What do you say about yourself? John 1:21-23

As you may have heard when I was the momentary leader of the Tuesday Bible study, I am not in a race and I will get through when I get through.

A voice in the wilderness

The Apostle John is trying to convey who this Jesus was, not that they did not know for he was writing to believers – Jewish believers, converts. These converts, especially on John’s part, were not asked to leave the richness and fullness of Judaism, but were shown how much richer it is knowing that the Messiah was no longer awaited, but here now in spirit; just as he had promised. The converts had the evidence of their lives filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to prove that this was all true.

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sadly, not everyone believes your words and other methods must be used to convince them; such was the case with a man named Saul. We eventually come to know him as the Apostle Paul.

John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, is at least six months older…

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Aren’t you just a bit curious about what John had to say? John 1:19-20

In a recent post, I talked about spending time in a psyche hospital and how they asked me how long my parents had been alcoholics. That generated some negative feedback, not from a reader, but from a relative. Sadly, I allowed his input to almost shut me down, and for that, I apologize. Fortunately, I got a phone call from a brother who told me to keep doing what God called me to do. That being said here is something I have been lax in posting.

The object of Bible study is to understand.

How many people do you know that understand the Bible, and can effectively convey it back to you?

I was asked recently if church leadership had contacted me about leading a Bible study.

(I suppose I should tell you that our book study had ended four weeks prior and a window of opportunity came to lead a Bible study when our group leader pointed out that he had been asked already and if he was not available was anyone else interested. I told our leader yes, and made the point of telling that particular pastor yes also.)

I answered the brother, with a resounding No. His response was for me to develop a format so that I could present what I intended to do, to church leadership. Having been recently involved with a book guided Bible study, I found it to be atrocious in its context, as the authors taught fallacies, traditions and directed the reader to assume false scenarios through their wording of the text. I want no part of that, but, I also realize that the modern church thinking is that we have to race through the Bible because people will get bored and leave – the church in its entirety; then, let them go.

I have no problem with leadership asking me to lead some book guided study that is filled with conjecture and tradition, however, you should know that I will contest every time I think it’s wrong and integrate a verse by verse approach as I deem necessary. What then happens to your time frame?

I often find myself surrounded by fools who tell me, “we cannot understand all of what we read” (This usually occurs when the book of Revelation or prophecy come into the discussion. What they do when they say that, is prove how little they read and their lack of desire to know. As for the boring aspect. Teachers are boring, but the Word of God is alive, and there is nothing boring about that.

Now, let’s continue with the Gospel of John.

The NASB entitles this section, “The Testimony of John the Baptist.”

Since I have always understood a testimony to be what one says, either in defense of themselves, about something they have seen, or in defense of someone else. Aren’t you at least curious what John the Baptist had to say? So were the Jewish leaders. One aspect of what he said was this:

John 1:19-20 ERV, The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, sent some priests and Levites to John to ask him, “Who are you?” He told them the truth. 20) Without any hesitation,

A study Bible.

A study Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

he said openly and plainly, “I am not the Messiah.”

If you are an avid reader of my work, then you know I prefer the NASB translation. The NASB finishes this paragraph with the word Christ instead of Messiah, as do many others, however, there are about as many who end with “the Messiah.” This choice of terminology and our casual way of handling it is another example of where our Westernization of the Bible comes into play. When we read Christ, as the NASB puts it, what do we see? Sadly, it is often little more than a man that has yet to come into His own? We don’t see God standing there as a man; neither do we see a triumphant king, yet to come into power. No, we see a man that is frail and insipid, unable or unwilling to defend himself. We see him exactly as the prophet Isaiah said we would, a lamb about to be lead to the slaughter.

Isaiah 53:2-4 NASB For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3) He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4) Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.

In today’s world, which is far too concerned with marketability and packaging, there was nothing here that could be sold to the public. Besides all that, there was this lingering question about Jesus familial heritage. We understand this to be a valid assertion for the Pharisees, on several occasions, rudely rebutted him when they said, “we know who our father is!” Their statement was very intentional, meant to hurt and degrade Jesus in front of those who heard them.

But, we fail to ask, what does the word Christ mean? So, even if John the Baptist used the word Christ instead of Messiah, and he may have, is this a problem? Not really, and here is why:

It is the Greek word Christos and means anointed, that is, the Messiah.

When you consider the languages forced upon the Jews of that day, you come to realize that Greek was the language of the ruling authority. Jesus also spoke Aramaic and may have spoken Hebrew. To call Jesus the Christos would have been a far stretch for the chief priests and elders for it means the anointed one, and hence the Messiah. If they did this, they would have been admitting that He was the Son of God, and they were not going to do that. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day, on a young donkey, they all recognized that this was something different, something rare, and the entry mode for Kings. The strongest assumption of the people was that Jesus must then be the king, and these common folk, longing for freedom, cried out appropriately.

This dialogue about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem may not answer the question for many, so I’ll give you some scriptures that may help to identify Jesus as the Son of God, a high priest, anointed by God, and Messiah that He truly was.

1Samuel 2:35 ‘But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.

Is 1Samuel 2:35 a description of Jesus? Absolutely, but his identity is cloaked in veiled language that speaks in the future tense. If you go back to find the context of this statement you end up at 1Samuel 2:27 where an unknown man, a prophet, comes to Eli, the priest, and points out the changes that are to come because Eli did not act according to God’s plan. The prophetic declarations take us to verse 35.

Hebrews chapter 10 talks about Jesus, the faithful high priest who performed every detail. As one “who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul.” Jesus filled that role precisely and told the Jewish leaders so. We see this in John chapter five.

John 5:19 NASB Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

And in John 12:49-50 we have Jesus telling the Jewish leadership of the day, that He only said what He heard his Father, God, saying.

John 12:49-50 NASB “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50) “I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

There is that other thing that plays a role in this question, “who are you?

This next passage is one every Jewish kid would have learned in Synagogue school.

Malachi 4:5-6 NASB “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6) “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

The Jews, anticipated Elijah coming again.

Now, how he would come is debatable, for example: in spirit, or in the flesh. There was no question that he would come again and they anxiously awaited him. Why? For the Torah (Law) clearly, states that man will return to the earth in death. We can find this in multiple locations: Genesis 3:19; 2Samuel 14:14, and Job 14:5. The idea that it is appointed for man once to die and then the judgment comes from the New Testament in Hebrews 9:27.

Because we are also trying to find those things that would have instructed the Jews of Jesus day, we really should exclude Hebrews as an influence, particularly as it would not have been written at the time of John the Baptist. Historically Elijah was known to have been caught up in a fiery chariot unto God; then we make the logical assumption that Elijah did not die and must at some point be returned to expire, following the conventional path of man.

What other problems we could have with Elijah’s return?

The answer resides in the verse from Malachi that we just looked at:

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.”

