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002a The Pre-Existent Christ            John 1:1-5

John, the writer of this Gospel, was the son of Zebedee and Salome.  His father was a fisherman in Galilee and as such, would not have been destitute of property and would not have been in the lower class of people.  In Mark 1:20, he hired other men, so he was known by a few, at least.  In John 18:15, we see that Caiphas the high priest knew him.  John was not an unknown, destitute man; he was someone of some means and importance in the community.  In the community, he was probably the best known among the twelve.

He was the youngest when called and lived to the greatest age.  He is also the only one of the twelve that died a peaceful death.  Can you imagine growing up with Jesus as your brother or cousin; the games you would play?  What you might discuss?  This respect was instilled to such an extent that when Jesus walked up to the boat where they were working with their father and said, “follow me”, they immediately – without hesitation – put down what they were doing and followed Him.  (Matthew 4:21,22)

John had a very special relationship with Jesus.  He was called “that disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 19:26,27), and in John 13:23, he is represented as “leaning on His bosom”, a sign of special friendship.  When eating, they didn’t sit at a dinner table as you and I do.  They would recline at a table, lying on their left sides, all with their heads toward the table.  They would use their left arms to prop their heads and would eat with their right hands.  The person in front of you, or “in your bosom” was near to you and you could easily fellowship with him.  This was a very intimate position, and was used both figuratively and literally as meaning very near and dear and intimate.

According to some ancient sources, the apostle John was related to Jesus.  According to some of the writings, Joseph had seven children by a former marriage; four sons and three daughters; Martha, Esther, and Salome.  John was Salome’s son.  In the same way that Jesus was reckoned as the son of Joseph, Salome was reckoned to be the sister of Jesus; therefore, John was Jesus’ nephew. 

Salome attended our Lord throughout His earthly ministry.  Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40,41 tell us that she was there at His crucifixion.  In Matthew 20:20,21 we see her ask special favors of Him for her sons and she is presumably one of the people referenced in Matthew 13:55 and 56 which says, “Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?  And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this [man] all these things?”

Whatever the reason, Jesus had a special relation with John and his brother James, as well as Simon Peter.  In John 19:27 he commends His mother to the care of John; In Mark 5:37, at the raising of the daughter of Jarius, these three (John, James and Peter) were the only three permitted to be at the raising of the daughter of Jarius; they were the only ones permitted to be present when He was transfigured (Matthew 17:1,2); they were the only ones permitted to be with Him in His sufferings in the garden of Gethsemane; and along with Andrew, they were the only ones He made known the desolations that would befall Judea.

Although we know that John’s Gospel was the last of the four that were written, we don’t know for certain when it was written.  Some experts believe it was written in about 97 AD, while others think it was written around 68 AD, just before the destruction of Jerusalem.  General consensus is that it was written about 97 AD but nothing of any certainty can be determined and, it is a matter of little consequence.

John himself gives the reason for writing this Gospel towards the end of the gospel, in [John 20:31].  It was written to show that Jesus is the Christ; the messiah; the Son of God and that believing we might have life.  This idea is consistent throughout this Gospel.  Jesus is the Son of God.  John dwells on the divinity of Jesus more than the other Gospels.  The other Gospels dwell more on His miracles and the external evidence of His ministry.  John showed that Jesus was the Messiah.   From Jesus’ own words, he shows what characterizes the Messiah.

Let’s go back to John 1.  Here in verse 1, it says, “In the beginning.”  Some argue that it says a beginning, but αρχη (arch) is definite.  In the beginning.  It is anarthrous or disjointed much like when a person says, “I’m going to town”; he’s referring to a specific town.  “In the beginning” is similar to the Hebrew phrase that is used in Genesis 1:1.  As a matter of fact, in the Septuagint, which is the translation of the Hebrew OT into Greek, the phrase in Genesis 1:1 is identical to the phrase in John 1:1.  Since the Septuagint was translated about 280 BC, John would have probably been familiar with that translation of the Hebrew OT into the Greek.

John consistently uses Roman time and other non-Jewish references, as well as explaining many Jewish customs that would be unfamiliar to Gentiles.  The other Gospel writers do not do this; they assume the reader would be familiar with Jewish customs.  John was writing for the spiritual man; all spiritual men.

John in this passage is obviously drawing on the reference to Genesis 1:1, and in the same way, he is drawing us much beyond the beginning of Creation and trying to bring us to the very limit of eternity; eternity has no limits; it has no beginning and no ending.  Just as in Genesis, here there is no argument to prove the existence of God; His existence is assumed.  God exists and is the Creator.  This is the time frame given for Christ.  Eternal or “In the beginning.”

