John 1- The Prologue


A.     An overview of John and his purpose in writing.


1                                 Why are there four Gospels?   

The accounts of the life & ministry of Jesus, written by Matthew Mark Luke & John provide us with four distinct perspectives. They provide us with alternative lenses through which we can view the life of Our Lord.

2                                 Why did John write?

John declared his purpose clearly in his own words. He wrote 'that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name' (20:31).
john The Jews were looking for a Messiah. This simply means anointed one. But they were expecting a king. Not someone who would die on a cross. (Note: Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Acts 1:6). So, John wants to help them understand how this Jesus really was the Messiah. The first part of the Gospel, chapters 1-12, is sometimes called the book of signs. John chooses just 7 signs (or miracles) to describe; he wants to help the people understand about Jesus the Messiah.

Can you find the signs? (The first two are numbered to help!)

 What do the signs tell us about the Messiah?

 John's comment about wedding at Cana was 'He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in Him' (2:11). These signs are not merely acts of power but they reveal God at work in Jesus. And so we find here that Jesus is no ordinary man but one who he shows God's glory; this means that he radiates the presence of God revealing God's presence to the world.

3                                 Get the BIG PICTURE!

Try and read the Gospel of John through so you get the big picture.  This is a helpful principle with so much of the Bible. Get the big picture and the detail then fits into a context. We have provided the Church with copies of the Gospel of John in the New Living Translation Please get in touch if you would like a copy. 

4                                 The Book of Signs. Chapters 1-12

 John wants to showhow Jesus is revealed to the world as both the Messiah and the Son of God. Each story, each sign, each bit of teaching is there for a reason. The NIV Application Bible Commentary[1] very useful. He has conversations with individual people - firstly with Nicodemus, a Jew, from the most respected section of Jewish society and then a Samaritan women who is an outcast. He takes ordinary symbols, like water, and shows how the Messiah brings abundance e.g. living water. Many of the stories are set against the backdrop of Jewish festivals and Jesus reinterprets their meaning and gives them new significance.

5              The Book of Glory. Chapters  12-17
Jesus turns to his disciples in private. He teaches privately about being a servant, explains about the coming Holy Spirit and prays at length for his disciples. He wants to prepare them for his death. Chapter 18 - 20 are about the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus

B. Who was John writing to?

Irenaeus, writing about 200 AD, identifies the writer as John, the disciple of Jesus and that it was written while John was at Ephesus. As a young person, Irenaeus was taught by Polycarp who was a disciple of John's so there is every reason to believe he was correct.                            

In the ancient world, Ephesus was a center of travel and commerce.                             
 The city was one of the greatest seaports of the ancient world.  Three major roads led from the seaport: one road went east towards Babylon via Laodicea, another to the north via Smyrna and a third south to the Meander Valley.
Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world,  and was dedicated to the goddess of the hunt.
John was a leader in the church in Ephesus. Many of the Christians would have preciously worshipped at the various temples in the city.  
What else do we know about the church at Ephesus?
The church here was founded by Paul in about 52 AD. Would all the believers have been people of gentile origin? No! We are told that the church was based within a large influential Jewish community. So John was addressing two very different sorts of people.

C                   What did John say to his first century believers?

1.                                     Prologue: Christ, the Eternal Word
1In the beginning the Word already existed.                         Why use ‘Word’ and not Jesus?
The Word was with God, and the Word was God.                 A massive challenge to Jews
2He existed in the beginning with God.                                 Echoes of Genesis 1
3God created everything through him,                                   Jesus was not an observer
                                                                                                       Of creation
and nothing was created except through him.
4The Word gave life to everything that was created,           ‘Light’  What was the first creation in Genesis?
and his life brought light to everyone.                                  
5The light shines in the darkness,                                          ‘Extinguish it’ NIV is cannot
and the darkness can never extinguish it.                              Understand itkatalambáno means to grasp something in a forceful manner.
6God sent a man, John the Baptist,c7to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
10He came into the very world he created,
 but the world didn’t recognize him.                                            World (Gentile) rejection
11He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  His own(Jewish) Rejection
12But to all who believed him and accepted him,                   ALL who believe can be us too!
he gave the right to become children of God.
13They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
14So the Word became human,                                                     OR Flesh                                
and made his home among us.                                                    This comes from the word
                                                                                                            meaning to live in a tent
                                                                                                           reminding us of the tabernacle in the desert                                             
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.                       or full of grace and truth
And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
15John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”
16From his abundance                                                           The fullness of his grace
we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
17For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

D. Let's Look at LOGOS

In the beginning was the Word (Gk: Logos)
Logos: Hebrew thought, the word of the Lord gave life. Psalm 33:6 'By the word of the Lord the heavens were made' Word means more than spoken word; it involved energy and power.
Logos: Greeks (Stoics) Logos was the mind of God, guiding controlling directing all things.  So, was God's Logos, that we can imagine, gave meaning and plan to the universe.

E. What is God saying to us?

·         Jesus was fully divine AND Jesus was fully human.
·         Remembering Jesus as fully God, calls us to worship respect and obedience
·         Remembering Jesus as fully human, helps us to see that there is nothing too trivial; nothing he doesn't understand.
·         Our challenge is to work out God's call on our lives. This may not always be easy. But if Jesus could, so can we. Don't let us step back from God's call on our lives.

[1] NIV Life Application Bible (1997) Zondervan


Barbara Brockbank, 19/05/2011