In this lesson (20 minutes), we will finish our study of the prologue (1:1-18), which sets the stage for the entire gospel.
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Comment: A prologue is important -- like the introduction of a book. It's a good habit not to skip over these, as they usually set forth the agenda of the writer, and make it easier to understand the work. John 1:1-8 is the key to appreciating the entire Gospel of John.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.
- Here is the great irony: The creation did not recognize the creator.
- As a Jew, descended from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, Jesus came to his own people, but was rejected.
- Jesus was not accepted. What does this mean?
- His message was rejected. See John 12:47-48.
- This does not mean that people "receive him" into their hearts (through prayer—the modern evangelical tradition). Receiving Christ means accepting his teaching.
- Thus the modern doctrine of "accepting Jesus" is wholly without biblical foundation.
12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
- Those who accepted him were privileged to become children of God (v.12).
- "Believing in his name" means trusting Christ, not ourselves or religion, or our religiosity.
- Notice that those who receive him are not actually children of God, but only potentially his children ("power to become").
- To become his children, they must be born again (v.13).
- They are not born as God's children:
- of blood (by birth). ["Bloods" (KJV) is Greek haimata, or "drops of blood."]
- of flesh (by human desire or effort)
- of the will of man (no one can make this decision for you).
- The new birth happens only in baptism (3:5).
- Yet the Sinner's Prayer (the common salvation doctrine of evangelical Protestants) is something we do – a “work” (active), to use Protestant language, while baptism is something done to us (we are passive).
- The new birth (in water and spirit) was taken so seriously that many 2nd century Christians thought people who’d never heard the word would have a chance in the afterlife—the underworld—to hear the gospel and be baptized.
- They are not born as God's children:
- What a privilege! What an unbelievable blessing!
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace: 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
- The Word became flesh (v.14).
- Jesus lived for a while among us (approximately 34 years).
- He "pitched his tent," or "tabernacled" among us.
- This is a reference to the OT Tabernacle (later the Temple), where God manifested his presence and dwelt among humanity. Jesus' body is the new Tabernacle. See 2:19.
- Skene, Greek for tent, contains the same consonants as Hebrew shekhinah. Thus the alliteration reinforces the O.T. wilderness reference.
- The disciples saw his glory (really, God's glory). See 14:9.
- This is the doctrine of the incarnation (enfleshment) of God, much denied by heretics ancient and modern, who prefer Jesus to be either just a "good man" or guru or, on the other side, some sort of spirit or phantasm.
- Jesus was full of grace and truth (v.15).
- John testified to this (v.15). Although older than Jesus by a few months, Jesus was infinitely before John (1:2). For the idea of Jesus' eternity, see also 8:58. For an O.T. passage, see Micah 5:2.
- We have all received grace through Christ (v.16), and in many ways. The original Greek has no punctuation, but a colon should follow v.16. There are two ways in which grace has been received:
- The Law was given through Moses (v.17).
- Grace and truth (also) came through Christ.
- Yet there is no opposition between Law and Gospel -- contrary to the view of many Protestants today. Both are instruments of grace.
- Yet there is a difference between the two ministries of these means of grace. (Flesh v. stone, in 2 Corinthians 3:3ff; cf. Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26).
- No one has seen God, but we do see God when we look at Jesus (v.18).
- Unique—only begotten
- Heb 11:17; Gen 22:2, 12, 16 LXX (Septuagint)—agapētós (beloved) is connected with monogenēs. (only begotten). Thus Jesus is identified with Isaac.
- In Gen 22 we find – 9-10 parallels with Christ. (Listen to the OT character podcasts on Abraham & Isaac).
- Jesus has made God known (v.18). Exegēsato means "related, explained, reported, made known, revealed," and exegesis (a word will familiar to Bible students!) is the noun form.
- Key points:
- In beginning was the Word, through which the world was created
- There are two words, so to speak…
- Receiving Christ means accepting this word.
- The Word became flesh -- God became one of us.
- The Word (Christ) explains and reveals God to us.
- In Christ's coming down to our level, he sets an example for us. The incarnation:
- Is a model for our own communication to others (including children).
- Explains the nature of the Bible – not technical, scientific, or erudite.
- Serves also as a model for evangelism. Not talking above or past others, but striving to communicate, to connect.