Bible Study on John


Well hello and welcome to the
introductory lesson for the study of the Gospel of John, entitled “Jesus: The God/
Man.” I’m Mike Mazzalongo, your instructor. I’m happy that you’re taking this class,
an in-depth textual study of the book of John. So I encourage you if you have
your Bibles, if you’re watching this, have your Bibles, I encourage you to open
those Bibles to the Gospel of John, chapter one, and we’ll be taking a look
at that. But before we actually look at the text itself, I want to start with
a little bit of background, some introductory material about
this gospel. Now the book of John or the Gospel of John is named after and
attributed to John the apostle and there is a lot of internal and external
evidence to support the idea that he was the author of this book. So I’m not going
to spend a whole lot of time defending the idea that John the apostle
was the writer of this book. Now we do have a good profile of this man, John,
from the scripture itself. For example, he was the son of a wealthy fisherman,
Zebedee, we know that from Mark chapter one. He had a brother named James, not
James the writer of the Epistle of James, but another man whose name was James, we
know that from Matthew chapter four. He was close to Jesus, part of his
inner circle. He was there at the Transfiguration and it is said that
Jesus loved John, Matthew chapter 17, John chapter 21 mentions these things. His
character; he was a zealous person, he was impatient, he was at times intolerant, we
learn about that in Luke chapter 9 verse 54. We also find out near the end
of the Gospel of John that Jesus entrusted Mary, his earthly mother to John, to John’s care. And we also know that John worked with Peter in Jerusalem at the
beginning of his ministry, we read about that in Acts
chapter three. We also have writers of that particular period, not necessarily
inspired writers, but historians of that period who mentioned John in their
particular letters and that gives us more information historically about John;
people like Polycarp, for example, who’s a bishop of Ephesus, tells us something about John, it tells us,
Polycarp tells us, that John made his home and his work was in Ephesus. After
the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, had a great impact on him and a great
impact on his writings. From here he wrote this gospel, the Gospel of John,
while he was in Ephesus and other epistles around the Year 80 AD. He was
eventually exiled to the Isle of Patmos by the Roman emperor Domitian around 94
to 96 AD and from here he wrote the book of Revelation. We know that John died a
natural death at the beginning of the reign of Trajan near the year 100 and
eventually was buried in Ephesus. Well, so much about a
bit of background about the author of the gospel itself. I want to move on now
to the purpose. Why did John write this particular gospel, after all we have
several Gospels, we have four of them. Why? Why another one? Well, the reason for that
I suppose is because each writer had a specific purpose for writing his gospel.
Matthew, for example, writes with the Jewish person in mind in order to show
that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the Jewish Messiah, the Jewish king, that they
had anticipated from Jewish prophecy. Mark and Luke have Gentiles in mind in
order to show that Jesus is the Redeemer of nations that the nations longed for.
And John wrote when the difference between Jew and Gentile had disappeared,
this was after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD and
he’s writing from Asia Minor when there was a period of false doctrine
being preached, doctrines such as Gnosticism, challenging the claims of
Christianity and so his purpose is to show Jesus as the Son of God and that
salvation is found by having faith in Him and Him alone, so that’s his main
purpose, the development of faith in Jesus Christ.
