John 1 Notes.docx

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Religious Studies
Stephen Westerholm

John 1 - Mark: First appearance of Jesus is at Jesus’ baptism; begins with beginning of Jesus ministry - Matthew: begins with genealogy of Jesus – explains continuity of old and new testament, begins with birth narrative - Luke: historical prologue begins, then birth narrative of John the Baptist, then birth narrative of jesus - Beginning of Jesus’ activity is when John the Baptist was arrested - John: beginning echoing words of Genesis, brings us back to creation o Most understand that Jesus was with God at the beginning of creation in order to fully understand the book o Must see Jesus in the context of his eternal nature o Jesus’ words are factually blasphemy unless you understand the truth of the opening verses - Johns Gospel gives a prologue for the first 18 verses that says we won`t understand anything that follows unless we understand the beginning part, the pre-existence of the Word and God Verse 1 - VERSE 1: explains two point, neither are explicit in the synoptics but is implicit there o Pre-existence of the Son of God  Pre-existed as the eternal being or being before the world’s existence  Existed before Bethlehem – not explicit in the synoptics but stated plainly in John o Paradoxical deity of the Son of God  The Word was with God and the Word was God  Both was not God and he is God at the same time  This paradox is repeated but never explained in the gospel  Jesus states repeatedly about God, speaks to God in prayer (indicating he is not God), but also speaks saying he is God  Repeated throughout the gospel – sense in which he is God, sense in which he’s not  Theologians speak of the trinity to explain this: 3 deities (Father, Son, Spirit), and are all one, yet are all different • Cannot speak of God rightly without including both the idea of the 3 and the idea of the one • One essence/substance, three persons  Language/formulation of the actual “trinity” comes from the early church.. .wasn’t worked out until the 4 century, John didn’t affirm the ‘trinity’  John and Paul just provide the raw material of being God and not God which later theologians articulated as the trinity  Typical of the Gospel throughout, Jesus is shown to talk about and to God, yet divine roles are claimed by him and John 1:1, John 20:28 claim he is God at the same time Sun Analogy - The trinity deity is like the sun, where the sun itself represents the father, the light from the sun represents the sun, and the heat that comes from the sun represents the spirit - Both the light and heat come from the body of the sun itself, and yet, temporally, they are coexisting – the light doesn’t come later than the sun - As soon as you have the sun you have light and heat - They owe their being to the Father, but are equally as eternal as the Father - Sun gives out light and heat but the light and heat are as old as the sun itself Jesus as the Word  - VERSE 3: all things were created by Him 3 Meanings: 1) Means by which God communicates 2) The agent of creation 3) In whom the cosmos subsists and holds together - What echoes are we supposed to hear when John talks about the Word ? o Word suggests communication, Bible repeats the Word of the Lord .. o Speaking of Jesus as the Word suggests that Jesus is the means by which God communicates with humans o Word is the agent of creation, ‘by his Word the heavens were made..’; Jesus was with God at creation - Certain texts, Proverbs 8, the wisdom of God is presented as an independent figure, as the first of God’s creation and at God’s side as God creates o Meant as a figure of speech, God creates with his wisdom - John tells us it’s not just a figure of speech – the Word of god, wisdom of God was with God during creation - For the reason that pervades the whole cosmos in which we live is not just chaos, there’s a coherence, a world orer and wisdom behind it – spoken of as the logos, the reason nthat lies behind, daheres in, and holds together the cosmos - Jesus is not only the agent of creation but in whom it subsists, who holds it together and keeps it in order - God keeps it running and keeps it together, didn’t just create and abandon - VERSE 5: God and the Word have life essentially in themselves, whereas human beings only have life contingently o Our lives are dependent on things outside of ourselves, we don’t give ourselves life, we are dependent and contingent – we are, but we might not be, we were not at one point, we won’t be at one point o God and the Word have life and do not dependent on anything else; life belongs essentially to their very nature, not contingently – always existed, always will exist - If human beings are going to enjoy life, they have to be connected to the one who is the source of life, must derive their life from God – to be disconnected from him is to not life true life - Next 10 verses: simple text but ambiguity about all of them - VERSE 5: ‘The light shines in the darkness..’ o Is he referring to what happened when the word became a human being or the presence of a divine wisdom  Does it refer to when the Word became human and darkness never overtook him?  Is it about the divine revelation throughout all of history – divine light in the Hebrew scriptures, light shining in the darkness and the darkness never overcame it? - VERSES 6-8: John the Baptist reference o Preparing the way of the Lord , baptizing o Also the one who points to the coming one, saying he baptizes with water but the one coming will baptize with the Spirit o All the focus in John’s gospel is as one witnessing the testimony to Christ o Came to bear witness to the light o Witness is a crucial word in Johns’ gospel – John the Baptist is a primary one, the Samaritan woman, the disciples, the works of Christ bear testimony  Witnesses bear testimony so that through him all might believe - VERSE 9-13: same ambiguity of Jesus as a human or divine revelation? o 9: He was the true light.. enlightens everyone who comes into the world o Word that became the human being Jesus wasn’t recognized by the world, but could also mean the unacknowledged divine wisdom in the world o The world did not accept him… Jesus as a human or people of the OT not accepting divine wisdom - VERSE 14: The word became flesh and lived among us o Talking about the Word prior to this verse indicates it’s talking about the Word before it became flesh / before Christ became a human o If verses are in order it makes sense that it talked about God’s wisdom in the world prior to Jesus’ birth as a human which verse 14 explicitly said o Crucial verse!! – requires early church to come up with the understanding of Christ`s two natures – both perfectly God and perfectly human o Verse is the basis of the understanding of the incarnation (“in flesh”) o Paradox in this as well:  How can the eternal God who is unchanging, never dies or wearies, become a human being in which all these things can be said?  No explanation to how it happens but is fundamental to the Christian faith o Docetism (presence of the Word in the presence of Jesus was only a seeming appearance) heresy nd  Because of this paradox, those in the 2 century who denied the Word of God became a real human being – may have taken on the appearance of a human but was not human because God cannot become a human, suffer, or die  Eternal Word cannot really die – one suggestion is that the divine Word came upon Jesus when was baptized and left him before his crucifixion .. because God cannot suffer or die o Suggested tat as the tabernacle in the OT that the Israelites built, NT equivalent in what John says is the divine presence and glory which dwelled in the person of Jesus himself not in a tabernacle o “We saw his glory”  Glory: distinctive excellence  Glory of God is a displace of that which is distinctive of God ; distinctive revelation of that which is divine  Through Jesus’ miracles, John says we beheld is glory  Other references to God’s glory are associated with Jesus’ death  When Jesus if lifted from the earth that’s when is glory is seen – in this apparent moment of weakness and shame, we have a supreme revelation of God’s love and glory  Glory of God is distinctively seen in the person of Jesus  Only his disciples saw the divine glory in Jesus, others saw a human being  “we” beheld his glory refers to his disciples - VERSE 18: “no one has ever seen God..” o Idea of the word as the one that reveals God, the one who communicates for Him o The Son is the visible representation of that which is eternal in God the father  The access point people had to God the Father - In John 13, it’s the last summer, and the beloved disciple is said to be leaning on the bosom of Jesus o What John is said to be doing to Jesus is what Jesus is said to do to the father o Jesus leans on Father’s chest, John reiterates later that he leaned on Jesu
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