Light and Life in John 1

“In the beginning was the Word / Logos, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men…I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 1:1-4, 14:6)

That is deep. How are we to make sense of these defining attributes of word, light, life and darkness, Father, Son?

As they say, “It’s all Greek to me.”

its_all_greek_to_me_small2

there’s a striking difference between the first three Gospels — Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which are known together as the Synoptic Gospels — and the Gospel of John...

the Synoptic Gospels were written about 20-30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection — which is about a generation [of adulthood]…eyewitness accounts and sources would soon be scarce…

They were all written with the idea of intentionally publishing the life of Jesus for a specific audience before it was too late…

the Gospel of Mark was written…to a generation of Gentile Christians who had not been eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ life. For that reason, one of the main themes of the Gospel is the identification of Jesus as the “Son of God” (1:115:39)

Matthew’s Gospel was addressed primarily to a Jewish audience…One of the major themes of Matthew’s Gospel is the connection between Jesus and the Old Testament prophecies and predictions regarding the Messiah…

Luke…a Gentile…wrote his Gospel with the purpose of providing a historically accurate and reliable account of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection (Luke 1:1-4)…to prove that Jesus’ story was true…

While Matthew focused on Jesus’ role as the long-expected salvation of the Jewish people, Luke’s Gospel emphasized Jesus role as Savior of all peoples…outcasts in the society of His day, including women, the poor, the sick, the demon-possessed, and more…a divine friend of sinners who came expressly to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10)…

John wrote his account of Jesus’ life a full generation after the Synoptic authors had recorded their works…in a culture in which detailed accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry had already existed for decades, had been copied for decades, and had been studied and debated for decades…

…theological debates and heresies were becoming rampant — including Gnosticism and other ideologies that denied either Jesus’ divine nature or human standing. These controversies were the tip of the spear leading to the great debates and councils of the 3rd and 4th centuries (the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Constantinople, and so on) — many of which revolved around the mystery of Jesus’ nature as both fully God and fully man.

John took a lot of pains to make it crystal clear that Jesus was indeed God in human form.

These theological debates weren’t conducted by Robert’s Rules of Order. They were vicious attacks by power-hungry wolves finding easy prey among docile followers. The debates among religious Jews centered on whether or not he was “that Prophet, the hope of Israel” as prophesied in the Jewish scriptures. The debates among Gentiles hearers of the word was likewise centered on whether or not he fit into their scriptures.

This is evident in John’s explanation of the commonly used metaphorical and euphemistic language of life and death. In our own culture we typically reserve the term “died” when the utmost clarity is required in a medical or legal setting. We use the softer expression “passed away” or just “passed” in a social setting. We need to understand the 1st century euphemisms if we are going to understand John’s message.

Jesus’ appeal to readers of Philo’s synthesis of Greek philosophy with Jewish religion can be discerned in John’s account, such as the following. Bear in mind that being named “Philip” indicates that this Jewish man was Hellenized, most likely by his parents. In a Judea recently ravaged by the Greek warlord Antiochus Epiphanes, naming a boy after the Greek warlord father of of the ultimate Greek warlord Alexander the Great is the equivalent in our culture of naming a boy Adolf Hitler. Interesting that Philip is mentioned by name 11 times in the book of John, and was among the first to minister to non-Jews – Greek widows, the Samaritans, the Ethiopian eunuch, and outreach in the Gentile city of Caesarea.

much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord / YHVH. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves…behold, the world is gone after him. And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip…and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus…Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light...He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me [YHVH]. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:12-35)

The Essenes wrote extensively about the Children of Light who were constantly engaged in a battle against their nemesis, the Wicked Priest who was of darkness. The contrasts of those who walk in the light and those lost in the dark are played heavily in John….The woman at the well in Samaria is told that “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (4:13-14)…John’s intended readers who are already well-versed in Philo’s allegory are well aware of the spiritual water that Jesus is referring to…

Early Christians most likely practiced then-common spiritual journeys that were widespread and written extensively about in Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Jewish and Christian literature…religious contemporaries from whom the Christians drew their converts, desired to verify their religion by making a spiritual journey and seeking the divinity on the higher planes of existence where he dwelled…unless one undertake this journey, they cannot achieve everlasting life…being “born again” is necessary [except a man be born again…of…the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3-5)].