Now this particular purpose is summarized in John chapter 20 verses 30
and 31. So if you have your Bibles, you can read along or perhaps look at
the screen we’re going to throw up that passage in a moment. John chapter
20 beginning in verse 30, John writes, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also
performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not
written in this book; but these have been written so that you
may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may
have life in His name.” And so in the entire book of John,
John develops three main themes in his complete gospel and I want you to think
of braiding somebody’s hair. I have two daughters and I remember
when my wife was braiding their hair when they were young girls; take
a strand, a second strand, perhaps a third strand, kind of braid them together
into one strand, well that’s exactly what John is doing here with three trains of
thought, if you wish. First of all, the first train, the first strand, is the fact
that Jesus is presented as a true man as well as the divine Son of God. So
there’s one train of thought that John establishes with his record. The second
train of thought is the evidence that some people began to believe in
Jesus and so he tells stories and gives evidence and
and describes situations where people actually believe in Jesus and how
they react to him, so that’s the second strand. Then the third strand is the
rise of disbelief and rejection of Jesus. And so these themes are not presented in
some sort of sequential order in his gospel. It’s not as if you’ve got ten
chapters presenting Jesus as the Son of God, ten chapters presenting
people who believed in Him, and the rest of the chapters showing people who don’t
believe in Him. John takes a different approach, he weaves all three of these
strands in and out in every chapter showing Jesus as the Son of God,
demonstrating that some believe and some disbelieve, all in the same narrative to
make one complete narrative. And so John’s Gospel describes the object of
faith, who is Jesus Christ, and why He should be considered as such, the
miracles that He did, the resurrection that He experienced, and then John also
describes the development of belief in Jesus and also the rise of disbelief and
rejection of Jesus all in the same narrative, all in the same book. And so
when we understand this idea of braiding these three themes, the outline
of the book begins to make sense to us. So let’s look at the outline of this
book, how we’re going to study it. The first part of the book is called the
prologue, that’s what we’re going to do tonight. That’s chapter 1 verses 1 to 18. In this opening section John introduces Jesus
as the Son of God, the God/Man, if you wish, he traces Jesus’ existence
from the pre-creation era to His incarnation as a human being. Second part
of the book is called proof of His divinity through ministry, chapter 1
verse 19 all the way to chapter 12 verse 50. Now this next large section of the
book simply braids together the two strands of episodes of belief and
disbelief around the description of His ministry; so many chapters describing His ministry and how some people believed and others
disbelieve, accounts of His teaching and miracles, again with alternating
responses of faith and lack of faith. The next section is the proof of Jesus’
divinity through the death, burial, and resurrection, that’s chapter thirteen one
all the way to chapter 21 verse 25. So in the final chapters, John uses the same
technique of describing alternating responses of belief and disbelief, but
this time they are set against the backdrop of His final days as He is
arrested and tried and tortured and crucified, buried and then resurrected. So
John’s focus was quite narrow in this gospel, Jesus himself and who He was is
presented along with a whole series of believing and unbelieving responses from
people around Him and you’ll see this theme, if you know it ahead of
time you’ll be looking for it as we as we work our way through chapter by
chapter you’ll see that these same themes come up each time. So
let’s begin this study that we’re going to do during this session in Chapter 1.
So let’s go to John, the Gospel of John, chapter 1 and begin our study of the
text itself. So we start our study with what is called the prologue because it
is not a narrative about Jesus’ life or His actions, but rather describes Jesus
before coming to earth as a human being, which makes John’s Gospel unique in that
sense; none of the other writers describes this period of time. So this is
where John is different as I say he begins with a statement clearly
declaring Jesus’ divine nature whereas the other three gospel writers allow the
reader to conclude this from the evidence they present in the Gospels. In other
words, the other writers, they write about Jesus in His life and what He does
and so on and so forth and the goal is that the reader will come to a
conclusion. Wow! Listen, He did miracles, He did this, He resurrected from
the dead, He must be divine. John turns this around. He starts with a
the statement that Jesus is divine, he begins with that and then he adds the
proofs throughout his gospel. So there was a certain concept of the idea of the
Word or the idea of the word “word” or “logos” in the Greek that existed at that
time. Now for the Jews when writers would use the term “the word,” for them it
it represented the revelation of God, it was something to be understood and put
into practice as well as something to be respected. When a writer used the
concept of “the word,” “the logos,” well this was revelation from God. The Gentiles on
the other hand, the Greeks, for them using that term in written form represented
the great reason or power or force as we would say today. To be in accord with the
word for a Greek at the time, or to be in accord with the power was to have a
happy and a balanced life. So Jews and Gentiles both used the term “the word” to
mean something very, very specific to their culture and to their thinking. So
John in his prologue explains that the full meaning of this concept is
revealed through Christ. In other words, He’s the Word, He’s the Logos, He is the
force, at the same time speaking to Jews and to Gentiles and bringing together
their understanding of what this concept meant. So let’s start in chapter 1 verse
1. It says, “In the beginning,” and let’s stop right there. “In the beginning,” this
refers to the time before creation, that dimension that existed before the
space-time continuum that we live in was created, John takes the reader to that
point where one is standing at the beginning of time and not looking
forward to history, but rather looking backwards to prehistory; before
everything was created, before time was created. So he says, “In the beginning was
the Word.” So “the Word” is a title for Jesus, so that’s where we begin, that’s
where John begins. “In the beginning was the Word,” a title for Jesus. The Jews
would see revelation from God, the Gentiles would read a force or a power.
