TEKNA and hUIOS considered

From: Martin A. Childs (economy1@intersurf.com)
Date: Fri Mar 21 1997 - 10:01:18 EST

> While your John 1 passage exemplifies why you have the problem with
> "only begotten," I would suggest that you consider the arguments based
> on the observations that John reserves hUIOS for Jesus alone, that
> believers are called TEKNA in the Johannine writings. Admittedly,
> neither word is explicit in John 1:14, but it does appear that John does
> distinguish TEKNA and hUIOS in his writings, which could well imply that
> MONOGENOUS PARA PATROS refers to his concept of hUIOS and not to TEKNA,
> as found in 1:12.

I have looked into this issue and feel you have somewhat misunderstood the
distinction that can be made. I write because I have seen this
misunderstanding put forward in a few places places in the literature.

While it is clearly the case that John prefers the term TEKNA in his
references to the believers, it is just as clearly the case that John does
not "reserve" the term hUIOS for Jesus alone. hUIOS is rather the general
term for "son" in John's gospel:

Joh 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said,
Thou art Simon the son (hUIOS) of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which
is by interpretation, A stone.

Joh 4:5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near
to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son (hUIOS) Joseph.

Joh 4:12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well,
and drank thereof himself, and his children (hUIOS), and his cattle?

Joh 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water
wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son (hUIOS) was sick at

Joh 6:42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son (hUIOS) of Joseph,
whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down
from heaven?

Joh 9:19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son (hUIOS), who ye say
was born blind? how then doth he now see?

And so forth throughout the book...

Therefore, it cannot be said that there is something special about the use
of the term hUIOS as contradistinguished with TEKNA.

Simply because one can say that TEKNA has a specific application one cannot
then conclude that it is not within the meaning of a commonly used and
related term. One cannot conclude that the general precludes the specific,
although I would agree that semantically TEKNA should be understood as a
generally more inclusive word.

Surely, as to ordinary understandings, sons are also children and likewise
children are also sons (conceding the gender-based argument). The only
distinction I can see here is one as to maturity.

Thus, the fact that Jesus is not TEKNA does not imply that TEKNA is not
also hUIOS nor even that hUIOS may not also be TEKNA. The common use of
hUIOS by John himself and the rest of the New Testament authors excludes
these possibilities.

Finally, I have found the term hUIOS is actuallly employed by John on at
least one occasion referring to believers:

Joh 12:35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with
you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that
walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. Joh 12:36 While ye have
light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children (hUIOS) of light.
These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
Joh 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they
believed not on him:

So, while the study was useful for it's own purposes, it hasn't helped me

The Lord be with your spirit,

Martin A. Childs
L2 LSU Law School

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