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Harlot of Babylon According to Irvin Baxter; Trinity and Oneness, Part 5
by Karl Kemp
2/11/2016 / Bible Studies
We continue the discussion under John 1:1-18 here in Part 5.
I'll read 1 JOHN 1:1-3, which is a very important cross-reference, "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the WORD [my emphasis] of life - (2) and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us - (3) what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." They had fellowship with God the Father and the resurrected Son of God, two Persons; three with the Holy Spirit.
I'll comment briefly on what the very influential oneness writer David K. Bernard says on the meaning of the word "Word" in John 1:1 in his very influential book "The Oneness of God" (Word Aflame Press, 1983, pages 60, 61). I'll just quote two key sentences from the almost two pages of what Bernard says here. "Rather the Word was a thought or a plan in the mind of God. It was with God in the beginning and was part of Him (John 1:1)." Bernard probably did the best he could do to try to remove the Person of the Son of God from this passage, but I don't believe there is any possibility that what he said fits what the apostle John said here. It seems clear to me that what 1 John 1:1-3 says, which is quoted in the preceding paragraph, should suffice by itself to show that the Word was a lot more than a thought or a plan in the mind of God in the beginning, before any creating took place.
In the verses that follow John 1:1, the apostle John goes on speaking of a Person (not a thought or a plan). There is no way, for example, that what John says in 1:4 ("In Him was life and the life was the Light of men") can refer to a thought or a plan in the mind of God. "Him" (masculine in the Greek) refers to the Word, the Son of God, and John continues to speak of Him (not of a thought or plan in the mind of God). He goes on to speak of this Person (the Word) coming into the world in verses 9-13 and in verse 14 John specifically mentions His incarnation with the words "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His [the eternal Son of God's] glory, glory as of the only begotten [see below for a better translation than "only begotten"] from the Father, full of grace and truth." It is also very significant that the apostle John speaks of the Person of God the Son as "the Word" in 1 John 1:1-4 and "the Word of God" in Rev. 19:13. More could be said, but it seems so clear to me that Bernard is wrong here. I doubt that he feels comfortable with what he said, but he had to say something to try to remove the Son of God from John 1:1, since he is writing to argue that there was no Person (the Son of God) with the Father in the beginning and there is no Trinity.]] (John 1:2) He was in the beginning with God. [[(This double bracket goes on for two long paragraphs.) As the margin of the NASB shows, "He" would more literally be translated "This One." Whether we translate "He" or "This One," this word, which is masculine in the Greek, clearly refers to a Person, not to a word, thought, idea, or plan in the mind of God the Father, or anything other than the Son of God. The fact that the word is masculine is only a very small part of the reason we know that "This one" is a Person. The fact that He is a Person is confirmed by essentially all of the verses here in John 1:1-18: In the beginning, before any creating had taken place, He was with God the Father and He (the Son of God) was God/deity in company with God the Father (1:1). He (not a thought, plan, thing, etc.) was in the beginning with God (1:2). All beings or things were created through Him, a Person (cf. 1 Cor. 8:6 ["...and one Lord Jesus Christ by (or better, "through") whom are all things...."]; Col. 1:16 ["all things have been created through Him and for Him"]; Heb. 1:2 ["...His Son...through whom He made the world."]) (John 1:3). In Him were life and light (things which He had by virtue of His being God the Son); He made the Light available to men before He became the God-man (1:4, 5). John the Baptist testified about Him (1:6). He (God the Son, who was with the Father in the beginning) came into the world (He became the God-man at the time of His virgin birth) (1:9). He came into the world but the world that was made through Him did not know Him; they did not receive Him because of their spiritual death, darkness, and sinful state (1:10, 11). However, those who did receive Him in faith were born again (1:12, 13). The Logos/the Word (see verse 1) became flesh (He became the God-man) and lived among us, and His apostles and others were able to see His glory, the glory of the unique Son of God the Father (1:14). John the Baptist testified, for one super-important thing, that this Person (God the Son, the Logos) who was born after he (John the Baptist) was (as far as His humanity was concerned) existed before him (1:15). Those who submitted to the One who came into the world from heaven have received of His fullness and grace upon grace (1:16). The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ (1:17). No one has seen God the Father at any time (but we will see Him after we are glorified), but this Person, the unique Son of God, who was with the Father before any creating took place, has revealed Him on a level that no One but the Son of God could do (1:18).
