Harmony of the Gospels

 

Pre-fleshly State of Christ

Scriptures: (Hebrews 1:1-14) John 1:1-1

 

John 1:1-18 (NKJV)

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.
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.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

John begins his gospel with a series of statements affirming the deity of Christ. In contrast to the other gospels, he opens his gospel in eternity past. Matthew, who portrays Christ as the King, begins with a genealogy to prove His Davidic lineage. Mark, who presents Christ as the Servant, begins his gospel with the public activity of Christ as a Servant. Luke, who emphasizes the humanity of Christ, begins his gospel with a lengthy description of the events that led to the birth of Christ. John, who presents Christ as the Son of God, begins his gospel in eternity. He starts out by speaking about the Word—but he does not explain at first who or what the Word is. A word is a unit of speech by which we express ourselves to others. But John is not writing about speech but rather about a Person. That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God has fully expressed Himself to humanity in the Person of the Lord Jesus. By coming into the world, Christ has perfectly revealed to us what God is like. By dying for us on the cross, He has told us how much God loves us. Thus, Christ is God’s living Word to man, the expression of God’s thoughts.

Who was Jesus, and where was He before He came to earth?  Who was He before He took on our flesh?  The Bible has the answers.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

Alternate Translation (TLB): Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God.

 

Jesus Christ did not have a beginning Himself, but existed from all eternity He is the living Word. He never was created. He had no beginning. (A genealogy would be out of place in this Gospel of the Son of God.) Jesus and God the Father, along with the Holy Spirit, have always had an intimate relationship as the triune God. Jesus is God who took on a human body and nature in order to redeem humanity.

In the beginning was the [1]Word. This opening statement is a repetition of the opening statement of the Bible [2] (Gen 1:1). The phrase Was the Word implies that when time began, the Word was already in existence. This unique [3]name for Christ (Gr logos) occurs only four times in the New Testament as a name and is utilized only by John the apostle. Since words reveal the thoughts of one person to another, Christ as the Eternal Word is a revelation of God to man.

In the beginning was the Word speaks to his existence, not only before his incarnation, but before all time. The beginning of time, in which all creatures were produced and brought into being, was set in motion by this eternal Word. The world was from the beginning, but the Word was in the beginning. Eternity is usually expressed by being before the foundation of the world. The eternity of God is described in that way in [4]Psalms 90:2 and [5]Proverbs 8:23. The Word had a being before the world had a beginning. He that was in the beginning never began.

“The Word” is one of the greatest and most profound titles ever applied to Christ.  In the Old Testament “The Word” was held in such great reverence that the name of Jehovah was never pronounced.  It was such a holy name that they did not use it.  Here in these verses, everything that the Old Testament said about Him is captured and He is presented as the one that was present in the beginning.  Jesus always existed.  We say that He is eternal.

How do you define “eternal”? I can’t tell you how long that is, but if you go as far back into time as you can imagine and put down your marker, it is not far enough, because He was already there.  He was there at the beginning of our world and He was there at the beginning of all things. 

We call words that are uttered or spoken, speech, and speech is the foremost and most natural indication of the state of the mind. Therefore, Christ is the Word, for by him God has in these last days spoken to us (Heb. 1:2), and has directed us to hear him (Mt. 17:5). He has made known God’s mind to us, as a man’s word or speech makes known his thoughts, as far as he pleases, and no further. Christ is called that wonderful speaker (Dan. 8:13), the speaker of things hidden and strange. He is the Word speaking from God to us and to God for us. John the Baptist was the voice, but Christ was the Word: being the Word, he is the Truth, the Amen, the faithful Witness of the mind of God.

And the Word was with God. The words translated with God (Gr pros on theon) could be rendered “face to face with God.” Two important thoughts emerge from this statement. First, the Word is a distinct person. Second, the Word was enjoying communion and fellowship with another distinct person, God the Father. The Word had a separate and distinct personality. He was not just an idea, a thought, or some vague kind of example, but a real Person who lived with God.

And the Word was God. For fear that, the reader may assume that the Word as a distinct person is less than God, John concludes the verse with an emphatic statement that the Word was completely God. To lend the greatest possible emphasis to the importance of this statement, it literally reads “and God was the Word.” He not only dwelt with God, but He Himself was God.

The Bible teaches that there is one God and that there are three Persons in the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three of these Persons are God. In this verse, two of the Persons of the Godhead are mentioned—God the Father and God the Son. It is the first of many clear statements in this Gospel that Jesus Christ is God. It is not enough to say that He is “a god,” that He is godlike, or that He is divine. The Bible teaches that He is God.


2 He was in the beginning with God.

 

Alternate Translation (GNB): From the very beginning, the Word was with God.

 

This verse simply summarizes the deep theological truths revealed in the first verse. It would appear to be a mere repetition of what has been said, but actually, it is not. This verse teaches that Christ’s personality and deity were without beginning. He did not become a person for the first time as the Babe of Bethlehem. Nor did He somehow become a god after His resurrection, as some teach today. He is God from all eternity.

The same person, the very same that we believe in and preach, was in the beginning with God, that is, he was with Him from eternity. In the beginning, the world was from God, since it was created by him; but the Word was with God, as He always had been. The Word was with God in three distinct ways:

1.      In His fundamental nature and substance. The Word was God: a distinct person or substance, for he was with God; and yet He was of the same substance, for he was God, [6]Heb. 1:3.

2.      In His contentment and holiness. There was a glory and happiness that Christ had with God before the world was created—And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (Jn. 17:5). Before Christ came into the world, He dwelt in heaven with the Father. When the angels looked upon the Lord, they saw all the glory of Deity. To every eye, He was obviously God. But when He came among men, the glory of his Deity was veiled. Though He was still God, it was not apparent to most onlookers. They saw Him merely as the carpenter’s Son.

3.      In support and planning. The mystery of man’s redemption by this Word incarnate was hid in God before creation, “and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9).

He that undertook to bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18)[7] was himself from eternity with God; so that this grand affair of man’s reconciliation to God was shared between the Father and Son from eternity, and they understand one another perfectly well—“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Mt. 11:27). He was with God, and therefore is said to come forth from the Father. “He was with God and He was God.”  From that statement, we know that He is separate from God and yet He is God.  Hebrews 1:8-9, helps me to understand this, “But about the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.  You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness therefor God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”  (Suggest you read Hebrews 1:1-14).  Here, God calls Jesus, “God.”  This statement makes it clear that God and Jesus are separate, and that both are God.  Along with the Holy Spirit they are the three parts of the Godhead-equal yet separate, The Trinity; One God in three persons.

 

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Alternate Translation (NCV): All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him.

Jesus, as the creator, created everything, even those things that men use to transform into another form that they can use. He Himself was not a created being; rather He was the Creator of all things. This includes humankind, the animals, the heavenly planets, the angels —all things visible and invisible. Without Him nothing was made that was made. There can be no possible exception. If a thing was made, He made it. As Creator, He is, of course, superior to anything He has created. All three Persons of the Godhead were involved in the work of creation: “God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). “All things were created through Him (Christ) and for Him” (Col. 1:16b).

