John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Sermons
I am a VoiceVariousJohn 1:1
Speaking VoiceA. W. TozerJohn 1:1
That Which was from the BeginningHugh BinningJohn 1:1
The Divine JesusS. D. GordonJohn 1:1
The Son of ThunderCharles KingsleyJohn 1:1
The Word in Eternity, in the World, and in the FleshAlexander MaclarenJohn 1:1
Which We have Heard and SeenHugh BinningJohn 1:1
A Notable ConversionJ. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.John 1:1-5
Christ and GodD. Thomas, D. D.John 1:1-5
Christ is GodJohn 1:1-5
Christ the True GodJohn 1:1-5
Christ the Word of GodJ. Cumming, D. D.John 1:1-5
Controversy About ChristBp.Ryle.John 1:1-5
God not SolitaryJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:1-5
On BooksCharles Kingsley, M. A.John 1:1-5
Practical ReflectionsBp. Ryle.John 1:1-5
The Deity of Christ an Impossible InventionCanon Liddon.John 1:1-5
The Divine Father and SonArrowsmith.John 1:1-5
The Divinity of Christ Revealed in the Gospel of JohnDr. Pentecost.John 1:1-5
The Heavenly Analogy of the Connection of Speech with ReasonDean Goulburn.John 1:1-5
The Nature of Christ Perfectly Similar and Equal to that of the Eternal FatherJ. F. Denham.John 1:1-5
The Origin of the Term Logos, or WordT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 1:1-5
The Relation of This Revelation with that of Genesis 1J. Culross, D. D.John 1:1-5
The Resemblance Between the Written and the Personal WordDean Goulburn.John 1:1-5
The Term Word Applicable to ChristG. Steward.John 1:1-5
The WordJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:1-5
The WordW. Denton, M. A., Beaux Amis.John 1:1-5
The Word Made FleshW. Perkins.John 1:1-5
The Word of Scripture Concerning the BeginningLange., Lange.John 1:1-5
What is Gained by Defending the Eternal Pre-Existence of Jesus ChristJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:1-5
The language of the prophet in this passage is obviously figurative. In poetical terms, the boldness and beauty of which are not exceeded by the graceful and imaginative writers of classical antiquity, Joel depicts the reign of peace, plenty, and prosperity. Literally these words have not been, and will not be, fulfilled. To some they speak of a restoration of Israel, yet in the future, of a period when all the delights that a nation can enjoy shall be secured in abundance to the descendants of Abraham. It seems a more sober and more profitable interpretation to read in these words a prediction of the spiritual prosperity of God's people, whether to be enjoyed upon this earth or in the new heavens and the new earth.

I. THE MOUNTAINS DROPPING WINE SYMBOLIZE THE SPIRITUAL JOYS OF CHRIST'S CHURCH. The Scriptures speak of wine as "making glad the heart of man." The "new wine" of the gospel is for the enjoyment of the elect. The wine of the kingdom is of celestial vintage; they who partake of it are "filled with the Spirit." The joy of the new covenant, the joy of the Lord, is the portion of the rescued, emancipated, and consecrated Israel.

II. THE HILLS FLOWING WITH MILK SYMBOLIZE THE SPIRITUAL NUTRIMENT OF CHRIST'S CHURCH. We are taught by the apostle to "desire the sincere milk of the Word, that we may grow thereby." Even the babes in Christ can partake of this nourishing spiritual diet; but the strong men do not disdain the food. As Canaan was "a land flowing with milk and honey," so the Church of the blessed Saviour abounds with all that can enrich and nourish and bless the people of God. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more."

III. THE RIVERS FLOWING WITH WATERS SYMBOLIZE THE REVIVAL AND REFRESHMENT OF CHRIST'S CHURCH, Several of the prophets, expatiating (as they loved to do) upon the glorious prospect afforded them by inspiration of the future of the Church, describe one element of that happy future by the figure of a river flowing from its source in the Lord's house at Jerusalem, and fertilizing the soil until it should enter the Dead Sea or the Mediterranean. And the Apostle John beheld the river of the water of life, flowing out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. How exact is the correspondence between the prediction and the reality! It was in Jerusalem that Jesus was condemned, and hard by that he suffered; and his cross was the source of a river of spiritual blessing to mankind. Wherever his Spirit penetrates, there life is revived, souls are saved, society is purified, weariness is refreshed. Not earth only, but heaven, is fertilized and cheered by the water which Christ gives in a sweet, unceasing stream. - T.







