Who is Jesus according to John the Apostle?

by Matt Slick

Who is Jesus according to John the apostle?  Is He a mere man, an angel in flesh, or is He God incarnate?  The answer is very important because it determines where you stand in relationship to the truth.  Since faith is only as good as the person in whom you place it, it is crucial that you place your faith in the true Savior.  So, who is the true Savior?  Is he God or not?  Is he an angel who became a man or not?  Or is he merely a great teacher?

John's gospel is different from the other three.  In fact, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because they are so similar. However, John presents Jesus in a different light from the other three.

Additionally, John wrote the epistles of John and the book of Revelation.  In each of them, Jesus is presented in a special way.  Let's take a look at how John sees Jesus.

John's concept of Jesus begins with the introductions of his gospel (John 1:1-14) and his first epistle (1 John 1:1-10).  It is not a mere coincidence that John writes in such parallel to the opening chapters of Genesis.  Undoubtedly, John's opinion of Jesus was sufficient to equate him with God's creative work of "in the beginning."  Let's look.

Gospel of John1 JohnGenesis
'In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the Word was God 2He was in the beginning with God," (1:12)."What was from the beginning, what we have heard what we have seen with our eyes, what we behold and our hands handled concerning the word, . . " (1:1a)."In the beginning. . ." (1:1a)
"All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being," (1:3) " . . . God created the heavens and the earth," (1:1b)
"4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it . . . " (1:4-5).". . . of life" (1:1b).

" . . .God is light and in Him there is no darkness," (1:5).

" . . . the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining," (2:8).

"Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness," (1:3-4)
and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. . ." (1:14)."and the life was manifested and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us . . . " (1:2)"And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. . ."(3:8).

The parallels between the gospel of John, 1 John, and Genesis are immediately evident.  The terminology is very similar. The themes are almost identical.  Obviously, John considers Jesus to be of preeminent importance and uses many figures of speech equated with God.  But John does not abandon the thematic comparison between the Word and God after the opening chapters.  He continues to show the divine qualities of Jesus throughout his writings.

In the Gospel of John

I have already mentioned John 1:1, 14 where Jesus is in the beginning with God, and was God, the Word became flesh.  John also presents Jesus as:

  1. giving eternal life (John 10:27-28).
  2. the bread of life (John 6:35, 51--an obvious allusion to the manna given by God out of heaven in 6:32-35).
  3. the way the truth and the life (John 14:6).
  4. the light of the world (John 8:12).
  5. proceeding from the Father (John 8:42).
  6. being the 'I am" (John 8:58)--see also Exodus 3:14.
  7. being one with the Father (John 10:30) for which the Jews wanted to kill him--see Lev. 24:16).
  8. sharing the glory of God before creation (John 17:5; note that God shares His glory with no one, Isaiah 42:8).
  9. calling Jesus His own Father making Himself equal with God (John 5:18).
  10. receiving the same honor that you give to the Father (John 5:23).
  11. knowing all things (John 21:17--something only God can do).
  12. And in John 18:5, in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus answers those who came to arrest Him with the statement, "I am," they fall back to ground.

Is it safe to say that John in his gospel merely considers Jesus a man or even a special angel?  Is a mere man or an angel the giver of eternal life, or is this something God does?  Is a mere man or an angel the way, the truth, and the life or the light of the world? Is a creature one with the Father; or does a creature share in God's glory or even knowing all things?  No.  Not at all.

In the Book of Revelation

John continues with OT themes dealing with God and applies them to Jesus in the book of Revelation.

"Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." (Rev. 1:17-18)."Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me." (Isaiah 44:6).
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev. 22:12-13)."Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him." (Isaiah 40:10).
"These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful." (Rev. 17:14; 19:16)."that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords," (1 Tim. 6:14-15).
"for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes." (Rev. 7:17)."The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters." (Psalm 23:1-2)

Divine themes run through the book of Revelation.  Both Jesus and God are called the first and last.  Both are coming to give out their reward. Both are the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.  Both are the divine shepherds.
It is no wonder that in three significant verses in the gospel John records Jesus saying about Himself:

  • "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins." (John 8:24).
  • "Jesus therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me." (John 8:28).
  • "Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." (John 8:58), see Exodus 3:14.

It is apparent that John considered Jesus more than a man and more than an angel.  He is God in flesh: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . " (John 1:1, 14).

 

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