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.
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.