3/31/10

John 1:1-2 - The Word Was... - Part 1

John 1:1-2 – The Word Was…Part 1
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for John 1:1-2

It is rightly said that context is king when seeking to accurately understand Scripture.
• The first 13 verses of John can be seen as setting a context for us.
• John uses them to set the penultimate context for the Jesus he is about to reveal to us.
• John prefaces his eyewitness accounts of Jesus with a Jesus that is HUGE.
• And then he drops the ultimate “J-Bomb” in verse 14 – this Jesus became flesh!

So now we need dive in and seek to understand the gravity and importance of this context.

John 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 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.
• “This Word who is God, is the very one of whom I have also said that he was in the beginning, and that he was with God” – paraphrase by D.A. Carson.

1) WHAT DOES JOHN MEAN BY “THE WORD” (LOGOS)?

Literally “logos is a collecting or collection both of things in the mind, and of words by which they are expressed. It therefore signifies both the outward form by which the inward thought is expressed, and the inward thought itself” – Marvin Vincent.

So in the incarnate person of Jesus we have the 2nd person of the triune God expressed as The Word.

D.A Carson, MacArthur & others advocate that John is linking Jesus to the role of God’s word in the OT:
• Word as Creation
  o Genesis 1:3 (ESV) — 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
  o Psalm 33:6 (ESV) — 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
• Word as Revelation
  o Isaiah 9:8 (ESV) — 8 The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel;
  o Amos 3:8 (ESV) — 8 The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”
• Word as Law/10 Commandments
  o Exodus 24:3–4 (ESV) — 3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
• Word as Deliverance and Salvation
  o Isaiah 55:11 (ESV) — 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
  o Psalm 107:20 (ESV) — 20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
• Word as Coming
  o Isaiah 38:4 (ESV) — 4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah:
  o Jeremiah 1:4 (ESV) — 4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,


John Piper’s insight into why John called Jesus the Word:
Hebrews 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
• “John calls Jesus the Word because he had come to see the words of Jesus as the truth of God and the person of Jesus as the truth of God in such a unified way that Jesus himself—in his coming, and working, and teaching, and dying and rising—was the final and decisive Message of God” – John Piper.
• Words of Jesus + Person of Jesus = Final and Decisive Message of God
• Therefore John called Jesus The Word.

Now understanding what John may have had in mind with LOGOS, what does John tell us about Him?

He paints numerous beautiful brush strokes to paint us an awesome picture.



2) THE WORD WAS IN THE BEGINNING

The Bible is in complete agreement with John on this point:
• Genesis 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
• John 8:58 (ESV) — 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.
• John 17:5 (ESV) — 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
• Colossians 1:17 (ESV) — 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
  o Held together via Divine Information: “Information, of course, is just another name for logos. All the information in the universe is, in the end, mediated through the divine Logos, who is before all things and by whom all things hold together” – William Dembski.
• Hebrews 1:10 (ESV) — 10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
• 1 John 1:1 (ESV) — 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—


So what does it mean that the Word was in the beginning?

John is saying the following:
• Jesus WAS before His incarnation.
• Jesus WAS before creation.
• “The Logos [Word] did not then begin to be, but at that point at which all else began to be, He already was. In the beginning, place it where you may, the Word already existed. In other words, the Logos is before time, eternal” – Marcus Dods.

To understand the gravity of John’s statement, we need to think Psalms 8:3-4 & Hebrews 1:3 BIG:
Taking our cues from theses verses, let’s compare the Word and the universe.
• As large as the earth is, it is but a grain of sand in our galaxy.
  o 8,000 miles across vs. 100,000 light years across (1 light year is about 6 trillion miles).
• As large as our Milky Way galaxy is, it is but a grain of sand in the universe.
  o 100,000 light years across vs. 93 billion light years across
• And yet, as large as it is, our universe began to exist.


What does it mean to say that the universe began to exist?
• It is finite and exists within the confines of time and space
• It has a cause
• It was created
  o “So long as the universe had a beginning we could suppose it had a creator” – Stephen Hawking.
  o In fact, Fred Hoyle who postulated the Big Bang, dismissed it after he named it because of its implications – David Berlinski.

Now by comparison, consider Jesus and what John is telling us about Him.
• If Jesus WAS in the beginning then He never began to exist.


What does it mean that Jesus never began to exist?
• He is eternal
• He has no cause
• He is uncreated
• He is outside of time and space

This is the first brush stroke of the context John is painting for us.
• Jesus Christ never began to exist.
• Jesus Christ is huge ontologically and epistemologically!
• In fact, Jesus is bigger than the universe!
• Hebrews 1:3 (ESV) — 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power

3) THE WORD WAS WITH GOD

The word “with” or Greek “pros” is very important.
• It is not the only Greek word for “with” and so was chosen for a specific purpose.
• D.A. Carson points out that “‘pros’ may mean ‘with’ only when a person is with a person, usually in some fairly intimate relationship.”
• Therefore, John is pointing out “that the ‘Word’ he is talking about is a person, with God and therefore distinguishable from God, and enjoying a personal relationship with him.
• So “with God” and “was God” are some of our source material for the Doctrine of the Trinity.

And it will come as no surprise that the NT is in agreement with John:
• John 16:28 (ESV) — 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
• John 17:5 (ESV) — 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
• 1 John 1:2 (ESV) — 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—

And just to be clear, the Doctrine of the Trinity states that God is?
• “one divine Essence yet three Persons or centers of consciousness” – John Piper.
• John is telling us here that Jesus is one of those persons.

So the second brush stroke of the context John is painting for us is:
• “two personal beings [God the Father & God the Son] facing one another and engaging in intelligent discourse” – W. Robert Cook.
• In other words, a picture of the first 2 persons of the Trinity.


In John all 3 persons of the Trinity make their appearance, for example:
• John 14:23–26 (ESV) — 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

In future lessons we will deal more with the Trinity and things like:
Why did the concept of the Trinity not become fully fleshed out as orthodox Christian doctrine until the 4th century (partly to combat a form of Arianism (AYBD))?
• Orthodox Trinitarian view of God vs. a Modalism view of God which states that God is one person manifesting Himself in different historical roles or modes.