Jesus in the Gospel of John

The Gospel of John begins with a prologue (1:1-18) introducing Jesus as the λογος (logos), meaning the “Word.”  The concept of λογος (logos) used as a designation or as “the independent, personified ‘Word’ (of God)” (Bauer et al. 480) is derived from Jewish Wisdom literature and has parallels in Hellenistic literature (Guthrie 326). The Gospel of John connects the idea of λογος (logos) with the personification of Wisdom in the Hebrew scriptures and then describes Jesus in a similar way demonstrating that he “is the true manifestation of the Wisdom of God” (Pate et al. 164).

The Gospel of John emphasizes the λογος (logos) concept in order to describe Jesus’ relationship with the Father. John 1:1 starts with “In the beginning…” which alludes to Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created….” This describes the  pre-creation state where God created everything with his divine words, and so when the full statement of John 1:1 is read as “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” it is describing the pre-existing λογος (logos) and clearly stating the deity of the λογος (logos) while remaining distinguished from God─the Father (i.e. the Word was with God) (Guthrie 327). This Divine λογος (logos) becomes Jesus who is God─the Son and who continues in an eternal relationship the Father.

Furthermore, the Gospel of John emphasizes the λογος (logos) concept in order to explain Jesus’ relationship with humans. John 1:14 states, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (NIV). This shows that in the incarnate Word, God has returned to his people and pitched his tent among them which alludes back to Exodus 33 where God tabernacled with the Israelites; therefore, as the Israelites witnessed the glory of the Lord fill the tabernacle, the people saw the glory of the incarnate Word─Jesus (Pate et al. 167).

Closely related to the emphasis on the λογος (logos) in the Gospel of John is the emphasis on Jesus’ miracles and on the messianic titles given to him by people which point to Jesus’ divinity. Furthermore, Jesus’ use of “I AM” statements connects the Hebrew covenant name for God (Exod 3:4) with himself, and then he calls God his Father which meant that he was equal with God.

Another emphasis about Jesus that is unique to the Gospel of John is the portrayal of Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29 cf. 1:36). Thus, he is likened to a sacrificial lamb of the Jewish Passover that was killed in order to atone for the sins of the people. This sacrifice of a lamb was performed by the high priest who was interceding on behalf of the people and representing them before God. The concept of Jesus as the Lamb of God, the reference to the Jewish Passover throughout the book (see 2:13; 6:4; 11:55, 12:1), and the passion narrative of Jesus express the wonder of the Gospel─ “that God himself provides the offering which humankind itself cannot provide” (Marshall 434).

Works Cited

Bauer, Walter et al. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.  Chicago, IL : University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Theology. Inter-Varsity Press, 1990.

Marshall, I.H. “Lamb of God.” Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, edited by Joel B. Green, et al. Inter-Varsity Press, 2003, pp. 432-434.

Pate, C. Marvin et al. The Story of Israel: a Biblical Theology. Inter-Varsity Press, 2004.

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