The Gentiles would be thinking something different than the Jews were thinking
and yet the concept that both of them were thinking was that the Word was
something special. So John says, “In the beginning was the Word.” John uses Word
for Jesus, because what you say is a reflection of what’s in your heart and
what’s in your mind and so this opening title for Jesus
describes Him as being the perfect expression of the mind of God in human
form. In other words, when God speaks, when the power is realized, Jesus is what is
said, Jesus is what is expressed, Jesus is the force, the power; significant both for
Jews and for Gentiles. And then we go on. “In the beginning was the Word and the
Word was with God.” Very important idea, not a power coming from God as in a
created thing or an attribute of God, no, Jesus as a person coexisting with
God on an equal basis, this is what John is getting at here. And then he
says, “And the Word was God.” Very significant. The Word was God. God
was the Word. So John, a devout Jew, would never say and the Word was a god, and
the reason for that is that this would violate his monotheistic beliefs, to him
this would be idolatry. And so in the first verse John asks
and answers some basic questions here. So to the question, who is the Word?
John answered, God is the Word. And then, why is the Word God? Why is the Word
God? John says because it’s eternal, before time, it coexists with
God, its nature is divine. So John therefore gives substance to the
idea of word or logos far beyond what the Jews or the Gentiles had thought at
that time. In the Gospel of John, the Word is Almighty God. In the Gospel of John
God expresses Himself as the Word. In the Gospel of John, God and the Word are
one, one in the same thing. And so in verse two we read the following, “He
was in the beginning with God.” So once having made the connection
between God and the Word, John now begins to connect Jesus with the Word. He
doesn’t mention Him by name, but he uses a personal pronoun “He” to connect Jesus
who he’ll mention by name later with the Word and ultimately to God.
So his reasoning is quite mathematical. Let me explain. If A) God equals B) Word
and the Word equals C) Jesus, then A) God equals C) Jesus. That’s his approach to
establishing the idea that God and the Word are one. Jesus and the Word are one,
and so therefore Jesus and God are one. So in the next verse he’s going to
complete the equation. Verse three he says, “All things came into being through
Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” So the Jews
attributed the creation to the power of God’s word. For example, in the book of
Genesis it says, “God said, ‘Let there be light,'” and light appeared. God literally spoke the creation into existence. Now the Gentiles also saw the power of the force
as the agent of creation. So in this verse John is connecting the Word to the
person of Jesus making the Word and Jesus one. Now here’s the point, the idea is
that Jesus in the form of the Word was the agent of creation. This teaching is
also presented by Paul the apostle in Colossians 1 verse 16. Paul says, “For by
Him,” referring to Jesus, “For by Him all things were created both in the heaven
heavens and on earth.” Let’s keep going, working our way through this passage. It says, “In Him was life, and the life was
the Light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not
comprehend it.” And so here John makes the bridge from divinity to humanity in
three steps, watch — God is the Word in eternity; number two, the Word is Jesus
creating the universe; number three, Jesus is the life bringing light into
the world. So John also summarizes Jesus’ earthly ministry. He says Jesus is the
life, meaning the essence of God, His life brings light. Light refers to the truth
of God and His Word does not disagree with anything true but reveals the final
answer to all questions about God and about salvation. So John briefly explains at the beginning of his gospel what happens at
the end of his gospel. In other words, Jesus brings the truth, but the truth is
ultimately rejected. Let’s keep going. Verses 6 to 8, it says, “There came a man
sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the
Light, so that all might be all might believe through him. He was not the Light,
but he came to testify about the Light.” And so in these three verses John
describes the role of one of the major figures in Christ’s ministry