God made the world by a word (Ps. 33:6) and Christ was the Word: Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the insignificant worm. This proves that he is God, for he that built all things is God (Heb. 3:4). This proves the excellence of the Christian religion, that the author and founder of it is the same that was the author and founder of the world. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation.

 Why do men struggle with scripture in an attempt to prove God?  It is so futile for our finite minds to try to comprehend an infinite God.  That is why brilliant men in great theological seminaries are still lost.  I will never try to prove God.  It is futile and He does not expect us to.  He says in Proverbs that a fool says in his heart, there is no God and it says that Faith in God is the beginning of knowledge.  One of the greatest proofs of God is on the other side of your door.  Step outside and look at the stars, the trees, the sun, and moon and at man himself.  If you do not see the hand of God in creation, you are blind and it will not do you any good to look any farther.

There may be an even greater testimony to the power of God than creation and that is His power to maintain what He created.  You can be sure that the sun will rise every morning, that the moon will orbit the earth every twenty-four hours, that gravity will hold you down so that you don’t fall off, that there will be seasons and that as long as there are geese they will fly south for the winter.  You can be sure of these things and you can be sure that God is in control.

 

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
.

Alternate Translation (NCV): In him there was life, and that life was the light of all people.

 

In Him was life. This does not simply mean that He possessed life, but that He was and is the source of life; both physical and spiritual life. When we were born, we received physical life. When we are born again, we receive spiritual life. Both come from Him.

The life was the light of men. The same One who supplied us with life is also the light of men. He provides the guidance and direction necessary for man. It is one thing to exist, but quite another to know how to live, to know the true purpose of life, and to know the way to heaven. The same One who gave us life is the One who provides us with light for the pathway we travel. Christ is the Light shining in contrast to the darkness of this sinful world. This is further proof that he is God, and that in every way He is qualified to undertake the work that His Father sent Him to do.

1.      He has life in himself. He is not only the true God, but also the living God. God is life.

2.      All living creatures have their life in him; not only was all the substance of the creation made by him, but in addition, all the life too that is in the creation is derived from him and supported by him. The Word of God produced the moving creatures that had life (Gen. 1:20). He is that Word by which man lives more than by bread—“But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Mt. 4:4).

3.      Reasonable creatures have their light from him; that life which is the light of men comes from him. Life in man is something greater and nobler than it is in other creatures; it is rational, and not merely animal. When man became a living soul, his life was light, and he had capacities that distinguished him from, and dignified him above, the rest of creation.

The spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord, and it was the eternal Word that lighted this candle. The light of reason, as well as the life that makes sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This proves him adequate to undertake our salvation; for life and light, spiritual and eternal life and light, are the two great things that fallen man, needs the most. Is there anyone that we could expect to give us the light of divine revelation other than the One who gave us the light of human reason? Moreover, if, when God gave us natural life, that life was in his Son, how readily should we receive the gospel-record, that he hath given us eternal life, and that life too is in his Son!

Jesus is the source of all life.  Today we hear a great deal about cloning and creating life, but until man can create life where none exists, he has not created life.  He can only take existing life and modify it.  The life of Jesus in us energizes us and brings us eternal life and the light of truth.  Without Jesus, we live in darkness and we are not bothered by our sin, but with Jesus, we receive light in the form of His word, then the Holy Spirit helps us to see our sin and our need for forgiveness.

 

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

 

Alternate Translation (TLB): His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The light shines in the darkness. The entrance of sin brought darkness to the minds of men. It plunged the world into darkness in the sense that men in general neither knew God nor wanted to know Him. Into this darkness the Lord Jesus came—a light shining in a dark place. Light is self-evidencing, and will make itself known.

1.      The eternal Word, as God, shines in the darkness of natural conscience. While men became darkness by the fall, that which may be known of God is manifested in them according to [8]Romans 1:19-20. The light of nature is this light shining in darkness. All mankind have an innate sense of the power of the divine Word, both as creating and as commanding. If it was not so, the earth would be a hell, a place of utter darkness; blessed be our God, that it is not that way yet.

2.      The eternal Word, as Mediator, shone in the darkness of the Old-Testament [9]types and figures, and the prophecies and promises, which were of the Messiah from the beginning. He that had commanded the light of this world to shine out of darkness was himself a light shining in darkness, but there was a veil upon this light.

The [10]darkness did not comprehend it. This may mean that the darkness did not understand the Lord Jesus when He came into the world. Men did not realize who He really was, or why He had come. Another meaning, however, is given in the NKJV margin: the darkness did not overcome it. Then the thought would be that man’s rejection and enmity did not prevent the true light from shining.

The world of mankind comprehended not the natural light that was in their understandings, but instead, they became vain in their imaginations concerning the eternal God and the eternal Word, [11](Rom. 1:21, 28). The darkness of error and sin overpowered and overshadow this light. God spoke more than once—For God may speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it” (Job 33:14). The Jews had the light of the Old Testament, and yet could not comprehend it or find Christ in it. (See Table #2-Gnostics). In the same way that there was a veil upon Moses’ face, there was a veil upon the people’s hearts. However, the light never stopped shinning, but due to the darkness of their understandings, they could not see it. It was therefore necessary that Christ should come, both to rectify the errors of the Gentile world and to improve the truths of the Jewish church.

Article #2-Gnostics

 

Gnosticism, a dualistic heresy that reached its full strength in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A. D., regarded the spiritual as being inherently good and the earthly (that is, the created world) as inherently evil. Asceticism is another response to this concept that the created order is inherently evil. John may have emphasized Christ’s humanity in his Gospel in order to combat the beginnings of the philosophical-spiritual ideology called Gnosticism. Gnostics believed that the spirit world contained many different levels of knowledge and that everyone must ascend through them to achieve gnosis (Gk.), a secret inner knowledge resulting in salvation and available only to those who had their consciousness raised to such a level.

Gnostics argued that through Christ they had experienced a spiritual resurrection and had arrived at knowledge (Gk. gnosis). Therefore, since the sins of the body were totally unconnected with the spiritual life, they were free on a spiritual plane to worship God through Christ Jesus and on a physical plane to do as they pleased. Paul strongly taught against this viewpoint as did the early church fathers (2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:17–24). First Timothy 1:3–7 and Jude 3–19 may also refer to teachers of incipient (or developing) Gnosticism. Since Gnostics believed the flesh is always evil, they taught that a sinless Christ could not have become truly human.

Gnostics were divided over the Incarnation. The Docetic Gnostics claimed that Christ’s human body was only an illusion, while Cerinthian Gnostics taught that God’s divine spirit filled the human Jesus at His baptism but fled before His death. Like all other tenets of Gnostic belief, Scripture refutes both of these positions (Col. 1:15–18; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 4:2–6; see 1 Cor. 1, Heresies; Gal. 4, Christology; Eph. 2, Salvation).

