April 15, 21, & 29, 2020
Dr. Rudy Gonzalez
 
Prominent Themes in John’s Prologue

John’s prologue (1:1–18) introduces other important themes that are developed in the telling of the gospel:

 

Light (16)

John 1:4: In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

John 1:5: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 3:21: But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

John 8:12: Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 9:5: While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

John 12:46: I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.

 

Life (38)

John 1:4: In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

John 5:24: Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 11:25: Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

 

Glory (14)

John 1:14: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His gloryglory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 2:11: This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

John 8:54: Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’;

John 17:5: Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

John 17:24: Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

 

Truth (21)

John 1:14: 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.

John 1:17: the Law given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

John 4:24: God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 8:32: and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 17:17: Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

John 18:37: Therefore, Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

John 19:35: And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.

 

Born (17)

John 1:13: who were born, not of blood nor of will of flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:3: Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:5: Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 3:8: The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

 

World (57)

John 1:9: There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

John 3:17: For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

John 3:19: This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

John 17:16: They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 18:36: Jesus “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

 

Believe: (81)

John 1:7: He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.

John 1:12: 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,

John 2:11: This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

John 7:38: He who believes Me, as Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’

John 14:1: Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

John 20:29: Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

John 20:31: 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.

 

Darkness (5)

John 1:5: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 3:19: This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

John 8:12: Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 12:35: So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.

John 12:46: I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.

The Theology of Light and Darkness in the Gospel of John

Introduction

      In the first three gospels Jesus was a master at delivering brief stories (parables) full of kingdom truth. However, Jesus also spoke of important themes in a more extensive way, repeating them in different contexts. Sometimes, Jesus took natural principles like light and darkness, which are polar opposites, to speak of spiritual truth in a deeper way. We call this dualism.

  • In the synoptics the dualism is primarily horizontal, historical, between this present evil age, and the age to come. Even when Jesus speaks of the kingdom, he often refers to it in chronological terms:
    • The kingdom is now, at hand (Matt 3:2; 10:7; Mark 1:5)
    • The kingdom’s full realization is a future event (Mark 9:1; 11:10; 13:26; 14:25)
  • In John, the dualism is vertical, revealing a stark contrast between two worlds. John 8:23 reveals this dualism. Jesus said: You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.

      One of the primary ways by which John reveals this duality, this contrast between heaven and earth, is by speaking of light and darkness. Keep in mind that “light” and “darkness” were also thought of in pagan philosophy and religions. In paganism, light reigns supreme, but darkness is a never-ending nuisance, usually represented by lesser gods, fickle demigods, etc.  John, does not see both principles “darkness”, “light” as pitted in some eternal stalemate. In John, the world below is engulfed in darkness, while the world above is the realm of light. The realm of light can never be overcome by darkness, but what about the world of darkness? As it turns out God is planning an invasion of the world shrouded in darkness. Christ has come into a world engulfed in darkness, to bring light into it. Thus:

  • Light is the invading force, invading the world of darkness. What will be the outcome?
  • John 1:5: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
  • In John, light is not abstract principle (e.g., logic, reason), or a natural occurrence (e.g. daylight); Jesus is “light” revealed in moral/spiritual categories (grace and truth), perceived by those who believe in him.
  • John the Baptist bears witness to the truthfulness of Jesus as the light. Question: Why is John’s witness so important? Excursus on John the Baptist popularity.
    • Mandaeism, (or Sabaeanism), is a monotheistic and gnostic religion with a dualistic cosmology.
    • Mandaeists revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Noah, Shem, Aram, especially John the Baptist.
  • John’s portrait of John the Baptist
    • John 1:7: John came as a witness, to testify about the Light, that all might believe through him.
    • John 1:8: John was not the Light, but he cameto testify about the Light.
    • John 5:35: John was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
  • Jesus himself, declares that he is the light, who conquers darkness as people believe and follow him:
    • John 1:4: In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
    • John 9:5: While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
    • John 8:12: Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
    • John 11:9: Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
    • John 12:35: Jesus said, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.
    • John 12:46: I have come asLight into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
  • In John, those who receive Jesus become children of light:
    • John 12:36: While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” (see also John 1:12)

 

  • However, John acknowledges that most people love darkness, rather than the light:
    • John 3:19–20: This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
    • John 11:10: But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.
  • In John, to come to the light, is to believe in Jesus and to practice the truth which he alone reveals.
    • John 3:21: But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
  • Ultimately, Jesus as the light is no respecter of persons. He is able to dispel darkness in every person who confesses him.
    • John 1:9: There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

 

Related texts:

  • 1 John 2:8–10: On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the trueLight is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light there is no cause for stumbling in him.

 

Conclusion

      Darkness continues to rule in people’s hearts, but the light of Christ reigns in those who have trusted in him. 1 John assumes the eventual and complete overthrow of darkness through Christ the Lord.