About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
John 1:1 - 18
Word Became Flesh (ch. 1:1-18)
Much of the first chapter of John addresses the issue of the pre-incarnate Christ. That means that Jesus didn't start existing in Mary's womb. He has always existed. The very name "Jesus" means "Yahweh is salvation." God told Mary to call her son "Yahweh is salvation" because that is who He is, was, and always will be. He is in fact Yahweh, the covenant God of the Old Testament. He is the eternal "I AM" as seen in Exodus 3:14. "I AM WHO I AM (NIV)."
the very first phrase we are presented with a theological concept that
needs some thought. John
says, "In the beginning was the Word."
Two things need to be clarified here.
One is; what is "the Word"?
Two is; what is 'in the beginning?"
Greek word for our English wor "Word" is "logos."
This has become quite a common word in Christian circles in the
last fifty years. "Logos"
means, "an expression of thought, a concept, or an idea."
You might say that the thoughts within our heads are logos.
The suffix "ology," as in "Christology" or
"archeology," comes from "logos".
So when you see the word "theology", it means
"thoughts about God," or "the study of God."
"Theos" is the Greek word translated as God, thus,
John says that this certain expression of thought; this concept or idea
which he is going to speak about was in existence at the beginning,
prior to creation.
This reminds us of Genesis 1:1 where Moses uses similar wording.
John most likely understood this as he wrote these words.
One reason for this is because the Septuagint, the Greek Old
Testament, is word for word with John's statement; "In the
this speaks to the plurality of God's nature.
Over the centuries we've attempted to figure God out.
I believe to a degree that might be possible, but really, as
humans, we can't really figure out God in who He is.
However, we can certainly understand Jesus much better because
God becoming human in Jesus is much easier for us mortals to comprehend.
In part, it was for this reason He came to earth.
my thinking, in the beginning refers to the existence of the Word in the
eternal past, if you can say it that way.
In reality, eternity appears to have no past, present or future,
yet from a human stand point we can say that the Word was there in
eternity past, having no beginning.
language speaks to the eternal nature of the Word, or Jesus. It
means that Jesus was not created. He has always been.
next phrase states the "The Word was with God, and the Word was
God." All Bible
teachers understand the Word to be Jesus.
John says here that Jesus was in fact God in the beginning when
God created the heavens and the earth.
using the word "with" John is suggesting that the Word, Jesus,
and God are two separate identities.
They are with each other. Now
remember our definition of "Word", from the Greek word
"logos." John is
saying that the concepts and ideas he is going to speak about were with
God in eternity past. They
were always with God and never were a time when they werenít with God,
but again, John doesn't end there. He
says that "the Word, Jesus, was God."
These words state that the Word, Jesus, and God are more than
separate identities. They
are of the same essence, meaning, the Word and God are one in the same.
This would make sense from our definition of the word
"Word" as being thoughts within the mind of God.
The ideas and concepts that John is going to talk about are in
fact the mind of God, His thoughts, ideas, and concepts.
thus appears then that part of the Trinity is referred to in verse 1,
meaning, that the Word is both separate from God yet is God at the same
of the reasons why John wrote his account was to counter the Gnostic
argument that was beginning to appear in Roman Greek culture that stated
that God could not be united with man.
God is holy and man is sinful.
The two can never be united.
Therefore God created a host of angelic beings to be a go between
Himself and man, and, Jesus was one of the created angelic beings.
What John says right away in verse 1 goes against that train of
I go on I should explain the historical and cultural understanding of
logos, the Greek word that is translated into English as
"word" here in John 1. The
Hebraic understanding of logos was personal.
For example, Philo, a Hebrew scholar and historian who lived in
were the only ones
It's understandable to conclude that John used the word "logos" as it relates to the eternal Jesus to help clarify who Jesus was to both the Jewish and the Greco/Roman world.
often struggle over the concept of two different things being one thing,
or, as Trinitarian doctrine puts it, three distinct beings being one.