This is important information when we consider that the oneness interpretation of John 1:1-3 does not, and cannot, leave any room for the Logos (the Word) a Person to exist with God the Father in the beginning; the Son from their point of view cannot exist before the virgin birth. If the Word is a Person, which He clearly is in these verses, then the oneness view of God is wrong. I don't make a comment like that to show disrespect for anyone; not at all; but we desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches, and especially when we are considering what the Bible teaches about the God (the triune God) we worship. I'm not attacking anybody. My desire is to be a blessing to everybody that I can.]] (John 1:3) All things came into being through Him [[through the Person of God the Son. I'll quote the relevant words from John 1:10, "and the world was made through Him." I'll quote 1 Cor. 8:6, "yet for us there is but one God, the Father [the preeminent role of God the Father is strongly emphasized in this verse and in quite a few other verses in the New Testament], from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [The Greek has the same preposition used in John 1:3, 10, and in the next two verses that I'll quote as we continue, the preposition "dia" used with the genitive case. I would translate "through whom" here in 1 Cor. 8:6] are all things [in that God the Father created all things through Him], and we exist through Him." I'll also read the words at the end of Col. 1:16, "all things have been created through Him and for Him." And Heb. 1:2 says, "in these last days [God the Father] has spoken to us in His Son, who He appointed heir of all things, through whom [God the Son] also He [God the Father] made the world." These verses all make it clear that God the Father created everything through His Son, a Person, not through a word, thought, plan, or anything else. Also see Heb. 1:10-12.]], and apart from Him [God the Son] nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:4) In Him [God the Son] was life [In that God the Son was deity, He had life in Himself (very much including spiritual/eternal life).], and the life was the Light of men. [[The Gospel of John frequently speaks of Jesus being the Light of men. One of the roles of God the Son was to make light, spiritual light (which includes the truth about God) available to men. (The triune God is the only source for life, light, truth, righteousness, and everything else that is good.) As the next verse and verse 9 show, the Son made that light available as He shined with the light of God in the days before He became the God-man. And the Gospel of John shows that He made that light available (and in a more personal, more powerful way) after He became the God-man.]] (John 1:5) The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. [[The light from God the Son was shining in the darkness, but mankind, speaking of mankind in general (there were exceptions like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc.), was not receptive to the light - mankind rejected the light. Mankind was in spiritual darkness and spiritual death after the rebellion and fall of Adam and Eve (see Rom. 5:12-21, for example). As we will see in John 1:9-11, even after God the Son came into the world as the God-man, mankind, speaking of mankind in general, still rejected God the Father, God the Son, and the light of God (see John 3:19-21, for example). The sin problem runs very deep in the heart of man. Verse 13 adds (thank God!) that some people did receive God the Father, the Lord Jesus, and the light of God and became born-again Christians. The Holy Spirit was, of course, right in the center of these glorious things!]] (John 1:6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John [John the Baptist]. (John 1:7) He came as a witness, to testify about the Light [see John 1:29-40, for example], so that all might believe through him [through John the Baptist]. (John 1:8) He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. (John 1:9) There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. [[(This double bracket continues for two long paragraphs.) I can't live with the translation of the NASB here. I'll give a literal translation of the Greek that yields, I believe, the intended meaning: (My translation is very similar to the NIV, which I'll quote, (NIV) "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.") "The true Light [God the Son], which shines on every man, was coming into the world." I believe it is better to translate "shines on" (which is a reasonable way to translate the Greek verb used here) than "gives light to" because the translation "gives light to" tends to wrongly communicate the idea that the people receive the light (and are enlightened by the light) that is made available to them, but verse 5 has already informed us that the people in the darkness (speaking for the large majority) did not receive the light. Verses 9, 10 confirm that the people (speaking for the large majority) had not received the light, and did not even receive the light when God the Son (through whom they had been created) came into the world through the virgin birth. The words, "coming into the world" speak of God the Son's coming into the world to become the God-man. Notice that verse 10 starts with the words, "He was in the world." The words at the end of verse 9 speak of His coming into the world. Verse 14 adds, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us."
