September 2021 Article

Dr. C. S. Lovett’s


September 2021




(2021 revised edition)


“Brother John, do you realize what people are saying?”


Of course, John knew. But writing a document to counteract rising public opinion is not easy, especially when you are 90 years old. And he was just about that age when he began this Gospel. If ever there was a citizen of the First Century, it was John. His tombstone could have read:




DIED A.D. 100


Do we know that for certain? No, but it is not far off. He was the youngest of the Lord’s Twelve Disciples, about age 25 when John the Baptist introduced him to Jesus. And he stayed with the Lord right up to the Ascension and then served the Jerusalem church for a time as an elder. After that, he drops out of the New Testament.


Years later, according to a well-established tradition, we find him serving the seven churches of Asia Minor as pastor. He assumed leadership after the deaths of Peter, Paul, and Timothy. Persecutions had taken their toll on the disciples. And now John is the last. His students are worried. They ask if he knows what people are saying and rightly so. When John dies, not only would the last of the apostles be gone, but with him the final authoritative voice on the church. Who else had his firsthand knowledge, his experience?

With the enemies of the church making good headway with their false teaching, John’s disciples come to him, “John, everywhere people are saying that Jesus was not God. That He was merely a unique prophet who never really claimed to be God in the flesh. Don’t you think you had better get the facts in writing to preserve the truth for those who come after us! You are the last person alive who actually heard what Jesus said!” Indeed. Who else would have the settling word for succeeding generations? John alone could now record what Jesus actually said.




A horrible system of false teaching arose less than fifty years after our Lord ascended into heaven. It had numerous forms, but essentially it denied the Deity of the Lord Jesus. Scholars give it the high-sounding name of Gnosticism. These false teachers allowed that Christ was a unique person, perhaps even “a” son of God, but the fact that He was “equal with God” was vigorously and viciously denied.


Of course, this is not too surprising when you consider there is so much about our Lord Jesus which is a stumbling block for many people. Outwardly, He seemed to be just an ordinary person. He came from a peasant family, arriving in this world amidst crude and humble circumstances. He grew to manhood in obscurity, working hard at a carpenter’s bench. There was nothing about Him to suggest He was the Lord of Glory.


When He began His ministry, it was not with the pomp and fanfare of the great of this world. Instead, He was meek and lowly. Why even His first companions were unlettered fishermen. Beyond that, what He had to say was utterly rejected by the religious leaders of that day. Little wonder some choked on the idea this Carpenter was “equal with God.” It is too much for many even today.


So the suggestion that John counter these false charges, in writing, was divinely inspired. There was no doubt about it; there was an urgent need for an authoritative, systematic presentation of Jesus’ claim to be God in the flesh. Everything hinges on what He said of Himself. For if He is not what He claimed, Christianity crumbles. The enemies of the truth believed the Deity of Christ to be the most vulnerable point in Christianity. Their subtle attacks were gathering momentum in John’s day. This heresy was rising fast in every place where the Gospel had been preached.




And who is better qualified? He was the one who knew Jesus best. His spiritual discernment was the keenest. He had the privilege of leaning on the Master’s chest at the Last Supper. Yes, John with his perfect memory is the one to restate Jesus’ claim to Deity. And this was the ideal time in history.


As did Apostle Paul before him, he dictates, using flawless Greek. His readers were Gentiles, for Christianity was now flourishing among them. This accounts for his numerous explanations of Jewish customs which would be familiar to any Jew. As his secretary prepares to scribe the letters, John goes over his notes. Before him are references he has collected over the years. All of Paul’s letters are there, plus the three Gospels written at least 35 years earlier.


John specifically writes to set forth the Lord’s claim to Deity. Therefore, he presents Jesus as the Word of God, drawing our attention to what He said; what He did was secondary. John selects only certain events from the life of the Lord and used those to present the long discourses that followed them. He is far more interested in reporting what Jesus said after a miracle than the supernatural event itself.


If Jesus is the Word of God, then the chief thing to come from Him is words! Jesus worked with words. He spoke and a storm subsided. A word from Him and the blind saw, the lame walked, and demons fled. He called and Lazarus came forth from the grave. John, therefore, confronts us with the words of Jesus and particularly His claim to Deity. John had a physical body of work spread out before him, but the greater fund of knowledge is still locked inside his head. A great body of evidence comes directly from Jesus’ discourses. His beloved disciple has only to start dictating them one sentence at a time. But how will he start? He needs a provocative opener for his Gospel. And then John is struck with a great idea!




In his day there was a philosophical term that was popular with religious thinkers. They said the True God, the Absolute God, was unknowable. But they had seen evidence of His workings and interventions within space and time. Further, it was agreed that had God personally revealed Himself through certain writings (Moses) and supernatural manifestations (Angel of the Lord). Over the centuries a great deal of information on God’s workings in the affairs of men had been gathered, but it had become an unwieldy mass of data.


About A.D. 50, some forty years before John wrote his Gospel, Philo, a Jew of Alexandria, began to use a word that lumped all the knowable things of God into a single package. That word was Logos. All the knowledge and manifestations of God were compressed into this Greek word. It was a useful term and people soon began to refer to the Logos rather than go into detail about the way God worked in human affairs. But what does it mean? Logos is a Greek term for “word.” It does not mean “word” as a part of speech, something you find in a sentence. It has an altogether different meaning, yet it is one not unfamiliar to you.


Of course, it was an abstract, impersonal reference. No one ever thought of ascribing it to an individual. That is, no one until John began looking for a catchword to introduce his Gospel. By the time John was ready to start it, the term Logos was the common way of referring to God’s revelation of Himself.


In John’s time, the thinking world was also using Logos to indicate the revelation of the “Unknown God.” So he seized it as a perfect way to present the truth of Christ. It is as though he were saying, “This Logos of Whom you speak in ignorance, I will now declare unto you. He is none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth!”


And that is what John does in the first fourteen verses of his Gospel. It is commonly called the Prologue, but it is helpful also to think of it as a writer’s device for capturing readers. You can be sure these words really “grabbed” the people of John’s day. And the meaning was clear too.




Without any apology, John states bluntly, “This Logos people are referring to is a specific Person, and I am going to identify Him for you. He is none other than Jesus, the Christ of God.”


John uses the word Logos to transfer ideas from the mind of God to man. As a result, men could behold the divine image of Jesus and visualize the character of the unknowable God, even the very nature of His personality. Jesus is the Word God “speaks” to trigger the divine image in our imaginations. Thus the Gospel of John is a careful selection of a few scenes from the life of the Lord which has one purpose: proving that Jesus is the Logos Who claimed to be God in Person. It follows then, that when Jesus speaks, ideas are passing from the mind of God to those who hear.


When John begins with the Logos (Word), he tells us what to expect in the chapters ahead. We will be meeting the words of Jesus. They will cause the Glory of God to appear on the screen of our imaginations. Profound things will surface in our minds. They will be mystical, reflective, as something of the mind of God unfolds within us. Wondrous images will be triggered by Jesus’ words for His are like no other’s. Once He said, “Let there be light!” And there was light. Who but God can speak and have worlds appear (Col. 1:16).


When Jesus speaks, God is speaking. This must be so, or else His claims would be ridiculous. Even more, He has said to us, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63 KJV). As those spirit words penetrate our souls via this Gospel, miracles happen, and our faith rises to heights of worship. Yes, John did well to call Him the Word of God for “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks!” (John 7:46 NASB).


C.S. Lovett


Copyright © 2021 Personal Christianity



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