Monday, March 15, 2021

What about John 1:1?

A summary of the One God Report podcast, "What about John 1:1?"



Ever since I came to understand from the Bible that God (Yehovah, YHVH) is one, and that Jesus is God’s human Messiah (Christ) whom God raised from the dead, people say to me: “What about John 1:1?”. For my friends who believe in the “deity of Christ”, John 1:1 is biblical evidence that Jesus is God.

But is it?

In this podcast we begin to take a look at the Gospel of John and see that the Trinitarian or "deity of Christ" interpretation of John 1:1 is found wanting.

We show four "broader view" observations about the Gospel of John to see there is something wrong with the Trinitarian interpretation:

1.  The purpose for writing

The author of the Gospel of John tells us the purpose he wrote his book, or at least why he recorded the signs that Jesus did. “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are recorded so that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

The Trinitarian "deity of Christ" interpretation of John 1:1 is contradictory to the author's own purpose statement.

We present what it means to be the "Son of God", describing biblical examples and characteristics, rejecting the definition of the Hellenized "church fathers" of later centuries.

2.  No Trinity in John’s Gospel

In the Gospel of John, “God” is never the Trinity. Trinitarians should at least acknowledge that there is no Trinity described in John 1:1 (or anywhere else in John’s Gospel). Try replacing the word "Trinity" for the word "God" in the Gospel of John, and see if that makes sense. For instance, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the Trinity, and the Word was the Trinity"

How about John 3:16: "For the Trinity so loved the word, that he (it?) sent his (its) unique Son...."

It is strange that for the biblical book that is supposedly the main book that presents Jesus as God and that God is a Trinity, nowhere in the book does "God" mean "the Trinity. More details here: https://landandbible.blogspot.com/2019/10/did-trinity-so-love-world-in-gospel-of.html

3. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the Messiah, not God

The question that the Gospel of John addresses and answers is: "Is Jesus the Messiah", not "Is Jesus God" or "Is the Messiah God". We see being "the Messiah" is the question from the beginning of the book to the end: John 1:17, 1:20, 1:41, 4:25-26, 7:26, 7:41, 9:22, 10:24, 17:3, 20:31.

4. Jesus in the Gospel of John distinguishes himself from God

In John 8:40 Jesus says he is a "man who heard the truth from God".  Jesus distinguished himself from God, from all of God, not just from "one person of the Godhead".  Likewise Jesus distinguishes himself from God in John 17:1-3 when he says that the Father is the "only true God" and that he, Jesus, is the Messiah sent by God.

5. Finally, we ask the question, and leave open for later examination, what beginning is intended by the words of John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word..." Is this beginning a direct reference to the Genesis creation, or does the author of the Gospel of John have in mind a new beginning? How is "the beginning" used in other places in John's Gospel, in John's Epistles, and in the Book of Revelation?

Friday, March 12, 2021

Is God Flesh? A Better Way to Understand John 1:14

 To hear this podcast audio teaching part 1, click here. For part 2, click here.


For deity of Christ believers, “the Word became flesh” is the most concise statement in all of the Bible that “God took on flesh”. To deity of Christ believers, John 1:1 combined with John 1:14 is the #1 evidence that “God became man”.

 

We need to ask deity of Christ believers who appeal to John 1:1 and John 1:14, “So you believe that God became flesh?” Do you think that “God is flesh?” Ask yourself if this statement really sounds biblical and if you really believe it: “My god is flesh”. Go ahead, say it yourself and ask yourself if you really believe “my God is flesh”

 

The Bible says that the “the blood is the life” of flesh (Deut. 12:23, Lev. 17:11). So if blood is the life of flesh, is the life of God in his blood?

 

I think the question “Is God flesh?” may help deity of Christ believers begin to see that John 1:14 doesn’t mean what they think it means. Let’s not deflect, avoid the word flesh and talk instead in the abstract about how “God became man, God took on a human nature”. John 1:14 says “the Word became flesh”. Is God flesh?

 

In podcast #39 I presented about 10 reasons why the phrase in John 1:14 “the word became flesh” does NOT mean that “God became man”. In this current podcast I will seek to show even more conclusively that when John wrote “the Word became flesh”, he actually eliminated any possibility that the Word was a divine being. I don’t have a big problem with the translation “became flesh”, as I’ll explain later. But I suggest that a better way to understand John 1:14 is that “the Logos, the Word was flesh”. In other words, the Logos, the Word - God’s communication to us - was the human being, the man Christ Jesus from Nazareth.