In the beginning was the Word.
I. WOULD WE KNOW THE EXCEEDING SINFULNESS OF SIN? Let us read these verses. If no one less than the Eternal God, the Creator and Preserver of all things, could take away the sin of the world, sin must be a far more abominable thing in the sight of God than most men suppose. If Christ is so great, then sin must indeed be sinful!

II. WOULD WE KNOW THE STRENGTH OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN'S FOUNDATION FOR HOPE? Let us often read these verses. Let us mark that the Saviour in whom the believer is bid to trust is nothing less than the Eternal God, One able to save to the uttermost all that come to the Father by Him. He that was "with God," and "was God," is also "Emmanuel, God with us."

(Bp. Ryle.)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). As the translation of this passage cannot be improved, and the words are plain, no verbal exegesis is required. The subject is Christ and God, and we are here taught —

I. THAT CHRIST IS THE ETERNAL REVEALER OF GOD. "In the beginning was the Word" — the Logos. He is not a word but the word. As the Revealer, this Word is distinguished —

1. By its faithfulness. Christ is the exact exponent of the Divine intellect and heart.

2. By its fulness. Other words only speak part of God.

3. By its forcefulness. Human words are sometimes powerful, they are not always air; they are sometimes a force. God's words in nature are mighty.

II. THAT CHRIST IS THE ETERNAL SELF OF GOD. "And the Word was with God." The expression implies that He had a conscious existence distinct from the Absolute One. He was with Him. He that is with me is not me.

1. Christ was with Him in the sense of agreement. There was a perfect concurrence.

2. Christ was with him in the sense of contact. Never out of His presence, living in His light, breathing His inspirations.

III. THAT CHRIST IS THE ETERNAL SELF OF GOD. "And the Word was God."

1. "He was God" in form. Deep, it would seem, in the constitution of moral soul, is the craving for some form of God. As He appears in the universe, He transcends the limits of human vision. Christ is the form He has assumed; the form in which, in all probability, He appears to His intelligent universe as well as to man.

2. "He was God" in action. Through Him the eternal volitions are carried out and realized. He is the Actualizer of God's eternal ideas.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

A fourfold contrast.

I. In respect of ESSENCE. Word and flesh. The first suggests pure spirituality, power, eternity; the second materiality, weakness, mortality.

II. In respect of EXISTENCE. In the beginning the Word was. In time the Word was made flesh. The eternal becomes an infant of days. He who was in the beginning, and had.no beginning, has also an existence numbered by every year that passes away.

III. In respect of ASSOCIATION. "With God"; "among us." In perfect holiness and blessedness; acquainted with grief and beset by sin. In the bosom of the Eternal Father, receiving and returning infinite love; and in the arms of a human mother, soon to taste the hatred and cruelty of man.

IV. In respect of NATURE. The supreme contrast. He who was God became man. In man are united spirit and matter, angel and brute, seraph and clay. But what extremes meet in Christ! Creator and creature, eternity and time; and these in unbroken union.

(W. Perkins.)

I. The ETERNITY of the Word.

1. By the phrase "in the beginning" is to be understood eternity. Had St. John said "before" the beginning, he would have presented eternity under the laws of time, a mistake as grave as to describe the Infinite under the conditions of the finite. But mounting up higher than time and space, he leads us to the calm where God dwelleth.

2. Four times he repeats the word "was"; which —(1) Joined with "beginning," makes the idea of eternity dawn upon the mind in all its awful grandeur.(2) Joined to "with God," involves a contrast with verse 3. The sun, moon, and stars in the beginning "were made"; the Word in the beginning "was." His existence and theirs consequently differ radically.(3) Joined to "God" contrasts with verse 14. "In the beginning was the Word"; in the fulness of time "the Word was made flesh."

3. Christ always existed as the Word. It was not in the course of history that He became the Word. In His pre-existence Jesus Christ is God speaking to Himself; in His post-existence God speaking to us. The same word He speaks to Himself and to us; therefore it has the same meaning on the Divine as on the human side.

