Archive for the ‘Bible Commentary’ Category

John 1:2-5 Commentary

November 1, 2007

John 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God. 

John reiterates here, showing the importance of the doctrine of the Deity of Christ.  John already told us that the Word was “with God”, “in the beginning”, but it seems that John is ensuring that we understand without equivocation what he was expressing in the first verse.  The same – that is, the Logos, Christ, was in the beginning. 

And to this he adds:

John 1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Christ was and is the generative and constant sustaining power of God.  The writer of Hebrews concurs when he says that Christ upholds “all things by the word of his power”

Now let us not miss the significance of this truth!  Most people assume that God, as creator, just built the world like a carpenter might build a boat or an engineer might build a machine, and then set the machine in motion, and just let it go along its merry way, to drift wheresoever it may wonder.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  God is the active agent in all events.  The sun does not rise unless he “upholds it with the power of his word”.  The moon does not shine, the wind does not blow, the rain does not fall, a man does not take a breath nor blink an eye, but what God has ordered it, ordained it, predestined it, and caused it through the word of His power.

And the great truth that John reveals to us here is that Christ is the “generator”, having the divine generative powers of the Godhead.  Man flatters himself with the thought that he (man) has the ability to generate – to cause, to author, to design, to control – both his own destiny and the destiny of the world.  Yet the scripture tells us that God alone has these abilities.  Oh, don’t get me wrong – a human being might exercise certain creative abilities in designing and crafting a multitude of material inventions, but we must remember that nothing of the material world exists outside of God’s decree, purpose, and will.

Not only that, but mankind’s creative abilities cease at the material level, for, as we next discover:

 John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Here we have a definition of “life” – in this case, it is “the light of men.”  We shall see later that there is a light that “lighteth every man that cometh into the world”.  It is easy for us to see that this life cannot be the “eternal” life, which is gotten by believing in Christ, because it is obvious that not all of mankind believes in Him.  But what “light” does “every man” posses?  We can understand this “light” to be an attribute of man that renders him different from the beasts – an attribute that reflects that we are made in the God’s image.  That attribute is the possession of a rational mind and a moral conscience.  Every man, excepting only for the severely mentally handicapped, has the ability to think rationally and behave morally.  However, the problem arises in the fallen nature, where man’s darkened heart, in some cases, has warped rationality and morality into a monstrously deformed remnant of its former self.  This is why John tells us:

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

The word “comprehended” here means “perceived”.  Therefore, due to man’s spiritual darkening through sin, he can no longer perceive the light. (“their foolish hearts were darkened” Rom 1:21)

Some people presume that because all of mankind received this “light”, that man is naturally born into a state of righteousness before God.  Such was the error of the great heretick Pelagius.   But we shall discovered in short order that just the opposite is true – man is born under his father Adam’s condemnation and must be “born again” to see the kingdom of God.  We shall discuss this phenomenon with some more detail when we comment on verse 9. 

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John 1:1 Commentary

August 21, 2007

John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Here we have those famous words – “In the beginning.” Where have we seen them before? Well, anyone that has picked up a Bible and opened to page 1 has read from Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” So just as Moses had something to tell us about the beginning, John has something else to tell us about the beginning.

Of course, there is nothing contradictory between Moses and John. But John, having been chosen by God to receive this revelation, opens the curtain of God’s mind a little more for us to see the power of His creative force.

When John says “In the beginning was”, he takes us to task in our human minds to understand the eternal nature of God – yea, of the Son of God, whom, as we shall see indisputably to be “the Word” later in the chapter. Christ said of Himself: “before Abraham was, I am”.

We see that there was, in fact, a “beginning”. But God has no beginning, so we understand this to be the beginning of time – that is, the human concept we know as time; for time, essentially, always was, and always shall, be. Yet time as we humans know it had a beginning and shall have and end. This time is marked off by universal motions. A physical description of time would include a reference to the motions of the heavenlies – the earth spins, the sun, the moon, the seasons, the yearly cycle, they all combine to make “time” for us. We experience time in a bodily fashion – that is, we experience fatigue, boredom, impatience, and so on – all functions of time in the human realm.

But God is not subject to these things. He is not subject to time in the same manner as we are. He does not grow weary, He does not get bored, He does not get tired, He does not become impatient. Time has no beginning, nor ending, for Him. Yet He did create a beginning for us.

So we have established that something pre-existed the beginning, for there was a “was”. And what was? The WORD!

We can be excited now! Why? Because we see the bridge between the eternal and the temporal – the Word. And just what is a word, you may ask? A word is “the expression of a thought”. Simple, yet so, so profound. We see HOW God communicates with man. Through the Word, God expresses His thoughts.

We could expand on the idea of the existence of knowledge (epistemology) at this point, but I will attempt to discuss it only briefly. The profound revelation that Christ Himself is the Word shows us that knowledge cannot exist if He does not exist. Without Christ, there is no Word, nor are there words. In order for thoughts to be expressed, there must be an original thought. By original, I don’t mean “first” – I mean “primary source.”

