(You can listen via this podcast, while you read along. You may pause the audio to follow page links, then, when you are ready, resume the audio. Please note that I use page links in lieu of footnotes and references, which are important for details on this teaching.)
THE BOOK OF JOHN
Theme – (From Biblegateway.com)
John presents Jesus as the Word, the Messiah and the incarnate Son of God, who has come to reveal the Father and bring eternal life to all who believe in him.
It’s clear from the first paragraphs of this Gospel that the disciple John broke sharply from the styles of the other Gospel writers—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They focused on events, following Jesus through the bustling marketplaces and villages. Unlike them, John assumed that readers knew the basic facts about Jesus. Instead, he mulled over the profound meaning of what Jesus had said and done. The NIV Student Bible says the book of John reads as if it were written under a great shade tree by an author who had lots of time for reflection. In his first sentence, John highlights Christ’s nature.
John’s book tells the story of the eternal Word who became flesh and dwelt with humanity. People often turn to the Gospel of John because it spells out so clearly the basics of the Christian faith. Jesus proves who he is, diagnoses humanity’s problems, and bluntly describes what is necessary for conversion to everlasting life.
Author: The apostle John.
Timeline: Early church period after Christ’s resurrection; between AD 50 and 85.
Original Language: Greek
Audience: Primarily Gentile believers in Jesus and seeking unbelievers.
What I find troubling about the description in the NIV Student Bible is that it implies the Gospel of John (and the Bible) is a story or a ‘novel’, and reduces the human authors of the Bible to people who had the time to lounge about, reflecting pensively on their experiences with Jesus as His disciples and Apostles of the Church.
The fact is, all the Apostles worked tirelessly and traveled extensively, on foot, spreading the Gospel. The result of being disciples of Jesus, they suffered greatly, and, they all died a martyr’s death, except for John, who was exiled to the isolated Greek island of Patmos. Believe me, none of the disciples had time for leisure.
Secondly, the Bible is not meant to be a novel, a story, or a narrative on the history of Israel, of Judaism, of Christianity nor of Christ. The Bible is about God. It is about His nature, His plan, His purposes and His ways. Everything else in the Bible is ancillary, secondary or helps explain the Undefinable and Indescriblable God.
The Bible teaches about the path we must travel to find God. The Book of John, likewise, reveals the trail of fiery trials and persecutions one must endure to find God and learn to become a fully equipped disciple of Christ. It is then, and only then, can you become one who is able to carry on the Work of God which He prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them.
Finally, the Bible, when correctly understood, is found to be an immensely powerful prophetic book. It contains all the Oracles of God. “The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The Gospel of John is deeply prophetic. Strangely, however, it is usually read, at its face value. But, since this is man known as ‘John the Apostle’ or ‘John of Patmos’ is also known as ‘John the Revelator’, the man who wrote the prophetic Book of The Revelation, one might suspect the Book of John is also prophetic.
A final note of preparation for this study: it is important to consider that the Bible can, and should be read and understood on three levels.
Level #1 is what I will refer to as ‘the cognitive level’, from the Greek word, “DIANOIA”. It is read, for the most part, ‘at face value’, and understood by the intellect of the cognitive mind. This method is informative, but, not necessarily transformative.
Level #2 is what I will call the psychological level, which comes from the Greek word, “PSUCHE”. When read and understood at this level, the Bible affects a person’s soul, which is the seat of a person’s emotions, affections and will. This level of learning is emotional and temporarily effective as a teacher, but is also subjective.
Level #3 is the spiritual level, which comes from the Greek word, “PNEUMA”, which can be described as the core or the essence of a person. When the Bible is read and understood at this level, it sets or fixes a person’s core beliefs. For a Christian, this is the place the Holy Spirit teaches our Spirit the Truth. This is truly transformative.
The wisdom, understanding, and the Truth revealed in the Bible, when dwelt upon, meditated on and taken into your mind, it will seep down into your psyche and finally, into your ‘heart’ which is your spirit, where it does its transformative work. At this point, you are changed, forever.
This transformation then wells back up out of your spirit, into your soul, and manifests in your mind, creating in you a new perspective, a new belief system of faith and reason. You will have begun to discover The Mind of Christ within you, leading you to think and act with Godly Wisdom, under the prompting and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This type of learning and spiritual maturity will come about only with time in prayer, meditation on and the study of God’s Word.
I realize this may seem a bit abstract to some. It is a shift in paradigm for many Christians. But, this is how I will proceed teaching and commenting on the writings of John: By the prophetic, transformative power of His Word.
If you are able and willing to take the time to pray, ask God and allow His Spirit to guide you, then you will be amazed at what God will do, in and through your life; you will be truly and thoroughly transformed by the renewing of your mind.