What about a few more references to the terrible day of the Lord.

Many tell me that I make these posts too long, but try to consider the person who reads this and does not have access to a Bible. Another problem could easily be the abbreviation of references that do not convey the context or the scenario adequately and therefore wrongly feed skewed misconceptions about God’s timing and the event that is going to happen.

The prophet Joel went into a long oration inspired by the Holy Spirit, in which he describes events that cover a substantial amount of time, and, demonstrate a God that still shows a willingness to relent if men will humble themselves before Him. It also includes the paragraph about the sons and daughters that dream dreams and prophecy as God pours out His Spirit upon them. Does this all happen in a day? I don’t think so, but it can happen over a “seven-year” period.

Joel 2:30-32 NASB “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. 31) “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32) “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

While Joel gave us some hope, Isaiah speaks of making the land desolate and destroying the sinners out of it. This descriptive includes the darkening of the sun and an impairing of the moon’s light. (There are several places in the world, at present, where the populace rarely see the sun or moon thanks to smog.)

Isaiah 13:9-11 KJV “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. 10) For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 11) And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”

The Apostle John, in relating his vision of the end times says, that the stars fall to the earth; the heavens depart like a scroll, and the earth is shaken by a serious of vicious earthquakes. These events are so frightful that the rich, the kings of the earth and the great men have hidden in elaborate caves.

Take a moment to look at this article from the Daily Mail.com, which runs in the U.K. Written by By Isabel Hunter For Mailonline and Published:15:42 EST, 13 April 2016.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3538525/Where-pandemonium-strikes-Super-rich-buying-underground-bunkers-installing-panic-rooms-luxury-apartments-protect-against-revolutions-natural-disasters.html.

In the article, it talks about the ultra rich who are buying these complexes to protect themselves from the insanity that is coming upon the earth. This is an accurate depiction of what we see in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 6:13-17 KJV “And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

So when is the day of the LORD going to take place?

There is really only one place prescribed in scripture for this to happen and it is after the harpazo or snatching away of the church. Yes, it also entails the climatic end where Jesus physically returns with a vengeance and plants his feet on the Mount of Olives, at the end of the time of wrath, (we love to call it, The Great Tribulation.) Sadly, most of you still have a problem in understanding the timing involved because the Time of God’s wrath, is this entire period after the church is snatched out of here. This scenario is equatable to the flood account with Noah and righteous Lot, where God removed the righteous from the harm that was to come. In both cases God had them removed just moments before destruction began. And make no mistake, while God will be pouring out His wrath man, it seems, will be ramping up the violence. Since one of the principal methods of violence we see in scriptures includes the beheading of “believers,” then it is easy to ascertain the “religion” that loves to do that. We, in what we deem the civilized nations, still do not wish to believe this level of destruction and violence can befall us. How naive we are, as our governments have been on a fast-paced course of action to eliminate the overabundance of users (that includes food and resources) and they know they can do this through what they think is controlled violence and poisons.

(Again, do not be naive, the same people that brought you chemicals for a better tomorrow are owned or controlled by the same people that run the governments, and there is an intentional effort to reduce the population legally. Why do think abortions are government funded?)

Because the time that is labeled, the day of the Lord, is a time of wrath; then you must know that the church is not meant to partake in that time of destruction. We see this in several places and here is one of them.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB 9) For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Some would say, that’s fine, but it’s not enough. Are there any reliable references from the Old Testament? Sure there are, and one is found in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament.

Malachi 3:16-17 NASB Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17) “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this excludes followers of Christ from the extraordinary but everyday violence that surrounds us, for we were told that “in this world, you will have tribulation.” (You can find this reference in the Gospel of John chapter 16 verse 33.)

One last thing – I have been talking to so-called Christians as my target audience. Do not think you are excluded, for the main reason God sent His son, was to save the entire lost world, broken by this “sin” thing that corrupts us. I find it easier to think in terms of a damaged DNA strain that is common to man. From the scientist point of view, having never seen a man without a damaged DNA chain, would not think it anything but normal. Having lived just a little, and seen the side of life that includes Christ, I can tell you that there is a difference and it is life. No, I don’t wake up in a bed of roses, my life is tough, just like everyone else’ is, but I have a confidence that there is a life beyond this garbage here on earth. I mean really, you think life is nothing more than collecting trophies and then you turn into worm fodder.

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Why would John have to say that? John 1:18

Oops, meant to post this here originally.

A voice in the wilderness

The Apostle John had just finished saying,

“John *testified about Him and cried 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.'” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” John 1:15-17 NASB

What the Apostle John had just said was almost too much to handle, and, keep in mind that John is addressing Jewish converts. A group that before receiving salvation seemed to struggle with the idea that Jesus was the Messiah/God in the flesh. He finished the thought with, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

You can almost feel the tension in the air as they read this last statement.

jesus_and_nicodemus jesus_and_nicodemus

I imagine the…

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Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:15-17

This next section of Scripture strikes me odd; odd because the Apostle Paul was the man who taught us about grace, and yet here is a witness to John the Baptist saying, “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Paul would have been the most unlikely character to teach us grace as he seemed to have no comprehension of what grace was, and, was willing to have those who showed an acceptance of this man Jesus put to death. So where did Paul learn of grace, a theme by-the-way that is integrated all throughout the Law and the Prophets? From Jesus himself, a process that began on the road to Damascus.

Now, here we are, in a sense, listening to the words of the Apostle John, as he defines John the Baptist. A man, for whom we are given no record of where he came to understand this grace he testified to. But we do have a piece of evidence that evades most people, and that is that John the Baptist, was filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. For the skeptics, I give you scripture to back up my statement.

Luke 1:15 NASB “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.

Speaking religiously, how would John the Baptist know what to do with such a gift and how would he have the restraint to control the outlandish outbursts often associated with those who are filled with the Holy Spirit? Why do we have presumptions that the Holy Spirit must be constrained? Do you actually believe that God is incapable of controlling those who are His?

Between John the Baptist and Jesus, what then was the common factor? If you said the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you would have been right. John himself witnessed the event.

Luke 3:21-22 NASB Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22) and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

Continuing on our trek through the Gospel of John we have come to John 1:15-17.

John 1:15-17 NASB John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, wp-1477765426065.jpg‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'” 16) For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17) For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

As always, I find myself looking for clarity. The Easy to Read version meets that need.

John 1:15 ERV John told people about him. He said loudly, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘The one who is coming after me is greater than I am, because he was living before I was even born.'”

Every nationality and language have it’s own peculiar catch phrases meant to give emphasis to a point being made. One I have heard lately sounds not so dissimilar to this: “This is the one I was talking about!” The phrase is usually associated with some vigorous hand waving and body language.

