陸尊恩 Tsun-En Lu

A Kuyperian Commentary on Biblical Hermeneutics, Chinese Worlds, and Everything Else in a Biblical Perspective

The Apologetic Features of the Gospel of John

I have written briefly on the apologetic purpose of the Gospel of John. Here I am feeding my observations of the apologetic features of the Gospel.

Hughes gave a survey of “crucial biblical passages for Christian apologetics, for which he listed Gen 1:1-31, 3:1-24, Rom 1:18-32, 1 Cor 2:14, Eph 2:1-10, Rev 21:1-4. It is not uncommon that the Gospel of John is omitted, for this book has rarely entered the contemporary discussion of Christian apologetics. However, I believe the whole Scripture has apologetic implications. The following are my very limited observations of the apologetic features of the Gospel of John.

Starting point, the divine Logos

Modern interpreters before the Bultmann era favored the Stoic origin of the Gospel’s use of Logos against the Hellenistic background, but this view is based on a superficial connection of the meaning of Logos with the Stoic worldview. The Gospel of John reflects no evidence of interaction with the Stoics. The word λόγος is in fact commonly used in Greek and often means nothing more than the simple idea of self-expression. Recent scholarship turns attention to the Old Testament and Jewish backgrounds. The direct context of John 1:1-4 suggests an allusion to Gen 1:1-3 where God first discloses himself through the works of creation. The theme of creation continues its significance throughout the Prologue (John 1:1-18), for “the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (1:10-11). The significance of the Incarnation is because of the role of Logos in the creation. He who was with God in the creation (1:1), and without whom nothing was made (1:3), was coming into this world that he had made (1:9-10), then dwelt among us (1:14), and continues making known to us God the Father (1:18).

Justin Martyr, the first known Christian apologist of the church’s history, was demonstrably influenced by the Gospel’s use of Logos in developing his apologetic strategy. He associated the Johannine idea of Logos with Platonism. His intention was to show to the pagans Christianity to be a higher philosophy than those of the Greeks.

However, his use of Logos was too fanciful and in fact a twist of what the Gospel meant. In comparison to his normal use of a prophecy-fulfillment strategy, this Logos-strategy was less significant to him. However we should not dismiss Justin too quickly without some appreciation. It was he who first learned from the Gospel to present Jesus as the self-existent and self-contained divine personality, and used it for apologetic purpose in the pagan context.

The idea of divine Logos provides a different apologetic trajectory than that of “Messiah” or “Yahweh.” The latter two are more associated with Israel’s history, but the former has its completely universal appeal. This practice was very rare in the Old Testament, except perhaps the use of “Wisdom” in Proverbs. There is no good account for the reason why the Gospel made this innovative move, and more probably it has its independent origin in the Gospel.[1]

The idea of divine Logos fades from the narrative after the introductory theological framework is established. The word λόγος elsewhere simply means the spoken word. However the impressive relationship between the Logos and God the Father shifts to that of Jesus the Son of God and the Father.[2] Some speculate that this is a sign of the Prologue as a later addition; however, all the hypotheses of this kind can be rejected on the basis of the stylistic unity of the Gospel.[3]

Creator-creature distinction, the preexistent Logos and this world

The Gospel writer continues his thesis, immediately after introducing the divine Logos, by setting up a course for a “transcendental” type argument. The Logos’ preexistence is unmistakably implied, for the time of his involvement in the creation was “in the beginning” (1:1-2), and he was credited for the creation of “all things” (1:3-4).[4] He was the fountain of life (1:4), a reference to God alone in Jewish thinking, and relevant to all humanity (“the life was the light of men”). Then he uses the contrast of light and darkness to figuratively describe the unrivalled superiority of the Logos with this world (1:4-5). Such polarizing of the Logos and this world attracted even Bultmann’s attention, however he disappointingly ascribed it to Mandaean Gnosticism. The real intention of the Gospel writer, nevertheless, was to draw a sharp distinction between the creator and the creature, God and this world, Logos and humanity. The choice of “darkness” also signals a moral overtone which navigates his discourse to the disapproval of unbelief and approval of belief (1:5, 9-13).

