Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bible Study Notes - John - Introduction

Jesus United Ministries
Evangelist J. Frank Smith

Bible Study
The Gospel According to St. John


John is the fourth gospel of the new testament. Each of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John presents Jesus in different ways:

Matthew: Presents Jesus as the Son of David, the heir to Isreal’s throne, the King of the Jews. Everything in Matthew contributes to this central theme.

Mark: Jesus is seen as the servant of Jehova God, the perfect workman of God. Everything in Mark brings out the characteristics of Jesus service and the manner in which he served.

Luke: Luke shows the humanity of the Saviour and presents Him as the perfect man, contrasting him to the sinful sons of men.

John: Views Jesus as the heavenly one come down to earth, the eternal son of the heavenly Father made flesh and tabernacling among men. This is the one dominate truth which John holds to steadfastly from start to finish.

The gospel of John is more elevated than the other three. John brings into view spiritual relationships rather than human ties and therefore higher glories are revealed. John brings us into the presence of the Saviour to touch Him.

John’s purpose is to show that the one who was born in a manger and afterward died on the Cross has higher glory than a King; that He, who humbled himself to take the role of a servant was previously “equal with god”. The one who became the “son of man” was none other than, and ever remains, the only Begotten of the Father. Just as each member in the human body has it’s own particular function, each book of the bible has it’s own special purpose and mission.

John’s theme is the diety of Christ. No other place in scripture presents Jesus so fully as the Christ of the Godhead, and yet presents him so personally.

Consider these things:

He was heralded by the angels to the shepherds at Bethlehem.
He walked the earth for 33 years.
He was crucified by wicked men at calvary.
He rose from the dead in triumph over death, hell and the grave.
He remained in his resurrected state on the earth 40 days.
He departed the earth as his disciples looked on.
This is none other than the King of Glory !

The evidence of all this is overwhelming, the proofs from non-biblical history and the bible as well are almost without number.

God has taken great care to guard the perfections of our Lord’s humanity. No uncertainty of fact exists that Jesus is the divine Son of the Living God. The prophets of old were inspired to write about him:

Isiah: For unto us a child is born, unto 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.

Michah: But thou, Bethleham Ephratah, though thou be lifted among the thousands of Judah yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Isreal whose goings forth have been from the days of eternity.

Zechariah: Awake O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts: Smit the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered

The Psalmest: The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

We are seeing today a widespread departure from “ the faith”, therefore I say to all that it cannot be empahaised too strongly or too frequently that the Lord Jesus Christ is none other than the second person of the Trinity, co-eternal and co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

In this fourth gospel we have:

1. The full unveiling of Christ’s divine glories.
2. Jesus dwelling with God before time ever began and before the creatures were formed.
3. Jesus, the only begotten of God revealed, full of grace and truth.

John the Baptist bare record “that this is the Son of God”.

It is recorded in John the beginning of miracles that occurred in Cana of Galilee and manifested forth his glory.

John records Jesus said “destroy this temple (His Body) and in three days I will raise it up. In John we read that the Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into his hand. John records Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I am”. Here he affirmed “ I and the Father are one”. He testifies “If you have seen me , you have seen the Father.”

The book of John anticipates His crucifixion, His rejection from the very beginning. “He came unto his own and they received him not.” “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

From these verses we notice:

1. The Jews as a nation rejected the one sent of the Father.
2. A company, or group did receive Him.
3. This company are here designated “ the Sons of God.”

There are no other verses in the entire bible that resembles this.

It is by new birth we enter into the family of God.

Then as the family reaches out beyond Jewish believers, it takes in all the
gentile believers also.

After the word of God became flesh (Jesus) and tabernacled among us,
and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Evangelist John goes on to say “and of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace.

This verse alone establishes the point of who is being addressed here. It is not the Jewish nation; it is believers ! The Jewish nation never received his fullness. The “all” in verse 16 is the “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God” in verse 12.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ this describes you !
Jesus was addressing “all believers”

When we get to the tenth chapter of John we will find Jesus said “ I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father (God) knoweth me, even so I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. Immediately he goes on to say “ and other sheep have I, which are not of the fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Ciaphas, the high priest, said “ Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” And he spoke this not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nations, and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God, that were scattered abroad. Unwittingly and not on his own, Ciaphas made known the Divine purpose in the death of the Saviour and revealed what was to be the outcome of the great sacrifice. This comment looked beyond the bounds of Judaism, including within it’s range believing sinners from the Gentiles.

Jesus said in John 14:2, 3 we read that Christ said to His disciples, “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. Ad if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, there ye may be also”.

Here it is, the rapture of the saints to heaven, and the taking of them to be with Christ forever.

