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John 1:1-5 Edited, Larger type and minor corrections

By Tim Butterfield, 23 May 2014 · 1,571 views

New Testament
For the past several years I have been teaching an adult Sunday School class. I have also been writing the lessons for them because most of the commercial booklets and lessons seemed a bit superficial.

The format has been Scripture to be studied, about a dozen questions for discussion followed by two pages of expository commentary (Generally the answers to the questions can be found there).

My commentary seems to be pretty well received, and I have often considered putting it out for others to read and comment on (but have, until now been too big a chicken to do so). Here is the first lesson commentary for the study in John that we will be starting the 1st of September.

Scripture to be studied
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5 NASB)

Commentary


Both Genesis and John begin with “In the beginning”; in both instances it is referring to the beginning of creation. God is eternal; He existed before the beginning, because in order to create something you have to exist.

Jesus is also eternal, He didn’t begin to exist because “In the beginning was the Word.” He shares this trait with God because “The Word was with God”. This also means that Jesus is and has always been distinct from God because you cannot be with someone if you are by yourself.

But at the same time “the Word was God” this is to say that despite their being two distinct persons in their own right, they are in essence and nature the same.

John emphasizes that Jesus was not created in verse 3 and Paul reinforces while providing even more information: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17 NASB)
The creation of the heavens would include its inhabitants, just as the creation of the earth includes its inhabitants. This means that Angelic beings are not eternal having been, at some point, created.

Verse 4 verifies that Jesus is eternal because it states that in Him was life. When John says that in Jesus was life, it is much like saying in God is love…life or love isn’t some thing that they have, it is a part of what makes them who and what they are.

Life is so much a part of Jesus that the only way He could die is to temporarily set it aside, and even then He could pick it up again when He desired to do so. (John 10:17-18)

Humans and other created beings have life only because they were originally given life by their Creator, but their Creator has life as part of His very being, no one gave God life, in a very real sense He is life itself, and so can give life to his creations as He desires without decreasing His own quantity or quality of life.

Life is passed along to each generation by the conception and birth of new people bringing into existence that person’s soul; this is part of Gods plan.

But Jesus existed before He was born (John 1:15 and 1:30). In these verses John the Baptist states that Jesus existed before John, himself, existed. From Luke 1:36 we know that Elizabeth was six months pregnant before the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26) was sent to Mary to announce to her that she was to bear the Christ child.

If Jesus were not pre-existent (did not exist before He was conceived), or if all children existed before they were conceived, then Christ could not have existed before John. But John says twice that Jesus existed before him.

Most people will acknowledge that there are two genealogies of Christ in the scriptures. These genealogies were supplied by Matthew and Luke, and are not identical (this is not unusual for that time), this may be because One traced Jesus’ earthly line through Joseph (his father by earthly understanding) and the other through Mary (His physical mother). But in large part these differences arise because each was writing for a specific “audience” Matthew was writing to a basically Hebrew readership, emphasized that Jesus had fulfilled all of the prophetic requirements to be the Messiah King. He traced Christ’s lineage from Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people forward to Joseph Jesus’ earthly father.

Luke wrote to a basically Greek “audience” and introduced Jesus as the Son of Man…a perfect man, full of wisdom and character. Surprisingly he starts Jesus’ genealogy with Jesus and works backwards to Adam, the very first man.

Mark included no genealogy because his Gospel introduced Jesus to a Roman readership, as the Servant-Redeemer, pragmatic in both service and His use of power. No one cares about the genealogy of a servant, and a redeemer needs none.

A very good case can be made for John presenting in the first four verses (plus verse 14), the genealogy of Jesus the Son of God. John was the last Gospel written, and addresses a more universal audience, so much so that he sometimes feels the need to define or explain any Hebrew words or practices mentioned in his Gospel. (John 1:38; 1:41-42; 9:7; 19:13; 19;17; 20:16)

Because at the time John wrote this the church was under attack by Gnostic influences, his is the most theologically oriented of the Gospels. While the other Gospels concentrate on describing the events of Jesus’ life, John emphasizes the meaning behind the actions and events  and how they point to His devinity.




Tim,

 

You have prepared a very good study of these verses. I like the way to brought in the different character of the four gospels, each written for a different audience. This helps us understand the significance of these first 5 verses of John. I also appreciate the clarity with which you make the point Jesus is eternal (not created) and "the same in essence and nature" as God. (Heb. 1:3)

 

Have you considered how much the early verses of Genesis 1 and John 1 parallel? It goes far beyond just the first three words both passages share.

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. (Gen 1:1-3 NIV84)
 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:1-5 NIV84)
 

Acknowledging Genesis 1 recounts actual events, we can also see in those early verses an illustration of the emptiness and darkness of the human condition and then God's remedy! In the beginning God created man. Then sin came and man's heart became black and empty. We were totally unable to "fix" ourselves ... then God sent the remedy in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. God said "Let there be light," and the light (Jesus Christ) shone into the darkness of our hearts. 

