THE TRINITY 14
The Deity of Christ 3
Today as we continue our study into the Trinity, and specifically into the deity of Lord Jesus Christ, we will be looking at one of the clearest declarations in all of Scripture of the deity of Christ. We have been looking at passages that demonstrate the pre-existence of Christ as the eternal Son of God.
Today we will be looking at the first 18 verses of the gospel John. So please turn with me there. These first 18 verses of John are known as the prologue of John. It is clear when you read and study these verses that John uses them as the glasses with which we must read the rest of gospel. The prologue of John is the seed of the rest of the gospel, which grows into a mighty oak with all of wonderful teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of John is an expansion of what is written in John 1:1-18.
As the famed preacher G. Campbell Morgan stated “In these eighteen verses we have an explanation of everything that follows from the nineteenth verse of chapter one, to the twenty-ninth verse of chapter twenty.”
I would challenge each of you to read through this section of Scripture this coming week and think about some of what has been stated here today. What John writes in these 18 verses is some of the most succinct and comprehensive statements ever written regarding the nature of Jesus Christ. I think what we at times forget to realize when reading Scripture is that the authors of Scripture did not have computers or endless amounts of paper to write on. They had to be brief and to the point because they would not have an continual supply of papyri. They were limited in that way. Here in John 1:1-18 John demonstrates His ability to communicate in relatively few words the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ.
I also would like to say that because I want to keep this to one sermon we will be leaving out much more then we will be looking at. My goal this morning is simply show that John is very clear in his declaration of the pre-existence and deity of Jesus Christ.
Let us begin to go through this section verse by verse. Look at John 1:1; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John begin with the words, “In the beginning was the Word” which is the same way the Bible itself begins, Gen. 1:1; “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis begins with creation, and as we see in vss. 3-4, John does as well. But John goes further, not only to tell us something about the creation of the world, but he goes on to speak of the new creation that the Word brings.
We should understand that here John is not simply telling us that the Word was simply at the beginning of creation, that little word “was” takes us back beyond that. John is very clear in letting us know that the Word goes back beyond time itself, the Word is eternal. John is saying that there never was a time when the “Word” was not.
James White states this regarding the word “was” in John 1:1; “It is a timeless word - that is, it simply points to existence before the present time without reference to a point of origin. One can push back the "beginning" as far as you can imagine, and, according to John, the Word still is.”
So then the first thing we learn about the Word is that He is eternal. The Word is timeless. The Word was not something that was created by God at some point in time, but there was never a time when the Word did not exist. The very first phrase of John declares to us that the Word pre-existed.
Notice what John states next, “and the Word was with God”. Here we learn that that Word has fellowship with God. The Greek word here has the idea of being face to face. Here we are told that the Word and God had this intimate, this face to face, fellowship with one another. Also make note that we have that verb “was” again, and just as with the first clause of John 1:1 it speaks of the eternal nature of what is being discussed and that is the face to face relationship between the Word and God.
In other words what John is saying is that there was never a time when the Word and God did not have this intimate face to face fellowship. Their relationship is one that goes beyond time into eternity.
John next states something that is truly amazing for a monotheistic Jew, “and the Word was God.” Here we have one of the clearest declaration in Scripture of the deity of Christ. The “Word was God”. What is of interest is that the word order in the Greek put the emphasis on God. John is in effect saying, “…and the Word was GOD!”
This verse as caused many to stumble throughout the history of the church. That is there are those who just cannot accept the plain teaching of Scripture that the Word was God. Jehovah’s Witnessed who deny that Christ was God, translate this passage “the Word was a god”, but there is no reputable Greek scholar who would agree with this translation.
John is very clear in communicating to us the eternal divine nature of the Word. God and the Word share the same nature. John is clear that we have at least two divine persons who have existed eternally, but making up a single being who is God. Scripture goes on to reveal that there is a third person who makes up this being and that is the Holy Spirit, but that is for another day.
