Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

John 1:18
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 1:18
v18: So no one will miss the point of what he has been saying, John describes the nature of Jesus once more, using the most unmistakable terms. Jesus is not God the Father, but He is the “only-begotten God” (monogenes theos), which means He is His Son. To beget is a very different process than to create or make. To “create” essentially means to bring something into being which did not formerly exist. When God or a person creates something, they always create something which is different in nature from themselves. For example God created the earth, the animals and humans, or we might even say an artist creates a work of art, but in each case what is produced is of a lower nature than the one who created it.

Monday: John 1:18
v18 (continued): To “make” something is essentially a process of rearranging materials which already exist in order to produce something useful. But “begetting” is the reproduction of our own nature. Cats beget kittens; dogs beget puppies; and humans beget babies (C.S. Lewis). God can “create” a universe out of nothing, but that universe is still of a different and lower nature than He. He can “make” Adam out of the dust of the ground and even make him “in His own image” (Ge 1:27), but humans are not divine. We have been made “a little lower than God” (Ps 8:5). But John says Jesus is the “only-begotten God,” meaning God did not “create” Him out of nothing, nor did He “make” Him out of a substance. Instead, God reproduced Himself in a Son who is fully God. In other words, He is of the same divine nature as His Father.

Tuesday: John 1:18
v18 (continued): Jesus is unique. Though He became a man, He is not like any other man. Unlike us, His spirit did not begin in Mary’s womb; He came from heaven to earth at the moment He was miraculously conceived. Every human being is made up of three basic elements: a spirit, a soul and a body (1Th 5:23). Our body is the physical “tent” in which we live. Our soul, though the word is used in various ways in the Bible, is basically the life that animates our physical body. That’s why the Bible says animals also have a soul (Ge 1:20-21, 24). And our spirit is us: that conscious person (intellect, will, emotions) who lives within or through our body. When Jesus became a man He too was made up of these same three elements. Like every other man, He had a spirit. But here is the key difference: His spirit was begotten by God and existed before He was conceived. Our’s begins at conception.

Wednesday: John 1:18
v18 (continued): And Jesus is uniquely God’s Son. When we humans believe in Him we become adopted by God as His children. That means we share with Jesus the full relationship and privileges He has with the Father. Joined to Him by faith we are given the “right to become children of God” (v12), but we never become “begotten” children; we are always created beings. This is an important distinction. Jesus, in so far as His spirit is concerned, is not a created being. He is begotten, which is why it was possible for Him to be present before all creation, and why it was possible for Him to speak the universe into existence at the Father’s direction.

Thursday: John 1:18
v18 (continued): Because humans are essentially spirit, we are immortal. That means we never cease to exist once we have been conceived. Jesus however, is eternal, not simply immortal. We have a beginning at conception and then continue to exist, but as God’s begotten Son, Jesus existed with God before all things began (vs1-2) and of course will continue to exist forever. The Bible says nothing about how God “begot” His Son. It certainly had nothing to do with the normal processes of biology. In other words, there was no “mother” involved. Nor does the Bible say that because Jesus was begotten as a Son that there would have been a time when He did not exist. We are safe to assume that since He is a divine being, He must have always existed, that there was never a “time” when He did not exist. However, since the Bible does not provide an answer to this question, our proper response is to humbly accept it as a mystery and avoid trying to invent a solution. Maybe more will be shown us when we step into the next age (1Co 13:9-12), but until then we can leave such unanswered questions alone and preach what God has revealed in His Word.

Friday: John 1:18
v18 (continued): John opened this verse with a startling statement. He said, “No one, up to this time, has ever seen God…” (literal), yet there were numerous appearances of a divine person in the Old Testament whom people worshipped and even identified as God. For example, the Bible says the “Lord God” (Yahweh Elohim) walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Ge 3:8-10). Abraham and Sarah served a meal to a man whom Moses identified repeatedly as “Yahweh” (Ge 18:13, 17, 19, 20, 22, 32) and whom Abraham called “the Judge of all the earth” (v25). Fleeing from Sarah, Hagar met an “Angel of the Lord” and then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees,” for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him” (Ge 16:7-14). Jacob actually wrestled with a man whom he said was God (Elohim) and afterward named the place “the face of God” (Peniel), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved” (Ge 32:30). Moses and Aaron, along with Aaron’s two eldest sons and seventy elders, went up on Mount Sinai and “saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement… yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Ex 24:9-11). Moses, on another occasion, was hidden in the cleft of a rock on Mount Sinai while the glory of God passed by, and he was allowed to see His “back” (Ex 33:21-23). Joshua encountered “a man,” just before the battle of Jericho, who said He was “the captain of the host of the Lord,” and before whom Joshua bowed down (Rev 19:10) and was told to remove the sandals from his feet “for the place where you are standing is holy” (Jos 5:13; Ex 3:4-6). This “man” then gave Joshua instructions concerning the upcoming battle and is identified as “Yahweh” (Jos 6:2). Isaiah said he “saw the Lord (Adonai) sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the Temple” (Isa 6:1). The angelic beings who worshiped Him called Him “Yahweh of hosts” (Yahweh Sabaoth) (Isa 6:3), and then Isaiah said, “Woe is me… for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa 6:5). Ezekiel named a specific date upon which he “saw visions of God” (Eze 1:1), and in one of the visions he saw His form and the glory which radiated from Him (Eze 1:27-28). The experience seemed so real to him he responded by falling on his face.

Saturday: John 1:18
v18 (continued): One more example, which we might give of such encounters, is the vision Daniel saw after three weeks of fasting (Da 10:1-9). He looked up to see a “man” (Ish) whose appearance was very much like John’s vision of the glorified Jesus (Rev 1:12-15). Daniel described him as someone who looked like a man, but he called him “my Lord” (Adonai) (Da 10:15-16, 18). Admittedly this person may have been an archangel, yet he behaved in ways that are suspiciously divine. And Daniel’s encounter must have been more than a “vision,” in the sense of merely an internal spiritual experience, because “a great dread” fell on the men who were with him and they ran away (v7). Daniel himself was left physically exhausted in a “deep sleep,” and he fell face down on the ground (Da 10:8-9, 15-18).  

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