Only in the book of John do we read of being “born of the Spirit”. Only in the book of John is Jesus declared to be our comforter or advocate. Only in John do we read of “abiding forever” with believers.

John 17 records the High Priestly prayer of the Saviour that we shall study in depth. You will find more riches in this section than you can ever imagine.

Chapter 1: 1-13

Scripture: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. Vs 2 The same was in the beginning with God. Vs 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.

Commentary: We have set forth here the relation of Jesus Christ to time. He is eternal and He was “with God”. This depicts the fact that Christ is one of the Holy Trinity. God is the Word; Christ is the revealer of the Word. All things were made by Him and He (Christ as he is related to the Trinity) is the Creator. The understanding we will develop during the study of the Gospel of John is of the oneness of the Godhead, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. They are never in disagreement and they work in concert as one. We will begin to understand that Christians are grafted by invitation into this oneness.

Ø The opening verses of John are very different from the other Gospels.
Ø John opens by immediately presenting Christ not as the Son of David, nor as the Son of man, but as the Son of God.
Ø John takes us back to the beginning, and shows that the Saviour was Himself the Creator. Every clause in these verses calls for our most careful and prayerful attention.
“In the beginning” goes beyond our understanding. It is one of those matchless sweeps of inspiration that rises above the level of human thought, therefore, we cannot take it for granted. A “word” is an expression: by words we articulate our speech. The “Word” of God, then, is Deity expressing itself in audible terms.

“and the Word was with God” This sets Jesus apart in His separate personality, yet shows His relation to the other Persons of the blessed Trinity. This oneness is the most important yet the most misunderstood relationship even to Christians.

Prayer Meditation: Saints, approach the Throne of grace and there seek the mercy and grace we so sorely need to help us as we turn now to take a closer look at these verses.

Our God and Father, in the name of your dear Son Jesus, we pray to you that the Holy Spirit may now take of the things of Christ and show them unto us: to the praise of the glory of your grace… Amen

“And God was the Word” Not only was Christ the Revealer of God, but He always was, and ever remains, none other than God Himself. Not only was our Saviour the One through whom, and by whom, the Diety expressed itself in audible terms, but He was Himself co-equal with the Father and the Spirit.

In The Beginning

Let us look at the beginnings referred to in the New Testament:

Ø There is the beginning of the world ( Matthew 24:21)
Ø The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Mark 1:1)
Ø The beginning of Sorrows (Mark 13:8)
Ø The beginning of Miracles or Signs (John 2:11)

The beginning mentioned in John 1:1 clearly presupposes all the other beginnings. The beginning here precedes the making of all things as mentioned in scripture. It is the beginning of creation, the beginning of time.

We do not know how old the earth has been around, possibly millions of years. But the Word was before all things. Jesus was not only from the beginning, but He was “in the beginning”. The significance of this scripture is to carry us to the most remote point that can be imagined. If then, He was before all creation, and He was, for all things were made by Him. If He was “in the beginning” then He was Himself without beginning, which is only the negative way of saying He was eternal. His prayer in John 17 is in perfect agreement with this. He said “ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Now that we know Jesus is inseparable from God, eternal, and as none but God Himself is eternal, the absolute Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is conclusively established.

In the original Greek there were two separate words which, in this passage, are both rendered “was”. One means “to exist”, the other “to come into being”. The second word (egento) is used in John 1:3 which, literally reads, “all things through him came into being; and without him came into being not even one thing which has come into being. This same word, egento, is in John 1:6 where we read “there was (become to be) a man sent from God whose name was John”. And again in John 1:14, “ And the word was made (became flesh)”. But here in 1:1 and 1:2 it is “the word (Greek word ito) with God”. As the Word He did not come into being, or begin to be, but He was “with God” from all eternity. It is noteworthy that the Holy Spirit uses this word “ito” which signifies that the Son personally subsisted, no less that four times in the first two verses of John 1. Unlike John the Baptist who “became (Greek word egento) a man. The Word was (ito) that is, existed with God before time began.

Jesus said in Revelation 1:8 “ I am the Alpha and Omega”, which intimates that He is God’s alphabet, the One who spells out Deity, the One who utters all God has to say. Even clearer, perhaps, is the testimony of John 1:18: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is the bosom of the Father he hath declared him” The word declared means tell out (see Acts 15:14 and Acts 21:19.) It is translated “told” in Luke 24:35. Putting together these three passages we learn that Christ is the One who is the Spokesman of God, and One who spelled out the Deity, the One who has declared or told forth the Father.