I feel like I have previously covered this ground when I ask, what did John the Baptist say about Jesus to the crowds that gathered around him? Since the word testify (the Greek word martureō) means to bear witness, testify, and attest to, you might think that John’s accounts would be those drawn from personal experience. But here we have a problem because we have a passage of scripture that could imply one of two things:

  • That John the Baptist did not know him. When you consider that this was a time with no cell phones, no Facebook, and no rapid transportation. You would have been deemed wealthy to have a ridable animal. Therefore maintaining communication between relatives meant you had to walk thirty miles to visit. Since most good Jews would make it to Jerusalem once, a year it most likely meant you got together with family.

John 1:31 NASB “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”

  • Or, the Greek is merely conveying that John did not perceive all that Jesus would become. Recognize is the Greek word oida; to have seen or perceived, hence to know: – to appreciate, or be aware.

One of the arguments moving toward John’s imperception would be the tremendous grief Jesus felt when John was beheaded.

Matthew 14:13 NASB Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

We do not see Jesus acting this way with anyone else but Lazarus.

‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’

Consider that statement for a moment. It conveys someone yet to come, and I can understand that on several levels. But what of this aspect, “He existed before me.

John seemed to know that Jesus ministry was about to bloom, but he had no precise definition of what that would look like. Having pointed out John’s statement “I did not perceive him,” tells us that John was not aware of God’s plan for Jesus. Since we know that Herod brought the Chief Priests before him, to explain the star in the east and why these Magi and their entourage were coming to Jerusalem, those same religious leaders defined, from the Torah and Tenach, that the Messiah would come out of the City of David, among other things.

Keep in mind the relative scarcity of written materials and how each “book” was an original scroll held at the synagogue as though they were museum pieces. Each would have been very precious and valuable. So, regular attendees at Synagogue would only have the spoken word, read to them, and then expounded upon by those particular teachers who profoundly argued interpretation. Teaching would have been entirely verbal, and surprisingly, every Jewish boy would have been expected to memorize those same scriptures.

He existed before me.

Does this imply that John understood that Jesus took not only a role in creation but was personally invested in the lives of the Jewish father’s throughout the history of the chosen people? A concept deeply embedded in John’s thinking, as well as that of his Jewish audience.

How many different ways can you attempt to wrap your mind around this idea that someone had already been or been here, and yet, coming once again? This scenario is what many see as the basis for science fiction. The major difference, though, this is for real. Apologetics uses scripture, logic, and science to prove that what we believe is real. For me, I had to look at the things Jesus said, and then did, for my proof. In all honesty, I do this frequently. So then, He who was before me, will, not only come after me but again for all to see.

For of His fullness we have all received,”

What does the NASB mean by fullness? Fullness comes from the Greek word plērōma and means repletion or completion, fullness, a filling up.

Alright, you lost me with the word repletion. Repletion is “The state of being completely filled; or superabundant fullness. In medicine, it conveys the fullness of blood, as in you having all you needed for the time being.

If I only look at my life, there are far too many times I would not or could not say that I was close to being completely filled. I would also have to ask, filled with what? If the answer is the Holy Spirit, then I am not sure I am filled enough because I do not act like “prophets” such as Kim Clement, or demonstrate the gift of healing like Benny Hinn.

Maybe that is not what he is talking about when he says, “For of His fullness we have all received,” perhaps this is referring to His life and the changes that happen within when we accept Jesus Christ as our own. The problem here is that we are looking for something associated with a feeling, and not finding that feeling we think we have not been “saved.”

Having grown up in church, I think I found my fullness, long before I learned the fine art of sinning. Isn’t that a crazy way of looking at things. Since the idea behind “sin” is missing the mark (an old English term for missing the bulls-eye while target shooting), treating sin as a fine art would certainly imply that I practiced missing. If I spent my life without Christ and therefore no inner peace, then finding my fullness in Him would feel dramatically different than if I grew up under the umbrella of safety and was accustomed to many of the feelings associated with a life in the Spirit. Without all the dramatic feelings makes me wonder sometimes. This lack of feeling is precisely why I said, I remind myself of what Jesus Christ did for me, who I am, and what my hope is in – a future with the Father, in peace and safety.

What is the bottom line for me on this aspect?

Because Jesus Christ was obedient, all that was necessary for my peace and yes, I am going to say it, eternal security with Him, was accomplished. In my spiritual walk, there is nothing more for me to do, unless I have these moments when I feel that I have lost my way. I have not, but my head doesn’t seem to know it at those moments; however, my spirit does and recognizes His voice as he gently calls me back to Him.

What was the Apostle Paul’s example to us?

He cried out for the Lord to remove some tortuous aspect from his life. The Spirits response was, My grace is sufficient for you. I do not see this as a negative, but a reminder that Jesus life in Him, was the fullness and Paul had received it already. Wow, we really are well equipped if we would accept it. You will find this story in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

and grace upon grace. 17) For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

So God just keeps pouring out His love upon us; hence, grace upon grace and all of this is realized through Jesus Christ. Maybe this is why Jesus said, no one comes to the Father, but through me. This fullness and sufficient grace are only found in Him.

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To those that live by the letter of the law, that means nothing! John 1:14

Is was not that long ago that my fiancee’s mom died. Fortunately, she had a living trust put in place, and with only two siblings it was to be a clean 50/50 split. Being the novice that I am, I assumed that everything would go just peachy; it did not, and the brother quickly demanded the sale of the house so that he could get his half. I don’t know what motivated him; I can speculate but that rarely produces any positive outcome on my part, so I stay out of that realm as much as possible. I just know that with my fiancee as the “executor,” she had little power. The position primarily it forced her and me to work fast. We had to work quickly for two reasons:

  1. There are time frames you must work within. The time frames are liberal enough, but anything with stress added can have you pulling your hair out.

  2. We live in California, and California seems to have gone crazy as far as housing costs go. Rentals can easily cost you two thousand dollars a month. Housing, on the other hand, is averaging $460,000 for the smallest of homes. We were lucky as the assessment used for trust purposes came in low and we got to split that amount, minus expenses. That creates another problem because you are not going to buy much of anything out right anymore.

Am I just whining again? No, there is a point to this.

Even though there was a “living trust” there were problems with interpretation, and, there was an addendum, a handwritten note from grandma expressing desires that were not included in the trust. Now, to those that wish to live by the letter of the law, that means nothing, and the result was that we had to live by the legal and binding document.

Hopefully, you are beginning to catch on to the theme at hand – God’s written word and the importance of that Word.

Typically I use the New American Standard Bible translation when I am quoting verses. Is it the best? Well, it is a far sight better than some. However, wisdom tells me to do my homework when I am doing Bible study, and one of the ways I can do that is to compare translations.

John 1:14 NASB “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as wp-1477765426065.jpgof the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Let’s take little bites at a time.

  • the Word became flesh.”

    What kind of assumptions can I make from this?

      • That Jesus was the Word.

