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Jesus, God the One and Only, a Bible Study of John 1:18, part 2

Updated on January 27, 2014

How to Study the Bible: Using Different Translations

I hope you enjoyed the first part of this study, Miss Charlotte by the Sea. I wanted to come up with a creative picture of how Jesus makes God known to us. But there is a lot more to be discovered from John's words in this verse. I also want to introduce you to another tip for studying the Bible - using different translations. I hope you find this helpful in your own Bible Study.

There are several things we can learn about Jesus and the Father from John 1:18. Sometimes it is helpful to look at several translations or even a direct Greek translation to find the meaning of a verse. To demonstrate this exercise I have chosen the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Version (NASB), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and the Word Study Greek-English New Testament by Paul R. McReynolds which gives a literal word for word translation of the Greek into English.

John 1:18 Comparing Different Versions

NIV – John 1:18 – “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father side, has made him known.”

NASB – “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

NRSV – “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”

Literal word for word – “God no one has seen ever yet; only born God the one being in the lap of the father that one explained.”

The Controversy of Begotten

You may wonder why I would go to all this trouble. Looking at different translations sometimes gives you a deeper insight to the meaning of the verse. In this case, I looked at the different versions because I wanted to have a clearer understanding of what God the One and Only meant. The NASB along with the King James, which I don’t have here, translates One and Only as only Begotten. This turned out to be a very controversial word. To the Muslim, the word begotten conjures up images of a very base, dirty sexual act that they could never associate with a pure and holy God. It is one of the main reasons they object so strongly to Christianity and to Jesus being the Son of God. The Jehovah’s Witness, believes that begotten means Jesus was created and therefore could not be God. Neither one seems appropriate to this verse. Here is where the NRSV and the literal translation came in handy. Most people are willing to agree that Jesus was definitely born of a woman in Bethlehem. Since He is also God, this makes him the only born God to ever exist. With a better understanding of the phrases used in the verse, we can now move on to the rest of its meaning. Take a closer look at what is being said:

What does John 1:18 say about God and Jesus?

1. No one has ever seen God.

a. This agrees with the Old Testament account found in Exodus 33: 17 – 23, where Moses asks to see God’s glory and is told that no one can see God and live.

2. God the One and Only is Jesus

a. I find it very significant that Jesus is called God here.

3. Jesus is at the Father’s side

a. Or very close to him, practically within Him

4. Jesus makes the Father known to us

Confirming Christ's Deity

Finally we must ask; what does this mean to me? For me it confirms Jesus’ deity and makes me very thankful that through Him I can personally know God. There is no better relationship that we can have.

Thank you for reading my hub. If you would like to continue with this study, please read John the Baptist is questioned.


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    • April Reynolds profile image

      April Reynolds 5 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you so much Julie for taking the time to read! It means the world to me!

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      julie engstrom 5 years ago

      April, love the simplicity yet thoughtprovoking approach to studying the word. I also appreciate that you have linked all together. That's awesome. Thanks for thinking of the reader!.