James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.John 1:1-2:12
DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST
This portion of the Gospel is chosen as a lesson because it gives an opportunity at one view to consider the Deity of Jesus Christ as declared in the preface (John 1:1-14) as witnessed to by the testimony of the Baptist (John 1:15-34), and demonstrated in the first visit to Judea after the baptism (John 1:35 to John 2:12).
PREFACE (John 1:1-14)
Observe the earliest illustration of John’s presentation of Jesus as the Son of God. Nothing corresponding is found in the synoptics. John asserts the Deity of Jesus, showing Him to be the Creator of all things and the source of all life (John 1:1-5). He emphasizes the point by comparing Him with John the Baptist (John 1:6-9). He is careful, too, to proclaim Jesus as the source of the renewed spiritual life of man, the eternal life which is coincident with salvation (John 1:10-13). And yet side by side with these testimonies he demonstrates His perfect humanity (John 1:14).
“Word” is the Greek logos which means (1) a thought or concept, and (2) the expression or utterance of that thought. And thus as a designation of Christ it is peculiarly applicable because in Him are embodied all the treasures of the Divine Wisdom or the collective thought of God (1 Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 2:2-3), and also because from all eternity, but especially in His incarnation, is He the utterance or expression of the Person or “thought” of God (John 1:3-5; John 1:9; John 1:14-18; John 14:9-11; Colossians 2:9).
THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST (John 1:15-34)
Every student will be impressed with the originality of this Gospel concerning the testimony of John the Baptist. Nothing corresponding is found in the synoptics. Observe his testimony to the pre-existence and deity of Jesus Christ (John 1:15-18), and to the sacrificial nature of His death (John 1:29). It was questions of this character which arose for settlement in the early church and which John the evangelist was retained on the earth to answer. Was Jesus God as well as man? Was His death a sacrifice for human guilt? How clearly the Baptist’s witness bears upon these points.
THE FIRST VISIT TO JUDEA (John 1:35 to John 2:12)
It is a peculiarity of the fourth Gospel that it dwells upon the ministry of Jesus in Judea while the others mention more especially His ministry in Galilee. In Matthew, after the narrative of the baptism, there is scarcely any allusion to Jesus visiting Judea until the nineteenth chapters, which was His last visit. A convenient division of the present Gospel will be along the line of these different visits.
The first includes the baptism, overlapping what we described as the testimony of John, and might be said to begin at John 1:29 instead of John 1:35. Besides the baptism it includes the call of the first four disciples (John 1:35-51), a call preliminary to the more formal call in the other gospels. In connection with the call of Nathaniel, Christ’s reference to the prophetic symbolism in Jacob’s dream of the ladder points to the Millennial age, when visible communication may be carried on between earth and Heaven.
This first visit to Judea ended with his return to Capernaum in Galilee, on which journey was wrought the creation of wine out of water at the wedding feast. The nature of this miracle and the bearing of its record upon the peculiar position of John’s Gospel has been alluded to in “Introductory.”
1. Why have these chapters been chosen as a lesson?
2. How is the Deity of Christ brought out in the preface?
3. What does “Word” mean, and how does it show the deity of Christ?
4. Have you examined the texts in Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians?
5. How does John the Baptist witness to the Deity of Christ?
6. On what feature of Christ’s ministry does this Gospel dwell?
7. What events are included in the first visit to Judea?
8. What kind of a work was the turning of water into wine?