“Chazak! Chazak! V’nitchazeik” Be strong, be strong, strengthen one another!
Sefer Yochanan (Gospel According to John) Chapter 6 Pt.1The Work of God is to Believe in the One Whom He Has Sent (John 6:1-33)
“For near to you all is Ha-Davar (The Word), meod, very much so, in your mouth, and in your inner being, so that you might accomplish, do, act accordingly.” -D’variym (Words) Deuteronomy 30:14
All that follows is pursuant to the rebuke that Yeshua has leveled toward His Judean religious accusers following the making whole of the lame man at the pool of Beit Chasda in Jerusalem on the weekly Shabbat during Purim celebrations.
6:1 After these things Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) went away over (peran[G]) the body of water, lake (thalassa[G], yam[H]) of the Galilee (Galilaias[G], ha-Galiyl[H]) the Tiberias (ho Tiberiados[G]). 2 A large (polus[G], ha-mon[H], rav[H]) crowd of common people (ochlos[G], am[H]) followed Him, because they saw the signs (semeion[G], otot[H]) which He was making, constructing, causing (poieo[G], asah[H]) on those being sick, weak (astheneo[G], ha-choliym[H]).
“These things” are the miraculous healing of the lame man at the pool of Beit Chasda in Jerusalem, and the rebuke that Yeshua had levelled at His religious opponents regarding the legitimacy of His identity, His teaching and His authority regarding the Shabbat.
Therefore, Yeshua and His talmidim (disciples), followed by a large number of common people, had made the journey from Jerusalem to the Galilee region following Purim (see my commentary on John 5). They had arrived in the Galilee region at least three days after the cessation of Purim celebrations and it was now close to the time of Pesach (Passover), which occurs just over a month after Purim. The text says that Yeshua went over the lake, probably to an area several kilometres south-east of Bethsaida (Philip’s home town), across the lake and east of Capernaum, north east of and a greater distance away from Tiberias, which is situated at approximately the half way point on the western shore of the lake of Galilee.
The Gospel writer’s allusion to “The Tiberias” is, contrary to popular opinion, not a concession to non-Jewish readers but rather an allusion to the illegitimate authority of the Emperor Tiberias after whom the location was named, and the subsequent illegitimate authority of Rome in general. To usurp the native name of this area (Rakkat “shore” - Joshua 19:35) is an act of occupation on the part of Rome. The Hebrew Galiyl means “circuit, perpetuity”. HaShem has promised this land to Israel (Ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) [Naphtali] in perpetuity.
“because they saw the signs” This means that those who followed Yeshua had either seen the signs He had previously performed in the Galilee region or had seen Him perform signs at the Regaliym (Going up festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot) or both. The crowd was a crowd of Jews, Israelis (Ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen), seeking the physical redemption of the people of Israel from Roman oppression. We note that the people were following Him “because they saw the signs” and not necessarily because they believed in Him. This is made evident in their request for a further sign in order to prove His identity as the delivering “Prophet” promised by God through Moses (John 6:30; Deut.18:15-19).
“Signs” Not just miracles but “otot” signs plural, of God’s manifest power designed to point Israel to repentance and reconciliation to God. The same Hebrew word is used to describe the signs performed by God in Egypt and through His prophets.
3 Then Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) went up on the mountain (ha-har[H]) , and there He sat down with His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]).
“The mountain” Whichever mountain this is it is a significant land mark of the Galilee. It is not called “a mountain” but “the mountain”. It is very likely one of the peeks on the upper eastern shore of the Galilee just below Bethsaida (Beiyt Tzaida: House of the hunt).
Mountains were places of solitude and introspection, and are connected to the expounding of God’s Word (Moses Exodus 19:3; Elijah 1 Kings 19:11). The sides of hills and mountains are also an ideal location to teach from. Situated on the side of a mountain or high hill, a first century Jewish teacher could speak at a moderate volume and be heard by a large crowd gathered at the foot of the mountain in a natural amphitheatre. This type of scenario can be seen as far back as the giving of the Torah at Sinai. The Galilee was an ideal location for this style of teaching given the mountain ranges on both sides of the lake and the natural amphitheatres that have formed in the terrain nearby.
It was Yeshua’s practice to draw aside with His core group of disciples for a period of solace and teaching prior to public speaking and sign working (Matt.5:1; Luke 9:10 etc). Yeshua shows concern for the whole health and well-being of His talmidim, knowing that public ministry takes its toll mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Yeshua leads by example, often going away by Himself to commune with the Father in order to refuel and refocus His energies (Matt.14:23; Luke.6:12 etc). In this also He was not unlike Moses (Exodus 19:3-25).
A great deal can be learned by modern believers from this practice of Yeshua. We are fools to work tirelessly without rest when HaShem has commanded (not suggested) regular rest. God does not need our help but He allows us to participate in His work according to His guidelines. Failure to obey God’s rhythms of rest results in burn out and disillusionment.
Sitting was the preferred position from which the religious teachers of first century and later rabbinical Judaism taught their adherents.
“"The master sits at the head, or in the chief place, and the disciples before him in a circuit, like a crown; so that they all see the master, and hear his words; and the master may not sit upon a seat, and the scholars upon the ground; but either all upon the earth, or upon seats: indeed from the beginning, or formerly, היה הרב יושב "the master used to sit", and the disciples stand; but before the destruction of the second temple, all used to teach their disciples as they were sitting.'' -Maimonides, Hilch. Talmud Torah, c. 4. sect. 2.
4 Now the Passover (Pascha[G], ha-Pesach[H]), the festival (Chag[H]) of the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]), was coming near (lavo[H]).
Note that the observance of Pesach and its intrinsic connection to Yeshua is of utmost importance to the Gospel writer.
Why does the Gospel writer mention this? First, it is because of Yeshua’s intrinsic link to the Passover and His role as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world”. Second, it places the chronology in firm order, Purim having just passed and Pesach (Passover) being the next closest festival. Third, the pursuant event, the sign of the feeding of the five thousand men of Israel is premised by a perceived inability to purchase and provide bread. In the weeks prior to Passover Jewish homes would have been slowly reducing their bread supplies, using up excess yeast and setting aside grain to be used for matzot (unleavened bread). Subsequently only a small amount of bread would have been available at the time of these events, this in addition to the cost of feeding so many. All of this is pretext to the sign which Yeshua was about to perform.
Five Loaves, Two Small Fishes
(Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
To set the stage for this miraculous sign (the only miraculous sign that is recorded in all four Gospels) we must look at where it falls in relation to the surrounding text of each account.
Matthew’s version is preceded by the unbelief of Yeshua’s home town synagogue and the description of the beheading of Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist, the cousin of Yeshua), then following the sign of the loaves and fishes Peter attempts to walk on water.
Mark’s account is preceded by the unbelief of Yeshua’s home town synagogue and the sending out of the twelve, two by two, after which the beheading of Yochanan (John) is described, then the twelve return; the miracle of the loaves and fishes is followed by the walking on water sign.
Luke’s narrative has the sending out of the twelve, the description of Yochanan’s (John’s) beheading, and the return of the twelve: then the loaves and fishes followed by the “Who do you say I am,” statement of Yeshua and later the transfiguration.
John’s version is unique in that it is preceded by Yeshua attending a feast (Purim) in Jerusalem and being rejected by those who opposed him there, Yeshua explains the Father God’s testimony of Messiah and that Moses will judge the people for their rejection of Him. The writer of the Gospel According to John then alerts the reader to the fact that Passover is at hand. The loaves and fishes event is still followed by the crossing to Capernaum and the walking on water, but is then proceeded by an extensive discussion concerning Moses and the manna from heaven which is to be understood as a metaphor in reference to Messiah Yeshua, “the bread of life.”
While we don’t know the exact time frames associated to the ordering of these events we can still deduce the writers’ intended theological and contextual meanings in relation to their accounts of the sign of the loaves and fishes. All the surrounding events and meanings give insight as to the reason for this important (even pivotal) event in Yeshua’s ministry.
Prior to looking at the specific details of John’s Gospel account I will address the chronological and thematic elements using the main themes from each of the four accounts as a combined whole. This of course presumes that this was a singularly unique event recorded by each of the Gospel writers.
Both Matthew and Mark record a second event that took place in the region of the Decapolis, a predominantly Gentile location. The feeding of the five thousand, the sign of the loaves and fishes took place near the city of Bethsaida (House of the hunt or House of fishing), a predominantly Jewish area, and close to Yeshua’s home in the Galilee region. The fact that the four Jewish writers of the Gospels (I am not alone in seeing Luke as a Jew) all saw fit to include this sign, indicates it’s importance: symbolically, historically, religiously, prophetically, nationally, spiritually and metaphorically.
The united themes of this event read chronologically as follows:
· Yeshua in Jerusalem for a Jewish feast (Purim)
· The testimony of the Father God (on behalf of the Son) Yeshua (a firstborn)
· Yeshua warns that Moses will judge the disbelief of the religious leaders
· Rejection of Yeshua by the people of His home town
· Yeshua sends out the twelve disciples, two by two
· Yeshua grieves over the loss of John the Immerser (Baptist) His cousin (a firstborn)
· The disciples return from their travels throughout Israel’s Jewish towns
· The time of Passover was at hand
· The sign of the loaves and fishes
· The sign of walking on water
· The discussion concerning manna, “the bread of life,” back in Capernaum (Links Yeshua to Moses)
· The transfiguration recorded in Luke’s account (Links Yeshua to Moses)
Overview of the chronology of events:
Yeshua in Jerusalem for a feast (Purim):
A number of scholars suggest that this was the Passover feast of the previous year, meaning that what follows took place at the beginning of the Passover of the following year. However, this is extremely unlikely given the consistent chronology of John’s Gospel and the language used. As I have shown in my commentary on John 4 and 5, the feast in question is almost certainly Purim.
Yeshua was affirmed by the Father’s testimony:
God the Father has testified throughout Scripture concerning His Son Yeshua. He had also poured out the Holy Spirit in a public show of glory over His Son and had testified saying, “this is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” Yeshua need not explain Himself to the people on the basis of the required Torah instruction concerning two or three human witnesses. His witnesses were God the Father and the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and the signs He performed. God the Father had given comprehensive testimony to the validity of Yeshua’s ministry, authority and Kingship over Israel and all the earth. Following the sign of the loaves and fishes, Yeshua’s command over the raging waters was proof yet again to His disciples, of God’s testimony of Him.
Yeshua warns that Moses will be Israel’s judge regarding their disbelief in Him:
The centrality of the Jewish reliance on the Torah of Moses is key to understanding the sign of the loaves and fishes. The Jewish people of Yeshua’s time expected a prophet, a miracle worker and a Messiah who presented in accordance to their understanding of the words of Moses as taught to them by their religious leaders. The man they were looking for would perform miracles similar to those of Elijah and Elisha, he would show signs like those of Moses and He would reign in power as the son of David, over Israel and all the nations of the earth according to the prophecies of the Tanakh (OT). Many of these expectations were about to be manifested before their eyes. Therefore Moses would be their judge, for he had written clearly the prophetic words that would prove Yeshua’s rightful position as the one who would be like Moses (Deut.18:15-19).
Rejection of Yeshua in His home town:
His own friends and wider family/community rejected Him because they believed Him to be of common birth, they were jealous of Him. This is not an uncommon response to the prophets of Israel as testified to by the lives of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and so on. Their treatment of Him later became a testimony to His identity.
Yeshua sends out His disciples, two by two:
This was a ministering of the twelve to Israel, hence twelve disciples. Later in Luke’s Gospel narrative (Luke 10:1-17; ) a new Sanhedrin of sorts is sent out to minister to the wider towns and spread the good news to other nationalities, thus seventy, the Hebrew number representing the nations. However the events surrounding the sign of the loaves and fishes pertain specifically to Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) and not to the Decapolis and other surrounding areas.
Two by two may be a correlation with the Ark: used as a metaphor here for the repopulating of the earth with immersed (baptized, a type for the flood) spiritual children. The news of God’s kingdom as taught by Messiah Yeshua was to be made known to the tribes of Israel prior to the sign of the loaves and fishes. When Israel was in slavery in Egypt, word of Moses actions needed time to spread to them prior to their coming out of Egypt into the wilderness.
Yeshua grieves over the loss of John the Immerser (Baptist):
When Yeshua heard of the death of John the Immerser (Baptist) we are told that He retreated to a deserted place by Himself. He was clearly greatly grieved by the death of His cousin and perhaps reminded of His own destiny. He shows us an example of turning to the only one who can truly comfort us in times of great sorrow. The Father is often beheld in deserted places of solitude (Exodus 3; 1 Kings 17:1-5). The disciples must have returned to the vicinity with Him because Mark’s version of events has them retreat with Him after the death of John. It is interesting to note that John’s disciples came and took his body away for burial, while Yeshua’s disciples fled after His death.
Passover is at Hand:
Barley is the first grain harvested in Israel at this time of the year. Leaven/yeast is removed from homes, and food without leaven is eaten. Leaven/yeast symbolizes sin in Judaism. Jews from all over the known world would head up to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, which is one of the three Regaliym (Aliyot Moadim—going up festivals/Sabbaths).
The sign of the Loaves and Fishes:
The Passover was near, Jews from the known world were on their way to Jerusalem and had heard of this mysterious prophet of God. Perhaps some detoured to find Him? What is certain is that all had cleaned their homes and traveling gear of yeast (the Biblical symbol of sin) and were preparing their hearts to celebrate deliverance from slavery. They were also hoping for deliverance from Roman rule.
