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Studies in the Gospel of John. Christ the Beginning

Studies in the Gospel of John. Christ the Beginning

Excerpt from The Present Truth December 22, 1898, Vol. 14, 51

By E. J. Waggoner

“In the beginning was the Word, 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 anything made that was made. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.1

“This Divine Word appeared in the person of Jesus of Nazareth; for “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” and John bore witness of Him, saying, “He that cometh after Me is preferred before me; for He was before me.” PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.2

“This settles the question of the pre-existence of Christ, for all who have any respect for the Bible as the Word of God. It is true enough that the flesh of Jesus, that is, His fleshly body, was not in the beginning with God, the Creator of all things; for “when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me.” Heb. x. 5. But “the flesh profiteth nothing; it is the Spirit that quickeneth; and the life that animated the flesh of Jesus, and which is the real person, was the Word which was in the beginning with God, and which was God. So while cavillers may amuse themselves by playing upon words, we rejoice in the full assurance that this Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express imago of His person. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.3

“Jesus Christ Himself is the Beginning. Col. i. 18. He is “the beginning of the creation of God.” Rev. iii. 14. He is the power of God, and “the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. i. 24. Therefore it is He who speaks in the eighth chapter of proverbs, saying, “I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love Me to inherit substance, and that I may fill their treasuries. The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” Prov. viii. 20-23. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.4

“On this last text it may be remarked that the words “set up” are from one Hebrew word meaning anointed, so that the meaning is the same as in the second psalm, “Yet have I set My name upon My holy hill of Zion.” The word is the same in the Hebrew, and it will be noticed in the margin we have “anointed” as the rendering of the Hebrew. Thus we learn that Christ was the anointed king before the earth existed. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.5

“Moreover, the word “in” has really no place in the twentieth verse of Proverbs viii., as there is nothing in the Hebrew to indicate it. So we read, “The Lord possessed Me, the Beginning of His way, before His works of old.” Still further, it should be stated that the word “possessed” is the very same that occurs in Gen. iv. 1, where we read that on the birth of Cain, Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” Therefore putting all these things together, we learn that Jesus was brought forth “from the days of eternity” Micah v. 2, margin), before anything was created, and that He Himself is the beginning of all the ways of God. He is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Col. i. 15. He is the Beginning of everything. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.6


“Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Rom. viii. 29. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John i. 12. This is why we rejoice in the fact that Jesus of Nazareth, who was “born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. iv. 4), is the Son of God. It shows us that although we are born to low estate, subject by nature to all the infirmities that are the inheritance of man born of woman, we may become sons of God, own brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and sharers of all His fulness. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.7

“Christ is the firstborn among many brethren. Thus He is the heir; but we are joint-heirs with Him. It is not as in earthly estates, where the eldest is the sole heir to the titles and estates, and the younger brothers must look out for themselves. Christ is indeed the heir to the titles and to all the estate of God; but there is no exclusiveness in Him. Whatever He has, He shares in equal measure with all His brethren. “Of His fulness have all we received.” If we receive Him in His fulness, He gives is not only the privilege, but the power, the right, to be the sons of God. All that He is, we may be, but only in Him as the Beginning, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and therefore of our works. By the will of God, through the Blessed Spirit, we have the same rights that Christ Himself has. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.8

“How can this be?” If you are wise, and would be wiser, you will not ask that question. Be content not to know so much as God, for you never can, no matter how much you try. Who can explain the mystery of life? “As thou knowest not what is the way of the Spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.” Eccl. xi. 5. Yet nobody refuses to be called the son of his father, not to inherit an estate that may fall to him as eon, because he cannot understand the, mystery of birth. Why should we be any more foolish in dealing with that new birth which makes us veritable sons of God? The “plan of salvation” is entirely beyond the comprehension of the human mind; but the working out, the results, of the plan, we may know by experience, provided we believe. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.9

“Jesus Christ is the firstborn among many brethren, “the firstborn of all creation,” because “in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth;” and it is for this reason that in Him we have redemption even the forgiveness of our sins. Redemption is creation, for “it any man be in Christ, there is a new creation.” We become sons of God, therefore, by the same power by which Christ, the Divine Word, created all things in the beginning. Now creation is not a fancy, but a fact. It is not a mere mental process, a conception, but a tangible reality, a thing done. It is done, however, solely by the Word of God. “For He spake, and it was, He commanded, and it stood fast.” So the fact that we are as really sons of God as Christ is, rests on the same foundation as does the creation. It is all of Christ, “who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.” PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.10


“As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John. i. 12, 13. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” James i. 18. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.1

“Men commonly speak of the will of God as if it were something to be dreaded, and to be endured when it cannot be avoided. When they enjoy prosperity, or what seems to them to be prosperity, they take it as a matter of course; but when there is adversity they complain for a while, and then piously talk about submitting to the will of God. It is with them as though the will of God were exercised only to thwart us, and to wake our lives a burden. On the contrary, the will of God is exercised to give us life and happiness. “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.2