Let me make clear this point, the very first verse of John 1, destroys the teaching of Subordinationism, that is what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, Jesus Christ was created being. And it also does away with Modalism, which is what the Spirit and Truth Christian assembly believe - that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes or forms - the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit.
John is clear, the Word, who is Jesus Christ, existed eternally as God separate from the Father.
Let us review, first we learn that the Word is eternal, second we learn is that the Word’s relationship with God is eternal, that the Word has eternally existed with God. Third, we learn that the Word is deity, the He shares the same nature as God.
I also want to point out again that this sets the stage for the whole Gospel, all of the rest of the gospel of John must be read through the lenses of what we read in John 1:1.
Moving now to 1:2, “He was in the beginning with God.” He being repetitive it appears that John wants to stress two points here lest we overlook them. First the eternal nature of the Word, and the eternal nature of His face to face fellowship with God.
Look at John 1:3. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Notice how John declares that the Word is creator both positively, “All things were made through him…” and negatively “without him was not any thing made that was made.”
John wants his readers to be sure that he is understood. The Word is not a creature, but creator, and thus is God. John does not say the Word created “some things” or “most things”, he want us to understand that He created all things and therefore cannot be created, as one cannot create Himself. Verse 3 can only be spoken of one being, and that is the one true God revealed in Scripture.
Moving to verses 4-5; “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The Word not only bring forth physical life as creator, but He brings forth spiritual life as Saviour. The Word shines light into the world, both physical life at creation, and spiritual life through the Holy Spirit.
Remember to keep in mind that the rest of the gospel of John is an expansion on these first 18 verses. Our Lord Jesus goes on to describe Himself in the gospel of John as the light of the World, but also saying that “people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.”
Please notice that John states that the light is still shining! It still is shining in the darkness. I believe that what John is bringing out to his readers is that the Word brings physical light at creation, and the light of salvation comes at His incarnation.
Look at vss. 6-8; “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”
Here John introduces John the Baptist to readers. He will have more to say about his John soon enough. But for now it seem he wants his reader to be clear that the Word, the one who is the light, is not John the Baptist.
Verses 9-11; “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”
Here John begins to open the door to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. When reading the rest of the gospel of John, we can see that there is no doubt that the true light coming into the world is the sending of the Son of God by the Father, a theme that is stated throughout the gospel of John.
As are told in John 3:17 for instance, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
In verse 10 John once again reiterates the teaching that the Word is creator, but here adds that while the Word created the world, the Word is not received by that creation. Which again is a theme the John fleshes out in his gospel.
John makes mention that the Word is sent to His own, but His own rejection Him. That is to say, He is sent to the Jewish nation, but is rejected by the Jews.
Looking back to our passage vss. 12-13; “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Here is the first declaration of the gospel made by John. We see that being born into the family of God, that is to have spiritual life, does not come through a blood line, your family does not matter. It does not matter if you are Jewish or Gentile. Salvation does not come through the will of our flesh, or through the will of any man. Salvation comes through the will of God. That is to say that salvation is all of God, it is by His grace, by His mercy, by His will. Once more when reading the rest of John’s gospel, this is a theme that is taught very clearly.
Moving now to John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Here is a clear declaration of the incarnation of Jesus. John now makes clear that the Word is Jesus Christ our Lord, who was with God, who is God, who is creator. He enters into His creation by becoming flesh. God becomes flesh for the salvation of His people.
Let us make a couple things clear at this point. John states the Word became flesh. The scripture does not say that the Word became a man, it does not say the Word took on the body of a man, John does not say that the Word filled a man, or a baby, NO! It states the Word became flesh. While John is quite clear in declaring deity of Christ in John 1:1-3, here is equally clear in declaring the humanity of the Son of God.
Friends we have here the greatest revelation of God. So that we might know God, so that we might experience God, God becomes flesh, the creator enters into His creation for the salvation of His people.