Luke tells us that following the sign the day was drawing to a close, so that it was toward the late afternoon.
Upon seeing the crowd Yeshua says to Philip (the obvious person to ask because he came from the nearby town of Bethsaida—John 1:44), “Where can we buy bread for all these people?” He said this to prove Philip. Does that mean Yeshua wasn’t sure of Philip’s loyalty and so had to test him? No, of course not. When God with us/Yeshua seeks to prove someone it is for that person’s benefit. We could say, “Yeshua sought to make Philip aware of the extent of his own faith in Yeshua/God with us.” Philip’s response sets up the sign, by his reasoning that the request is humanly impossible. Andrew adds to the confusion by saying, “Hey, there’s a young boy here with five (probably unleavened, because Passover is at hand) loaves and a couple of small fish (probably the local sardines), but that’s not going to feed all these people.”
Yeshua doesn’t miss a beat, “Have the people recline (Passover terminology) together in groups.” There was a large grass area there, probably at the base of the hill/mountain where the disciples had been with Yeshua (thus creating a natural amphitheatre for what would come next).
Yeshua took the loaves and said the b’rakha for bread (ha-motzi) and began to distribute them to the crowd. He then did the same with the fish. All accounts indicate that either Yeshua alone or both Yeshua and the disciples were involved in distributing the food directly to the people, this would dispel the foolish conjecture that suggests the people simply brought out their lunches and shared them. Most Jews attending an Aliyah festival like Passover would travel light, expecting to buy food on the way, hence Yeshua’s question to Philip prior to the miracle. In addition, the fact that Yeshua suggested the crowd go and buy food infers that they did not already have food.
This miraculous feeding of such a large group of Jewish men (5,000), plus women and children, a total of approx. 19-28,000 (Matt.14:21); is reminiscent of Moses’ (God’s) feeding of Israel with manna and quail in the desert. Manna being the miraculous bread of heaven and quail being the common bird of that area. Here the manna will be later explained figuratively as referring to Messiah Yeshua Himself. The small fish (probably sardines) is a common catch from the Lake.
Three types of fish were primarily sought by fishermen in antiquity in these waters. Sardines are the most likely candidates for the, “two small fish" that the young man brought to the feeding of the five thousand. Sardines and bread were the staple food and traded product of the locals. The second type of fish, Barbels receive their name from the barbs at the corners of their mouths. The third type is called Musht but is more popularly known today as "St. Peter's Fish." This fish has a long dorsal fin which looks like a comb and can be up to 45cm long and 1.5 kgs. in weight.
The barley bread (eaten predominantly by the poorer classes) brought by the young boy was most likely unleavened, given that Passover was at hand (the leaven is always cleaned from Jewish homes and meals prior to Passover), and that the miracle is followed by a discussion that relates manna (unleavened heavenly bread) to the body of Messiah Yeshua (who is without sin, remembering that in first century Judaism yeast is seen as a symbol of sin).
After the meal Yeshua says, “Gather up the fragments that are left over so that none of them may be lost.” Why is the gathering of the left overs so important to Yeshua? Perhaps the number of baskets is a clue, there are twelve, the number of disciples, but more importantly, the number of the tribes of Israel. It is possible that this was meant as a symbol or metaphor for the reconciliation of Israel to God at the end of time. Shaul/Paul the shaliach (apostle) tells us that when the allotted number of the members of the nations have come to faith, that the entire remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) will be saved. (Romans 11:25-26)
The Sign of Walking on Water:
This shows Messiah’s authority over creation (as the second Adam). This sign affirms Him again as the prophesied one. Elisha, in a somewhat lesser sense also exhibited the authority of God over the natural order of creation when he made the axe head float. (2 Kings 6:4-7) Similarities to the great prophets in the ministry of Yeshua were proofs of His authenticity.
The Discussion (back in Capernaum) Concerning Moses, Manna, and the Bread of Life:
The link between the sign of the manna in the desert and the feeding of the five thousand is unmistakable. The “Bread of life,” discourse was intended to be strengthened by the recently performed sign of the loaves and fishes. Yeshua was revealing Himself as the manna from heaven, the bread of life. The crowd asks for a sign, seemingly immune to the obvious sign that has just been performed. Yeshua points them away from Moses and toward the Father God saying, “It was not Moses that gave you the manna, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.” They respond, “Give us this bread from heaven.” Yeshua answers, “I am the bread of life!”
Yeshua reminds His people that their fathers ate manna and died (the death unto judgment). Yeshua was now offering Himself, the bread of life. Those who eat the life of Messiah will never die. Why did the forefathers die? Through disobedience. Therefore Yeshua is warning that failure to accept His manna will result in eternal death. This He had already pretexted prior to the miracle when He was in Jerusalem warning the people that Moses would be their judge. It was Moses who stood as a mediator regarding the manna in the desert. Now Messiah Yeshua is claiming to be the manifest manna and mediator of God, all wrapped up in one.
It is interesting to note the words of Rabbi Isaac who wrote:
“as the former redeemer caused manna to descend (referring to Moses)… so will the later Redeemer cause manna to descend.” Ecclesiastes Rabbah on Ec. 1:9
The bread of life discourse does not refer to pagan magic practice regarding the consummation of power through blood drinking as some have supposed. Yeshua is talking to Jews who despise their Roman rulers and abhor the pagan Roman worship practices however this discourse is offensive to them, not because of pagan links, but because of its seeming direct contradiction to the Torah. Yeshua, did not act outside of rabbinical practice when he used the metaphor of his flesh and blood as a teaching tool. What is clear is that Yeshua was miss understood, not only by the crowd but also by His own disciples.
Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36):
This event links Yeshua again to both Elijah and Moses, affirming the theme of the narrative surrounding the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This event may well have taken place months later, perhaps even during the feast of Sukkot (booths), given the offer of Peter to build shelters/Sukkot.
5 Therefore Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large (polus[G], rav[H]) crowd (ochlos[G], am[H]) of common people was coming to Him, said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread (artos[G], lechem[H]) so that these may eat?”
As stated previously, it is likely that Yeshua asked Philip this question in part because these events were taking place close to Philip’s home town of Bethsaida.
In the natural the question “Where are we to buy bread…” is reasonable given that Passover is approaching and bread supplies are diminished among those traveling to Jerusalem for the Aliyah Festival.
6 This He was saying to prove, raise a banner for, give a directive sign to (peirazo[G], nasot[H]) him (Philip), for He Himself knew (eido[G], yada[H]) what He was about to do (poieo[G], ya’asah[H]).
“Therefore” means, because it was close to Passover and the crowd was large in size. Why is the proximity of Passover important? Because it infers that many of those gathered were pilgrims heading toward Jerusalem for Passover and thus lacking yeast and keeping grain set aside for matzot (unleavened bread). As mentioned earlier Yeshua was not “testing” Philip, Yeshua already knew what the outcome would be, rather He was proving to Philip the nature of his faith and the reality of Yeshua’s identity. Philip would later ask Yeshua to reveal the Father God to him:
“7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? -John 14:7-9 (NASB)
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii (half a year’s wages) worth of bread (artos[G], lechem[H]) is not enough for them, not even for everyone to receive a small piece each.” 8 One (heis[G], echad[H]) of His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), Andrew, Shimon Kefa (Simon: Hears God Peter’s: Rock) brother (achiy[H]), said to Him, 9 “Behold (hinei[H]) there is a young boy (paidarion[G], na’ar[H]) here who has five barley (krithinos[G]), loaves (artos[G]) and two small fish (opsarion[G]), dagiym[H]) but what are these for so many?”
Barley loaves indicate two things: first, the wheat harvest had not yet come and second, those present were predominantly lower class. The higher class had wheat grain remaining from the previous year’s harvest whereas the lower class lived from yield to yield and ate what was seasonally available.
The five loaves amounted to a loaf for each group of a thousand men.
10 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]), “Have the people (ha-am[H]) recline (anapipto[G], lashevet[H]).” Now there was much grass (chortos[G]) in the place. So the men (aner[G]) reclined (anapipto[G]), numbering about five thousand. 11 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) then took the loaves (artos[G]), and having said the b’rakha[H] blessing [given thanks] (eucharisteo[G]), He distributed to those who were reclining; He did the same with the small fish (opsarion[G], dagiym[H]) as much as they wanted.
Note that Yeshua says a blessing prior to the bread but that no mention is made of a blessing over the fish, this is in keeping with Jewish religious practice. The blessing for the bread is always said prior to eating it whereas the blessing for the meal (including the fish) is said following the meal in accordance with Deut. 8:10. Note further that in John’s account it is Yeshua Who personally distributes the bread and fish to the crowd, continuing to do so until they’d had “as much as they wanted”.
Five thousand Jewish men plus women and children, a total of approx. 19-28,000 (Matt.14:21).
Five loaves, one loaf for every thousand Jewish men. Two small fish,
12 When they were fully satisfied (empiplemi[G]), He said to His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), “Gather together the leftover broken pieces (klasma[G]) so that nothing will perish, be destroyed, be lost, (apollumi[G]).” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces (klasma[G]) from the five barley loaves which were left by those who had eaten.
Notice that all present were Jews (Israelites) and that 12 baskets of broken pieces representing the twelve tribes of Israel were collected after they had eaten by the twelve disciples of Yeshua. This is a figure for the redemption of all ethnic religious Israel at the end of the age, through Yeshua the King Messiah (Romans 11:25-26).
The collection of food remnants was a rabbinical practice, the destruction of food over a certain size being prohibited in Jewish Halakhic law (Talmud Bavliy Shabbat 50b, 147b). The principal being that nothing is to be wasted.
14 Therefore when the people (anthropos[G], ha-anashiym[H]) saw the sign (semeion[G], et-ha-ot[H]) which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet (prophetes[G], ha-navi[H]) who is to come into the world.”
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 The Lord said to me, ‘they have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
D’varim/Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (NASB)
15 So Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king (basileus[G], melekh[H]), withdrew again to the mountain (ha-har[H]) by Himself alone.
Yeshua could not allow His people to make Him King or force Him to lead a rebellion against Rome because He had come according to Isaiah 53 to be the suffering servant Who would take away their sin. Yeshua will one day come as the victorious King to rule over Israel and the nations on the throne of David according to the wealth of prophecy from the Tanakh. But this could not happen until He had made a way for the reconciliation of the souls of Israel. Why? Because God’s victorious King Messiah is to reign over Israel for all eternity, something that can only happen if Israel is made right with God and enabled to live forever.
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Judean religious leaders; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.” -John 18:36
The view of the people was desperate and temporal, whereas Yeshua’s view was redemptive and everlasting. He ached because of the temporal suffering of His people but understood that if He were to submit to their plan, their eternal suffering would far outweigh their temporal suffering.
Yeshua’s withdrawal to the higher elevation of the mountain was common practice for Him. When faced with the plans of men He sought the counsel of God. When faced with the temptations of man He sought the righteousness of God. When faced with the weakness and exhaustion of man He sought the strength and comfort of God. All this as an example to us that we might practice the rhythms of God’s rest in our walk with the Messiah.
16 Now when evening came, His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) went down to the sea, lake (yam[H]) 17 and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea, lake (yam[H]) to Capernaum (K’far Nachum[H], village of comfort). It had already become dark, and Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) had not yet come to them.
The disciples had respected Yeshua’s need for private space and had trusted that He would return home to Capernaum when He was ready. Thus they headed for Capernaum a number of hours after sunset, knowing that it was a short journey across the lake of not more than 7 kilometres.
18 The sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) became stirred up because a strong (megas[G]) wind (anemos[G], ruach gedolah[H]) was blowing (pneo[G], hayatah[H]).
It is quite possible that the lake was perfectly calm when they set out. To this day lake Galilee experiences rapid shifts in countenance as a result of sudden changes in weather. On one of my many trips there I was seated by a perfectly calm Galilee at midday only to see the water turn into raging surf blown by a storm front a matter of hours later.
It is also worth noting that the Galilee is known for its unique seemly randomly forming whirlpools. These whirlpools have been the cause of many drowning deaths in the Lake over the years.
19 Then, when they had rowed about five or six kilometres, they saw Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) He was walking (peripateo[G], mehaleich[H]) on the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) and coming near to the boat; and they were afraid, alarmed, in awe (phobeo[G], vayiyrau[H]).
“When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost’(Apparition or spirit is understood here from a Hebrew cultural perspective, it does not refer to the disembodied spirit of a human being—which is the common modern understanding of this English term) And they cried out in fear.” -Matthew 14:26
It is clear from the Matthew account that the disciples were afraid because they had presumed that this was a spirit or apparition, possibly (but not certainly) an omen of doom. They were not afraid because Yeshua was walking on water (at this point they weren’t even sure it was Yeshua). Of course it is natural for human beings to assume that when something defies the laws of the natural world or seems to be humanly impossible, it is an apparition or of supernatural origin. The lesson soon becomes, what is impossible for human beings is possible with God (perhaps even possible in God). The storm had caused them concern, but the appearance of the apparition had left them terrified.
At the five kilometre point they were still at least 2 kilometres away from their destination and it was approximately 4am (Matt.14:25). In the darkness and squall it would have been difficult to see clearly.
Yeshua was certainly aware of the storm much earlier in the night. So why did He wait? Perhaps He was proving the disciples? Not testing them to see if they were faithful, He was already aware of their character, rather He was taking this opportunity to show them that they were faithful. This is possibly one of the reasons for His gentle rebuke to Peter regarding his being small of faith (not saying that Peter’s faith lacked entirely, he had faith, he simply lacked it in greater volume).