Some modern Christian believers are familiar with this concept of being born again through a spirit and regard it as unique to Christianity…the pagan Mithras Liturgy, a guidebook of sorts that assists in the Eucharist and prepares the sojourner for his heavenly journey…advises the seeker of the Sun-god (father of Mithras) to pray saying:

“[F]irst beginning of my beginning, …spirit of spirit, the first spirit in me, …now if it be your will, …give me over to immortal birth and, following that, to my underlying nature, so that, after the present need which is pressing me exceedingly, I may gaze upon the immortal beginning with the immortal spirit, …that I may be born again in thought.”

Many Greek and Roman texts survive which describe similar transformations that are necessary before one may ascend to heaven. In John, we find this merging between this unique Mithraic Eucharist ritual and the Jewish Messiah of Jesus. John’s Jesus acts as the Mithraic communicator in the heavens (where Jesus was born and lives) and has Jesus promise to send the Holy Spirit as the vehicle for such a heavenly bonding (16:7)…

Jesus is made to condemn the Jews as Satanic by John, while the [Gentile] Christians are now the Essenic ideals of the Children of Light with a special gnosis of revelation in understanding the Logos in its true form. John’s nonhuman “superman” loses several qualities that we are familiar with from the Synoptic tradition…To John’s author…Satan is obviously no match against God and John’s intended reader would be confused over such an idea. By the time John was first written at the end of the first century, the tales of Jesus grew to such an extent that Jesus was now fully transformed into a Hellenized god.

See the source image

OK, obviously this is written by a non-believer in the biblical Jesus. I deliberately quote from non-believer sources to strengthen witness validity and broaden the knowledge base for evidence. In this case, I used a source on Greek philosophy and its impact, like a high-speed car crash, on twisting and distorting Christianity, which is well known to have been immense in the early days of Christianity.

there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (II Peter 2:1-2)

John certainly had an overwhelmingly Gentile audience, as evidenced by his constant explanations about Jewish customs.

“the passover, a feast of the Jews…” (John 6:4)

But John’s failure to include evidence of Jesus’ humanity in no way supports the claim that he deliberately removed them from “his” version of Christianity. They were well-known from the existing gospels written by his colleagues. and he refers his readers to these Jewish witnesses to back up what he is reporting.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in THIS book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ [Greek translation for Jewish Messiah], the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31)

Most of all, John rests his case and directs his readers back to existing Jewish scriptures.

“When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.” (John 2:22)

“ye have not his word abiding in you…Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:38-40)

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.” (John 7:37-40)

Why? Because he fulfills Jewish prophetic scripture.

“John [the Baptist] bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me…No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him…when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him…What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the LORD, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees [fundamentalist scripturally literate Jews].” (John 1:15-24)

The scriptures on which both John and Mithraism base their theology date back into the mists of time. Therefore, the most likely explanation for the parallels between them is that they both drew from the same primary source.

Mithraism dates back over 4,000 years and is likely much older. It is one of the most ancient religions predating most all of the other living religions on Earth… [Yet, oddly enough] There is little notice of the Persian god in the Roman world until the year AD 136 onward…This renewal of interest is not easily explained. The most plausible hypothesis seems to be that Roman Mithraism was practically a new creation, wrought by a religious genius who may have lived as late as 100 AD and who gave the old traditional Persian ceremonies a new Platonic interpretation that enabled Mithraism to become acceptable to the Roman world…

While John lived within the same time frame as the “religious genius who may have lived as late as 100 AD,” he can’t be that religious genius. He is universally acknowledged to be a founder of Christianity in his lifetime.

my favorite Christian Apologist of all time is the Apostle John. You might say, I thought Christian Apologetics was a modern day field of study…

The early first century Church was under attack right away by those who wanted to add to, take away from, or correct the teachings of Jesus…The New Testament as a whole was written…to keep the teachings of Jesus intact…