Modern science has confirmed what John is saying, or so I
believe. At the atomic level
of creation molecules are made up of atoms.
Each atom has electrons that circle its nucleus.
A molecule consists of two or more atoms that are fused together
because these atoms share electrons. For this reason science tells us
that a molecule is every one of its parts at every point in time, yet no
single one of its parts at any time.
In other words two separate things can be one thing.
verse 2 John repeats himself by saying that He, the word, was with God
from the beginning. Some
might suggest because John uses the words "from the beginning"
that both God and the Word had a point of beginning.
Some sects believe that Jesus was created and that He had a
Christian thinking states that Jesus had no beginning.
He is not a created being. Again,
the word "beginning" probably points back to Genesis 1:1 since
the wording here is the same as it is in the creation account of
verse 3 John says that "through Him (Jesus the Word) all were
things made, and without Him was nothing made."
This statement should tell you that if all things were made
through the Word then the Word had to have been there before all things
were made. He was not part
of the creation of all things.
does "all things" mean? Does
it mean all things in the physical universe, or does it mean all things,
including the spiritual universe? We
do know that before the earth, the universe, was created there were
spiritual beings, of which satan was one.
There obviously was a creation prior to Genesis 1.
I think John is talking about the physical universe because of
his use of the word "beginning" as it relates to Genesis 1.
That being said, whether I'm right or wrong, the Word did create
all things, whether spiritual, physical, or, anything else we as humans
don't know about.
idea here is that God (the Father) created all things through the Word,
Jesus. The Word was a
central agent in creating all things.
Look at it this way. If
the Word is actually Godís creative thoughts, concepts and ideas, then
it is clear and obvious that all things were made by the Word, these
creative concepts. There is
nothing hard to figure out here.
now see the Word personalized with the use of the pronoun
"Him." No longer
are the concepts and ideas of God merely concepts and ideas, but a Him,
a personality. These
concepts and ideas in the mind of God were life in itself, as stated by
John in verse 4. Yes, they
were life giving words, but, the Word Himself was life.
The Word is a distinct personality.
the breath of God was breathed into Adam, Adam became a living being.
Adam became a life. The
breath that was breathed into Adam was God Himself.
Part of God was breathed into Adam and thus he became a living
being. I believe that when
Adam fell from God's grace, the godly breath left Adam, leaving him with
only a sinful human life.
John makes the statement that this "life was the light of
men." The Word, the
Life, meaning Jesus, gave understanding to humanity.
Of course, when man fell, this understanding was darkened, but,
as Paul says in Romans 1:19 and 20, the creation itself sheds some light
on man's darkened understanding of God.
the fall of mankind, Godís light is not part of manís make up, but
it still shines on man in various ways as John says in verse 5.
Again, as Paul states in Romans 1:19 and 20, creation speaks to
the fact that there is a God. This
is Godís light shining on man, telling him that there is a God.
Also in verse 5 John tells us that the darkness, that is, man's darkened heart, and really, all of darkness which I believe is the satanic world, does not comprehend, or to lay a hold of as the Greek implies, the light of understanding. We should know that the Greek verb tense for shines in verse 5 is the present tense. The light was shining in the darkness as John wrote these words. The Greek verb tense for did not comprehend is aorist. An aorist verb is a completed action, thus the past tense in English. In some place, in some way, the darkened world was presented with the light and the darkened world refused, even could not, grasp hold of it for itself. This might well be in reference to the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The darkness had its chance to be lit up by the light but refused.
is how I view verse 5 as it relates to the first four verses of John.
First of all, in verses 1 and 2 we learn that the Logos, the Word, is
Jesus. In verse 3 we learn
that Jesus created all things. In
verse 4 we note that Jesus is ultimate life and His life is the light of
mankind. The light, the very
life of Jesus, sheds understanding about God to us humans.