The writer maintains the same polarizing contrast throughout his Gospel. He was from the above, not of this world (8:23; 16:27). His substance was far from human attainment of knowledge, unless he revealed himself to them (1:31; 2:9, 11). His testimony was from Heaven where only one human being had ever been (3:12-13, 31). His works were absolutely from God the Father, not from any human origin (5:19). He provided life from heaven, not like the life of the earth (6:38, 58). His teaching was completely divine, not like human instructions (7:16-18; 8:26). Only he knew the Father (7:28-29; 8:55; 10:15; 16:3; 17:25). As Carson has insightfully observed, “The key feature of the Gospel is not to portray a central figure who is just like the rest of us, but precisely the reverse… Biblical Christianity cannot outlive the ‘scandal of particularity’. By contrast, the novel thrives on the universals of human existence.”[5]

Divine self-disclosure in Jesus, the True Light

The Gospel writer’s second introduction of Jesus after the divine Logos is that he is the “True Light” (1:9).[6] The motif of light has been registered with the motif of life[7] at the introductory verse, “the life was the light of man” (1:4). Likewise in John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Most interpreters intuitively take the meaning of “light” as intellectual awareness, or spiritual illumination, without much qualification. But it is doubtfully the case. This portion requires more detailed explanation.

First of all, it is unacceptable to establish a symbolic interpretation such as taking “the light of man” as a symbol of “the life,” or “the light” as a symbol of something else.[8] A symbol is a single item in the text, such as water, blood, or wine. What a symbol stands for must be inserted into the text by the reader. In the case of John 1:4b, if “the light” is a symbol at all, it might stand for “soul,” “understanding,” “wisdom,” etc. The problem of symbolic interpretation is that the writer provides no clue for unlocking the symbols in the Prologue. If we insist on a symbolic reading, allegorical interpretation is the only option left. The second problem is that the “light” does not only stand for something; rather, it constructs a new conceptual world in the Prologue (1:1-18): the light “shines” (v5), “enlightens” and “was coming” (v9); and we have “seen” his glory (v14). In the conceptual imagery, the life-giving Logos was an illuminating figure who was coming into this world with divine illumination power for him whom he was pleased with to see his glory. The conceptual function of the imagery works beyond what symbolism can achieve.

Second, the most possible meaning of “light,” if taken as a metaphor rather than symbolism, is whether referring to the redemptive illumination (knowledge of God as relation to salvation, such as God’s self-disclosure of his substance, the status of humanity in darkness, or the knowledge of salvation), or referring to the natural illumination (knowledge of God as related to the creation in the sphere of providence). Either way, it is clear within the context of the Gospel that the illumination is associated with the function of the intellect—“seeing,” “knowing,” and “believing.”

Vos wrestles with the question whether the idea of life should belong to the sphere of intellect, or the idea of intellect should belong to the sphere of life. He determines to take the latter, for life has something to do with all things that were created through the Logos. “All things that were created” should not be confined to the sphere of the intellect, and life is not all illuminating in “all things,” but only in man. That is to say, the “life” that has everything to do with all mankind contains the epistemological functions. To have this “life” is also to have the power of “seeing,” “knowing,” or “believing.”

