John 1 – Let Jesus Decide
J. Dan Gill
Jesus never says that before he was born, he had been a person called the “Word.”
Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not my own. It is his who sent me” ( John 7:16).
God receives his word from no one. It is the expression of his own mind. Jesus, on the other hand, receives his word from God. If we are to believe Jesus, he did not of himself have great knowledge and understanding. Rather, his wisdom was derived. As a true human being, he was taught the word directly by God. Luke picks up on this when he writes about Jesus growing in wisdom as a young man:
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).
Jesus never says that before he was born, he had been a person called the “Word.” Neither Jesus nor John ever says that an ancient or eternal being known as the “Word” somehow came into Mary’s womb and became a human being. Rather, Jesus received the word after he was born. He was taught by God from his youth.
Jesus is called “The Word of God” because God’s word was supremely made known to him — and then to all of humanity by him. He himself makes that clear when he speaks of his relationship to God’s word. Even his teachings were not his own. They were the Father’s:
- I do nothing on my own, but I speak only what the Father has taught me ( John 8:28).
- I have not spoken on my own. The Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it ( John 12:49).
- The word you hear is not my own, but the Father’s who sent me ( John 14:24).
- Father … the words which you gave to me I have given to them ( John 17:8).
Jesus had to be taught by God. What kind of a “person” who is in and of himself the “Word” has to be taught “what to say and how to say it”? It eluded post-biblical Gentile Christians that their supposed ancient or eternal “person” called the “Word” was of “himself ” totally lacking in any unique understanding and wisdom. If Jesus is fully divine, and as such omniscient, he would speak for himself. It would be pointless for the Father to try to teach an essentially all-knowing being.
By his own testimony, Jesus’ life and experiences do not correspond to the idea that he was an ancient or eternal person who had extraordinary knowledge and was wise enough to create the world. By Jesus’ own testimony, God’s word and wisdom came to him as God taught him. Again, he states:
I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will ( John 5:30, NLT).
What kind of a “person” who is in and of “himself ” the “Word”
has to be taught “what to say and how to say it”? ( John 12:49).
Jesus and the New Creation
Jesus never says that he made the world in the beginning. Neither in the Gospel of John, nor in the balance of the New Testament, does he ever take credit for the creation of the cosmos. When Jesus speaks about creation, he indicates that only one created, and he attributes it directly to God:
From the beginning of the creation that God created until now (Mark 13:19).
Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning, “made them male and female” (Matt. 19:4).
For people to attribute the creation in Genesis to Jesus is a significant mistake. It would be like saying that “the Father died on the cross.” To do that would be confusion and would give to the Father the honor that is due to Jesus as the only one who died for us. It is a similar dishonor to God when we say that “Jesus created the world.” And just as it would not please God for us to say “the Father died on the cross,” neither can it please Jesus when we ascribe to him all or part of the Father’s honor for being our Creator.
Jesus was not involved in the creation in Genesis. As we have seen, the Father did that creating “alone” — “by himself ” (Isa. 44:24). By one count, the Genesis creation is attributed to God, not Jesus, in at least 50 verses of the Bible. Rather, it is Jesus through whom God is now bringing about a “new creation.” There will be “new” heavens and a “new” earth in which dwells righteousness (2 Pet. 3:13; Isa. 65:17ff.). The new creation will be filled with people who are immortal— they will die no more. It is “in Christ” that this creation takes place.
So, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old things have passed away; look, everything has become new! (2 Cor. 5:17).
Jesus himself is the first of God’s new creation of immortal human beings. He is the “firstborn from the dead” and will “never die again” (Col. 1:18; Rom. 6:10). God created the world in Genesis and then used Adam to bring forth the balance of the human race. Now God is using Jesus to bring forth a people of faith who will live forever in his eternal kingdom. Jesus is, so to speak, the second Adam. He is the firstborn in a great new family of God. The Apostle Paul tells the Christians at Rome that it is the will of God that they be:
Conformed to the image of his son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom. 8:29).