The verb "was" in verse 4 is a Greek is an imperfect
indicative verb. Imperfect
means a continuous action. Indicative
means a certain action. Therefore, Jesus' life
continues to be the light as it was in the past, and continues to be
In verse 5, the life who
is Jesus, "shines."' "Shines"
is a present indicative Greek verb.
Present means Jesus' light shines right now.
Indicative means his shining light is a certainty.
There are no doubts about that.
The word "understood" in the NIV, "katalambano"
in Greek, means "to lay hold of or to possess for one's self."
Understood is an aorist
indicative verb. Aorist
means a completed action. Indicative
means a certain action.
As I stated earlier, this one moment of
time was probably in relation to the death, resurrection, and ascension
As I stated earlier, this one moment of
time was probably in relation to the death, resurrection, and ascension
At one point in the past
the darkness could not give itself to the light. At the moment, I'm
uncertain when darkness was given this chance.
My paraphrase of verse 5
is as follows. "The
light, who is Jesus, still shines in darkened places, as it has in the
past, but at some point in the past the darkness did not embrace the
light, which is the life of Jesus."
The whole point to the
first chapter of John is to introduce the reader to Jesus.
He is the light that darkness once rejected but now, at least
darkened humanity, has a chance to embrace.
6 says that there "was a man named John who was sent from
God." This John is John
the Baptist. John the
Baptist was sent by God. The
word "sent" is translated from the Greek verb "apostello",
meaning "to send." We
derive our English word "apostle" from this Greek word.
John was a prophet sent by God to give a clear testimony to the
light, who was Jesus. He was
sent from God to announce the coming of this light, the long awaited for
Messiah of Israel. John the
Baptist is the fulfillment of the coming Elijah as prophesied in Malachi
verse 7 John says that part of the mission of John the Baptist was to
give testimony to the light so that all men might believe.
John preached repentance that would lead to genuine faith which
in turn would bring salvation. John
makes it very clear that John the Baptist was not the light himself but
only a witness to that light.
need to note here the words repentance and faith.
It is clear from this verse, and verses throughout the New
Testament that repentance is a prerequisite to forgiveness of sins.
This is very important but commonly misunderstood.
This means that one can't have real faith, or forgiveness of
sins, unless he repents. Repentance
is more than the changing of one's mind.
It is the turning from the sin that rules us, which is only
possible with help from the Holy Spirit.
Greek word translated as "believe" here and in most places in
the New Testament is "pisteuo."
This word has nothing to do with merely giving mental ascent to a
truth. That is to say, just
believing that Jesus existed, even just believing He is the Son of God,
does not save you. "Pistueo"
means "to give one's self to another in a trusting
put, one is saved after he turns from his sinful way of life and hands
his life over to Jesus and trusts Him for all of who he is.
There is a big difference between mental ascent and a trusting
verse 8 John makes one thing very clear.
Just in case someone was wondering, and they were, John says that
John the Baptist was not the light.
That means, he was not the life that can light every human being.
He in fact was not the long awaited for Jewish Messiah.
We will see later in the chapter that people really were
wondering if John the Baptist might be the Messiah.
9 says that the true light that gives life to every man was coming into
the world. This was the
message of John the Baptist. There
was someone coming after him who could bring the light of understanding
to mankind. Once again, this
light was a spiritual light, bringing reconciliation to the supreme God
of all there is. At the time
of John the Baptist, the light was not yet come to the world, that is
why John phrases this in the future tense; that is, "was
might wonder why John said that the light, meaning Jesus, was coming
into the world when in fact He was already in the world.
It is true that Jesus was already in the world but His ministry
had not yet begun. He was
just an obscure young man that very few people would have known.
His Messianic ministry, although still in the future, wasn't far
the verb "is coming" refers to Jesus' soon coming ministry,
John uses the present tense when he says that the light gives light to
every man. That means before
Jesus began his ministry, He was already lighting men.
There may be differing opinions here on just what this means.
One possible way to think of this may be that throughout history,
in one way or another, the light of God has been available for mankind.
