Problem: Jesus is called “the only begotten Son” in this verse. Yet only a few verses earlier John informs us that we can by faith “become children of God” (1:12). If then we are sons of God, how can Jesus be the only Son of God?
Solution: There is a gigantic difference between the senses in which Jesus is the “Son of God” and we are “sons of God.” First, He is the unique Son of God; I am only a son of God. He is the Son of God with a capital “S”; human beings can become sons of God only with a small “s.” Jesus was the Son of God by eternal right of inheritance (Col. 1:15); we are only the sons of God by adoption (Rom. 8:15). He is the Son of God because He is God by His very nature (John 1:1), whereas we are only made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and remade in “the image of Him” by redemption (Col. 3:10). Jesus is of God by His very nature; we are only from God. He is divine in nature, but we only participate in it by salvation (2 Peter 1:4). And we can participate only in God’s moral attributes (like holiness and love), not in His non-moral attributes (like infinity and eternality). To summarize the differences: