Before the Beginning

John 1  •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 6
John 1
Before any beginning was the "Word." He was with God; He was God. The Word being with God shows two persons-God and the Word. "The Word was God" shows the Word to be a distinct Person. In verse 33 we read of the Holy Spirit. Thus we apprehend that there are three Persons of the Godhead-the Trinity. All of God's works and ways involve the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
There has always been joy and bliss in heaven, the place of eternal happiness for the Godhead. Because of the work of Christ on the cross fulfilling God's counsels, this joy and bliss will be for all of the redeemed, when in heaven.
The book of Proverbs enlightens us as to this happy condition in the heavens-the love between the Father and the Son (Prov. 8:3030Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; (Proverbs 8:30)). Also, it speaks of the delights of the eternal Son anticipating the creation of man: "Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and My delights were with the sons of men."
We learn in Psa. 40:7-97Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. 9I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. (Psalm 40:7‑9) of the counsels of God in regard to the Son of God becoming a man, to manifest in His body and life on earth the traits which should have been true of us-dependence and obedience for the glory of God-and also to redeem those who were far off from God, by His sacrifice on the cross (John 12:2828Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. (John 12:28)). Never before were these traits seen in man. What delight must have been the Father's to see His Son fulfill these counsels.
In Jesus, God has come forth from His essential fullness to manifest all that He is in order to bring back into the enjoyment of that fullness, the children of God, who, as born of God, have been made partakers of the Divine nature, being made capable of apprehending and enjoying His counsels and Himself.
All blessings rest on the finished work of Christ; God thereby has revealed His love in the fullest measure possible. This gospel begins with the glory of Christ, the Word, before creation, and ends in His glory in redemption. Christ in His Person as man is the expression of the entire mind of God.
The one who existed before the beginning-the eternal Son of God-is the Creator. "All things received being through Him" (JND). "By faith we apprehend that the worlds were framed by (the] word of God, so that that which is seen should not take its origin from things which appear." Heb. 11:3 JnD.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty: who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds His chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: who maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire: who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed forever." Psa. 104:1-51Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honor and majesty. 2Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: 3Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: 4Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: 5Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. (Psalm 104:1‑5).
The universe is measureless, beyond our capacity to realize its vast expanse, and the emptiness between heavenly bodies. In the midst of it all is the tiny speck called "earth," and man who inhabits a small part of this tiny speck of God's vast creation. Yet all of God's eternal counsels concerning Christ as man are unfolding and will yet be unfolded on the earth, until in heaven He becomes our eternal portion according to the exceeding riches of God's grace.
Man has been slow to acknowledge that the Son of God, the Creator, came down to earth to dwell among men, and more, that He will remain a man among men forever. He was not given the title, Son of man; He takes it for Himself, because His delights are with the sons of men.
Life and Light
Life is intrinsic in the Son. Life, which belongs to Him, He gives to others, becoming the light of men. The Light appeared in darkness (man's moral condition), but it was not apprehended by man. The Creator, the Light, was not recognized in the world. Israel did not recognize their Creator.
John the Baptist was sent of God to bear witness to the Light in order that all men might believe through him. Every man is lightened by the true Light coming into the world. This does not mean that every man is enlightened, but that the Light is there for him to be enlightened by. Faith, coming in grace, brings this enlightenment. 'Through faith we understand."
He gave the right to be children of God to all who received Him. Such were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. God's creature, man, has always been expected to walk in dependence and obedience. Adam and his descendants have failed to walk in this way to this day. Jesus, as man, always walked in dependence and obedience, following the precepts of the Word of God.
Man’s Spirit—God’s Spirit
The fish which live in the ocean, by a given sense in their nature, follow a path which they never leave (Psa. 8:88The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:8)). There are no outward physical marks to guide them. They are guided by a sensor which is inherent in their nature. They have no moral relationship with God as man does.
Man's connection with God is a divinely-given sensor (man's spirit), which causes him to respond in dependence and obedience in love, if he has been given a divine nature. God has given us His Word, so that we may know His will and be obedient to it.
Since man has sinned, he has been given a conscience. By it, he realizes that if he is not walking in obedience and dependence, he is out of the path that the sensor reminds him of. By it, he is reminded of the consequences of disobedience spoken of in God's Word.
In the spiritual sea of life we find our way by a divinely-given sensor-our spirit responding to God's Spirit, by keeping God's Word.
The Word Becomes Flesh
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we have contemplated His glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a Father), full of grace and truth" (JND). Scripture speaks of Jesus, as the only begotten, becoming a man (Psa. 2; Heb. 1:55For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Hebrews 1:5)). Being manifest in the flesh, He has come down from heaven to be man in nature (the same Person as He always was in heaven) to dwell among men on earth.
John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus, said, "This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for He was before me." In a moral sense, Jesus was before John; physically, John was six months older. Because of His Person, Jesus was preferred before John. Jesus was always God; "He came." John had no former existence; Jesus had.
HIS Fullness If We Are Believers, We Have Received of His Fullness, Grace Heaped Upon Grace. His Fullness Is an Expression of What God Is, All That God Is in Man's Nature in Jesus—the Source of All Blessing.
By giving man a new nature (born of God) and by his being made a child of God, he is brought into the family of God. This is grace which displays the heart of God.
The Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, reveals the Father as known by Himself in that position. First there is fullness, then relationship. "The Word become flesh is the full expression of God, adapted, by taking man's own nature, to all that is in man, to meet every human need, and all the capacity of the new nature in man to enjoy the expression of all in which God is suited to him."1 This is more than light, which being pure, shows all things in their true character; it is the expression of what God is, and God in grace and as a source of blessing. Angels do not have these things, but desire to look into them (Eph. 3:1010To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, (Ephesians 3:10); 1 Peter 1:1212Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:12); Acts 17:24-2924God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. (Acts 17:24‑29)).
