Echoes of the Old Testament in John 1:1-14

The prologue of John’s Gospel is suffused with echoes of the Old Testament.  I would like to make mention of just two echoes which enrich our understanding of the Gospel and also evidence the unity of the whole Bible.  Right at the outset John opens with these words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (ESV)  John here is doing several things.  One thing He is doing is affirming the divinity of Jesus Christ (as will become increasingly clearer as the chapter unfolds).  One of the means John uses to build his case for the divinity of Christ is an allusion to the opening words of the book of Genesis, “In the beginning…”  A Jewish reader would undoubtedly think back to the creation account.  But we are not left to our own imaginations.  John’s use of the light/dark dichotomy also suggests the creation narrative.  Finally, as if these were not enough,  John tells us that “all things were made through him…”  The Word, Jesus Christ, was the creative agent through whom all things that are came into being.  Jesus Christ is Creator.

Jesus Christ is also Redeemer.  Not only does the Apostle John  echo the creation narrative.  He also recalls God’s great redemptive acts in the exodus narrative as well.  In verse 14, John tells us that the Word, who created all things, “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV) The Son of God, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created the universe and all that is in it, came to dwell with his people to save them from their sins.  The Greek word behind “dwell” is ἐσκήνωσεν which means “to pitch a tent” and most likely was intended by John to harken back to God’s tabernacle in the midst of the Hebrew encampment where God would be with his people (Exodus 25).  That Jesus in John 2 says that he would replace the Temple (the stationary replacement for the earlier mobile tabernacle) as the center of worship adds weight to the recognition of this echo.

Jesus is, according to John in the first few verses of his Gospel, divine and as such he is both Creator and Redeemer.  What a wonderful savior we have!  The one who brought galaxies into existence came to tabernacle in our midst and as John puts it, “we have beheld his glory, as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  I pray this is as true for you as it was for John and the rest of the disciples who came to trust in this same Jesus.

God has given us a rich revelation.  May we, by the Holy Spirit, grow in our appreciation and understanding of it.

—Jeffrey C. Waddington

Via: Feeding on Christ