 

 

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

 

Alternate Translation (CEV): God sent a man named John.

 

This verse along with the next two, contrast Christ and John the Baptist (not the John who was the apostle and author of the Gospel of John). John the Baptist was sent from God to be a forerunner of the Lord Jesus. His mission was to announce the coming of Christ and to tell the people to get ready to receive Him.

The apostle’s purpose in bringing in John the Baptist is for him to present an honorable testimony for Jesus Christ, but before he does this, he gives us some explanation of the witness he is about to give.

We are told that he was a man sent from God. The apostle had said concerning Jesus Christ that he was with God and that he was God; but here concerning John, He says that he was a man, a mere man. God is willing to speak to us through men like ourselves. John was a great man, but he was a man, and a son of a man. He was sent from God for the purpose of being God’s messenger, and that is what he is called in Malachi 3:1—“’Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,’ Says the Lord of hosts.” God gave him both his mission and his message, both his credentials and his instructions. We are not told that John performed any miracles or that he had visions and revelations. However, the strictness and purity of his life and doctrine, and the direct tendency of both to reform the world, and to revive the interest in God’s kingdom among men, were plain indications that he was sent from God.

 

7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.

 

Alternate Translation (TLB): God sent John the Baptist as a witness to the fact that Jesus Christ is the true Light.

 

 

This man came to testify to the fact that Jesus was truly the Light of the world, so that all people might put their trust in Him. He was not the Messiah, but rather a human individual. John was commissioned by God; he was not God Himself. John was a witness; to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. John’s purpose was to give testimony concerning Christ that would lead persons to a saving faith in the Light.

The Revelations that God had given to Israel was kept up through their religion; therefore, we read about the tabernacle of the testimony, the ark of the testimony, the law and the testimony: But now all divine revelation is to be turned into another channel; now all the testimony for Christ is also testimony for God.

God had not left himself without witness among the Gentiles, but the Redeemer had no testimonies given for him among them. “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).

 There was a profound silence for 400 years, in the interval between Malachi and John the Baptist, between the Old and New testaments. There was no revelation from God until John the Baptist came to be a witness for Christ. Now notice two things concerning his testimony:

1.      The substance of his testimony: He came to bear witness to the light. Light is a thing which witnesses for itself, and carries its own evidence along with it; but to those who shut their eyes against the light it is necessary that there are those that will bear witness to it. Christ’s light does not need man’s testimony, but the world’s darkness does. John was like the night watchman that goes around the city, proclaiming the approach of the morning light to those that have closed their eyes in sleep. He was sent from God to tell the world that the long-looked-for Messiah was now here, and that he would be a light to enlighten the Gentiles and the glory of his people Israel.

2.      The purpose of his testimony: That all men through him might believe; not in him, but in Christ, whose way he was sent to prepare. He taught men to look through him, and pass through him, to Christ, through the doctrine of repentance for sin to that of faith in Christ. He prepared men for the reception of Christ and his gospel, enabling them to see and sense sin. The Holy Spirit would use His preaching of Christ to open the people’s eyes so they might be ready to receive those beams of divine light, which, in the person and doctrine of the Messiah, were now ready to shine in their faces. If they would only receive this witness of a man, they would soon find that [12]the witness of God was greater.

Notice, it was God’s plan that all men would have the opportunity to come to faith in Christ, and He would not exclude anyone from the beneficial influences of His ministry that did not exclude themselves, as multitudes did, who rejected the counsel of God and His Messiah.

 

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

 

Alternate Translation (NCV): John was not the Light, but he came to tell people the truth about the Light.

 

John was not that Light. The ministry of John the Baptist is similar to the ministry of Christians today. We are to give a personal witness and testimony concerning the Light, so that others might believe.

If John had tried to attract attention to himself, he would have been unfaithful to his appointed task. He pointed men to Jesus and not to himself.

We are cautioned here not to mistake him for the light, because he only came to bear witness to it: He was not that light that was expected and promised, but he was sent to bear witness of that great and ruling light. He was a star, like the one that guided the wise men to Christ. There were those who were satisfied with John’s baptism, and looked no further, like those Ephesians in [13]Acts 19:3 did. To rectify this mistake, the apostle speaks very honorably of John the Baptist, and yet he shows that he must give higher status to Christ. He was great as the prophet of the Highest, but not the Highest himself. Note, We must be wary of over-valuing ministers, as well as under-valuing them; they are not our lords, and they do not have dominion over our faith. We must not yield ourselves to their way of life, for they are not that light; but we must receive their testimony; for they are sent to bear witness of that light; so then let us esteem them for their office, if for no other reason. If John had pretended to be that light, he would not have been a faithful witness of that light. Those who usurp the honor that belongs to Christ only, forfeit the honor of being the servants of Christ; yet John was very serviceable as a witness to the light, though he was not that light.

 

9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Alternate Translation (RSV): The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.

 

Christ is the true, or genuine, or real Light; the one who gives to every man the light of reason and conscience. The result of this revelation, according to the next verse, was that the world did not recognize him. The world rejected Him.

Other persons down through the ages have claimed to be guides and saviors, but the One to whom John witnessed was the genuine Light, the best and the truest Light. Another translation of this verse is, The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” In other words, the expression coming into the world may describe the true Light rather than every man. It was by the coming of the true Light ... into the world that every man was given light. This does not mean that every man has received some inward knowledge concerning Christ. Neither does it mean that all men have heard about the Lord Jesus at one time or another. Rather, it means that the Light shines on all people, without regard to nationality, race, or color. It also means that by shining on all men, the Lord Jesus has revealed men in their true character. By His coming into the world as the perfect Man, He has shown how imperfect other men are. When a room is in darkness, you do not see the dust on the furniture. But when the light goes on, the room is seen as it actually is. In that same sense, the shining of the true Light reveals man as he actually is.

But how does Christ enlighten every man that comes into the world?

1.      By his creating power, he enlightens every man with the light of reason; that life which is the light of men is from him; all the discoveries and directions of reason, all the comfort it gives us, and all the beauty it reveals to us, are from Christ.

2.      By the publication of his gospel to all nations, he does in effect enlighten every man. John Baptist was a light, but he enlightened only Jerusalem and Judea, and the region round about Jordan, like a candle that enlightens one room; but Christ is the true light, for he is a light to enlighten the Gentiles. His everlasting gospel is to be preached to every nation and language, [14]Rev. 14:6. Like the sun which enlightens every man that will open his eyes, and receive its light [15](Ps. 19:6), to which the preaching of the gospel is compared. [16]See Rom. 10:18. Divine revelation is not now to be confined, as it had been, to one people, but to be diffused to all people, [17]Mt. 5:15.

3.      By the operation of his Spirit and grace, he enlightens all those that are enlightened to salvation; and those that are not enlightened by him perish in darkness. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is said to be in the face of Jesus Christ, and is compared with that light which was at the beginning commanded to shine out of darkness, and which enlightens every man that comes into the world. Whatever light any man has, he is indebted to Christ for it, whether it is natural or supernatural.


