April 1, 2020

The Gospel of John: 1

The Prologue: 1:1–18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him

Introduction

In the Gospel of John, the “Messianic Secret”, prominent in the synoptic gospels, is set aside for Jesus’ divinity and relationship with God as his heavenly Father in full display:

John 20:30–31: Therefore, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Through signs and discourses, John reveals Jesus’ humanity and divinity, and it begins with the prologue.

John 1:1-18: Prologue:

The Eternal and Historical Person & Mission of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh

 

A. 1:1 – 2, The Word’s equality with God
B.1:3, The Word’s agency in the creation of the world
C. 1:4 – 5, The Word as life and light which darkness cannot receive
D. 1:6 – 8, The ministry of John as a witness to the light
E. 1:9 – 10, The light came, but world did not know Him
F. 1:11, The light rejected by His own
G. 1:12a, Thus, all who receive Him
      H.  1:12b, Become Children of God
                                                                        G’.  1:12c, that is, all who believe in His name
                                                            F’.  1:13, The light received by those born of the Spirit
                                                E’.  1:14, The Word becomes flesh, and believers behold His glory
                                    D’.  1:15, Johns witness of the greater ministry of the light
                        C’.  1:16, The fullness of grace given to those who receive Him
            B’.  1:17, Jesus’ agency in the ministry of grace and truth
A’.  1:18, Jesus’ relationship and “exposition” of the Father
Points of Interest:
The prologue begins in eternity past and culminates in Jesus’ historical context. It moves from an eternal point of view, from Jesus as the “Word”, to Jesus as the “Word made flesh”, and from “God” as God in eternity, to God as a “Father”, who can be known. The prologue moves concentrically (in chiastic parallelism), to a central point: people being made “Children of God through Faith in Christ. Note the parallels in the prologue:
  • A, A’: It affirms the Word’s eternal divinity and equality with God and Jesus’ relationship and exposition of the Father.
  • B, B’: It affirms Jesus’ agency in physical creation, and in moral, spiritual recreation.
  • C, C’: It asserts that the world rejects the light from the Word, but those who receive Christ receive the fulness of grace and truth
  • D, D’: It recognizes John (the Baptist) as a faithful witness to the light
  • E, E’: It affirms that the world is incapable of perceiving the light, but those who know the incarnate light, see his glory.
  • F, F’: It acknowledges the Light rejected by his own (Israel, religious leaders, or humanity?), but received by anyone (Jew, or gentile) born of the Spirit.
  • G, G’: It asserts that to receive the light of Christ is to believe in his name.
  • H: It affirms that all who receive Christ as the Light, are born Children of God.
 
Jesus and the Fatherhood of God
As the prologue reveals, one of the key aspects of Jesus’ mission is to reveal God as “Father” to a world engulfed in spiritual and moral darkness (1:18). So, what is John’s message concerning God as “Father”?
 
First, God as “God” is prominent in John’s gospel, but he is static for the most part:
  • God active: 3:16, loved the world; 6:27, set his seal; 9:29, spoke to Moses; 9:31, does not hear sinners.
  • God is depicted in genitive possessive, or ablative case: 1:12; 11:52, Children of God; 1:29, 36, Lamb of God; 1:51, angels of God; 3:3, kingdom of God; 3:36, words of God; 1:51, gifts of God; 5:42, love of God; 6:28, 9:3, works of God; 6:33, bread of God; 6:69, holy one of God; 11:40, 12:43, glory of God.
  • John gives categorical statements of God: 3:21, is light; 3:33, is true; 5:44, 17:3, the only true God; etc.
Second, God as “Father” is shown as a real person who acts in concrete lives of real people:
  • God as “Father” is more active: 3:35, 5:20, 10:17, the Father loves the son; 4:23, the Father seeks those who will worship him; 5:17, the Father is working; 5:21, the Father raises the dead; 5:36, 37, 8:18, the Father bears witness of Jesus; 6:32, the Father gives bread from heaven; 6:37, the Father gives followers to Jesus; 8:28, the Father teaches Jesus; 8:54, the Father glorifies Jesus; 10:36, the Father sent the word into the world; 12:49, the Father issues commandments; 14:26, the Father will send the paraclete; 16:27, the Father loves the disciples.
Third, three passages are key for understanding the Fatherhood of God in the Gospel of John:
  • John 1:18: No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.You can only know of God as “Father” through Christ, his Son.
  • John 8: 39–47: Pharisees claim God as their Father. Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and come from God, for I have not come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father… 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason, you do not hear them, because you are not of God. Religion, tradition, law, etc. is insufficient to have a fatherly relationship with God.
  • John 20:17: Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”  To have a believing relationship with Christ, ensures we know God as our “Father”.