In eternity past, God planned for the salvation of men and women whose creation and fall had not yet become a reality in time. After their creation and fall—at the perfect moment in human history—Christ came to earth to execute the plan.
Everything in the universe points to the Savior. Every principle, every promise, every truth in the Word of God has value only as it relates to the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why COL 1:18 says that the whole plan of God is summarized in one thing: that He have preeminence—first place—in everything.
Christ's preeminence stands on two things: His Person and His work. Who is Jesus Christ? He is—and always was—God. At a point in time He became—and always will be—man. Near the end of the first century, at a time when the doctrines of both the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ were under attack, the Apostle John wrote to clear up the confusion over just who Jesus was.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (JOH 1:1-2)
Go back, John says, as far as you want to go, a million years, a billion years before creation, and wherever you start, the Word "was." This word is eimi in the Greek, meaning "to be." In the imperfect tense, it means continuous existence in the past.
Not only did the Word exist in the beginning, but the Word was "with God." The Greek pros means "face-to-face." John is declaring the uniqueness of the Word, the fact that He is set apart from God the Father. In the beginning the Word existed; the Word had eternal existence in the past and was face-to-face with God and, therefore, stands unique from God. And "the Word was God." John could not be any more dogmatic about the deity of the Word.
He repeats the idea of the uniqueness of the Word in the statement, "He was in the beginning with God." This time John uses the personal pronoun houtos, meaning "this unique person." John is stressing the fact that this Word is not a force, not a power, not an emanation, but a person. This person has existed forever, is unique from God, and yet is God.
All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (JOH 1:3-5)
"All things" includes everything that is created. "Came into being" is from the verb ginomai, which means for something to come into existence that was not in existence before. In the phrase "by Him," John uses dia, the preposition of instrumental agency. This tells us that Jesus Christ is the creator of all things. A few verses later, in JOH 1:10, we are told that "the world was made through Him." Apart from Jesus Christ, nothing came into being.
Later in his account, John would record similar words spoken by the Lord on His last night with the disciples, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." As nothing came into being in the physical creation apart from Jesus Christ, so nothing comes into being in the spiritual realm apart from Him. Apart from relationship with Him, nothing in life has meaning or reality.
This is the idea John is expressing when he writes "in Him was life." In Greek there are two words for life. Bios refers strictly to the physical aspect of life. Zoe, the word used here, refers to life in the absolute sense—life as God has it. This is the word used for quality of life, value, meaning. In the Word "was" (the tense says "always was"), essence and quality of life and "the life was the light of men."
With the Fall, man had become alienated from this life (EPH 4:18). But now, somehow, all of the qualitative life that existed in the second Person of the Trinity throughout all eternity became the light of men when the Word entered the human race. He came that all men might become partakers of this life through faith in Him (JOH 3:15).
This life was the light in the darkness of a dead world, the light that shone and was not comprehended. This light that revealed to the fallen human race how God could bring to bear all His divine essence on the problems of man, this light was illustrated in the person and life of Jesus Christ.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (JOH 1:14)
"Became" indicates a transition from eternal pre-existence to existence in time. The Word laid aside the glories of heaven, or, as Paul says in 2CO 8:9, "though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." The word "poor" used here refers to utmost, absolute poverty. Why did He become poor? So that we could become exceedingly rich.
The word "dwelt,"skenoo, means "to tabernacle." It means that what was seen in the Old Testament in the tabernacle of Israel—the Shekinah Glory—had now become flesh and blood. God no longer resided in the temple; He now resided in a human body and His glory was concealed in the tabernacle of human flesh.
God the Son chose to set aside the rights of His deity and leave the Throne Rroom of God and travel through billions of light years in space to take on Himself the form of an infant and enter into this world. He who was omnipotent chose to subject Himself to the frailty of human flesh. He who was omniscient chose to subject Himself to the limitation of human thought. He who was omnipresent chose to confine Himself in the flesh to the limitations of time and space and matter.
He did not lose any of the powers that were His as deity, but as a man, He chose to live under the rules He would expect us to live by. He submitted Himself to the will of the Father (JOH 6:38). He taught the teachings of the Father (JOH 7:16). He did that which was pleasing to the Father (JOH 8:29). He sought the glory of the Father (JOH 8:50).
"And," John says, "we beheld His glory." Glory means God's character and essence reflected. It was not the glory of wealth and riches, not the glory of personal appearance or attractiveness. It was what is called in the Old Testament "the beauty of holiness" It was the beauty of total perfection, total purity, the most beautiful thing in the universe—God's character revealed in a single human being, a man "full of grace and truth."