I'll list some of the verses from the Gospel of John that speak of God the Son's, a Person, coming into the world from heaven, having been sent by God the Father. For one thing, these verses, by themselves, suffice to show that God the Son is a Person distinct from God the Father, and that He existed with God the Father before He became a man. Quite a few verses in the New Testament (including John 1:1-18 and other key verses that we discuss in this paper) show that He existed with the Father before any creating took place, before the time system of our created world existed: John 3:13 ("He who descended from heaven"; The Word, the Son, had to be in heaven to descend from heaven for His incarnation); John 3:17 (God the Father sent His Son into the world); John 3:31 (He comes from above and "He who comes down from heaven"); John 6:38 ("For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."); John 6:46 ("Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God; He [God the Son, a Person] has seen the Father."); John 6:62 ("...the Son ascending to where He was before"); John 7:33 ("then I go to Him who sent Me"); John 8:14, 16, 18 ("I know where I came from and where I am going"; "But I and the Father who sent Me"; "and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me"); John 13:3 ("Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God [God the Father] and was going back to God [back to God the Father after His crucifixion and resurrection, at His ascension]."); John 16:27, 28 ("For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.")]] (John 1:10) He was in the world [He, this Person, the Lord Jesus, the Word, God the Son, who had taken on flesh to become the God-man], and the world was made through Him [John has already informed us in verse 3 that God the Father created the world through Him, through God the Son in His preincarnate state.], and the world did not know Him. [[John has already informed us in verse 5 that mankind (speaking for the great majority), which was in the darkness, did not receive the light that shined on them. They did not know Him when He came into the world, which showed how serious the spiritual death, bondage to sin and to the kingdom of darkness problem was, and as the next verse shows they "did not receive Him."]] (John 1:11) He came to His own [[The Greek more literally reads, "Unto His own things (or, possessions) He came." "His own things/possessions is a translation of the Greek "ta idia,"" where "ta" is a neuter plural definite article and "idia" is a neuter plural adjective. Apparently John used the neuter here (even though the masculine form of the adjective was readily available, as we will see as we continue with this verse) to make the important point that the people to whom the Word, God the Son, came were part of that which God the Father had created through Him. Having been created by God (the triune God), they owed Him their allegiance, and all the more so after the Word condescended to become a man (the God-man) and then to die for them, bearing their sins with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, so that we could get out from under those penalties). The NIV translates, "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive him."]], and those who were His own did not receive Him. [[(This double bracket goes on for two paragraphs.) "His own" here is a translation of "hoi idioi," where "hoi" is a masculine plural definite article and "idioi" is a masculine plural form of the same adjective that was used earlier in this verse. After making the point that the Word came to "His own things/possessions" with the first words of this verse (by using the neuter plural form of this adjective), he switched to a masculine plural form of this same adjective. The masculine was the typical gender used for people, unless the people happened to be female.