Paul speaks to this in Romans 1:17 and following.
Light, or Godly understanding can be seen in creation itself,
creation that was created by Jesus.
in Old Testament days, spiritual light was available to mankind if he
wanted it. The prophetic
words of the prophets of old were full of spiritual light.
All that being said, that is, Jesus gives light to man, man
doesn't always receive the light that is offered him.
verse 10 John says that the light was in the world and that the world
was made through Him. In one
sense of the word, in a spiritual sense, the light was already in the
world, but could not be seen or understood by the world.
For this reason the light, that is the Word, had to come to the
world in such a way that man had a better chance of understanding and
embracing the light. The
light came into the world by becoming human. The
light came into the world in the form of Jesus.
verse 10 John says that He, meaning Jesus, was in the world.
How should we understand this?
There are two possibilities here.
John as he was writing these words was looking back into history.
Jesus came into the world and the world did not embrace Him when He
came. That's one way to view
way of viewing this is that John isn't writing these words in a
historical aspect decades from the time of Jesus' earthly ministry.
Maybe, especially because of the context, because he was speaking
about John the Baptist, he was using that time as his frame of
reference. When John was
baptizing people the light was already in the world but the world did
not receive it. In this
sense of the word, the light of God has always been in the world from
day one. Mankind just chose
not to embrace the light. In
that sense of the word, because Jesus is God and God is everywhere at
all times, God was available to man in days past.
verse 11 John says that the Word, that is Jesus, came to "His
own," the Jews, but the Jews did not receive Him.
How should we understand this?
The same two possibilities I mentioned above are possible.
If John is thinking in terms of history past, that is, from the
time he was writing these words, Jesus did come to the Jews and the Jews
did reject Him. On the other
hand, again, if John the Baptist is the reference point here, Jesus'
coming to the Jews had to mean God coming to the Jews in Old Testament
days. Jesus being God, and
God, meaning Jesus, came to the Jews through Abraham, Moses, and the
prophets. The Jews in Old
Testament days in this sense of the word rejected Jesus.
in verse 12 John says that some would receive the Word.
Those who believed, that is gave their lives to the Word, meaning
Jesus, would become children of God.
We need to note that our modern English concept of believing
being mentally assenting to the truth is not what its Greek counterpart
meant in Johnís day. When
John uses the word "believe" he means to give ones life to
someone in a trusting relationship between the two parties.
Believing is much more than simply agreeing with the truth and
stating that you accept the truth. You
give your life to the truth. That
is believing. Those who did
that, and those who do that today, become the children of God.
the Greek text, the verbs "receive" and "become" in
verse 12 are aorist verbs. An
aorist verb is a one time action. This
means that the one who believed, he came to this belief at one moment of
time. Then, at one moment of
time he became a child of God. I
conclude that the moment one hands his life over to Jesus to begin a
trusting relationship with him becomes a child of God that very moment.
13 speaks of being born again. It's
the same message Jesus speaks of in John 3.
When we first believe, first hand our lives over to Jesus, we are
born of God. We become a
child of God through a new birth, a spiritual birth.
Again, John is speaking of being born again here.
One who believes receives the Holy Spirit into his life and he
becomes a new creation. It's
a creation that has nothing to do with human birth.
It's a spiritual birth, but a birth that is just as real as a
natural birth. It is really
14 makes things very clear. John
says that "the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among
us." John clearly
states that the Word, that is, the concepts and ideas in the mind of
God, became flesh and lived in human form among mankind.
Another way to say it is that the Word became a man.
John tells us that the One he is talking about existed before
entering humanity. This goes
to the point of this section, that is, this One, pre-existed before
becoming human. We know who
that man is although John has not yet mentioned his name.
John is taking his time and is leading up to whom he is speaking.
thing that separates Christians from everyone else in the world, from
all religions, is that we understand that Jesus was in fact God in human
flesh. Right now, He is in
fact God in what we call glorified human flesh, as He sits alongside God
in all power and authority.
says that "we have seen His glory."