In the beginning, what?  Was the Word.”  Three times in this sentence, the word “was” is used in the imperfect, which simply implies continuous existence.  There is no connotation of beginning, the Logos simply was.  This phrase is pointing to a time of pre-existence before creation, which is not mentioned until verse 3.  [John 8:58]  This is a Hebrew idiom that in Greek basically says, “Before time, “I AM”. 

[Psalm 90:2]  This beginning had no beginning.  He simply was.  This beginning denotes absolute existence or “I AM”.  Compare [John 1:3] and [John 1:14].  In both cases, they were not made or created; they became.

Look back at “in the beginning”.  It is not from the beginning, as it is in John 15:27 which says, “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning”.

“In the beginning” and “from the beginning” are not the same thing.  “From the beginning” is common in John’s writings.  This contrast leaves no room for doubting the eternal pre-existence of Jesus the Christ.  The account in Genesis starts at the beginning and brings us down through history; John takes us up from the present to the beginning.  “In the beginning was the Word”.

This word that is translated as “Word” is the Greek word Λογος and is from λεγω, old word that means to lay by, to collect, to gather.  Hence to put words side by side, or gather words together, so to speak.  Λογος is a collection of not only things in the mind, but the words that express them. Λογος is common for reason as well as speech.  Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher from about 500 BC, used this word for the principle that controls the universe.  Λογος is never used in a merely grammatical sense, but is used as a way of embodying a concept.  For example, the Septuagint in Exodus 34:28 refers to the Ten Commandments as τους δεκα λογους (tous deka logos) or the ten words and we get our word “Decalogue” from this.  Decalogue is a word that is used to reference the Ten Commandments.  “In the beginning was the I AM which controls the universe.”

[Hebrews 1]  Why is He referred to as “the Word”?  As we have seen, a “word” is that by which we can communicate our will and convey our thoughts.  [Hebrews 1:1-3]  Christ is the means by which God declares His will and issues His commandments. 

This term “Word” was in use in this sense well before John used it.  Chaldee was a language employed by the sacred writers in certain portions of the Old Testament.  It is the Aramaic dialect, as it is sometimes called, as distinguished from the Hebrew dialect. It was the language of commerce and of social intercourse in Western Asia, and after the Exile gradually came to be the popular language of Palestine. It is called “Syrian” in 2 Kings 18:26.  Some isolated words in this language are preserved in the New Testament. The term “Hebrew” was also sometimes applied to the Chaldee because it had become the language of the Hebrews such as in John 5:2 which says, “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches”.  “Word” was used in the Chaldee translation of the Old Testament, as in [Isaiah 45:12; I have made the earth, and created man upon it].  In the Chaldee it is, "I, by my word, have made…"  Isaiah 48:13says, "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth."  In the Chaldee it says, "By my word I have founded the earth."

[Psalm 33]  The Jews used “Word” in reference to the Messiah.  God’s covenants and intentions toward the children of Israel were avouched or declared by the “Word of God”.  I would like to show you another use of “word”.  [Psalm 33:6]

[Hebrews 3]  How powerful is the Word?  Eight times in Genesis, there occurs the phrase “And God said…” The Word is powerful enough to create the universe!  [Hebrews 11:3; worlds - the ages; figuratively, everything]  Compare this to what we read in Hebrews 1:2, which says, “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds”.  The word “ages” and the word “worlds” are the same thing. 

Here, the apostle Paul is making a reference to the strength of faith and the credence we give to the Scriptures regarding the power of God’s word in the creation of the universe.  God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”  Period.  He spoke the universe into existence.  In the beginning, was the Word; the I Am.

How powerful is the Word of God?  Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword of the spirit is the Word of God.  Revelation 19:15 says, “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”  The Word is powerful enough to create everything and powerful enough to destroy.

[John 1:1]  “The Word was with God.”  With God.  Though existing eternally with God, the Word was in perfect harmony with God.  “With God” implies more than mere accompaniment when the word “with” (pros) is used with the accusative:  It presents intimacy and familiarity or being face to face.  In 1 John 2:1, we see this same word used in our relationship to our Heavenly Father when we sin; we have this relationship through Jesus Christ.  1 John 2:1 says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.  He is our advocate or paraclete through whom we are with God.  A paraclete was used as a word for legal assistant or one who pleads another’s cause.

[John 14:16]  We are being given another consoler.  That word “consoler” is paraclete or advocate.  The Holy Spirit is God’s advocate to us.  This same word is also used in [John 14:26] and [John 15:26].  God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.  Just as Christ is our paraclete or advocate with the Father, the Holy Spirit is His paraclete with us.  Being just and righteous, Jesus Christ is qualified to plead our cause with the Father; no matter how depraved and unrighteous we may be as men.  We cannot under any circumstance be justified by our own doing.  “The Word was with God.”