It is this new life in God’s new creation of which Jesus is the first. In this creation, Jesus is first in terms of both time and priority. He was the first to be raised from the dead never to die again. God has also determined that this man will forever be preeminent in his eternal kingdom. It is the “all things” of the new creation which God creates through Jesus.
Jesus is due great honor. He is due the honor of being God’s only begotten human son ( John 1:14). He was born of a virgin (Luke 1:35), and filled with the spirit of God (Luke 4:1). The word of God was embodied in him as in no other before or since. It is Jesus who died for us (1 Cor. 15:3). But God raised him from the dead (Acts 5:30). After his resurrection, he was taken up into heaven and God caused him to sit at his own right hand (Acts 5:31). Jesus deserves all of the honor for being the one through whom God is bringing forth a new creation. All who are in Christ will live forever with him in God’s eternal kingdom. Again, Paul writes to the Christians at Rome:
And if we are children of God, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings so that we may also share in his glory (Rom. 8:17).
The Living Plan of God
These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything must be fulfilled which is written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. — Jesus to his disciples (Luke 24:44, 45).
Jesus not only speaks God’s word, but also uniquely fulfills it. This man is the living embodiment of the plan of God. God’s great plans for humanity and our planet were foretold in words the Father spoke to the prophets of old. From the beginning, the center and focus of all of those plans was a man who would be born in time. That man was Jesus — God’s Messiah — his true human son.
It is Jesus who ultimately reveals and fulfills God’s plans for humanity. From birth to death, he was living out the words that God had spoken to the prophets ages before. In his resurrection, being taken up into heaven and seated at the right hand of God, this man was and is the living word of God. God’s master plans for the redemption of human beings and of our planet have become reality in him.
We see this again in God’s new covenant. Aspects of the covenant Moses gave the people were engraved on stones. However, God’s new covenant is embodied in a man, Messiah Jesus (Isa. 42:6; 1Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6,7). It is by trusting in the person of Jesus that we participate in YHWH’s great and final arrangement with humanity ( John 3:16). Jesus and his teachings are the means by which human beings may enter into and be part of God’s new creation (Eph. 2:10). In the Messiah we find the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises (2 Cor. 1:19, 20). The hope of unending life — life in the age to come — is in him (Rom. 5:17). God’s plans for redemption and a new creation have become reality in this man. He was the plan of God — the word of God — in the flesh.
The Truth is Always Better
The truth, whatever it is, is always
better than error, whatever it is.
The truth is always better than error — even when error takes the form of cherished, time-honored traditions. As Gentile Christians, it is easy for us to be too comfortable with our own post-biblical church traditions and creeds. We cling to them tenaciously even when we must label them “mysteries” because they do not really make sense in light of the Bible. We have developed an ongoing romance with our own creation: a multi-person God. We must rather come to fall in love again with the one true God of the Bible. We must love the same one as our God, whom Jesus loved as his God ( John 14:31; 17:3; 20:17). And we must come to love Jesus for who he really is: not God, but God’s only begotten human son — our savior and Lord.
Over time, post-biblical Gentile Christians came to think of God’s spirit and his word as individuals in addition to the Father. That was a catastrophic turn of events. The novel new way of looking at God’s spirit and his word as persons became the building blocks for the doctrine of the Trinity. By the late 3rd century, we see people proposing a tripersonal God. Gentile Christianity has been living with the theological chaos of a supposed multi-person God, from then until now.
There is no understanding of God as multiple persons in the Hebrew Bible. God’s prophets and people of old never speak of two or three persons as being the One God. Jesus and his disciples were rooted in the Old Testament Scriptures. They themselves were absolute monotheists. When rightly understood, John too was unswerving in his Jewish monotheism. We must be certain that when we say, “the word became flesh,” we mean the same thing that John meant when he wrote it.