Vos notes the parallelism between the works of the preexistent Logos and the incarnated Logos who came to this world, and suggests that the writer in 1:4, 5, 9, 10 “refers to a continued operation of the Logos in supplying life and light to the natural world.” But only as the giver of life and illumination in all creation, the divine Logos came to “enlighten” and “give life” to this world in his works of redemption.[9] The Logos who gives life to this world is the Logos who came to this world and who gives life to believers. It is his divinity at the creation that qualifies his redemption at the incarnation. The idea of “regeneration” at redemption involves the idea of another or second “creation.” The True Light, in a word, is a metaphoric expression of the divine self-disclosure in Jesus.[10]

Third, the metaphoric use of “the light of life” can also be applied to the believers. Believers are said to be walking in the light of God when they are participating in Jesus (John 12:35, 36; cf. Isa 2:5; Luke 16:8; Eph 5:8; 1 John 1:7). Believers’ walking in this “light of life” may be associated with participation in every kind of divine attribute and activity.[11]

Another line of interpretation is to take the “light” as divine judgment (sin-disclosure power).[12] But this interpretation is weaker in the context of the Gospel, for there is nowhere the “light” is directly associated with judgment, but there are many indications that the “light” is associated with the “life.” However this interpretation is not without value, because the coming of the divine Logos did indirectly expose the existence of darkness (sin and unbelief) in man.

Noetic effect of sin

The Prologue portrays the world as created by God with Logos, yet its current status is in the darkness. The contrast between light and darkness does not apply to the contrast between the creator and the creature, for the concept of darkness is only associated with the non-receiving of Jesus as the True Light (1:5, 11; 3:19; 8:12; 12:46). What is involved with this darkness of the world is people’s sinful and rebellious status that leads to blindness (9:1-41) and death (8:21-24).

The invalid man at the pool of Bethesda puts his faith in the mysteriously stirred water, a superstition that the writer does not approve. Jesus’ warning to the man after his healing—“See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” does not imply that the man’s illness is the consequence of sin, for it would directly contradict the writer in 9:3 (cf. 11:4).[13] Instead, it illuminates this man’s deeper awareness as a sinner,[14] for he has been giving his faith to the water at the pool for thirty-eight years, not the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus warns him to stop sinning lest he encounter something worse than a reprimand for a Sabbath violation, namely the judgment of God.[15] The following context shows the writer’s intention is to draw a correlation between sinning and not believing in Jesus (9:16-47, particularly 9:38, 47). As with other miracle narratives in the Gospel, Jesus’ saying in 5:19-47 is interpretative of his doing in 5:1-18. The whole point of the healing miracle is that Jesus is the Son of God, who is equal to God the Father, so he must be working on the day of Sabbath, while all others’ working is forbidden. If the meaning of keeping the Sabbath is to honor God’s working, they should honor the working of Jesus who is the Son of God. Thus Jesus has exposed the sin of his opponents—their unbelief is manifested by their denouncing his healing on the Sabbath.[16]

We should point out that the idea of non-believing as sinning is what the modern Christian apologist calls the “noetic effect of sin.” The effect of total depravity does not reach only the heart, but reaches the mind as well. It is because the depraved soul is rebellious against God that it proactively excludes God in the mind and thinking. In the case of healing on the Sabbath day, it is the sinful heart of the Jews that darkens their mind to seeing the irony of Jesus’ doing miracles on the day only God is allowed to work. Jesus’ apologetics in the Gospel is to point out this noetic effect of sin, censure them based on this truth, and announce believing in him as the treatment of sin. Thus Jesus speaks nothing but truth to them.

The noetic effect of sin is the only reason why unbelieving in Jesus is wrong and blamable in the Gospel (cf. 3:16-20; 3:32-35; 5:38; 6:36; 8:24; 9:41; 12:45-48). At the deep bottom of the reality is that humanity hates God for no reason (15:18-25). Sinners are held responsible independently for their sinful attitude. There are no excuses, and no exceptions.

Faith, regeneration, and the role of the Holy Spirit

The key feature of the new birth, the regeneration, or being “born again (from above),”[17] is that it is completely God’s working. The wording “born again” is predominantly Johannine, and the doctrine of regeneration in church history draws from this Gospel. The key text is 3:1-15 where Nicodemus consults Jesus at night. Jesus tells him that he must first be “born again” before he can “see” and “enter” the kingdom of God. The regeneration is conducted by the Holy Spirit alone, not by human effort or comprehension. This issue of divine activity in the work of regeneration is afterward heightened by the writer’s use of Isa 6:10 in 12:40 to suggest that God is actively involved in the hardening of the hearts of unbelievers. Many excellent surveys of the Scripture have been made on these subjects, so I shall not comment more here.