10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.


Alternate Translation (TLB): But although he made the world, the world didn’t recognize him when he came.

 

He was in the world. He was in the world, before his incarnation, maintaining all things; but this speaks of his being in the world when he took our nature upon himself, and lived among us [18](see16:28). The Son of God was here in this lower world to bring Light where there was only darkness. Can you imagine that holy thing in this sinful polluted world? He left a world of bliss and glory, and was here in this dismal, miserable world. He undertook the task of reconciling the world to God, and therefore He was in the world, to resolve that matter. He worked here to satisfy God’s justice for the world, and to show God’s love for the world. He was in the world, but not of the world. The greatest honor ever paid to this world, was that the Son of God was once in the world.

And the world was made through Him. Christ had a good reason to expect an affectionate and respectful welcome to this world, because the world was made by him. Therefore, he came to save a lost world because it was a world of his own making. Why shouldn’t He come himself to revive the light that He originally kindled, to restore the life He once instilled, and to renew the image that was originally like His own? The world was made by him, and therefore ought to honor Him.

And the world did not know Him. What a cold reception he met with. The great Maker, Ruler, and Redeemer of the world were in it, and few or none of the inhabitants of the world were aware of it. The dog knows his owner, but the world did not. They did not attempt to make him welcome, because they did not know him; and they did not know him because he did not make himself known in the way that they expected—in external glory and majesty. Instead of recognizing Him as the Creator, men thought that He was just another man like themselves, but when he comes the second time it will be as a Judge—the world will know him then.

 

11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

 

Alternate Translation (RSV): He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.

 

He was not trespassing on someone else’s property. Rather, He was living on a planet, which He Himself had made, but His own (people) did not receive Him. In a general sense, this might refer to all mankind, and it is true that most of mankind rejected Him. But in a special sense, the Jewish nation was His chosen, earthly people. When He came into the world, He presented Himself to the Jews as their Messiah, but they would not receive Him.

He came to His own. He came not only to the world, which was his own, but to the people of Israel, that were particularly his own above all people. He came to them first, and He lived among them. The Jews were at this time a callous, despicable people; yet, in remembrance of the ancient covenant, bad as they were, and poor as they were, Christ was not ashamed to look upon them as his own. The Jews were his, like a man’s house, and lands, and goods are his, and like a man’s wife and children are his own, which he loves and enjoys. He came to his own, to seek and save them, because they were his own. He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, for he was the owner of those sheep.

And His own did not receive Him. They generally rejected him. He had reason to expect that those who were his own should have attempted to make him welcome, considering how greatly they were obligated to him, for the opportunities they were given of coming to the knowledge of him. They had the oracles of God, which told them beforehand, when, and where to expect him, and what tribe and family he would come from. He came among them, and introduced Himself with signs and wonders, and therefore they cannot say as the world could, that they knew him not. However, his own, although they could not keep from knowing about Him, received him not. They did not receive his doctrine or welcome him as the Messiah, but instead they hardened themselves against him. The chief priests, that were especially his own (for the Levites were God’s tribe), were ringleaders in the hatred of him. Now this was unwarranted, because they were his own, and therefore he could have commanded their respect; and they were very unkind and ungrateful, because he came to them, to seek and save them, and so to invite their respect. Note, many who say they are Christ’s, do not receive him, because they will not part with their sins, or have him to reign over them.


12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

 

Alternate Translation (TLB): Even in his own land and among his own people, the Jews, he was not accepted. Only a few would welcome and receive him. But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them.

 

There was a remnant that accepted him, and was faithful to him. Though his own received him not, yet there were those that did receive Him. While the bulk of that nation perished in unbelief, there were many of them that did submit to Christ, including many more that were not of that fold (Gentiles).

Now there are two observations to be made here:

1.      The true Christian’s description; and that is, that he receives Christ, and believes on his name; the latter explains the former. Note, first, to be a Christian means to believe on Christ’s name; it means to subscribe to the gospel and accept the [19]gospel proposal, concerning him. His name is the Word of God; the King of kings, the Lord our righteousness; Jesus our Savior. Now to believe on his name means to acknowledge that he is what these great names reveal him to be. Secondly, Believing in Christ’s name, means receiving him as a gift from God. We must receive his doctrine as true and good, receive his law as just and holy; receive his offers as kind and beneficial; and we must receive his grace and his love, and make them the governing principles of our love and actions.

2.      The true Christian’s dignity and privilege are twofold:—First, The privilege of adoption, which makes them into one of God’s children: to them He gave the right to become children of God. Previously, the adoption pertained to the Jews only (Israel is my son, my first-born); but now, by faith in Christ, Gentiles are the children of God” (Gal. 3:26). The King James Version Bible translates right as power—no man can take this power for himself, but any man can receive it by the authority of the gospel. All of His saints have this power. It is the unspeakable privilege of all Christians that they have become the children of God. They were by nature children of wrath, children of this world. God calls them his children, they call him Father, and they are entitled to all the privileges of children. God is His Father and ours also. It is by virtue of our union with Christ, that we stand related to God as a Father. It was through Christ that we were predestinated to the adoption. We have received from him both the character and the Spirit of adoption, and he is the first-born among many brethren. The Son of God became a Son of man, so that the sons and daughters of men might become the sons and daughters of God Almighty.

This verse tells us clearly, how we can become children of God. It is not by good works, not by church membership, not by doing one’s best—but by receiving Him, by believing in His Name.

There are two actions described in verse 12: the action of man and the action of God. Man’s action is to receive and to believe. To receive means to accept for one’s self, and to believe means to place one’s trust in. Both of these concepts are a part of salvation. God’s action is to give them the power to become the sons of God. The word power (Gr exousia) means the right or authority to become the sons of God.


13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.


Alternate Translation (NLT): They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God.

 

To become a child in a physical sense, one must be born. But, to become a child of God, one must have a second birth. This is known as the new birth, or conversion, or being saved. This verse tells us three ways by which the new birth does not take place, and the one way by which it does.

First, the three ways by which we are not born again.

  1. Not of blood. This means that a person does not become a Christian through having Christian parents. Salvation is not passed down from parent to child through the blood stream.

  2. Not by the will of the flesh. In other words, a person does not have the power in his own body to produce the new birth. Although he must be willing in order to be saved, his own will is not enough to save him.

  3. Not of the will of man. No other man can save a person. A preacher, for instance, may be very anxious to see a certain person born again, but he does not have the power to produce this marvelous birth. How, then, does this birth take place? The answer is found in the words but of God. This means simply that the power to produce the new birth does not rest with anything or anyone but God.

Secondly, There is only one way in which a person can be saved, and that is, through the process of regeneration (being born again). All the children of God are born again; all that are adopted are regenerated.

Whenever God saves a person, he creates within that person the nature and disposition of a child.


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.


Alternate Translation (NLT): And Christ became a human being, lived here on earth among us, and was full of loving forgiveness and truth. And some of us have seen his glory—the glory of the only Son of the heavenly Father!

