“The Introduction of the Son of God”
In our information saturated age, many people don’t look at details very closely. And because of that, most newspapers and magazines give a “preview” of what we are going to find inside – and most books do too. Their purpose in doing that is to inspire us to read further and get our attention and keep it before the competition does. Maybe God knew that people would still be reading the gospels of the New Testament down in this generation, because each of them begins in the same way – with a brief overview of what we are going to see in the book as a whole. And that “preview is what we find in the first eighteen verses of the gospel of John. In our previous study we looked at the organization and background of the book, so today we are going to begin our study of the chapter and of the book by looking at that first section, the introduction to the Son of God in verses 1 through 8. And the first thing we see in the chapter is what I am calling by way of outline, the word in verses 1 through 5:
In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the Word was God (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (4)In Him was life and the life was the light of men. (5) And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.
It is interesting to notice that John opens his gospel with the same words that God inspired Moses to use in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. However, whereas Moses moves forward in time from creation, John goes backward in time to the far reaches of eternity. And then he comes to the word that confuses so many people as they try to study the gospel of John; the word “word. “This is the translation of the Greek word “logos” is used four times in these first 18 verses, and it contains far more meaning that our English word does. The Greek Word “logos” had a very technical meaning in the first century world in which John lived and wrote. It was used in Greek philosophy to refer to the “First Cause.” To the intellectuals and philosophers of the Greek world it spoke of the “great unknown:” intelligent reason, will, and power behind the universe. In fact the pagan philosophers of the day referred to this First Cause as God, even though they were not referring to the God of the Bible. So John takes that word which referred to the very heart of wisdom and applies it to that recently despised and crucified man, Jesus of Nazareth. Along with that, he may have also had in mind the phrase repeated over and over again by the Old Testament prophets – “and the word of the Lord came . . .”
The first thing John says about the “Word” in these verses has to do with his origin in verses 1 and 2. Notice that he says that He was in the beginning. John uses the past tense here to emphasize that Jesus Christ. This phrase is meant to emphasize Christ’s continuous existence. Before the world was created or time began Jesus Christ, the “word” was there already. Jesus Himself made similar statements about Himself, such as in chapter 8 verse 58:
Jesus said to them, ‘most assuredly I say to you , before Moses was, I am.”
Then he goes on t say in verse 1 that not only was Christ there in the beginning, but that He was “with God.” This phrase was meant to emphasize that Jesus Christ and God the Father are two separate persons. This is the same truth brought out in Genesis 1:26 where it is recorded that God said, “ Let us make man in our image . . . .” Proverbs 8 brings out the same kind of distinct yet cooperative relationship. The first 21 verses are all about the various attributes of wisdom. But as you read on in the chapter you realize that it is really talking about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. The same thing is found in Psalm 110:1, where two persons of the Godhead are seen talking to each other. (Jesus later applied this passage to Himself in Matthew 22:41-45. Then a third aspect of the “origin” of the “Word” is in the last phrase of verse 1 “and us top the word was God. This is the climax this declaration about the Son of God. It presents Christ as having the same nature as God Himself. All of the attributes of God are also attributes of Christ.; and the deeds and words of Jesus are the deeds and words of God. This is what John intends us to understand from his book, therefore he places it in the very first verse.
If this is not true, then John has written a blasphemous and it should be banned and burned. But through the years it has stood the test of time and been hailed as truth. Countless numbers of people have been saved by reading its message. It is important to realize that belief in this fact concerning the deity of Christ is absolutely essential to the Christian faith. A profession of belief in Christ that doesn’t include this fact is not saving faith.
Verse 2 is kind of a “swing” verse – it restates the fact of verse one and sets the stage for what is to be brought out in verses 3 and 4.
He was in the beginning with God.
So verses 1 and 2 speak of “His origin.” But in verses 3 and 4 we read about His origination of all things.
All things were made through Him, and without him nothing was made that was made. (4) In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Verse 3 seems to be a very simple statement, but think about its implications: the word “through means” “by means of” – so this is a clear statement of His work in creation. But notice that it also says that “all things” were made by Him. This would include things seen and unseen, angels and humans, every species of animal, plant life at every level, and every aspect of science (including things not yet discovered.) And, as if to say, “and anything else you and I might think of,” John adds the phrase, at the end of sentence “and without Him nothing was made that was made.” But verse 4 takes it a step further – in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. It is one thing to make objects of art, but it is another thing entirely to make them come to life! Christ not only created all things, but “brought them to life.” This is better understood if we understand the way John uses these two words, “light” and “life” in his writings. The word “life” is used 36 times in this gospel, and 11 of those times it refers to eternal life. So “life” refers not just to physical life, but to moral and intellectual life as well.
An example is what Paul said to the intellectuals on Mars Hill in Acts in Acts 17:28 – “in Him we live and move and have our being.”
And this fits right in right in with what we see in Genesis 2:7 where The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” And in the same way, the word “light” refers to the way in which “life” is enlightened” by spiritual truth. Proverbs 20:27 says The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart. And John speaks very clearly of this relationship between “life” and “light” in John 8:12
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
What John is teaching in all of this is that a truly “enlightened” life comes only from following Jesus Christ. He is the One who makes life worth living.
Now we have seen the “origin of the Word,” and “His origination of all things,” so in verse 5 we find one final thing about Him, and that is “His overcoming power.”
And the light shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
The “light” that comes from Christ shined into a world that had been “darkened” by the sin of Adam and all of his descendants – and it was not “comprehended” by the darkness. The key word in this verse is the word “comprehend.” In fact, the verse makes no sense unless we understand this one word. The Greek word translated “comprehend” can be used in two ways: It can mean “to understand” something. When used in this way, it means that spiritual darkness cannot understand or “comprehend” spiritual light.
When people choose to ignore the light of God’s truth and live in unbelief (either as Christians or non Christians) they cannot understand nor benefit from that whole spiritual dimension that comes from the “light” of Christ.
First Corinthians 2:14 says the same thing –
But the natural ‘man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned
But the word “comprehend” can have a second meaning – and many Greek scholars today believe that it is closer to the basic meaning of this passage (and it forms a good way to wrap up this study.)
The word cam also mean “to overcome.” Used in this way it means that when Christ came into the world there was a conflict between light and darkness in which light was victorious. Isn’t it encouraging to realize that no matter how deep the darkness may be, it cannot overcome – in spite of persecution or opposition – the light of the glory of God! If you are “in” Him by deliberate choice, He is “in” you. Over in chapter 15 John is going to record Jesus talking about being “in” Him and us being “in” Him. And in I John 4:4, in the letter that John wrote to his followers many years later, he says that the light that is in you is greater than the darkness which is all around us!