John, a close companion of Jesus and probably the only remaining original disciple, saw the need for a clear and specific description of Jesus’ identity and ministry…

John wrote to all believers, both Jew and Gentile, in the early Church with a primary purpose of proving that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, and the pre-existent divine Son of God…God incarnate with evidence of His authority over all of creation…

John writes his Gospel like a good defense attorney and in his opening statement (1:1-2) discloses Jesus’ identity from the very beginning (Compare with Genesis 1:1)…

John then focuses on specific miracles that would reveal Jesus’ divine nature and his life-giving mission…

Notice that all of these miracles are “apologetic” demonstrations of Jesus’ ability to control the science of the natural order. Only God the Creator could do this. For example, his power over chemistry (water to wine), power over biology (healing disease and disability), power over the laws of nature (walking on water), and finally his power over death both physical and spiritual (raising Lazarus and his own resurrection).

In every chapter John focuses on Jesus’ deity being revealed. The most convincing account is found in John 8:58: Jesus said to them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

John provides evidence that Jesus Himself claimed to be God by revealing a series of “I AM” statements that correspond to Old Testament language and prophecy: (Great article on this at gotquestion.org)…

In addition, we can trace the chain of custody of John’s teachings through his disciples starting with Ignatius (ca. AD 35-117) and Polycarp (69–155) who taught Irenaeus (AD 120-202) who taught Hippolytus (AD 170-236). According to J. Warner Wallace, “John’s students recorded his teachings and identified the sources for later generations. Long before the Codex Sinaiticus was first penned or the Council of Laodicea formalized the canon, the New Testament was established as a reliable eyewitness.” The chain of custody can be further corroborated and established through the other Apostles (Peter, Paul and Mark) and their disciples.

Contrast the trajectory of Mithraism.

Today the [Persian] religion known as Zoroastrianism appears to be the only direct descendant of the [Persian] Mithraic religion remaining.

When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire in about 330 BC…the worship of Mithra…never became popular in the Greek world, because the Greeks never forgot that Mithra had been the god of their enemies the Persians…

Mithra appears suddenly in Roman archaeology in the last quarter of the 1st century AD. Mithra was the most widely venerated god in the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus. Mithraism was essentially a soldier’s religion: Mithra, its hero, was a divinity of fidelity, manliness, and bravery; the stress it laid on good fellowship and brotherliness, its exclusion of women. Known as Mithras in the Roman Empire during the 2nd and 3rd century’s AD, this deity was honored as the patron of loyalty to the emperor. After the acceptance of Christianity by the emperor Constantine in the early 4th century, Mithraism rapidly declined.

I put it to you that this militaristic religion did not in fact decline. As this study proceeds we will discover that Constantine’s Christian state religion is simply a cover, shall we say a shroud (get it? see above) for Mithraism.

In a Roman context, Mithras was a sun god (called sol invictus, “the invincible sun”), a “bull-slayer,” “cattle-thief” and the savior of initiates of his cult…the secret bond amongst its members have suggested the idea that Mithraism was Masonry amongst the Roman soldiers.

By the Roman legionnaires, Mithra—or Mithras, as he began to be known in the Greco-Roman world—was called “the divine Sun, the Unconquered Sun.” He was said to be “Mighty in strength, mighty ruler, and greatest king of gods! O Sun, lord of heaven and earth, God of Gods!” Mithra was also deemed “the mediator” between heaven and earth, a role often ascribed to the god of the sun…

The god of the Unconquered Sun, Sol Invictus, was the official sun god of the later Empire of Rome. The Emperor Aurelian reintroduced the sun god and cult in 274 AD. The Emperor Constantine, also known as Constantine the Great, made the practice of Christianity legal in Rome, but continued to have his coins inscribed with the words, “Sol Invicto Comiti”, which means Committed to the Invincible Sun.

The birthday of the unconquered sun was celebrated at the Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti on December 25, and it is often theorized that Constantine had a hand in selecting this day as the celebration date of the birth of Christ as well…

Seemingly, Constantine…viewed Sol Invictus as very similar to the Christian god. His adoption of Christianity in the Roman Empire was more likely a matter of political strategy than religious conviction.

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