II. The PERSONALITY of the Word.

1. The Word was "with God" in respect of personality. Omnipotence is eternally in God; Jesus Christ is eternally with God — a mode of speech signifying distinct, but not separate, personal subsistence. God spent eternity in self-communion; but He so far transcends us in the power of thinking that His ideas become realities. His one thought becomes a Word consubstantial with Himself.

2. He was with God in respect of complacency. God took unspeakable delight in His Word, for in Him He beheld His own portraiture, without defect, fault, or flaw. God, as Father, infinitely, eternally, loves the Son. This intense love the Son cherishes towards the Father. He was not simply with, but "towards," God. He had His face, so to speak, turned fully towards Him, returning all the wealth of thought and affection poured upon Him. With the perfect thinker the perfect Word reflects back the perfect thought. A further idea still lurks here. The Word was "at home" with God. Christ in His preexistent state never felt restrained or ill at ease as an inferior with a superior, but as a loving child with an indulgent father (Proverbs 8:22-31); not as a subject in the presence of his monarch, or a creature in the presence of his Creator, but as an equal in the society of his friend.

3. He was with God in respect of counsel or purpose.(1) In respect of creative counsel. All things were gathered together in the pre-existent Christ (Revelation 3:4; Colossians 1:15, 16).(2) In respect of redemptive purpose. In the centre of the earth all the mountains meet. In the centre all terrestrial objects stand together. Similarly Christ is the centre of the plan of our salvation (Ephesians 1:3, 4).

III. The proper DIVINITY of the Word.

1. "Was God" implies co-equality. Two persons may be in amicable fellowship, whilst in nature and standing the one may be inferior to the other.(1) As Mediator, indeed, in His state of humiliation, Christ was the Father's subordinate and servant; wherefore He says, "My Father is greater than I."(2) But as He is the Second Person in the Trinity, St. John teaches His equality with the Father. The idea of perfect sonship excludes that of subordination. The man of forty is as much a son as a child of four; the fact of sonship is undiminished, but subordination is gone. But Jesus Christ is from the first a perfect Son, and therefore on a footing of equality with the perfect Father.(3) The Son being thus equal with the Father, God will have no occasion to repeat His Word. The perfect revelation is summed up in one word — Jesus Christ.

2. "Was God" teaches consubstantiality. "The Word was with God"; there it is God with the article denoting the Father's person; here without the article indicating substance, being. The Son can never be the Father; but is of the same essence as.the Father — of the same, not of like; homo-ousia, not homoiousia.

3. Let us therefore hold fast the doctrine once delivered to the saints. Beware of running away with the notion that all the intellects are opposed to orthodoxy. The acute intellects may be, but the profound intellects, which see far and deep, are not.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

1. As the mental work in man is the thought of the mind by which the mind holds converse with itself insensibly — that is, without effort and without passion or emotion — and is the perfect image and similitude of the mind from which it proceeds, so does the Son derive a free and unseen origin from the Father, being His express image and similitude.

2. As the mind holds converse with itself by its own thought and cogitation, and sees and knows itself and all things by means of this thought, so does the Father see Himself as in a mirror in the person of His Son.

3. As the intellectual, immaterial word abides in man's mind, so does the Divine Word abide and remain in the bosom of the Father.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

1. Where the Word was — in the beginning.

2. Where the Word was — with God.

3. What the Word was — God.

(Beaux Amis.)

I. CHRIST IS DIVINE-HUMAN.

1. He assumed into union with His Godhead a human soul, a human body, and an animal nature. He hungered, thirsted, was fatigued, and had as real a need of meat, drink, and sleep as other men.

2. He grew, not only in stature, but in wisdom.

3. As regarded His human mind, He knew not the time of the consummation of all things.

4. He was as much mixed up with the manifold, humbling, petty details of daily life as any of us.

5. But every now and then there flashed rays of that glory which He had with the Father before the world was.

II. THE WRITTEN WORD IS DIVINE-HUMAN.

1. Its Divine element is twofold.(1) Inspiration, which pervades the whole of it.(2) Revelation, which characterizes the most important parts of it — the creation, the whole range of prophecy, the law, the gospel.

