has been removed from the NIV and the NLT Bibles, not including the only begotten God, are the words begotten (genes), within (eis) and bosom (kolpos). Now this is what has occurred in just one verse, let alone all the damage that has occurred throughout their Bibles. The KJV and the NKJV have their own problem but not as severe at the above two. They have chosen to refuse the text and print only-begotten Son instead. The adversary's attack began with attacking Yahweh's words, in Genesis three and it continues today from the inside out, through Bibles, as is done in the NIV and NLT, that ignore the text and insert new doctrines, such as has been done in the NIV and NLT, which state, as the Word of Yahweh, "who himself is God," which has no textual bases. As the adversary worked with the Scribes and Pharisees, so also this same adversary is still working with men, which can be call a conspiracy, meaning a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful. Changing or removing Yahweh's text, 'only-begotten God,' from John 1:18, is unlawful, harmful and will be judged by our Lord and Savior!

(For footnotes and Appendixes, see PDF version.)






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