We have received what we needed-grace upon grace, the favor of God abundantly, divine blessings (the fruits of His love) heaped one upon another (Eph. 1).
Grace and Truth
God has been revealed to man in the Son who is in the bosom of the Father. This is surpassing grace. Moses gave the law, but grace and truth have come by Jesus Christ. The law is holy, spiritual and good, but it is not the full truth, which has come by Jesus Christ.
"God is true. Christ is the truth who reveals what is true. The knowledge of God is the revelation of God to the soul that is in the new nature and is the spring of all acquaintance with truth."2
The law requires from man what he ought to be. Truth in Christ shows what man is. The only way in which man has seen or will see God is in the Person of Jesus who has become man. It is by Christ that we have truth, all of it. Truth is not only declared, it is come in man-the Son of God. Grace is love revealed to sinners.
The true relation of God with all things is shown in Christ. Truth is received as facts, but also in Christ. In coming into the world Christ brings out the truth as to what God is, what man is, what man should be, what the world is, who its prince is. It is only in Christ that we discern truth. "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Everything takes its true place, its true character in every respect as we see it in Christ.
John’s Witness of Jesus to the Pharisees
To the Pharisees who asked him who he was, John the Baptist confessed, "I am not the Christ," and "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias." (See Isa. 40:33The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3).) They asked why he baptized, not being the Christ or a prophet. John said he baptized with water, and the One coming after him, preferred before him, baptized with the Holy Spirit. He said, I am not worthy to unloose His shoe latchet.
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!"
It will be amazing to see a world from which all sin has been removed. Such will be the eternal state. The groundwork is finished as a result of the death of the Lamb of God. In that coming display, all will be of God.
The Lamb of God, by His sacrifice on the cross, restores the foundations of the world's relationship with God. Then comes the eternal bliss-a new heaven and a new earth. There will be no sins to be confessed then. It will be the result of the work of another-the Lamb of God on the cross, who takes away forever the sin of the world from the eye of God. God is holy; He cannot look on sin.
Until the Lord Jesus came to be baptized, John had never seen Christ. Then God gave John a testimony as to who Jesus was: "Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." John bare record that this was the Son of God.
The Lamb of God
As John stood with his disciples, looking on Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Thus John introduced Jesus to his own disciples. John confessed later, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Two of John's disciples, hearing this, followed Jesus. Jesus asked, "What seek ye?" They answered, "Master... where dwellest Thou?"
The picture here is beautiful-a glimpse of the present day for the believer. Jesus said, "Come and see." We are invited now by faith to come and see. Could this, "Master... where dwellest Thou" and "Come and see," be a picture of the occupation of the saints on the earth in the interval of these two thousand years?
What would it be like to be alone for a day with a divine Person who loved you and came to do you good spiritually? This is communion. We have the indwelling of the Spirit who brings before us Jesus and where He dwelt in the Father's bosom.
How good when formalities are laid aside and we with Mary of Bethany sit at Jesus' feet to learn where He dwells. We need to use the present time to prepare, to learn something of the Father's house and what is proper behavior for it, as we gaze by faith on the Lamb of God. They abode with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour (10:00 a.m.).
The Day Following
There are two days in chapter one-one day of John's ministry, and one day of Christ's ministry.
Andrew, having found his brother Simon, said to him; "We have found the Messias," and he brought him to Jesus. This act of Andrew's had a far-reaching effect, like a ripple on the waters that reaches the farthest shore. Who can tell of the results of this work of Andrew in bringing his brother to Jesus? Andrew was not prominent, but he could tell Jesus about a lad who had a lunch that Jesus used to feed thousands (John 6:8,98One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? (John 6:8‑9)). Peter was prominent. Tell if you can which was the more important-bringing one soul to Jesus? or preaching to myriads. Does not God look on the heart?
To be in the place that He has appointed us and at the right time is our privilege and responsibility.
Jesus, seeing Peter, said, "Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone." Grace would reveal at the very start, the permanent character and position of one who believes in Jesus and is called to follow Him.
The Church is being built of living stones. "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priest-hood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:4,54To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4‑5). These things were writ-ten by Peter after the Lord had ascended to heaven.
Jesus in Galilee
On the day following, Jesus found Philip and said, "Follow Me." He, as well as the brothers Peter and Andrew, lived in Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael, saying to him, "We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
How refreshing to observe the joy of both Andrew and Philip as they say, "We have found Him." Surely they were entitled to this joy, because the Holy Spirit had wrought in their hearts. Added to the joy of finding their Messiah, there was a greater joy to know that Jesus came from heaven, became a man and found both Andrew and Philip. Since then Jesus has found many others. For this we praise His name.
Nathanael inquired, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip answered, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him and said of him, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" This was because Jesus was calling him, giving him a new nature, and he represented the remnant of Israel in a coming day when Jesus comes again.
Nathanael inquired, "Whence knowest Thou me?" Jesus said to him, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." Nathanael answered, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel." Jesus said, "Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, Believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.... Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
For the Lord Jesus to identify Himself with men and take a nature lower than angels was the result of amazing grace heaped on man (Heb. 2:1616For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:16)). But for angels, in a higher race than man, to minister to a man, this too is beyond our comprehension. It must be believed, not reasoned about.
Jesus, who has become the center for gathering, furnishes the path as well. Christ in His Person as man is the glorious Head over all, whom angels, the highest of creatures, serve.
1. J. N. Darby.
2. J. N. Darby