Summary: God became a man so that He could die for our sins.
John’s Gospel has been called the Gospel of Decision. In its pages we are urged to believe the truth about Jesus Christ.
“I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history.”—H. G. Wells
“Who is Jesus?” is the most important question any person will ever encounter.
How the Story Begins:
• Mark begins his Gospel with the MINISTRY of Jesus.
• Matthew and Luke begin their Gospels with the BIRTH of Jesus.
• John begins his Gospel with the PREEXISTENCE of Jesus.
The word of God in the Old Testament is the means by which He expresses Himself. Also, His word is often personified (described in human terms).
• In revelation: “The word of the Lord came to Isaiah” (Isaiah 38:4).
• In salvation and judgment: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
John is not simply personifying the word of God. He is talking about an actual Person.
“The Word” (Greek: logos) = JESUS
As our words reveal who we are, so “the Word” (Jesus) reveals WHO GOD IS.
1. WHAT JESUS ALWAYS WAS
a. He was always EXISTING (1:1a).
When the beginning began, Jesus was ALREADY THERE. Greek word for “was” means “continually was.” In other words, He is eternal. He did not have a beginning.
Mark’s Gospel begins this way: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” John may be saying, “Mark has told you about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry; I want to show you that the starting point of the gospel can be traced father back than that, before the beginning of the universe.”
b. He was always WITH GOD (1:1b).
The Greek word for “with” (pros) can be translated “face to face with.” It indicates distinction and association. The Word was distinct from God and in close association (in fellowship) with God.
Before there was anyone, Jesus enjoyed a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with God.
c. He was always GOD (1:1c).
“The Word” was a title for God in the Jewish Targums (simplified paraphrases of the OT). These Targums were produced at a time when Jews ceased to pronounce the divine name (because of a fear of breaking the third commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God”). When they came to this name in the original, the translators substituted some other expression, such as “the Holy One” or “the Name.” For example, where our Bible reads, “Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God” (Exodus 19:17), the Targum reads “to meet the Word of God.”
How could Jesus be distinct from God (“with God”) and also be God? God is TRIUNE: thee Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) but ONE God.
What about the claim by the Jehovah’s Witnesses that the correct translation is “the Word was a god”?
• The argument for this translation is based on the absence of “the” before “God” (theos) in the original Greek. However, this is done to show that “the Word” is the subject of the sentence.
• Their interpretation has been followed by no recognized Greek scholar anywhere. It is commonly known that the sentence follows a regular rule of Greek grammar (called “Colwell’s rule”).
• If the Greek said “the God was the Word,” it would make the Word and God identical. That would contradict the previous statement: “The Word was with God.” John 1:1 is saying that Jesus is both distinct from God and equal to God.
• If the Jehovah’s Witnesses translated the rest of John 1 as they do verse1, verse 6 would say, “There was a man sent from a god,” verse 12 would say, “power to become children of a god, verse 18 would say, “No one has ever seen a god.” However, their New World Translation reads “God” in every case. What is the reason for the inconsistency? “The Word was God” does not fit their theology.
• If John had wanted to say, “The Word was God,” John 1:1 is exactly the way he would have said it.