Friday, June 16, 2017

John, part 1, the Pre-Existence of Jesus

The fourth book of the New Testament, JOHN, was written by the beloved apostle John around A.D. 90. This book is sharply different from Matthew, Mark and Luke. First of all it was written much later and most of the church already possessed copies of the other Gospels. These Christians wanted deeper truths and there wasn’t anyone better to write them than someone from the Master’s inner circle. John was the one who leaned on Jesus at the last supper, the one who didn’t flee from Christ’s judgment, the one who stood at the cross and received Jesus’ request to care for Mary.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because they include many of the same stories in the same order, thus they are synoptic (one view, of the same eye), but John doesn’t follow that pattern. In fact, we don’t even find the parables that are so prevalent in the other gospels. In John the themes are deeper, such as the pre-existence of Christ, His incarnation, the work of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ relation to the Father.
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.
What did this start with? “In the beginning was the Word.” “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?
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 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.
“The light shines in the darkness.” This is the start of multiple passages referring to the light.

More on that in part 2.