The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)


Lesson 1

INTRODUCTORY MESSAGE TO THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

(John 1:1-18)



INTRODUCTION:


1.     It has been said that the book of Matthew was written for a Jewish audience – Christ is seen as KING (cf. Matt. 1:1; 2:1, 2).

2.     The Gospel of Mark was written to a Roman audience, and Christ is seen as a SERVANT (cf. Mark 10:45).

3.     The book of Luke was written to the Greeks, and Christ is seen as THE SON OF MAN (cf. Luke 19:10).

4.     The book of John is much different from the three Synoptic Gospels.  It is written to “whosoever” and Jesus is called THE SON OF GOD (cf. John 5:18).

5.     The key verse is John 20:31.

6.     John’s Gospel is different from the Synoptic Gospels in many ways: there is no genealogy, no manger scene, no boyhood of Jesus, no temptation in the wilderness, and no garden of Gethsemane.

7.     John’s Gospel emphasizes the deity of Christ and the meaning of faith in Christ.  The great evangelist, R. A. Torrey, used to give unsaved people little Gospel of Johns and he would ask them to read it carefully.  He testified that upon following up with these people, many of them were genuinely converted to Christ.

8.     The deity of Christ is seen in the various titles given to Jesus in the book of John.

       the Word (1:1, 14)

       the Lamb of God (1:29, 36)

       the Messiah/Christ (1:41)

       the Son of God (1:49; 5:18)

       the Saviour of the world (4:42)

       Lord and God (20:28)

9.     Our Lord’s deity is also asserted in His “I am” discourses (cf. 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5).

10. In other “I am” statements, our Lord made implicit and explicit claims to be the “I AM” JEHOVAH GOD of the OT (cf. 4:24-26; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; Exodus 3:13, 14).

11. The key word in the Gospel of John is “believe” and it is found 99 times.

12. These first 18 verses of John chapter 1 are referred to as “the Prologue,” and they set the stage for the entire book of John.

 

I.                  THE DIVINE REVELATION OF THE WORD (1:1-5).

1.     I spent quite some time last Sunday evening explaining the meaning of the Greek word Logos – the “Word” – used by John to emphasize Christ’s eternality and absolute deity.

2.     When the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph, he told him our Lord’s birth was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa. 7:14).

3.     “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

4.     We see this same idea here in John 1:14 – “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”

5.     In I Timothy 3:16, the apostle Paul declares that “God was manifest in the flesh.”  “The Word was God…the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14).

6.     So the book of John begins with the divine revelation of the Word.

7.     We have divided the prologue into three headings. And as we consider the divine revelation of the Word, we will make another three headings (sub-points):

(1)   His relation to God

(2)   His relation to Creation

(3)   His relation to Man

 

(1)   HIS RELATION TO GOD (1:1, 2).

A.   John begins with the phrase, “In the beginning…” (1:1, 2), reminding us of Genesis 1:1.  “In the beginning” means “before time commenced…in eternity past.”  This passage affirms that Christ is eternal God.

B.    “The Word was with God,” indicating a distinction between God the Son and the other members of the Godhead (i.e., Father and Holy Spirit).

C.   “…And the Word was God,” indicating unity in the Godhead.  God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal.

 

(2)   HIS RELATION TO CREATION (1:3).

A.   Again we are reminded that Christ is God.  Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and here we are told that, “All things were made by Him…” (1:3; cf. 1:10; Col. 1:16; Hebrews 1:1, 2).

B.     Since creation is ascribed to Christ, and we know that only God created this universe, then Christ must be God.

 

(3)   HIS RELATION TO MAN (1:4, 5).

A.   In relation to God, the Word is co-equal and co-eternal.  In relation to creation, the Word is the Creator.  And now in relation to man, the Word is “life” and “light” (1:4).

B.    Unregenerate men are dead in trespasses and sins.  The Lord Jesus Christ is life.  He is the sinner’s only hope.  He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

C.   Unregenerate men are in spiritual darkness, and Jesus is the Light (1:5).  “Darkness” signifies ignorance of God, and separation from God because of sin.  “Darkness” signifies superstition, idolatry, and wickedness.

