Believe, Life, Light & Truth in JohnVolume 3, Number 90
Created Date: February 5, 2015
Posted Date: February 5, 2015
Believe and other words in the Gospel of John - Part 16:
“Believe” is found 100 times in the Gospel of John but it is not the only word used more often in John than in the other NT books, there are many others and all of them point to the purpose of John’s Gospel. The Holy Spirit inspired each of the Gospel’s authors to record Jesus’ ministry according to his particular view or perspective; Matthew presents Jesus Christ as God’s perfect King; Mark as God’s perfect Servant and Luke as God’s perfect Man. The theme of John is to present Jesus as God Himself and many of the words therein emphasize this.
“Believe” first occurs in John associated with the words “Light” and “world” in relation to John the Baptist’s mission: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”. Just as the lenses of our eyes must have light in order for our brains to discern objects, so Jesus was the means (God’s Light) for Israelites to discern He was their Messiah (Christ).
•The Greek word translated “light” is “phos” from which, along the Greek “pherein,” we get our English word phosphorous. “Phos” or “Light” is found 23 times in John’s Gospel, more often than in any other NT book (70 times total in the NT).
•The Greek translated “world” is “kos’mos” from which comes the English “Cosmos.” The dictionary defines “Cosmos” as “the universe seen as a well ordered whole.” “Kos’mos” or “world” is found 79 times in John’s Gospel, more often than in any other NT book (187 times total in the NT).
The Cosmos/world was made by Jesus Christ,, for it was He as the pre-incarnate Word of God who spoke it into existence, Genesis 1, . And whereas Satan or Lucifer was transformed into an angel of light ( ; 2 Cor. 11:14) Jesus Christ was the “true light,” .
•“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”.
•“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”.
•“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”.
•“Jesus answered, are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.”.
John the Baptist introduced Jesus to Israel as the Light of the World and it was just a matter of believing He was their Messiah in order for anyone in Israel to be part of the Kingdom He preached. But in spite of the fact Jesus did nothing but good during His 3-year ministry and proved His Deity by many signs - miracles - wonders, Israel’s leaders rejected Him and the majority in Israel followed them and gave Him over to the Romans to crucify. This seems illogical but Jesus explained why and how it happened. After stating that all who believed on Him would not perish but have everlasting life,, Jesus told Nicodemus: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” . They didn’t believe in Him because they didn’t want the light to reveal their evil deeds; they loved the darkness.
There are many other unique words in John’s Gospel that point to the Deity of Christ and the mission of His ministry, some of which follow:
•The Greek “men’o” translated abide, remain or dwell, etc., found 41 times in John’s Gospel out of the 120 total times in the New Testament. (It is only found 12 times total in the other 3 Gospels.)
•The Greek “pater’” translated Father, found 138 times in John, far more than in any other NT book. It is used 418 times in the NT.
•The Greek “loudai’os” translated Jews, 71 in John out of the 198 in the NT. It’s only found 17 times total in Matthew, Mark and Luke but occurs 82 times in the book of Acts, which I hope to address when we get to that book.
•The Greek “ale’theia” translated truth, found 25 times in John, far more than in any other book; it is used a total of 110 times in the NT.
•The Greek “amen” translated verily is found 51 times in John out of the total 152 in the NT. Significantly, John is the only book where it appears as “verily, verily,” which is to emphasize the greater authority with which Jesus as God spoke, thus with double importance.*
Also unique to John is a truth expressed by a short phrase not found in the other Gospels. Jesus stated 3 times in John that He lay down His life Himself (on his own volition because none could have taken it).
•“As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
•“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
•“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
All 4 Gospel accounts describe Peter trying to protect Jesus by cutting the ear off the high priest’s servant when they came to take Him, but each Gospel account provides something different about that incident, depending on the purpose of each.
•In Matthew’s account () Jesus tells Peter to put the sword away because if He wanted to He could pray to His Father Who would send 12 legions of angels for protection - this He spoke as God’s King.
•Mark’s account () tells of a young man dressed only in a linen cloth following Jesus who momentarily laid hold on Jesus, but then ran naked, leaving his cloth behind. Some assert this was Jesus’ servant, the author of Mark who fled, in contrast to Jesus who did God’s will by staying to be taken for crucifixion - God’s perfect Servant.
•Luke’s account () is the only one where Jesus refers to Himself as “The Son of Man” because He was fully man (as well as God). Only in Luke does it reveal that Jesus healed the servant’s ear. The physician Luke wrote this book - Jesus was God’s perfect man.
And only in John’s account () do we read that Jesus knew all things that were going to occur, this because He was God. And only in John do we learn that, after Peter cut off the ear of the servant, Jesus said “the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” verse 11. This fits perfectly with Jesus’ statements that no one could take His life; that He voluntarily lay it down. He was the Creator and Sustainer of Life, He was perfectly Holy, even Satan did not have the power of death over Him. But He drank that bitter cup to the end; allowing Himself to be taken, cruelly treated, hung on a cross in indescribable agony for 3 hours until He’d finished what He came to do before uttering “it is finished,” i.e., “paid in full,” then yielding up His life. And whereas the other 3 Gospels describe the disciples abandoning and running away from Him when He was taken, only John states “Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.” .
The Gospel of John emphasizes the fact Jesus was indeed the Great “I AM.” Many years before His incarnation, it was He talking: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”. During His ministry Jesus identified Himself as such to the Samaritan woman at the well, ; to His disciples in the storm, ; to the Jews, that if they didn’t believe they would die in their sins, ; when He spoke of His death, and when He said to them “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” . (The Jews tried to stone Him, , when He said this because they knew that by referring to Himself as “I AM” He was claiming to be God.) He also used this term when speaking to His disciples, .
But the 3 times He referred to Himself as “I AM,” when they came to take Him to be crucified,, 6 & 8, are particularly informative. For, whereas all four Gospel accounts describe the betrayal and capture of Jesus, only in John do we read “As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he (the word he is not in the original), they went backward, and fell to the ground.” . The shear force of His Word blew them back on their behinds. What a picture this conjures ... they were like fragile paper cutouts before an all-powerful force ... yet He, Almighty God, let them do to Him what they willed, because of His love for mankind.
*The Companion Bible (http://www.companionbiblecondensed.com/NT/John..pdf), page 1511 has a list of words unique to the Gospel of John. (Note it indicates the word “believe” is found 99 times but according to the Concordance, the Greek word usually translated believe is actually there 100 times, one occasion being translated “did not commit,”.)