For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
John 3:16 is quoted more than any other verse in the Bible, at least by Christians and other church-goers. There may be no verse that is more frequently perverted than this one, but most people still know the full verse as presented by the KJV. Why then, is it so hard to find the word ‘begotten’ in other versions?
The word in question is ‘monogenes’. This is a compound of two words monos and genes, the latter being drawn from the verb genao, which means to beget or cause to be produced. Monos means only or single, as is clear by its many appearances in English, such as monotony, monopoly, monotone, etc. Genao has come into the English language as well in words like generation, genesis, genes, generate, and so forth. The two words together mean only-begotten! It could not possibly mean anything else. In spite of this obvious, uncontestable, and invariable meaning, it is perverted with great frequency. The perversion of this verse appears to have begun, not with Christians, but with Gnostics in Egypt. These Gnostics not only denied the nature of Christ, but rewrote much of the New Testament in order to pervert the truth. These Gnostics had to lie through their teeth in order to suggest that the second half of this compound word did not count. Followers of the Alexandrian heresies, such as today’s New Age Bible version translators, being unconcerned with integrity, were more than happy to follow the Gnostic lead. It should be noted that the Gnostics did not even speak Greek as a native language. Their language was Coptic, which is about as close to Greek as Turkish is to Arabic. This means that it is less close to Greek than English is to Polish. Coptic adopted and adapted the Greek for their form of Egyptian, and borrowed many New Testament Greek words, just as Turkish borrowed the Arabic alphabet (until modern times) and many vocabulary words, as did Malaysian, Swahili, Farsi, Urdu, and many other unrelated languages, but this makes for only the most superficial comparisons. In both cases this is as far as the similarities go. Their language families are unconnected and their grammars are entirely dissimilar. Why on earth would anyone with a half a lick of sense accept a nonsensical definition of a Greek word by heretical, non-Christian Coptic speakers for a Greek word that is completely clear in its meaning to start with?
The ASV was not bold enough to pervert this verse, but the RSV and almost every modern version since has done so.
RSV For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
NIV: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This is not the only place where only begotten son is changed to only son. The modern versions do the same thing in the following verses.
John 1:14: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 1:18: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
1 John 4:9: 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.
Unfortunately, many foreign Bible translations no longer have legitimate translations of these verses, and there are many languages that have never had one. No translation in French history has failed to pervert this verse. Not only do the modern perversions like the Louis Segonde, which is below, fail to say begotten, but even the much better earlier versions, such as the Olivetan and the Martin do so.
Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu’il a donné son Fils unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne périsse point, mais qu’il ait la vie éternelle.
They all say unique son, which is clearly wrong. The first French translation to include the whole verse is my KJV oriented revision of the Martin Bible, which I hope to make available soon.
The Arabic Bible is a fairly good Bible, but it botched this verse too. I suspect that the reason for this is that the Arabic translators may have used the French as their model. The Arabic says “ibn wahid”, which means unique son. I had to think about the French for a while, but the proper Arabic translation came to me instantly and quite naturally: “ibn wahid wulida bihi”. It sounds even more natural in Arabic than it does in English. I don’t understand why it didn’t occur to the original translators. I cannot believe that it had anything to do with technical issues.
Most Gideon’s KJV Bibles include several translations of John 3:16 before the Bible text itself. I cannot read several of the languages at all, but among those that I can read the Arabic, French, Hindi, and Hebrew mistranslate it. If I were to compare verses from Bibles from all over the world the list of corrupted verses would go on for page after page.
I’ve had many people tell me that they see these verses as stating that Jesus is God’s unique Son in a very special way, but that is not even a relevant argument. It is irrelevant not only because the Greek does not say that he is unique, but because it is a subjective term with little meaning. Is Jesus God’s unique son? Yes, of course he is, but so is every other born-again Christian. As a born-again believer I am counted as a son of God. I also am unique. How many multilingual, KJV defenders who are Arabic translators, survival instructors, classical guitar players, wild critter gourmets, ex-hermitic mountain men, and former freight train-riding, chicken-farming Ivy League graduates who nearly flunked out of high school (due to truancy) are there out there? In the unlikely event that there are any, they are not going to look like me, sound like me, or share all of my other traits, faults and experiences. Everyone born-again Christian reading this can claim their own brand of uniqueness. We are all unique. Being unique is not unique and calling someone unique is not saying much of anything at all. Jesus is not just a unique son of God, but he is unique because he was his only-begotten Son!
Why is it so important to make such a big deal of this one word, some ask? There are many reasons, but the following come to my mind right away.
1) It is a lie to translate the word as “only” or “unique”. The word doesn’t mean unique. That is an attempt to rob Jesus of his true nature. This is a trick learned from Gnostics, Arians, and other
2) It is a lie that Jesus is the only son of God.
John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Romans 8:14: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Romans: 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Philippians 2:15: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
1 John 3:1: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
1 John 3:2: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3) If translators can’t get a plain statement like John 3:16 right, what credibility does that give to
the rest of their translation?
Finally, it needs to be pointed out that Jesus is not the only son to be described as an only begotten one. Isaac also is described as only begotten.
Hebrews 11:17: By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
We know that Abraham had another son, Ishmael, and the modern version translators were just as aware of it. In this example Isaac is his only begotten son because he was the only one to be born of his lawful wife through him, the same way that Mary begot the only Son to ever be begotten through God. So why did they, once again, ignore the word begotten, and translate this verse as “only son” as they did with the references to Jesus? This is surely an act of incompetence, but it was more a desire to follow Gnostic/New Age philosophy that dictated the modern version translation than it was one of incompetence. They knew that if they were to translate this correctly, and it were to be noted by anyone looking at the Greek, their corruption would be disclosed. They had to cover their tracks by corrupting the verse regarding Isaac for that reason. As a result they make the ridiculous error of saying that Isaac had only one son.
Whatever the motive for the modern perversions’ treatment of these verses, they are glaring proofs that their alleged superior knowledge of Greek is as phony as Bill Clinton’s repentance. It is most sad that they have been allowed to get away with it by so many church-goers throughout the ages. The emperors need to put on some clothes, because they are guilty of indecent exposure.
John Hinton, Ph.D.
Bible Restoration Ministry
A ministry seeking the translating and reprinting of KJV equivalent
Bibles in all the languages of the world.