 

John 1:14: So the Word was flesh and lived among us. We saw his glory – the glory as of a unique son from a father, full of grace and truth.

 

I understand the prologue of the Gospel of John to be an introduction and summary of the ministry of the human person, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. The human person Jesus uniquely revealed God. Or, perhaps a more accurately: God uniquely made himself known through the human person Jesus of Nazareth. God spoke to us in and through this human person, Jesus. That is why Jesus is called the Word.

 

The Gospel of John, including the first 18 verses, is not introducing a second god figure, a pre-existent being who was involved in the Genesis creation and then became flesh.

 

Nor is the Gospel of John introducing an abstract plan or purpose of God that was involved in the Genesis creation and then became flesh.

 

Rather, “the beginning” of John 1:1 and the rest of the verses in the Prologue do not describe the Genesis creation at all. John’s beginning is the new beginning that God has initiated through the man Jesus, the Messiah. It is the man Jesus from Nazareth, flesh, commissioned, authorized and empowered by God, raised from the dead and exalted by God, who has revealed God and is the beginning of the resurrection age to come.

 

The Christology, or “who Jesus is” in the Gospel of John, is not “incarnation”, that “God became man”. Rather, the Christology in the Gospel of John is that Jesus is flesh, the human Messiah, the sent agent of God who makes God known (John 1:18, 3:16, 6:29, 17:3, etc.) and sets into motion the new beginning for mankind, resurrection life.

 

In John’s Gospel we learn that this uniquely chosen, empowered and sent man, the Messiah, was put to death, but then was raised from the dead, then lived among his disciples again before he “disappeared” entirely.

 

This is an amazing claim. The Messiah put to death, but then raised from the dead and present for short times with his followers again before he ultimately ascended to his Father, to his God (20:17, 1:18). We must not forget that John wrote his Gospel with the knowledge that Jesus had ministered in Israel, had been put to death, had been raised from the dead, and had been with his followers again after his resurrection from the dead; however, at the time that John wrote his Gospel, Jesus was no longer physically with them. In a certain sense, Jesus was “gone”.

 

So who, or what, was this person Jesus who taught like no other man, performed amazing miraculous signs, claimed to be the Messiah, was put to death, but was then raised from the dead, and appeared again as a body of flesh that could be touched - but then disappeared and was no longer around?

 

Was he a spirit or an angel, or like later Gentile Christian philosophers suggested was some kind of god that infused himself into a human body?  The Gospel of John answers “no” to all these suggestions. The Gospel of John says Jesus was “flesh”, which means that Jesus was a human being.

 

The Greek word egeneto: So the Word was flesh and lived among us

 

As discussed in earlier podcasts on John 1:3, John 1:10 and John 1:14, it is essential that we think about the Greek verb that is translated into many English versions as “became” in John 1:14, “the word became flesh”. The word in Greek is ἐγένετο, γίνομαι (egeneto, from ginomai). The word has a wide range of meanings: “to become, to be, to exist, to happen, to come on the scene” and is translated some five different ways in John chapter 1.

 

In John 1:3 and 1:10 most English translations translate egeneto as “was made” or “came to be”.

“all was made or all came to be egeneto through him” 1:3

“the kosmos came to be egeneto through him” 1:10

 

But the exact same word is translated simply as “was” in John 1:6, “there was egeneto a man sent from God whose name was John”

 

In John 1:17 egeneto is translated “came”: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came egeneto through Jesus Christ.”

 

In John 1:28 egeneto is translated as “happened”: “These things happened egeneto in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.”

 

So, “was made, was created, came to be, was, came, happened” - we are wise to keep in mind the wide range of possible meanings for this word egeneto. The word is also translated in even more different ways in the Bible. The English word that a translator chooses depends a lot upon theological presuppositions.  Is John 1:14 really telling us that a pre-existent 2nd god-person called the Logos became or transformed into flesh? To a Greek thinker, maybe. But as we will discuss later, to a Hebraic thinker, “flesh” eliminates any possibility that the Word was a divine figure.

 

The current majority Biblical Unitarian view of vs. 14 also postulates some kind of a transformation or change, even an “incarnation”, not from a god-person into flesh, but rather from an abstract plan or purpose of God into a human being. The presumption is that the Logos of John 1:1 was only the plan or purpose of God, but then transformed into, or became a person in 1:14. According to this view the Logos was the abstract plan, but then became a human being. However, of the over 1000 times that the word logos occurs in the Bible, this would be the only time it means an unspoken plan or purpose.