 

And the Word became flesh. The Word became flesh when Jesus was born as a Baby in the manger at Bethlehem. He had always existed as the Son of God with the Father in heaven, but now, He chose to come into the world in a human body. To His divine nature, He added a perfect human nature. As Paul later explained, this involved His “taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). As the incarnate God, His wholly divine and perfectly human natures are united forever—in one Person—“I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). Here the Lord Jesus added a further claim to equality with God: “I and My Father are one.” Christ and the Father are one in power. Jesus had just been speaking about the power that protects Christ’s sheep. Therefore, He added the explanation that His power is the same as the power of God the Father. Of course, the same is true of all the other attributes of Deity. The Lord Jesus Christ is God in the fullest sense and is equal with the Father in every way.

The term flesh speaks of man contaminated with sin, and Christ, though he was perfectly holy and harmless, appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3), and was made sin for us (2 C. 5:21). Do you wonder about this, that the eternal Word should be made flesh, when flesh has come to have such a bad name; that he who made all things should himself be made flesh, one of the most despicable things? It makes the Redeemer’s love even more wonderful, to know, that to redeem and save us, he was made flesh. The Word of the Lord, who was made flesh, endures forever; but when He was made flesh, he did not cease to be the Word of God.

And dwelt among us. He lived with us for a long time, in order to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings. God actually came to this earth and lived here as a Man among men. The word dwelt means “tabernacled” or “pitched His tent.” His body was the tent in which He lived among men for thirty-three years. “Dwelt,” refers to the fact that God dwelt temporarily among His people as the perfect God-Man, Jesus Christ; just as God manifested His presence to His people in the tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex. 24:16).

The Word could have been made flesh, and dwelt among the angels; but having taken a body of the same substance as ours, he came, and resided in the same world with us. He dwelt among us, who were like worms of the earth. He did not need us, and He got nothing from us, for we were corrupt and depraved, He dwelt among the Jews, so that the scripture might be fulfilled—He shall dwell in the tents of Shem,” (Gen. 9:27). Now, see how He dwelt among us:

1.      He dwelt here in very poor circumstances. He did not dwell among us in a palace, but like shepherds in a tent; for we are told that He had nowhere to lay his head, and was always on the move.

2.      His state, while He was here, was a military state. Soldiers dwell in tents. He had long since proclaimed war with the seed of the serpent, and now he takes the field in person, sets up his standard, and pitches his tent, to prosecute this war.

3.      His stay among us was not to be perpetual. He dwelt here like in a tent, not as if He had a home. The patriarchs, by dwelling in tabernacles, confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth, and sought the better country, and so did Christ, leaving us an example—Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. (Heb. 13:13-14). The application for the early readers of the Epistle was this: they should make a clean break with Judaism. Once for all they should turn their backs on the temple sacrifices and appropriate the finished work of Christ as their sufficient sacrifice. The application for us is similar: the camp today is the entire religious system that teaches salvation by works, by character, by ritual, or by ordinances. It is the modern church system with its humanly ordained priesthood, its material aids to worship, and its ceremonial trappings. It is corrupt Christendom, a church without Christ. The Lord Jesus is outside and we should go forth to Him, ... bearing His reproach. Jerusalem was dear to the hearts of those who served at the temple. It was the geographic center of their “camp.” The Christian has no such city on earth; his heart is set on the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, where the Lamb is all the glory.

4.      In olden times, God dwelt in the tabernacle of Moses; He was the Shekinah that appeared between the cherubim, but now he dwells within us as the Holy Spirit, the true Shekinah, and the symbol of God’s peculiar presence.

And we beheld His glory. In the Bible, “glory” often means the bright, shining light, which was seen when God was present. It also means the perfection and excellence of God. When the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He veiled His glory in a body of flesh. But there were two ways in which His glory was revealed. First, there was His moral glory. By this, I mean the radiance of His perfect life and character. There was no flaw or blemish in Him. He was perfect in all His ways. Every virtue could be found in His life. Secondly, there was the visible outshining of His glory, which took place on the Mount of Transfiguration [20](Mt. 17:1, 2). At that time, Peter, James, and John saw His face shining like the sun, and His garments gleaming like bright light. These three disciples were given a preview of the splendor, which the Lord Jesus will have when He comes back to the earth and reigns for a thousand years.

When John said, “We beheld His glory,” he was referring primarily, to the moral glory of the Lord Jesus. He and the other disciples beheld the wonder of an absolutely perfect life lived on this earth. But it is likely that John also included the incident on the Mount of Transfiguration as well.

Those that were most intimate with him saw the most of his glory. It was the same with his doctrine; the disciples knew the mysteries of it, while others had heard it under the veil of parables. It was also like that with his person, they saw the glory of his divinity, while others saw only the veil of his human nature. He manifested himself to them, and not unto the world. These witnesses were a fitting number, twelve of them, a whole jury of witnesses, and men with integrity. They saw it all. Their evidence was not second hand, for they were eyewitnesses of those events on which they built their testimony that he was the Son of the living God. The apostle John said, What we declare unto you of the Word of life is what we have seen with our eyes, and what we have looked upon” (1 Jn. 1:1).

The glory as of the only begotten of the Father. The glory, which the disciples saw, indicated to them that He was truly the Son of God. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, that is, Christ is God’s unique Son. God did not have any other Son like Him. In one sense, all true believers are sons of God. However, Jesus is the Son of God—in a class all by Himself. As the Son of God, He is equal to God. Angels are sons of God, but he never said to any of them, This day have I begotten thee” (Heb. 1:5). His divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine; in his miracles, which extorted from many this acknowledgment, that he was the Son of God; it appeared in the purity and goodness of his conversations. God’s goodness is his glory, and he went about doing good.

Full of grace and truth. The Savior was full of grace and truth. On the one hand, full of undeserved kindness for others, He was also completely honest and upright, and He never excused sin or approved evil. To be completely gracious and at the same time righteous is something that only God can be. The Lord Jesus was completely qualified for his role as Mediator; for he was full of grace and truth, the two great things that fallen man stands in need of; and this proved him to be the Son of God as much as the divine power and majesty that appeared in him. First, He has a fullness of grace and truth for himself; he had the Spirit without measure. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, and therefore qualified to intercede for us. And, He was full of truth; He knew what things he was to reveal, and therefore, He was fit to instruct us. He was full of knowledge and compassion. Secondly, He has a fullness of grace and truth for us. He received so that he might give, and God was well pleased with him. Oh, that he might be well pleased with us, in him.


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.’ ”


Alternate Translation (NLT): John pointed him out to the people, telling the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming who is greater by far than I am,—for he existed long before I did!’

 

The subject here is the witness of John the Baptist. Although Jesus comes after John, he was before him; He existed in eternity. He had said in verse 8 that John came for a witness; now here he tells us that he did bear witness.