My friends I want you to grasp the significance of that phrase, “the Word became flesh.” There is no doubt that this one of the most intense, one the most powerful statements ever written.
John 1:14 tells us that God became flesh and dwelt among us. That phrase “dwelt among” literally means “to pitch one’s tent.” God pitched His tent with us, as it were. He reached down to us because we could never reach up to Him.
In using these words I am sure John has in mind the OT tabernacle or tent of meeting. We read in Exo. 29:44-45, “I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God” Later we read in Exo. 40:34, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”
In verse 14 we read of the ultimate fulfillment of that with the coming of the Word, the coming of the messiah. We see the second person of the Trinity become human flesh, and does so WITHOUT laying aside His deity. Understand that, the Word does not stop being the Word to become flesh, the Word, that which is divine becomes flesh. Thus we have John teaching us that the divine and human natures of Christ were fully united in the incarnation. The human and divine natures of Christ we can see taught throughout John’s gospel.
John than states that and “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The “we” John refers to I believe are his fellow disciples in Christ. Understand Jesus did not walk around the countryside with a halo, or some kind of luminescent glow. His glory was seen in the works of the Father that He performed. His glory is seen the miracles He performed. As we read in “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”
His glory is also seen in teachings which were full of grace and truth.
But to point back to the “we” of our passage. Only His those who have faith in Him, only those who believe see the glory of Christ, the glory of the only Son of God.
I think of the words of Jesus in John 6:36; “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” Those people obviously did not see the glory of the only Son from the Father. That glory that was full of grace and truth. And there are many today, who do not see that glory either.
Because of time I am going to skip over vss. 15-17 so that we can focus on vs. 18; “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
Here John closes his prologue the same way which He began it, and that is with a declaration of the deity of the Word, who He has now revealed as Jesus Christ.
John states here that “No one has ever seen God,”. I dealt with what John means by these statements a few weeks ago in my sermon on love. Briefly what He means is no one has ever seen God the Father. That can clearly be seen from the Scriptures.
But notice what He states next. One again, as in John 1:1 John plainly calls Jesus God.
Look again at the passage, thinking about what 1:1 states, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
We can read vs. 18 this way.
“No one has ever seen God the Father, but God the Son, that the Word, who was in the beginning with God, the Word who was God, that is at the side of the Father, which can literally be translated, in the bosom of the Father, He, that is the Word, that is Jesus Christ, has made Him know, has revealed God.”
Thus we have the very emphasis of the Prologue, or we can even say the emphasis of the gospel of John itself. This in fleshing of the Word is the definitive revelation of God Himself, for that is the only way in which God can be known in a saving manner.
I do want to point out this. Some translations read in verse 18, “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” NKJV. Two things real quick, the term only begotten, in no way infers being created, the Greek word literally means unique or one of kind. Second, the older and what I would say are the more reliable manuscripts of John, have the reading “only begotten God” as opposed to “only begotten Son.” Both those points can be defended, but we do not have that time today.
As I stated at the beginning of this message, there is much more that we could look at than what I have covered today. But my goal as stated was to show that John is very clear in his declaration of the pre-existence and deity of Jesus Christ, and I believe we have seen that.
I also want to remind you of the challenge I gave to each of you to read through this section of Scripture this coming week and think about some of what has been stated here today. And keeping in mind that these first 18 verses of John are the glasses with which we must read the rest of gospel. The rest of John is an expansion of what is written in John 1:1-18. I know that you will be blessed through reading all of the gospel John in that light.
In closing I pray you would think on what the Word did to bring about your salvation. Think on the humility, the suffering, the glory!
I pray that you would enjoy the gift of that salvation. That you would repent, and place your faith in the Word, in our Lord Jesus Christ. Believe that He is in fact God of very God, that He became flesh, that He lived a perfect live, that He died a perfect death. That He rose again on the third day and sits once more at the right hand of the Father. I pray you have believe in the gospel. For it is that gospel, and that gospel alone that is the power of God unto salvation.
LET US PRAY