 

This “plan or purpose” Biblical Unitarian view, as with the deity of Christ view, associates “the logos became flesh” to the conception or birth of Jesus. But it is very, very unlikely that John 1:14 is about the conception or birth of Jesus. Among other reasons, if conception or birth is what the author intended in John 1:14, we should wonder why the Gospel of John never describes such a significant, indeed, essential event. John gives not one word about the circumstances of conception or birth of the Messiah. The incarnation of a either a pre-existent god or an abstract plan into a human embryo is the greatest story never told, at least not in the Bible. Again, see podcast #39.

 

Birth and being born is mentioned some 17 times in the Gospel of John. But being born is never described using our word egeneto. There is a different word in Greek which means “to be born” (gennao, γεννάω), and the Gospel of John uses it in all of those other cases, but not here in 1:14. Jesus, when he spoke of his own birth in John 18:47, used the normal word for birth, not the word egeneto which is here in John 1:14.

 

While I don’t have a big problem with translating egeneto as “became” in John 1:14, I think it needs to be understood correctly. As we continue in this podcast, I will give reasons why it is better to understand egeneto in John 1:14 simply as “was”, similarly to the way the word is translated in John 1:6.

John 1:6, “there was a man sent from God whose name was John”

John 1:14 “So the Word was flesh and lived among us…”

 

John 1:14 is telling us that this person Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph (John 1:45), metaphorically called the Word, Life and Light, who lived among the people of Israel both before and after his death, was flesh, that is, a human being. Through and in the human person Jesus Christ, God spoke to his people. This is why Jesus is called the Word in John 1:1 and 1:14, and in the Book of Revelation 19:13, “the name by which he was called is the Word of God.” In these latter days the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has spoken through a son, the Messiah, the man Jesus.

 

Or, another way to understand John 1:14 is “the Word came on the scene a human being.”

 

This is exactly the point of Hebrews 1:1-2: “In many and various ways God spoke in past times to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a son…”

 

The words egeneto and logos in other places in the Bible

 

There are many places in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where the word egeneto is best understood and translated simply as “was” (Gen 1:3, 5, 8, etc.). Perhaps most significant for this discussion are the occurrences in the Greek Old Testament of the word logos together with egeneto in the often-occurring phrase: "and egeneto the logos of YHVH", “and the word of Yahweh came”. Here egeneto is understood simply as “came” or "was", as in "The word of YHVH came to the prophet Isaiah" (38:4), or “the word of Yahweh was to Jeremiah (1:4)”. These phrases with egeneto and logos occur over 100 times in the Old Testament, and it makes sense that a reader familiar with the Old Testament in Greek would immediately associate the words egeneto and logos of John 1:14 with the coming of the word of God to God’s people in past times through God’s prophets.

 

But now, John 1:14 tells us, God’s Word has come to us in flesh, in a man, Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Let’s look at three other places in the New Testament where the words logos and egeneto occur together. In each of these cases egeneto is best translated as “came” or “was”.

 

2 Corinthians 1:18 But as God is true, our word (logos) toward you was egeneto not yes and no.

 

Hebrews 2:2 For if the word (logos) declared by angels was egeneto valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution…” (all the more so we need to pay attention to the word which was first declared by Jesus).

 

John 10:35 If He called them gods to whom the word (logos) of God came egeneto

 

In these passages the word logos of God or of angels was, or came. The logos didn't "become" in the sense of a metaphysical transformation, or a change from one form to another. John 10:35 is particularly interesting since here in John’s Gospel, Jesus could be saying that as the word of God came to the people of Israel in the past, Jesus himself was the Word of God that came to the people of Israel in the 1st century.

 

To summarize so far, the wide semantic range of the word egeneto and the occurrences of egeneto with logos in other places in the Septuagint and in the New Testament justify understanding that John 1:14 is a declaration that the Logos of God was flesh, came as a human being. In Israel’s past the word of Yahweh came in visions, dreams and voices. But visions, dreams and voices are not flesh. This time, in these latter times, God has spoken to us by flesh, a human being.

 

(take a break)

 

Flesh

 

John had his reasons for specifically using the word “flesh”. Deity of Christ followers interpret “the Word became flesh” to mean that the 2nd person of the godhead took on a human body, or took on abstract “human nature”. Note the subtle change of language. Deity of Christ proponents don’t like saying that God was flesh.

