In the inviting verses of all the Gospel books in the New Testament, the evangelists offer initial hints to the insights that guide the reader into their respective accounts of the life and times of Jesus Christ and his ministry.1 The inviting remarks of St. Mark are the most concrete though, recounting the baptism of Jesus Christ as a way of establishing his identity as the God’s own Son. The opening genealogy of in Mathew Chapter One identifies and traces Jesus as a pedigree of both David and Abraham’s dynasty. The same verse also explore the credentials of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, while the introductory remark according to St. Luke sets a comprehensive account of the preparation, announcements, and the delivery of John the Baptist and that of Jesus Christ, both of which are perceived largely as happening against the backdrop of the expansive ancient Roman administration2.
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Of all the Gospel books, John nevertheless makes a most robust, yet dramatic application of the prologue form of writing in an attempt to shape the delineations of specific Christological emphasis in presenting the life and times of Jesus Christ and his ministry. By every description of the word, the prologue according to the Gospel of John passes out as the most robust Christological passages in the New Testament.3 The verses are presented in simple and precise language; the phrases capture the value of the tone, its description, and presentation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and as the Light of the World exerts a lasting impression on Christian theology and Gospel tutelage. This book defines and captures the intrinsic nature of Jesus, his mission, vision with a strong statement to the world.
In every sense of the word, the prologue according to St. John offers a most profound and a highly established theological summary fully explored with a structural and unique meaning. Here, the identity of Jesus Christ is established immediately while at the same time introducing several key thematic concepts of the Gospel teachings that follows.4 Accordingly, all the verses serve to prepare the reader for what to expect in the subsequent books while at the same time educating the reader on various outstanding concepts. Important themes are formulated in the by way of Christological titles, developed in divine patters that explore the life of Jesus right from birth to death.
From the beginning to the end, the book of John runs a comprehensive story that tells of the relationship between Jesus and God, in addition to that, the witnesses by John the Baptist that are also relayed in these sequences tells a lot. All the verses in the Gospel therefore, stand out as Christological affirmations, though, the Book of John still stand distinct as the only book that speak of the pre-existence of Jesus Christ as the Logos, the book of John is arguably the only Gospel that has included poetic prologue within its teachings. The central theories of present day Biblical tutelage concerning the book of John are weighed alongside the available evidence offered in the scripture and against the prevailing biblical research that inform modern biblical scholarship. In sum however, what is availed is the blend of key scholarly insights that explore the fourth Gospel – John.5
Jesus is the Word
The prologue of the book of John has been and continues to be the subject of vast and in-depth investigation. Many of the studies though, are mostly on the structure and origin of the prologue. Perhaps the reason for this spectacular orientation of the Johannine studies as has been mentioned earlier is its impressive application of the word (logos) as Jesus Christ’s title in the prologue.6 The word does not appear so resolutely in other texts in the Gospel and in the vast pages of the New Testament, it only appears in John Chapter One, verse one; “in the beginning was the word and the word was God….” The word only appear later in the book of Revelation 19: 13, hence the title of Jesus as word is sacrosanct and identifiable with the book of John. Throughout the text, Jesus is identifiable with God in the book of John, while the story of John the Baptist as the elect witness of the life of Christ runs in parallelism within these vortexes.
So too in similar paradigms, the relationship between Jesus and the world are articulated in ways that informs the Christian teaching of his presence at the creation of the earth. At the epicentre of the creation story is the offertory of the new situation in life emanating from accepting Christ being child of God, born by the divine power. Divinity is the central theme in the opening statement of the Gospel according to St. John. Here, we are presented with a major inclusion of the verses that runs the lifeline of the foundation of the Gospel that speaks succinctly about the relationship between Jesus and God.
The elements of the literary form of the Johannine doctrines roots back to historical narration, whose foundations are informed by apocalyptic features of faith concession. The three main thematic concerns in these verses are relationships between Christ and God, Jesus and the World while the third element is the response of the world to Christ7. The relationship between Christ and God is documented in John 1: 1-2 and John 1:18. Simply put, “In the beginning,” a manifestation that reminds the reader of the creation story in the Genesis 1: 1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This expression initiates us to the documentation of the new creation that is occasioned through the Christ the person and his ministry cresting upon his death with a rejoinder upon his resurrection.
