Is Jesus God in the Gospel of John?
"One of the Bible's teachings that is frequently attacked is that of the deity of Christ. But every single one of the New Testament's four Gospels declares Jesus as God. And every single one of them does so in the very first chapter. We must also remember that, if the Gospel authors assert Christ's divinity in their very first chapters, this means that Jesus is God throughout the entire book. Jesus cannot start off as God and lose His deity a few chapters later. That would make no sense. Either He is God, or He isn't. And we must let the text show us what it says. In its proper context. There will be no pretexts here."
In this post, we go through the first chapter of the Gospel of John:
1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created
that has been created.
14 The Word became flesh
and took up residence among us.
We observed His glory,
the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
Could John the evangelist be any clearer? This is John, beloved apostle of the Lord, the dear friend who had stood at the foot of Jesus' cross beside Jesus' mother, Mary, and a few others, all of whom had watched their Master die. Just like the others, this John who had fled His side when He'd been arrested, was the very same John who was among the first to see Jesus' empty tomb. John was a witness to both his Lord's death and His resurrection. If there was anyone who could attest to the divinity of the Messiah, it was John.
And testify he did. John explains further about Jesus:
18 No one has ever seen God.
The One and Only Son—
the One who is at the Father’s side—
He has revealed Him.
Students of the Bible will know that the title "Son of God" is not speaking of a biological relationship as some have mistaken it to be. Instead, it is a title of deity.
When John writes that Jesus is the Son of God, he uses the Greek word "μονογενής" (transliterated "monogeneis"), which means "unique," the one and only. He is not one of many. He is the only one of His kind.
There is no one else like Him because there is only one Son of God.
There are many sons of God, but only one Son of God.
But that is not all that is being said in that verse. John also reminds us of the special relationship which the Son enjoys with the Father that only the Spirit shares in the unity of the Triune God. No mere human has ever seen God but, in Jesus, we do see Him. As John's fellow apostle Paul writes, Jesus is...
"... the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together... For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him..." Colossians 1:15-17, 19
But there was another John in his namesake's Gospel who bore witness to Jesus' deity. This was Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist:
33 I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
34 I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!”
The Baptist not only recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, the once-for-all-time Passover Lamb Who would take the sins of man upon His broken body to purchase our redemption, but he also acknowledges Jesus' pre-existence as the eternal and divine Word of God. Though John was older than Jesus by a few months, he says of the Lord, "He existed before me." (verse 30)
But he doesn't stop there. In calling Jesus the Son of God and saying it is He Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, John yet again affirms Jesus' deity because only God can baptize with His Holy Spirit.
What more appropriate way to end this article on the deity of Jesus but with a look at what He had to say about Himself?
51 Then He said, “I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
"The Son of Man" is another divine title which Jesus used for Himself and the one He used most frequently. The clearest proof that this was a reference to His own divinity is seen in Jesus' use of the title at His trial before the Sanhedrin (for more on this, read "Was Jesus 'Just a Messiah?'" linked to below).
But that is not the only divine reference Jesus uses in that single verse. When Jesus says, "You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man,” He was not merely trying to sound poetic. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown explain:
"The key to this great saying is Jacob's vision (Ge 28:12-22), to which the allusion plainly is. To show the patriarch that though alone and friendless on earth his interests were busying all heaven, he was made to see "heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon a" mystic "ladder reaching from heaven to earth." "By and by," says Jesus here, "ye shall see this communication between heaven and earth thrown wide open, and the Son of man the real Ladder of this intercourse." Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Was Jesus "Just a Messiah?" (Matthew 26)
Is Jesus God in the Gospel of Matthew?
Is Jesus God in the Gospel of Mark?
Is Jesus God in the Gospel of Luke?
Jesus the Savior
Can Man Become God?
The Lord Our God is One!