Is Jesus God?
by Pr. Dave Mann
The first 18 verses of John’s gospel are beautiful, both literarily and theologically. Read aloud the entirety of this prologue to the gospel. You will have the joy of speaking and hearing a well-crafted paragraph. You will also be introduced to numerous theological themes to be developed in the 21 chapters of John – the divinity of Jesus, life, light, darkness, witness/testify, believe, world, glory, grace and truth.
It is no doubt that John’s opening phrase, “In the beginning was the Word,” is intended to echo the opening phrase of Genesis, “In the beginning God.” It is known that this Word (logos in Greek) is the term of Greek philosophy, meaning the primal cause of all things. In verse 14, the identity of the logos is clearly identified as Jesus, God made flesh. Jesus is the logos, the Cause of all causes. The final phrase of verse 1 unambiguously states “the Word was God.”
But if Jesus is indeed divine (the second person of the Trinity), why does John write not once but twice; the Word was with God? Does this distinction of the two exclude the belief in Jesus’ divine attribute? No. It is helpful to note that there are three words for the “physical proximity” of two things in Greek. The one used here – pros – also means “in intimate personal relationship.” The fact that John writes in the one and same verse (1:1) that Jesus is God, and that Jesus is with God is a beautiful expression of the Trinity – the Father and the Son are distinguished and yet both are fully God.
Throughout the Gospel of John, we find numerous instances where Jesus appears to relate to God the Father as an entity distinct from himself – He prays to the Father, He does the Father’s will, He has a mission given by the Father. However, we also see that without a doubt, Jesus is divine.
John 10:30 – The Father and I are one.
John 8:58 – Before Abraham was, I am. (Compare with Exodus 3:14.)
John 13:19 – I am telling you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.
John 20:28 – Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God,” a confession of faith which Jesus validates in the next verse.
The fact that John lays side by side the distinction of Jesus from God the Father and the divinity of Jesus is a perfect example of how the Scriptures testify to the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity even without using the theological term itself.
Holy Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, we give you praise for the beauty of the Gospel of John. Our hearts relish the writing and the theology of this great gospel. Thank you for inspiring John to write clearly and beautifully concerning the grace and truth in Jesus’ name, Amen.