“And” is a very small, but important word.  Let’s read John 1:1 again.  [In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.] All these phrases are true.  In the beginning.  In the beginning what?  Was the Word.  And the Word was with God in perfect union.  What else?  And the Word was God.  The subject here is “Word”.  John’s not showing who God is; that’s assumed.  John is showing who the Word is.  The Word is God.  Not “God is the Word”.  There is no definite article, so the words are not interchangeable.  This would have indicated only an aspect of what God is or even that the Word was a god.  Neither does it say that the Word was like God.  No, it says the Word was God in the beginning.

Verse 2:  “The same”, or literally, this one or the Logos referred to previously.  “The same was in the beginning with God.”  In verse one, the elements of this statement were given separately.  Here, in verse 2, the eternal Word and the union with God are stated together.  Here, they are combined with force:  The Word is not only coeternal with God, but was eternally active in communion with Him.  Not simply the Word with God, but God with God.  John is making sure that there can be no error or misunderstanding.  This verse begins the transition between who the Word is to His human manifestation in creation.

Verse 3:  “All things.”  Not simply everything taken together, but everything regarded individually.  Literally the “all”.  [Colossians 1:16; all things – the all]  This is not simply the world or the universe.  The “all”, which is what it literally says here, is not the same thing as the world.  Look what it says in [John 1:10].

“All things were made.”  They came into being.  They were created and are not in a state of constant being as the Logos is in verses 1 and 2.  The Logos simply was.  All things were made.  There was a time when the “all” was not.  [John 17:5] [John17:24]  The world came into being; it was created; it wasn’t always here.  But, there was never a time when the Logos was not, but there was a time when “the all” was not.  The use of the expression “came into being” as opposed to “were created” suggests that creation is a manifestation of divine law.  Through the Word, all things came into being.

“All things were made by Him” or literally, “through Him”.  The preposition di is generally used to denote the working of God through some secondary agency, such as in Matthew 1:22, which says, “And all this hath come to pass, that it may be fulfilled that was spoken by the Lord through the prophet”.  The Logos is the one through whom God created the universe, as we saw in Hebrews 1:2 and Colossians 1:16, but don’t make the mistake of lowering the Logos (the Word) to a tool.  The Word is God, God is God, and all things were made by Him through the Word who is God.

Here in verse 3:  All things were made by Him and, “Without Him” (without the Logos; apart from Him); “without Him was not anything made”.  Not one thing.  Nothing.  Contrast this to the beginning of the verse that all things were made by Him; no thing was made apart from Him.  In this one statement, John denies two heresies:  One that matter is eternal and two that the angels had a hand in creation.  Without the Word, there was literally not one thing made.  This point drives home the fact that the Logos was with God in the beginning.  If He had not been, He would have been made; if He made all things, how would He have been made?

“Without Him was not anything made that was made”, or more correctly which has been made.  “Anything made” points back to creation as completed acts.  “That was made” is in the perfect tense that indicates the continuance of things created; the full idea is “that which has been made and continues to exist”.  “Without Him was not anything made that was made and continues to exist.”

Some manuscripts put the period after “Without Him was not anything made”, and “That which was made” goes with the next phrase.  There was no punctuation in the ancient writings, but the ancient scholars often began sentences with this phrase.  Verse four either reads, “In Him was life” or “That which was made in Him was life”.  Grammatically and contextually, the latter makes more sense.

Let’s look at verse 4:  “In Him was life.”  By the Logos, all things were created.  Genesis 2:7 says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”.  You see that part of creation was breathing into man the breath of life.  He is the fountain of life in every sense of the word.  The Greek has two words for life, βίος and ζωὴ.  “Bios” has to do with the manner of life or the means or manner of existence (from which we get our word biography).  “Zoe” (from which we get zoology) has to do with the essence of life itself or existence as opposed to death.  “Bios” is used of man, “zoe” is used of animals and every living thing.

Animals share the essence of life with man, but man lives by intellect and will and man is directed to moral and intellectual ends.  In the NT, “bios” is used to refer to means of subsistence or course of life.  Mark 12:44, talking about the poor widow says, “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living”.  “Zoe” is used to refer to existence or the very essence of life.  Acts 8:32, 33, Peter is talking to the eunuch, and is explaining the Scriptures that are comparing Jesus to a sheep to slaughter or a lamb in front of the shearer, says, “…He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth”.

]John 1:4]  And the life was the light.  The life was the light.  The use of the definite article “the” with both life and light makes them interchangeable.  The light was the life of men.  The life was the light of men.  That statement reflects what many scientists find in electricity (light and power); some say electricity is the nearest equivalent to life in its physical form.  John the apostle knew then what scientists today are discovering.  In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world”.  Here, John combines both ideas into the single concept of the pre-incarnate Logos in relation to man:  He is the light and the life for human beings.