 

By definition then, the deity of Christ interpretation eliminates the possibility that Jesus was a human person. For them, the person animating the body of flesh was a pre-incarnate god who “put on flesh”, not the human person Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The deity of Christ interpretation ends up claiming that Jesus of Nazareth was not a human person, but was a divine person walking around in a human body.

 

Deity of Christ believer – do you really think that God became flesh? Is God still flesh? If so, why has the trinitarian description of God for hundreds of years been that God is three persons in one essence? Is the one essence of God flesh?

 

Enter the Greek Philosopher Plato

The deity of Christ view, that a god took on a human body, is based on the Greek philosophical view that a person is separate and distinct from his body of flesh. To the Greek, the real person, the person’s soul, or his self, is separate from the body of flesh. The body of flesh is a kind of shell that the real person, the soul, inhabits for a while.

 

Since the soul, the person, can be separated from the body, death, to the Greek philosopher, is only a separation of the soul from the body.

 

Listen to what Plato says about the separation of the soul from the body at death:

 

“… death is the separation of the soul from the body, and…the state of being dead is the state in which the body is separated from the soul and exists alone by itself, and the soul is separated from the body and exists alone by itself”  Phaedo 64c

 

For most traditional Christians - Catholic, Protestant or Greek Orthodox, this quote from Plato is basically Bible. I’ve been told by conservative Christians of every stripe, from persons in the pew, to pastors and seminary professors who hold PhDs in theology, that death is the separation of the soul from the body. At death, the soul, the person, separates from the body, but still lives. The idea of a disembodied soul “going to heaven”, or for that matter, “going to hell” stems from this philosophy of death popularized by Plato.

 

And this Greek idea of a soul being alive apart from the body is why a deity of Christ believer interpreters John 1:14 the way he does. Influenced by Platonic Greek philosophy, the Christian believes that a person, in this case one of a tri-person god, could “put on” impersonal human flesh. And then the death of that god-person was only the separation of the soul from the body of flesh.

 

But this is not the biblical way to understand who man is, and what death is. In the Bible, yes, man is somewhat of a composite, but he is not alive separate from a body of flesh. Genesis 2:7 describes how God formed man from the ground, and then man became alive, a living person, a living soul, a nephesh hyah (נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה) when God breathed life into him. There is no human person living without a body of flesh. If the body of flesh is dead, the human person is dead. When I die, I die, not just my body.

 

In the Bible, to be dead means to be dead, that is, to not be alive. God wasn’t kidding when he said, “You will certainly die”. God did not say “Your soul will separate from your flesh. Your flesh will die but you will keep living”. No. “You will certainly die.” In the Bible, it was the liar who said, “You will certainly not die” (Gen. 3:4). Unlike in Greek philosophy, in the Bible to die means that the person, not just the body, is dead.   

 

In the Bible also birds and animals are flesh and living souls (nephesh hyah, נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה Gen 1:20, 21, 24, 30; 7:21, etc.). To a Hebraic thinker who knows his Bible and whose thinking is uncluttered with Greek philosophical presuppositions, a being who “became flesh” was a bird, an animal, another creature the walked on the ground, or a human (Gen 6:17-20, 7:21). We can understand in context that John 1:14 “flesh” is not talking about other birds or animals but is describing a human being.

 

So even though a human may be made up of other elements like bone, blood and God’s life-giving spirit - a human person, all of that human person is said to be flesh. If you are flesh, you are a human person. In describing that the Word/Logos was or became flesh, John is using a figure of speech known as synecdoche, where a part (in this case flesh) represents the whole (a human being). Again: The part, “flesh”, represents the whole, “human”.

 

When a ship’s captains says, “all hands on deck!”, the word “hands” represents whole people, the sailors, not just their hands. The captain of the ship is not calling for hands to be severed and tossed on the deck. The captain is using a figure of speech where hands represent whole people.

 

If my friend pulls up in a brand-new car and I say “Wow George, nice wheels!”, I don’t mean that his Goodyear tires are really nice. The word “wheels” is a figure of speech that stands for or represents the whole car.

 

When the author of the Gospel of John says the Word became or was flesh, he means that the Word was a human person. Not just part of a human person, not just abstract “human nature” or just a physical human body with no human person. No, John means the Word was a whole, entire human person. The word “flesh” represents the whole human person.