      • That Jesus was not flesh in the beginning.

      • And that there was no way of distinguishing much difference between God, the Word, and Spirit. Each of them, no matter what their form, was present at the beginning of creation.

      • This act of becoming flesh was not simply some genetic blob that evolved into man, the Word, an entity separate and yet in every way an aspect of God, became a man.

    Most of you know this story line.

Did Christ, in his grand entrance into the world, merely step into it as a full grown man? The answer is, NO. He came as a newborn child. How and why would that present a problem?

How and why would that present a problem?

If you have grandchildren, then you know that some can be a blessing, while others can make you want to pull your hair out. Jesus had the potential for being one of the two options; however, God bypassed the broken nature of man by injected his sperm into the woman, eliminating Jesus being born with a sin nature.

What does that mean?

It means that sin was not the driving force behind everything He did. A marked contrast to the struggles we humans always deal with. 

(Get a grip! Just because you are not an alcoholic does not mean you don’t have SIN issues. In other words, you miss the mark, just as I do. Perhaps yours, like the Apostle Paul and I, is anger. Maybe you are unfortunate enough to struggle with codependency issues – those are large enough to debilitate you.)

So the bottom line here is that we all have issues that push us just hard enough to miss the bulls-eye. If you are foolish enough to try to tell me that you don’t have any problems, then chalk your maladjustment up to pride.

You, being knowledgeable in the scriptures, know that the Bible tells us that Jesus never sinned. Since we also know that sinning is merely missing the mark – an easy issue when target shooting, then we can say that Jesus never missed the mark.

To be honest, I struggle with this story when I read it because Jesus intentionally made a whip of cords so that he could drive the money changers and vendors out of the Gentile court of the temple. How do I justify what looks like anger and its associated level of violence, especially when I struggle with such things?

Still, He never sinned. If He had, he could not have been the spotless lamb sacrificed on the cross, at the hands of the high priest that day.

Okay, let’s settle some arguments because they will come.

    • Who spoke with Abram, telling him that he would be the father of many nations?

      The answer is: the pre-incarnate Jesus. I realize that is a religious word, but all it means is the embodiment of Jesus before his birth. Egad, how does that happen? In this case two ways:

      1. Probably because the dream/vision that Abram had was so vivid that it had no distinction from reality. No one seems to pay attention to that aspect, and, if you get involved with most any church, and they talk about this moment in time, they will relate it as though Jesus/God actually did this. I know that is what I thought.

      2. Another possibility is that God works in dimensions of space and time that are outside of our comprehension. Mind you that statement is not such a stretch, as Albert Einstein also theorized that these dimensions exist. A Jewish Rabbi and thinker from the fifteenth century, named Maimonides came up with these same concepts using the Law and the Prophets (The Torah and the Talmud.) Therefore it is feasible that God operates within the realm of reality as He invades your dreams.

        Another example: Many within the Muslim world, having never opened a Bible, are having dreams in which Jesus shows up and speaks to them. Since they have nothing which might give them a preconceived idea of what Jesus looks like, how is it that they know who He is?

So we have multiple incursions by Jesus, before His birth through Mary, into the world. Many of these are designated as the angel of the Lord, and Jacob is a good example of that. (You can read about Jacob and this incident in Genesis 28.)

  • and dwelt among us”

The Complete Jewish Bible translated this verse as:

(CJB) The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah, the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

The thing I want to focus on is the phrase, “and dwelt among us.”

The words seem simple enough, but consider that we have people who live next door to us, and yet, we never know them. To comprehend that God lived with us in an intimate way, one that touchable, just seems incomprehensible, doesn’t it?

Was Jesus life some secret that proves to the world that He is merely some fairy tale and therefore unknowable? NO, everybody knew he was here. Why could they not say, I did not know He was here? Because of the message he spoke and the things he did. What Jesus said and did got spread throughout the villages and remote places to the point that people came from everywhere to hear Him and get whatever they could from Him. True, many came just because of what they could get from Him. Others, especially the Pharisees, came to fight and eventually to kill Him – or so they thought, while an ever increasing number chose to be disciples alongside the original 12.

To say He dwelt among us could imply someone aloof and unreachable, and that is why translations such as the Complete Jewish Bible, or Darby’s translation which says he, dwelt among us. Give us the idea that He was here because God had an intent or plan.

That plan included the demonstration of who He was. If that is the case, what did God demonstrate about Himself? (To comprehend a question like this requires your submission to the idea that Jesus was God.)

If you, like the Jews, are not convinced, what would it take to convince you, which is one of the main reasons John wrote this gospel? 

Jesus himself said, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” That should have been enough, but he also told the critics that he only did what He saw the Father do. How would any of that have taken place without being before the Father in glory? That is why apologists, like Lee Stroebel, make bold statements like Jesus was either a bold faced liar or He was the Son of God, as He said because no man would have given himself willingly to such torture and death for such a lie.

You can begin by turning your life over to Him.

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What scripture calls us to testify about. John 1:7-13

In my previous post, I introduced you to John the Baptist.

John 1:6 NASB There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.

In exploring the ramifications of who John was and was not, I opened the possibility that we too are the called designated witnesses sent by God. As we progress, forward we have to sort between the religious definition and what scripture calls us to testify of.

I grew up in church, but there was a time when my father decided that we needed to chase the charismatic movement around the valley and that removed us from the church I grew up in. I want to say that I do not regret that for a moment, but, it took me away from the kids I had grown up with. Our return to that same church was, at best, strained. I tried to fit in. There were new people, and most of us had transitioned to college. Many of my old friends were gone, and I never saw them again. Out of this, there were mandatory treks into the nearby neighborhoods to “win the lost.” I often wondered who decided they were lost. We were met on several occasions with less than enthusiastic responses, two of them were outright hostile. I think much of that hostility was a reaction to the “canned” responses we used and the fact the church had effectively done a hostile takeover of homes where senior citizens lived with nowhere else to go. These exercises convinced me, beyond all doubt, that evangelism is not my calling.

I get the general idea, we are called to spread the good news, then what is it that we are to spread. Certainly, it is not the religious tripe often forced down our throats. Without defining it as yet, I did and do what I am comfortable with, I “preach” what I am studying in the Word and what I believe. Most of these things have been learned because of tough times that have driven me to the Word of God and a desire to find His nature and character. To be honest, I struggle with the possibility that I am supposed to act just like someone like Pastor Greg Laurie, but as much as I try, I fail horrendously. Successes, if I can call them that, have come from me being me and the moments when I have listened to the Holy Spirit, saying things that seemed at the time to be totally random.

That being said, let’s dive into John 1:7-13.

John 1:7-13 NASB He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe
through him. 8) He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9) There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11) He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12) But as many as received Him, to them lightHe gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

  • He came as a witness, to testify about the Light,”

    Because, as we saw, God sent him. But, to what was John, a witness?

