This was some seven centuries before the actual birth of the Lord. Edward J. Bruce felt that this figure reflects the significance of Colossians , 23 The Epistles to the Colossians, Philemon and to the Ephesians, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, , pp. In other words, the apostle prophetically looked across the coming centuries and observed the vast influence of the Christian message, noting that its effect, from the vantage point of the first century, would be global. The Bible abounds with this figure, which, in most contexts, is perfectly obvious and draws no criticism. Galatians But the earth could not possibly contain as many people as there are specks of dust upon the planet.
The great Gospel of John
This is obvious hyperbole. The apostle John once stated that all the books in the world could not contain the miracles that Jesus performed John Clearly, he employs hyperbolic language.
If Christ had performed one miracle each hour, day and night, for the entire 1, days of his earthly ministry, such would total 30, signs. Even this quantity could have been housed in the libraries of the antique world. No one comes to the Father except through me. Jesus frequently uses metaphors to hint at his identity.
John records more of these analogies than any other gospel, giving us some of the most famous word pictures for Christ:. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
THE GREAT GOSPEL OF JOHN - VOLUME 7 - Table of Contents - New Revelation
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. Each of the gospels record when Jesus calls his disciples. Only in John, some of his disciples bring their friends and family to meet him, where they too are called to be disciples.
Thomas insisted that he needed to physically see the resurrected Jesus before he would believe. In particular we shall study the witness theme in John Here we see most clearly the legal setting of the Gospel of John. The book falls naturally into two parts: chapters and chapters There is a distinct difference in the tone of these two divisions. The first half of the Gospel has a polemical, controversial ring which led F. Burkitt of Cambridge to term it "argumentative.
In reflecting on these differences, it becomes clear that the participants in the two sections also tend to be quite different. The "Book of Signs," as Professor C. Dodd termed chapters , has an apologetic thrust. It presents the Son of God in conflict and debate with His enemies.
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The Upper Room Discourse of chapters , on the other hand, seems to be directed inward to the Christian community. These chapters are not so much concerned with the evangelistic and missionary task of converting the outsider as with the deepening union and communion of disciples with their Lord and Saviour. The "journey inward," however, is the necessary preparation for the "journey outward. Our stereotyped, simplistic picture of John as "the Gospel of Love" is abruptly challenged in the first twelve chapters by the Evangelist himself.
Here we are confronted with a great controversy between God incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth and the world, represented by "the Jews" often used in John as a pejorative term to epitomize the world in its stubborn and willful rejection of the Christian message. The lines of this controversy are not unlike those which appear in Isaiah There God has a lawsuit or controversy with Israel.
He summons His people to take the stand and serve as His witnesses. They can attest the things which God has predicted and subsequently carried out. They can testify to His saving acts in their history. And in the extended use of the controversy theme, they are summoned to do so. In like manner, in the Fourth Gospel God has a lawsuit or controversy with the world.
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He is represented preeminently by His Son, Jesus the Messiah. The world is represented by "the Jews," who epitomize the unbelief of fallen humanity in their opposition to God. This gigantic controversy takes on cosmic dimensions, for it involves the devil "the prince of this world" and the Spirit of God. It is essential to perceive the fundamental elements in this controversy if one is to accurately assess the structure of John's Gospel. There are many indications that the opening half of John's Gospel functions as a mission book which seeks to win converts to Christ as the Messiah and Son of God.
The sayings of Jesus, which are often termed "discourse," more frequently turn out to be debates. The discussions of Jesus with "the Jews" in the first twelve chapters become a great contest or lawsuit. The Johannine "argumentativeness," of which Professor Burkitt complained, provides the ideal conceptual background for a controversy in which one might reasonably expect witnesses to be called and evidence to be presented to establish a case.
The Fourth Gospel abundantly fulfills this expectation. Witnesses are prominent in this Gospel. One only has to mention John the Baptist, the Old Testament Scriptures, the words and works of Christ and the forensically described activity of both the apostles and the Holy Spirit to see the validity of this remark for the Fourth Gospel Viewed in this light, John's Gospel has a strongly juridical character. Unlike other early Christian apologists e. He is aware that Jewish readers disposed to contest his basic thesis can advance quite different explanations of the same passages.