If God does not exist, then knowledge does not exist, because there is no other source to which we can attribute knowledge. Many make the mistake of attributing knowledge to the natural world – I can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell; therefore, I can learn, and subsequently, know. However, you cannot know that what you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is real. Have you ever awakened from a dream, having had the sense that you actually experienced the events of that dream? Yet you know that the events of the dream were not real. Or were they? How can you tell if you are not dreaming now?

But words, as they communicate a primary knowledge to us, are real, and the thoughts that they express are real. Therefore, God’s Word is the only source of certain reality we have.

John says “In the beginning was the Logos” What can we learn about Logos? We can learn that Logos is God expressing Himself in a person – the person of His Eternal Son – Christ, Jesus, Our Lord. But what more of Logos can we learn? This: We get the word “logic” from “logos”. Many Bible teachers imply or outrightly declare that “God is not logical”. This notion comes from unwillingness on the part of the Bible student to resolve apparent contradictions (there are no actual contradictions in the Bible) in a logical way. Why are they unwilling? Because they don’t like the obvious conclusions that scripture will lead them to. They prefer to declare the word of God to be a “mystery”, or a “paradox”; two seemingly contradictory truths that remain in perpetual tension, and have no resolution.

I would ask you this: do you really think God is illogical? Or as some would say – alogical? I would think that we would accept from the onset, as the Apostle John presents it, that Christ is God’s LOGICAL personification.

“the word was with God, and the word was God”. Here we have the very thing I mentioned in the preceding paragraph – an apparent contradiction. How can the word, simultaneously and at all times, be God and be with God? This apparently contradiction is resolved in the doctrine of the TRINITY – God exists in three persons, of the which, two are expressed here. The eternal Son, in the form of the Word, both was God and was with God (the Father).

This doctrine (Trinity, or Triunity) is a stumbling block to the Jew who insists on the oneness of God. But the Jew will say that he has no need to understand John since the Jew rejects the validity of John’s revelation. But can the Jew explain why Moses said “Let US make man in OUR image”? From the very beginning of scriptural knowledge, both in Genesis and in John, we are exposed that great doctrine – the teaching that God expresses Himself in three persons – God the Father who spoke the world into existence, the grand architect, designer, engineer, progenitor, who has chosen His children by decree; God the Son (Word) who carried out the Father’s command, the agent of creation, obeying Him even to the incarnation and the bloody cross, obtaining eternal redemption for the elect; and God the Spirit who moved upon the face of the waters, and who “moves” upon the hearts of men, bringing the sheep of Christ into His fold.

CONCLUSION OF THIS SECTION.

God communicates through His Son, who is “the express image” of God’s person , upholding all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3). A word is the expression of a thought, and God’s thoughts are real, and they are the only way we can know anything real. God’s thoughts are perfectly logical, and they are never contradictory.

I hope the reader has been edified and encouraged to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

Introduction to Bible Commentary

August 21, 2007

The Bible is the Word of God!

How many times have we heard this proclaimed from Bible-preaching pulpits, and mocked from Bible-doubting pulpits? Yet here it is – it’s in our homes, it’s in hotel rooms; it’s the most quoted book in the western world, even by those that are its critics. It’s the “elephant in the room”. And it’s not going away any time soon. In fact, as long as there is time, the Bible will be here.

For those of us that claim to believe the Bible, it is of utmost importance that we get some measure of understanding of it.

It’s very important for Christians, no matter where they are in their development, to have some understanding of theology as a SYSTEM. I believe that the key to understanding individual bible verses is understanding how they fit into the larger picture – the “system”, as it were. One can only grow so far on word definitions and grammar.

There are many systematic theology books available on line. One of my favorites is John Gill’s “A COMPLETE BODY OF DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL DIVINITY”. I also like “Manual of Theology” by J.L. Dagg. Other systematic theology books, which I have not used myself, but have been highly recommended, are (authors listed only): Grudem, Bancroft, Burkhoff, Cheung, Boice, and a host of other excellent works that can be found at http://www.monergismbooks.com/.

Much of what I do herr will be owing to the work of John Gill, mentioned above, his commentary on the whole bible being my favorite commentary. It is also available free on line at www.monergism.com. I encourage anyone to use his commentary as an addition to mine to get more detailed knowledge of the Bible.  Mr. Gill relates many scriptures to the writings of the Jewish Rabinical traditions to shed historical light on passages.  I will not always agree with Mr. Gill, especially in the area of the millinial kingdom and the final judgement, yet there will be times that my own comments will be a mere mimicry of his, roughly re-arranged into modern English.

I will begin with the book of John. Where else would I start!

So many times Christians have determined to read there Bibles, and having opened to Genesis 1:1, began reading, and after having read maybe a few pages, closed the book and gave up. Now don’t take me wrong – I could very well begin my commentary in Genesis and be completely satisfied that not one second of my time would be wasted. In fact, as you will see, I will immediately, upon opening John 1:1, refer back to Genesis 1:1 for our understanding. But I begin with John because it is the first book that should be understood by Christians. I say this adamantly, without reservation. The next to John is Romans. This order is important because John give us a more basic understanding of who God is, who the Son is, who the Holy Spirit is, and how God saves people from their sins. Romans does this same thing in greater detail, and is written at a higher level of understanding. If one understands John, then we can’t go astray in Romans.

Well, next time, it’s on to the Gospel of John and the actual commentary.