and that is John the Baptist. He’s going to later describe John’s work in
connection to Jesus, but at this point he simply summarizes John the Baptist’s
purpose or his ministry. John, he says was a witness. Now according to scripture he
was the witness who prepared the people for the coming of Christ or the coming
of the Light or the coming of the Truth. The majority of John’s ministry was to
alert the people that the Messiah was coming, that’s why he was there, he
previewed, if you wish, he introduced the Messiah to the people of that time. In
the end, after he baptized Jesus, John the Baptist began to directly point to the
Lord as the one who was to come; not just in his preaching, but he’d physically do
it, he’d point to Him as Jesus was walking by and says, ‘there’s the Lamb of
God who takes away the sins of the world.’ And so with his death most of the
disciples of John the Baptist began to follow Jesus and so that’s why John mentions John the Baptist early on in his gospel. He begins before history,
he establishes the fact that Jesus and God are one in the same, and then he
moves on to John the Baptist, the one who introduced the idea, who introduced the
notion, introduced the reality that this Jesus, this God/Man was going to walk
among men. So in verse 9, let’s keep going. Verse 9, it says, “There was the true Light
which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the
world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came into His own,
and those who were His own did not receive Him.” So in this passage John
reviews and expands on what he mentioned briefly in verse 5.
Basically he makes three major points here in these verses. Number one, Jesus
brought with Him and within Him the capability to bring every person into
the knowledge of the truth, that’s what he means by He brought the light. The
light is the truth, the understanding of who God is and what God wants. Jesus
brought that understanding with Him to earth. Number two, even with this ability the world which He created, remember at the
beginning he says the world was created through Him and so the Word made flesh,
Jesus, comes to earth brings the light of truth and yet even with the power to
bring the life, to truth, the people reject him. John says that. So remember
he’s saying at the beginning of his gospel what’s going to happen at the end,
despite all of this there are people that are not going to believe. And then
number three, he says the people, the Jews, that he had especially blessed were
especially hard-hearted and refused to accept Him and so in verse 12-13 it says,
“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 will
of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” And so this is the gospel in
capsule form. In these few verses here he doesn’t explain
everything in detail, but rather he gives a kind of a bird’s-eye view of what
Jesus did accomplish with some people. For those who received, meaning for those
who believed Him, He transformed them into spiritual beings, not created by
normal reproductive means, but actually spiritual beings created by the power of
God. And so the details are spelled out later in the gospel. For now he merely
summarizes the fact that some rejected Him and some accepted Him and for those
who accepted Him the blessing was that they would become a new creation;
something spiritual, something eternal. In verse 14, he says, “And the Word became
flesh.” Now you see the transformation here? First there’s God, then God, then
the Word is with God, and then the Word is God, and the world is created through
the Word who is God. Now he goes the next step, he says, “And the Word became
flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, as of the only begotten from
the Father, full of grace and truth.” So the Word becoming flesh is what
we refer to as the incarnation. From God being the same as the Word, that
combination to the Word being the same as Jesus, that combination to Jesus
becoming man, that combination and that’s why we say this series or this
gospel the title of it “Jesus: the God/ Man,” because throughout the gospel John is
going to describe this Jesus who is a God/Man. So in a few words John proclaims
that Almighty God took on a human body. Now he speaks of his own experience of
this phenomenon that he witnessed. He says, “We,” speaking of the apostles, himself,
John, he says, “We saw,” in other words we experienced this glory. What’s the glory?