In place of proof texts the Evangelist offers a number of actual eyewitnesses qualified to speak on behalf of Jesus, whose Messianic credentials have been widely questioned and disputed by the Jews. In this delicate situation John presents independent witnesses and offers concrete evidence to defend and bolster the Christian claims for the Messiah-ship and divine Sonship of Jesus Chapters l The Unfolding Controversy Let us examine this witness theme more closely, for it assumes major importance in John's Gospel. In its very midst is placed the testimony of John the Baptist, a man "sent from God" on a definite assignment: "He came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him" , 7.
John's testimony is not to be confused with much of the modern, self-centered, egotistical showmanship that often goes by that name. His witness is presented in a distinctly Christocentric light: "He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light" The nature of the Baptist's witness is defined more fully in John , where John recognizes his own inferior position and probably asserts the Messiah's preexistence cf.
His apologetic value as a witness is also apparent in his encounter with the Jerusalem establishment, who sent a delegation of priests and Levites to investigate John's credentials. In the Fourth Gospel he is explicitly a witness—no more and no less. John sees himself in the much more modest role of a loudspeaker or witness for the Messiah, precisely along the lines suggested in Isaiah "I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as Isaiah the prophet said" A few verses later John's forensic role appears again in his dramatic encounter with Jesus, whom he acclaims as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" ; cf.
Once again John asserts the superiority and preexistence of the One who comes after him. This time the Baptist's testimony serves as a commentary on the baptism of Jesus though the event itself is not described by the Fourth Evangelist : "And I have seen and have borne witness, that this is the Son of God" The witness of the first disciples closely follows the witness of John the Baptist It is made clear that it is appropriate and fitting for the first disciples of the Baptist to turn from the forerunner to the One whose coming he announced—the Messiah.
On the basis of their personal encounter, these disciples can offer their own testimonies.
Finally the guileless but skeptical Nathaniel bursts out with a magnificent confession of faith: "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel" If chapter 1 is rich in its use of the testimony theme, so is chapter 2. Here we have the testimony of the first sign and the testimony of Christ concerning the resurrection, which is related to the cleansing of the temple Here too is presented a striking evidential challenge.
This prediction is one of many in the Fourth Gospel. Jesus predicts His death and resurrection, the betrayal of Judas, the defections of Peter, His own return to the Father and the coming of the Spirit, not to mention the trials and persecutions His disciples will have to face in the future. Here, as in Isaiah , there is an apologetic purpose in view.
Both John and the Old Testament writer want their readers to know, understand and believe the arguments they are presenting. For this reason they are keen to bring forward "the evidence of fulfilled prophecy" John ; Isa. In chapter 3 we are introduced to Christ's testimony before Nicodemus, the representative teacher in Israel Then the final testimony of John the Baptist is presented with its self-effacing winsomeness: "He [Jesus] must increase but I must decrease" John is simply the best man, charged with the responsibility of bringing the bride Israel and the Bridegroom Jesus together.
When he has fulfilled that mission, his work is done and his joy is complete John is not a rival but rather a witness to Jesus. The chapter closes with the corroborative testimony of the Evangelist himself, attesting that Jesus genuinely speaks "the words of God" Chapter 4 proves to be no less interesting.
Here we are confronted with the testimony of the Samaritans and the testimony of the second sign In the former incident the development in the woman of Samaria's testimony is striking. At first she despises Jesus as a hated "Jew," a member of a detested nationality A little later she replies with the respectful title, "Sir" , and opens the question of the status of her conversationalist: "Are You greater than our father Jacob?
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As she grows more confident and comfortable, she makes a direct request of the stranger As the interview progresses, she perceives that her visitor is "a prophet" And eventually she declares to her Samaritan acquaintances, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ? Here the Fourth Evangelist has presented us with a beautiful picture of the gradual growth and development of a vital witness to the Christian faith, and that on the part of a woman who by reason of race and nationality might be presumed to be quite prejudiced against the claims of a Jewish Messiah.
The case for the Messiahship of Jesus is definitely taking shape.
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