In this regard, the foremost theme of the verses in the book of John is word. The word is the medium for expressing in-depth, particulate nature of Jesus, and the dynamic relationship between Christ and God the Father. In this regard, the use of the word may spring from the Hellenistic culture, though; it does not necessarily need to exhibit the semantic concoction of the Hellenistic philosophy. Under these schemes of things, the word holds a typical Jewish and Old Testament foundation. In fact, the absence of the expression of Jesus as word in other texts of John’s Gospel is a confirmation of the fact that this might have been an existing mantra in approval of the word explored in the liturgy of the society however, taken, and used by John’s evangelistic mind-set as an introductory phrase to his Gospel8.
In addition, the manifestation of the works of John the Baptist in John 1: 6-8 and over to John 1:15 is most likely the resultant feature of a reduction in the new function of the scriptures as in deed the prologue. So far, presenting the main characters of the Gospel teaching, Jesus Christ, God, and John the Baptist as well as the disciples, notwithstanding, the enemies of Christ was John’s unique strength in pioneering the Gospel.9
Pedagogy of the Word
The main aspect in the book of John is the word whose meaning is based upon the Sapiential pedagogy and word theology is the overriding theme in the text. The word therefore, is the inner manifestation of God the Father. It is in fact the interpretation and manifestation of the God – the being. The word according to St. John is the spoken from of the sanctity of the being of God. Through the word, by the word and with the word, God created all things (Cf. Gen: 1), thereby letting his longevity to spill in the self-revelatory progression within the word itself. Word by every determination of its configuration is the self-gift and the manifestation of the divinity, the word proffers self-expression of the celestial majesty, whose making is in the being of Jesus Christ.10
The Sapiential pedagogy of the Old Testament proffers the manifestation of the word in three discrete stages; the word as the power of wisdom attributed to God, the wisdom of the word as personified companion of God and the wisdom of the word as identifiable with God the Father. These attributes of the word as the Supreme Being traces the very presence of Jesus Christ in the works of creation of the universe, and further exploring his ministry upon humanity as the Son of Man. These three attributes of the Christ could be traced in the foundations of the word and God (John 1: 1-2).
In this regard, the word passes out as the medium through which the deeper abstract relationship between Jesus and God could be explained. Under these considerations, Jesus is God himself and while this is true, the manifestation of the Holy Trinity comes into full play. God is explored to have manifested Himself in three being, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The pre-existence, of word in the Bible is a preserve of John, and the Johannine pedagogy that traces the life and times of Christ from a humble pre-existence, over to His ministry and back to the glory or return to the Father upon resurrection.11
Intimacy of Jesus to the Father
The intimacy of Jesus to the father as explored in the manifestations of the word offers a dynamic relationship that demands constant mutual progression of the mastery of the text. This mutuality is realised in the positioning of the preposition of the Greek word pros, whose English equivalence is with. “The word was with God,” an attestation of the pre-existence of Christ, his role in the creation story notwithstanding. This intimacy with God the Father is further amplified in the final verse “No one has ever seen God. It is God, the only Son who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1:18).
Under these considerations, the text confirm that except for the Christ, no other being has been able to be, let alone seeing the sight of God. This intimacy with God the Father shows the ties that are evidenced between God and Jesus. In his pedagogy, John seems to put across a very strong statement that out of the word alone God was able to manifest Himself and this greatness is further achieved by the word.12 The contributions of Jesus Christ in the creation story are immense and it is not surprising that out of the four Gospel books, only the book of John that explores this phenomena.
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Other Gospel texts, though explores the life and times of Jesus Christ, his ministry, resurrection and return to the Father are quite remarkable but they are, with due respect, deficient of this unique attribute. Whether it is by design or default, this unique feature of tracing the pre-existence of Jesus before the symbolic birth by Virgin Mary (Peace be upon her) has endeared many scholars to the works of St. John.13
This embodiment is an attestation to the true meaning of evangelical to the Gospel, a masterpiece of both research and pedagogy about the enigmatic life and times of Christ. At the behest, John was certainly a good researcher and probably a masterpiece of great literary conviction. God himself inspired and directed the works of St. John. Out of it, a spectacular beauty is born and a new vision of hope for the world is established under Jesus Christ.
In achieving this great feat, the Gospel according to St John is an embodiment that traces the intimacy of Jesus to God, the Father presenting and preserving the primacy of the Holy Trinity while at the same time exploring its beauty. The impressive use of the word is characteristic of John’s authorship to the proposition that his artistry was made of poetic lustre. The documentation of the life and times of Jesus right from before the beginning was nonetheless, the result of great Christological pedagogy of the time that the Gospel was written. To crown it all, John succeeded where many excelled, Gospel according to St. John will always remain symbolic, thought provoking, and inspiring.