I have met and known people who have experienced this transformation and I can tell you, I scarcely recognized them as the person I once knew; they would also say that they hardly knew the person they had been. One thing is for certain: If you experience this, you will never be the same.
The Bible is the Prophetic, Creative, Causative, Inerrant, Infallible, Living Word and Breath of God. Once the Word lives in you, it will tell the Truth to you and through you, and nothing will ever be the same! Now,
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
John 1:1-5, “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 came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4, In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5, The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:1 “In the beginning
The word, ‘Beginning’: comes from the Greek language, ‘arche’, which comes from a root word, archomai; which is a commencement, or, concretely chief in various applications of order, time, place, or rank.
Genesis 1:1 confirms John 1:1, saying, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The word, ‘Beginning’: which comes from the Hebrew language, is ‘reshith’. Which is a beginning, the chief of, firstfruits, it is a part of time, a principal thing; it is the first, in place, time, order or rank.
The ‘beginning’, as used in this verse, is the origination of all things. It preceeds even what scientist call the ‘big bang’. This comes before even time existed. There was only The Creator, God, or, ‘Elohim’ in the Hebrew language.
It is also worthy to note that this Hebrew word, ‘Elohim’, is plural; it is the One True God. God the Father, God the Word (Son), God the Holy Spirit, The One God.
Whether this was the beginning for earth, and whether that was 4.5 billion years ago (secular view), or whether it was 6,000 years ago (Biblical view), it is only relevant in regard to faith and reason.
Whether this was the beginning of all things, (the universe), 13.8 billion years ago, (the secular view), or whether it was around 6,000 years ago, (the Biblical view) is only relevant in regard to faith and reason.
The Christian’s belief system must be built on both faith and reason; faith in God, that He exists and that His Word is all sufficient and dependable in all matters, and that being our reason to believe.
“At the heart of the issue is the question “where does absolute authority reside?” Is it in the church, Scripture, tradition, science, last night’s dream, or some combination of all those? To what degree must a person be taught outside the revelation of Scripture in order to be saved and follow Christ?
“Prima scriptura says that, to some extent, we can rely on something other than the Bible. Sola scriptura says we live under the authority of Scripture alone.
“Through the years, an evangelical version of prima scriptura has developed. Most evangelicals acknowledge the Bible as God’s divinely inspired, authoritative Word. But they also accept, to varying degrees, certain other sources of authoritative truth: “denominational traditions, the sign gifts, dreams and visions, angels, the workings of conscience, common sense, etc.
The evangelical version of prima scriptura holds that we can know much of God’s will through what He has said in the Bible, but we may need other sources of information to fully understand what He wants of us. Being the “primary” authority, the Bible is still used to test and, if necessary, correct the “revelation” from other sources. Most Protestants who hold to prima scriptura believe in the primacy of Scripture but would argue that the Bible’s authority is conditioned upon “correct” translation or proper hermeneutics. This is theoretically plausible, but the fact is that the Bible is authoritative whether or not it is interpreted or understood correctly.
THE BIBLE TEACHES “SOLA SCRIPTURA”
In 2 Timothy 3:15–17, Paul says to Timothy, “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Notice the scope of Scripture’s sufficiency in this passage: 1) it is sufficient for salvation, 2) it is God-breathed, and 3) it is able to equip us for every good work.
”God says not to add to or take away from Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:18–19), but prima scriptura subtly allows additions to be made. The church is to be under the authority of Scripture, not be a co-author of divine revelation. We are to preach and teach the Word, not our own opinions of what the Bible says. “The purpose of preaching is to preach the Scripture with its own insights, directives, and teachings. . . . The first great task of preaching [is] to preach God’s Word, and to let listeners sense its very authority” (Timothy Keller, Preaching, p. 29).” (GotQuestions.org)
John 1:1, “was the Word,”
‘Word’ from Strong’s Bible concordance #3056 – (lógos) “speaking to a conclusion”; a word, being the expression of a thought; a saying, preeminently used of Christ, expressing the thoughts of the Father through the Spirit.
This is a great mystery, and the mystery deepens, as we will see. For now, suffice it to say that the Bible instructs that The Word (John 1:1) and God (Genesis 1:1) were ‘at the beginning’.
We know that The Word of God is prophetic in and through our lives, today. It is creative and causative. Just as The Word, created the heavens and the earth, The Word continues to create within us a knowledge and experience of God.
This is important because it informs us that the Word of God is eternal, immutable and inerrant – It is the same today as it was then, and it always shall be. You and I can depend on The Word to continue to be creative, causative and without error in our lives, now.
And, we have discussed just the first six words from the Gospel of John. We only have 18,652 words to go!
Your Brother and Friend,
Please bookmark this page and come back for the next and continuing study in John 1:1, “was the Word”, a profound revelation about The Word in relationship with you and what that means for your life, now!