 

The “deity of Christ” interpretation of John 1:14 fails to understand that “flesh” represents a whole human person.

 

In good Greek philosophical fashion, the deity of Christ believer separates the flesh from the whole person. He separates the body or “flesh” from the soul.

 

But the author of the Gospel of John was a Jew, and he had the biblical view, not a Greek philosophical view of who and what a human is. The Greek and Christian philosophers may believe that the soul or person is something alive separate from flesh, and that a divine person could “take on human flesh”. But the Bible, including the author of the Gospel of John uses “flesh” in a very different way than a Greek thinker. John uses flesh as a way to mean “a human person”. The Word of God was a human being, a real human person, flesh. Neither God (John 4:24), nor angels have flesh. Neither God, nor angels are flesh. Human beings are flesh.

 

From a Hebraic, biblical perspective, “the Word became flesh” eliminates the possibility that the Word was a divine person.

 

More Reasons Why John used the word “flesh”: Because Adam was flesh

 

“the Word was flesh” is the Gospel of John’s way of saying what the apostle Paul said when he called Jesus the second Adam (Rom. 5:14-15, 1 Cor. 15:22, 45). Adam was flesh. So was Jesus. To state that the Word was flesh is to state that the Word was a human person like the first man Adam.

 

Genesis 2:7 then Yahweh God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

 

Genesis 2:23 Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.

 

Genesis 6:3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years."

 

Psalm 78:39 He remembered that they were flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.

 

So one reason why John said the Word was flesh was to emphasize that like Adam and Eve, the Word was a human being, a whole, entire human being, a nephesh hyah of flesh.

 

Why John used the word “flesh”: Reason #2, the Resurrection of flesh

The Gospel of John is a Jewish record of how God sent the promised Messiah, the human being, Jesus of Nazareth. After describing the uniquely empowered-by-God ministry of this man Jesus in the land of Israel, the author relates that Jesus the Messiah was put to death. But then Jesus, as flesh, was raised from the dead by God. And then Jesus appeared to his followers a number of times as flesh resurrected before ascending, as flesh, to God.

 

All of this happened to Jesus as flesh, and as flesh, the whole life Jesus speaks to us. God spoke to us through this man of flesh.


We can’t forget. After Jesus was raised from the dead he was flesh that Mary Magdalene could hold on to (John 20:17). After Jesus was raised from the dead, he was a scarred body of flesh that Thomas could see, touch and feel (20:27).

 

When Jesus stood among his followers after being resurrected, from the dead, as flesh, his followers thought Jesus was a spirit. But Jesus said to them: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). Then Jesus ate a piece of fish in their presence as proof that he was real flesh and bone.

 

And why were Jesus’ followers so enamored with joy after being with him as resurrected flesh? Because they realized that God himself had once again put on flesh? Ah, no. What a perverted, Greek-influenced interpretation of the Gospel record.

 

To the contrary, the apostles were beside themselves with joy because they were witnesses that God had raised the man Jesus of Nazareth, a flesh and bone person, from the dead. And the man Jesus was evidence of what God had in store for other humans of flesh.

 

In this way, John 1:14 can be said to be a resurrection text, because flesh was resurrected from the dead. But John 1:14 is not only a resurrection text because in saying that the Word was flesh John is insisting that this person Jesus, both during his life on this earth and after his resurrection to glory, was flesh, a human person.

 

It is a human being, flesh, in the bosom of the Father who has made the Father known (John 1:18).

 

Sure, Jesus “became” flesh

I’m not really arguing for a change in translation of John 1:14, just the right understanding. As mentioned, both in this podcast and in podcast #39, there are huge problems and contradictions for the deity of Christ understanding that the Word became flesh. But for a one God believer, there is no real problem with the translation “became.

 

Sure, Jesus "became" flesh because he was conceived, born, lived, was empowered by God’s spirit, spoke God’s words, performed miracles, was put death, was raised from the dead, and exalted to God's right hand. The whole life of the man of flesh Jesus is a declaration of God. The life of Jesus happened. Jesus the Messiah came on the scene in the 1st century or our era. The man Jesus who became, who came on the scene, was the Word of God.

 

The declaration that "the Word was flesh" does not lose the sense of "becoming" or “coming into existence”.  The Word of God "became" because he showed up on the scene as a human being, Jesus, flesh. But there was no transformation from some pre-human person into flesh.