    Three of the gospels record that John the Baptist saw the Spirit descending upon Him.

    • Matthew 3:16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
    • Mark 1:10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;
    • John 1:32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.

      However, John himself told us,

      “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’” John 1:33 NASB

      So, John puts several things together:

      • God spoke to Him (we are out of the loop on what that looked like.)

        And

      • Told him that he (John) would see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Jesus.

That is typical of how God has spoken and confirmed his message to me, He speaks to your heart and then shows you.

Now, if I were hoping that you would tell people about me, this would be significant. Why? Because I had showed myself to be trustworthy and you had experienced my nature and character. If there something that was of the utmost importance, it would be the last two things.

The Apostle John knew John the Baptist too well. We have every reason to believe that the disciple John had first been a disciple of John the Baptist. If I, as John did, were to tell a story about the beginnings of creation, what would be the foremost thing I want to convey?

    • That God was trustworthy
    • that He speaks and then follows through.
    • Therefore his nature and character are valid and genuine.
    • Finally, that He is the Messiah that we have been looking for, and His actions have proved that to be the case.
  • so that all might believe through him.”

God told and showed John the Baptist these things for the purpose of giving witness to Jesus.

  • The first evidence John renders is the substantiation of who Jesus was – the Messiah.

    With the testimony of John The Baptist, this was verified in two ways, just as scripture prescribes; this evidence is precisely what the religious Jews are looking for. They could care less about flashy clothes and neon lights, much like some television personalities, but what they are looking for is solid repeatable patterns. This sane description of prophecy is what John the Baptist testified of, and, how the Apostle John opens his gospel.

Now wait a minute.

I have spoken as though this message was directed exclusively to a limited audience, a Jewish one, and that was true for an extended period. Spend any time in the Word, and you will realize that by the time the Holy Spirit had John write this open letter to (Jewish) believers, God, had moved on Paul to take this same message (with a different spin on it,) to the Gentiles.

We are not moving another step forward until we dispense with an aspect of our biased Western mentality. We, here in America, are not the Gentiles (we seem to say that with some perverse pride as though we are now the exclusive recipients of God’s mercy.) We are merely a subset of the nations, and, as you might recall from your Bible reading, that the nations were always one of the prime entities that brought Israel to its knees; that and the idea that they could manage this thing called life without God. So the term Gentile was meant to convey anyone outside Judaism (observance of the Mosaic Law,) and therefore a non-believer, a person without hope for a future. Move a few years forward, and the definition has changed slightly and is now pointing to those who have no relationship with Jesus Christ. No, I will not hold to a tight definition here, for I cannot see the heart. It is evident to me, that God, having things under a manner of control, that I do not understand, brings people to him, then allows them to meander for undefined periods of time, only to continue to draw them close to Him. I can’t explain this as anything other than love, and that is who He is.

Can we agree that John the Baptist did not directly bring the gospel to the world? However, the overall impact of what he heard, saw with his own two eyes and shared was felt by the world, even if that was not his personal intent. I think it is safe to safe to assume that this statement, “that all might believe through him,” was God’s plan all along. An honest look at scripture affirms that the disciples spoke to none but their own, there were exceptions, such as Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, or Paul’s decision to finally take the message to the Gentiles, instead of the brutal savages Paul would find in the synagogues.

  • He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.”

    John the Baptist was not the Light, but as I just discussed, he was sent to testify about the Light. Imagine the day Jesus asked him to baptize him. God, asked a man to baptize him.

  • 9) “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11) He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.”

    This section is decisively speaking about Jesus the Messiah, but perhaps a brief look at a translation other than the NASB will make it clearer.

    John 1:9 GNB This was the real light—the light that comes into the world and shines on all people.

    What’s the problem with that? The answer lies in verses 10, 11.

      • He was in the world,

      • and the world was made through Him,

      • ..the world did not know Him.

    Worse yet, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” You might expect that those who had the promise, given by prophetic word, through dreams and visions, and held to the heart by oral tradition, would have recognized the Messiah. If that seems like a stretch, then consider when Jesus was born. Magi, from another country, possibly trained under the tutelage of Daniel, came because they had seen His star. Herod questioned the chief priests who admitted to a knowledge of Jesus birth. This ignorance of who Jesus was demonstrates an intentional ignorance.

    What’s your excuse?

Posted in Bible Study, Commentary, Holy Spirit, In Christ, Prophetic, The Gospel of John | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

God sent a man. John 1:6

One of the problems we have is our Westernization of scripture. The attitudes and misconceptions associated with westernization builds in misunderstanding makes translating difficult and opens the door to arguments from outsiders and those who choose to let others tell them what they should believe the Bible is saying instead of finding out for themselves. I suppose God knew that would happen. When you consider how people say that the Bible is full of errors, it makes sense when you examine the fallacies built into our non-Jewish understanding. One of those fallacies is often revealed as pastors try to explain the Revelation, also written by John, by telling you that John wrote the Revelation in code so that the Romans would not understand and therefore not be able to prevent this letter from making to any of the churches John intended. Another pathetic aspect of writing in code would be to confine comprehension to a select few, and that would make Jesus statement found in the Revelation about a special blessing pointless.

All that being said, keep in mind that John wrote this gospel primarily to a developing Jewish Christian community, (I explain my reasons for saying this in my first post on John’s gospel and will not go into it, in depth, once again.)

With that in mind, why would John feel the need to point out that God sent Yochanan/John?

Consider this, the general feeling among the people seems to convey that John the Baptist was a prophet. That might imply the general idea that he was a man from God. If that was the case, then how did the people feel about the Pharisees?

Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John (the Baptist) as a prophet. Matthew 14:5

So John’s statement then is:

John 1:6 CJB There was a man sent from God whose name was Yochanan.wp-1477765426065.jpg

I give you the Complete Jewish Bible because to the Jewish community they would have recognized Yochanan. I chose the translation called God’s Word because it comes across as direct and to the point, ending with the reason why.

John 1:6 GW God sent a man named John to be his messenger.

The NASB reads like this: John 1:6 NASB “There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.” The phrase makes me think of a voice over in an old movie like The Pale Rider with Clint Eastwood.

Came – Greek word ginomai / ghin’-om-ahee. A prolonged and middle form of a primary verb; to cause to be.

When I think about a human being and the idea of being caused to be, I think about birth. We should all know that God did some intervening when it came to Jesus being born, but not so with John the Baptist. The only major interaction we see is in Luke 1.

Luke 1:13-15 NASB But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14) “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15) “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.

While being filled with the Holy Spirit is an incredible thing, there was nothing, as you can see, comparable to the birth of Jesus.

There was a point I wanted to make as I started pondering this one, seemingly simple, passage, and that would be this: You too were sent by God.