The Gentile notion of an ancient or eternal person called the “Word” is infinitely confusing and contradicts the most essential truths of God’s prophets of old. Said to be a mystery, it is not a biblical one. Rather, it is a mystification created by post-biblical Gentile Christians. That mystery is the result of efforts to combine Platonic philosophical views with the Bible.
It is an entirely unacceptable mystery because it introduces a new co-creator of the world. In the minds of Gentile Christians, this “creator” eventually became a supposed second person who is fully God along with the Father. The incongruences between this and original Christianity have plagued us as Gentile Christians from then until now.
Without the influence of Greek philosophy and Hellenized Jewish Platonists, the notion of an ancient or eternal person called the “Word” would never have existed in Christianity. Yet on such flimsy grounds, Gentile Christians in the 2nd through the 5th centuries gradually led us into the nether-world of a multi-person God. The idea of God’s spirit and his word as persons in addition to the Father goes too far. There was never sufficient scriptural reason to justify the idea of these as persons in themselves. It took a giant leap of non-biblical faith to get to God’s spirit and his word as “persons.” At the end of the day, two or three who are supposedly “one God” has never made logical or scriptural sense. It never can. It never will.
The idea that there is any person of Deity in addition to the Father is in total contradiction to God’s first priority: He alone is God and there is no other but him (Isa. 45:5, 6). It is also a severe infraction of his prime directive: They must serve no other as the one true God but him (Ex. 20:3). The very notion of second and third persons who are supposedly God would have found YHWH’s faithful prophets of old rending their clothes in protest.
The brilliance of the truth about God’s spirit and his word is not in complexity but rather in simplicity. The truth is wonderful and easy. It is so understandable that any ordinary person can grasp it and benefit from it: God’s spirit and his word are the Father himself — in action. That truth unambiguously holds to the eternal fundamental that there is one God and only one individual who is that God: He is the Father of us all (Mal. 2:10).
Perhaps we as Christians today have come far enough that we could recognize the spirit of God for what it really is: The spirit of the Father himself. Perhaps we could end the confusion of Jesus as a supposed second Creator and a God-person in addition to the Father. Maybe we could come to give Jesus the glory and honor that is really due him as the only begotten human son of God and the one through whom God is bringing forth a new creation.
Above all, perhaps we could return in our hearts to the original understanding that God is only one individual — the most extraordinary individual in the universe. Could we again celebrate the same one true God that Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Isaiah and a great host of others celebrated in their days? Could we come joyfully to uphold the great declaration of Jesus when he addressed his Father as “the only true God” (John 17:3)? Imagine how wonderful it would be if we took all of the glory and honor now being divided between God and two other supposed God-persons and gave it to the one to whom it really belongs: The Father himself!
Gill, J. Dan (2016). The Word of God. In, The One: In Defense of God (pp. 136-144). Nashville, TN: 21st Century Reformation Publishing.
 Nor is the young Jesus portrayed as regaining knowledge that he supposedly had in eternity before an incarnation. (That is the bizarre notion of some Trinitarian kenosis theorists.) The reader of Luke rightly infers that Jesus is learning all of these things for the first time.
 Anthony Buzzard, Jesus was Not a Trinitarian (Morrow, GA: Restoration Fellowship, 2007), 75, n. 27.
 Jesus is co-creator — not of the Genesis creation — but of God’s new creation. 1 Corinthians 8:6 is best understood in light of the new creation. Paul is writing there to Christians and his statements in the verse do not refer to their mere mortal existence. Rather, Paul is pointing them to the much superior enterprise of the kingdom of God and eternal life through Jesus. Hence, it is “out of ” (ek) God that all of these things exist and we now live for him (Rom. 6:13). But, it is “through” (dia) Jesus that we have this new existence and we have eternal life “through” (dia) him (hence, “in Christ,” Rom. 6:10–12). Jesus himself says, “Just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the son also to have life in himself ” (John 5:26). Jesus then is the way, truth and “life” for those who come to the Father through (dia) him ( John 14:6).
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