 

Knowing that the word became, or existed as, or was flesh also helps us understand that when the Gospel writer introduced the Word in John 1:1, he was not introducing a pre-flesh being. The same Logos in John 1:1, was flesh, the human being who we learn in John 1:17 and 1:45 is Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah.

 

Becoming flesh at the baptism?

 

A one God believer whom I highly respect suggests that the phrase “the word became flesh” relates to the baptism of Jesus and empowerment by the spirit of God. This suggestion has some merit because John the Baptizer does play a significant role in identifying the Messiah Jesus, even in the next verse (1:15). And, in the Scripture the word of God is associated with spirit (Job 26:4, Prov. 1:23, 2 Sam. 23:2, Deut. 8:3, Acts 4:31, Eph. 6:17, 2 Pet. 1:21). For the Hebrew thinker, spirit (ruach, רוח) means wind or breath. Words are spirit, or wind. Words are formed by wind, breath coming out from the mouth. In the same way, figuratively, God’s word is breath that comes from his mouth (Deut. 8:3).

 

However, I believe it is best to understand that the whole life of Jesus, his entire life of flesh, is what John intends when he says the “Word became flesh”. The coming of the spirit upon Jesus is certainly an important part of the Word being flesh, but not exclusively so. The baptism of Jesus is not really described in John’s Gospel. The coming of the spirit upon Jesus is described in only four verses when the Baptizer recalled the event in his testimony (John 1:31-34).  It is better to understand the “Word became flesh” as a reference to the entire ministry of Jesus: his equipping by God’s spirit, his teaching, the miracles he performed, his death, his resurrection and exaltation as flesh are all reasons to declare that the Word became flesh. God spoke through the entire flesh life of Jesus.

 

Context: the three paragraphs of John’s Prologue

 

Many commentators recognize that the Prologue of John’s Gospel breaks down into three sections. Although there may be some discussion about where the transition between the sections occurs, verses 1-5 make up the first section, verses 6-13 the second section, and verses 14-18 the third section.

 

Another question that affects interpretation of John 1:14 is if the verses and sections of the Prologue are strictly chronological. I believe it can be seen that the verses are not presenting a strictly historical chronological sequence. For instance, already in verse 5 which closes the first section, the statement that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it” is most likely a reference to the resurrection of Jesus; whereas, in the verses following, verses 6-8, we learn of the testimony of John the Baptizer about the Jesus the Light early in Jesus ministry.

 

So, the verses, and the three main paragraph sections in John 1:1-18 are not strictly chronological. Rather, they repeat and expand on each other. In addition to being a way to emphasize, the repetition and expansion in the prologue is the literary equivalent to a song in three-part harmony. In a song the three parts are all sung simultaneously, but in literature the parts are written out one after the other.

 

Or, as the author Peter Gentry describes in the book Kingdom through Covenant, repetition and expansion is the literary equivalent of a Dolby surround sound system:

 

“[A]ncient Hebrew literature takes up a topic and develops it from a particular perspective and then stops and takes up the same theme again from another point of view. This pattern produces 3-D ideas and is pursued recursively at both the macro- and microlevels. One begins a conversation on a topic and then closes that conversation down and begins another. Taken together, both conversations are like the left and right speakers of a stereo sound system: each differs slightly, and together they produce 3-D Dolby surround sound" (Peter Gentry, Kingdom through Covenant, p. 354).

 

All incarnation theories ignore this repetition, review and expansion aspect of John’s Prologue. All incarnation theories interpret John 1:14 as describing the conception of Jesus, ignoring that the Jesus, as an adult human being and his ministry are already presented in verses 1-13.

 

The Prologue states that this one, the Word, was with God. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light still shines and darkness did not overcome it. The prophet John was sent to testify about the light that was in the world. The prophet John was not the light, but he testified to the light, the man Jesus, who was in the kosmos (world), that is, among the Jewish people. He was among his own people, but his own people did not receive him. Well, some did receive him. And those who believe in his name received the authority to become children of God.

 

All of this is stated before the Word became flesh. Werses 1-13 are a summary of the adult ministry of the man Jesus. The adult ministry of Jesus is described as well in verses 15-18. In fact, the next verse, John 1:15 returns to the testimony of John the Baptizer. It makes no sense that the author, in the midst of his description of the adult ministries of the Baptizer and Jesus, suddenly interrupted with five short words to describe the metaphysical transformation of a god into a human embryo.