No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (JOH 1:18)
God is spirit; He is invisible. But the Son has "explained" Him. Jesus Christ is God, born into this realm as the seed of the woman (GEN 3:15). "When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law" (GAL 4:4). Now God in human flesh reveals God in eternal spiritual essence. "Explain" is exegeomai; we get the English word "exegesis" from this. It means to bring out the true meaning, to reveal in the light, to fully explain, to display something in its fullest sense. Jesus Christ displays in the fullest sense the character of God and reveals God to the human race.
Jesus did not come just to show man how to live a good Life, to be an example. He was born to die. Without His death, His perfect life would do man no good at all. Man's problem was not lack of a high enough standard; it was inability to live up to any standard. The Law had proved that man could never work his way to God. Between man and God stood the barrier of sin. Man was helpless to pay the penalty for the past and hopeless to do better in the future. He was helpless and hopeless, that is, until the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now I make known to you, brethren, the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the Word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (1CO 15:1-2)
In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul explains first the power and then the content of the Gospel. What Paul was making known was the Gospel he preached. The word euaggelizo, from which we get "evangelize," simply means "to proclaim good news." In order for the Gospel to accomplish its purpose, someone has to proclaim it.
After Paul proclaimed the Gospel, these people received it. Paralambano means "to take as one's own." These people were given the message and they received it by grace through faith. They believed in Jesus Christ.
The verb " stand" is from histemi. In the perfect tense it means that at a point of time in the past they took a stand with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, with the result that they will stand forever. Paul uses this tense to emphasize their eternal security. According to ROM 5:2 the stand of the believer is in grace.
"Saved" is in the present tense. Paul is saying, "You are saved now; you are going to be saved tomorrow and next week and next month and next year. You are going to be saved forever." Why are these people saved? Because they believed in the Gospel.
If Paul is saying that these people have eternal security in Christ, why does he suggest in 1CO 15:2 that they might have believed "in vain"? His statement can only be understood in the context of the whole chapter. What Paul means by believing "in vain" is explained in verses 1CO 15:12-19.
We know from verse 12 that there were in the Corinthian church people who did not believe that someday there would be a physical resurrection. The idea of physical resurrection was totally foreign to the philosophies under which the believers in Corinth had been raised. Greeks looked at the body as a prison. When Paul taught a bodily resurrection, they thought of being in prison forever.
Faith in Jesus Christ had saved these people, even though they denied the physical resurrection. But Paul wants them to grow now, and he knows they need to understand the doctrine of the resurrection. In 1CO 15:12-14, he tells them that if there is no physical resurrection, then Christ Himself has not been raised from the dead. If Christ has not been raised, then both Paul's preaching and their faith are "in vain"—empty, meaningless, useless. If Christ has not been raised, there Is no solution for sin. If their hope in Christ is meaningful only in time and not eternity, then they are wasting their lives believing in Him.
The only way a person can believe in vain is if the message he believes is false. In 1CO 15:2 Paul is saying "Look, if you believe this message and you believe that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead, then you are saved and you do stand in grace. If you believe some other message, then whatever you have believed is worth nothing."
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1CO 15:3-4)
Now Paul goes back to the basics, to that of "first importance." What is the most important thing to know about the Bible? It ought to be this right here. Paul says this is number one priority. This is the most important doctrine we can have clear in our minds because it is the most important thing that Paul received.
1. Christ died for our sins. This was His substitutionary death. He died the death we all deserve because "the wages of sin is death" (ROM 6:23). He paid the penalty for every sin ever committed—every sin in the past, in the present, in the future. All our sins were poured out on the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Christ died according to the Scripture. Christ' s death was according to the plan of God, and that plan was pictured in the Old Testament. Everything in the Old Testament points forward to the promised Messiah, to the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. (For a very few examples see GEN 3:15, GEN 3:22; Lev 1-5, Lev 16; JOB 19:25-27; Psa 16, Psa 22; and Isa 53.)
3. Christ was buried. Why is it important that He was buried? Because He had to be truly dead. First-century Jews believed that the soul and the spirit did not totally depart from the body until the end of the third day. So, the fact that Jesus was buried and was in the tomb for three days was crucial to the message.
4. Christ was raised from the dead. The fact of Christ's resurrection is the only basis for the Christian's hope. The verb here is in the perfect tense, which means it was a past action having continuous present results. The result of the resurrection is every day. Because of victory over death, Jesus Christ is to the believer the source of resurrection life (JOH 10:10-11, JOH 11:25-26; EPH 2:6; COL 3:1-4; 1JO 5:11-12) and the source of resurrection power (ROM 6:4; MAT 28:18; EPH 1:19; PHI 4:13).
The Gospel—the good news—is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead (GEN 2:17; ROM 5:12, ROM 6:23). When we believe the good news, we are turned around. Identified with Christ in His death and resurrection, we are now dead to sin and alive to God (ROM 5:8; 2CO 5:21). We have become a new creation.