The proper place to begin a study of the life of Jesus is BEFORE his birth. Without a proper understanding of the deity of Christ, we will not fully understand his humanity. One of the most powerful and thorough pieces of literature on the deity of our Lord is the prologue of John’s gospel account (1:1-18). The main points of the following outline are from Merrill Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief, pp. 63-74.
- Four times in John’s prologue Jesus is referred to as “the Word” (1:1, 14).
- A word is a means of communication. It is the expression of one’s mind. Jesus is the expression of the mind of another (cf. Heb. 1:1-2; John 1:18).
- In ancient Greek culture, logos (word) was used of the ultimate Mind or Reason of the universe, that which gave meaning to all things. John will take the term logos and give it it’s true application.
THE WORD AND DEITY (1:1)
- “In the beginning was…” (1:1). Whenever “the beginning” happened, the Word already existed (John 1:15; 8:58; Micah 5:2; Isa. 9:6).
- The Word was “with the God” (1). “With” implies personal distinction. The Word is a distinct personality from the Father.
- The Word “was God” (1). The Word possesses all the traits of Deity.
THE WORD AND CREATION (1:2-3)
- The Word “was in the beginning with God.” If so, then one would expect him to have had some association with the creation.
- The Word was the agent of creation; God created the world through the instrumentality of the Word (Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).
THE WORD AND LIFE (1:4, 5, 9)
- “Life” is found 36 times in John. It “expresses the highest and best that the saints possess in God” (R.C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 109).
- Jesus possessed the ability to bestow spiritual blessedness. This ability gave “light” to men. Light represents that which is good; darkness, that which is evil (cf. 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:35-36). Though darkness tried to overcome light, it failed.
THE WORD AND THE WORLD (1:10)
- “World” is used 77 times in the book, and according to Tenney, it means, “the material and spiritual environment in which men live” (p. 67).
- John affirms that the world “did not know Him.” Most people knew Jesus only superficially. Even the twelve did not fully grasp his identity until after his ascension. The world’s ignorance of Jesus contributed to their rejection of him.
THE WORD AND MEN (1:11-13)
- Tenney states, “The idiom ‘unto his own’ really means ‘He came home.’ ‘His own’ refers to property or to those things that make one’s peculiar surroundings’” (p. 68).
- But “his own people” rejected him. While you will find acceptance among the Samaritans (4:40-42), and some popularity among Gentiles (12:20), the book shows repeated rejection by many of his own people.
- Those that believed in him were given the right (power, authority, liberty) to continue their obedience and “become” children of God.
THE WORD INCARNATE (1:14)
- This is the key verse of the prologue. He took upon himself human form, becoming just like the beings he had created (Heb. 2:14; Luke 24:29; Col. 2:9).
- This incarnation allowed people to behold his glory, that which offers opportunity and reason for praise and worship.
THE WORD REVEALING (1:16-18)
- Through the incarnate Word we have access to the fullness of God’s grace. Jesus also revealed grace and truth to a degree unknown in previous generations.
- Jesus also revealed the Father (cf. 3:2; 14:8-9). While God had made himself known in previous generations, he did not do so to this extent and in this way.