Many believe "His own" and "those who were His own" is limited to the people of Israel. It is true, of course, that God had a special relationship with the people of Israel and that they had a special obligation to submit to the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. I believe, however, that John was speaking of mankind worldwide here in verse 11, as he was in verses 4, 5, 9, 10, 12, and 13. The Gospel of John was written for Gentiles too.]] (John 1:12) But as many as received Him [received Him by submitting to Him in faith, and to the One who sent Him, and to the gospel], to them He [God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ] gave the right [or, the authority] to become children of God [As verse 13, and many other verses show, we become born-again children of God the Father.], even to those who believe in His name [[the Word's, God the Son's, the Lord Jesus Christ's name. To believe in His name includes believing all that the Bible teaches about Him, very much including all that the Bible teaches about Him here in John 1:1-18. And we must understand that believing in His name includes a commitment from the heart to live in accordance with the terms of the new covenant, on a continuous basis, by the saving, enabling grace of God in Christ. And there is no way we can submit (in faith) to God the Son and not submit to God the Father, the One who sent Him into the world. Jesus always made it very clear that He had been sent by the Father and that He was totally committed to the Father and His will. For one super-important thing, He came to solve the sin, spiritual death problem and bring us to the Father. See John 14:6 for example.]], (John 1:13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. [[This glorious, all-important birth comes from God (see, for example, John 3:3-8; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; and 1 John 2:29; 3:9). It does not, and cannot, come from anything of the created world, including man, or the will of man.]] (John 1:14) And the Word [God the Son, who had always existed with God the Father; see John 1:1] became flesh, and dwelt among us [[See Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-38; Rom. 1:3; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:7, 8; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 1:1-3; 4:2; and 2 John 1:7. God hasn't revealed all the details, but it is clear that the Word, God the Son, became a man, but not just a man - He became the God-man. From the time of His incarnation, He was one Person with two natures, He was deity (God the Son) and He was human. He temporarily set aside His glory (to a significant extent) when He became a man (see John 17:1-5, Phil. 2:7, 8, for example), but He never ceased being deity, and He will be worshiped forever with God the Father (see, for example, Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 5:11-14; 21:22, 23; and 22:1-21). Jesus Christ was not spiritually dead (including at the time He was being crucified or after He died; see my paper "Did Jesus Die Spiritually?"), as all men have been since the fall, and He never sinned. Hallelujah! What a Savior! What a Worthy Sacrifice! What a Salvation Plan!]], and we saw His glory [[Throughout His life on earth, His glory was manifested to some extent, and especially after He was anointed by the Spirit to become the Anointed One/the Messiah/the Christ (see John 2:11, "This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory....") through who He was and by the things He said and did. The apostles Peter, James, and John were privileged to see His glory in a special sense at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36; and 2 Pet. 1:16-18). Many disciples, especially the apostles, saw something of His glory after He was resurrected.]], glory as of the only begotten from the Father [I would translate, "the unique Son of the Father" or "the unique One of the Father"], full of grace and truth [see John 1:17]. [[In the margin the NASB has a note, "or unique, only one of His kind," instead of "only begotten." There is widespread agreement in our day that the Greek adjective "monogenes" does not mean "only begotten"; it should be translated "unique" or the equivalent. (See my paper on John 1:1-18 on my internet site for the details.) It is important to understand that when orthodox Christians have spoken of the only-begotten Son, they were not saying that there was a time when the Son did not exist. They thought in terms of His being eternally generated/begotten by the Father. (See my paper on John 1:1-18 for more details.) This same adjective is also used of the Son of God in John 1:18; 3:16, 18 and 1 John 4:9. In John 3:16, 18 and 1 John 4:9 (and probably also in John 1:18), the word "Son" is included in the Greek. I would translate "the unique Son" in John 3:16, 18; and 1 John 4:9; we'll discuss John 1:18 as we continue. Here in John 1:14 it is necessary to supply another word with the adjective; we could translate "the unique Son" or "the unique One." The angels are sometimes called "sons of God" in the Bible, and so are born-again Christians, but the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the Son of God in a unique, very special, sense. He is deity, through whom the angels and men (and everything else) were created, for one super-important difference.]] (John 1:15) John [John the Baptist] testified about Him and cried out, saying, 'This was He of whom I said, "He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me [see John 1:30]." ' [[Jesus came after John the Baptist in that He was born some six months after him (see Luke 1:36) and in that John's ministry started earlier and prepared the way for Jesus and His ministry. But John realized that he and his ministry were very much subordinate to Jesus and His ministry (compare, for example, Matt. 3:11-15; Luke 