Now, let's dig in and get some meat out of John. Read John 1:1-18
We're talking Christ's preexistence, i.e., his eternal nature, this week. Why is this so important to John that he addresses it in the first 18 verses of his Gospel? Because he wants to firmly establish that Jesus was much more than just a man, he was God, the Messiah, the Christ! So, he takes the time to set his readers straight first off. The curriculum I used said it this way, "John offers no argument, apology, or explanation for what he said about Christ's preexistence." I like that. A "take no prisoners" kind of attitude.
So, verse one. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." By saying "in the beginning," John is saying when all things began. In other words, Christ was present already when all things began. The actual Greek word that John uses for "the Word" is the word "logos," which literally translated means "thought" or "expression." Look at the beautiful picture this creates. Jesus was God's Word to us, expressing who God is and what He wants to do for us. He was God walking among us.
Sticking with verse one, the phrase "the Word was with God" literally translates that Jesus was "face to face" with God. This is very key. Remember our previous discussion about Gnosticism and Docetists? John was needing to establish for His readers that Christ was more than an idea in God's mind before the world began. In other words, "if Christ was facing God," then if God saw Christ, Christ must be more than an idea in God's mind. He was God participating in the creation of the world.
Jump onto verse 3. "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." The Greek word used here for creation is the word "egeneto" which means "came into existence." In other words Christ brought into existence something out of nothing, or "ex nihilo." Why does John take the time to talk about Christ bringing something into existence? Because he wants to establish Christ as Creator, as being part of God's work, not as being a part of God's mind.
Remember, all of this is to establish Christ's preexistence. OK, going on....
Here is what other parts of the Bible has to say about Christ's preexistence, to support John 1:
Look up John 8:58. The key phrase here is "Before Abraham was, I am." What's wrong with this sentence? That's right, the tenses are all wrong. Christ starts in the past tense and then moves onto the present tense. We're not supposed to do that in the same sentence! Jesus must not have paid attention in Hebrew class. OK, he is God. So why does he switch up tenses? He is creating this wonderful picture for us of the fact that even 2,000 years before that time, he is present. In other words, he lives outside the realm of time. 2,000 years ago, He is now, and 2,000 years from now, He already is! This is also one of Christ's claims to deity.
Look up Exodus 3:14. This is where the whole "I AM" phrase comes into play that is recorded for us. A little food for thought here. After Christ says the "I AM" phrase in John 8:58, the Jews try to stone him. In light of Exodus 3:14, why would they try to stone Christ?
OK, look up Micah 5:2. This was written several hundred years before Christ's birth. Yet, Micah foretells of one who would be born then, but has existed "from of old." All of these support the fact that Christ has existed from before the beginning of time and support John's opening chapter.
So, Christ preexisted. So what? Why is this an important part of proving Christ's deity? Let's look at some more scripture. Look up 1 John 5:11-12, Colossians 3:4, and Galations 2:20. What do these verses say that would implicate that Christ's preexistence is important enough to discuss first thing?
Think of it this way: In these verses we see that when we trust Christ, we die to ourselves and Christ becomes our lives. So, what kind of life does Christ have? Therefore, what kind of life does every believer in Christ have? That's right, eternal life. Only one who has always existed could provide eternal life. And here's the key: because Christ was, is, and always will be, and is in us and is our life, we CANNOT lose our salvation once we are truly saved!!!! CANNOT!!!!!!!!!!! What wonderful hope that is for us! And that is the key for why we must believe in Christ's preexistence, and why John starts with Christ's preexistence. Our eternal security rests entirely on the fact that Christ lives forever and is GOD!!!!
Questions for thought:
1. What is the form of Christ's preexistence? Think about this one and we will discuss this one.
2. How did and will people respond to Christ's preexistence?
3. In today's world, we might not be fighting Gnostics or Docetists, but we do have some worldview that we have to deal with that deny the preexistence of Christ. What might those be?