God is pictured walking on the waters in Job 9:8 and Psalm 77:19, in the latter He is walking amidst a storm. Yeshua is Immanuel (God with us). Yeshua is revealing Himself here as God with us; firstly by doing what only God is recorded as having done and secondly by simply stating in Matthew’s account (14:27) “Take courage, I AM, don’t be afraid.” This results in the disciples worshipping Him at the conclusion of the episode.
The text states, “He was walking on the lake.” John clearly has no intention of dwelling on what to him was a natural progression: walking on water was just the next sign in the ordinal march toward the revealing of the King Messiah Yeshua.
Yeshua had now feed Israel (5,000 men 28,000 total) in the wilderness, delivered Israel (12 disciples) through the waters…
It was in the morning watch (3am to 6am) that God manifest His power to Israel at the Red Sea. Exodus 14:24
20 But He (Yeshua) said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to them, “I Am He (ego eimi[G], Aniy Hu[H]); do not be afraid (al-tiyrau[H]).”
“I Am” is an expression of divinity (Exodus 3:14; John 1:1-3; 6:35; 8:58). Therefore, “Because I Am God with you, you have no need to fear”. The fear of God is an end to all fear.
It is at this point in Matthew’s narrative that Peter asks Yeshua to call him out onto the water to meet Him.
“Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’” -Matthew 14:28
Peter has plenty chutzpa (courage and tenacity)! Peter initially takes Yeshua at His word and exhibits great courage. Why does Peter appear to use a subjective question to determine whether this is truly Yeshua who is speaking to him? The answer comes in the question itself, it’s rhetorical, Peter calls Yeshua “Lord,” it’s as if he were saying “Yeshua, if you’re who I know you are, ask me to come out to You.”
“And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Yeshua.” -Matthew 14:29
Yeshua called, “Bo (Come),” and Peter didn’t think twice, you could say he responded to Yeshua immediately.
“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” - Matthew 14:30
Perhaps he said, “Adonai, Hoshanah!” Lord, save me now!
Like Peter we all take our eyes off Yeshua at times, focusing on our present circumstances instead of seeing the eternal nature of our Messiah, who is before us. There is no shame here, just an opportunity for a lesson. Faith the size of a mustard seed moves great obstacles. Small faith is the beginning of a journey, it is a stepping stone to great faith, born of Messiah.
“Immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of small faith, why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:31
Peter began to sink and immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and took hold of him. Yeshua doesn’t wait until we’ve sunk, He sees us begin to sink and immediately He takes hold of us.
While it is true that Yeshua observed small faith in Peter, the emphasis is on the phrase, “why did you doubt?” Yeshua knows why Peter doubted. The question is one that Peter is meant to ask himself. We too need to question our doubt and find the motivation behind it. Faith is born in the heart (core being), doubt is manufactured in the mind. Many modern proponents of healthy mind teaching neglect to remember that the Hebrew Leiv (heart) refers to the core being, where heart, mind and spirit converge. It is to be understood in a similar way to nefesh (soul), which indicates the whole of our parts. So we understand that the soul encompasses the whole and the heart is where the parts of the whole converge. When the Scripture says that “the heart is wicked above all things,” it is also addressing the mind. It is not a case of the mind being superior to the heart, rather the heart and mind are both wicked above all things. Humanity is inclined toward evil, we will not overcome this inclination by controlling our own minds and thus our wicked hearts. We will overcome only when we submit all control to Yeshua. That is, when we realize that He is in control regardless.
21 So they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately, at once (eutheos[G]) the boat was at the land (ho ge[G], la-aretz[H]) at the part of the coastline they were going to.
“When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.”- Matthew 14:32
In the same instant the wind stops and the waters bring the boat instantaneously to its destination. All creation obeys the Master of the universe and is immediately quiet as a testimony to the deity of Yeshua (God with us).
This immediacy is not explainable in natural terms. This is a case of the unbound Kingdom of God seeding freedom in the midst of the sin affected creation. A sinless Adam walks the earth anew, and this Adam will set free that which the former Adam allowed to come under bondage.
“And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son—Ben Elohim!’” -Matthew 14:33
“Even the wind and waves obey Him.” (Matthew 8:27) The witness of this sign is the seed that births a greater faith in the Leiv (heart) of the disciples. If Peter, who had faith enough to begin to walk on water, is said to have “Small faith,” then the faith of those who wouldn’t even get out of the boat was smaller still. Now, having identified the Messiah as King of creation, their faith grew and they worshipped Him.
May the storms and failures of our own journey with God produce such great growth spurts as we witness the present acts of God in our lives and the lives of those around us.
22 The next day the crowd of common people (ochlos[G], am[H]) that stood on the other side of the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) had not boarded with His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) into the boat, but that His disciples had left alone.
This is the crowd that had witnessed the sign of the loaves and fishes and had camped the night in the region below Bethsaida. The record of their observation is testimony to the fact that Yeshua could not have crossed the Lake by natural means.
23 Other small boats (ploiarion[G]) came from Tiberias close to the place where they had eaten the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) after the Lord, Master (ho Kurios[G], ha Adon[H]) had made the b’rakha[H] blessing (given thanks). 24 So when the crowd of common people (ho ochlos[G], ha am[H]) saw that Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) was not there, nor His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), they themselves got into the small boats (ploiarion[G]), and came to Capernaum (K’far Nachum[H], village of comfort) seeking Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves).
Tiberias is approximately 10 km south-west of the location of the loaves and fishes sign. More people had come from Tiberias following the news of the sign and were seeking out Yeshua.
The Gospel writer explains that “the Lord” was not there. The use of the term Adon is more than a colloquial allusion to masterly status, the Gospel writer is saying that these signs are evidence of Yeshua’s divine nature.
Once the existing crowd and the newcomers determined that Yeshua had probably gone to His home town by some other way, they all took their boats to Capernaum seeking Him out.
It’s important to remember that many of these were pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for Pesach (Likewise, as was His custom, Yeshua too would have attended Pesach in Jerusalem following these events). These pilgrims were sufficiently awed by Yeshua’s sign so as to delay their journey to Jerusalem in order to find out more about Him.
We note once more that they were seeking Salvation (Yeshua) in the village of comfort (K’far Nachum).
25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) they said to Him, “Rabbi (lit. My Great One; Religious Teacher), when did You get here?” 26 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered them and said, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say (Aniy omeir[H]) to you all (lachem[H] PL), you seek Me, not because you saw the signs (semeion[G], ha otot[H]), but because you ate of the loaves (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) and were satisfied, filled (chortazo[G]).
The crowd found Yeshua in Capernaum (John 6:59). Calling Him “Rabbi” showed some degree of respect on the part of the crowd. The crowd ask “when” not “how”, the knowledge of “how” is at this time kept by the disciples.
Yeshua does not even bother to answer their question. As is His custom He gets to the heart of the matter, that being their lack of faith and their misinterpretation of the events unfolding.
Note that Yeshua refers to “signs” plural. Those seeking Him have witnessed numerous signs in addition to the most recent one.
Yeshua now makes a statement that is firmly established by the double “Amen”. He is essentially saying, “You’re interested in me for carnal (physical) earth born reasons, the satiating of physical hunger etc. You have misunderstood the signs that God has given through Me to point to His redemptive purpose and present coming Kingdom, and instead of seeking God you are seeking to fill the desires of your flesh (fallen humanity).”
27 Do not work for the food (ho brosis[G], achal[H], makultha[A]) which perishes, is destroyed, dies (apollumi[G]), but for the food (ho brosis[G], achal[H], makultha[A]) which endures, remains, abides (meno[G]) to life unending (zoe aionios[G], le’chayeiy olam[H]), which the Son of the Man (ho huios ho anthropos[G], ben ha-adam[H]) will give to you, for on/in Him the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]), the God (ho Theos[G], ha-Elohiym[H]), has set His seal (sphragizo[G]).”
This is pretext for the discussion regarding Moses and the Manna from the heavens.
It is likely that the Aramaic text uses the word “makultha” meaning food or nourishment, as a wordplay linking the Aramaic word for kingdom “malkutha” to the message of the text. In other words, as a drash (comparative teaching) we could read, “Do not work for the kingdom which perishes (olam hazeh: this present world), but for the Kingdom that endures forever (Olam haba: World to come)…”
The Hebrew “chotam” meaning seal, sign, endorse is consistent with the Greek “sphragizo” used in the past tense to mean “has sealed, set a seal upon, made a private signet mark, preserved etc”. A seal is set to keep something hidden until those it has been sent to are ready to receive it and open it. Therefore, Yeshua is the message and God’s Kingly seal is upon Him so that He alone can open Himself and give the salvation He carries to His people.
It is as if the people are beholding the sealed scroll but are unable to open it because in order to open it one must first be seeking God and His Kingdom rather than the fallen kingdom of humanity. In fact, Yeshua is the only One worthy to open the seal that God has placed upon Him (Rev. 5:1-6:2).
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, make (poieo[G], ba’aseh[H]), so that we may be working, trading in, performing (ergazomai[G], lif’ol[H]) the works, tasks, deeds (ergon[G], p’ulot[H]) of the God (ho Theos[G], ha Elohiym[H])?” 29 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered and said to them, “This is the work, task, deed (ergon[G]), p’ulat[H]) of the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]), that you continue to believe, trust, have faith (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]) in Him whom He has sent (apostello[G], shelachu[H]).”
“Therefore” Because Yeshua had offered eternal life above and beyond the miraculous sign they had witnessed of Him. And, because they had some sense of Yeshua’s authority based on His signs and words.
“What shall we do, make, so that we may be working, trading in, performing the works, tasks, deeds of the God?” The question shows that they have not understood Yeshua at all. Yeshua is offering redemption, relationship, eternal life, the strength of God at work in them, a gift to be received, but the people are looking for something they can build, accomplish, achieve in their own strength in order to make them right with God. Their focus is on “doing” rather than “being”. They say, “What shall we do, so that we can accomplish the works of God” and Yeshua completely reverses their question and defeats their paradigm with a very simple and eternally profound instruction:
“The works of God are this, that you continue to believe in Him Whom He has sent”. In short, “Be in Me, don’t do for Me. Your doing must come from Me.” Objects are for use, persons are for relationship. Many fall from the faith because they do not understand this simple truth. Many more retain faith but become burned out and unfruitful because they don’t understand this simple truth.
Yeshua is pointing His hearers back to the Torah and the Word (ha-Davar: John 1:1) of God spoken to their forebears through Moses:
“For near to you all is Ha-Davar (The Word), meod, very much so, in your mouth, and in your inner being, so that you might accomplish, do, act accordingly.” -D’variym (Words) Deuteronomy 30:14
Notice that The Word is offered to the inner person and that it is from the strength of The Word in each one that each one works, accomplishes, acts. Yeshua is Ha-Davar, the Word, Essence, Substance of God, with us.
It is interesting to note that by summing up the 613 commandments of the Torah with this one phrase “the just shall live by his faith” (Hab.2:4), the Talmud agrees with Yeshua’s assertion that to have faith is the work of God (Talmud Bavliy Makkot, fol. 23. 2. & 24. 1.).
30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do (poieo[G], ta’aseh[H]) for the sign (semeion[G], ha ot[H]), so that we may see, and believe (pisteuo[G], na’amiyn[H]) You? What work (tif’al[H], ergazomai[G]) do You perform? 31 Our fathers (ho pater[G], avoteiynu[H]), ate (achlu[H]) the manna (What is it? ha-man[H]) in the wilderness (bamidbar[H]); as it is written (kakatuv[H]), ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat (lechem min-hashamayim natan-lamo le’echol).’”
Almost as if they had not listened at all they demand that Yeshua “do” something to prove His identity. In spite of the fact that they have already witnessed Him perform many signs. The signs being directive and for their benefit. Yeshua need not prove His identity, to the contrary, it is they who need to consider their own identity and return to God.
As proof of their corporate tribal pride the people site the sign of the manna given to their forbears by the hand of Moses. As if to say, “Moses provided bread for hundreds of thousands, You provided bread for only five thousand men (28,000 people).
‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ Exodus 16:4, 15; Num. 11:8; Psalm 78:24; 105:40 etc.
However, Yeshua disagrees with their exegesis. Ultimately, God is the “He” of the text.
32 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) then said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to them, ““Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say (Aniy omeir[H]) to you all (lachem[H] PL), it is not Moshe[H] (Moses, Drawn out) who has given (notein[H]) you the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]), out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]), but it is My Father (ho Pater ego[G], Aviy[H]), Who gives you the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]) out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]) that is true (alethinos[G], ha’amitiy[H]).
Once again the double “Amen” denotes established truth. Yeshua explains that Moses was the mediator but that the bread (manna) from the heavens was “From the heavens” from God and not from Moses. Nor did Moses merit it.
Yeshua’s teaching is in direct opposition to the teaching of our rabbis on this subject:
מן בזכות משה, "the manna, by the merits of Moses".'' -Talmud. Bavliy. Taanit, fol. 9. 1. Seder Olam Rabba, p. 28.
33 For the bread (lechem[H]) of God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) is Him (hu[H]) Who comes down (hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]), and gives (notein[H]) living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]) to the world (kosmos[G], laolam[H]).”
Yeshua identifies Himself as the “bread of God” Who has “come down from the heavens” and “gives living to the world”. Not the temporal bread for the physical body, bread that will perish fed to a body that will perish, but the living and everlasting bread of Yeshua’s transcendent resurrected body, His life essence, His nature, His character, the very substance of God. This He offers continually to a spiritually starving Israel and also subsequently to the nations.