I believe that if you had an honest heart toward God, then you, as I do, would want to back up your statement with a substantive witness. Typically, what an excellent expositor would do is use, or at least know that there is a minimum of two scriptural witnesses. Based upon the word “sent,” I am only finding one strong one.

John 20:21 NASB So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

This statement was made to the disciples, and at this point, there were well over 120 by conservative estimates, gathered in the upper room. While they may have been there to honor the command of Jesus, there was an overwhelming fear considering what had been happening, ending with the death of Jesus.

John 20:19-20 NASB So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20) And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

We find a comparable description in Luke 24.

So, if you can see yourselves as His disciples, and, accept that you too have the same command as the disciples, then it is not difficult to see yourselves as being sent by God.

If that still causes you grief then imagine yourselves living in a medieval kingdom where you are brought before the King. Standing there before a public audience, you are addressed in a regal manner and knighted, you are given a mandate as an emissary for the kingdom to convey the good will and nature of the king toward all those who wish to enjoy the benefits of the king’s grace. We, in the religious world, call this evangelizing or spreading the gospel/good news of the kingdom.

The good news is that as you find the joy and relief within this life of Christ, which is merely an aspect of His kingdom, then it seems only natural that you would want to tell others about it. An example of something along this line comes out of me finally joining the gym. The gym, in conjunction with Weight Watchers, has knocked 30 pounds off my 300-pound frame. Obviously, this makes me jubilant, and I have told people about what I am doing. My enthusiasm cannot be a controlling or manipulating factor, as people have to see the changes in me, and my enthusiasm. Hopefully, they too would want what I found.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have struggled with depression. Fortunately for me, it is not debilitating. Depression, unfortunately, will cause you to crawl into a corner alone to make the world go away. I found out that does not happen, and at some point, you have to toughen up and walk through the difficulty. For me, this difficulty was what I called the dark times, and it impacted my skewed image of God. To be honest, I thank God for that because I intentionally buried myself in God’s word so that I could find out who this Jesus/God was and His nature was like. Some would have you believe that He is merely evil and hates you, and that is not the case at all. If it was, why then would God have sacrificed his son for people he cared nothing about. In fact, the opposite is true, you are loved with an everlasting love, and, He longs that everyone would found this out about Him and come to Him. I would hope that you find, as the time for grace is running short. If you should find this after the church is gone, there is still hope, and power in Him. Just turn to Him, giving your life to Him and accepting His. His name is Jesus.

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He was the source of life – John 1:4,5

He was the source of life – John 1:4,5

It’s really all in the translation, isn’t it. My title is derived from the ‘God’s Word’ translation. Whether it is true of the context or not, it is a true statement. But, how do you, the casual reader know that? Sadly, most do not.

John 1:4-5 NASB In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5) The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

  • In Him was life.” – Life is the Greek word zōē / dzo-ay’. From G2198; life (literally or figuratively): – life (-time). Strong’s number G2198 is zaō / dzah’-o and means to live.

    Vines NT words1. zoe (G2222) (Eng., “zoo,” “zoology”) is used in the NT “of life as a principle, life in the absolute sense, life as God has it, that which the Father has in Himself, and which He gave to the Incarnate Son to have in Himself, John 5:26, and which the Son manifested in the world, 1John 1:2.

    In Christ/God was life, but do we grasp the depth of that life. It is in Him, a part of Him, and He gave us life. How is that possible when we breath and walk? Perhaps we don’t understand what life is. Obviously, it is something more than the simple concepts we have. Perhaps, this idea of life demands our attention.

    As I noted, the “God’s Word” translation uses a different word, however, that term closes the door to our idea that there are other options in the world.

    John 1:4 GW He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.

    He has not stopped being the source of life, and, there is no life found in anything else, I have looked. Now, the real question is, what does life mean to you? My central focus has become the life associated with the promise of an eternity with Him. Mind you, I can never say that without thinking about the daily garbage that I have to go through, and how I have no idea of what peace feels like. How I long to experience that and feel the love associated with that life.

  • and the life was the Light of men.” –

    The Greek word for light is phōs / foce. From an obsolete φάω phaō (to shine or make manifest, especially by rays; compare G5316 and G5346); luminousness (in the widest application, natural or artificial, abstract or concrete, literal or figurative): – fire, light.

    This is the root of our word phosphorus. Many of you are familiar with “white phosphorus,” a chemical combination that is unfortunately often used in warfare. It has the capabilities of not only lighting up the night, but it also kills.

    Consider how when Moses wanted to see God he was only allowed to see His backside as He passed by. Why is that? Because, as God responded, no man can see God and live. Have you ever given that backside aspect any thought? Do you think it might be because God is pure energy, not so dissimilar to nuclear fusion, and we know how productive and yet deadly nuclear energy can be?

    So I have to put this into a practical perspective. If I only have one option in which to obtain life, then I am going to pursue that option. But there is an added dimension, the life, gives light, and, is once again, the only option out there.

    Again I am asking a question, what does the light look like?

    Many would try to tell me that this means you evangelize people. So, you think sending me to the plains of Nairobi is mandatory, when half the people I meet in a church have no lights on either.

    What if the light is something that outshines the darkness in me, around me, and comes out of me? That would be outstanding, there again, though, we cannot tell by interacting with most people if they even have the lights on.

    Is it possible that the light is available, and will shine through those who choose to receive it? Absolutely. Everything we do in this life is a choice, up to and including the decision to spend our lives with the Father.

  • The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

    The fact that the light shines should not seem like a strange concept; that is what light does, but what happens when the darkness does not want the light anywhere near it? The darkness was initially speaking of Israel – the Jews, and the light, in this case, was Jesus who came as the Messiah and walked among them. But, we can quickly expand the darkness to include everyone nowadays. This inclusion of those outside of Judaism is not a stretch, for we as Gentiles become grafted into the vine when we accept Christ into our lives.

    While there is no doubt that Jesus spoke in mysteries, but Jews, being knowledgeable about the Torah and Tenach should have known exactly what He was talking about, and so should you.

    Two verses stand out for me. The first is Colossians 1:13 which tells us that we have been rescued from the darkness. Removed from the darkness, we then must be standing in the light.

    Colossians 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

     

    The other is Thessalonians 5:4. I use this passage on people who seem to feel that we cannot understand the end times. This particular passage is one that demonstrates that a belief like that is a fallacy. Sadly, I can tell you that most still choose to remain in the darkness.

    1Thessalonians 5:4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;

     

The act of moving out of the darkness into the light is simple really. You merely have to relinquish control of your life over to God and accept the life that He gives. All this was done for you on the Cross, and, if you will receive it, it would have been done for you if you were the only one.

Posted in Bible Study, Commentary, Creation, Holy Spirit, In Christ, The Gospel of John | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In the beginning, before all time. John 1:1

I don’t know about you, but I have had some odd conversations about this very thing. The conversations sound a lot like this:

  • So, when did time begin?