WOW, we have just learned Jesus is the Word of God, the communication of God, the One who declares the Deity. Is it not amazing that we, the body of Christ, carry the “good news”, the “gospel” to the world. Christians are to declare the “gospel”. Think again now of our earlier comments about the oneness of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit and the prayer of Jesus in John 17 that we, all Christians, you, and I, would be one with the Father. It gives us our correct position as Christians, where we should be, one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you but that speaks volumes to me and causes me to fall on my knees in the knowledge and gratification of his grace toward me and to give him thanks for saving my soul.

Christ, then, is the One who has made the incomprehensible God intelligible. The force of this title of His found in John 1:1, may be discovered by comparing it with that name which is given to the Holy Scriptures – “the word of God.” What are the Scriptures? They are they Word of God. And what does it mean? This: the Scriptures reveal God’s mind, express His will, make known His perfections, and lay bare His heart. This is precisely what the Lord Jesus has done for the Father. But let’s look a little more into detail: -

(a) A “word” is a medium of manifestation. I have in my mind a thought but others know not its nature. But the moment that thought is put into words it becomes understood. Words, then, make objective unseen thoughts. This is precisely what the Lord Jesus has done. As the Word, Christ has made manifest the invisible God

(b) A “word” is a means of communication. By means of words I transmit information to others. By words I express myself, make known my will, and impart knowledge. So Christ, as the Word, is the Divine Transmitter, communicating to us the life and love of God.

(c) A “word” is a method of revelation. By his words a speaker exhibits both his intellectual caliber and his moral character. By our words we shall be justified, and by our words we shall be condemned. And Christ, as the Word, reveals the attributes and perfections of God. How fully has Christ revealed God! He displayed His power, He manifested His wisdom, He exhibited His holiness, He made known His grace, He unveiled His heart. In Christ, and nowhere else, is God fully and finally told out.

Proverbs 8:30 – “Then I was by Him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him”

Let me ask you an important question: How can we obtain a better, deeper, fuller knowledge of God Himself? What conception have you formed, dear reader, of the Being, Personality, and Character, of God?

Before the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth, the world was without the knowledge of the true and living God. Some people say God is revealed in Nature. This is true, but the statement needs qualification. Nature reveals the existence of God, but how little it tells of His character. Nature, as such knows no mercy and shows no pity. If you step off a cliff, you will die. If you break the laws of nature, there is no redemption. A penalty is paid. Dear reader, it is only in Christ that God is fully told out. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Holy One. He was God, the Son, manifest in flesh. So perfectly did He reveal God He could say “ He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”. (John 14:9)

Verse four then follows naturally. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men”. He must be the Fountain of Life. He is the Life-Giver. All Life is found in Him. The Greek word for life is “Zoe” Throughout the bible it is translated as:

Ø Spiritual Life (John 1:4)
Ø Life-Time ( Luke 12:15) & (Luke 16:25)

So “zoe”, “life” includes in it’s scope all life, physical and spiritual.

And the Life was THE LIGHT of men - This follows immediately after the declaration that “all things” were “made” by Christ. All creation is in view here and it is “men”, which means believers and non-believers, that is spoken of here. Jesus was the light of men. He is our light, our true light, which lighteth every man, that cometh into the world.

Romans 2:15 – It is this “light” which lightens every man that cometh into the world, that constitutes them responsible human beings.

Many today preach and many believe that inside every man there is a spark of Divine life, which needs only to be fanned, to become a flame. This is not true, it is a satanic lie. The bible tells us over and over again natural man is “dead in trespasses and sins”. Yet natural man is a responsible being before God, to whom we shall give an account of himself. We are responsible, because the work of God’s law is written in our hearts, our conscience also bearing witness, and this is the “light” which is referred to in John 1;4, and the “lighteneth” (John 1:9)

John 1:5 – “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”.

In verse 1 He is spoken of as “the word”.
In verse 3 He is the Maker of all things.
In verse 4 He is “The Life”
Now in verse 5 He is “ the Light”
Compare all this to 1 John 1:5 where we read “God is light”

The conclusion, then, is irresistible, the proof complete and final, that the Lord Jesus is none other than God, the second Person in the Holy Trinity.
Every man that comes into this world is lightened by his Creator, but the natural man disregards this light, he repels it, and in consequence, is plunged into darkness. Instead of the natural man “living up to the light” (John 3:19) he loves darkness rather than light.

The unregenerate man is blind – in the dark. A darkness so intense it tries to shut out the light. And we all know how darkness fades with the coming light. This is a strong indictment of the fallen nature of man. Truly, nothing but a miracle can save him.

So, the pertinent question here is how does natural man come to the light he so resists. It would seem impossible, yet with God the impossible to man is not a problem..

In the next lesson we will take up John 1:6, and begin to learn how God makes it possible for men in total darkness, men who reject the light, to become light.

See you in the next lesson, God Bless You !!

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