04.01.01 Introduction: The World Stage is Set; John’s Prologue
John begins his gospel with the eternal nature of Jesus as the Creator who is the Light that brings salvation. The entire Bible is a story of God’s love and salvation for humanity. To that end, Galatians 4:4 states that in the fullness of time Jesus came. Yet the term “fullness” can be understood only within the cultural context of the first century and the significant people and events that preceded it. There were four major areas of preparation that had to be completed before “fullness” was achieved in preparing the world for coming of the “Anointed One.” They are,
- The Greeks: They provided a cultural milieu and language.
- The Romans: They provided elements of law and order throughout the empire and improved transport. This was a profound accomplishment as the previous two centuries were filled with violence, political and religious chaos, persecution, and assassinations.
- The people throughout the Roman Empire and in regions beyond were expecting a messianic figure or king of some kind. From the Roman senate to the common slave, there were expectations of the appearance of a very important person.
- The Jewish people provided the religious background and foundation necessary for Jesus to come.
The most important and anticipated life in history was born in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. Yet John made a distinct point to demonstrate that the life of Jesus did not begin in a Bethlehem manger, but that He existed from eternity past. The theme of his gospel is the deity of Jesus, Who was “from the beginning” and set forth both the divine and human nature of the Messiah. The purpose of His coming was to teach men about the Kingdom of God, as well as to pay the high cost to redeem them from a lost eternity. John’s point is that only God could have performed such a great task.
For the first term Word, in the first sentence, John used the Greek word Logos that included the Greek concept of reason and speech. God created the world by means of His Logos. The term is the eternal order of all things that is in God, and Jesus is the incarnation of that Logos in history. The definition includes what is said, thought, reasoned, and motivated by Divine expression. John was not a Greek philosopher, but desired to express the concept that Jesus was the idea and expression of God in human form and was, in fact, God.
. The divine plan of salvation of the Old and New Testament was taught by the Hebrew prophets, as outlined in Appendix 9.
. See 03.05.13.
. For a brief description of those who expressed this anticipation long before the advent of Jesus, see 03.05.15, 03.05.24.
. Barclay, “John.” 1:7-9; Vine, “Word.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:683.
. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages. 261; Vine, “Matter, Matters.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:396.
. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus, 115.
. Brunn, One Bible, Many Versions. 78. Dave Brunn is an excellent resource on developing the skills of Bible translation.
. See Appendix 8 on the Two Natures (human and divine) of Jesus.