3:16, 17; John 1:27). John knew quite a bit about Jesus and His ministry (see John 1:26-43; Luke 1:5-80, for example). It is significant that John knew about Jesus' preexistence: He said, "for He existed before me," even though it was understood that John was born before Jesus. John the Baptist was speaking of Jesus' preexistence as a Person, not of His preexisting as a word, or thought, etc. in the mind of God the Father. John the Baptist also knew, for example, that Jesus was the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36) and that He would baptize in the Holy Spirit (John 1:33), in the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11, 12). He also saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Jesus and heard a voice out of heaven saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (see Matt. 3:16, 17; Mark 1:10, 11; John 1:33).]] (John 1:16) For of His fullness we have all received [compare Eph. 1:23; 3:19; 4:13; Col. 1:19; and 2:9], and grace upon grace. [[Every aspect of new-covenant salvation that we receive in/through the Lord Jesus (which includes everything we could ever need now and forever, including truth, knowledge, wisdom, redemption, forgiveness, righteousness, holiness, provision for our daily needs in this world, glorification, having a place in God's eternal kingdom, and reigning with Him and the Lord Jesus Christ forever) comes to us by the all-sufficient, super-abundant grace upon grace of God in Christ Jesus. We did not, and we could not, earn/merit these things.]] (John 1:17) For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. [[The Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant, was given through Moses. The Mosaic Law was from God, it was good, it was true, and some grace accompanied that covenant, but God didn't give the old covenant to solve the sin, spiritual death, darkness, Satan problem. God's plan, from before the creation of the world (see, for example, 1 Pet. 1:20; Eph. 1:4; Rev. 13:8; 17:8), was to send His Son to die for our sins and to fully solve the sin, spiritual death, Satan, darkness problem. The all-sufficient grace of God in Christ - the "grace upon grace" spoken of here in verse 17 - avails to fully save us and to totally remove sin, spiritual death, darkness, Satan and all who continue to follow him in his rebellion against God from His kingdom forever. The Mosaic Law was true, but the full, complete truth was not manifested until Jesus Christ, who is the truth, was manifested. As verse 14 says, He was "full of grace and truth." Compare John 8:32; 14:6; and 18:37.]] (John 1:18) No one has seen God at any time [Compare Ex. 33:20; 1 Tim. 6:16; and 1 John 4:12. No man has seen God the Father at any time, not in any full, direct sense. After we are glorified we will see Him as He is (compare 1 John 3:2) and face to face (compare 1 Cor. 13:12; Rev. 22:4).]; the only begotten God (See my paper on John 1:1-18 for more details on this verse.) [[or, probably better "unique Son," not "only begotten God." The Greek behind "only begotten" is "monogenes," the adjective that we discussed in some detail under verse 14. Here, as in verse 14, I believe a translation like "unique" was intended. The interpretation of this verse is complicated by the fact that many ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament have the word for "Son" ("huios") following "monogenes" instead of the word for "God" ("theos"). Quite a few translations follow the Greek text that has the word for "Son," including the KJV and NKJV ("the only begotten Son"); the RSV ("the only Son"); the NEB ("God's only Son"); the New Living Translation ("his only Son"); and the Jerusalem Bible ("the only Son"). If the original reading was monogenes followed by huios (and I rather strongly favor this reading), I would translate "the unique Son," or the equivalent. Remember that John 3:16, 18, and 1 John 4:9 have the Greek adjective monogenes followed by the word for Son.
It is possible that "God" (instead of "Son") was the original reading. If so, I would understand this verse in the sense given by D. A. Carson ("Gospel According to John" [Eerdmans, 1991], page 134) and others too. See my paper on John 1:1-18 for more details on this verse): "...the unique and beloved one (the term is monogenes...), [himself] God, has made him [God the Father] known. That is probably the correct text [with the reading God instead of the Son].... What it means is that the beloved Son, the incarnate Word (1:14), himself God [God in the sense of deity, as in verse 1] while being at the Father's side - just as in v. 1 the Word was simultaneously God [God the Son] and with God [with God the Father]...."]] who is in the bosom [[" 'In the bosom of'' is a Hebrew idiom expressing the intimate relationship of child and parent, and of friend and friend (cf. [John] 13:23)" (R. V. G. Tasker, "Gospel According to St. John" [Eerdmans, 1969], page 49).]] of the Father, He has explained Him. ["has made him known" NIV; "has revealed him" New American Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ was the perfect Person to reveal/make known God the Father (and the triune God). He was/is deity with the Father; He became a man (the God-man), which permitted Him to dwell with men and communicate with us in our dimension; He was anointed by the Father with the Holy Spirit; He had the same nature, character, attitudes, motives, and priorities as the Father, and He spoke the words that the Father wanted Him to speak and did the works the Father wanted Him to do (compare, for example, John 5:19; 10:37, 38; 12:49; and 14:8-10).]]
Part 6 of this paper will start with some brief excerpts from what three Trinitarian scholars said on John 1:1-18, especially John 1:1.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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