Free Bible Study Magazine
Series: Words of Eternal Life. Part 1 John 1:1-18 CHRIST THE LIVING WORD
The Pre-existent Word – “He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2).
In the introduction to his gospel John presents Christ to us as the Logos-the Word. This Greek term was often used to mean “the expression of an idea or thought.” But in the verses before us, Christ is not the expression of a mere thought, not merely the wisdom of God or the image of God but a personality who is God.
John’s opening passage resembles Genesis, and passages which speak of God’s image and his pre-existent wisdom. We know that Adam was created to bear the divine image, and that Christ is referred to as the image of God: the Son, (is) the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, Heb 1:2-3 Yet Adam was the image stamped, Christ was the stamp. What is more, Christ is the one who did the stamping. His perfections are original, not created, inherent, not received.
We have recently celebrated Christmas, when we recall how Jesus, the Eternal Son of God became flesh to reveal God fully. John writes: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). Through His unveiling of the pre-existent Word, we first of all see:
I. The Eternity of the Word -“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Link this with the opening words of Genesis, “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Before the universe ever came into existence, the Son of God was. This truth is revealed consistently throughout Scripture:
1) Through Biblical Prophecy. The prophet Micah, looks beyond his time to proclaim, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, From everlasting” Micah 5:2. The prediction is fulfilled in the coming of the Lord Jesus into time as a Baby in Bethlehem. The manner of His birth to the Virgin Mary clearly reveals His preexistence in terms of his eternity.
2) Through Biblical History. Jesus claimed eternity, when addressing the Jews “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” John 8:58. Speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus could declare: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13). Later, in His high priestly prayer, the Son of God prayed, “Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). Christ’s coming into the world at Christmas is when the eternal broke into time.
3) Through Biblical Theology-“He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (see Col. 1:15 -17). He is before all things, not only in dignity but in order. The words of v15 are “begotten before all creation.” That is, not himself created, but the creator. The wonder of the incarnation is that the creator stoops to share the fabric of his creation. This truth is echoed in many of our Christmas carols, such as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail incarnate deity.” And in See Amid the Winter Snow we sing, “Lo within a manger lies he who built the starry skies.”
II. The Personality of the Word -“and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). The Word spoken of by John is not an abstract concept ‘it’, but as a ‘Him’, a real personality. The word “with” speaks both of relationship and distinctiveness of personality. Christ’s eternal personality was revealed:
1) As Life -“In Him was life” (John 1:4). That is, intrinsic life, life of his own. No man has life on his own, he receives it from God. Jesus Christ has life in himself just as the fatehr has life in himself (John 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself); the Life he had was expressed in all he said and did. “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” (1John 1:1). By His works Christ was always giving out the issue of his life. He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). His words, by his own declaration: “are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63), for they are the words of God. Through the expression of His life we see, feel, and hear His glorious personality as the Son of God.
2) As Light -“That was the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world” (John 1:9). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Light in the Bible speaks of knowledge, wisdom, and of being. Like his life, Christ’s light was intrinsic. He was the light which created the light which pierced the dark in the beginning. It is the light that can deliver darkened souls. For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ. (2Cor 4:6)
Here was a light that no kind of darkness could suppress or overcome. Whenever Christ worked He dispelled darkness. Satan and all his forces were unable to extinguish the indestructible light of His personality. The same was true about His words. When He spoke, men and women could no longer claim to be in the darkness of ignorance. That is why Jesus said: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22). As men and women believed his word, they no longer remained in the darkness of sin, for by relationship to himself, Christ brought them into HIS marvelous light.
3) As Love- The Bible tells us that “God is love”, but we would have never known God’s love if it had not expressed in the personality of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In His life Jesus was always revealing the love of God. This is the whole idea behind John’s words, “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). There was never a moment when Christ was not revealing the heart of His Father God.
All Christ’s works were done in love, He shed tears over the brokenhearted, welcomed the little children, was moved with compassion to the sick and suffering and most of all He hung and suffered upon a cross for the redemption of mankind. Paul calls him “The Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
His love was revealed in His words, which spelled out the personality of God. Even His enemies were loved. From the cross they were shown forgiveness. The introduction to John’s gospel gives us a clear description of the wonderful personality of the Word of God. For Christians, the celebration of Christmas is not only to remember his birth, but to rejoice in the fact that since Christ is someone whom we can know personally. We have a personal relationship the one who has revealed himself to be Life, Light, and Love.
III. The Deity of the Word -“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). This is a definite claim to deity fro Christ. The verse does not say that the Word was the God, as if there were only one person in the Godhead, as Unitarians teach. Neither does the sentence read that the Word was a God, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses would like us to believe. The original text reads that the Word was God. SFO says “He ever shared the divine essence and nature, and by virtue of such a relationship was and is regarded as God-coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.” The apostle Paul helps us to understand this when he tells us that the Lord Jesus “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6). This literally means that the Lord Jesus considered equality with God not a prize to be grasped at. Lucifer the archangel might snatch at the throne of God and be cast out of heaven. Adam and Eve might seize the forbidden fruit to become as gods, and so be driven from the Garden of Eden. But the Son of God had no need to grasp at the prize of deity because He was God of very God. As another Christmas Carol says he is “God of God. Very God, begotten not created.”
During His time on earth Christ proved His deity over and over again. He accepted worship as God when Thomas fell at His feet and cried, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). He forgave sins as God when He turned to the paralytic and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (Mark 2:5). He proved His deity by concealing Himself at will, when men would have cast Him over the cliff; but we read: “Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way” (Luke 4:30). He proved His deity by His stupendous claims, such as “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). He proved His deity by dying at will. Only God, manifest in the flesh, could say, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (John 10:17-18).
John’s tremendous presentation of the Christ in all the glory of His eternity, personality, and deity leads us to ponder the challenge of Christ. Concluding his introduction John writes, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13). Today, as then, there are many who do not recognize or receive Him. God grant that we shall not reject Him, but rather:
1) Perceive Him-“the Word became flesh and. . . we beheld His glory” (John 1:14). Let us recognize Christ as the One possessed of eternity, personality, and deity- the Son of God, your Savior and mine.
2) Believe Him-“believe in His name” (John 1:12). Whatever other names He may be given in the New Testament, John sums them up here as He describes Jesus as the Word, the very expression of all that God is.
3) Receive Him-“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Just as the preexistent Word came into human history from outside, so He must come into your life from outside. The question is, Have you allowed your life to become another Bethlehem for the Son of God – does Jesus live in your heart?