John 1 – 2
- Preface: Essential Truths concerning the Person of the Son (1:1-18)
- The Record of John as to The Superiority of Christ (1:19-28)
- The 1st Day: The Leading Features of Christianity (1:29-42)
- The 2nd Day: The Restoration of Israel through a Remnant (1:43-51)
- The 3rd Day: The Blessing of the Earth in the Millennium (2:1-12)
- Judgment of the Jews’ Temple & Presentation of the True Temple (2:13-22)
- Man’s state of moral darkness (vv.4-10)
- Christ, the True Light, having come into the world is rejected (vv.10-11)
- God must sovereignly cause the new birth that there might be some to receive Christ (vv.11-13)
Preface: Essential Truths concerning the Person of the Son (1:1-18)
- His Eternal Being (v.1a)
- His Distinct Personality (v.1b)
- His Proper Deity (v.1c)
- His Eternal Personality (v.2)
- His Glory as Creator (v.3)
- His Glory as the Source of Life and Light (v.4)
- His Humanity (v.14)
The Person of the Son: with Regard to God (vv.1-2)
There are several beginnings in scripture. The beginning in John 1:1 is the beginning of anything that had a beginning; what existed at the furthest point in the past, i.e. from eternity. The beginning in Gen. 1:1 is the beginning of the material creation. The beginning in 1 John 1:1 is the beginning of of the manifestation of eternal life in this world, and it corresponds with John 1:14; "the Word became flesh" (however, in the experience of the apostles it was the beginning of the Lord's public ministry). There is also a fourth beginning, mentioned in Rev. 3:14 and Col. 1:18, referring to the beginning of the New Creation.This beginning is the earliest point in a past eternity. Note: Ephesians 3:21 takes us the farthest into a future eternity!
One of the great distinguishing features of Christianity is that, while maintaining the oneness of God, it embraces the truth of eternal love. There is an intra-communion between the persons of the Godhead, characterized by love (John 3:35; 14:31; 2 Cor. 13:14; Prov. 8:30). Love in the Godhead existed in eternal reciprocity. In monadic religions (belief in one god and one person) like Islam, they believe Allah has only ever been one person. One person cannot express love to his or herself! Love is only expressed in relationship with other persons. Therefore, in monadic religions, love is not an expressed reality until the moment of creation, because there are no persons to love. But blessed be God, the scriptures declare that God is love, and has known love and shown love from a past eternity!
The Person of the Son: with Regard to Creation (v.3)
The Person of the Son: with Regard to Man (vv.4-5)
Light is shown in scripture to acts in two ways. Negatively, the light exposes man’s true condition (John 1:9; 3:20-21). This is what is meant in John 1:9, that He (the Son), "coming into the world, lightens" or illuminates "every man". His life of perfect righteousness and grace here is this world exposed the evil hearts of men. This is pictured in John 8, where Jesus declared "I am the light of the world", after He exposed the true moral state of the Jewish leaders who brought to Him the woman taken in adultery. But the light acts in another way too. Positively, the light gives us the knowledge of God’s character revealed in the Person of the Son (John 1:5; 2 Cor. 4:6). This is pictured in John 9, where Jesus again declared "I am the light of the world", and proceeded to open a man's physical and spiritual eyesight. It is a type of spiritual illumination through new birth. Unless a man is born again (John 3:5), he cannot see the kingdom of God. In that sense, the Divine life in Christ was "the light of men" (John 1:5).
- In coming into the world (incarnation), the “Word” expressed God’s character to man, shining “in the darkness” (v.5). Was that enough to cause the darkness to apprehend? No… the darkness apprehended it not.
- Then He sent a man (John) to point to the Light (v.7). Was that enough? No… they killed John the Baptist.
- Then He came to His own (v.11) for 3 ½ years of public ministry. Was that enough to make the darkness respond? No. They nailed Him to a cross.
- In sovereign grace, God steps in, and by the new birth (v.13) gives man a capacity to apprehend the light, to receive the Son of God, and to believe on His name.
John’s Testimony of the Light (vv.6-8)
- The Light appears in darkness, referring to the incarnation (v.5)
- God sends a witness to point to the Light, referring to the career of John the Baptist (v.7)
- He came to His own, referring to the 3 ½ years of Christ’s public ministry (v.11)
The Rejection and Reception of the True Light (vv.9-13)
Very often in John when it says that the Father sent the Son, it quickly follows that the Son came into the world; e.g. John 1:8, 9; 5:37, 43; 6:29, 33; 15:21, 22. The Spirit is very careful to guard the deity of Christ.
- The ignorance of darkness (v.10). “The world knew him not” refers to the ignorance of darkness that characterized the Gentile world. The Creator stepped into His own creation, and He was utterly ignored by the world. When you are swinging over a deep canyon on a rope, you are intensely aware of the rope. Yet the world had its existence through Him, and yet treated Him like a nobody.