D.   Sinful, unregenerate men cannot “comprehend” the Light (1:5).  Every man that comes into this world is given some measure of light (1:9), but sinful men disregard the Light, and resist the Light, and hate the Light, until they are finally plunged into the darkness of hell forever (cf. Matthew 8:12; Jude 6, 13).

E.    This ongoing conflict between darkness and light is one of the great themes of the Gospel of John (cf. 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:35, 36, 46).

 

II.               THE HISTORIC MANIFESTATION OF THE WORD (1:6-13).

1.     He “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2), was manifested in time (cf. I John 1:1, 2).

2.     Just as we divided our first heading into three sub-points, we will do the same with our second heading.

(1)   THE LIGHT WAS REVEALED (1:6-9).

(2)   THE LIGHT WAS REJECTED (1:10, 11).

(3)   THE LIGHT WAS RECEIVED (1:12, 13).

 

(1)   THE LIGHT WAS REVEALED (1:6-9).

A.   A couple of months ago, Dr. Bruce Miller preached a good message on John the Baptist and I jotted down part of his outline in my Bible.

1.     The PROVIDENCE OF GOD – “a man sent from God” (1:6).

2.     The PERSON SENT BY GOD – “whose name was John” (1:6).

3.     The PURPOSE OF GOD – “to bear witness of the Light” (1:7).

4.     The PROGRAM OF GOD – “that all men through him might believe” (1:7).  It is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9; cf. John 3:17).

5.     The POWER OF GOD – “That was the true Light…” (1:9).

B.    John the Baptist’s testimony was unique.  He was the first preacher to direct men’s attention to the Light (1:6-9; cf. 5:35).  Consequently, every Christian is now to follow in John’s footsteps, pointing men and women to Christ.

 

(2)   THE LIGHT WAS REJECTED (1:10, 11).

A.   On Christmas Eve I went over to my sister’s house to see my father.  He was sitting in front of the television set watching some nonsensical TV show.

B.    The host on this particular television program was asking various celebrities to explain the importance of Christmas.

C.   I saw several celebrities answer that question but not one gave the correct answer – the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

D.   Some said Christmas was all about children.  Others said it was all about family.  Others mentioned shopping and food.  But not one person mentioned Jesus.

E.    Why is that?  Because “the world knew Him not” (John 1:10) and they “received Him not” (1:11).

 

(3)   THE LIGHT WAS RECEIVED (1:12, 13).

A.   We find here three important words regarding Bible salvation:

       “receive” – sinners need to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.

       “become” – this is the only way to become a child of God.  “…Behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).

       “believe” (cf. John 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:47; etc.).  99 times in John’s Gospel.

B.    To “believe on His name” (1:12b) means to believe in His person.  Our Lord’s name is important.  It signifies who He is, what He stands for, and what He represents (cf. Matt. 1:21, 23; Isa. 9:6).

C.   “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

D.   “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

E.    Regeneration is something God does, not man (1:13).  Man only has to believe.

 

III.           THE HUMAN APPREHENSION OF THE WORD (1:14-18).

1.     Once again we will divide our heading into three sections.  I feel this point needs to be developed more, and Lord willing I will next week.

(1)   THE WITNESS OF THE APOSTLES – “and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14; cf. I John 1:1-3).

(2)   THE WITNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST (1:15; cf. 1:27).  We will consider John’s ministry in a future message, perhaps next week, Lord willing.  John testified of our Lord’s pre-eminence – “He is preferred before me” and our Lord’s pre-existence – “for He was before me.”

(3)   THE WITNESS OF THE CHURCH (1:16-18).  We have received “His fullness” (1:16), a term which stresses our Lord’s deity (cf. Col. 1:19; 2:9).

 

CONCLUSION:


1. The witness of the church is an important NT doctrine but it has been sadly neglected, especially in recent days. 

2. Few churches even have a soulwinning program.  And those that do (like ours) find few members involved with it.

3. I was glad to hear from Bro. Karnes that he is witnessing both to his fellow Marines as well as to Iraquis. 

4. The apostle Paul said he was a “debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians” (Rom. 1:14) – he felt obligated to preach the Gospel to them.



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