The Word become flesh
The chronological aspect of the word and His relationship with the world is documented in John 1: 14. In essence, the verb “to be” was used in the inviting verses, in this verse, “to become” the verb used, in other words, “was” has transformed into “become” meaning the word is complete with the birth of Jesus.14 The verb here is referring to the progression of Jesus to being practically part of human existence, the spatial-human certainty of being on earth. Thus, the “becoming” as relating to the word is no mean superficial or external singularity. The mere putting of a being in human form is not the basics of this divine work; rather, it is a faultless identification with humankind in all aspects. This symbolic actualisation of the word is evidenced in the utilisation of the term flesh instead of humankind.
Largely, the term flesh has been used elsewhere within the same Bible by St. Paul, though its used has been attributed to an antithetical sagacity as the source of sin. Paul nonetheless explore his experience within these premise in his doctrinal tutelage in his letters to Romans and Galatians (Cf. Romans 7: 14f and Galatians 5: 16f). It should however be noted that John in his works, applies it at least in the positive logic. In the ancient Greek Christological pedagogy, the term flesh meant a broad spectrum of ideas – the tangible human physique, the consanguinity, or the contrary of spirit as explored by St. Paul in the representation of sinful human nature. Accordingly, John uses the term flesh to signify the nature of humanity in all its manifestations including weaknesses. In precise terms, the John’s authorship is assertive of the fact that the word become flesh in the Gospel and it does so in the making of a perfect human being that we surely are.15
The Gospel is truth
To speak about Jesus and his ministry especially his salvific mission has been the main aspect of the evangelistic teaching so that humanity may be informed that Jesus was the son of God the Father and that He has eternal life. The authors of the Gospel books have had to contend with the delicacy that characterised their work of communicating the ministry of Jesus to varied sorts of audiences some years after the demise and resurrection of Christ.
Notably, the four evangelists – Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John – inscribed from the standpoint of post-resurrection and comprehending of the life and times of the Lord – Jesus Christ. John particularly prior to noting down the message in the Gospel dutifully underwent a good amount of familiarity of faith in Christ as the redeemer. While every book in the Gospel has, its specific view of talking about Jesus and his ministry – Christology whose teaching echoes the thematic concept of the writer, the conceptualisation of the nature and purpose of Christ.16
To speak of and conceptualise the life of Christ, his nature, and ministry, John’s contribution to the Gospel in these pioneering verses. By analysing Christology according to St. John one is easily guided to see the true portrait of Christ, through this, it could be able to compare the Gospel of St. John with other four Christology.
Synoptic and the Christology of John
The Gospel according to St. John encompasses the essential and single-most subject – Jesus Christ. Equated to synoptic conceptualisation of Christ, the Johannine’s Christ is the type that does not necessarily have its place to this sphere; he only comes to the world with a sole resolve of departing it. John explores Jesus as the pre-surviving divinity, whose physical and permanent resident is in heaven. The opening verses of the Gospel of John are the key and foremost clue of the dissimilarity between the work of John and synoptic. In these first verses, John speaks both forcefully and figuratively about the pre-existence of Christ.17
John’s prelude, nonetheless, is quite distinct and precise in introducing the ontological subject of the origin of Christ, his nature and the dense articulation of the pre-existence of Jesus Christ. To a fair degree, there are hints about the documentation of these concepts in the other contributory Gospel books, though this feat is not as intense or emphasised as it has been developed in the book of John. From these concepts, it could be argued that John was determined right from the beginning to inform the perspective as per his conceptualisation of Christ. This humble beginning is so much saturated by the Christology and pedagogy that are developed in a manner that depict Jesus in wholesome tones. To sum it up, the evangelist is categorically talking about Jesus all through his work by depicting Him as the Word, the Son of God, the Rescuer of the Planet – Earth, the Lord and God, as well as the Son of Man.18
The Christ Jesus is from above according to the Gospel of John. John’s pedagogy about the Christ has a highly enriched and developed Christology, expressly, his tutelage about Christ begins emphatically and continues throughout the text thereby working in agreement with those who are reading or listening to the revelations of Christ. John’s Gospel is highly addressing the persona of the Son of Man. It is no wonder that John used all the miracles and stories for the purposes of exploring the Christ in the manner highly accentuated and pronounced as compared to the synoptic gospels. Much of John’s objectives are grounded in the fact that Jesus Christ as an individual emerges within the paragraphs of these verses19.
Accordingly, John’s Christology as expressed in these opening verses not necessarily a functional documentation, but rather an ontological account of the pre-existence, the birth, the ministry and the death as well as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In these texts, John seemed to focus in expressing to the readers about who is the Son of God. The things that Jesus did throughout the Gospel are a pointer to explore his nature. These manifestations guide his disciples beyond the confines of humanity toward the divinity of Christ.