  • You mean, God was just hanging out in space and decided to create a universe?

  • Was God just bored?

  • What do you think He was doing before He had any light?

  • Wasn’t Jesus enough?

It would appear that this is the short explanation of when time began. Now as to the possibility that God was merely floating out in space, I frankly do not know the answer to that, and to spend any time on the idea just makes my head hurt, so we won’t. Sadly, there are many things I, nor you, do not know, but, like Dinosaurs, there is no denying that it/they happened, so we take what we know and understand and do the best we can with it.

While I do not think there is anyone that can legitimately answer most of these questions, they do open some interesting doors of thought about the magnificence of God if you are willing to let the Word speak to your heart.

Let’s dive in.wp-1477765426065.jpg

John 1:1 AMP “IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” [Isaiah. 9:6.]

Before we go one step further, let’s see what Isaiah 9:6 adds to this.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

You would be right if your initial assumption were that Isaiah was talking about Jesus, the Son. But note that it says, “his name shall be called …, The mighty God, The everlasting Father.”

If we are going to grasp the depth of what John is attempting to say, then we need to try and grasp the idea that John is writing to a Jewish community of believers. In doing that John is trying to make a point about the Messiah and His supremacy; in saying, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself,” does just that.

Many will challenge the idea that the Apostles did anything besides preach to the Gentile world. Let’s see if I can alter your thinking. In the book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas are sent to Jerusalem, to address the apostles and elders about a teaching that emphasized the physical act of circumcision: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” (You find this reference in Acts chapter 15) Now I am sure that does not sound like much to many of you, but this an extremely Jewish concept, taught in the Torah. The primary purpose the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem forwarded such an idea was because of their belief that salvation through Jesus, a Jewish Messiah, was a strictly Jewish benefit. Sure, there was room for a few exceptions, and we see that with Peter and his interactions with the Roman Centurion and his family.

The  Apostle Peter eventually stood to say something to silence the discussion, agreeing that God had accepted the Gentiles through Peter. Sadly, we do not see Peter taking this good news any further that the Roman Centurion’s home. While Foxes Book of Martyrs may point out something historically different, we do not see the Apostles dealing with anyone else but Jews in scripture.

Mind you much time has passed, and John’s understanding of this God-man he walked beside has deepened. However, while Jesus was walking with them, they did not grasp who he was. Is it possible that John came to understand who Jesus was based upon what he might have read from the Prophet Isaiah’s writings? Anything is possible, and, we cannot exclude the idea just because we do not see it in scripture. We do not see dinosaurs in scripture, but there is no denying that they were here.

We just looked at Isaiah 9:6 where it says, “his name shall be called …, The mighty God, The everlasting Father.” Is it possible that the Holy Spirit saw fit to establish and validate the Son all at once by pointing out that they are one and the same, and yet individual, capable of being the “son” that is given? Absolutely!

The following is what the verse looks like with the Strong’s numbers integrated into the passage.

John 1:1 NASB In the beginningG746 was the WordG3056, and the WordG3056 was with GodG2316, and the WordG3056 was GodG2316.

I want to focus on the phrase, “In the beginning.” The variations on translating this are wide:

  • The ERV says, “Before the world began, the Word was there.”

If you were to use the Literal version it italicized the word “the” to indicate that it was added for clarity. “In the beginning was the Word,”

  • While the ERV implies a time frame, the LITV conveys the process.

When I read from one of the most used translations, the NIV, I get this, “In the beginning was the Word.” “In the beginning was the Word,” strikes me as little more than a statement of fact, but doesn’t that present a problem as the mind immediately wants proof.

Since our “Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge” reference of “in beginning” leads to other passages, let’s see what they say.

the beginning: Joh_1:2; Gen_1:1; Pro_8:22-31; Eph_3:9; Col_1:17; Heb_1:10, Heb_7:3, Heb_13:8; Rev_1:2, Rev_1:8, Rev_1:11, Rev_2:8, Rev_21:6, Rev_22:13

Genesis 1:1 NET. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

The statement is comparable to what John said, and every Jewish reader would have had the loud tone of their teaching Rabbi in their head, as their mind turned back to Genesis and the Torah. This was the beginning of history, their story, and their knowledge of the Holy begins here.

Here, though, the word is Hebrew: רֵאשִׁית / rê’shı̂yth / ray-sheeth’. From the same as H7218; the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): – beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing.

Strong’s points us to the origin or base word H7218 – רֹאשׁ / rô’sh / roshe. From an unused root apparently meaning to shake; the head (as most easily shaken), whether literally or figuratively.

Based upon the Hebrew I see that I could have also said,

  • The first thing –

  • The order of things –

  • The principal thing (this opens another line of thinking in me.)

  • And finally, I might have said, the chief thing.

    (There again, another line of thinking, which contains the idea that multiple things were to be done.) Since God knows the end of a matter before it ever starts, then He was aware that putting an end to mutiny such as Satan’s, had to come. I suppose He could have done all that without us mucking it up, but here we are, and, we are a part of the plan.

The phrase, in the beginning, indicates a process. That means creation could have been an aspect of the process.

I briefly touched upon the Hebrew word rê’shı̂yth, but what about the Greek word for beginning, the place where we started?

“In the beginning.”

In the Greek, the word is: ἀρχή / archē / ar-khay’. From G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank): – beginning, corner, (at the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

Once again we have the idea of a process, which opens the door to other things.

The TSK references continue with:

Colossians 1:17 NASB He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Suggesting that Jesus was right there in the nothingness before creation.

Ephesians 3:9 NASB and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;

Since we have pointed out that the Word was God – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 MKJV) Then, when we look at Ephesians 3:9 we can understand that God and Jesus are considered one and the same.

I will finish this portion by adding verses two and three to the mix.

John 1:1-3 MKJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2) He was in the beginning with God. 3) All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.

Allow me to point something out, “and without Him, not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” That happens to include you. For a variety of reasons the question has come up lately, and asks, are you comfortable with your relationship with the Father? For me, the answer is an immediate yes, but then my mindset tends to look at this as speaking about His love for me. I know He loves me. This statement on my part is not a boast; this came out of times of stress and pain where I cried out to God. It developed the kind of trust that one builds when someone sticks by you, especially when you do not think you deserve it. It does not, however, always override the negativity in my head, a negativity which comes from a lifetime of abuse in which co-dependency was unwittingly taught – I hope that was the case.

For a variety of reasons a question has come up lately, and asks, are you comfortable with your relationship with the Father? For me, the answer is an immediate yes, but then my mindset tends to look at this as speaking about His love for me. I know He loves me. This statement on my part is not a boast; this came out of times of stress and pain where I cried out to God. It developed the kind of trust that one builds when someone sticks by you, especially when you do not think you deserve it. It does not, however, always override the negativity in my head, a negativity which comes from a lifetime of abuse in which co-dependency was unwittingly taught – I hope that was the case.

