No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
This "only-begotten Son" is the same Person who, in the previous portion of the chapter, is designated the Word, and of whom it is said in language of which it is impossible for us to mistake the reference, "He was made flesh and dwelt among us," and so dwelling among men there was beheld in Him "the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." The Person, then, who is thus named is none other than He who was more familiarly known as the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. Briefly, then, let me try to unfold to you THE IMPORT OF THIS GREAT NAME — the Son, the only-begotten Son of God. There is a previous inquiry to which I may, in a very few words, refer. What is the reference of the text — it being ascertained that it refers to the Lord Jesus Christ? Does it refer to Him as Divine, or simply as Mediator between God and man? It is evident to my own mind that the Scriptures give the name Son to the second Person of the Godhead, as a Person of the Godhead, and that it belongs to Him as Divine, and that, apart altogether from His becoming incarnate and doing work for the salvation of sinners, He is the only-begotten Son in the bosom of the Father. Further, there is nothing in the name itself that makes it inapplicable to the Divine Person. It is quite true that, as applied to man, it does include those ideas of derivation of beings, which are totally inconsistent with the notion of eternal existence; but when we find figures of any sort applied to God, we must strain them no further than is consistent with a notion of His Divinity. Yet farther: if this name be not descriptive of a Divine relation, then the name "Father" also is not descriptive of a Divine relation. And if you take it away, then have we no manifestation of the first Person of the Godhead by any personally distinctive name whatever. As, therefore, you say the "Father" is a name belonging to the first Person of the Godhead as Divine, so is the "Son." We must take notice, in an introductory way, of the expression "only." This name, whatever be its import, belongs to Christ as it belongs to no one else. There is but one Son of God in the sense of my text. You do not need to go far back into the previous context to find that there are others who in a certain sense are the sons of God.
II. We now proceed to notice SOME OF THE THOUGHTS SUGGESTED BY THIS INCOMMUNICABLE TITLE.
1. I think that instead of suggesting to us, when wisely interpreted, some. thing inconsistent with Divinity, this title in its sole and incommunicable preeminence suggests the very idea of Divinity. Indeed that is the very first thought I find in it — sameness of nature with the Father. The Son of man is not angelic; the Son of man is man. And so when you speak of Him in the full and true and proper sense, the Son of God is God. Nay, so far may you carry this principle that you cannot describe a creature as the son or child of God without his being, as far as a creature may be, partaker of the Divine nature. It was because there was something of it in him that Adam was called the son of God. But in the full sense, in which it belongs to no other, it is true only of Jesus Christ that He is God.
2. Then there is second thought. There is resemblance in character. The Son of God resembles the Father, and the resemblance in this Divine nature is so perfect as to come to identity. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."
3. Then, thirdly, these words Father and Son suggest intimacy of fellowship. "The Father showeth the Son all things that He Himself doeth!"
4. But perhaps the most prominent of all ideas connected with the title is intensity of mutual Divine affection. The Father loveth the Son.
5. There is another idea which is brought out also in Scripture, namely, community of interests. All that belongs to the Father belongs to the Son.
6. But I should be omitting one thought of great importance if I did not say that the title "Son," as applied to the second Person in the Trinity, does, after all, indicate a certain distinction. The Father is not personally the Son, nor the Son the Father. And now for one or two particular inferences from what I have been unfolding in this somewhat dry and formal manner. And first — if these things be so — oh, what love is that of the Father towards sinful men? The second inference is this — I wish I could bring it out as it presents itself, in its attractive phase, to my own mind. If the Saviour be God's beloved Son — His only Son — the object of infinite, unfathomable, everlasting delight — what an argument the sinner has when he goes to God for pardon, love, and all spiritual blessings! What a plea does God put in the sinner's mouth, when He says to the sinner, "Ask of Me for My Son's sake." But there is another side to this argument. If the Saviour be God's only Son, what becomes of those that will not know Him — of those who dishonour and reject Him?
(J. Edmund, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.