Pedagogic Progression of John 1:1-18
John 1:1-18 passes out as a single-most unit that shows clearly the pedagogic development and progression of action in the ministry of Christ. Several studies that have explored these verses continue to see them as expressions of complex poetic chiasm, with spell binding ideas that twitched around a central theme, the word. However, much of the studies that attempt to explore the greatness of John’s work seldom agree on two aspects, either its comprehensive structure or its central theme, often resorting to subjective editing of the text to achieve a neater, more specific form of the text.20 Studies that seek to explore the work of St. John seem to have undergone a given amount of metamorphosis to bring themselves to the tune of the moment, and John 1:1-18 in particular has much been explored through these considerations.
However, the Gospel according to St John reflects these transformations in ways that provoke the human thinking and makes the Bible generally worth reading and studying. For many people, these verses represent the true foundation of Jesus Christ, a divinity thrust onto the earth for the sole purpose of salvaging the reputation of a sinful man. Many might be tempted to argue that God himself had a hand in the thematic conceptualisation of the Gospel as per John’s documentation which is always characteristic of its unique lustier21. The emphatic use of word choice, the philosophical presentation of the text, and its nature supplement its serenity in a manner that nobody might disregard. The entire book is dotted with profound meaning and this attest to the character and wholesomeness of the work of St. John.
The work of St. John explored in pedagogy
The coming of Jesus to salvage the world is the theme of the texts. The problem of evil continues to be among the most important factors of consideration in modern philosophy of religion, science, and art. Over the years, substantiations concerning the connection that exists between the manifestations of evil and the nature of the divine authority have been used to argument the case against God’s existence. John’s work in these verses probably offer a much enriched solution to the problem of evil which has offered more serious challenges that humanity has faced since time immemorial. The problem exists due to the superficial logical paradoxes of an all-powerful God who is ceaselessly in some symbiosis with evil. The logical positioning of this argument is that if God were such an honest deity, with an all-loving purposefulness to humanity, then he would not have allowed evil to exist. This foundation of parochial thinking is exactly what John has successfully exuded in these verses.22
At His very best, it is expected that God would be the first to champion the course of humanity by eliminating evil and preventing all ills by and against humanity. “Such a procedure might be defended on grounds that if we want to use a single set of categories, we should live by the concepts derived from the inanimate world.”23
It is only under these considerations that it would suffice as logical to adequately reconcile the belief in God and be able to internalise the fact that God means well for humanity, such that by willingly allowing his Son Jesus to live among humanity, God is seen to have kept his part of the bargain. The Western religion acknowledges this dilemmatic aberration, and most people have responded to this problem in ways that attempts to reconcile God with man. The rebuttal of the existence of genuine evil as well as the free will defence, as forwarded by St. Augustine attempts to address this concern. Much of the stances taken by these theories tend to attack the validity within of the evil, while trying to position its arguments on these valid and intelligent assumptions.24
The Free-Will defence commonly cited as a formidable stance that attacks the premise that God is actually determined to banish evil from the face of the earth. In essence, God inspires the world without necessarily determining it, and this has been manifested through Jesus Christ. This is another significant solution to the problem evil, being that it tends to be a denial of the existence of genuine evil. This ideology manifests itself into two, with one manifestation positioning itself as a prima facie while the other being genuine evil. Under these considerations, proponents of these defences often argue that all ills are prima facie, and are meant for the greater good of humanity. Under these assumptions, it is believed that God wills over evil, since He uses it to apportion punishment to the offenders of natural law and bring about great events that leave a mark on human life in limits that are beyond human comprehension.25
Varieties of religious experience are considered as the classical work of God in the pedagogy of the Gospel, and references to Biblical teachings are commonly alluded to this fact. Speaking about Jesus, his pre-existence, his ministry, death and resurrection and but most profoundly his salvific mission to the world has been the main aspect of the evangelistic tutelage. So far, that humanity has to be informed that Jesus was the son of God the Father, and that He has lived on earth like man with an eternal life after his death.
The authorship of the Gospel books have had to contend with the delicacy that characterised this enigmatic work, to communicate the ministry of Jesus to diverse audiences many of whom are living several centuries after the death and resurrection of Christ. All the four gospel books, Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John were written from the perspective of post-resurrection and understanding of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – this, succinctly, is the scope of the Gospel.