Notice, it does not say that the Word was the light.  He is the light, but the center of thought is no longer on creation and the Word; it is on mankind.  Mankind, out of all creation, had the capacity for receiving the divine light.  Light is that by which we see things clearly.  Ephesians 5:13 says, “But all things that are reproved [exposed] are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light”.  The light exposes both the good and the bad.  The light dispels shadows.  [John 12:46]  “Believe” is a present, active, participle.  “Everyone who is believing…”  Current action is involved.  Everyone who is believing shall what?  Should not be remaining in darkness.  There’s a possibility of failure here.  The subjunctive means that those who do the required action will – not may – receive the result of the prepositional phrase or shall not abide in darkness.  Those who believe – present tense – shall abide in the light.  Conversely, those who quit believing shall abide in darkness.  Even where light is strong, shadows still exist.  Even as a Christian, we can still abide or dwell in darkness; think about the shame when we are brought before the judgment seat!  Believing in the present tense implies faithfulness; not just a cursory “believe”.

The Logos is the instructor of mankind, but indirectly.  In the Logos was life, and the life was the light of men.  Before His advent, Galatians 3:19 tells us His instruction was given by His direct agency through the law, after His advent, His instruction was given by His direct ministry, and since then, His instruction is given by the Holy Spirit and by His ministers.  (John 14:16,26; Ephesians 4:11)

[John 1:4]  The word “was” is in the imperfect tense.  This means that it is action going on in past time.  In the beginning, the Word was light through life for men.  This means that from the time of creation when the Word (Jesus Christ) breathed life into the first man, Adam, man has had a knowledge of God in all of His perfections; Man has had a knowledge of the persons of the Trinity; man has had a knowledge of man’s dependence and obligation to God; Man has had a knowledge of God’s mind and His will; From the beginning, man has know what it meant to have communion with God.  God has always, since the creation of man, been the true light of men.

[John 1:5]  “The light shineth…”  This is a present, active verb.  The Light is continuing to shine in the darkness right now.  The light is a beacon for all men.  In John 9:5, Jesus is talking and says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world”.  This verse tells us that whenever He is in the world, He is light to the world.  There is no definite article here with light.  He is always the light.  Whenever He is present, He is simply “light”.  How do you see light?  Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”.  This tells us that the clean in heart shall see God.  But, the light is through life.  The light is the means by which we see.  The light shines in the darkness for us.

But…  “the darkness comprehended it not”, or grasped, seized, or obtained it not; this word “comprehended” does not mean a mere understanding.  This word is used in several other places; let’s take a look at some of them.  Mark 9:18 is talking about a demonized young man and it says, “and wherever it doth seize [seize; same word] him, it doth tear him, and he foameth, and gnasheth his teeth, and pineth away; and I spake to thy disciples that they may cast it out, and they were not able.”  [John 12:35; overtake – same word; comprehend; seize; overtake]  [1 Corinthians 9:24; obtain – same word; comprehend; seize; overtake]  [1 Thessalonians 5]  Even where the light shines the strongest, darkness still exists; there are shadows; the darkness did not appropriate the light.  [1 Thessalonians 5:4]  This passage tells us that the brethren are not in the darkness.  The brethren.  Matthew 12:50 tells us that brethren are those who are obeying God.  Why are the brethren not in the darkness?  That the day may not overtake you.  What day?

Turn with me to one last passage.  [Matthew 25:33-46]  Goats are clean animals.  Numbers 18:17 says, “But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savour unto the LORD”.  “Thou shalt not redeem; they are holy.”  Goats are holy.  The goats aren’t lost people; they are Christians who have not lived a faithful life; they did not continue in “believing”; they did not seize, obtain, or comprehend the light.  Remember, this passage in Matthew 25:46 and also the one in Luke 18:20 are talking about life in a future sense; it’s talking about the age to come.

Those that abide in darkness will go away unto age-lasting punishment; those that abide in the light (the righteous or the brethren) shall go away in to age-lasting life.  This is talking about the Millennial reign, not the rest of eternity.  This is not talking about your salvation, which is based on “believe”; salvation is not based on works; your salvation is not based on abiding or remaining faithful.  This passage is talking about believers; it’s talking about rewards or loss in the age to come! 

In the beginning was the Word; God incarnate.  Everything came into being by the Word.  In Him was the life and the life is the light of men. 

The book of John is written for the spiritual man, not the lost.  The light keeps shining in the darkness.  In the Logos, in the Word, in the Lord Jesus Christ is life and life is the light of men that men may see and enter in.  I pray that all of us, each and every one, are not in darkness and will see and will enter in.