John The Testimony of John the Baptist (1:19-34)

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Part 3: Testimony of John the Baptist (John 1:19-34)

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Next we’re going to take a look at what John the Baptist said – specifically – about not only who he was, but also who Jesus was. This section is verses 19 through 34. Here we are going to get to see a lot of exciting things. Though John the Apostle doesn’t actually ever show the baptism he uses the Baptist’s own testimony to show it. We’ll see how the Baptist points out his own purpose on the Earth and then points out Jesus’ purpose. Finally in this section we’ll see the Baptist point Jesus out as the One he is speaking about – who is the Son of God.

Let us get into the text. The Apostle starts off here pointing out that this is exactly what John the Baptist said. The Baptist starts off, here, answering questions about himself and who he is. He tells these Jews (who were priests and disciples of the Pharisees) that he’s not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet. Let’s deconstruct this section for a moment. Why is it so important what this scene is explaining? First let us look at who John’s interviewers are: Priests, Levites and Disciples of the Pharisees (1:24).

Why is this important? Really it is important because John the Apostle is pointing out that these are people who should have known the scripture and known the prophecies. They shouldn’t have had to ask who the Baptist was. They should have known! They ask him multiple times who he is, but there is three important people they’re asking about. These people are the Messiah, Elijah and the Prophet. Who are these people?

First let us start with the Messiah. We know who the Messiah is, but what did the Scripture of the time say of Him? The entire Old Testament is laced with prophecy about Him. Starting with the simple fact he would be born of woman (Genesis 3:15) all the way through His entire life to the crucifixion as a substitution for our sins (Zechariah 12:10–13:1). Even the Psalms have prophecy about Jesus. It’s everywhere. The key point is they should have been able to tell who the Messiah was.

Next is Elijah. Why would the Jews think he was Elijah? Elijah was one of the greatest prophets to ever have lived. He lived in the 9th century B.C. (approximately 875–850 B.C.) and preached heavily against the pagan religions to which Israel had turned. But again why would they think that John the Baptist was Elijah? First it was because if you read the story of the end of Elijah’s Ministry he doesn’t die (2 Kings 2:11). And secondly it was because of prophesied by the Prophet Malachi that God would send Elijah before the “Day of the Lord” comes.

This is important to understand, though, as a prophecy of the second coming of Christ. This is because every use of the “Day of the Lord” is talking about the end times. We can look at several examples from the New Testament where we are shown that the Day of the Lord has not happened yet. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians is on this very subject and in Chapter 5 he brings up the phrase for which we’re looking. It says “You guys understand completely that the day of the Lord comes like a thief at night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2 emphasis added). Paul is saying it hasn’t happened yet. So we can tell that this is the Second Coming of Jesus. Then why would the Jews think Elijah was coming?

The answer is they don’t see a first and second coming. They only see one coming of the Messiah. So what does the rest of Scripture say about being Elijah? Jesus, Himself, in Matthew 11:13 said that John was Elijah. This can be confusing because why are they contradicting each other? Luke tells us in 1:17 that John “will go out before Him and he will minister in the same way, in spirit and power, as Elijah.” So John the Baptist would come as a type of Elijah and fulfilled the prophecy about the messenger that would go before Jesus but was not Elijah himself.

Third is The Prophet. Where is the prophecy about this Prophet? It actually comes all the way from Deuteronomy. In chapter 18 God is talking to Moses and tells Moses that He “will put in place another prophet and he will come from among themselves. He will be like you, Moses, and I will put My words in his mouth and he’s going to tell them everything I command him to.” This is the Prophet they are talking about. Who was this man to be? John says it’s not him and we already see he fulfilled prophecy about Elijah. Who was he then? The prophecy seems a little open ended. It seems like it could include all the prophets of Israel except for the word is singular.

Peter thought that this was Jesus. In Acts he quotes Deuteronomy (Acts 3:22) and points it out to be Jesus. Stephen thought so as well in chapter 7 of Acts (specifically Acts 7:37) and he also quotes the Deuteronomy passage about the coming prophet. Where would these men get such an idea though? They got it from Jesus, Himself. As we’ll see later on Jesus said in chapter 5 that if the Jews “really believed what Moses said then you would believe Me too, because Moses wrote about Me.” This is Jesus speaking of Moses writing where we get this prophecy.

So the Baptist tells us he is none of the three that the Jews were asking about. Who is he then? For his answer he takes us all the way back to Isaiah, specifically Isaiah 40:3, which is the verse he quotes here. He says “I am the voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make the path of the Lord straight.’ ” That’s who he is: a forerunner or someone who comes before. A messenger sent before the Lord. The prophet Malachi spoke of him too. In Malachi 3:9 God sends His messenger who will prepare the way before God. This is who John the Baptist is.

These people either didn’t believe him or still didn’t understand because they go on questioning. John the Baptist’s answer points further to his role as a messenger that would come before Jesus. What he tells them is also pretty ironic too. He tells them that they didn’t even know anything. He says to them, “There is One among you and you don’t know Him. It’s Him who comes after me.” The WEB translates this as, “Among you stands one whom you don’t know.” (Emphasis added.) This is a very strong statement being made by John the Baptist. But why is it so?