The sign Yeshua gives them is the sign of the manna (bread of the heavens), that sign being Himself.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2020
Yochanan writes as a common fisherman seeing the world through galaxy stained glasses.
The purpose of this introduction is not to debate the many theories as to authorship, dating, theological intent and historical record or lack thereof, but rather to offer a single collation of the most reasonable answers to these questions relative to spiritual guidance, textual evidence and current scholarship. In addition, I will seek to refute modern scholarship where it has either disregarded the Jewish mind (as in the case of some Modern Christian Scholarship) or has sought to label the text of Yochanan “Anti-Semitic” (as in the case of some Modern Jewish Commentators and a number of liberal Christian scholars).
Compilation of the complete manuscript and scribal transmission aside, the author of this scroll is almost certainly Yochanan (John) the Shaliach (Apostle, sent one) and Talmid (Disciple) of Yeshua (Jesus) the King Messiah. Yochanan was present and instrumental in the development of the early body of Jewish believers in Yeshua, “the disciple whom Yeshua loved” (13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20, 24). He was the son of Zebedee (Mark 1:19-10), and is also the most likely choice for authorship of the 1st through 3rd letters of John and the Revelation of Yeshua given to John: making him a significant contributor to the collected works of the Brit HaChadashah (New Testament).
Yochanan (John) is not mentioned by name in this work (Nor in the 1st through 3rd Letters of John, where the author is simply referred to as “The Elder”), which would be natural if he were the author but entirely inexplicable were he not the author. This fact alone refutes all the other theoretical assumptions made to the contrary.
The author had an intimate knowledge of Jewish life, religious custom (7:22), and popular Messianic expectation (1:21; 7:40-42), and obviously had first-hand experience of the uneasy relationship between the Jews (Judeans) and Samaritans of the first century CE (AD) [Chap. 4]. In addition to this the author shows his familiarity with locations in first century Israel (Under Roman occupation), such as Bethany (11:18) and Cana (a village which is not referred to in any earlier historical documentation) [2:1; 21:2]). Specific details in the account of this Gospel are evidence of an eye witness (12:3 etc.), and early writers such as Irenaeus (140-203 AD) and Tertullian (150-222 AD) claim that Yochanan (John) is the author.
The author of the Gospel according to Yochanan (John) clearly sees the writings of the prophets Ezekiel, Zechariah and Daniel as significant, and seems to place some emphasis on the reunification of the Northern and Southern tribes under God’s chosen King (Ezekiel 37:16; John 10:16). Other themes from Ezekiel include the Good Shepherd delivering Israel from the neglectful shepherds (Ezekiel 34:1-31; John 10:11), and the “Son of Man” instructing God’s Spirit to come and resurrect the people of Israel (Ezekiel 37:9-10; John 16:7). The frequent use of transliterated Aramaic and Hebrew terms is evidence of the Hebrew thought patterns and Jewish religious understanding of the author. While the text comes to us in Greek, the lingua franca, common tongue of the business world of the first century, it is none the less written by a Jew (an Israelite) who thinks as a Jew living under the oppression of Roman occupation and not as a Hellenized Jew of compromised alliances (as was the case with the historian Josephus). With this in mind, and although there is no physical evidence to date (no preserved Hebrew or Aramaic manuscripts that date earlier than the Greek texts), it is possible that there were earlier manuscripts of Yochanan’s Gospel recorded in Hebrew and Aramaic. Regardless, the Greek text is inspired and trustworthy and does not work against Hebrew thought but rather illuminates it in the same way that the Greek Septuigant illuminates the Hebrew Tanakh. We trust in the infallibility of God with regard to Scripture and its codification and not in the fallibility of men or their subjective debates over the reliability of Scripture. Our text is reliable because God is reliable.
While the traditional view places the dating of this Gospel at the latter part of the first century (after 85 AD), I am inclined to disagree for a number of reasons. Clement of Alexandria who died approx. 216 AD, claimed that John wrote his Gospel to supplement the other Gospels (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6,14.7). It is suggested therefore, that John’s Gospel relied on the manuscripts of the other Gospels and was written at a later date. Some have also argued that the theology of John is more developed than that of the other three Gospels. It seems clear however from a reading of John’s Gospel, that he wrote quite independently from the other Gospel writers, while supplementing their accounts with his own unique eye witness account of the events of Yeshua’s life and ministry. This does not contradict the words of Clement, rather it simply concludes an earlier dating for the writing of John’s Gospel. To say that John’s developed theology is proof of a late writing is ridiculous, given that Paul the Apostle exhibits equally developed theology in his letter to the Roman body of believers, a work that is confidently dated 57 AD. Additionally, John 5:2 states that there “is (present tense) a pool near the sheep gate”, meaning that the Gospel must have been written prior to 70 AD and the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore, I conclude that the Gospel of John must have been written sometime between 50 and 70 CE (AD).
Many and varied original recipients for the Gospel of John have been suggested. Some say it was intended in part as a polemic against Gnosticism and those who put undue emphasis on the ministry of John the Baptist, others say that it was written in order to promote unity between the Jews and the Samaritans, still others that it was intended for a variety of Israelite groups within the Judean region. While some say that it was intended for Greek believers.
It seems probable that John’s Gospel, while intended for all believers (Jews, Samaritans, Greeks etc.) was originally written for John’s own Jewish people both in the land of Israel and throughout the Diaspora. The use of the very specific “Ho Ioudaioi” (Huy ee-u-dayo, the Judeans) as a supplement to the more general use of “Ioudaios” (ee-u-da-yos, Jews), seems to indicate that at least in part, John was seeking to make a distinction between those Jews that followed the teaching and ideology of the first century Religious leaders based in Jerusalem and representing Judea, and the wider body of Jews living under Roman occupation in the land of Israel. Additionally, John emphasizes the fact that Yeshua is an Ioudaios Judean, unlike Matthew, Mark and Luke, who all focus on the fact that Yeshua is a Galilean. We add to this the detailed typography and unique locations mentioned in John’s Gospel, which speak to a group of people well familiar with the land, rather than a wider audience of non-Jewish origin. He also uses numerous Aramaic and Hebrew terms in transliteration, which he explains by way of translation, almost as an afterthought. With these things in mind, much of the contention regarding accusations of anti-Semitism within this Gospel is resolved. After all, when speaking to one’s own people concerning one’s own people, one is obligated to call things as they are and not to hide the flaws which are apparent within the humanity of one’s tribe, culture and religion. Therefore, in the same way that it is wrong for an American of European descent to tell jokes at the expense of an African American, while entirely appropriate for an African American to tell a self-deprecating joke about African American’s, so it is with John’s Gospel, where he both praises his Jewish people and their intrinsic relationship to their own Messiah Yeshua (A Jew), while also rebuking their disbelief. The ancient prophets of Israel were tasked with the very same thing, to draw a line between the believing remnant and the apostate community. In this regard John is no different from any of the prophets of Israel, nor for that matter from Moses himself. Therefore, if John’s Gospel is anti-Semitic, so is the entire Tanakh (Hebrew Bible, OT).
Style, Purpose & Emphasis:
John’s Gospel is quite different from the other Gospels in a number of ways. He does not follow a literal chronology of events but uses a more transcendent Hebraic mode of writing that relies on cosmological ideas and emotive expression. There is something almost poetic about John’s account that makes it read like a divine romance set in a very tactile, physical dimension. He writes like a man seeing the world through galaxy stained glasses. The author seems to favour a connection between the ministry of Yeshua (The Word made flesh) and that of the prophets Ezekiel, Zechariah and Daniel. This is seen in both the actions of Yeshua and His fulfilling of certain elements of the prophecies of these three prophets of God. It is therefore wise to read John’s account with the prophecies of Ezekiel, Zechariah and Daniel in mind.
John bridges the perceived gap between spiritual and physical realities in a very Hebraic way. The consciousness of John’s Gospel is held in the tension between time and space and the God of the universe Who lives beyond time and space but in Whom all things exist. John has not bowed to the Greco-Roman need for a point a and point b directed by a beginning and a conclusion, rather he sees the “kingdom” and its opposition “the world (fallen)” as a story of beginning and goal, birth and re-birth, not in an eastern esoteric transient impersonal way but in a redemptive, permanent, perpetuity. In laymen’s terms, he does not promote the idea of multiple lives (reincarnation) but that of one life renewed (the rebirth of the present incarnation). This in fact means that John’s thinking begins and then, begins again in Messiah Yeshua the Son of God, God with us, the Word-Essence that holds the universe together.
Beginning with the divinity of Messiah as the Devar (Word, Essence, Matter, Thing), pre-existing, the author goes on to expound the mystery of the manifest human nature of that same divine essence and the convergence of heavenly power and earthly frailty. John introduces Yeshua as the “Son of God” and emphasizes the signs of Yeshua’s ministry (2:11) along with Yeshua’s professed goal of finishing His Father’s work of redemption (4:34). God’s Own kavod (Glory) is made manifest in the person of Yeshua (10:30; 14:9). The “I AM” statements of Yeshua in the book of John, echo God’s proclamation concerning Himself (Exodus 3:14; John 6:35; 8:12; 8:58; 9:5; 10:7, 9, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). At the same time Yeshua is the Servant of God Who acts with absolute humility, coming as the substitutionary Lamb Who takes away the sins of the World.
Many have sought to posit extra-Biblical reasons for the writing of John’s Gospel, but the author himself expresses his motivation succinctly and clearly:
“But these things have been written so that you may believe that Yeshua is Mashiach Ben-Elohim, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
-John 20:31 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
NB: My translation of the text seeks to combine the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic versions of John’s Gospel into one cohesive English translation. I have used the Greek text as the primary, the Hebrew as secondary, and have noted the Aramaic only where there is a discernible difference between it and the Hebrew text.
[G] = Greek
[H] = Hebrew
[A] = Aramaic
[TH] = Talmudic Hebrew
[RA] = Pre and Post 1st Century Rabbinical Aramaic
Joh 1:1 In the beginning (En arkhay[G] In the Origin, Be’reishit[H] In the head/front/Leader) was the Word, Essence, Substance, Utterance, Manifestation (Logos[G], Davar[H], Memra[RA], Miltha[A]) and the Word was with the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]), and God was that Word. Joh 1:2 The same was in the beginning with the God.
Yochanan firmly anchors his Gospel account in the Torah (Books of Moses) and the wider body of Hebrew Scripture the Tanakh (OT).
Both Genesis (Tanakh) and John (NT) begin (no pun intended) with the phrase “In the Beginning”. This is why the Hebrew title of the book of Genesis is Be’reishit, which is the first word of Genesis, a compound word made up of Ba (In the) and Reishit (From Rosh, meaning head, leader, front).
It is interesting to note that this theme of beginning influenced the Egyptian Coptic order of the New Testament, which places John at the beginning. The Egyptian Coptic New Testament Gospels book order being John, Matthew, Mark, Luke.
With regard to the Hebrew text of both Be’reishit (Genesis) and Yochanan (John), we may read Be’reishit as, “In the Head”, the “Head” of the Universe (All creation) being YHVH, God Himself. Therefore, as in the case of Genesis, John’s Gospel begins in God, the Creator and Head of all things. This is of significance to Messiah followers, who have accepted that Yeshua our King Messiah is the “Head” of the body of believers (Ephesians 5:23).
“In the beginning was the Word” (John. 1:1) is synonymous with “In the beginning… Elohim said (spoken Word)” (Gen. 1:1, 3). Thus, John establishes the uncreated, pre-existent nature of the Word. The Word being the manifest essence of God Himself, anthropomorphically issuing from God’s mouth.
The Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 reads:
“Be’reishit In the beginning (head) bara creating (from nothing), Elohim God (Judge) et (Aleph-Tav, the Alphabet, that which forms all words), ha-shamayim the heavens v’et (and Aleph-Tav) ha-aretz the earth (land).”
“I am the Aleph and the Tav, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the goal… I, Yeshua, have sent my messenger to give you this testimony for the believing communities. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:13, 16 (Author’s translation)
Therefore, the remez (hint) found in the “et” (Aleph-Tav) of Genesis 1:1, is a further illumination of the words of Yochanan (John) 1:1.
The alternative Orthodox Jewish English translation of Genesis 1:1, which reads, “When God began to create…” further establishes the existence of the Word prior to all of the created order.
God is seen throughout the Tanakh (OT) creating, calling, instructing and relating through His Word. Yishayahu (Isaiah) says:
“Kiy ka’asher yeireid For as the coming down of hageshem the rain vehasheleg and the snow min-hashamayim from the heavens ve’shamah and there lo yashuv do not return kiy until they hirvah satiate, satisfy the thirst of et-haaretz the earth (land), veholiydah and it brings forth vehitzmiychah and sprouts, venatan and gives zera seed lazoreia to the sower velechem and bread laocheil to the eater, Kein yihyeh So will it come to pass that Devariy My Word asher yeitzei which goes out mipiy from My mouth; lo-yashuv will not return eiliy to Me reiykam void, empty, vainly, kiy for im-asah rather, it will accomplish, make, fashion (asah, from something) that which chafatztiy I delight in, desire, am pleased with, take pleasure in, vehitzliyach and will rush, advance, prosper, succeed in asher that for which shelachtiyv I sent it.” -Isaiah 55:10-11 (Author’s translation)
“the Word was with the God, and God was that Word.” The writer is clear, the Word is both with God and at the same time God. Contrary to popular teaching, this was not an entirely alien concept in first century Judaism.