John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying. John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God. Before the Lord began His public ministry, John had been telling men about Him. When Jesus arrived on the scene, John said, in effect, “This is the One I have been describing to you.”

Note how he expressed his testimony: He cried, according to the prediction that he should be the voice of one crying. The Old Testament prophets cried aloud, to show people their sins; this New Testament prophet cried aloud, to show people their Savior. This reveals:

1.      That it was an open public testimony that he announce, so that all types of people might take notice of it.

2.      That he was enthusiastic in giving this testimony. He cried like one that was assured that it was the truth. He that had leaped for joy in his mother’s womb when Christ approached now declares with a similar joy his public appearance.

“This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me. He came with grace and truth, not law and judgment. He revealed the Father and gave the Holy Spirit to those who trusted Him. He is the Lamb of God who alone can take away sins. The blood of lambs covered the sins of the Jews, but the blood of Christ takes away the sins of the whole world.

Notice what his testimony was. He had said at the beginning of his ministry, when he had instructed them to expect one that would come after him, that he was His forerunner, and he was to prepare His way. Now, what he had said then, he now applies to Jesus whom he had recently baptized: This was the One of whom he spoke. He had given the preference to this Jesus. He said, He that comes after me, is preferred before me; he that succeeds me in preaching and making disciples is a more excellent person, on all accounts. Jesus Christ, who was to be called the Son of the Highest (Lu. 1:32), was preferred over John the Baptist, who was to be called only the prophet of the Highest (Lu. 1:76). John was a minister of the New Testament, but Christ was the Mediator of the New Testament. Although John was a great man, and had a great name, he gave the preference to Him to whom it belonged. Jesus was preferred before John. He was greater than John; He was worthy of more honor,

For He was before me. Jesus came after John as far as His birth and ministry were concerned. He was born six months after John and presented Himself to the people of Israel some time after John had been preaching and baptizing.

 

16 And of His fullness (richness) we have all received, and grace for grace.

Alternate Translation (GNB): Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.

 

All who believe on the Lord Jesus receive supplies of spiritual strength out of His fullness (richness). His fullness is so great that He can provide for all Christians in all countries and in all ages. The expression grace for grace probably means “grace upon grace” or “abundant grace.” Here grace means God’s gracious favor, which He showers on His beloved children.

And of His fullness we have all received. The 16th verse has an obvious connection with verse 14, where the incarnate Word was said to be full of grace and truth. Now here he makes this the matter, not only of our adoration, but of our thankfulness as well, because from that fullness of his we all have received a great deal. He received gifts for men (Ps. 68:18), that he might give gifts to men (Eph. 4:8). He was filled, that he might fill all in all (Eph. 1:23), and might fill our treasures (Prov. 8:21). He has a fountain of overflowing fullness: We all have received something from Him.  We have received the favor of discipleship, that is, grace. Note, all true believers receive from Christ’s fullness; the best and greatest saints cannot live without him, and the poorest and weakest saints may live by him. Let us see what it is that we have received.

 And grace for grace. We have received grace for grace. What we have received from Christ is all summed up in this one word, grace.  The blessing of grace is the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us. God’s good will works the good work, and then the good work qualifies us for further tokens of his good will. As the air receives light from the richness of the sun, so we receive grace from the richness of Christ.

The phrase grace for grace speaks of the freeness of this grace; it is grace for grace’ sake. We receive grace, not for our sakes, but only because it seemed good in God’s sight. Grace for grace signifies the abundance of grace—it is grace upon grace, one grace heaped upon another. It is a blessing poured out, so much that there shall not be room to receive it. We are to be gracious to others. The apostles received grace—To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8), that they might communicate it to others—As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4:10). Each believer has received a gift from the Lord, some special function to perform as a member of the Body of Christ (1 C. 12:4–11, 29–31; Rom. 12:6–8). These gifts are a stewardship from God. They are not to be used for selfish gain but for His glory and for the good of others. We are not meant to be the terminals of God’s gifts to us; His grace reaches us but should not end with us. We are intended to be channels through whom the blessing can flow to others. We are to be good stewards of the manifold grace of God. The grace of God here refers to the undeserved favor, which He offers to man. Manifold literally means multi-colored or variable. Phillips translates it “magnificently varied.” We are changed into the divine image, from glory to glory, from one degree of glorious grace to another, (2 C. 3:18). Grace for grace is grace in us answering to grace in him, like the impression upon the paper answers the ink-stamp, line for line. The grace we receive from Christ changes us into the same imageBut we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 C. 3:18), the image of the Son—For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren”  (Rom. 8:29).

                                                                                      
17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


Alternate Translation (TLB): For Moses gave us, only the Law with its rigid demands and merciless justice, while Jesus Christ brought us loving forgiveness as well.

 

Continuing the thoughts of verse 14, a sharp contrast is made between the Law of Moses and Jesus Christ (the OT period and the NT era). The law was given to Moses by God.  The Law had its place in revealing man’s condition. The apostle Paul said, “Therefore [21]the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24). However, the law did not provide grace and truth. Grace was to forgive and pardon the sinner and the truth (or the reality) was that which the sacrifices pointed to, which was Jesus Christ.

For the law was given through Moses. The law that was given through Moses was not a display of grace. It commanded men to obey and condemned them to death if they failed to do so. It told men what was right but did not give them the power to do it. It was given to show men that they were sinners, but it could not save them from their sins.

But grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. He did not come to judge the world but to save those who were unworthy, who could not save themselves, and who were His enemies. That is grace—heaven’s Best for earth’s worst.

Not only did grace come through Jesus Christ, but truth came by Him as well. He said of Himself, “I am ... the truth.” He was absolutely honest and faithful in all that He said and did. He did not show grace at the expense of truth. Although He loved sinners, He did not love their sins. He realized that the wages of sin is death. Therefore, He Himself died to pay the penalty of death that we deserved, in order that He might show undeserved kindness to us by saving our souls and giving us a home in heaven.

John had said (v. 14) that Christ was full of grace and truth, now here he says that we receive grace and truth from Him. This verse mentions two things concerning this grace:

  1. It is preferred over the Law of Moses: The Law was given through Moses, and it was a glorious discovery for the Jewish people, but the gospel of Christ is a much greater discovery than it is. The Law was terrifying, threatening, and contained penalties. The Law could not give life, but Jesus Christ did have the power to give life—For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Tit. 2:11).

  2. Truth has a connection to grace. The gospel holds the greatest truths, as well as the richest grace. The grace that the gospel offers is genuine, since it is grace and truth. It is also grace and truth with reference to the law that was given by Moses, for it is:

    1. The fulfillment of all the Old-Testament promises. In the Old Testament, we often find mercy and truth put together, that is, mercy according to the promise that God first gave to Abraham [22](See Lu. 1:72).