2. It is perfectly human — a fact attested by the variety of its style. It is coloured with the human mind, affections, experiences, reasonings.

3. This human element gives the Scriptures that geniality which wakens so many chords in our hearts, and which makes us find them such a sympathetic book. If they spoke only the tongues of angels they might reveal to us mysteries, impress and even scare us, but where would their comfort be?

4. Like the Personal Word, the Written Word, though both human and Divine, is but one book; inasmuch as all its treatises were given by inspiration of one Spirit, who did for them what the living soul does for the animal frame — gave them a regular organization and development which makes the Bible truly and really one body.

III. THE PERFECT HUMANITY OF THE WRITTEN WORD INVOLVES ITS BRING COMPASSED WITH INFIRMITY, AS THE WRITTEN WORD WAS. Hence the weaknesses of its human language and thought.

1. In censuring sin it speaks with a fidelity which our false delicacy does not relish, and which no uninspired preacher would dare to imitate.

2. Frequently the writers descend to matters of comparatively local, temporal, and mundane interest.

3. They were unacquainted with scientific truth.

4. In many points they give a handle to the misconstructions of enemies.

IV. THERE IS A GROWTH OF HOLY SCRIPTURE EXACTLY CORRESPONDING TO THE GROWTH OF THE PERSONAL WORD.

1. Prophecy is built up stone upon stone on the foundation of the original promise (Genesis 3:15). This promise is handed over to Abraham in an enlarged and expanded form (Genesis 12:3). When Abraham's family branches out into twelve tribes, Judah is selected as the tribe in which the promise should run (Genesis 49:8, 10). As soon as an earthly kingdom is established, David is indicated as the king on whose throne Messiah should sit (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

2. The Written Word is ever developing itself from Genesis to Revelation. In Genesis you have the dawn of Divine knowledge and thought; in the New Testament you have its noontide blaze. God, Christ, morality, the Fall, justification, sanctification are not seen as clearly in the Old Testament as in the New, nor in the earlier books of the Old as in the later. Yet from first to last it is the very Word of God, as Jesus is; as much exalted above other books as He is by His Divinity above other men.

V. IT EXHIBITS ALL THE SYMPTOMS OF ITS EXALTED CHARACTER AND ORIGIN, It abounds in passages of supernatural sublimity, foresights, revelations of heaven, oracles which seem to vibrate with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. Like the Personal Word, the Written Word rises up in meek majesty to make those who approach it with hostile intent go backward and fall to the ground; upon it descends the holy dove; over it hangs the bright cloud; it quickens human souls; it says to the stormy sea of the human heart, "Peace, be still"; before it the demons of lust, pride, covetousness, worldliness, quake and flee. As both in His generation and resurrection and ascension Jesus was declared to be Divine, so both at its commencement, when it stoops down to inaugurate the narrative of earth, and at its close ascends to heaven again and exhibits man purged from all stain, so the Written Word is declared to be the Word of God with power.

VI. IF CHRIST WERE NOT HUMAN, WE SHOULD NOT HAVE THE CONSOLATION OF HIS SYMPATHY; IF THE SCRIPTURES WERE NOT HUMAN, THEY COULD NOT COME HOME AS THEY DO TO HUMAN HEARTS AND CONSCIENCES. Let us therefore regard them with but one whir the less affectionate veneration. There could be no trial of faith if they presented no difficulties. To what shall we go if we give them up?

(Dean Goulburn.)

Man's reason was formed in the image of God, and our Lord is called the Word; these are the two Scriptural intimations which guide us into part of the truth respecting the Divine nature.

1. Reason involves a thing distinct from itself, namely, speech, or the power of communicating the processes of reason, so that whosoever has the faculty of reason has in that faculty the faculty of speech or the Word.

2. Though reason wraps up speech in itself, yet we can conceive of reason as energizing latently, and of the faculty of speech as having no exercise.

3. Neither reason nor speech can make any claim to priority of existence; they are twin faculties, born at the same instant. Now listen to what the Catholic Church has gathered from the Scripture respecting the nature of God.

I. There is a TRINITY IN UNITY, that is, more than one Person in the Divine nature. Man's spirit, the Bible says, was made in the image of that nature. In man's spirit there are two faculties, reason and speech. The second Person in the Divine nature goes by the name of the Word, that is, He stands to the first in the same relation as that in which utterance stands to understanding.