What may be worth mentioning is the binding together of divine election, regeneration, the work of the Holy Spirit, Christian faith, and the function of miracles as one complex of reality in the Gospel. It is almost impossible to isolate one aspect from the others. Jesus came as the True Light to make us see. What we shall see is the self-disclosure of God the Father in Jesus and Jesus’ own divinity. Whenever the context implies a theological meaning, to “see” is to “believe” (1:46; 1:50, 51; 3:3; 4:35; 9:25,39; ), and to “believe” is to see his glory and to join this gospel reality (1:14; 2:11; 3:36; 8:51; 11:40; 14:19; 16:16-22; 17:24). Not seeing is equal to unbelieving and being spiritually blind (9:39), and therefore sinful and blamable. If the readers get curious about “how can we see?” the answer is regeneration (3:1-8). Eventually, this complex of reality leads to the conclusion that not-seeing-faith is a better faith than seeing-faith (19:25-29; cf. 1:50).

This subject concerns many intricate topics such as the “inner testimony of the Holy Spirit” and the “distinction between the regenerate and unregenerate mind” in Christian apologetics. This is beyond the scope of discussion in this paper.

Function of miracles

As I mentioned before, the use of miracles is a part of one complex reality. The context of the Gospel forbids isolation of this subject from all the others. The recording of the miracles was based upon a trustworthy eyewitness (21:24), and the narrative of those miracles often contains historical details not found in the Synoptic Gospels. It is the writer’s intention to present these miracles as actual history, instead of theological allegories.

What is most impressive is not how valuable the eyewitness’s testimony is to verify his account, but how much the writer has downplayed this eyewitness. Throughout the Gospel the presence of his eyewitness is signified, but not emphasized. “We know that his testimony is true” (21:24), but we do not know this by actually knowing what is true and what is not true before his testimony. The function of 21:24 is essentially a confession, not a proof from a group of others who have the authority to evaluate the writer’s testimony. This plural “we” can refer to the writer’s followers, as a second-hand editorial voice; or, this first person plural subject is the writer’s self-referent with the confirmation of his affiliated community.

I do not want to undervalue the excellent work of Richard Bauckham in defending the historical veracity of the eyewitness in the Gospel.[18] I believe that all the historical detail of the Gospel is intellectually defensible. What I am trying to clarify is this: the writer is far from seeking to make his case based upon his eyewitness. Instead, he highlights the self-authenticating character of God as the highest proof of everything in his theology. The Logos is divine because he was with God in the beginning, preexistent before all creation (1:1-3). The world is in darkness because it denies the life in the Logos, which is the light of man (1:4). We must believe in Jesus because we believe in God. The writer wants to impress the readers concerning the miracles, no less about their historical veracity than about their divine origins. Before the presentation of miracles as evidences, a theological framework has been set up for the human mind to properly function in evaluating these miracles. The larger context of the Gospel has made it clear that the central issue is about the unbelief of this world, not the lack of evidences.

Miracles in the Gospel are selected and organized into seven sections, each with a set of theological interpretations. Miracles function as signs, the indicators of divine will, and the eyewitness confirms them, both in their historicity and distinctive theological emphasis. These are not just miracles, as any ancient man of God could have performed. These are works exclusively of God’s own. The number of seven is intentional, as a holy number indicating divinity. The purpose of presenting miracles is to show the divinity of Jesus, as well as his special relationship with God the Father, i.e. God’s self-disclosure in him.