    2.  The substance of all the Old-Testament types and shadows. Grace was there in both the ordinances that were instituted for Israel and the advantages that were given to Israel; but they were only shadows of good things to come, even of the grace that is to be brought to us by the revelation of Jesus Christ. He is the true sacrificial lamb, the true scapegoat, the true manna. They had grace in the types of Christ; we have grace in the person of Christ, that is, grace and truth. The law was only made known by Moses. In a certain sense, grace and truth, as well as the ability to find them, is due to Jesus Christ. They were made by him, just as the world was; and by him, this grace and truth exist.


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.

 

Alternate Translation (TLB): No one has ever actually seen God, but, of course, his only Son has, for he is the companion of the Father and has told us all about him.

 

No one has seen God at any time. God is a Spirit and cannot be seen by man [23](I Tim 6:16).  He does not have a body. Although He did appear to men in the OT in visible form as an Angel or as a Man, these appearances did not reveal what God is really like. They were merely temporary appearances through which He chose to speak to His people.

No one has seen God at any time implies three things:

1.      That God has a spiritual nature. He is invisible to human eyes. Therefore, we need to live by faith, since we can see Him through the eye of faith—By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27).

2.      That the revelation, which God made of himself in the Old Testament, was very short and imperfect, in comparison with the revelation we have in Christ: No one has seen God at any time; that is, what was seen and known of God before the incarnation of Christ is nothing compared to what we know now.

3.      That none of the Old-Testament prophets were so well qualified to make known the mind and will of God as our Lord Jesus was, for none of them had seen God at any time. Moses beheld the likeness of the Lord according to Numbers 12:8, but was told that he could not see his face (Ex. 33:20). But this commends the Christian religion to us; the fact that it was founded by One that had seen God, and knew more of his mind than any one else ever did.

The only begotten Son. How fitting for Christ to see and know God, since He is totally qualified to do so. He alone was worthy to take the book, and to open the seals, (Rev. 5:9). He is, after all, the only-begotten Son; and who is more likely to know the Father than the Son? [24](see Mt. 11:27). He has the same nature as the Father, so that he who hath seen him hath seen the Father (Jn.14:9). The servant is not supposed to know what his Lord (the Son) knows. Things pass between Father and Son that no one else is aware of.

The Lord Jesus is God’s only begotten Son;He is God’s unique Son; there is no other son like Him. He always occupies a place of special nearness to God the Father.

Who is in the bosom of the Father. He (Christ) is in the bosom of the Father. He had lain in his bosom from eternity. When he was here on earth, as God, he was in the bosom of the Father, and also when He returned to heaven. The bosom of the Father is:

1.      A place of special love. All God’s saints are in his hand, but his Son was in his bosom. He is one in nature and essence, and therefore He is one in love.

2.      A place of secret counsels. There was a mutual consciousness, between the Father and Son, for who can know God’s mind except His Son? Christ was privy to the bosom-counsels of the Father. The prophets sat down at his feet as scholars; Christ lay in his bosom as a friend.

Even when He was here on earth, Jesus was still in the bosom of the Father. He was one with God and equal with God.

Another thing we receive from Christ is a clear revelation of God to us: He has declared God to us, whom no man hath seen at any time. This was the grace and truth, which came by Christ, the knowledge of God and an acquaintance with Him.

Our Lord Jesus has fully revealed to men what God is like. When men saw Jesus, they saw God. They heard God speak. They felt God’s love and tenderness. God’s thoughts and attitudes toward humanity have been fully declared by Christ.

 

 

Closing Comments

 

 

God chose Israel and they were His covenant people.  They had the Scriptures that told of the birth of the Messiah and of His mission.  However, when He came they did not accept Him.  Some rejected Him, because they wanted a deliverer from the rule of the Romans, not a Savior. Some were to busy with family and business, so they ignored Him.  The religious leaders were more interested in the insignificant matters of the law than receiving fulfilled prophecy.  However, those that did believe in Him became Children of God. 

Once Jesus began His ministry, the temple sacrifices were of no value and men could no longer be saved through keeping the law.  However, no one was ever saved by keeping the law, because no one ever kept it.  They could not keep it.

After Jesus died on the cross, it became sin to sacrifice animals.  All mankind, those that lived before Jesus and those that lived after Jesus, are saved in the same way; by faith in Jesus.  I cannot explain how Jesus death on a cross, paid my debt of sin, but I accept it, because the Bible says that is the way it is.  If you will believe in Him, you will be saved.


 


[1] The evangelist, in the close of his discourse (v. 18), plainly tells us why he calls Christ the Word—because he is the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and has declared him.[1]

[2] (Gen 1:1). In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[2]

[3] name for Christ (Gr logos) is found only four places in the New Testament: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1).  “…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life” (1 Jn. 1:14). “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God” (Rev 19:13). [3]

[4] (Ps. 90:2) “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” From all eternity and to all eternity, He is God, “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” [4]

[5] (Prov. 8:23) I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.” Established,” means anointed or appointed. Long before creation took place, He was appointed to be the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world. [5]

 

[6] (Heb. 1:3) “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” He is the outshining of God’s glory, that is, all the perfections that are found in God the Father are found in Him also. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus is the exact image of God’s essential being. This cannot, of course, refer to physical likeness because God is, in essence, a Spirit. It means that in every conceivable way Christ exactly represents the Father. No closer resemblance could be possible. The Son, being God, reveals to man by His words and ways exactly what God is like. And He upholds the universe by the word of His power. Originally, He spoke to bring the worlds into being (Heb. 11:3). Still He speaks and His powerful word sustains life, holds matter together, and maintains the universe in proper order. It is by Him that all things hold together (Col. 1:17). Here is a simple explanation of a profound scientific problem. Scientists grapple to discover what holds molecules together. We learn here that Jesus Christ is the great Sustainer, and He does it by His powerful word. But the next glory of our Savior is the most amazing of all—when He had by Himself purged our sins. Finally, we have His exaltation as the enthroned Lord: He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. The right hand of the Majesty on high is the position of honor and privilege (Heb. 1:13). [6]

[7] (1 Pet. 3:18)For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” [7]

 

[8] (Rom. 1:19-20) Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Are the heathen who have never heard the gospel lost?” Paul shows that they are, not because of knowledge they do not have, but because of the light, which they do have, yet refuse! Those things which may be known of God in creation have been revealed to them. God has not left them without a revelation of Himself.

Ever since the creation of the world, two invisible characteristics of God have been on display for all to see: His eternal power and His divinity or Godhead. The word Paul uses here means divinity or godhood. It suggests the character of God rather than His essential being, His glorious attributes rather than His inherent deity. His deity is assumed.

The argument here is clear: Creation demands a Creator. Design demands a Designer. By looking up at the sun, moon, and stars, anyone can know there is a God.

The answer to the question “What about the heathen?” is this: they are without excuse. God has revealed Himself to them in creation, but they have not responded to this revelation. Therefore, people are not condemned for rejecting a Savior they have never heard of, but for being unfaithful to what they could know about God. [8]

[9] For example, the Old Testament has many who are types of Christ—Moses is one.