The idea of the Word (Logos[G], Davar[H] Memra[RA], Miltha[A]) being intrinsically linked to God was not a foreign concept to first century Judaism. Philo of Alexandria or Yedideyah Ha-Cohen (Jedidiah the priest), a Jewish philosopher who lived from 20 BCE (BC) to 50 CE (AD) wrote:
“The most universal of all things is God; and in second place, the word of God.” -Philo of Alexandria Allegorical Interpretation II, 86
The Aramaic Jerusalem Targum, codified in the second century CE (AD) renders the text of Genesis 3:8 as:
“…they heard the voice of the word of the Lord God walking in the garden… and Adam and his wife hid themselves from before the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” -Jerusalem Targum (Genesis 3:8)
Using the Rabbinical Aramaic word Memra in place of the Hebrew Davar in the same Aramaic Targum, the writer renders Genesis 19:24 as:
“And the Word (Memra) of the Lord Himself had made to descend upon the people of Sodom and Gomora… fire from before the Lord from the heavens.” -Jerusalem Targum 19:24
The Talmud also understands the Messiah as pre-existent, though not uncreated:
“It was taught that seven things were created before the world was created; they are the Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah… The name of the Messiah, as it is written: ‘May his name (Messiah) endure forever, may his name produce issue prior to the sun’ (Psalm 72:17).” -Pesachim 54a, N’darim 39a; and Midrash on Psalm 93:3
The Jewish convert and commentator Onkelos wrote the following paraphrase (110 CE/AD):
"if the word of the Lord will be my help, and will keep me, the word of the Lord shall be my God:” -Paraphrase Genesis 28:20 Onkelos (35-120 CE/AD)
The second century Targums of Yonatan and Yerushalayim paraphrase certain texts as referring to the Memra (Word):
"I will cause the glory of my Shekinah to dwell among you, and my word shall be your God, the Redeemer;” -Targum Yonatan Leviticus 26:12
"out of thee, before me, shall come forth the Messiah, that he may exercise dominion over Israel; whose name is said from eternity, from the days of old.” -Targum Yonatan Micah 5:2
"ye have made the word of the Lord king over you this day, that he may be your God:” -Targum Yerushalayim Deuteronomy 26:17
In stating that “the Word was with the God, and God was that Word” Yochanan is expressing the Hebrew understanding of “both and” rather than the limited Greco-Roman thinking of “either or”. In this respect Yochanan’s Gospel establishes itself in Biblical Hebrew thought from the outset. Therefore, failing to understand Yochanan’s words from a Hebraic mindset will lead to misinterpretation and limited understanding on the part of the student of this Gospel.
“He (Yeshua) is wrapped in a garment immersed in blood, and He is called by the name Ho-Logos[G] (Ha-Davar[H]) the Word, Ho-Theos[G] (Ha-Elohim[H]) the God.” -Revelation 19:13 (Author’s translation)
Yeshua (YHVH Saves), Ha-Davar (the Word, Essence) Ha-Elohim (the God, Judge, Ruler) Imanu (With us) El (God).
Joh 1:3 All things, individually, collectively (Pas[G]) the everything (Ha-col[H]) were made, came into existence (Ginomai[G]) through (Dia[G]) Him, upon His hand (Al-yadayv[H]); and without, apart from, separate from (Khoris[G]) Him not one thing was made, came into existence (Ginomai[G]) that has been made (exists).
The subject of this verse is the Word Himself, Whom we know to be Yeshua the King Messiah (John 1:14-18).
Once again. This idea was not entirely foreign to first century Judaism:
"and the word of the Lord created man in his likeness.” -Targum Yerushalayim Genesis 1:27
"and the word of the Lord God said, behold the man whom I have created, is the only one in the world.” -Targum Yerushalayim Genesis 3:22
"the eternal God is an habitation, by whose word the world was made.” -Onkelos
"yea, by my word I have founded the earth:” -Targum Yonatan Isaiah 48:13
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” -Hebrews 11:3 KJV
Joh 1:4 In Him was life, soul existence (Zoe[G]) living (Chayim[H]); and the life, living was the light (Ho-Phos[G], Ha-Or[H]) of the human being, humanity, mankind (Anthropos[G]). Alt. Hebrew trans. To the children of the Adam (Livneiy ha-adam[H]).
“In Him was life, soul existence, living”. Not just Chai “life” but Chayim “Living”
“and the life, living was the light to the children of Adam” Therefore, the last Adam (Yeshua) is also the Word which spoke the light that gives the first Adam and his progeny life.
“So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” -1 Corinthians 15:45 NIV
Light is frequently employed in representing the manifest presence of God (Isa. 2:5; Ps. 257:1; 36:9).
Later in Yochanan’s Gospel account Yeshua says of Himself “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5).
Genesis 1:3 reads “And commanded (vayomeir), Elohim, ‘Be light (Or)’, and light (Or) was:”
This verse begins a literary rhythm that uses a trifold pattern to convey the process of creation and the way it continues to unfold in our daily lives.
1. God commands (Vayomeir)
2. God Sees/Observes (Vai’re: from ra’ah)
3. God Proclaims/Calls/Names (Vayikra)
God commands creation, He sees that it is good and He gives all created entities unique names and roles in the order of the universe. From the view of humanity, God has created us in love, observes us with pleasure and imparts to each of us a unique and fulfilling identity and purpose in Him.
The light which is commanded in Genesis 1:3 is essential to the remainder of creation. Yochanan understands this light (Or) to be the product of the Father through the Word (Davar, Yeshua), it illuminates the formless and empty elements and acts to ignite both the inanimate matter and the living souls which are to come.
Genesis goes on to say:
“And saw, Elohim, the light (Or), that it was good, and made a distinction, Elohim, between the light (Or) and the darkness (choshekh):” -Genesis 1:4 (Author’s translation)
Before distinguishing between light and darkness, God sees that the light is good. The light is a representation of all that is good.
Distinctions are made throughout the creative processes of God. In Hebrew thought the distinguishing of things is not the same as the separation of things. Darkness is not the absence of light, rather it is a creation of The Light of God:
“If I say, ‘surely the choshekh (darkness) shall cover me’; even the layla (night, spiralling darkness) shall be Or (light) surrounding me.” –Psalm 139:11 (Author’s translation)
Joh 1:5 And the light (Ho-Phos[G], Ha-Or[H]) shines in darkness (Bachoshekh[H]); and the darkness cannot comprehended, lay hold of, take possession of, overcome (Katalambano[G]) it.
In one sense the Light that emanates from the mouth of God in the Word of Yeshua at the beginning of creation, as it pertains to God with us (Yeshua), is the ignition present in the creation of darkness, making darkness subject to the Light of God. Therefore, the order of creation illuminates (no pun intended) the nature of light and darkness. Yochanan uses this imagery here to make a drash (comparative teaching) concerning good and evil, light representing good and the true knowledge of God, and darkness, representing evil and ignorance toward God.
The conclusion is that ignorance toward God can neither understand nor overcome the light (true knowledge) of God and His redemptive purposes for humanity and creation as a whole through the Light Bearer (Creator) and Redeemer, the King Messiah Yeshua.
Joh 1:6 It came to pass that there was a man sent (Apostello[G], Shaluach[H]) from God (Theos[G], Elohim[H]), whose name was Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist, YHVH gracious giver). Joh 1:7 The same man came to testify, to bear witness of the Light (Ho-Phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), in order that all, individually, collectively (Pas[G]) the whole (Ha-col[H]) through Him, by the means of Him, by His hand (Dia[G], N’haymen[A]), might believe, have faith, trust, have security, be made confident, be persuaded (Pisteuo[G], Ya’amiynu[H]).
The author of this Gospel, having begun at the beginning of all things, now presents the forerunner who will declare the coming of the King Messiah and the fulfilment of all things (as it were). Jews (Israelites) had been looking forward to the coming of Elijah as the one who would hail the coming King Messiah (Malachi 4:5). Seemingly unbeknownst to the Jews of Israel in John’s generation, Yochanan the Immerser had come in the spirit of Elijah (Mark 9:12-13; Luke 1:11-17) to do that very thing.
The man Yochanan (The Baptist) is “sent from God”. This is the premise for Yochanan’s later statement “but He (God) that sent me to immerse with water, the same (God) said to me, ‘Upon Whom you shall see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He Who immerses with the Holy Spirit.’”(John 1:33)
Yochanan is given the title “the Baptist” in order to distinguish him from the writer of John’s Gospel, Yochanan the talmid (disciple) of Yeshua. The term Baptist from the Greek baptizo is a reference to the Jewish mikveh (ritual pool or body of water) practice of tevilah (immersion), a full immersion in a ritual pool or body of water symbolizing purification. With regard to the theological baggage associated with baptism, sprinkling etc. It is better to understand Yochanan as Yochanan the Immerser. The baptisms he performed for those who came to him in repentance toward God would never have involved sprinkling, this is a Greco-Roman Gentile Church syncretistic practice that muddies the waters (pun intended) of true full immersion baptism, or in Hebrew tevilah.
Yochanan the Immerser is also known to secular history via the writings of Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 18:116-119).
“in order that all, individually, collectively, the whole, through Him (The Light), might believe” The nearest subject is “the Light” that John the Immerser had come to bear witness to. Therefore, it is through the Light of Yeshua that human beings will come to believe.
Verse 6-8 are pre-text for the historical/spiritual narrative concerning Yochanan the Immerser’s ministry described in verses 19-34.
Rabbinic literature calls the promised Messiah by the name “Light.”
"light is his name"; as it is said in Daniel 2:22 and the light dwelleth with him;” - Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2.
Philo of Alexandria or Yedideyah Ha-Cohen (Jedidiah the priest), the Jewish philosopher who lived from 20 BCE (BC) to 50 CE (AD) describes the Logos, (Word), as light, and calls Him the “intelligible light; the universal light, the most perfect light;” Philo even goes so far as to depict Him as full of divine light; and says, “He (Logos) is called the sun.” Meaning that with regard to created light (metaphorically speaking), the Logos is the brightest of all light.
Joh 1:8 He (John the Baptist) was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of the Light. Joh 1:9 That was the Light (Ho-Phos[G], Ha-Or[H]) by nature, true (Ho Alethinos[G], Ha-amitiy[H]), which gives light, illuminates (Photizo[G], Ha-mei’ir[H]) everyone individually, collectively (Pas[G]) the whole of (Ha-col[H]) humanity (Anthropos[G], l’col-adam[H]) that comes into the world (Kosmos[G], Ha-Olam[H]).
“He (John the Baptist) was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of the Light.” The author of John’s Gospel goes to great pains to be very specific about his subjects and their respective roles. The Light brings redemption but Yochanan is not the Light, rather he is the promised forerunner of Malachi 4:5, who is “sent to bear witness of (to) the Light.”
“That was the Light by nature, true, which gives light, illuminates everyone individually, collectively the whole of humanity, that comes into the world”. The Light, that by its very nature carries the truth that emanates from God, is the same light mentioned previously, being the giver of light and life to every human being that comes into the world (affected by sin and death), has also Himself, come into the world in order to illuminate the darkness of the ignorant sinful minds of human beings and deliver those who would receive Him from the darkness of perpetual death.
Joh 1:10 He was in the world (Kosmos[G], Ha-Olam[H]), and the world was made by, through (Dia[G]) Him, and the world did not know Him. Joh 1:11 He came to His own things (Idio[G] neuter), those things of Him (Shelo[H]) and His own (Idios[G] masc.), those which were for Him (Asher lo[H]) did not receive Him.
“the world (kosmos) was made through Him, and the world (kosmos) did not know Him.”
The word Kosmos is used in two ways. It is used of creation as a whole, and more specifically in regard to sin affected humanity and the fallen creation which has been in darkness (ignorant). The Light comes into the world He created but the world He created has been affected by sin and death as a result of the freewill decision of humanity, for freewill is that which makes a love relationship between Creator and creation possible.
"and the word of the Lord created man in his likeness.” -Targum Yerushalayim Genesis 1:27
"and the word of the Lord God said, behold the man whom I have created, is the only one in the world.” -Targum Yerushalayim Genesis 3:22
"the eternal God is an habitation, by whose word the world was made.” -Onkelos
"yea, by my word I have founded the earth:” -Targum Yonatan Isaiah 48:13
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” -Hebrews 11:3 KJV
“He came to His own things, those things of Him and His own, those which were for Him did not receive Him.” Firstly, verse 10 explains the need for the neuter use of Idio (own things) in the present verse by speaking of all creation, kosmos in general: Secondly, while it is true that Yeshua was rejected by some of His own tribe (The Jews), it is also true that every human being is “His own”, something that is made clear by John 1:4 “In Him was life, soul existence; and the life was the light To the children of the Adam”.
It is not true to say (as many Jewish Scholars and not a small number of Liberal Gentile Christian Scholars falsely assert) that this is an intentional plot tool for setting up the Jewish people in general as the enemies of Yeshua. Given the fact that Yeshua and His disciples were all Jews, and that thousands of Jews believed in and followed Him, it is ludicrous to say that the Gospel writers, or specifically the writer of the Gospel of John were anti-Semitic. As I stated previously, it is simply a case of context and proper qualification. Yochanan the disciple and author of John’s Gospel felt secure as a Jew in both honouring the Jewish people of his day while also rebuking those who acted in a manner contrary to the Torah and the good news of the King Messiah Yeshua. As I have already said, this makes Yochanan’s Gospel and ministry no different from that of Israel’s prophets, none of whom have ever been called anti-Semitic for making the same accusations and refutations that Yochanan makes in his Gospel account.
