Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Pre-existence of Jesus

I was amazed at the intricacies of a book I had read many times over. It seems like there's more to learn every time I study it. Hurray for easy research on the internet.

The book of John can be divided into several major parts. It begins with the pre-existence of Jesus. Let’s look at chapter 1, verses 1 – 5:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

“In the beginning” is an allusion to Genesis 1:1. Now the interesting thing here is that 1st century Christians with a Jewish background would get this right away but the Gentile Christians would focus on the next phrase “was the Word”. The Greek word used in the original is “logos”. Both Hebrews and Greeks responded to using “the Word” as a reference to deity. In the Old Testament God spoke and things happened. There are thousands of references to his word, his voice, what he said. As for the Greeks, their philosophers had long called God’s mind the Logos, the word.

This whole first verse is quoted so often that you may not have considered the depth of this complex sentence. There are three clauses. “In the beginning was the Word” claims the eternal quality of and existence of Jesus. The second clause, “and the Word was with God”, shows Jesus’ communion with God, the Father. The third clause, “and the Word was God”, reveals Jesus’ divinity. This is a point that cannot be denied. Jesus is God. Anyone who denies that is a false teacher, an antichrist. When people say, oh, He was a great teacher or a good prophet, they deny His divinity and are blaspheming. Do you believe that Jesus was and is God? He said He was God so either He was a liar, a crazy person or . . . God. You can’t say someone was a great teacher or a good prophet if he lied or was crazy.

Verse 2 restates the first clause in case John’s readers didn’t get it – He, Jesus, was with God in the beginning. Verse 3 states the same fact first as a positive and then as a negative so you won’t miss it – Jesus created everything, there’s nothing he didn’t create. This again alludes to his eternal existence. Verse 4 says that in him was life. This Greek word, "zoe", is used here in the sense of existence in an absolute sense and without end. That makes the rest of the passage scream with hope for us: that life is in us and shines, but . . . those in the dark do not understand.

I’m saving the fifth verse, about the light of the world, for my next post.