John as an individual before putting down his text might have dutifully underwent a good amount of exposure to the faith in Christ as the saviour of all humanity. In fact, he personally documented the message of his gospel with this as the foundation of his creativity. While every book in the Gospel has, its specific view of relaying Jesus to the world, the conceptualisation of the nature and function of Christ is quiet emphatic in John 1: 1-18. To speak of and conceptualise the life of Christ, his nature, and ministry, John’s contribution to the Gospel in these pioneering verses will continue to embrace the word. By analysing Christology of St. John, one is easily guided to see the true portrait of Christ Jesus in the pedagogy of the word that becomes flesh.
Barbour, George. Religion and science: Historical and contemporary issues. New York. HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. Web.
Barrett, Kingsley. The Gospel According to St John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text. Westminster: John Knox Press, 1978. Web.
Bennit, Jefferson. “Prologue of John – John 1: 1-18.” VatiKos. 2014. Web.
Bock, Darrell. Theology of Luke and Acts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. Web.
Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to John I-XII, A new Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Yale University Press, 1995. Web.
Burns, John. ‘’A review article commenting on commentaries on the book of John.’’ Criswell Theological Review 3, no. 1 (1988): 185-97. Web.
Carson, Denis, and Daniel Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. Web.
Cowan, Christopher. “The father and son in the fourth gospel: Johannine subordination revisited.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49, no.1 (March 2006): 115–135. Web.
Danker, Frederick. The concise Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament (CL). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Web.
Halsted, Matthew. “The word and the watchtower: An exegesis of John 1:1.” Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. 2014. Web.
Just, Felix. “The Gospel according to John.” Catholic Bible institute – Diocese of Orange 7, no. 5, (2013): 1-28. Web.
Kenner, Craig. The Gospel of John – A commentary, volume one. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998. Web.
Köstentenberger, Andreas. John: Baker Exegetical commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004. Web.
Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1995. Web.
Marshall, Helen. New Testament Theology. Downers Grove: Inter Varsity, 2004. Web.
Paulet, Florin. ‘’John’s Christology.” Studia theologica 2, no.1, (2004): 29-35. Web.
Schnackenburg, Rudof. The Gospel according to St. John. New York: Seabury Press, 1983. Web.
Smith, Moody and Alice Bingdon. New Testament Commentaries of John. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003. Web.
Van-Egmond, Richard. “An exegetical study of the prologue of John 1:1-18.” McMaster University. 2014. Web.
Yoon Seok-Il. The meaning of the logos in john 1:1-18. Liberty University, Virginia: ProQuest, 2008. Web.
- Richard Van-Egmond, “An exegetical study of the prologue of John 1:1-18,” McMaster University. Web.
- Moody Smith and Alice Bingdon, New Testament Commentaries of John (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), 12.
- Seok-II Yoon, The meaning of the logos in john 1:1-18 (Liberty University, Virginia: ProQuest, 2008), 2.
- Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII, A new Translation with Introduction and Commentary ( New York: Yale University Press, 1995), 34.
- Kingsley Barrett, The Gospel According to St John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text (Westminster: John Knox Press, 1978) 34.
- Rudof Schnackenburg, The Gospel according to St. John (New York: Seabury Press, 1983), 25.
- Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII, A new Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Yale University Press, 1995), 5.
- Jefferson Bennit, “Prologue of John – John 1: 1-18,” VatiKos. Web.
- Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1995).
- Matthew Halsted, “The word and the watchtower: An exegesis of John 1:1,” Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. 2014. Web.
- John Burns, ‘‘A review article commenting on commentaries on the book of John,’’ Criswell Theological Review 3, no.1 (1988): 185-97.
- Matthew Halsted, “The word and the watchtower: An exegesis of John 1:1,” Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. 2014. Web.
- Felix Just, ‘‘The Gospel according to John,” Catholic Bible institute – Diocese of Orange 7, no. 5 (2013): 27.
- Florin Paulet, “John’s Christology,” Studia theologica 2, no.1, (2004): 29-35.
- Denis Carson and Daniel Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 56.
- Frederick Danker, The concise Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament (CL) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 73.
- Darrell Bock, Theology of Luke and Acts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 59.
- Craig Kenner, The Gospel of John – A commentary, volume one (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998).
- Andreas Köstentenberger, John: Baker Exegetical commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004), 6.
- George Barbour, Religion and science: Historical and contemporary issues (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), 289.
- Christopher Cowan, “The father and son in the fourth gospel: Johannine subordination revisited,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49, no.1 (March 2006): 115–135.
- Helen Marshall, New Testament Theology (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity, 2004), 48.