[10] The darkness referred to here is the unbelief and sin of mankind. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3:19).[10] Jesus is the light who came into the world. He was the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. He died for the sins of the entire world. But, do men love Him for this? No—they resent Him. They prefer their sins to having Jesus as Savior, and so they reject Him. Just as some creeping things scurry away from the light, so wicked men flee from the presence of Christ. [10]

[11]  (Rom. 1:21-28) “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.” Although they knew God by His works, they did not glorify Him for who He is or thank Him for all He has done. Rather, they gave themselves over to futile philosophies and speculations about other gods, and as a result lost the capacity to see and think clearly. “Light rejected is light denied.” Those who don’t want to see lose the capacity to see Because of men’s refusal to retain God in their knowledge, either as Creator, Sustainer, or Deliverer, God gave them over to a debased mind to commit a catalog of other forms of wickedness. This verse gives deep insight into why evolution has such enormous appeal for natural men. The reason lies not in their intellects but in their wills. They do not want to retain God in their knowledge. It is not that the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming that they are compelled to accept it; rather, it is because they want some explanation for origins that will eliminate God completely. They know that if there is a God, then they are morally responsible to Him.[11]

 

 

[12] (1 Jn. 5:9) “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.” Now John comes in with a telling argument: “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.” In everyday life, we constantly accept the word of our fellow men. If we did not, business would be at a standstill and social life would be impossible. We accept the testimony of men who may be mistaken and who may be deceivers. Now if we do this in everyday life, how much more should we trust the word of God, who cannot fail and cannot lie? It is most unreasonable not to believe God. His witness is absolutely credible.

 

[13] (Acts 19:3) And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” When the apostle raised the question of baptism, he found out that these men knew only about John’s baptism. In other words, the extent of their knowledge was that the Messiah was at hand, and they had signified their repentance by baptism as a necessary preparation for receiving Him as King. They did not know that Christ had died, had been buried, and had risen from the dead and ascended back to heaven, and that He had sent the Holy Spirit.[13]

 

 

[14] (Rev. 14:6) “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.”[14]

[15] (Ps. 19:6)Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.” There is nothing hidden from the heat of the sun. It enjoys universal exposure, pervading every remote corner and crevice of the world.[15]

[16] (Rom. 10:18)But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” What then has been the problem? Haven’t both Jews and Gentiles heard the gospel preached? Yes. Paul borrows the words of Psalm 19:4 to show that they have. He says, Yes, indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”  But the surprising thing is that these words from Psalm 19 are not speaking of the gospel. Rather, they describe the universal witness of the sun, moon, and stars to the glory of God. But as we said, Paul borrows them and says, in effect, that they are equally true of the worldwide proclamation of the gospel in his own day. By inspiration of the Spirit of God, the apostle often takes an OT passage and applies it in quite a different way. The same Spirit who originally gave the words surely has the right to reapply them later on.[16]

17 (Mt. 5:15) “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lamp stand so that it will give light to all who are in the house. He did not intend that we hoard the light of His teaching for ourselves, but that we share it with others. We should let our light so shine that as people see our good works; they will glorify our Father in heaven. 17

 

 

 

 

[18] (Jn. 16:28) “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world…”  Here the Lord repeated His claim to equality with God the Father. He did not say, “I came forth from God” as if He were just a Prophet sent by God, but “I came forth from the Father.” This means He is the eternal Son of the eternal Father, equal with God the Father. He came into the world as One who had lived elsewhere before His Coming. [18]

 

[19] (Jn. 1:12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. He offers Himself to all mankind again and to those who receive Him, He gives the right or authority to become children of God. This verse tells us clearly, how we can become children of God. It is not by good works, not by church membership, not by doing one’s best—but by receiving Him, by believing in His Name.[19]

 

[20] (Mt. 17:1-2) Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain, somewhere in Galilee. These three, who seem to have occupied a place of special nearness to the Savior, were privileged to see Him transfigured. Up to now, His glory had been veiled in a body of flesh. But now His face and clothes became radiant like the sun and dazzling bright, a visible manifestation of His deity, just as the glory cloud or Shekinah in the OTsymbolized the presence of God. The scene was a preview of what the Lord Jesus will be like when He comes back to set up His kingdom. He will no longer appear as the sacrificial Lamb but as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. All who see Him will recognize Him immediately as God the Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

[20]

 

[21] The law is pictured as a guardian and guide of children, or as a tutor. This emphasizes the thought of teaching; the law taught lessons concerning the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and the need for atonement. Here the word is used to describe one who exercises discipline and general supervision over minors, or the immature.

The law was a Jewish guardian until the coming of Christ. There is a sense in which the law preserved the people of Israel as a distinct nation by regulations concerning marriage, property, foods, etc. When “the faith” came, it was first announced to this nation that had been so miraculously kept by God as His chosen people through the centuries had. Justification by faith was promised on the basis of the finished work of Christ, the Redeemer.[21]

[22] (Lu. 1:72) To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant.” The Lord had made an unconditional covenant of salvation with Abraham. This promise was fulfilled by the coming of Abraham’s seed, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.[22]

[23] (I Tim 6:16). Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.” At the appearing of the Lord Jesus, men will also realize that it is God alone who has immortality or deathlessness. This means that He is the only One who has it inherently. Angels have had immortality conferred upon them, and at the resurrection, believers will receive bodies that are immortal (1 Cor. 15:53,1 Cor. 15:54), but God has immortality in Himself.

God is next spoken of as dwelling in unapproachable light. This speaks of the bright, shining glory, which surrounds the throne of God. Man in his natural condition would be vaporized by this splendor. Only those who are accepted in the Beloved One and complete in Christ can ever approach God without being destroyed.

In His essential being, no man has seen God or can see Him. In the OT, men saw appearances of God, known as theophanies. In the NT, God has perfectly revealed Himself in the Person of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, it is still true that God is invisible to mortal eyes.

To this One, honor and everlasting power are due.[23]

 

[24] (Mt. 11:27). “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”  Although we can know Him, love Him, and trust Him, there is a sense in which only the Father can truly understand Him.

But the high mysteries of Thy Name

The creature’s grasp transcend;

The Father only (glorious claim!)

The Son can comprehend.

Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,

That every knee to Thee should bow!

 

—Josiah Conder

Ultimately, only God is great enough to understand God. Man cannot know Him by his own strength or intellect. But the Lord Jesus can and does reveal the Father to those whom He chooses. Whoever comes to know the Son comes to know the Father also (John 14:7).

 

Not even in eternity will our finite minds be able to fully appreciate the greatness of God or understand the mystery of the Incarnation. When we read that the Father is revealed only to those whom the Son chooses, we might be tempted to think of an arbitrary selection of a favored few. The following verse guards against such an interpretation. The Lord Jesus issues a universal invitation to all who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him for rest. In other words, the ones to whom He chooses to reveal the Father are those who trust Him as Lord and Savior. As we examine this invitation of infinite tenderness, let us remember that it was issued after the blatant rejection of Jesus by the favored cities of Galilee. Man’s hate and obstinacy could not extinguish His love and grace.

 

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