II. St. John intimates that THERE WAS A PERIOD WHEN, although both blessed Persons existed, yet THE SON WAS IN THE BOSOM OF THE FATHER; when, though the Word was, yet the Word came not forth. That is like reason, with the faculty of speech latent in it, not put forth.

III. THE MAJESTY OF THESE PERSONS IS CO-ETERNAL. The administration of this in the human spirit is the twin birth of reason and speech. Speech, then, in the nature of man, represents Christ in the nature of God. What a value and a dignity does this impress on human speech! When you reason and communicate to others the result you adumbrate in the limits of a finite nature, the nature of the Infinite One. Shall any child of man, then, degrade this faculty of speech to vain and profane and unclean communications?

(Dean Goulburn.)

Genesis 1 which is an introduction to the story of the first man, as this is an introduction to the story of the second Man, the Lord from heaven. The great words are the same in both cases, though they have evidently deepened in their later use — the beginning, God, the Word ("God said"), all things, light, darkness, life, to be, to become. While the evangelist begins with creation, he goes very far beyond, and consequently uses many words that were not needed in Genesis, but are indispensable to his purpose, such as law, grace, truth, faith, sons of God and sin. As in Genesis, God is taken for granted. There is no attempt to prove that He is, and there is no notice taken of any denial that He is. With a grand daring of disregard, as if there could be no controversy on such a subject, the paragraph proceeds on the assumption that He is, as beyond question, like a postulate or axiom.

(J. Culross, D. D.)

This verse is an unanswerable argument against three classes of heretics. It confutes —

1. The Arians, who regard Christ as a Being inferior to God.

2. The Sabellians, who deny any distinction of Persons in the Trinity, and say that God sometimes manifested Himself as Father, sometimes as Son, and sometimes as the Spirit, and that the Father and the Spirit suffered on the cross.

3. The Socinians and Unitarians, who say that Jesus Christ was not God, but man, a most holy and perfect man, but only a man.

(Bp.Ryle.)

A memorable hour arrived in the history of a youth belonging to an honourable French family in the second half of the sixteenth century. Though scarcely fifteen years of age, he had been led by blind guides to unbelief, and the dragon's teeth, sown on an unguarded field, had already begun to produce their destructive harvest. His godly father, deeply concerned for his salvation, placed a New Testament in his room, and offered the silent prayer that he might take it and read it. The son did so. His eye rested accidentally upon a passage which, according to his own words, so affected him that he "suddenly felt the Divinity of the subject, and, together with the majesty, also the power of the words that so infinitely surpassed the flow of all human eloquence. My whole body was convulsed," he continues, "my soul was confounded, and I have been so affected this whole day that I have scarcely been conscious of my own identity." It was not quite twenty-five years after this remarkable event that he was preaching the Gospel of the Reformation at Antwerp, while the light from the blaze of the funeral pile which was consuming his companions in faith shone against the windows of the hall where he preached. And when the pestilence that raged in Leyden in 1602 numbered him among its victims, it was universally acknowledged and lamented that a shining light had set. This young man was the celebrated Professor Francis Junius, and the passage which was the power of God to his salvation was John 1:1.

(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

1. This subject yields m importance to none. The views we take of it will influence those we take of all other doctrines, and must terminate in results which affect God's glory.

2. Our state of mind should be one of perfect neutrality. The slightest prepossession is incompatible with the love of truth.

3. The language of the Scriptures must be taken in its obvious signification, just as the Jews took John 10:30; John 15:13.

4. Should this doctrine be clearly taught, no difficulty can affect its certainty or ought to affect our faith.

5. The lines of proof are five.

(1)Divine names are given to Christ.

(2)Divine attributes are ascribed to Him.

(3)Divine works are wrought by Him.

(4)Divine relations are sustained by Him.

(5)Divine worship is demanded by and paid to Him. The line suggested by our text is the first.