John and others saw the living Word in action. He saw the
miracles. He saw His death,
resurrection and ascension. He
touched the nail prints in the hands of the living Word.
He saw the glory of His glorified body.
saw the glory "of the One and Only who came from the Father."
John clearly believed that this man, the living Word, came from
God and was God.
man is, and was, "full of grace and truth."
Grace and truth should always go together in our thinking.
We often promote one over the other.
Some promote the grace and love of God to the exclusion of the
truth and justice of God. John
says that both grace and truth are apart of this living Word.
Truth and justice is part of the very nature of God and is part
of the nature of this God man. You
must not separate grace from truth or truth from grace.
King James Bible uses the word "begotten" to describe Jesus in
verse 14. That is a
confusing word for many because it might suggest that Jesus was created
at His birth. That's not the
fact of the Bible. Jesus
always existed. He was never
created and He was never born, other than being born into humanity.
We should understand that word "begotten" to mean
"unique" here. Jesus
was and is unique. There is
no one like him at all.
verse 15 John goes back to explain what John the Baptist taught
concerning the Word of God, meaning Jesus.
John the Baptist said that Jesus came after him but was greater
than he was since He was before him.
Jesus pre-existed long before John the Baptist was ever thought
about. This is how the last
great prophet understood Jesus.
verse 16 John says that "from the fullness of His grace we have all
received one blessing after another."
All men have been blessed by Jesus in one way or another whether
they know it or not. The
fact that they are alive is one such blessing.
Then, Christians have received even more blessings since they
have given their lives to Him resulting in many spiritual and eternal
blessings. I imagine that
there were simply too many blessings in John's life to write or even
talk about. I can't imagine
his life. He had lived with
Jesus. He saw Jesus die on
the cross. He saw Him raised
from the dead, and he saw Jesus return to Heaven.
Then he received the Spirit of God that would have worked many
miracles in John's ministry.
verse 17 John finally tells us the earthly name of the Word who became
flesh. He says, "The
Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus
Christ." God gave the
Law to Moses and Moses passed it on to the nation of
John clearly states who this living Word is.
He says that it is Jesus Christ.
It took him some time to come to this point but he has been
building a case, and now this is the climax of his case.
Remember, the name Jesus means "Yahweh is salvation",
and, "Christ" means, the "Messiah".
Jesus was the long awaited Yahweh Ė Messiah, that would bring
salvation and restoration to both
should understand that even though Jesus held, and still holds, the
title of Christ, the Messiah, when He was born into humanity He did not
come as Messiah. He will
come as Messiah when He returns to
verse 18 John says that 'no one has ever seen God."
No one has, or could see God.
I donít believe that humans can stand in the presence of God
without being destroyed. God
is too powerful and we are too weak.
It is quite possible that we may never see God face to face.
We will see Jesus, the one who can stand before God on our
says that no one has ever seen God, "but God, the One and
Only." John is saying
that the only one who has ever seen God is Jesus.
Why? Because Jesus is
the Word of God, the mind of God Ė Godís thoughts, concepts and
ideas. This is one of a few
Scriptures in the Bible that actually says that Jesus is God.
The Deity of Christ is fundamental in the thinking and doctrine
section ends with these words, "who is at the Fatherís side, He
has made Him known." When
John says that Jesus is at the Fatherís side, he means that Jesus is
in a place of authority alongside God.
It does not necessarily mean He is physically at Godís side,
and that God actually has a side.
then says that Jesus has made God known.
That is part of the reason why Jesus came to earth.
If God wanted to communicate with man, the best way He could do
this was to become a man. It
is like the old analogy. If
a man wanted to communicate with an ant then he needs to become an ant.
This is what God did in becoming a man.
this point I'd like to insert an article I wrote on whether we will ever
"I will see God in
my flesh. I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him (Job 19:26 -
27)." Job expected to
see God some day. "I
will see your face in righteousness; when I awake Ö (Psalm
17:15)." David also
expected to see God some day, either after he woke from sleep or woke
from death in the next life. Will
Job and David ever see God? Will
we ever see God?