An acquaintance recently made a comment about perpetrators who were getting minuscule sentences, while the abuse they inflicted stays with the victims for their lifetime. Understanding what I am about to say requires you to think outside the box. Perpetrators may not be criminal in their actions because, in some cases, they are only using words as their weapon. However, the damage haunts you forever. I deal with effects of that very thing to this day, holding memories of abuses inflicted by others as far back as elementary school – we are talking about a time frame that extends beyond fifty years. My fiancee does not understand, but then, neither do I most times. Though I wish it could just go away, the only hope I have is in the peace I obtain through my relationship with Jesus Christ.

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A layman’s overview of John’s gospel.


Having heard the theological breakdowns of John’s gospel, I am acknowledging that these portrayals are most assuredly there. However, all those word pictures seem to do little for me as I am always taken back by the power and depth of this introduction –

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Sadly, most of us do not grasp what is being said here; it is a point which goes on for several verses and magnifies the concept that “NOTHING” was made without Him.

My fiance recently had a run in with a lady who is an adamant defender of Replacement Theology. (I might add that I mentioned this to my men’s group, and in that group is a retired teacher. Immediately the teacher responded with, “this is what Hitler was advocating in Nazi Germany as he was rising to power.) The woman espousing Replacement Theology, threw her hand up in my fiance’s face on several occasions. It’s the kind of gesture people use when they refuse to allow for communication. How effective it is I am not sure, but they are telling you I am not listening. As my fiancee tried to enlighten her through simple, apologetic defenses, she included the fact that the Bible is a Jewish book, written to the early church, which primarily consisted of Jewish converts. My fiancee made me proud by asserting that we need to come into line with the concept if we want to understand so many of those things that we consistently miss – like the Book of Revelation. Thankfully, the Pastor came into view, and without full knowledge of what had been said, reiterated those same ideas to this lady. (It is nice to know you are on the right track, or at least in line with your pastor’s theological position, something we were not aware of previously.)

Why was any of that important?

Because reading for understanding will help to quell the false teachings, like Replacement Theology.

Reading for depth is exactly what I want to do with John’s gospel. Having done this once before in a group setting, I can tell you that it is long. Now, before you berate me for not being concise, I must inform you that I stumbled upon a commentary by Arthur Pink. This commentary is exclusively focused on the Gospel of John and is as thick as my 4 version comparative Bible, and I value the insights I find there.

Why did John write this Gospel?

First, let me comment on the timing.

We understand that John wrote this gospel about A.D. 90. As a comparison, John wrote the Revelation, on the Isle of Patmos, about A.D. 96.

  • Luke wrote his gospel about A.D. 56-63
  • Mark, it appears, was writing on behalf of Peter, and wrote between A.D. 57-63
  • Matthew, one of the disciples, and like John, a first-hand witness, wrote, according to tradition, A.D. 37.

It is possible that John, having read what the others had said, wanted to make a point, a point that the others seemed to have missed.

Secondly, as we come to understand by the reading of Paul’s missionary journeys, that John was ministering exclusively to the Jewish community.

It is possible that having heard Jesus say, “I have come for the lost sheep of Israel,” that John took this to heart as well.

John also witnessed the impact of the Holy Spirit, not only on the life of Peter on the Day of Pentecost but in the number of Jews (over 3000) that came to an understanding that Jesus was the Messiah that they longed for.

Suddenly, there was a great need for a Pastor. What would that need have looked like to the young disciple John, considering that all they knew about leading people came out of the synagogues, and, even though we do not see this in Scripture, is it possible that this is what Jesus might have been teaching them?

The third point I want to consider is that John wrote, almost exclusively, to a Jewish audience.

One piece of evidence for this comes from the Revelation, written some time later.

Revelation 1:11 KJV Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What you see, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Church. This is the Greek word ekklesia – a compound of G1537 and a derivative of G2564 – and means a calling out, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): – assembly, church.

We can also see from Vine’s Expository of New Testament Words that the word ekklēsia can be interpreted Assembly.

1. ekklesia (G1577), from ek, “out of,” and klesis, “a calling” (kaleo, “to call”), was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens “gathered” to discuss the affairs of state, Act_19:39. In the Sept. it is used to designate the “gathering” of Israel, summoned for any definite purpose, or a “gathering” regarded as representative of the whole nation. In Act_7:38 it is used of Israel; in Act_19:32, Act_19:41, of a riotous mob. It has two applications to companies of Christians, (a) to the whole company of the redeemed throughout the present era, the company of which Christ said, “I will build My Church,” Mat_16:18, and which is further described as “the Church which is His Body,” Eph_1:22; Eph_5:23, (b) in the singular number (e.g., Mat_18:17, RV marg., “congregation”), to a company consisting of professed believers, e.g., Act_20:28; 1Co_1:2;

I know that many will not buy into this idea of John writing to a Jewish community of believers based upon one scriptural witness, so, allow me to give you another.

Revelation 2:9 KJV I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

    • Things to make a note of here. Satan does not have a synagogue, but Jews do.

    • But John was not writing to Jews in general; he was specifically writing to Jewish converts, many of whom were still meeting in their synagogues.

    • Verse 9 above, says, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but of the synagogue of Satan.”

      This tells me that they did not have to give up their traditions – feasts of the Jews – holy days, nor abandon being a part of the life that is found in the synagogues.

      For those who wish to espouse the false teaching of Replacement Theology, it does not take much to see that God, even in this example, had not ordered them out of the synagogues but merely desired to become the center of their focus as the living Messiah, the primary person that they, as Jews, were looking for.

This word, synagogue comes up in several other NT books as well and is not exclusive to John’s writings.

Assuming then, that John biggest impact would be in the Jewish community that is now believers, why would he think he needed to emphasize, in the strongest way, that Jesus was God?

Perhaps the answer lies in Revelation 2:9 when it says,

and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”

We Western thinking Christians are notorious for asking, how can I know if I committed the unpardonable sin of blasphemy? The mere fact that you are concerned demonstrates that you have not. So, the sole reason we ask this question is that we do not know what the word blasphemy means or what it, in its context, applies itself too.

Jesus answered this question in Matthew 12:32 when He said,

Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.”

Go back to Matthew 12 and see what the context is. The Pharisees, much like our modern day politicians, were attempting to repudiate, not only what Jesus had said but what He had done. In their attempts they had attributed the healing He had done to Satan/Beelzebub. The relevance, ties back into Revelation 2:9, as Jesus tells John to write this to the angel of the Church of Smyrna because this body, considered to be believers, had attributed God’s works to Satan.

If I had come to understand that this was your frailty, I would want to bring you back to center, and that might sound like this, “and the Word was God Himself.

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