- The rejection of darkness (v.11). “He came to his own, and his own received him not” refers to the rejection of darkness that characterized the Jews. Kelly says he “came to His own things [as Messiah], and His own people received Him not.” See Kelly’s exposition of John (p.96). The darkness was not merely passive. Physical darkness is like spiritual darkness in that it is ignorant of the light (v.10). But spiritual darkness goes beyond physical darkness because it hates the light. Think of a darkness so powerful that it would try to extinguish the light!
- “not of blood“ or, not by natural descent.
- “nor of the will of the flesh“ or, not through any effort of a person’s self-will.
- “nor of the will of man“ or, not through the efforts of another person, such as an evangelist.
- “but of God” – His sovereign grace working by the power of the Spirit (see Jam. 1:18).
New birth or quickening refers to the sovereign action of God to impart spiritual life to a person where there was none before. The expression "born anew" does not merely mean "a fresh start". Nicodemus contemplated entering into his mother’s womb to be born a second time (John 3:4). If that were possible, the rebirth would only result in another fallen human life, no different than the one he had. Rather, new birth is "new" in that it comes from a wholly new and different origin. It is life from God. The new life has a new nature with new desires. A person without new birth has one nature: a fallen human nature. A person with new birth has two natures: the old nature and a new nature (Romans 7). There is nothing but spiritual death apart from the life God gives (Eph. 2:1). The new nature has the capacity for “faith". Faith and life come together. You cannot have life without faith, and you cannot have faith without life. If someone has faith, it is because they are born again. New birth or quickening takes place by the water of the Word and the Spirit of God (John 3:5; Jam. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). New birth is not accomplished through human will or effort (John 1:13). It is the sovereign grace of God to quicken a dead sinner!Read more…
- The flesh will never produce fruit for God (Romans 8:7-8).
- The flesh cannot improve itself (John 3:6).
- The flesh cannot “invite” new birth (John 1:13).
- The flesh has been categorically condemned by God (Romans 8:3).
|"Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)||"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." (John 10:9)|
|"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)||"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:31)|
|"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)||"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Rom. 1:16)|
|"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ..." (Eph. 2:5)||"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Rom. 10:9)|
|"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col .2:13)||"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (Eph. 1:13)|
|"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." (James 1:18)||"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." (Eph. 2:8)|
|"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Pet. 1:23)||"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4)|
The Manifestation of God to Man (vv.14-18)
The incarnation is one of the greatest events in time. The Son of God took manhood into His Person, forming a permanent union between His divine nature and His human nature. He became a man, spirit-soul-body, but did not give up anything He had as God.Read more… He “dwelt among us”, visiting the human race in person, which is far different than the pre-incarnate appearances (theophanies) of the Son. Matt. 11:27 tells us that the Son’s identity is inscrutable to the human mind, only the Father can understand it. An infinite Being took on a finite form to reveal the infinite! However, when He took on manhood, He did so perfectly, and as man is a dependent order, the Son therefore made a decision to remain in the dependent place forever! John, speaking on behalf of the apostles, could say “we contemplated (or ‘looked thoughtfully at for a long time’) his glory”. They didn’t analyze or scrutinize His Person, but rather meditated on His glory. What was that glory? It was the sonship glory of the Lord Jesus; that personal glory that He always had on account of His intra-Trinitarian identity and relationship to the Father. The “glory as of an only-begotten with a father” gives the character of the glory they witnessed, as with Abraham and Isaac, who “went both of them together”. When He became flesh He emptied Himself (Phil. 2:7), that is, He veiled His personal glory such that it could not be seen by the human eye. However, by watching Him and contemplating Him, that glory could be observed by those who had faith. The disciples could see that Jesus was in a relationship with God as His Father! What grace, that God would have things in such a way that we can enter into them! Two great things were manifest by the Incarnate Word: (1) grace, or the activity of divine love toward sinners, and (2) truth, the true relation of all things as they really are with God. The truth is “in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20-21). God is love and God is light, but those two characters were manifested to us by the Word made flesh as “grace and truth”. There was no imbalance, no compromise, and no shortcoming in this One.
Only-begotten. The expression "only-begotten" is one word in the Greek; 'monoganes'. It is an expression that confers the thought of uniqueness. A modern English equivalent is “one and only”. Most notably, "only-begotten" is used to convey the special place that the Son has in relation to God the Father.2 It is often coupled with the name "Son" or "Son of God", as in John 1:18, which shows that Sonship is our Lord’s unique identity. 'Monoganes' is used only a few other times in the New Testament. It is used three times in Luke for individuals healed by the Lord who were only children of their parents (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38). It is used in Hebrews 11:17 with regard to Isaac. The other occurrences refer to Christ as the Son of God; e.g. John 3:16; 1 John 4:9. The usage of this expression in connection with Isaac shows us that the term "only-begotten" does not infer temporal existence; i.e. it does not mean that the Son of God began to exist at a certain time, like how human children begin to exist when they are begotten of their parents. Similar to the term "firstborn", which is also applied to the Son, and has also been falsely used to deny His eternal existence, the term "only-begotten" has a special significance. The use of the term in Hebrews 11:17 and its equivalent in Gen. 22:2 helps us to see this. Abraham had another son, Ishmael. But Isaac was his only-begotten. The term "only-begotten" has the sense of 'one of a kind', and it is used in this way with regard to Isaac. There was only one Isaac. It has to do with the son's place of affection in the heart of the father. In what sense is Christ the "only begotten" or unique One? We do not need to speculate, the scripture says; “the only begotten Son of God”. It is in His eternal identity as the Son of God that He is the Only-Begotten. We can conclude that this term, which has been used to deny the Eternal Sonship, as if He had a beginning in time, in fact it strengthens that truth, because it emphasizes that His Sonship is what makes the Son unique at the most fundamental level!