“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from Ho Ioudaios the Jews (Plural).” -Yeshua (John 4:22)
Joh 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave power (of choice), liberty (freedom) of doing, authority (Exousia[G]) to become offspring (children) of God (Teknon Theos[G], Baniym Leilohim[H]), even to them that believe, have faith, trust, have security, be made confident, be persuaded (Pisteuo[G], Ya’amiynu[H]) on (in) His name (Onoma[G] Proper Noun, B’shmo[H]):
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become offspring (children) of God.” Notice the counterpoint to John 1:4 “to the children of Adam”. All human beings are children of creation (Adam), but in a saving and eternal sense, only those who receive the light of the Creator, the King Messiah Yeshua, can become “B’nai Elohim” children of God. “B’nai Elohim” then is a spiritual designation. In fact we read from the beginning of the Torah of two distinct groups of people, “B’nai Elohim” the sons of God (God worshippers) and “Banot Ha-Adam” the daughters of men (those who rejected God) [Genesis 6:4].
Therefore, while it is true, as the Bible teaches, that we are all children of God with regard to creation (Acts 17:28; Genesis 1:26-27; James 3:9), only those who receive Yeshua become children of God with regard to salvation and everlasting life.
“to them that believe on (in) His name” In the ancient world a person’s name was more than just a title, it was representative of character, nature, action, integrity, and honour, or the lack thereof. In the case of Yeshua (YHVH Saves), belief in His Name is continued trust in His person made evident in right action. Filling out a commitment card at an evangelistic rally, may be an indication of one’s desire to believe in His Name, but it does not, in and of itself constitute “belief in His Name”. The “Sinners prayer” mentality of the modern evangelical Church must change and come in line with the Biblical text!
Joh 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the desire (Thelema[G]) of the flesh (Sarx[G]), nor of the desire, sex drive of man, but Fathered (Gennao[G]) of God (Theos[G], Elohim[H]).
Those who become children of God through Yeshua have been “born again” of God’s Spirit. Therefore, while they are born initially of the flesh, they are born again of the same life giving Spirit that created their flesh. Flesh which they had previously given over to death through sin.
Yeshua explains this very thing to Nicodemus:
“Yeshua replied, ‘Amen, amen, It’s certain, it’s certain I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of Elohim unless they are born again.’ ‘How can someone be born when they’re old?’ Nakdimon asked. ‘Surely they can’t enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’ Yeshua answered, ‘Amen, amen, It’s certain, it’s certain I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of Elohim unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’” -John 3:3-6 (Authors translation)
Joh 1:14 And (Kai[G]) the Word, Essence, Substance, Utterance, Manifestation (Logos[G], Davar[H], Miltha[A]) became flesh (Sarx[G]), and dwelt, made His home (Skenoo[G], Shakhan[H]) among us, and we beheld his glory, brightness, splendour, judgement, manifest presence, dwelling, settling (Doxa[G], Kevod[H], Shekhinah[TH]), the glory as of the One (Ekhadaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Yachiyd[H]) of the Father (Pater[G], Av[H]), full of grace (Charis[G], Chesed[H]) and truth (Aletheia[G] objective truth, Emet[H] absolute truth).
“the Word, Essence, Substance, became flesh, human, and dwelt among us” This is a paradox only to the Gnostics and their modern pseudo learned progeny. If the Word is the very substance that makes up all things, then His becoming flesh is simply His birth into that which exists of Him and in Him. It is not the case that spirit is good and matter is evil, rather, the Creator is good and the created chose evil, both the created spirits (Satan, demons etc.) and the created flesh (humanity). Therefore, nothing makes more sense than that the Creator of all things, Who loves His creation sacrificially, would give of His essence, enter the sin affected creation and lay down His life for her. After all, two foundational aspects of love are freewill and sacrifice.
We note that the Word “Shakhan” dwelt, tabernacled among us, is an allusion to the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting, Tabernacle [Exodus 25:9]) and the dwelling of the divine presence (Kavod HaShem, Shekhinah) with the Jewish people as they travelled from Egyptian bondage to freedom in the promised land.
“and we beheld his glory, manifest presence, dwelling, settling (Doxa[G], Kevod[H], Shekhinah[TH])” This is yet another allusion to the manifest presence of God seen on the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 16:10) in the desert and in the Temple of Solomon at its inauguration (1 Kings 8:10-12).
“the glory as of the One (Ekhadaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Yachiyd[H]) of the Father (Pater[G], Av[H]), full of grace (Charis[G], Chesed[H]) and truth (Aletheia[G] objective truth, Emet[H] absolute truth).” We note that Yeshua (The Word, the Light), is singular in kind. He is of the Father in that being God with us He carries the attributes and character of the Father in submission to the Father. Thus, Yeshua is full of grace and truth.
In order to become flesh, Yeshua had to give up the glory He had with the Father before the world existed (John 17:5). “He emptied himself, laid aside His privileges, taking the very nature of bond servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:7, Author’s translation)
“For what the Torah couldn’t do, in that it was weakened through the flesh, Elohim did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,” -Romans 8:3 Author’s translation
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” -Hebrews 4:15 NASB
Therefore, it is God the Word Who became flesh and not Yeshua the man who became a god!
“For in Him (Yeshua) all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form,” Colossians 2:9
The Tanakh (OT) is full of instances of God appearing in human form, to Abraham (Gen. 18), Jacob (Gen. 32:24-33), Moses (Ex. 3), Joshua (Josh. 5:13-6:5), the people of Israel (Judges 2:1-5, Gideon (Judges 6:11-24), and to Manoah and his wife the parents of Samson (Judges 13:2-23). In all of these portions of Scripture, Elohim (God), YHVH (Adonai), and Ha-Malakh Elohim (The Messenger [Angel] of God) are used interchangeably and in some cases YHVH or Elohim is spoken of as a man (iysh). Therefore, the Tanakh (OT) teaches that the all-powerful, all knowing, all sufficient God of creation is able, if He chooses, to appear as a man. In other words, the idea that God might manifest Himself as a man to redeem His people is a very Jewish one.
Our rabbis have tried to exclude Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua by adding theological statements to our traditions and prayers in order to make it difficult for Jews who follow Yeshua to remain in the Jewish community. One such example is the thirteenth statement of Rambam’s creed, the third article of which reads:
“I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is not a body, that He is free from all material properties, and has no form whatsoever.”
This statement contradicts the Tanakh, as I have just proven, however, in another sense, a Messiah following Jew can agree that God the Father can be seen in this statement without negating God the Son as a manifestation of the invisible immutable God YHVH.
Other rabbis, such as Meir Loeb Ben Yechiel Michael and Menachem Mendel Schneerson, have come extremely close to explicitly affirming the idea of incarnation. They have certainly agreed with the idea implicitly in their writings and teachings.
Joh 1:15 Yochanan (John the Baptist) bore witness of Him, and cried, saying, “This was He of Whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred, ranked before (Emprosthen[G]) me: He existed (Ginomai[G]) first (Protos[G] first in time or place in any succession of things) before I was (Liy Hayah[H]).”
“Him” The subject is the manifest Word become flesh. It is this person, Who is God with us to Whom Yochanan is referring.
The Word through Whom Yochanan was created is now entering creation following Yochanan. Thus, Yochanan is second to the first Who comes after him.
Joh 1:16 And of His fulness we have all received, and grace (Charis[G], Chesed[H]) in place of grace. Joh 1:17 For the Law, Torah[H] (Nomos[G]) was given through (Dia[G]) Moshe[H] (Moses), the grace (Charis[G], Chesed[H]) and the truth (Aletheia[G], Emet[H]) came through (Dia[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) the Messiah (Christos[G] Anointed One, Mashiach[H]).
“Grace in place of grace” means, common grace (the grace that allows the created order to continue for a time in spite of the fact that it is sin affected) is being both preceded and superseded by saving grace (the grace made possible through the substitutionary sacrifice and resurrection of the King Messiah Yeshua).
We note that in spite of the fact that the majority of English translations read “The Law was given by Moses BUT grace and truth…” The Greek word “dia” is better translated “through” rather than “by”, and more importantly, there is no “but” in the Greek text!
When read correctly the Torah given by God through Moses is the Instruction that directs the people of Israel toward the Chesed (grace) [Rom. 10:4] that comes through the promised King Messiah, the Living Word (Ha-Devar). Thus, it is Messiah Who writes the Torah on the hearts of believing Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) [Jer. 31:33]. Therefore, it is not “Torah was but now grace is”, rather it is “Torah reveals the redemptive purpose and Messiah fills that purpose with grace”.
The Torah (Law) has never been the opposite of grace (as many Christian theologians claim), this is utter nonsense. The opposite of Law is lawlessness and the opposite of grace is the lack of grace. Therefore, The Author of the Torah (The Word, Yeshua) sent the Torah through Moses (Drawn out), so as to draw out the children of God from among the wicked and point them to the One Who provides salvation by grace through faith in Him.
From his treatment of the Torah, Moses and the patriarchs, it is clear that the author of the Gospel account of John is sufficiently comfortable (as a Jew) with the continued importance of Torah as it is illuminated in Yeshua the King Messiah.
Joh 1:18 No one has seen the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) at any time; [Hebrew Alt. Et Ha-Elohim lo ra’ah iysh meiolam[H]: The definitive God, has not been seen by any human (man) from the world] the One (Yichiydaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Yachiyd[H]) Son [Hebrew Alt. Ha-Ben Ha-yachiyd[H]: the Son, the only one], God (Theos[G]) the Being (Ho Oan[G]) Who is in the bosom, chest, folds of the garment (kolpos[G]) of the Father (Ho-Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]), He has declared, gone before, unfolded, told (Exegeomai[G]) of Him [Hebrew Alt. Hu asher hodiyo[H]: He has made Him known] .
“No one has seen the God at any time;” Many have seen God in part [Exodus 33:19-23; Isaiah 6:1; Exodus 24:9-11], but none have ever seen Him in the fullness of His glory. The fullness of God’s person and glory is what Exodus 33:20 is speaking of:
“And (God) said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.”
Therefore, God reveals Himself through His Son Yeshua, the Word, Who is YHVH with us:
"the word of the Lord God said, ‘lo, the man whom I created, the only one in my world, even as I am, the only one, in the highest heavens.’” -Genesis 3:22 Targum Yerushalayim
"there is none that can declare the name of his Father, and that knows him; but this is hid from the eyes of the multitude, until he comes, ‘and he shall declare him’.” R. Moses Haddarsan in Psal. 85. 11. apud Galatin. de Arcan, Cathol. ver. l. 8. c. 2.
Philo speaks of the “Logos” saying “He (logos) has come and declared Him (God)” De nominum mutat. p. 1047.
“the Son, the only one], God (Theos[G]) the Being (Ho Oan[G]) Who is in the bosom, chest, folds of the garment (kolpos[G]) of the Father (Ho-Pater[G], Ha-Av[H]), He has declared, gone before, unfolded, told (Exegeomai[G]) of Him [Hebrew Alt. Hu asher hodiyo[H]: He has made Him known].”
There can be no doubt that the author of John’s Gospel is plainly stating that Yeshua is God with us. He writes “The only Son, God the Being, Who is in the bosom of the Father (God), He has declared, told of Him (The Father).”
We note the beautiful imagery of the only begotten Son Who has dwelt in the chest of God the Father, within the folds of the Father’s garment as it were, and now unfolds the garment of God and reveals the Father to creation.
It is worth noting that the title “Son of God” is sometimes applied to Israel’s kings in the Tanakh (OT), this is particularly evident in Psalm 2:6-9:
“I have set up My king
upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 I will declare the decree of Adonai.
He said to me: “You are My Son--
today I have become Your Father.[a]
8 Ask Me,
and I will give the nations as Your inheritance,
and the far reaches of the earth as Your possession.
9 You shall break the nations with an iron scepter.[b]
You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s jar.”[c] -Psalm 2:6-9 TLV
Joh 1:19 And this is the testimony, evidence, record (Marturia[G], Eiduto[H] witness) of Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist), when the Judeans (Ho Ioudaios[G], Jews from the religious ruling class, Ha-Yehudiym[H]) sent priests (Hiereus[G],Kohaniym[H]) and Levites (Leuites[G], Levi’iym[H]) from Yerushalayim (Flood of Peace, Jerusalem) to ask him (John the Baptist), “Who are you?”
As stated in my introduction, the author of the Gospel according to John uses the Greek “ho Ioudaioi” (Huy ee-u-dayo, the Judeans) as a supplement to the more general use of “Ioudaios” (ee-u-da-yos, Jews), which seems to indicate that at least in part, John was seeking to make a distinction between those Jews that followed the teaching and ideology of the first century Religious leaders based in Jerusalem and representing Judea, and the wider body of Jews living under Roman occupation in the land of Israel.
In the present verse the use of the definite article “Ho” with “Ioudaiois” is further qualified by the distinct groups within the religious community of Jerusalem, who are directly connected to the Temple Cult and functioning at various levels in the hierarchy of the Levitical priesthood. The “Kohaniym” being priests who were directly involved in sacrificial practices, while the more general title “Levi’iym” refers to those appointed to mundane Temple service within the tribe of Levi. Given that the Sanhedrin (in particular the Pharisaic sect, but also the Sadducees) under the High Priest, had the authority to send these messengers (Priests, Levites), the author can only be using “Ho Ioudaios” to refer to the Leading Religious Authorities in Jerusalem and not to Judeans or Jews in general. Particularly because neither the priests nor the Levites were of the tribe of Judah, and yet those that govern them are referred to as Jews. The point is, everyone involved in this narrative is a Jew, John included. Therefore, the dialogue is between Jews over religious matters and not a record of some imagined conflict between Messiah followers and their Jewish brethren.
