Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the apostles creed it states that "I believe in Jesus Christ God's only son our Lord" (ELCA). People always say that we're all God's children. So those two contradict themselves. What does the Bible have to say about this. Or are we God's grandchildren and Jesus children?

share|improve this question
Welcome to the site, by the way. This is a pretty good question for a first-time poster. When you get a chance, you should read How we are different than other sites? Most people mistake the purpose of this site, and that post does a wonderful job of explaining the common misconceptions and clarifying the purpose of this site. –  David Stratton Jul 4 '13 at 5:01

2 Answers 2

The Latin text of the Symbolum Apostolicum ("Apostles' Creed") states,

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipoténtem, Creatórem cæli et terræ, et in Iesum Christum, Fílium Eius unicum, Dóminum nostrum, qui concéptus est de Spíritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Póntio Piláto, crucifixus, mórtuus, et sepúltus, descéndit ad ínferos, tértia die resurréxit a mórtuis, ascéndit ad cælos, sedet ad déxteram Dei Patris omnipoténtis, inde ventúrus est iudicáre vivos et mórtuos.

Et in Spíritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclésiam cathólicam, sanctórum communiónem, remissiónem peccatórum, carnis resurrectiónem, vitam ætérnam. Amen.

While unicum can certainly mean "only," Jerome also used it to translate the Greek word μονογενὴς, meaning "only-begotten," in the Vulgate (cp. Luke 7:12). Other times, he translated μονογενὴς as unigenitus, which is the exact equivalent of "only-begotten" in Latin. So, we could translate that word in the Apostles' Creed as "only-begotten," and of course, it would be accurate to say that Jesus is the Father's only-begotten Son.

share|improve this answer
That distinction between "only" and "only begotten" makes all the difference in the world. +1. –  David Stratton Jul 4 '13 at 4:56

The two are not contradictory at all. The common understanding is that Jesus is unique and the only begotten son of God. The rest of us are heirs to God - children of God via adoption.

From Adopted Children of God

The term “Son of God” refers preeminently to Jesus Christ’s deity (Matt. 11:25-27; 16:16-17). He alone is one in substance and glory with God the Father. Believers in Christ, although “adopted” are never on a par with the uncreated, divine Son of God.

Supporting Scripture for each of these points:

That Jesus is the only begotten Son.

1 John 4:9 King James Version (KJV)

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.

John 3:16 King James Version (KJV)

16 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.

That we are adopted heirs:

Romans 8:15

King James Version (KJV)

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Ephesians 1:4-6

King James Version (KJV)

4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

These passages cover both statements in one clear statement:

John 1:11-13

King James Version (KJV)

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

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:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Galatians 4:4-7

King James Version (KJV)

4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Some clarification on the distinction - what makes "only begotten" special:

From ICR, in an article that directly addresses your question:

But why was it important for the Holy Spirit who inspired these five great verses to stress that the Lord Jesus was the incarnate only begotten Son of God? Many modern English translations of the New Testament apparently do not consider it important, for they render the phrase merely as "only son." It is so rendered in the Living Bible, the Revised Standard Version, the God's Word translation, the Twentieth Century New Testament, the New Living Translation, the Moffatt, Goodspeed, and Williams translations, and many others. The New International Version renders it "one and only son." There are still a few, however--the best-known being the New American Standard and the New King James--that render it correctly (as in the King James Version) as "only begotten Son."

The Greek word for "only begotten" is monogenes, the very form of which clearly denotes "only generated." As monotheism connotes only one God and monosyllable means a word of only one syllable, so monogenes means only one genesis or only one generated--or, more simply, only begotten. It does not mean "one," or even "one and only." It is worth noting that, although Christ is called the Son, or Son of God, frequently in the New Testament, He is never (in the Greek original) called the "only" son of God.

The fact is, that to call Him the only Son of God would make the Bible contradict itself, for He is not the only Son of God, and certainly not the "one and only" Son of God. Angels are several times called the sons of God (e.g., Job 38:7) since they had no fathers, being directly created by God. Likewise, Adam was called the son of God (Luke 3:38), because he was directly created. The same applies even to fallen angels (Genesis 6:2), and even to Satan (Job 1:6), because they also were created beings. The term is also used in a spiritual sense, of course, for those who have become "new creations" in Christ Jesus by faith (II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; etc.). In this sense, we also are "sons of God" (e.g., I John 3:2) by special creation?not physically but spiritually.

But it is never applied in this sense to Christ, for He is not a created son of God (as the Jehovah's Witnesses and other cultists teach), but a begotten Son of God--in fact, the only begotten Son of God. He never had a beginning, for He was there in the beginning (John 1:1). In His prayer to the Father in the upper room, He spoke of "the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5).

share|improve this answer
Good answer.Thanks for adding the references. –  Waeshael Jul 5 '13 at 18:13

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.