The seeking for signs and miracles is particularly disapproved by the Gospel (2:18; 6:30). Miracles even expose the inner reality of unbelief (9:41). A more subtle reading may establish this case: the Greek words φαίνω (1:5), γνωρίζω (15:15; 17:26), or ἐμφανίζω (14:21-22), with similar idea such as “enlighten”, “reveal”, “manifest” are most of the times associated with the divine  self-disclosure in Jesus; the word δείκνυμι (2:8; 14:8, 9) meaning to “show” is most often associated with the human quest for evidences. He has “revealed” himself and his Father to this world, but they still do not believe him, even after some have been “shown” the miracles.

There are signs that Jesus voluntarily performs, but he performs only according to the will of God so that miracles will carry out the divine purposes. The ultimate purpose is all the same, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (20:30-31).” But this irony remains: only those who are of him will come to him upon seeing the miracles.

Role of human witness

Like the miracles, the role of human witness in the Gospel is only secondary to the divine self-authenticating witness. Human witness functions as referent, a pointing device for the world to

see Jesus, who is the truth itself and self-authenticating. John the Baptist’s witness bears no signs (10:41), yet he points Jesus to them whenever people attend to him (1:15-36). His most important task is to inform this world of Jesus’ coming. Comparing to Jesus, who is the True Light, he is only a lamp (1:8; 5:33). After he has witnessed for Jesus, his testimony withers and Jesus’ testimony thrives (3:22-30).

The woman of Samaria also bears witness of Jesus. The fact that she is morally unclean is significant to the spiritually unclean Samaritan city. Her testimony is about that Jesus omnisciently knows all her wrongdoings, yet offers her living water of eternity (4:1-42). After a few days of living together with Jesus, those Samaritans being witnessed by this woman acknowledge that “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world (4:42).” Jesus himself says explicitly that he does not want human witness, in the sense of vindicating what he says or does (5:41). There is no other better explanation why the implied author—“the beloved disciple” must likewise be downplayed, than that human witness is consistently set as secondary to the divine self-witness.

Problem of evil

The most “diabolic” polemic, as dubbed by modern critics against this Gospel, is Jesus’ denunciation of “the Jews” to have “Satan” as their “father”. Jesus’ apologetic in 8:31-59 has been taken by many as the Johannine anti-Semitism. This is profoundly a distortion of the meaning due to idle reading of the text. Above all, the Gospel writer’s concern against “the Jews” is exclusively theological, not racial. Both the writer and a majority of his original readers are probably Jewish people as well. What he seeks to differentiate is the contrast between “the Jews” and “the true Israelites”. The Jews is rhetorically a metonymy of unbelieving group, historically Jesus’ Jewish opponents.

The rhetorical function of associating “the Jews” with “Satan” serves to sharpen the distinction between the believing and the non-believing groups. It also theologically points out the reality that the unbelievers are under the active influence of Satan, an independent personality outside of humanity. Though Satan’s influence is almost invisible, he is responsible for having sent the evil thought into Judas Iscariot’s heart (13:2). Other parts of the New Testament teach the same thing. For example, the whole world lies under the power (1 John 5:19). The liberty that believers acquire from the gospel is like the moving from the realm of darkness, i.e. the power of Satan, into light (Act 26:18). Satan hinders the works of God’s people (1 Thess 2:18). And we must do nothing but only resisting him (1 Pet 5:9).

What is significant in John 8:31-59 is that Jesus was addressing to “the Jews who had believed in him” (31). Rhetorically speaking, these new Jewish proselytes were not true believers, for they were still in the category of “the Jews”, not of “true Israelites” like Nathanael who played no deceits in his heart (1:47). On the contrary, their unbelief was exposed under Jesus’ pressure. They “faith” were tested by whether they could truly abide in Jesus’ word and be his disciples (31). The verbal test is whether they recognized the need for salvation (32). Jesus does not take faith only at the surface level; he demands deeper consistency as well. Jesus in the Gospel also makes an absolute refutation to any thought that suggests God as the author of evil—the Satan was a murderer and liar from the beginning, and he did this out of his own character (44).