Well, we’re in the presence of the God/ Man, a kind of glory that only the Son,
only the God/Man could actually radiate and the substance of His glory, in other
words, what was it about Him that made Him glorious? And John says His godly
nature, He was the God/Man, He was a man but the divinity just poured out of Him. “Of grace and truth,” that’s the mind of God
clearly expressed and so he talks about “the only begotten from the Father.” Now
some never become sons of God, the ones who don’t believe, and others become sons
by adoption as God forgives and cleanses us from sin and adopts us into His
kingdom. We become sons of God through adoption, but here John says Jesus is a
Son by nature, He is the only one, that’s what only begotten means, He’s the only
one like that who is related to God by having an identical nature from God. And
so John is also reminding his readers of the incredible presence that Jesus had
which makes the rejection of Him a terrible, terrible sin. We keep moving
through the passage, verse 15. He says, “John testified about Him and out,
saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I,
for He existed before me.'” And so in order to reinforce this idea of the impact of
Jesus’s presence, the gospel writer reaches back and he talks about John the
Baptist’s work once again. He says that even John the Baptist in his witness
testified to the eternal quality and preeminent position of the One who was
to the One who was to come. He says ‘the One to come was before’ and yet
John was conceived before Jesus, but he says that Jesus came before him,
he understood this God/Man nature of the Messiah. So John the Baptist knew and
preached about Jesus’ God/Man status. Again the implication is that their
rejection, meaning the Jews especially, their rejection was a grave sin because
they had plenty of preparation of His coming from a credible source, John the Baptist. Verse 16, we’re almost near the end, he
says, “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” Jesus is
the Word and the Word is divine and for this reason the Word is completely full,
it’s full up, you cannot exhaust the supply of truth and grace coming from
the Word, coming from Jesus, coming from God, all the same thing. You cannot
exhaust it. You can exhaust the truth coming from it, just like you cannot use
up the supply of oxygen by breathing in the open air. Could you actually
breathe in enough air to exhaust the amount of air that exists? No, well you
cannot in the same way exhaust the amount of grace and truth that Jesus, the
Word, the God/Man has towards sinners who breathe in God’s grace and truth through
faith in Jesus Christ. So he’s making this comparison here. Verse 17, he says,
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were
realized through Jesus Christ.” So Moses received the law which
contained the promise of the grace and truth to come in the future, Hebrews
chapter 10, and he administered the law given to him by God, but Jesus is the
substance of the promise that were only contained in the law. The law
contained the promises, but Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises.
It’s like the difference between having a picture of an item that you’ve ordered
online or something, you just see a picture of it, and then you finally
have the product in your hand; one is the promise of the thing to come,
a description of it, the other thing is the actual thing itself. So one is
promised, Old Testament; one is present, New Testament. And then finally in verse
18, last verse that we’re going to cover in this session, he says, “No one has seen
God at any time; the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has
explained Him. So no man has ever seen God, even Moses spoke directly
and saw the back of God’s glory, but Jesus, John says, the God/Man, gives us an
experience of God not available until now. He is able to do this because of His
intimate knowledge of God having the same nature and being part of the
Godhead with Him. And so Jesus is able to relate to man what He knows about God
from first-hand experience as a divine being Himself, part of the Godhead. So those are the first eighteen. It’s quite a bit, we’ve rushed
through this with quite a bit of material a lot of ideas here, but
fascinating ideas, but let’s kind of summarize here what we’ve
done and then we’ll close out this lesson. So John begins his gospel by
establishing the fact that with his own eyes he has experienced God taking on a
human nature in order to give man an intimate experience and knowledge of
himself. Since we couldn’t transfer to His realm, He transferred
to our realm and this knowledge John calls truth or light, this experience he
calls life. He says that for the most part men rejected this knowledge,
rejected this experience, but he also lists three witnesses that proclaimed
this knowledge and experience, but were not believed. Witness number one, John the
Baptist and his witness in preaching. Witness number two, Jesus Himself and his
witness of miracles and teaching. And witness number three, John the apostle
and his eye witness of what Jesus said and did. And so with the prologue John
sets up these three braids, if you wish, these three strands, of his gospel
the presence of Jesus the God/Man, the reaction of belief by some, and the
reaction of disbelief and rejection by many, and he weaves these three strands
together in one single narrative throughout his gospel and you’ll see
this come alive as we discuss the Gospel of John in our next lesson. Well, that’s
it for now. Thank you for staying with us through this challenging first portion. I
hope that you’ll be back for lesson number two as we continue in the Gospel
of John, Jesus: the God/Man. I’m Mike Mazzalongo and you are watching
Bibletalk.TV. See you again.Bye-bye.

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