I. Christ is called JEHOVAH (John 12:37; cf. Isaiah 6:1-10).

II. GOD (Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8).

III. GREAT GOD (Titus 2:3).

IV. TRUE GOD (1 John 5:20).

V. MIGHTY GOD (Isaiah 9:6).

VI. GOD OF ISRAEL (Exodus 24:9, 10; Psalm 68:17, 18; Ephesians 4:8). In reference to these instances:

1. Has any other received such appellations.

2. Compare these appellations with the religious state of the Jews at the time of Christ. They were strict monotheists, as were Christ and the apostles. If, therefore, it was intended to convey the idea of Christ's Divinity, no better terms could have been used; but if to convey the idea that He was a mere man, they are totally misleading.

3. Compare these appellations with the state of the Pagan world. They were idolaters, and Christ's design and that of His apostles was to deliver them from idolatry. A strange method was employed if Christ were a mere creature.

4. Examine whether events have justified the notion which the prophets gave if Christ be not God. It was predicted that He should utterly abolish idols, and has He not done so?

5. The supposition that the Deity of Christ was taught by the Saviour and His apostles will alone enable us to account for His rejection.Conclusion:

1. Is the Deity of Christ a doctrine of Scripture? Then how is the accuracy of His precepts ratified? How entire the proof of their conformity to the will of God!

2. Is the Saviour possessed of a Divine nature? How absolutely, therefore, is He able to scrutinize our professions of His gospel!

3. The same truth also invites the utmost confidence in His declarations of mercy and offers of pardon.

(J. F. Denham.)

1. What is it which makes men different from all other living beings we know of? Is it not speech — the power of words? The beasts may make one another understand many things, but they have no speech.

2. But where did this power of uttering thoughts come from? The beasts have been on the earth as long as man, and yet they can no more speak than they could when they were created. But Adam could speak at once, and could understand what God said to him. Who gave him that power but Jesus, the Word who was in the beginning with God, and lighteth every man that cometh into the world?

3. By Christ the Word God has spoken to man in all ages. It was He whom Moses and the seventy elders saw, for "no man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father He hath declared Him. He put rote David's mouth those glorious Psalms. "The Lord... hath put a new song into my mouth." He, as the Word of God, came unto the prophets. When He became incarnate, He spake as never man spake. And since then He has given to all wise and holy poets, philosophers, and preachers the power to speak and write the wonderful truths they have thought out.

4. Ought not the knowledge of all this

(1)make us better and wiser;

(2)make us reverence the Bible;

(3)reverence all good books?Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful than a book, a message from a human soul thousands of miles away which can amuse, terrify, comfort, teach us. Why is it that neither angels, nor saints, nor evil spirits appear now to speak to men as they once did? Because we have books by which Christ's messengers and the devil's can communicate with us. If they are good and true, they are the message of Christ, the Teacher of all truth. If they are false and wicked, we ought to fear them as evil spirits loosed among us. This is an age of books, a flood of writings of all sorts is spreading over the world. We ought not to stop that. It is God's ordinance. It is of His grace and mercy that we have a free press. It was dearly bought. The men who died to buy us this liberty knew that it was better to let in a thousand bad books than to shut out one good one, for a grain of God's truth will outweigh a ton of the devil's lies. We cannot silence evil books, but we can take care what we read, and that what we let others read shall be good and wholesome.

(Charles Kingsley, M. A.)

I. THE OLD TESTAMENT WORD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT LIGHT.

II. THE NEW TESTAMENT WORD ON THE OLD TESTAMENT BASIS.

(Lange.)I. AS THE GREAT DISTINCTION BETWEEN ETERNITY AND TIME.

II. AS THE GREAT UNION BETWEEN ETERNITY AND TIME.

(Lange.)

Much every way. The Revealer of God being eternal, He is competent to give the world an eternal revelation — a re, elation of eternal truth, a revelation of the eternal God. Moses and others might serve as organs of the Old Testament revelation, for the religion they established was temporal, designed to last only "till the time of reformation." In the nature of things a temporal revealer can only found a temporal religion; you must have an everlasting Revealer to make known the everlasting gospel.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

The claims of Philo to be regarded as the source of St. John's doctrine have been largely advocated. But —

I. IT IS NOT CERTAIN THAT JOHN WAS ACQUAINTED WITH PHILO OR THE ALEXANDRINE GNOSIS.

1. The relations which existed between Ephesus and Alexandria.

2. The assumption that carried over the Philonian doctrines.

3. The statement that drew the germs of his doctrine from an Alexandrian source. And

4. The circumstance that had spread widely amongst the Hellenistic Jews only make it probable that John was acquainted with Philo, but cannot be regarded as establishing it.

II. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE TERM LOGOS, THE GOSPEL CONTAINS NOT A TRACE OF PHILONISM, which is remarkable if John began its composition under the influence of that celebrated master. The number of parallels between the philosopher and the evangelist are at the most four, and these are confined exclusively to the prologue.

III. THE LOGOS OF PHILO IS ESSENTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF JOHN.

1. It is impossible to determine whether the former is a person or an attribute, or a personification, whereas the latter is distinctly personal.

2. The former is not Divine in the sense that the latter is. Philo gives the name of δεύτερος θεὸς to the Loges only metaphorically, whereas John calls Him θεὸς in the strictest didactic sense.

3. The former is a metaphysical conception; the latter an object of religious contemplation.

4. The former has no real connection with human history and salvation such as the latter has.

IV. IT WAS UNNECESSARY FOR JOHN TO HAVE RECOURSE TO PHILO FOR THIS PECULIAR EXPRESSION.

1. In the Hebrew Scriptures we have the germs of the doctrine.(1) In Genesis 1. creation is attributed to so many separate voices or spoken words of Elohim. What if John purposed to represent the uncreated Loges as the personal Being by whom these creative words were altered?(2) The Maleach Jehovah who appeared as God's messenger, who announced His will (Genesis 15:1), and who, if distinguished from Him (Genesis 16:11), was identified with Him (Genesis 16:13; Genesis 19:16; Genesis 32:30), would unquestionably prepare the way for such a conception as John's.(3) The creative activity assigned to the Word of Jehovah (Psalm 33:6-9) would tend to foster the notion.(4) The personification of wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-.31) would further serve to develop the idea.

2. In the Chochmah writings of the Post-Exilian Period, which carried on and perfected the tendency already begun, John would find another contributory source to the doctrine. In these the transition from an impersonal to a personal Sophia is an accomplished fact (Wisdom of Sirach, Sirach 1:1, 4; 24:3, 9; Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom 7:25, 26, 22); and the Chaldee Targumists substitute for Elohim and Jehovah Memra da Yeya, a personal being who served as the permanent agent or representative of God, and who was identified with the Shekinah and the Messiah.

3. While Christ never employed the term, an examination of His utterances concerning His person might easily suggest the propriety of using it. Without alluding to John 5:38; John 14:24; John 17:14, the aspect m which Christ's person, character, and work are here contemplated is that of one who has come with the Divine words of truth and life, and the transition must have seemed natural and easy from Christ as the speaker of God's words to Him as God's spoken Word Himself.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

What is a word? It is a thought in the depths of the heart made audible to a second person. If Christ be the Word of God, He is God's love sounding in the language of mankind, God's truth reverberating among the centuries as amid the corridors of a grand temple, God's justice revealed to our comprehension. Once this orb was a bright mirror which reflected God's image, but sin darkened it, and it is dim. Once the rolling of its waves, the murmurings of its streams, the noise of its winds, was the word of God; but sin has laid its hand upon all its heart-strings and deadened and disordered its vibrations. Christ is now what the world once was, and more than the world was — God's love, God's truth, audible to men. So that in hearing Christ speak I hear God; in seeing Christ's portrait I see God's; in seeing the picture of Christ delivered in the gospel I see all that is comprehensible of the High and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity and the praises thereof.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

The Word was with God
Ask the sun if ever it were without its beams. Ask the fountain if ever it were without its streams. So God was never without His Son.

(Arrowsmith.)