The problem of evil in the Gospel may be summed up in this way: the evil resides in the hearts of men, who follow Satan the greatest evil personality, and they altogether constitute the concept of “this world in darkness”.

Self-attestation of the Scripture

The idea of the self-attestation of Scripture is admittedly more obscure than other apologetic features. However it may be found indirectly. The authority of Scripture is always introduced as what must not be broken or must be fulfilled (2:17; 2:22; 6:31, 45; 7:38, 42; 8:17; 10:34, 35; 12:14, 16; 13:18; 15:25; 17:12; 19:24, 28, 36, 37; 20:9), not to mention the numerous allusions to the Scripture carefully organized by the Gospel writer to communicate the idea of divine will and his self-disclosure in Jesus. The writer invites the readers to “believe” the Scripture, just like in every other place he invites them to believe in Jesus. The Gospel writer often refers to the Scripture as γεγραμμένον (“what is written”); in the same manner he refers to his writings (20:31; 21:24-25). The Gospel writer identifies himself as a human witness, but his testimony is completely from above, and therefore authoritative and self-attesting—who ever listens to God will listen to his Gospel as well (7:17; 8:47; 10:16).

Presence of the living Christ

Craig Koester has made a very convincing case: The Gospel is written from a post-resurrection perspective. In 14:26, Jesus promises that the Spirit will come to teach and remind his discipleship of all that he has said. The process does not only preserve but also elaborate the meaning of Jesus’ saying after his death and resurrection (2:22; 12:16). The readers must understand the Spirit to be active among them, even at the time of their reading the Gospel[19]. To quote Koester more extensively, “Those who know the end of the story can see things that participants in the story do not. …clues from the end of the story are woven into each part of the narrative. The moment Jesus steps into public view in 1:29 he is called the sacrificial Lamb of God. No further interpretation is given , but readers who know the ending can see that it foreshadows his death. Later, Jesus speaks of destroying and raising the temple, and the narrator explicitly says that the disciples only understood this later, as a portent of his death and resurrection (2:22)…The evangelist’s assumption is that the Jesus who lived and died has been raised and is now a living presence.[20]

That is to say, the Gospel writer writes with the tone of assuming the active presence of the Holy Spirit. While we read his writing, we hear the voice of Jesus, speaking to us in the text, with the aid of the Holy Spirit. The use of first person plural may refer to the whole community in the Holy Spirit—“we [all believers] have seen his glory (1:14)”, “from his fullness we have all received (1:16)”, and “we [both the writer and the believing readers] know that his testimony is true (21:24)” The faith in the presence of the living Christ is integrated with the writer’s conceptual world and even the literary style. If Koester’s case is established, the implication for Christian apologetics is very significant. The Gospel writer gives us an example of how to demonstrate “putting on Christ” and “walk in Spirit” as we exercise apologetics—we must always presuppose Christ’s presence when we encounter unbelief and we must always speak in the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Picture source: Byzantine illumination depicting John dictating to his disciple,Prochorus (c. 1100) from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Apostle)

[1] ED. L. Millar, “The Johannine Origins of the Johannine Logos,” JBL 112/3 (1993), 445-57.

[2] Koester, 8.

[3] Carson, 45-9.

[4] The punctuation of the Greek text in John 1:3-4 has been a significant textual variant to the church history. In order to prevent Arians and Macedonian heretics’ appeal to this text to prove that the Holy Spirit is to a part of the created things, orthodox teachers preferred to take ὃ γέγονεν with the preceding sentence, reading “…without him was not anything made that was made,“ a somewhat unintelligible sentence. It may be more reasonable to take ὃ γέγονεν as the starting phrase, reading “…without him nothing was made. That which was made in him was life.”

[5] Carson, 66.