“This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” 1 Thess. iv. 3. He says, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter i. 16. Certainly; that is most fitting; for the son is heir of the father. We are children of God, and if children, then heirs. So of course we must be holy, since holiness is His nature. To be sons of God means nothing else than to be partakers of the Divine nature. So as it is His will that we should be His sons, it is His will that we should be holy. His will is made known to us in His Word. When we hear His Word, we have simply to say from the heart, “Thy will be done,” and it will be so, even as it was so when He spoke in creation, saying, Let this and that be. There is eternal power in the thought of God. Everything that we can see in the visible creation is but the product of His thought. So if we accept His thought, His will, we shall be made to the praise of the glory of His grace. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.3

“We had nothing to do with bringing ourselves into this world. We were born of flesh and blood, and of the will of man, but not of our own will. Now when we receive the Lord, not as a figure of speech, but as a real Person, really present with us through the eternal Spirit, by whom He offered Himself to God, His will makes us sons of God, deriving our whole life directly from the Lord as really as when we were born of the flesh we derived our lives from our parents. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.4

“Ah, yes,” some one says, “but that is spiritual; it is only spiritually that we are the sons of God.” That is the language by which Satan makes people deny the truth even while pronouncing the words of truth. It is true that it is only spiritually that we are the sons of God, but that does not mean that we are not really and wholly the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. “They that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, it so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Rom. viii. 8-10. Spiritual things are real, and may be handled. Christ was wholly spiritual, even when He walked this earth as a man, and in Him all who believe are made spiritual even while yet on this earth. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.5

“In Christ we are “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Eph. ii. 22. Now of the living creatures forming the throne of God in the heavens, it is said, “They went, every one, straight forward; whither the Spirit was to go, they went.” Eze. i. 12. God's thought is the law of their lives; it moves them. His Spirit of life is in them so that they have no existence, no thought apart from Him; as He thinks, so they are. Our prayer is to be, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” This is a possibility, else the Saviour would not have told us to pray for it. Let it be according to His word. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.6


“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John i. 4, 9. Verses 3 and 4 are by some of the best scholars rendered thus: “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made. That which was made in Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” It is simply a difference in placing the marks of punctuation, which as is well known are no part of the original text. It is a fact that everything that is made in Him is life. Whoever is in Him must live, for He is life itself. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.7

“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” The margin of the Revised Version gives “overcame” in the place of “comprehended.” Perhaps we can get a better grasp of the idea conveyed by this word “comprehend,” by noting Isa. xl. 12, where we are told that God “comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure.” When we put a thing in a measure, it is shut in. Even so light may sometimes he shut in by darkness. Go out some foggy night in London; if you are not careful you may run against a lamp-post. Why? Because the thick fog so shuts in the rays that come from the lamp, that they do not reach more than a few inches. They are shut in as by a thick wall or put within a bushel. They cannot penetrate the gloom. The darkness comprehends or overcomes the light. But not so with the light of life. It shines out in the darkness, and the darkness does not prevail against it. That is a true light; it is of worth. It is not only unquenchable, but it cannot be kept within bounds of darkness. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.8

“A portion of this unquenchable life is in every man that comes into the world. It would all be in every man, if no man would reject it; for “of His fulness have all we received.” But men “hold down the truth in unrighteousness.” Rom. i. 18, R.V. Christ is the truth and the life. They work against the life, because they love death. Prov. viii. 36. What wondrous grace has been manifested by the Lord, in that He has so marvellously provided for the salvation of all men. Upon every soul of mankind has He bestowed this wondrous love, that all might he called the sons of God. Men may reject the love, but that does not at all nullify the fact that it has been bestowed. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.9

“This light of life is in every man that comes into the world. It “lighteth every man coming into the world.” R.V. As he comes into the world, he receives the light. It is ours from our earliest infancy. With our first breath we have the life of Christ. What for?-“The Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” Deut. xxx. 14. And this Word was in the beginning with God, and the Word was God. So although “the wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Ps. lviii. 3), there is no excuse for their so doing. God's eternal power and Divinity are to be seen in them as well as in the other things that He has made, “that they may be without excuse.” Rom. i. 19, 20. The life is with them from the very beginning in order that they may live even as Christ lived. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 804.10

“Do you say that this but increases the condemnation of all mankind, in that all have sinned, and “there is none that doeth good, no, not one?” Very true, but “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Great as the condemnation may be, greater still is the salvation. The life is in every man, not for condemnation, but for salvation. “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” John iii. 17. These things are for our learning, not for our discussion. They are not theories, but facts. We are to understand them by believing them, and thus we get life through His name. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 805.1