God did not spend the everlasting ages in sublime, solitary, masterly inactivity. He had a Word with Him, equal to Himself, the reflex image of His own person. That God from everlasting loved is an idea with which we are all familiar enough; it is the prominent idea in the correlates Father and Son. But in the text Jesus Christ is presented, not as the Son, but as the Word; accordingly the main idea is not God as love, but God as mind. Not only God loved from eternity, but He thought from eternity; He thought as intensely as He loved.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

The Word was God
Imagine yourselves in the position of St. John.. "Think of any one whom you have loved and revered in past years. He has gone; but you cling to him more earnestly in thought and affection than while he was here. His words, haunts, phrases, handwriting, likeness, are for you precious and sacred. Others may be forgotten, but one such memory cannot fade. But can we conceive it possible that after any lapse of time we should express our reverence and love by saying that our friend was superhuman? Can we imagine ourselves incorporating our recollection with some current theosophic doctrine elevating him to the rank of a Divine hypostasis? And if Jesus was merely human, St. John's statements about Him are among the most preposterous fictions which have imposed on the world. They were advanced with a full knowledge of what they involved. St. John was convinced as profoundly as we are of the truth of the unity of God, and of the interval which separates the highest of creatures from the Creator. And if we are not naturally lured to deify our friends, neither was St. John. If Jesus had been merely human, He would have felt as we feel about a beloved lost friend. In proportion to our belief in our friend's goodness, and to our reverence for his character, is the strength of our conviction that we could not do him a more cruel injury by entwining a blasphemous fable around the simple story of his life. This deification of Jesus by St. John would have been consistent neither with his reverence for God nor his loyalty to his merely human teacher. St. John worshipped the jealous God of Israel; and he has recorded the warning he received against worshipping the angel of the Apocalypse. If Christ had not really been Divine, the real beauty of His human character would have been disfigured by any such exaggeration, and Christianity would assuredly have perished within the limits of the first century.

(Canon Liddon.)

I remember once talking with a lady who said she did not believe Jesus was the Son of God, although she believed He was a good man, and admired very much the teaching He had left. Strangely enough, I found her (with all the beautiful inconsistency of a woman's mind, and that inconsistency is frequently very beautiful and much better than the logical consistency of man's mind) particularly fond of the sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of St. John; such, for instance, as "In My Father's house are many mansions; I go to prepare a place for you." "Now," I said, "will you go home and read again the Gospel of St. John, and cross out every word that intimates He is Divine, and say you don't believe that and that?" She thought it would be a good idea, and I gave her little Testament and told her to mark and cut it as much as she liked. She came back in a week, as she had promised. "Well, how did you get along?" "I didn't get along at all. The truth is, I found I had to cross out the whole of the first chapter, and I began to think, 'If it's like this, what'll become of the beautiful promises and sayings?' so I stopped and cried, 'Lord, I see it is so. I accept Thee as Son of God, my Lord and my God.'"

(Dr. Pentecost.)

A person officiating as a medium of correspondence between the throne and its functionaries or subjects might be styled the word; or the person who should carry the command of a general to those who should see them executed. Such an one might also be styled the word, as standing in a mid-position between the person holding supreme command and those set under authority. No transference of words from a general to a special signification could be more easy and even. striking than this. If, then, we assume that the person invested with mediatorial attributes and relations is called in several passages of Scripture "the Word," or "the Word of the Lord," because His official position is analogous to the examples just given or to others which human experience suggests, is there not a manifest propriety in its being used in this instance? and could the whole compass of language supply us with a second term in all respects so suitable as this — the Word?

(G. Steward.)

Two gentlemen were once disputing on the Divinity of Christ. One of them, who argued against it, said, "If it were true, it certainly would have been expressed in more clear, unequivocal terms." "Well," said the other, "admitting that you believe it, were authorized to teach it, and allowed to use your own language, how would you express the doctrine to make it clear and indubitable?" "I would say," replied the first, "that Jesus Christ is the true God." "You are happy," rejoined the other, "in the choice of your words, for you have happened to hit upon the very words of inspiration. John, speaking of Jesus, says, 'This is the true God and eternal life.'"

The commencement of Christian work in Japan happened thus: An American lady, of the name of Prince, interested herself in the country, and four or five missionaries were sent out, but only occupied themselves in the translation of the Scriptures. After some time this lady offered to teach English to a young Japanese, and gave him the Gospel of St. John to translate. Shortly after, it was observed that he became very agitated and restless, walking up and down the room constantly. At last he could contain himself no longer, and burst out with the question, "Who is this Man about whom I am reading — this Jesus? You call Him a Man, but He must be a God." Thus the simple word itself had forced on him the conviction that Jesus Christ was indeed God.

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