[6] For the light motif in the Gospel, refer to John 1:5, 7, 8, 9; 3:19, 20, 21; 8:12, 9:5; 11:9, 10; 12:35, 36; 12:46.

[7] For the life motif in the Gospel, refer to John 3:15, 16; 3:36; 4:14; 5:21, 24, 26, 39, 40; 6:27, 33, 35; 6:40, 47, 48, 51, 53, 54, 63, 68; 8:12; 10:10, 28; 11:25; 12:50; 14:6; 17:2; 20:31.

[8] Ruben Zimmermann, “Imagery in John: Opening Up Paths into the Tangled Thicket of John’s Figurative World,” Imagery in the Gospel of John (edited by Jörg Frey et al.; Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), 1-46.

[9] Geerhardus Vos, “The Range of the Logos Title in the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel,” originally published in The Princeton Theological Review 11 (1913):557-602; reprinted in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: the Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2001), 59-89.

[10] I choose the term “metaphoric” in order to differentiate the idea of light drawn from the creation and the divine being. Bavinck comments on the theological controversy on whether God is called “light” (1 Jn 1:5) in a literal sense or in a figurative sense. The Jewish tradition thought of “the glory of the Lord” as a created and visible radiance, a body of luminosity, by which he made known his presence in creation, and in the concept of Shekinah, they even conceived of it as a personal agent. Bavinck rejected the doctrine of an uncreated divine light that is distinct from the divine being, which was approved by the Eastern Orthodox Church at the Council of Constantinople in 1431. Based on the doctrine of the spirituality, invisibility, and simplicity of God, Bavinck concluded that the divine light is only used analogically to manifest God’s glory. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (Vol. 2: God and Creation, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004), 253.

[11] The divine light in Scripture has many other metaphoric uses in describing God’s attributes and activities in relation to God’s glory: divine light as God’s favor (Ps 4:6), God’s salvation (Isa 9:2; 42:6,16; 49:6; Ps 27:1; Mic 7:8; Matt 4:16; Luke 1:79), God’s holiness (Job 24:16), God’s justice (Isa 51:4; 59:9), God’s truth (Ps 43:3), God’s judgment (Hos 6:5), God’s coming to the world (John 1:5; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46), God’s immortal life (John 1:4; 8:12), God’s presence in the world (John 11:9;12:35), God’s power vs. Satanic power (Acts 26:18; Col 1:13), God’s power to disclose the hidden things (1 Cor 4:5; Eph 5:9-14), God’s righteousness (2 Cor 6:14), or God’s fellowship with man (1 John 2:9; 1 Pet 1:8). Above all, the divine light can be a metaphor for the second person of Trinity in Heb 1:3: “he is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1:3).” Occasionally the divine light is a metonymy for God himself (Job 24:13; Acts 26:23; 2 Cor 11:14).

[12] C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text (2d ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978), 158.

[13] Barrett, 255.

[14] Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary (trans. John Vriend; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdamans, 1997), 189.

[15] Koester, 68.

[16] Koester, 69.

[17] The Greek word ἄνωθεν more often means “from above” (Mark 15:38; John 19:23; Jas 3:15), less often means “again” (Gal 4:9), and only occasionally means “from the beginning” (Luke 1:3), or “for a long time” (Acts 26:5). Early interpreters rendered it “born again” for fitting the theological reasons. But in fact it is theologically sound to take it as “born from above”, if we think of the writer’s intention is to connect the creator-creature distinction with the idea of regeneration. For this regeneration is not from human blood, or from the will of the flesh, or from the will of man, but solely from God (cf 1:13).

[18] Especially see The Gospel of John and Christian Theology (ed. Richard Bauckham and Carl Mosser; Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008).

[19] Koester, 7-11.

[20] Koester, 11

One comment on “The Apologetic Features of the Gospel of John

  1. 引用通告: The Apologetics of the Gospel of John and Its Implications for Christian Apologetics « Discipling Hermeneutics

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