John the Baptist had an intrinsic connection to the Levitical priesthood through his father Zechariah who was of the clan of Abijah (Luke 1; 1 Chronicles 24). John’s father Zechariah was a descendent of the sons of Aaron and may well have been a rightful heir to the High Priesthood at a time in Israel’s history under Roman occupation when the priesthood of Israel had been bought and paid for by her oppressors, meaning that both Caiaphas and Annas were illegitimate High Priests. With this in mind it seems natural that the religious ruling class and priesthood in Jerusalem would be very interested in John’s ministry. They may well have heard of the miracle of John’s conception and the visions of his father. They came to enquire on behalf of those who feared that the rightful Shepherd of Israel may be coming to expose their apostasy. At the same time there were those among them who genuinely sought the reconciliation of Israel to God and eagerly awaited the prophet Elijah and the coming of the King Messiah. Therefore, John the Baptist was being questioned by both insidious and hopeful men alike.
Joh 1:20 And he (John the Baptist) conceded, professed, agreed (Homologeo[G], unified speech/word), and denied not; but conceded, professed, agreed “I am not the Messiah (Christ, Ho-Christos[G], Ha-Mashiach[H]).” Joh 1:21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Eliyahu[H] (Elijah, My God YHVH is He)?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you that prophet (Ho-Prophetes[G], Ha-Navi[H])?” And he answered, “No.”
“And he (John the Baptist) conceded, agreed and denied not; but conceded, agreed ‘I am not the Messiah’” Yochanan the Immerser knew what the Judean party had come to ask, this is why the text says that he conceded, agreed to speak to the contrary of their assumption. The author wants no confusion, Yochanan the Immerser is not the Messiah.
“Homologeo” is a compound word made up of the words homo (together) and logos (Word). Therefore John is in agreement with the Logos (Yeshua) in answering the priests and Levites.
“And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” According to Malachi 4:5, the Jewish people believed that Elijah (Who had not died) would come as a forerunner to declare the coming of the King Messiah and the great and fearful day of the Lord.
“‘Are you that prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’” That is the “prophet like me” who Moses spoke of, Whom the people of Israel must listen to and obey (Deut. 18:15, 18).
Joh 1:22 Then they said to him (John the Baptist), “Who are you? That we may give an answer to them that sent us. What do you say about yourself?” Joh 1:23 He (John the Baptist) said, “I am the voice (Phone[G], Kol[H]) of one crying (Boao[G], Korei[H]) in the wilderness (Eremos[G], Bamidbar[H] Ba-in and mi-from davar-the Word), Make straight the way (Hodos[G], Derech[H]) of the Lord (Kurios[G], YHVH[H]),” speaks Yishayahu[H] (Isaiah, YHVH He has saved) the prophet (Ho-Prophetes[G], Ha-Navi[H]) [Isaiah 40:3].
Yochanan the Immerser was certain of his role and calling and answered without fear using the words of the prophet Isaiah 40:3:
“A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
the way for the YHVH;
make straight in the desert
a way for our Elohim.’”
We note that Yochanan the Immerser saw himself as making way for YHVH Himself. This is yet another implicit acknowledgement of the deity of Yeshua.
Joh 1:24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees (Pharisaios[G], Perushiym[H], chaste, abstinent ones). Joh 1:25 And they asked him (John the Baptist), and said to him, “Why do you immerse (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) then, if you are not the Messiah [Christ] (Ho-Christos[G], Ha-Mashiach[H]), nor Eliyahu[H] (Elijah), neither that prophet (Prophetes[G], Ha-Navi[H])?
The Pharisees, like John and Yeshua, believed in the resurrection of the dead, angels and demons, healing and miracles, the coming Messiah and His Messianic Reign. They looked eagerly forward to salvation from their Roman oppressors and the glorious reign of Israel’s promised King. They also practised ritual immersion as part of their religious rites and clearly understood immersion as a practise which both Elijah and the King Messiah would emphasize as a symbol of purification and the sanctifying of the people of Israel in order that they might be made spiritually clean for the Messianic reign.
Josephus Flavius, a Jewish historian who played both sides of the first century conflict between Rome and the Jewish people, was hired by the Roman Emperor to write the history of Rome’s conquests in the occupied territory of Israel, Judea and Samaria. Josephus records an agreement made between Queen Alexandra of Jerusalem and the Leaders of the Pharisaic sect approximately 141 – 67 BCE:
“Under Queen Alexandra of Jerusalem the Pharisees became the administrators of all public affairs so as to be empowered to banish and readmit who they pleased, as well as to loose and bind.” -Josephus, Jewish Wars 1:5:2
Joh 1:26 Yochanan (John the Baptist) answered them, saying, “I immerse (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) with water: but there is one standing among you, Whom you don’t know; Joh 1:27 It is He, Who coming after me is preferred, ranked before me, whose sandal straps I am not worthy to untie.
“Yochanan (John the Baptist) answered them, saying, ‘I immerse with water: but there is one standing among you, Whom you don’t know;’” Therefore, Yeshua was standing among them (the Pharisees). This is something that many overlook. If Yeshua was standing among the Pharisees, then it is very likely that He dressed as they did and was not noticeably different in appearance to them. As mentioned previously, much of His teaching corresponded to Pharisaic belief. For all intents and purposes, Yeshua was a Pharisee. However, although Yeshua stood among the group of Pharisees, and may even have walked with them from Yerushalayim to meet Yochanan the Immerser, they neither recognised Him as important nor knew Him as the King Messiah, Logos, Only begotten Son of God, and therefore, the words of Yochanan “Whom you don’t know”.
“It is He, Who coming after me is preferred, ranked before me, whose sandal straps I am not worthy to untie.” Yochanan reiterates his previous statement in order to explain to them why it is that they don’t recognize or know Yeshua. It is because they don’t understand or know Him as the “Word Who was with God and Who was God”. In the true humility of a prophet of God, Yochanan boldly announces that he is not even worthy to remove the sandals of the One of Whom he speaks. In other words, “With regard to this One, I am not even worthy to perform the job of the lowliest household servant (that of removing sandals and washing the feet of guests).”
Joh 1:28 All (Kol[H]) These things were done in Beth-Anya[A] Bethany (House of Answering) beyond Yarden (Jordan, descender, the river) where Yochanan[H] (YHVH is gracious, John the Baptist) was immersing (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]).
It is incredible to think that all the answers Yochanan had given the messengers of the Judeans, the Pharisees, were given to them in a village named “House of answering”, and that he was proclaiming One Who had descended from the heavens in a region named “descender”.
This Bethany was not the home town of Lazarus, which was situated near Jerusalem but was a different village beyond the Jordan under the rule of Phillip the Tetrarch.
Joh 1:29 The next day Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) saw Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) coming to him, and said, “Behold, see, perceive, pay attention to, examine (Eido[G], Hineih[H]) the Lamb (Amnos[G], Sheh[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) Who takes away, carries away, raises up, causes to cease (Airo[G]) the sin, missing the mark, error, violation, offence (Hamartia[G], Chata’t[H]) of the world (Ho-Kosmos[G], Ha-Olam[H]).”
Yochanan the Immerser likens Yeshua to the main sacrificial animal of the Temple sacrificial rites, and in particular the animal most associated to the substitutionary sin offering. At the same time Yochanan is alluding to the Pesach (Passover) lamb, and its blood covering over the houses of Israel during the plague of the death of the firstborn in Egypt (1 Cor. 5:7). Additionally the figure of the lamb connects Yeshua to the Suffering Servant passage in Isaiah 53 (Acts 8:32), and in relation to His death on the tree He is like the “lamb without a defect or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19) as required by the Torah (Exodus 12:5; Lev. 1:3, 10; 9:3; 23:12). In the book of Revelation Yeshua is referred to as the Lamb 29 times. Finally, the Ram that took Isaac’s place on the altar of Mt Moriah was born a lamb, who would one day lay down his life for the people of Israel (Jacob being still in his father’s body [by way of seed] at the time that Isaac was saved from death).
It is worth noting that God had always intended to give of His person, His only Son, as the vicarious (substation) sacrifice for the sins of humanity (1 Cor. 15:3; Hebrews 7).
Joh 1:30 This is He of Whom I said, “After me comes a man Who is before, in front of (Emprosthen[G]) me: for He was before me. Joh 1:31 And I knew Him not: but in order (Hina[G]) that He should be made manifest, visible, known (Phaneru[G]) to Israel (Yisrael[H]), therefore I am come immersing (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) with water.
NB: Verses 30-34 record Yochanan’s account of those events detailed in Matt. 3:11-17; Mar. 1:7-11 and Luk. 3:15-17; 21-22.
“And I knew Him not”? Luke’s Gospel shows clearly that Yochanan (The Baptist) and Yeshua were second cousins (Luke 1:34-45). Therefore, when Yochanan (The Baptist) says “I knew Him not” he means, “I did not properly know or understand the divine character of my cousin, thus it was as if I didn’t know Him at all…”
“but in order that He should be made known to Israel, therefore I am come immersing with water.” We note that Yochanan the Immerser sees his role as one coming to immerse Jews with water as a symbolic precursor to them receiving and “knowing” the King Messiah Yeshua, Whom Yochanan would immerse, at which time the Holy Spirit would be manifest in a wondrous sign of Yeshua’s identity as God with us. Notice, that like Yeshua, Yochanan’s ministry was first and foremost for the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel, the Jews. Yeshua Himself said, “I have come only for the lost sheep of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen).” And the Father had said, “The days are coming,” declares HaShem (YHVH), ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Yisrael and with the people of Yehudah.’” (Jeremiah 31:31)
Joh 1:32 And Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) bore witness (Martureo[G]), saying (lego[G] from logos), “I saw the Spirit, Wind, Breathe (Pneuma[G], Ruach[H]) descending from the heavens like a dove, and it abode with, remained (Meno[G]) upon Him.”
John bears witness with his “lego” speech, of the “Logos” speech of God and His unity with the “Pneuma” Spirit, Wind, Breathe of God.
The symbolism of the dove as it reflects the Spirit of God and the institution of peace, is seen throughout the Tanakh (OT) [Gen.8; Psa. 68:13; SOS. 2:14; Isaiah 60:8]. In relationship to the Messiah’s immersion by Yochanan, the story of the deliverance of Noah and his family through the flood and the receipt of the dove at its conclusion is intrinsically connected (1 Peter 3:20). The Flood, the crossing of Red Sea, the crossing of the Jordan river, are all immersions that deliver into that which is promised by God.
Joh 1:33 And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to immerse (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) with water, the same said to me, “Upon Whom you shall see the Spirit, Wind, Breathe (Pneuma[G], Ruach[H]) descending, and remaining, abiding with (on) Him, the same is He Who immerses (Baptizo[G], Tebiyl[H]) with the Holy Spirit, Wind, Breathe (Pneuma-Hagios[G], Ruach Ha-Kodesh[H]).
Yochanan the Immerser reiterates his lack of fullness of knowledge of Who Yeshua truly was in all His glory. It is essential to Yochanan’s testimony that he proclaims the Word of the One Who sent him, that is God Himself. “there was a man sent from God, whose name was Yochanan” -John 1:6
Joh 1:34 And I saw, and bear witness (Martureo[G]) that this is the Son of the God (Ho-Uihos Ho-Theos[G], Ben-Ha-Elohim[H]). Joh 1:35 Again the next day after that Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) stood, alongside two of his disciples (Talmidim[H]); Joh 1:36 And looking upon Yeshua[H] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua, YHVH Saves) as He (Yeshua[H]) walked, he (John the Baptist) said, “Behold, see, perceive, pay attention to, examine (Eido[G], Hineih[H]) the Lamb (Ho-Amnos[G], Ha-sheh[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H])!”
“The Son of God” is a Messianic title:
In Biblical Judaism a man is always identified as the son (ben) of his father. Thus, there is an intrinsic link between father and son. The Hebrew ben (son) can also mean “descendant” or “having the characteristics of.”
We note that Yeshua is not called “a son of God”, or “one of the sons of God” as the term is applied more generally in the Tanakh [OT] (Gen. 6:2, 4; Ex. 4:22-23; Psalms. 82:6; Hos. 11:1; ) and NT (Gal. 4:6): rather, He is called “The Son of God”. This makes the title unique and applicable to Him alone. It is also the reason the religious leaders considered the title blasphemous (John 10:33-36).
However, it is also apparent that the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day considered the title “The Son of God” to be a Messianic title:
“The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” -Matthew 26:63
As did Yeshua’s disciples:
“Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”-Matthew 16:16
“the Lamb of the God” As is always the case in Hebrew literature, the doubling of this statement firmly establishes the identity of the Messiah as sacrificial Lamb.
Joh 1:37 And the two disciples (Talmidim[H]) heard him speak, and they Followed, joined, attended to, accompanied (Akoloutheo[G]) Yeshua[H][A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua, YHVH Saves). Joh 1:38 Then Yeshua[H] [A] turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What, which, Who (Tis[G]) do you seek?” They said to Him, Rabbi[H], [Rhabbi[G], Raban[A]] (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher,) where do you dwell, abide, remain (Meno[G])?”
Rabbi appears 15 times in its transliterated form in the Greek New testament and with the exception of Matthew 23:7-10 where Yeshua discusses the word, it is only used of Yeshua Himself. Rabbi comes from the Hebrew “Rav” meaning great, or great one. A literal translation of Rabbi would be “My Great One”. However, it seems that by the first century the title Rabbi had become synonymous in religious circles with Teacher, or Master. A title of respect.