It turns out to be so strong because John is telling the Priests, Levites and Pharisees that the promised Messiah stands among them already. That is powerful, because he is pointing out to them how ignorant they are. He is also showing them to be fools by their own definition (Proverbs 1:5-7). They’re not listening to instruction. John moves on to tell us that this person who was among them was so great that John was not even worthy to touch His sandals. The Apostle moves on to the next even in John the Baptist’s testimony. Here we have the Baptist specifically pointing out Jesus. The Baptist wasn’t just some exegetical teacher who spoke in riddles about someone who would come after him. He specifically points Jesus out.

First he points Jesus out then he refers back to what he had said previously about Jesus. It is interesting to notice, here, that this is the third time that this statement has been repeated. This is also one of the many phases that the Gospel of John and the other three differs. Matthew, Mark and Luke all show the Baptism of Christ (Matt 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22) but John’s Gospel doesn’t show us the Baptism. Instead he gives the Baptist’s witness of the Baptism.

John the Baptist was an eye witness of the Baptism, as he performed it. Here he points out the Spirit coming down out of heaven like a dove. John tells us that this was to fulfill what the Lord had told him already. John also gives us a summary of Jesus’ post crucifixion ministry. We can see this because John the Baptist tells us of Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit. For now, though, we must look at the Baptist’s final statement: “This is what I have seen and told you, that this is the Son of God.” With these words the introduction to Jesus’ Earthly ministry ends and next we get to look at Jesus on the Earth.

John Prologue (1:1-18)

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Part 2: Prologue (John 1:1-18)

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OK, let’s take a look at the Gospel of John. John starts off showing us just how educated he is. His opening line appears to give a sense of blended philosophy. “In the beginning was the Word,” (1:1). This calls your attention all the way back to Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God,” as well as it has overtones of Greek philosophy.

But what is John’s point in this passage? “In the beginning was the Word”? What does that mean? He follows this explaining that the Word “was with God, was God.” Wait a minute God is a word? Or was with Himself? … Are you getting confused yet? Should one of the “Gs” in “God” be lower case? Verse 2 summarizes one of these ideas: “and existed in the beginning with God.” But didn’t he say in verse 1 that the Word was God? The English Standard Version (ESV) translates verse 2 as “He was in the beginning with God.” This makes it clear we’re talking about a different person.

To really understand the concept in these verses we must look at the purpose behind them. In John 20:31 John says his purpose is that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. The Song of God then is what we are reading about, right? Since we believe in the Trinity – the God who is three persons in one God or Triune – this makes much more sense.

John is doing several things in these opening verses, because he continues with his look back at Genesis: “Everything was made through Him.” This is again pointing us back to the Genesis story. “In the beginning God made the universe (the heavens and the Earth)” is how Genesis starts out. It moves into God speaking things into existence. So everything must have been made through the Word “without whom there would be nothing.”

After making the universe what did God make? The answer is light, of course! John fulfills this as well. In verse three “Everything was made through Him,” then in verse four “And through Him life was what was made, and that life is a light to all people.” The very next thing mentioned is light. Isn’t our God great? The light He made nothing can put out!

This ends the first section of these verses (1-18) and already John has given us a lot to think about. One key point of these verses as a whole is Jesus, the Son of God, is the Word of God, which is the action of God. Think about it, in creation how did God create? Through speech. He spoke things into being and if He spoke them into being then isn’t it Jesus performing these acts of creation? Jesus, Himself said that He could do nothing by Himself but He did the will of the One who sent Him (John 5:30) and that His food was doing the will of the One who sent Him (4:34).

So if Jesus is active full of actions and doing things then we who are being conformed to His image (Romans 8:29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18) are being conformed to what? We are being called to act! It is just as James (who was Jesus’ brother and John’s cousin as well) said in his letter, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). This is faith without action is dead. Think on that: dead, gone, worthless, useless, all these are terms that convey the same message. We are called to action!

In the next verse John introduces us to his first human character: John. Wait a minute is he introducing himself here? Our answer comes out of a later verse where we get more of a picture of this John. In 1:25 he is asked, “Why are you baptizing?” This is a key to which John we are talking about. John the Baptist was a forbearer of Jesus. He was the one who came to prepare the world for Jesus’ coming. John came to tell about Jesus but was not the promised Messiah himself. His purpose in life was to tell the people who Jesus was and why He had come. Verses six through eight give a summary of John the Baptist and we’ll see later, by his own words, what his purpose was. For right now though we have to contend with just receiving a small summary of what John’s call on his life was.

This moves us on to a new ides taking place in this prologue. The Apostle John has moved from equating Jesus to the Word of God to equating him to “the Light”. This happens not only in this section (vv. 6-8) but the next (vv. 9-13) as well. As we transition to this next section we get to a point that we get to see a preliminary stating of John’s purpose for writing.

