The Gospel of John is unique among the synoptic gospels for its outstanding style of presentation of Jesus Christ. The prologue (John 1:1-18) upholds the guidance for the rest of the Johannine gospel. The author uses imagery to illustrate the themes in his work, he used the elements of creation to symbolise the divine existence of God. Light that shine out of darkness by the word of God in the beginning (Gen 1), and the ‘word’ that is both light and life revealed the truth of the invisible divine nature of God. The prologue is presented in a poetic form, it also summarizes the detail of the ‘Word’ which was with God in the very beginning of creation and came into the world. The author presented the Word as the Son of God send into the world that the glory of God might be disclosed to human beings in their kind. The prologue revealed the author’s intended his readers to discover an insight of his thought of line as he unfold the divine revelation in his message. The author did not introduce himself in the prologue rather he introduced John the Baptist who proclaimed and witnessed the coming of the true light into the world. The author revealed the deity of the Son, it is clear from the prologue and the rest of John’s gospel that Jesus Christ is not just a man; He is also the eternal Son of God. The massage of John’s Gospel was addressed to new Christians and non-Christians, therefore the prologue perfectly build the faith and confidence in Jesus Christ, as they progress in further readings in the gospel they may believe that Christ is truly the Son of God.
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The clearest and most explicit statement in the New Testament concerning the incarnated word is in the prologue of John’s Gospel. The author applied the term ‘Logos’ or ‘Word’ to Christ in describing the personification and relationship with God. The word logos had a range of meanings in the Hellenistic and Hebrew world of the 1st century. The word was known in the writings of Philo a Jew descend who was mach influenced by the teachings of the Greek philosopher Plato. Philo’s logos had no personality neither did he implied anything like incarnation to the word, his logos referred to philosophical thought and reason. John’s descriptions of the ‘Word’ or ‘Logos’ had the original definition from the Jewish concept of Divine Wisdom from the Old Testament, the Wisdom of God was personified in wisdom literature ( Ps 33: 6) and some prophetic book of the bible (Joe 1:1). The word was known to exist in the beginning before the creation of the world in the Genesis account; the Word played a unique role as agent in creation. The word in the Old Testament concept is God self-expression in dwelling among men in revelation, these understanding makes it more suitable for the author of John’s Gospel to applied the ‘word’ as God’s self-disclosure in His only begotten son.
The opening words of the prologue raised the author’s Christocentric understanding when he said that the word was with God which implied the differences and relationship between the word and God. Clearly the word is understood as God’s active agent in creation, and the word show the divine progressive nature of God. Jesus the incarnated word continues to exercise the exact nature of God proclaimed in the Old Testament.
John’s prologue raises several themes that will continue throughout the Gospel: light, belief, truth, witness, and the identity of Jesus. Light is one of the greatest symbols that the author of John’s gospel used figuratively to show the exact significance of the divine attribute of God the son. The writer identified the light with the Old Testament context of the divine presence of God dwelling among His people, this analogy can be seen in the Shekinah glory experienced in (Exod.13:21), from this passage it is understood that the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire by night, these fire produced light during the darkest hours in the sight of Israel throughout their journeys. In other accounts such as the burning bush, Moses saw the light, for the fire was burning but did not consumed the bush (Exodus. 3: 1 1-9). There is a bound relation between fire and light, the psalmist gave a perfect imagery in (Ps. 104:2) where light is seen as a cloth covering the self-manifestation of God. The writer of John’s gospel metaphorically used the light in the manifestation of God’s divine presence which is also in the personification presence of Jesus Christ. The writer said in the prologue that as the light shine and darkness disappear, he personified both light and darkness in verse (5) for the darkness will not be able to overpower the light, the passage reflect the dominance of light over the darkness. Christ gives light to every man, as the light of the world He shines on every human being in revelation and of salvation (John I: 9)
The word became flesh and lives among men.
The first four verses of John’s gospel (1:1-4) together with verse fourteen (1:14) provides the body of Christ, the Church with a clear provision of central understanding of the Christian faith through the incarnated word of God in Jesus Christ. The writer focused on the light and life that brought salvation to mankind in this dispensation of grace. He relates light to the revelation that illuminates the mind of those that are saved through faith, and relate life to the new birth, the spiritual birth that every believer receives through the grace of the lord Jesus Christ. The light removes the darkness of sin from the lives of sinner. John the Baptist testified the nature of Jesus Christ; he indicated the source of God’s light through His son to save the darkness of this world. Although the world was created through Christ as the author put it, the world did not recognize Him. From the fourteenth verse to the end of the prologue the writer made a distinct expression of the incarnated word that had became flesh and made His dwelling among human. From the Old Testament illustration of the tabernacle (Ex 25:8-9) dwelled among God’s people gave the exact understanding of Christ dwelling among His people in person. The prologue made it clear that in Christ, God revealed Himself in a way that could be seen as any other human being.
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The Law of Moses and Christ
In the last two verses of the prologue the author laid greater emphases on the contrast between the law and the gospel. In essence the Law bear witness to Christ, the law is a guide that lead to salvation in the Son of God, the writer clearly stated that through Christ glory is expressed as means of grace and truth. The Ten Commandments is the word of God written on a stone tablet given to Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai represented the old covenant and Christ is God’s word in flesh represented His likeliness in the new covenant. God gave the Law to Israel through His servant Moses, these is recorded as one of the greatest among the old covenant era as the Son of God is recorded the greatest of all in the new covenant. The both the law and grace are the divine aspects of God’s nature that deals with man. The law was given to Israel as a guide to the coming Messiah and it was destine and fulfilled in Christ. The writer reveals the uniqueness of the only Son of the father at the end of the prologue; he once again affirmed the nature of the Father and the Son. Christ did not just proclaimed grace and truth, He presented it because He was part of the divine existence with God, He was the message and acted as a messenger in order to save mankind, He bear witness to the father and proclaimed the truth.
The prologue is a beautifully constructed passage it introduced and outlines the Gospel of John in thematic form. In just eighteen verses the writer introduced his reader from divine existence to humane understanding of incarnated word that revealed God’s redemptive plan for humanity through Jesus and by the end of the prologue the writer had already revealed the uniqueness of the true son of God. Christ the eternal word of God played a vital role in divinity and humanity in creation from the beginning, He is the very source of light and life to man. Although the light is surrendered with darkness yet it cannot overcame the light. Jesus brought light and life to mankind as He revealed the glory and grace of God. John’s Gospel is addressed to both Christians and non-Christians a good understanding of the prologue will help and acknowledge the readers of this gospel to build their faith and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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