Joh 1:39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour (16:00). Joh 1:40 One of the two who heard Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) speak, and followed Him, was Andreas[G] (Andrew: manly) Simon Petros[G] (Simon Peter's, Shimon[H] [heard] Keefa[A] [Rock]) brother.
The unnamed disciple is thought to be Yochanan the disciple of Yeshua and likely author of this Gospel. This is consistent with his use of the phrase “disciple whom Yeshua loved” in reference to himself.
Joh 1:41 He (Andrew) first (immediately) found his own brother Simon (Shimon[H]), and said to him, “We have found the Messiah (Messias[G], Mashiach[H], Anointed) which is, being interpreted, the Christos[G] (Christ).
The Greek Messias transliterates the Aramaic Mashicha and or the Hebrew Mashiach. It is found in John 4:25 and 4:29 but nowhere else in the New Testament. This makes John’s Gospel the one most likely to have had a Hebrew or Aramaic original manuscript.
The fact that Andrew was so excited to tell Peter that they had found the Messiah denotes the popular Messianic expectation of the time.
Joh 1:42 And he (Andrew) brought him (Simon Peter) to Yeshua[H][A] (Iesous[G]). And when Yeshua[H][A] (Iesous[G]) saw him, He said, “You are Shimon[H] (Simon) the son of Yonah[H] (Ioannes[G], Jonah): You shall be called Kephas[G] (Keefa, [A] Stone, Rock), which is by interpretation, a stone, rock.
The poetic irony of Simon Peter’s identity is not lost on the Hebrew mind. He is Shimon (hears) Keefa (Rock) the son of Yonah (Dove). He is one who hears the Rock (HaShem) and is born of the Spirit (Dove).
Joh 1:43 The day following Yeshua[H][A] (Iesous[G]) would go forth into the Galilee (Ho-Galilaia[G] circuit, Yam Ha-Kineret[H] Lake harp, region) and found Philip (Philipos[G]) lover of horses), and said to him, “Follow, join, attend to, accompany (Akoloutheo[G]) Me (become My Talmid[H] disciple).”
Philip, like many other Jews born in Roman occupied Israel (first century AD) had a Hellenised (Greek) common name.
Joh 1:44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida (Beit Tzayda[H]), the city of Andrew and Peter. Joh 1:45 Philip found Nathanael (Netanel[H], Given of God) [Natanel[H] Bar[A] Talmay[A][H], Son of Talmay (ridge, accumulation)Mtt.10:3], and said to him, We have found him, of whom Moshe[H] (Drawn out, Moses) in the Torah[H] (Instruction, Nomos[G], law), and the prophets (Ho-Prophetes[G], Ha-Nevi’iym[H]) did write, Yeshua[H][A] (Iesous[G]) the son of Yosef[H] (YHVH Adds, Joseph) of Nazareth (Nazaret[G], Natzerat[H], netzer[H] [shoot] zara[H] [sown]).
Bethsaida was a small fishing village on the west shore of lake Galilee.
“of whom Moses in the Torah and the prophets did write,”
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” 17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.” -Deuteronomy 18:15-18 NIV
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Yeshua. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’” -Acts 3:19-23
“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.” -Daniel 7:13
Exodus 12:46 Deuteronomy 18:15-18 Isaiah 49:7; 50:6;53:5-7, 9-10, 12 Psalms 2:7; 16:10-11; 22:8-9, 16-17 41:9; 68:19 69:22 110:1; 118:22 Micah 4:14 Zechariah 11:12-13; 13:7Daniel 7:13; 9:24-26
Nazareth is interpreted a number of ways, but given Matthew’s assertion that Isaiah 11:1; 53:2 and Zechariah 3:8; 6:12 are prophetic of the promised shoot (netzer) coming from Jesse, being from Nazareth the first century village, it seems likely that the compound proper noun Nazareth is made up of the Hebrew words netzer (shoot) and zara (sown). It makes sense that the sower of the seed of the Gospel is the shoot of Jesse, the promised Servant King Messiah, Who, in sowing, will reap many shoots.
Joh 1:46 And Nathanael (Netanel[H], Given of God) said unto Him (Yeshua[H] [A]), “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth (Nazaret[G], Natzerat[H])? Philip said to Him, Come and see. Joh 1:47 Yeshua[H] [A] saw Nathanael (Netanel[H]) coming to Him, and said of him (Nathanael), “Behold, see, perceive, pay attention to, examine (Eido[G], Hineih[H]) a true (Alethos[G]), objective truth, Emet[H], absolute truth) Israelite (Israelites[G], descendant of Jacob, a Jew), in whom is no deceit, fraud (dolos[G], Mirmah[H])!
Nazareth was not known for Torah scholarship or religious devotion of the standard expected among the religious elite in Jerusalem and surrounding areas. It was considered a town of commoners and less than desirable uneducated people. It is in fact as filthy and uninviting today as it may have been in the first century. However, Yeshua was brought up in Nazareth, and being God with us, keeping in mind that “Only God is good”, the answer to Nathanael’s question is to be a resounding, “Good Himself comes out from Nazareth”.
“Behold, a true Israelite, in whom is no deceit!” Yeshua seems to be making a complex drash (comparative teaching), from the story of Jacob the patriarch and ultimate Israelite (Gen. 32:28-29; 27:35); who deceived his father in order to gain what was rightfully his. Nathanael is clearly a man of devotion to God and the study of Torah, a man of integrity and genuine faith.
We note that in describing Nathanael Yeshua did not use the term Yehudi or Ioudaioi (Judean, Jew) but Israelites, the Greek transliteration of Israelite (all the tribes, who are now known as Jews). Therefore, it is clear that Yeshua made a distinction between the ruling religious class and their followers, the Ioudaioi (often translated as Jews but better translated depending on context as “Judeans”, or “Jewish religious leaders”) and the wider body of Israel (12 tribes). Based on this fact there are many places in the New Testament and particularly in the Gospel of John where it is not correct to translate Ioudaioi into modern English as “Jew”, because today the term Jew refers to all Israelites, ethnic, religious, empirical and is therefore an inaccurate conveyance of the first century meaning of Ioudaioi.
Joh 1:48 Nathanael (Netanel[H]) said to Him (Yeshua[H] [A]). “From where do you know me?” Yeshua[H] [A] answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree (Suke[G]), I saw, perceived, inspected, examined (Eido[G]) you.”
The fig tree was a location for rabbinical study (In part due to the shade it provided). It was also a symbol of Israel’s spiritual fruitfulness, and is later cursed by Yeshua (Mark 11:12-25; Matthew 21:18–22). While it is true that Yeshua had allowed Himself to be limited with regard to His manifest divinity, it is also true that by the Holy Spirit He was able to function in time and space as if He were also beyond time and space. He saw Nathanael in a location and time that He (Yeshua) had not been physically present in. Therefore, while Yeshua was fully man, He clearly maintained certain aspects of deity that transcended the abilities of those born of humanity alone. We note that Yeshua not only saw Nathanael before meeting him, He also examined Nathanael’s heart (core being) and saw him devoid of guile.
Joh 1:49 Nathanael (Netanel[H]) answered and said to Him, “Rabbi[H], [Rhabbi[G], Raban[A]], You are the Son of God (Ho-Uihos ho-Theos[G], Ben Ha-Elohim[H]); You are the King (Ho-Basileus[G], Ha-Melekh[H]) of Israel (Yisrael[H]).”
Nathanael says “My Great One, You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel!” On the back of having doubted Philip’s news, Nathanael now undone by the intimate majesty of Yeshua, boldly speaks all the Messianic titles that come to his mind. He has anticipated this great day for the entirety of his life of study and devotion. Nathanael is in awe.
Joh 1:50 Yeshua[H] [A] answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, I saw, perceived, inspected, examined (Eido[G]) you under the fig tree, you believe. You shall see perceive, inspect, examine (Eido[G]) greater things than these.”
This could be a statement or a question. “Now you believe?”, or “Now you believe!”, and “You shall see greater things…” In fact, you shall come to understand that I am the gateway into the Olam Haba world to come, the stairway that makes God accessible to fallen humanity.
Joh 1:51 And He (Yeshua[H] [A]) said to him (Nathanael), Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, from this point onward you shall see the heavens open, and the Malakhim[H] Messengers (angels) of the God (Ho-Theo[G]s, Ha-Elohim[H]) ascending and descending upon the Son of man (Ho-Uihos Ho-anthropos[G], Ha-Ben Ha-adam[H]).
The doubling of the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew “Amein” denotes the Hebrew practice of affirmation used in the Tanakh (OT) and the firm establishment of what is about to be said.
The description relating to the Messengers (Angels) of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man is an allusion to the prophetic vision of Jacob when he lay sleeping on the stone/rock in Ha-Makum in the Place (Temple Mount) having made his way there via Beit El (Bethel)[Genesis 28:10-19]. This redemptive vision was a foreshadowing of the salvation that God would provide for all who would receive the King Messiah, Who is prefigured in the stairway/ladder of Jacob’s dream.
“Son of Man” as explained previously, “Son of man” is a Messianic title taken from the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel (Bar Enosh). Yeshua frequently uses this title of Himself (Matt. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; John 3:13-14; 4:50; 5:27; 6:27 etc.). He fully identifies as human, while also being the unique Messianic heavenly Son of Man of Daniel 7:13-14, the ideal man, the last Adam, the Kinsmen Redeemer of the people of Israel and all humanity.
“So then, just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, in the same way death spread to all men because all sinned. 13 For up until the Torah, sin was in the world; but sin does not count as sin when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in a manner similar to the violation of Adam, who is a pattern of the One to come.15 But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if many died because of the transgression of one man, how much more did the grace of God overflow to many through the gift of one Man—Yeshua the Messiah. 16 Moreover, the gift is not like what happened through the one who sinned. For on the one hand, the judgment from one violation resulted in condemnation; but on the other hand, the gracious gift following many transgressions resulted in justification. [a] 17 For if by the one man’s transgression, death reigned through the one,[b] how much more shall those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the One, Messiah Yeshua.18 So then, through the transgression of one, condemnation came to all men; likewise, through the righteousness of one came righteousness of life to all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man, many will be set right forever.[c]20 Now the Torah came in so that transgression might increase. But where sin increased, grace overflowed even more— 21 so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness, to eternal life through Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” -Romans 5:12-21 TLV
A definition of each of the two modes of predominant thought addressed by a Messianic theological discussion:
Mode a. Greco-Roman Thought
Greco-Roman thought is informed by Greco-Roman gods, which have been devised by men. Therefore, Greco-Roman thought is man teaching himself delusion. It is largely limited to a chronological view of the world Alpha (A) to Omega (Z), start (of both gods and humanity) and finish (of both gods and humanity). Greco-Roman thought inevitably points to man's deification and death.
Mode b. Biblical Hebrew Thought
Biblical Hebrew thought is informed by the God (all existing) of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen), this mode of thought having been adopted via Israel's receiving of God's written word (Torah, Prophets, Writings, New Testament) by the inspiration and revelation of His Spirit. It is perpetual in understanding, seeing a beginning for humanity at the hands of the pre-existing, everlasting Creator God of Israel. Thus the Biblical Hebrew view thinks in terms of Aleph [A] (The Word, Yeshua) creation's beginning, and the goal toward Whom humanity is directed, Tav [Z] (The Messiah, Yeshua), Who has presented to all, not an end but a new beginning. Thus Biblical Hebrew thought is God teaching man the truth about Himself and about humanity's purpose, nature and need of redemption. Therefore, Biblical Hebrew thought points to the Messiah (God with us), resulting in the worship of the One true God (The God of Israel) and in perpetual Living (eternal life).
MESSIANIC JEWISH THOUGHT DIFFERS FROM GRECO-ROMAN THOUGHT IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS:
Lit. Word – HaShem (YHVH)
“The Word (Devar) HaShem (YHVH) came to him (Abram)…”
“The Word (Devar) HaShem (YHVH) came to Shemuel…”
1 Samuel 15:10
“In that night the Word (Devar) HaShem (YHVH) came to Natan…”
2 Samuel 7:4
“The Word (Devar) HaShem (YHVH) came to him (Eliyahu)…”
1 Kings 17:2
And so on, and so on…
The phrase, “The Word of The Lord” occurs some 347 times in the Bible (OT: 328 NT:19). The phrase, “The Word of the Lord came to…” occurs 132 times in the Bible (All in the Tanakh [OT]). It is most often written in Hebrew as pictured above. It reads literally as “Word YHVH”.
In the Tanakh (OT) the Word YHVH comes to Israel’s Prophets. He (The Word) comes and goes throughout the historical narrative of the Tanakh. John 1 explains that in the first century CE (AD), the Word YHVH came, not just to Miriam (Mary) and Yosef (Joseph), but to all the people of Israel, this time, in the flesh, born a Jew. The Word Himself says, “I have come only for the lost sheep of Israel”(Matt. 15:24).
“These twelve Yeshua sent forth, and commanded them, saying, ‘Don’t go into the way of the Gentiles, and don’t enter into any city of the Samaritans: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” -Matthew 19:5-6
This does not mean that the Gospel would not later be offered to the Gentiles. However, it does mean that the disciples, including John, the author of the Gospel of John, had a mandate to act first in sharing the Gospel with Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical). Based on this point alone, all the Gospels, written by the disciples of Yeshua must be considered to have been intended firstly for the Jewish audience and only secondarily for Gentiles.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
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