THE DEITY AND ETERNALITY OF JESUS THE WORD
- Many people have written many lengthy discourses on this verse, one of the most notable in the Bible, and a key verse for the early church’s battle against heresies. Even today, cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses do everything in their power to alter these verses to make them say something other than what they plainly say.
- “However, these two verses can be summed up in three simple, yet profound ways: [Jesus Christ] was (1) in the beginning: He was (2) with God: He (3) was God” (The Gospel According to St. John Introduction and Notes on the Authorized Version, Greek Text and Revised Version, page 2).
- The fact that He was “in the beginning” is important, and squashes the ridiculous, heretical ideas of the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and any other heretical infidels. “John marks the beginning of Jesus’ life as an event that took place before the beginning of eternity. ‘In the beginning was the Word’—not ‘at the beginning,’ not ‘from the beginning,’ but ‘in the beginning,’ Jesus was already there” (Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, page 435). So don’t let those Saturday morning visitors (Jehovah’s Witnesses) show up on your doorstep and tell you any different.
- “In the beginning was the Word”: There never was a time when Christ did not exist because the word “was” is in the Greek imperfect tense, which means “was continuing.” In fact, the entire first verse bears this sense. “In the beginning was continuing the Word, and the Word was continuing with God, and the Word was continually God.” Or as [someone] accurately (though ungrammatically) concluded, “Jesus always was wasing!” That is precisely it. Jesus Christ is preexistent. He always was continuing” (R. Kent Hughes, John: That You May Believe, page 16).
- “And the word was with God” should be read in the Greek as “The Word was continually towards God”. As verse two tells us, He was there in the beginning. He has always been with God, and has always been God. To disbelieve this is to disbelieve the Book of John and the entire Bible.
- The fact that He was called “The Word” tells us that there is no doubt that He is God. The Jews used terms such as the “The Word” or the “Word of Life” to refer to God, to keep His sacred name Yahweh holy and undefiled. They felt that God’s name was to holy to even speak, so that used alternative names for Him. To the Jew, there was no question: When John used “The Word” he was calling Jesus Yahweh, the Eternal God!
3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
- If verses 1-3 left any questions about who Jesus was, verse 4 settles it once and for all. He is the One who created all things, and without Him, none of us would be here today, just as Colossians Chapter 1 says!
- Paul wrote of Christ, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17, HCSB).
- Paul also wrote, “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
- This means that each of us owe our very existence to Him. Do we spend time in prayer thanking Him for our lives and thanking Him for creating us? We owe Him thanks for our lives as our creator. We owe him thanks for everything in our lives! Take a moment today to thank Him for your life.
- As a matter of fact, life is most important to us. Without life, we are, well, dead. But in Jesus, verse 4 says, we have life. And we have light too. There are two things men are afraid of, it seems, death and darkness. I personally am afraid of both. Jesus has the cure for both of them! He has life, and He has light. He IS life and He IS light! Here’s the hard truth for the day, if you do not have Christ, you have no light, and not life. You are living a dead, dark life. Let the light of the world light your world, won’t you?
- “The darkness did not comprehend.”: Light in the Bible is always an emblem of God and Christ. Darkness is sometimes an emblem of sin, death, tragedy, and evil. The darkness of the world, or the evil of the world, and the rulers of this Dark Age will not overcome Christ. There is going to be a battle one day. A battle where ultimately Christ will overcome evil and darkness once and for all. Praise God I am on the winning side. Are you?
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
- “A man” is talking about John the Baptist, not John the writer of this book. Luke tells us a lot about John the Baptist, but John the Beloved seems to only be concerned with his function and purpose – his function as a witness about the Light. John is not the light, or even Elijah, but is simply a witness of the Light.
- The word “witness” is the Greek word “martureo” and is closely associated with the word “martyr”, which is “martus” in Greek. The words both have the same root word in Greek and are sometimes used interchangeably, since a real witness for Christ is willing to be a martyr for Crist. John uses this word “witness” (martueo) an astounding 31 times in his book, emphasizing the importance of being a witness for Christ. Of course, we know John the Baptist was a faithful witness/martyr, as he was beheaded for the sake of the Gospel. (Matt 14:1-12)
- We serve the same purpose as John, to be a witness for Christ. Yet we are fortunate in that we are not called to be martyred. We are to be witnesses of the Light. How many friends do we have that are in darkness, yet we never share the light with them? How many friends do we have that are dead in their sins, yet we never share life with them? Sadly, 90% of evangelical Christians never share the Light and Life with those they know. What about you. Are you the witness for the Light that God has called you to be?
9That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
- Jesus isn’t a fake Light, like Allah, Mohamed, Joseph Smith, Buddah, etc. He is the real deal, the true Light, John says.
- “The true Light which gives light to every man.”: Notice something very important here. Many say that Jesus only died for certain people (known as “Limited Atonement”), and that those who are unsaved have no hope of salvation because Christ did not die for them. But verse 9 says that Jesus gives light to every man (or literally all men). This means that every man has the opportunity to receive the Light. Yet we know that the gate is narrow, and many will reject the Light. The offer is there, but many will not receive Him. They reject the offer of the Light that is available to all men. Reformed theology says you can’t reject God, He is irresistible. But this verse clearly says that God, in His sovereignty, offered the Light, but didn’t force the Light upon man. Each man must make His own decision to receive the Light or reject the Light.
- “The world did not know Him.”: Verse 10 says that the people did not recognize their own Creator. They rejected and despised Him. They acted as if they did not know Him. People do the same thing today, although Romans 1:18-20 says they do know about Him. People are without excuse. They know about God, but they do not know Him personally. What about you? Are you rejecting Him? Are you rejected Him in the sense that you are not walking with Him daily?
