If Jesus is the only begotten Son, what does begotten mean. The Oxford English Dictionary says the word means:
past participle of beget.
verb (begets, begetting; past begot |bɪˈgɒt| or archaic begat; past participle begotten |bɪˈgɒt(ə)n| ) [ with obj. ] literary
1 (especially of a man) bring (a child) into existence by the process of reproduction: they hoped that the King might beget an heir by his new queen.
2 cause; bring about: killings beget more killings.
As all true Christians believe Jesus is uncreated and was not "brought about", and as the literal meaning of the word is to "bring (a child) into existence by the process of reproduction", there remains only one possibility, and that is that the word is used metaphorically. However if we go back to the root of the Greek word, we have the more simplified definition "bring forth".
WE Vine in analysing the root of the word, shows that the metaphorical use would be to "show forth" or "to bring forth" or in other words "to reveal". Jesus is in other words the only revealed Son of God, the only one uncreated. It is as simple as that. When Jesus was speaking to the disciples in John 3, don't forget, it is likely that none of them had realised the revelation of who Jesus was, God in the flesh. This means the meaning of the word begotten is not, and was not when Jesus said it to his disciples, in the realm of "considerations beyond our depth" or as King David writes "LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me." Psalm 131:1.
However if a church has a hidden agenda to subjugate people to them, by forcing them to accept their specific phraseology as an act of immediate obeisance to them, having an easy to understand definition of the phrase "only begotten" does not serve their purpose. Which of you can deny that it is a divine truth that "Jesus is the only Son of God who is revealed as such and is uncreated"? It is in the word of God. What is not in the word of God is that the Father has no origin but the Son and Holy Spirit do, or that the incongruous word "substance" is relevant to the word "spirit". Saying the Father has no origin but the Son and Spirit do makes the Father sound superior to the Son and Spirit within the Godhead, when he definitely is not, they are all coequal.
If one meaning of the word "beget" (according to WE Vine) is "bring forth" and Christ is brought forth to be presented to humanity as the only uncreated Son of God, it is not even a metaphorical interpretation, it is literal, and easy to understand, but it is a metaphorical interpretation of the fuller usual definition "bring (a child) into existence by the process of reproduction". There are similarities to the scripture "slain before the foundation of the world".
Orthodoxy and begotten.
First Council of Nicaea 325 AD and First Council of Constantinople 381 AD, are covertly giving a definition of the word "begotten" without directly saying this the the Creeds they produced at every turn. This is done by breaking down their definition of the phrase "only begotten Son" into several component parts
1) consubstantial - that is of the same substance or essence (used especially of the three persons of the Trinity in Christian theology): Christ is consubstantial with the Father.
2) the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God (begotten, not made,)
3) [But those who say: 'There was a time when he was not;' and 'He was not before he was made;' and 'He was made out of nothing,' or 'He is of another substance' or 'essence,' or 'The Son of God is created,' or 'changeable,' or 'alterable'— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]
These are then linked to several theology words.
The thing is, the words "substance" or "essence" are spurious to the realm of God's Spirit, and therefore are either out of context, or at very least among considerations beyond our depth, without the authority of scripture to back up our statements. In other words the very interpretation of the word "begotten" and "only begotten" in Orthodoxy is drawing those who read the Creeds into a realm of interpretation both outside of scripture, and of a character declared by God as "the mystery of godliness" . The writers of the Creeds however sought to make concrete statements, and so soon (not surprisingly) this melted down into two Creeds over the Filioque issue. Absurdly they want to answer the question "what is God made of?" They want to dissect God Almighty! Then they want to give very nebulous answers in the guise of very definite answers, and then say that the average Joe in the street quote "cannot be saved" unless he agrees with their half baked highfalutin definitions! Also they are saying quote you "cannot be saved" unless right from the very start you accept definitions that are man made and outside of scripture, and you will be refused baptism otherwise.
We will see later that a big issue that divides Catholics and the Orthodox, that is the Filioque, is tied into there joint agreed definition of the word begotten. The Creed
Goings forth are from everlasting