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Weekly Bible Study
“Where It All Began in the New Testament”
by Hugh Davidson   
July 22nd, 2007

This week we begin a Bible Study on the Gospel of John.

John 1:1,2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”

This book was written by John who was one of the three who were chosen to accompany Jesus when He raised Jarius daughter from the dead. He was the one who leaned on Jesus breast at the last supper and found out about Judas before the others. He followed the Lord to the cross and stayed with Him throughout the crucifixion. He was the one who Jesus entrusted with His mother and we also see that he was a witness to the resurrection.

When we see John in the book of Acts it almost seems as though he’s gone through a personality change because he’s always with Peter and it seems like he allows Peter to do all the talking. When the lame man was healed in Acts 3 Peter does the healing. When John and Peter were imprisoned in Acts 4 Peter is the one who responds to the charge. And then when he went with Peter to see the results of Philip’s ministry in Acts 8 we notice that John never said a word. He seemed to learn the lesson that you only speak when you have something to say.

This gospel was probably written when the church was composed of second and third generation Christians and the third generation always brings particular problems for any movement. The first sees truth as a conviction, the second as a belief and the third as an opinion. And now it was the third generation of the church and Peter, Paul and Jude had all warned about the coming apostasy. And since all kinds of heresies had sprung up people needed accurate details about Jesus and his teaching so John wrote this book to take them all back where they came from.

This gospel also meets the spiritual needs of all those who had very little of the teaching from the Old Testament and may have had problems with false teachers. John explained his intention in writing in chapter 20:31 where he said, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

After Jesus death and resurrection we see a real transformation in John’s life and in the gospel which is called by his name he never uses his own name but constantly refers to himself as, “that disciple whom Jesus loved.” We are told that at the end of his life John was imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos which is a small rocky island off the coast of Asia Minor. He was sent there by the emperor for refusing to honor the state religion of Rome. He was away from the church and living in a cave and no doubt everyone thought his ministry was over and yet this was where he wrote the book of Revelation. From Patmos he was brought back to the area of Ephesus where he died. Tradition says he had to be carried to church and when they asked him if he had a word from the Lord he would always say, “Beloved, love one another, for love is of God.” He said this so often that one day some one asked him, Isn’t there more we have to do?” And he replied, “What more is there?”

John wasn’t someone who showed up for the special meetings and stayed for dessert but he was one who was one of the first disciples and stayed faithful until the day he died. And as he’s writing this book the assumption is he’s somewhere around ninety and one hundred years old. So, this is someone with real credibility.

And yet, I think John had a problem trying to communicate with the people living around him because there was such a mix of philosophical and religious backgrounds and they tell us that for every Jew in the church there were 100,000 Greeks. Since the Greeks never even heard of the Messiah and saw no need of one John had to communicate the gospel in a way that made sense to both the Jewish and Greek mind. And as he wrestled with God he was giving the words that would communicate to both groups.

The Jews already had the idea of a logos or the expression of God from the Old Testament. In Genesis 1:3,6 and 11 it says, “And God said” and each time God spoke something came into being. This of course is part of the creation account. And then in 560 BC there was an Ephesian philosopher named Heraclitus who taught that everything was in a state of flux. And yet, this flux was controlled and ordered by God or as he said it was the reason of God he referred to as the logos. And this was about 500 years before Jesus.

So, John used the term logos to communicate to both groups and in essence he was saying that if you want to know what God is like all you have to do is look at Jesus.

Jesus is called the word or the logos six times in scripture and all six times their found in three of John’s five books. The term word can mean either inner thought or the outward expression of that thought. Some believe Jesus was called the word of God because the expression is used over twelve hundred times in the Old Testament and each time it’s used to refer to either the revelation of God or God’s message to man. And basically, John is telling us that Jesus is not only God’s personal message but He’s also the last thing that God has to say to man.

So, basically, He says to us, what you do with Jesus will determine what I do with you. Someone once asked me what I thought God would say if He was physically present today? And I replied, “He’d probably just hand us a Bible because everything He wants to say He’s already said.”

John is both the simplest book but also the most profound. I remember when I first became a Christian the person who led me to faith gave me some good advice. He said, “Take the gospel of John and read it all the way through and as you go underline everything Jesus says. And then go back to the beginning of the book and read everything you underlined. This will give you a sense of who Jesus is and what He had to say.”

The other writers of the New Testament stress Jesus’ conception, birth, reaction of both family and strangers to His arrival, the families flight into Egypt and the growth of Jesus as a boy but John introduces Him as God. So, here we have Jesus introduced as God in the very first verse of the book and now John is now going to take the next twenty chapters to show us why we should believe it.

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