12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
- Again, some say that only those “elected” to receive Christ can do so (the inaccurate doctrine of Limited Atonement). John says here that anyone who will receive Jesus into their hearts and lives has the right to become children of God. All one has to do is believe. Remember, the word “believe” (pisteuō in Greek) is used 98 times in this book (nearly half of the New Testament usages of the word). Believe, believe, believe – that’s John’s message. Anyone who believes has the right to become a child of God.
- “Who were born…of God”: If you receive Him, it is of God. Your salvation happens because of what God purposed to happen on the cross. It isn’t anything you do in your flesh; it’s a free gift of God. (See Ephesians 2:8-9).
- “As many as received Him”: Many today attempt to teach that “receiving God” is not biblical because God choses and receives us. But here we see that receiving God is absolutely biblical. God does choose us, but we must choose Him as well. Receiving God is absolutely a biblical concept and you should never be ashamed to ask someone to “receive Him.”
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
- The Word, who is Jesus, came, born of a virgin, and “tabernacled” among us. It’s so hard to believe that the God of earth and glory would take the time to come to earth, to live amongst sin, disease, wickedness, trauma, persecution, and torture just for me, and just for you. How unworthy we are that the eternal Creator of the Universe would give up His place in glory to live among us and die for us.
- Yet he did, because John said “we beheld His glory”, that is the apostles, over five hundred eye witnesses, and many others who actually saw and experienced him, they all beheld His glory. They experienced him, not just saw him. Take a moment to ask yourself if you have experienced Jesus today? When is the last time you really experienced Jesus? Do you experience Him every day? Do you walk with Him, and talk with Him, along life’s narrow way. You should! Because He is full of grace and truth, and he wants to give both grace and truth to you today. You will never find grace or truth apart from our Lord Jesus Christ.
- John says that not only have “we”, the Apostles, beheld Him, but that John the Baptist did. After John saw and beheld Him, he bore witness of Him and cried out,” John the Baptist cried out that Jesus was before him. Wait a minute, don’t we know from Luke chapters 1 and 2 that John the Baptist was first to be born, months before his cousin Jesus? Yes, but John is telling us that Jesus is eternal, and was from the very beginning in existence. In this case, Jesus is first. He is preeminent and eternally God.
- “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace”: Here John is saying, I believe, “We Christians here at this time have beheld, we have experience, we have partaken of His grace, mercy, forgiveness, love. Brothers and Sisters, Jesus is the full package”. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) renders a much better translation of this passage when it says, “Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness.” Through the fullness of Christ Jesus we have received blessing after blessing so richly, even though we do not deserve them.
- “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”: Christ is not like the rigid Law of the Old Testament that could never save someone. He is Jesus, the one to bring us God’s unmerited favor. Both grace and truth come through Him, not through meticulous obedience to an Old Testament ritualistic system. This idea is so simple, yet so hard for many to accept. People feel as though they have to do something to earn salvation, but grace and truth come only through our Lord and Savior.
- “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him”: This tells us that while no one has seen God, they have “seen of” God, so to speak, through His only Son. John says that no one has seen God, yet many have seen God indirectly because “Jesus, the Word, is the perfect declaration of the unseen God. The Father and the Son belong to the same family, and Jesus has declared the nature of the unseen God to man. We don’t have to wonder about the nature and personality of God. Jesus has declared it with both His teaching and His life” (David Guzik, Enduring Word).
PERSONAL APPLICATION FOR REFLECTION
Remember that John wrote one of the most specular books in all of the Bile, yet never mentioned His name. He wasn’t concerned with furthering his notoriety of with making his name a household name. Are we like the beloved Disciple, wanting all the attention to go on Jesus. Or is it about us? Do we pray as John did, “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30)? Or are we self-centered and egocentric? John was Christocentric, are you?
Remember that John is a book that serves as a barometer to indicate just how deep our faith us. What about you, how deep is your faith. Hopefully it will deepen day by day as you go through this wonderful, deeply Christocentric book. Are you examining yourself regularly to make you are growing in the Lord. Use this book to help you do just that.
John 1:3 says all things were made through Jesus. This means that each of us owe our very existence to Him, the sovereign Creator of the Universe. Do we spend time, in our prayers, just thanking Him for our lives? This is basic, yet we often forget that we owe him thanks for our lives as our Creator. We owe Him thanks for everything in our lives. May we praise Him today for being our Creator.
John 1:4 says Jesus is the Light and the Life. If you do not have Christ, you have no light, and you have no life. You are living a dead, dark life. Let the light of the world light your world, won’t you? If you haven’t surrendered your life to Him as the Lord over your life, you should do so today. Without Him, life is lonely, dead, and dark, and you have no hope of eternal life.
Remember John was called to be a witness for the Light. We serve the same purpose as John, yet thankfully we are not called to be martyred. We are to be witnesses of the Light in our everyday lives. How many friends do you have that are in darkness? Do you share the Light with them? How many friends do you have that are dead in their sins? Do you share Life with them? Sadly, 90% of Christians never share the Light and Life with the people around them. Do you?
John 1:11 says that Jesus own people rejected Him. Are you rejecting Him? Are you rejected Him in the sense that you are not walking with Him daily, even though you are a Christian? Rejected His salvation isn’t the only way people can reject Him. People reject Jesus’ call on their lives every day. Are you submitted to the will of Christ in every aspect of your life, or are you rejecting Jesus just as His own people did?
Key words: The Book of John, Commentary on John, Sermon notes on John, The Gospel of John, John, Background to the Book of John.