Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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Jesus the Light of the World and John’s Three-Fold Witness to that Light- A Primer for reading the Gospel of John

October 17th, 2010 · No Comments

This study is a primer for reading the Gospel of John, as our teacher introduces us to the apostle John’s eyewitness testimony concerning Jesus in John chapter one, which contains: a Prologue (1:1-18), the witness of John the Baptist (1:19-34) and the calling of Jesus’ first disciples (1:35-51).

The Prologue (1:1-18) covers some of the most fascinating fundamentals of apostolic orthodoxy: that Jesus, before the Incarnation, was the Eternal Word, Who was in the beginning with God, and was God, thus affirming the unabridged Deity of Jesus Christ, Who also was the One through Whom the Father created all things (1:1-3). In Him was “life”, which our teacher explains as being “the eternal, uncreated, Divine Life”, and that “life”, manifested in human form in the person of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 John 1:1-2), was “the light of men”, the revelation of the invisible God to those otherwise in darkness (John 1:4). This “Light”, manifested in the Incarnation, shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it, thus cryptically proclaiming the ultimate victory of God based on the Word having become flesh (1:5), though the victory will ultimately come via death, resurrection, exaltation, and coming again. This is followed by the witness of John the Baptist, a man sent from God to bear witness concerning the Light, so that all men might believe through his testimony (1:6-8), brought out in more detail later in this first chapter (1:15, 19-34). That Light (Jesus, the Incarnate Word), coming into the world, enlightens every man (1:9). Some do not receive the Light (1:10-11), the reason for which will be explained at various points throughout this Gospel (cf., e.g., 3:18-21). Those who receive the Light, i.e. who truly “believe”, are given the “right” to become children of God, begotten of Him through the Spirit (1:12-13; cf. 3:5-6). In the Incarnation, the Word tabernacles with men, who behold His glory, the revelation of the invisible God, Whom He “exegetes” (1:14-18). The pre-existence of the Christ as the Word is affirmed even in the testimony of John the Baptist (1:15).

John the Baptist’s three-fold witness to the Light appears in 1:19-34, where we learn that Jesus is: 1) the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, the true and final Passover, 2) the One Who baptizes His followers with the Holy Spirit, so that out of their innermost being will flow rivers of living water (7:38-39), and 3) the promised Messianic Son of God, whose ministry is described in Isaiah 42:1-4 (cf. Matthew 3:16-17; 12:15-21).

The stage thus is set for further discovery of John’s eyewitness testimony concerning Jesus in the remainder of this Gospel, a testimony designed to bring the reader to a true faith in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, and through that faith into participation in Divine Life (John 20:30-31).

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