 

Remember that at that time [we] were separate from Christ ... without hope and without God in the world. (Eph 2:12 NIV84)
 
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:6 NIV84)
 
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2Cor 4:6 NIV84)
 

Now as we read "In the beginning was the Word ...  In him was life, and that life was the light of men" we begin to grasp in some small measure what God has done when He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV84)

 
I will conclude by saying I admire your diligence in not only teaching the class for several years, but also preparing the material! I taught an Awana Varsity class for 10 years, and I know the energy and dedication that takes. But to also prepare your own materials in the caliber of what you posted requires great dedication. I hope the members of the class recognize and appreciate the gift they have been given!

 

Your brother in Christ,

Kenn

 

 

I will answer your massive missive ;-) later.

 

But one thing I might leave you with.

 

In interpreting Genisis 1 where God says "Let there be light."  Jewish Rabbis BEFORE Jesus' time said "God steped aside and allowed the Messiah to shine His light on the world."

 

 

You might want to watch this...the guy shows Jesus in thr Old Testament exceptionally well.

Thank you for the excellent post and the video - both are a blessing.

 

Tim,

 

You have prepared a very good study of these verses. I like the way to brought in the different character of the four gospels, each written for a different audience. This helps us understand the significance of these first 5 verses of John. I also appreciate the clarity with which you make the point Jesus is eternal (not created) and "the same in essence and nature" as God. (Heb. 1:3)

 

Have you considered how much the early verses of Genesis 1 and John 1 parallel? It goes far beyond just the first three words both passages share.

 

Thanks for the kind words.  Yes, I have given consideration to the Genesis 1/John 1 parallels.  Please understand that the WRITTEN material in these "commentaries" are only a portion of what actually gets presented.  (It takes about twenty minutes to read two pages of typed material aloud.  I promised the class not more than two pages, with only a minimum of history and language material...for their part they promise to READ it.  ;-)  The discussion generally covers a lot more material, partially in response to questions partly because I work it in.  ;-)

 

Since you taught an Awana Varsity class, you understand the absolute need for the teacher to be prepared because questions can range far afield.  Because I read about 20 pages of commentary (plus what I have picked up over the years at the feet of some very talented paster/teachers) for every page I write, writing the material actually makes my job a bit easier.  My class is an adult class, and I (at the spry young age of 67) am just about the youngest person in the class!  The curse of being a "Timothy" I guess...1st Timothy 4:12  "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.."

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. (Gen 1:1-3 NIV84)
 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:1-5 NIV84)
 

Acknowledging Genesis 1 recounts actual events, we can also see in those early verses an illustration of the emptiness and darkness of the human condition and then God's remedy! In the beginning God created man. Then sin came and man's heart became black and empty. We were totally unable to "fix" ourselves ... then God sent the remedy in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. God said "Let there be light," and the light (Jesus Christ) shone into the darkness of our hearts

 

Looks like you are (as I am) a literal seven day creationist.  I have heard all conversation about what constitutes a day, and I agree that "yom can be very flexible, but "and the evening and the morning were the first...second...etc is pretty well defined and  limit...though I have had some people argue that the time the earth spent in rotating (or however night and day divisions were accomplished in the first seven days, yet spending millions if not billions of years (by our time measure) of daylight without darkness followed by a similar time in darkness without light would be detrimental to plant and animals ability to survive, let alone prosper,

 

Remember that at that time [we] were separate from Christ ... without hope and without God in the world. (Eph 2:12 NIV84)
 

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:6 NIV84)
 
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2Cor 4:6 NIV84)
 

Now as we read "In the beginning was the Word ...  In him was life, and that life, was, the light of men" we begin to grasp in some small measure what God has done when He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV84)

 
I will conclude by saying I admire your diligence in not only teaching the class for several years, but also preparing the material! I taught an Awana Varsity class for 10 years, and I know the energy and dedication that takes. But to also prepare your own materials in the caliber of what you posted requires great dedication. I hope the members of the class recognize and appreciate the gift they have been given!
 
I was writing stuff like this for my own edification, so when I saw the prepared lesson plans (good, but a bit shallow) I just adapted what I wrote for my own studies.  Yes, they do appreciate me as a teacher. (I am occasionally embarrassed by how much)   But what I appreciate is that they bring their Bibles to class habitually now, and several of them are sporting new Study Bibles, and understand why a word for word translation is helpful for study (I prefer the NASB, ESV and Amplified Bible), and to appreciate the dynamic translations as well (The New Living for daily devotions)  I am not a fan of the NIV, especially the latest edition, though the NIV84 is good.
 
Yours in Christ,
Tim