Notes on John’s Prologue 1
Over the next few months I will be sharing some of my thoughts on John’s famous prologue (1:1-18). Much like Paul’s opening statement in Ephesians, which runs from vs. 3 to vs. 14, John’s prologue is packed. Each and every word and phrase are chosen deliberately. I suspect John wrote his prologue last, as a shorter version of his gospel at large. For the gospel is the prologue expanded.
John begins and ends with a revolution in human thought about the very being of God.
In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was (face to face) with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning (face to face) with God (1:1-2).
No human has ever seen God. The one and only Son of God, who dwells in the bosom of the Father, he has made Him known (1:18).
As a good Jewish man, John believes that God created the heavens and the earth, and all things. And while John affirms the opening verse in the Hebrew bible, (In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth) he wants to fill out our concept of God by adding relationship. So John starts before creation itself, and places the Word, or the Son, there before the beginning with God.
John has met Jesus, and in meeting him, in knowing him, he has concluded that Jesus belongs to the divine side of things. Jesus is everything that God is, the one and only Son, who dwells in the Father’s bosom from all eternity. And he became human.
John’s thought is a revolution in human thought about the being of God, a revolution which took over three hundreds to reach formulation in the doctrine of the Trinity. But for John, the implications are staggering, and form the heart of his message. The one who is face to face with the Father from before the beginning, the one who dwells in his bosom, and knows the Father inside out, this one has become a human being (1:14) to be with us. The Father’s Son himself has come. He has become human, what we are, and the Father’s Son has become one of us so that he could share with us all that he is and has with his Father in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. That is the staggering sequence. Divine relationship. Incarnation. Sharing of divine life. And nothing less.
Before the beginning, the Son was face to face with his Father, dwelling in his bosom. He became one of us, to dwell among us, so that we could receive of his own fulness and life. Herein lies the heart of John’s message, and he writes so that we can come to see who Jesus is and who we are in him, and what stunning life has been given to the human race in him.
Put your big boy britches on and deal with it. This is what has happened. The Father’s Son himself has come. And he has established a real relationship with us in our darkness, so that we could share in, taste and feel, and experience, all that he is and has in his life with his Father.
Everything in John’s gospel is calculated to help us, who live in the great darkness, to come to ‘know’ Jesus for ourselves, so that believing in him, we may begin to experience his own life, rather than our own. So John’s gospel is both the announcement of the coming of the Father’s Son in person, and the news that summons us to believe in him, rather than in ourselves, so that we can know what he knows—the Father, and experience life in his embrace.