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The Only Begotten

by Gerald Hansen, Jr.

Ancient and modern scriptures use the title Only Begotten to emphasize the divine nature of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints recognize Jesus as literally the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh (John 3:16; D&C 93:11; Moses 6:52). This title signifies that Jesus' physical body was the offspring of a mortal mother and of the eternal Father (Luke 1:35, 1 Ne. 11:18). It is LDS doctrine that Jesus Christ is the child of mary and God the Father, "not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof" (JC, p. 81). (See Virgin Birth)

The fact of Jesus' being the literal Son of God in the flesh is crucial to the Atonement, which could not have been accomplished by an ordinary man. Because of the Fall of Adam, all mankind are subject to physical death and are shut out from the presence of God. The human family is unable to save itself. Divine law required the sacrifice of a sinless, infinite, and eternal being—a God—someone not dominated by the Fall, to redeem mankind from their lost and fallen condition (Alma 34:9-14; cf. 42:15). This price of redemption was more than any mortal person could pay, and included the spiritual sufferings and physical agony in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44; Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18). To complete the Atonement by physical death and resurrection, it was necessary that Jesus be able to lay down his physical body and also be able to take it up again. He could do this only because he had life in himself, which he inherited from God his Father (John 5:26; 10:17-18). Christ inherited the ability to die from his mortal mother and the power to resurrect himself from his immortal Father. Dying was for him a voluntary, deliberate act for mankind, made possible only because he was the Only Begotten of the Father (D&C 20:18-26).


McConkie, Bruce R. The Promised Messiah, pp. 467-73. Salt Lake City, 1978.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, Jesus Christ, Only Begotten

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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