This episode continues our series on the portrayal of God as a character in the Bible. Today Tim and Jon dive into the Gospel of John and how it portrays the relationship between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
In part one (0:00-13:30), Tim says that reading John is similar to watching a remake of a movie, only with a different director. The Gospel of John was the Gospel that was written the latest, and John himself seems to have been the last living disciple of the original twelve. Tim says that John feels like a reflective retelling of the story of Jesus. This means the language used in the book is slightly different than in other Gospels and books in the Bible.
Tim says that John specifically hones in on using the language of “oneness.” It echoes the Shema. For example, Tim cites Richard Baukum, saying that in John 5:16 (Healing the crippled man on the Sabbath):
“For this reason, the Jews were persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."
Or again in John 10:30-31: “'I and the Father are one.' The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.”
And again in John 14:10: “Philip, do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”
Tim says that the point is that John has reflected the Jewish Shema in Jesus and God the Father’s relationship intentionally.
In part two (13:30-23:30), Tim and John look at the divine name.
John 8:56-59" “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.' Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him.” Tim says that this is taken directly from Exodus 3:14.
In part three (23:30-28:10), the guys look at John 17. Tim calls this chapter the climatic summary of the themes in the book.
John 17:1-3: “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
Tim says to notice the Daniel 7 echoes: Son, authority over all flesh, etc.
John 17:5: “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Tim says that Jesus was the pre-existent word and wisdom of God and the embodiment of his divine glory.
In part four (28:10-end), Tim shares John 17:11. "Holy Father, keep them in your name, the name which you have given me, that they may be one even as we are one.” Tim says that Jesus and the Father bear “the name” showing that they are one.
John 17:20-26: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that also they may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in one-ness, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Tim says that the true nature of God the Father’s relationship with Jesus is mirrored in how people relate with each other through love.
Tim shares a quote from scholar Larry Hurtado: “The Gospel of John draws on a rich, almost interchangeable association of God and God’s name to express a uniquely intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father. Indeed, for the author of the Gospel of John, for whom the biblical traditions provided the authoritative store of vocabulary, images, and themes by which to express the significance of Jesus, this divine-name tradition constituted the most profound way to portray the relationship of the “son” to the “father.” To speak of Jesus as invested with the divine name, as given the name, as manifesting God’s name in his own words and actions, as coming with and in the name of God, was to portray Jesus as bearing and exhibiting God in the most direct way possible in the conceptual categories of the biblical tradition and within the monotheistic commitment of that tradition. In the centuries following the Gospel of John, Christians began using terms and conceptual categories from Greek philosophical traditions (words like: being, essence, person). But it’s important to see that the use of the divine-name tradition in John is on it own terms an equally radical and direct claim about the relationship between Jesus and God.” -- Larry Hurtado, The Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Early Christianity.
Jon comments that the Gospel of John seems to be the most Jewish of all the Gospels. Tim says he agrees. John speaks directly to all of the Old Testament Jewish “shelves” of who God is. All these shelves are difficult for many modern people to fully understand without learning how an ancient Jew would have thought and acted. Jon says there are not only other languages to deal with when reading the Bible (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, English etc) but also foreign ways of thinking. Ancient people thought differently than modern western people.
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"The Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Early Christianity" by Larry Hurtado
"Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology" by Richard Bauckham