Welcome to our continued study of the Gospel of John…
We introduce this lesson with some excerpts from William Barclay’s Devotional on John, “Before we begin to study (John) in detail, let us try to see what John was trying to do when he wrote it…… Christianity began amongst the Jews; and therefore inevitably it spoke in the Jewish language and used Jewish categories of thought. But although Christianity in Judaism it very soon went out into the wider world. Within thirty years of Jesus death, by AD 60, Christianity had traveled all over Asia Minor and Greece and had arrived in Rome. By AD 60 there must have been a hundred thousand Greeks in the Church for every Jew who was a Christian. Jewish ideas were completely strange to the Greeks. To take but one outstanding example, the Greeks had never heard of a Messiah. The very center of Jewish expectation, the coming of the Messiah, was an idea that was quite alien to the Greeks. The very category in which the Jewish Christians conceived and presented Jesus, meant nothing to the Greek. Here then was the problem – how was Christianity to be presented to the Greek world?…. As E. J. Goodspeed put it, the question was, “Must a Greek who was interested in Christianity be routed through Jewish Messianic ideas and through Jewish ways of thinking, or could some new approach be found which would speak out of his background to his mind and heart?”….
Round about the year AD 100 there was a man in Ephesus who was fascinated by that problem. His name was John. He lived in a Greek city. He dealt with Greeks to whom Jewish ideas were strange and unintelligible and even uncouth. How could he find a way to present Christianity to these Greeks in their own thought and in their own language and in a way that they would welcome and understand? Suddenly the solution of the problem flashed upon him. In both Greek and Jewish thought there existed the concept of ‘THE WORD’. Here was something which could be worked out to meet the double world of Greek and Jew. Here was something which belonged to the heritage of both races, something that both could understand.” (William Barclay’s ‘Gospel of John’, Vol. 1 Pgs 2-3).
Jesus is referred to as the ‘Good Shepherd’ , ‘Lord’, ‘Mighty God’, ‘Prince of Peace’, ‘the way, the truth, and the life’, ‘Light’, ‘first and last’, ‘Alpha and Omega’, ‘Lamb of God’, and ‘Savior’. John introduces him as the “Word”. John’s purpose in writing, is “that all might believe” (John 20:30-31), in Christ, the answer to man’s sin predicament, (John 3:16).
I. “IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD”: “In the beginning God created….(Genesis 1-2:2), John says that “the Word” was there. More than just ‘being there”, we find that He created the worlds (universe) (Hebrews 1:1-3).
A. Since the Word was “before” all things (creation) – He is therefore eternal.
B. John records Jesus as saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). When Jesus said this, the Jews understood him to be making the claim to Deity, (cf. Exodus 3:19).
C. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) is a profound way to begin, and in doing so, he portrays Jesus as the very “reflection of God” for all to see, believe in, and follow.
D. God did not change! (Just as the Word of god does not change… it like Jesus… is meant to CHANGE US)… Our knowledge of God changed when Jesus came. Jesus said, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:7-10).
E. Paul said, 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (I Corinthians 13:11-12). The idea being that there are some spiritual things we just can’t clearly see, whereas later we will see clearly. We don’t understand everything about God, and Jesus revealed the Father, but even still, after this life is over, Christians will truly see God. Jesus shows us the Father, in love, character, patience, caring, saving, reaching out to mankind, giving, and much more. This does not compare to what we will see later.
II. “THE WORD WAS WITH GOD – THE WORD WAS GOD”
Paul said 4″ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). In the Old Testament one is constantly faced with fields of battle, blood shed, sacrifices, plagues etc… one child was asked about this, and he said, “O that was before God became a Christian.” No there are not two separate Gods, there is One God (Deuteronomy 6:4). The Old Testament does not portray God one way and the New Testament another way.
A. “HE WAS WITH GOD”
Jesus reveals what God ‘was’ and ‘is’ and ‘always’ will be. John says, 2″ He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:2). All that Jesus ‘was’ God is. His desires, love, justice, jealousy, feelings and grace are all revealed both in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus (the Word made flesh) came, and showed the same, but he especially came to die on the cross for us (Philippians 2:1-11). Compare what Peter says here, 4″ For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;” (2 Peter 2:4) and “9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9). Same Lord and Savior revealed in both.
B. “THROUGH HIM ALL THINGS WERE MADE”
The New Testament has always affirmed – GOD created something out of nothing.
Read John 1:3 3 “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” The writer of Hebrews says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2). Do we understand HOW God created everything? No! Can we explain how everything was made? No! Do we believe God made everything mentioned in Genesis 1-2? Yes! This is called faith. Evolution is nothing more than a theory, which is unprovable, and takes more faith to believe in. It has no place in the Genesis record. (An excellent exposition and discussion of this is Gerald Wright’s work on “The Supreme Scientist” which can be obtained through his site at Biblical-Books.com. This link is found on jackexum.com for easy access.
C. “IN HIM WAS LIFE”
John records these wonderful words, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (John 1:4). When I was a young child, I was afraid of the dark. I would cry out to mom or dad, and they would come and turn on the light, or bring a light. It lit up the room, and dispelled the darkness. Going through life without Jesus is like walking in darkness. Jesus came and ‘lit up the whole world’. I know of no other who can do this? “He is my everything, He is my all”. Why would anyone turn away from Him?
John 5:40 “yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 10:10 ” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”
D. LIGHT AND DARKNESS
Studying the Scriptures you will come across words and phrases used in special ways to represent certain lessons. These are not difficult, and john is no exception to this. He writes to the Greek mind in ways which appeal to them, and they can easily understand. The use of LIGHT AND DARKNESS as representing GOOD AND EVIL respectively was a s common then as it is now. Simply put, Jesus is the light of the world. Satan is the ruler of darkness. Due to the Religious leaders of Jesus’ time, (Pharisees, Sadducees etc…) the people of God (Israel) could have no close relationship with God their Father. Jesus often exposed their hypocrisy, and ignored their traditions and ‘laws’ which stood as ‘road blocks’ to walking with God. When Jesus spoke (cf. Matthew 5-7) it was like putting a light in a pitch black room. He spoke “as no one else did” with the authority of God. It was a time of darkness, and sin. Jesus came as the true light of the souls of mankind.
Take the time to read the following passages
John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 12:35-36 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.”
John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
Next: THE WITNESS OF JOHN