God is invisible to
humans (Colossians 1:15) because He is a spirit (John 4:24).
No man, except for Jesus, has ever seen God (John 6:46).
No one can stand in God's presence and live (Exodus 33:20)
because He is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29), a fire
that will eventually burn the heavens and earth in a torrent of flames
on the Day of God (2 Peter 3:7 + 12).
Did Adam and Eve see God?
Even though Adam heard God's voice prior to the fall (Genesis
2:16 - 17) and Adam and Eve heard His voice after the fall (Genesis
3:8), the text is silent when it comes to them seeing God.
We can't base our thinking on silence.
Will we ever see God?
Revelation 22:3 and 4 may shed some light on this but that
depends partly on how you view God's nature.
"The throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it (the New
Jerusalem) and His servants shall serve Him.
And they shall see His face Ö (NIV)."
According to the
grammatical structure of this verse, many but not all, suggest there is
one throne that is shared by both God and the Lamb, who is Jesus.
If that is so, then this is a departure from the present reality
where both God and Jesus sit on separate thrones.
Jesus now rules from the right hand of God (Acts 2:13, Romans
8:64). To put it another
way, Jesus shares the responsibility of ruling from a place of authority
alongside of God. The term
"right hand" as it pertains to ruling in first century culture
was a symbolic term signifying one ruling alongside another, not
necessarily at the literal right hand of another.
Besides, does an invisible God have a right hand?
Right now, Jesus rules alongside of God, having been given His
own sphere of authority (Matthew 28:18, 1 Corinthians 15:27).
He will rule until the day comes when He hands His kingdom back
over to God His Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).
"throne" is translated from the Greek word "thronos",
which can mean a literal chair someone sits on and rules from.
"Thronos" can also mean a place where rule emanates,
whether it's a throne, a room, a building, or a city.
The throne spoken of in Revelation 22:3 might be the central
location of rule in the New Jerusalem.
As a matter of fact, the New Jerusalem itself is the seat of
power and authority for all nations on the new earth.
The throne spoken of here might not be a literal chair that God
and Jesus squeeze into. Of
course, how you understand God and Jesus in this verse depends on if you
believe God and Jesus are two separate and distinct personalities.
Not all Christians hold to that view.
Revelation 22:3 and 4
state that the servants will serve "Him" and will see
"His face". The
words "Him" and "His" are singular pronouns.
They are not plural pronouns.
We're talking about serving one person and seeing one face here,
even though there are two personalities who are ruling alongside each
other. Whose face are these
Scripture says that when
we see Jesus we see God the Father (John 14:9) because Jesus and the
Father are one (John 10:30). Jesus
is the visible image of God (Colossians 1:15) and the exact
representation of God's being (Hebrews 1:3).
Even though Father and Son are one the words "image"
and "representation" suggests a separated duality.
Maybe Job, David, you, and I will see Jesus and by seeing Jesus
we see God. On the other
hand Jesus said that the pure in heart shall see God (Matthew 5:8).
He didn't say the pure in heart shall see Me or see God in Me.
The Greek word "horao" is translated into English as
"see" in Matthew 5:8. This
word doesn't necessarily have to mean seeing with one's physical eyes.
It can also suggest "to perceive", as in "I
perceive the presence of God's face."
Will we see God or simply perceive His presence?
When you and I visit the
New Jerusalem at some future date we will have the same physical form
Jesus has, whatever form that may look like (1 John 3:2).
Maybe with this new physical form we will have the ability to see
God as He is. Yes, no man
has ever seen God, but, we will not be the men and women we presently
are when we reside on the new earth.
Will Job, David, you, and
I ever see God? I know we
will see Jesus, but will we see God?
Well, I'm still not sure. So
there you go, I don't have all of the answers after-all, at least not