Jesus Is God (3)

(John 1:1-18) Part 3

John 1:14 is one of the famous verses we’ve memorized in Sunday school, right after John 3:16. It’s because it’s about God the Son coming down to earth to be one of us. I’ll be unpacking this verse starting by writing the verse in Greek and translating them; and then, I’ll be exegeting verses 15-18. For those who just started to read my blog, I suggest you read parts 1 and 2 before reading this, so you could get the proper context of the whole passage.

In the first part, I included the verses in Greek, and exegeted them. In the second part, I exegeted the verses, using basic hermeneutics and few Greek words. For this blog, I’ll be including certain verses in Greek again, but not like what I did in part 1. As a reminder, John intended the Gospel for the reader to respond by believing in Jesus for who He is, the Christ and Son of God.[1]

John 1:14 in Greek states:

Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας·

It’s is translated in English as (my translation):

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as the begotten Son of God the Father, which is full of grace and truth.

This means God the Son (“the Word” or ὁ λόγος) became human and lived amongst us. The people during that time including John (the author) had seen His divine glory, which is full of grace (χάρις) and truth (ἀλήθεια).

Bernard confirms that Johannine doctrine of Christ as the Word is the climax of the passage and even the whole Gospel. He states, “That the Son of God became man is unmistakably taught by Paul (Rom. 1:3, 8:3, Gal. 4:4, Phil. 2:7, 8): He was “manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). So, also, according to Heb. 2:14, He partook of our flesh and blood.”[2] He adds

 The Logos of philosophy is, Jn. declares, the Jesus of history (cf. v. 11); and this is now stated in terms which cannot be misunderstood. That ‘the Word became flesh’ must have seemed a paradox to many of those who read the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel when it was first made public; but the form of the proposition is deliberate. [3]

According to the New Testament scholar, Georg Richter, “The verb γίνομαι in connection with a predicative noun expresses that a person or a thing changes its property or enters into a new condition, becomes something that it was not before”[4] Beasley-Murray says, “In this context that ‘something’ is flesh.” [5] ὁ λόγος (“the Word”) in becoming σάρξ (“flesh”) joined in man’s human weakness (this the trait that means by “flesh” in the Bible).[6] The declaration of an authentic incarnation is one of the fundamental theological assertions of Christianity. [7]

As for “the Word” (ὁ λόγος) dwelling among us, D. A. Carson explains

More literally translated, the Greek verb skēnoō means that the Word pitched his tabernacle, or lived in his tent, amongst us. For Greek-speaking Jews and other readers of the Greek Old Testament, the term would call to mind the skēnē, the tabernacle where God met with Israel before the temple was built.[8]

Jesus, God the Son, became a human being (incarnation) and He literally lived in the midst of us. This is something that we should be grateful to the Triune God, and appreciate what God the Son did for us.

How did John and the others see Jesus’ glory? D.A. Carson says that Jesus’ glory was exhibited through His miracles and ‘signs’ (John 2:11; 11:4, 40). Jesus was absolutely ‘glorified’ in His death, resurrection, and exaltation (John 7:39; 12:16, 23; 13:31–32).[9] Since Jesus is God the Son, then His glory is full of grace (χάρις) and truth (ἀλήθεια).

John 1:15-18 (HCSB) states:

15 (John testified concerning Him and
“This was the One of whom I said,
‘The One coming after me has surpassed me,
because He existed before me.’”)
16 Indeed, we have all received grace after grace
from His fullness,
17 for the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God.
The One and Only Son—
the One who is at the Father’s side—
He has revealed Him.

When John the Baptist baptized the people of Israel, he kept on telling them that “One who is greater” will come after me, and he was talking about Jesus Christ (Mt. 3:11-17; Mk. 1:7-11; Lk. 3:15-22; Jn. 1:26-34). John the Baptist was older than Jesus, so why would he say, “He existed before me” in verse 15? It’s because Jesus, as the Word, existed before John the Baptist was even born. This again affirms that Jesus Christ is God. Don’t forget that verse 15 is in parenthesis.

Verses 16-17 are connected to 14 about the Word’s grace and truth. Verse 14 portrayed the glory of God display in “the Word” as full of grace and truth. “Picking up on the term, John says that it is from this fulness that we have received grace after grace. Thus ‘fulness’ here bears no technical, gnostic sense.”[10] D.A. Carson states, “The meaning of the last three words of v. 16, charin anti charitos, frequently rendered ‘grace upon grace’, principally turns on the force of the preposition anti.”[11] Carson explains that the most convincing view concerning anti takes it “in one of its most common uses to mean ‘instead of’: from Christ’s fulness we have all received grace instead of grace.”[12] He furthers that the view

follows hard on the ‘grace instead of grace’ (v. 16) with an explanatory ‘For’ or ‘Because’: For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. On the face of it, then, it appears that the grace and truth that came through Jesus Christ is what replaces the law; the law itself is understood to be an earlier display of grace.[13]

It says in verse 18 that “no one has ever seen God.” Since God is an immortal and infinite being, no one has ever seen Him in His absolute elemental nature (see Ex 33:18-23). Borchert expresses, “The Prologue is drawn to a conclusion in this verse with a powerful reminder that no one has ever really seen God. The word order in Greek is extremely emphatic. It begins with “God,” ends with what is virtually an expression “not ever,” and gives the force of an utterly indisputable principle.”[14]

There’s also a Greek phrase in verse 18, μονογενὴς θεὸς, which is literally translated to “the only begotten God.” or  “the only begotten son of God.” Bernard’s commentary and translation of this Greek phrase is very reasonable and convincing. He explains

That the Word is θεός (not ὁ θεός) has already been stated without qualification in v. 1. In v. 14 His glory is said to be like the glory which a μονογενής. receives from his father, which prepares the way for giving Him the title of μονογενής. This title suggests that relation of Christ to God, as the Son to the Father, which has not yet been mentioned, but which is prominent in the Fourth Gospel. And, finally (as is also suggested by μονογενής, see on v. 14 above), this relation is one of eternal love. The Word may be described as ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός.

We translate, therefore:

“God hath no man seen at any time:

The Only-Begotten, who is God, who dwells in the Father’s bosom,

This is He who revealed God.”[15]

All I can say concerning these verses is Amen. Clearly, John 1:1-18 proclaim that Jesus, as the Word (ὁ λόγος) is God (θεός). If you haven’t read Parts 1 and 2 of my John 1:1-18 blogs, please do so, to get the proper context of the passage. I pray that these blogs may help you know more about Jesus Christ and that He is not just Savior and Lord, but also God.

[1] Gerald L. Borchert, John 1-11 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996), 31.

[2] J. H. Bernard, A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to St. John (A. H. McNeile, Ed.) (New York: C. Scribner’ Sons, 1929) 19.

[3] Ibid.

[4] G. R. Beasley-Murray,  John, Vol. 36 (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1999) 13–14.

[5] Ibid, 14.

[6] Ibid.

[7] G. L. Borchert, John 1–11, Vol. 25A (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996) 119.

[8] D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans,1991) 127.

[9] Ibid, 128.

[10] Carson, The Gospel according to John, 131.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid, 132.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Borchert, John 1–11, 124.

[15] Bernard, A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to St. John, 31–32.

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