 

John 6, my flesh and my blood

The other main place in the Gospel of John where the word flesh is used is in a cluster of verses in John 6:50-56 where Jesus, in comparison to the manna that came from heaven as provision for Israel, describes himself as the living bread that came down from heaven. Jesus said, “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh (6:51).”

 

The living bread which came down from heaven was Jesus’s flesh. What did he mean? Obviously, he didn’t mean that his flesh literally descended from the starry heavens. No, by his “flesh” he meant his life. His “flesh” represents his whole life. The life of Jesus was the provision of God, the bread from heaven.

 

Jesus’s listeners didn’t understand so Jesus took his description a step further: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (6:53).

 

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on a second there. Israel was never to eat flesh with blood, let alone drink blood, so what is going on here? It is obvious that Jesus was speaking metaphorically (cf. John 10:6). Jesus meant that he gives his very life, his blood and flesh, for the life of the world (cf. 1 Pet. 1:19-19, Rev. 5:9). Unless one “eats his flesh and drinks his blood”, that is, unless one appropriates the life and death of the human Jesus, he will not have life in the age to come.

 

Look back to the Torah of Moses. To the biblically minded Jew, the soul, the life, the nephesh, is the blood. Jesus uses “my flesh” and “my blood” to mean his human life, which is the only life he has.

 

Leviticus 17:11: For the life (nephesh, soul!) of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your lives (nepheshot),

 

Deuteronomy 12:23: “for the blood is the life (nephesh, soul!)”.

 

Let us stress again that it is the life and death of the human Jesus, of the man Jesus from Nazareth, that ransoms men for God. And there is no other Jesus. God does not have flesh and God does not have blood, nor does God die. God’s life, God’s soul, is not in blood.

 

Deity of Christ belief in the end denies the life of the real person, the human Jesus, who gave his life to ransom men for God. Without the human Jesus, there is no mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim. 2:4-5).

 

To say that Jesus is God is tantamount to saying that God’s life is in his blood.

 

1 John 4:2

 

1 John 4:2 “By this you know the spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in flesh is from God.”

 

This verse does not say that every spirit that confesses God took on flesh, or that God came as flesh is from God. That would be a spirit that is not from God.

 

Jesus is the name of the human person. Christ is the title of the human person. To “come” means to show up on the scene at a particular time in history. It doesn’t mean to literally come from a heavenly location, as a Greek thinker might believe. Jews expected the prophet like Moses to come (John 6:14). Jews expected the Messiah to come (John 11:27). Jesus the Messiah came in flesh. He was a human person.

 

That human person Jesus the Messiah who lived, was put to death, raised from the dead, exalted to heaven - he is flesh.

 

Review:

 

When John wrote “the Word became flesh”, or the “Word was flesh”, he eliminated any possibility that the Word was a divine being. To a person steeped in biblical, Hebraic thought, “flesh” as a living being nephesh hyah could only be a bird, and animal, or a human being.

To the Hebraic mind, a divine being is not even on the list of possibilities of becoming flesh.

 

It is a great tragic irony that through foreign philosophical speculation the five words from John 1:14 have come to mean the very opposite of what John intended. “Flesh” has been turned into a soul-less, person-less body that a divine being could put on.

 

Let us ask this question: “Is God flesh?”  Deity of Christ believer, Trinitarian, do you believe that God is flesh? You keep insisting that John 1:1 and 1:14 are proof that God became human. But don’t dodge the word “flesh”. John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh. And if God became flesh, does not the Trinity have two natures?

 

Is your God flesh? Think biblically - Is the life of your God in his blood?

 

John 1:14 is not saying that a pre-incarnate Logos or Word became the human being Jesus by infusing his spirit into a human embryo. Such thinking is only Greek philosophical speculation that says exactly the opposite of what John intended.

 

Rather, John 1:14 is saying that the Word was flesh, the human being, Jesus. This uniquely equipped human being lived some 33 years before he was put to death, but then was raised from the dead by God, and for a short while lived with the disciples as resurrected from the dead “flesh” (Luke 24:39), before he was taken to his God as flesh. God has spoken to us through that human being. The Word of God to mankind was that person of flesh.

 

The authors of the New Testament books of Hebrews and Revelation agree:

 

Hebrews 1:1-2: “In various ways God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days God has spoken to us by a son.”

 

Revelation 19:13: “This is the name by which he was called: the Word of God”