Out next section starts off continuing the theme of making a distinction between John the Baptist and Jesus. “The actual light” gives us a clear difference. This “Light” which gives light to everyone was now entering the world. The stage is being set for Jesus’ ministry. Now the Apostle John gives a summary of Jesus’ entire ministry on the earth. He starts out by reminding us that the earth that Jesus – the Light – came to was made through Him. This is important because John is pointing out that the Light is the same as the Word which all things were made through. The big irony is that the world was made through Him but no one knew about Him at all. He even came to his own people (the idea being they out of everyone on the earth should have known Him) and they didn’t even know Him.

John, here, points out to us at the very beginning of his writing what his purpose is. He shows us that, though, no one knew Jesus and His own people rejected Him, those people who did receive Him – believe in His name (you can think of chapter 4 with all the Samaritans and the Official’s household) – He gave the ability to become children of God. This is the “New Birth” not of flesh, but of God. This is understood as – or could be read as – He gave them Salvation, neither by their own flesh nor merit, but from His. This is John’s purpose in writing: that we, too, might believe and gain salvation.

This moves us into the final section of the Prologue (vv. 14-18). Now John points out something that is very important. He starts it so simply: “And the Word became flesh”. Why is this so important? It is so important because there were a lot of people questioning whether or not Jesus really was the “Son of God” or if the Spirit had descended upon Him at His baptism and left Him at the crucifixion or whether He only came as a spirit and His birth and death were some sort of great cosmic lie. John points out here that there was no lie or Jesus was not just a man with the Spirit on him, but He is the Son of God who did become flesh and gave Himself fully for our sin.

John makes a very second point that is also quite important in this verse. This is a statement that points to John the son of Zebedee (John the Apostle) as the author. He says here: “and He dwelt among us”. This is important because it points out that the author is an eyewitness who knew Jesus in the flesh. He continues pointing out the fact that he is an eyewitness as he says that “we have seen His glory”. His glory is shown to appear as that of the only Son of the Father. We can look at this as the only son of a father is showered with love and taught to be an man (adult) through the example of his father. So the Son would shine as an example of the Father. Just as Jesus will later say, “If you have seen the Me, you have seen the Father” (14:9). Then what was Jesus’ glory (or image)? It was full of grace and truth.

The Apostle here comes back to the testimony of John the Baptist. Here the Apostle shows that John the Baptist specifically pointed out Jesus as the One who would come after him. The Apostle here uses John the Baptist to be pointing Jesus out. He will get into this deeper later, but for now he moves onto telling us more about Jesus’ glory.

John tells us now that out of Jesus’ fullness – or abundance – He has given us so much grace that it could never be measured. He puts it “grace upon grace” or “gracious gif after gracious gift”. This is so much grace there are not even words to express the idea to you of how much grace this is. To make his point further he shows us that the Law came through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus the Messiah.

I want to pause here and discuss words. Something we need to look at is some of the words we use in “Christianese”. Here in most translations this word is left in Greek, just transliterated. Messiah and Christ, however, are the same word, one is just in Hebrew and the other is in Greek. The fact of the matter is the authors of the New Testament were writing in Greek as they would have written (or translated Messiah to) Christ. So here I prefer to use Messiah so we can remember that Christ was not Jesus’ last name.

There is one final verse in the prologue. Verse eighteen gives us one final point about Jesus being the Son of God. This is that no one has ever seen God, but the only Son of God (who is God) who is at the very heart of the Father has explained Him. This is a similar idea to what John wrote in verse fourteen. The same as the John speaking of the Jesus’ glory is an example of the Father because He is an example of the Father. With these words John ends his Prologue. By telling us that Jesus has explained (or made known) the Father, he leads us into Jesus’ ministry. In essence Jesus’ ministry was explaining the Father; cluing us into the Father and the truth of the Father. Just as John said in 1 John 4:8b “God is love” this is what Jesus was showing us. What do you think the most important thing Jesus revealed is?

John Introduction

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Part 1: Introduction

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Let us start out by first introducing our topic of study. We’ll be looking at the Gospel of John and if we are to look at the writing, first then, we must look at the author. John was a young man when called by Jesus. He was the younger son of Zebedee and Salome and the cousin to Jesus. He and his brother, James, were fishermen and partners with Simon Peter and Andrew (Luke 5:10). That is John’s background, fishing, and Jesus used this to tell him his future when he told Peter, Andrew, James and John that He would make them fishers of men (Luke 5:10).

John would go on to become a significant leader of the Believers (Christians) and later – more specifically – of the Ephesian Church. Ephesus is most likely the location from which John wrote this Gospel. He wrote much later then his contemporaries, sometime after 70 AD. Most sources point to sometime at the end of his life between 90 and 95 AD. And he wrote with a specific intention in mind. He was a well educated man who was writing to both Jews and Gentiles. He often translates Aramaic and Hebrew terms to Greek (see 1:38, 1:41 and 42, and others) and explains Jewish customs and Palestinian geography. But beyond this his main purpose of writing is stated in the text itself in John 20:30-31. In these two verses John states quite a few concepts. He starts with the fact that his is not a complete account of Jesus’ ministry on Earth but rather specific occurrences. He then tells us that these specific occurrences were chosen that the reader may believe (or keep believing as recorded by some manuscripts) and through this belief have eternal life.