- He had to come. The Word, who was with God and who was God, was made flesh.
- He had to walk. Jesus, seen on earth, had the glory of an only-begotten Son with a Father.
- The relationship between the Father and Son; i.e. eternal life has been manifested (v.14b)
- The disposition of God’s heart; i.e. we can know God’s heart is for us in love (v.14c)
- God has been fully declared; i.e. Jesus has declared the Father’s name (v.18)
The Record of John as to The Superiority of Christ (1:19-28)
- vv.19-28 God rouses a general expectancy of the Messiah
- vv.29-42 The 1st Day: The Leading Features of Christianity
- vv.43-51 The 2nd Day: The Calling of the Jewish Remnant
- ch.2:1-12 The 3rd Day: The Time of Blessing in the Millennium
John Questioned by Priests and Levites about His Identity (vv.19-23)
John Questioned by the Pharisees as to His Authority to Baptize (vv.24-28)
The 1st Day: The Leading Features of Christianity (1:29-42)
Christ Made Known as the Lamb of God (vv.29-31)
Christ Sealed with the Spirit and Marked as the Baptizer (vv.32-33)
Christ Marked Out as the Son of God (v.34)
Christ becomes the Gathering Center [For Christians] (vv.35-39)
A Great Gospel Outreach Results in New Disciples (vv.40-42)
The 2nd Day: The Restoration of Israel through a Remnant (1:43-51)
Christ’s Ways of Grace with the Remnant (vv.43-47)
Christ Known as Son of God and King of Israel (Psa. 2) (vv.48-49)
Christ Makes Himself Known as Son of Man (Psa. 8) (vv.50-51)
"Son of man" is a title Christ has in special connection with mankind; as either the rejected sufferer at the hands of mankind and on behalf of mankind as the one who assumes the responsibilities of the whole human race, or as exalted heir and head of all that God has purposed for mankind. The Old Testament spoke of a coming "Son of Man" that would reign over all creation and have an everlasting kingdom (Psalm 8:4-8; Daniel 7:13-14). But "Son of man" is a title Christ took in rejection as well as in glorification. The connection between the suffering and glory of the Son of man is beautiful.Read more…
- His baptism. The heavens opened upon Jesus, the Son of God on earth, as the object of heaven’s delight, and He was sealed with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16).
- His lifetime. The heavens continually opened upon Jesus, the Son of man on earth, as the object of heaven’s ministry, the angels as His servants (John 1:51). This scripture is also prophetic of the Millennium, when Christ as Son of Man on earth will be the restorer of all things, of the communication between heaven and earth, and the blessing that will result!
- Stephen. The heavens opened to reveal Jesus, the Son of man in the glory, as on high at the right hand of God, the object of the believer who is full of the Spirit, even in suffering here for His sake (Acts 7:56). Stephen was transformed by that vision!
- The Appearing. The heavens will once again open to reveal Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, as coming forth to judge and make war against all that dispute His authority and oppress the earth (Rev. 19:11).
The 3rd Day: The Blessing of the Earth in the Millennium (2:1-12)
Judgment of the Jews’ Temple & Presentation of the True Temple (2:13-22)
- Man cannot be satisfied with natural joy (vv.1-12)
- Man corrupts and exploits the things of God (vv.13-17)
- Man cannot understand the things of God (vv.18-22).
- Jesus can have no part with man in this state (vv.23-25)
The Temple Cleansing (vv.13-17)
The Jews Demand Proof of His Authority (vv.18-22)
- The scripture. These would be Old Testament scriptures that spoke of His resurrection (e.g. Psa. 16:8-11, Psa. 22:22, Isa. 53:12, Job 19:25-26).
- The word which Jesus had spoken. The Lord’s own promise that He would rise again (John 2:18-22, Matt. 12:39-40, 16:21, John 10:17, 18).
- Image is consistently used in connection with representation. Christ is the perfect representation of God as the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), and as the Son (Divine), He can be “the exact image” (Heb. 1:3).
- "First-begotten", used in Hebrews 1, conveys more the thought of preeminence, while "only-begotten" conveys uniqueness in affection.
- Yet notice the difference between the literal translation of the expression in John 13:23 (“in the bosom”) and the still deeper in John 1:18 (“into the bosom”).
- Note: in Acts 10:11 Peter sees the heavens opened, although in a vision, but there Christ is not the object.