“In the Beginning was the Word”: Trinitarian Theology in the Gospel of John

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We’ve covered Trinitarian theology in the Old Testament, and even through the Gospel of Matthew. What one finds in the Gospel of John, however, is a focus on the Trinity in a way that the other three Gospels do not. John’s Gospel gives a lot more doctrine on the Trinity, the three members of the Triune Godhead (their names, functions, etc.).

One of the complaints of Bible skeptics is that John’s Gospel spends far more time on Trinitarian doctrine, which shows that it was created later because of the development in Christian doctrine; and yet, that doesn’t take away from the Doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine itself either existed before the publication of the Gospel of John or not. John’s Gospel isn’t the only one that mentions God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, leading us to conclude that skeptics are simply wrong about Christian theology.

With that said, we want to go ahead and cover the Trinity in the Gospel of John.

John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” (John 1:1-5, 14-15)

John 1 begins with “the Word” who “was with God” and “was God” and “was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3). “The Word” is God, was with God in the beginning, and is the Creator of all things. Verse 10 states the same thing: that “the world was made through Him.” Those who receive Him “to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name” (v.12).

Here’s where we see that “those who believe in Him” are those who have faith in Jesus. Here, then, “the Word” is Jesus. Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and was in the beginning with God the Father. Thus, John gets us to see Jesus as in the beginning with God, as Creator God. John doesn’t want us to just see Jesus as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v.14), though Jesus did take on humanity, but that Jesus was also God who existed from eternity.

17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:17, 18)

Who is “the only begotten Son”? The answer? Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God, God the Father being Jesus’ Father. Jesus “is in the bosom of the Father” (v.18), referring to the fact that the Father loves Jesus. John, the writer of the Gospel of John, refers to himself throughout the Gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and John says that he leaned against the bosom of Jesus in the Gospel:

23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.

25 Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:23-25)

26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” (John 19:26)

2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” (John 20:2)

7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. (John 21:7)

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” (John 21:20)

The same can be seen in Lazarus going to Abraham’s bosom when he died:

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (Luke 16:19-23)

We can tell that Lazarus goes to a place of eternal bliss because the rich man goes to a place of torment, a place with an opposite effect as compared to the destiny of Lazarus. When Lazarus is in Heaven, we see the place characterized by Lazarus being in “Abraham’s bosom” (v.22), “Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23).

When John 1 talks about Jesus being in the bosom of the Father, it means that the Father loves Jesus. And why wouldn’t the Father love Jesus? After all, Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father. Of course the Father would love Him: He is the only Son the Father has.

By the end of John 1, we also notice that Jesus has the Spirit descend on Him at His baptism:

32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)

In John 1:32, John says of Jesus that “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.” The Spirit is from Heaven, which makes Him either 1) an angelic being or 2) God. Jesus is called by John as “He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (v.33), which indicates that Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God.

John 3

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:1-21)

Here in John 3, Jesus has a conversation with Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, and tries to explain to him what spiritual rebirth and salvation are all about. Nicodemus doesn’t understand the phrase “born again” because he asks Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (v.4) Jesus then replies with “We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness” (v.11), words that lend credence to the idea that God is a plurality of some kind (there’s more than one person to understanding God; He is plurality, yet one). In verse 13, Jesus calls Himself “the Son of Man” and says that “he who came down from heaven” is the Son of Man “who is in heaven.” God in verse 16 is God the Father because He gave His Son (God the Son, Jesus). Those who believe in Him (Jesus) will have everlasting life.

John 5

16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

31 “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. 33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust.46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:16-47)

Jesus says that His Father has been working and so has He, reminding us that He is the Son and God (the one to whom Jesus refers) is His Father. Next, the Son does what His Father does: “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do” (v.19). “The Father loves the Son” (v.20), reminding us of how Jesus is in the bosom of the Father (meaning that the Father loves the Son, as we’ve seen in John 1). In verse 21, the Son is said to have the same power as the Father: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” The Father has given life and judgment to the Son “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (v.23) — a reminder that the Father wants His Son, Jesus, to be just as honored as He is (no less). God the Father cannot honor someone who does not honor His Son, showing His Fatherly pride in that He wants Jesus to be honored. From these words, Jesus tells us that the Son has the same power as the Father. In case some would claim that the Father and Son are “two different gods,” Jesus reminds us that the Father and Son love each other and are of one accord and one mind. There is no conflict or tension in the Trinity. Jesus goes on to show how the Father exalts the Son: “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (vv. 26-27). The Father has “granted the Son to have life” and “has given Him authority to execute judgment.” These words alone tell us that the Father gives the Son power because He wishes to; in other words, Jesus as Son isn’t a “rival god” to compete with the Father; He’s the Son, and the only power He receives is that which comes from the Father. In verse 30, Jesus says that He, the Son, “do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me,” telling us that Jesus was sent by God the Father and that He seeks the will of His Father. He has a will, as evidenced by His statement, but He seeks the will of His Father. In verses 36-37 and 43, Jesus says that He has come in His Father’s name and that His works testify that God the Father has sent Him.

John 6

35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. (John 6:35-46)

In John 6:38, Jesus says that He has come to do the will of the Father, not His own, which tells us the love between the Father and the Son. In verse 40, we see that the Father’s will is that all who believe in Jesus will receive everlasting life. This is why Jesus says “all that the Father gives me will come to Me” — because those who believe in Jesus will come to Him. No one can please the Lord without faith, and the one who has faith is the one who “comes to Him,” for “he that comes to Him must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6). In verse 44, the Father is the one who draws people to come to Jesus. The Father not only gives life and judgment to the Son (as we’ve seen in earlier passages here in John); He also draws people to come to Jesus. He draws people to believe in the Son. In drawing people to Jesus, once again, God the Father exalts the Son. John 6:45 is a quotation from the Old Testament that says “all will be taught by God” (referring to God the Father). Thus, Jesus says, those who learn from the Father will come to Jesus because the Father exalts Jesus as the One worthy of worship.

John 8

13 The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”

14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.17 It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”

19 Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?”

Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

20 These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.

21 Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”

22 So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?”

23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

25 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?”

And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.”

27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.

28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. (John 8:13-30)

In John 8:14, Jesus says that “I know where I came from and where I am going,” telling us that Jesus is not from this world but from Heaven. In verse 16, Jesus says “I am with the Father who sent Me,” showing that He and His Father are on one accord. John 8:23-24, Jesus tells us some things we’d do well to pay attention to. Of those important things, He first says “I am from above” and “I am not of this world.” In other words, Jesus isn’t just an ordinary, average human being; He’s God incarnate, and He came down from Heaven (the same words Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:13). Then He says that “for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins,” a reminder that Jesus is God, that He can forgive sins, and that He won’t forgive the sins of those who fail to believe in Him. Remember, He can give salvation, life, to whomever He wills. To whom does Jesus will to give life? He wills to give everlasting life to those who have faith and believe in Him.

John 10

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes 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 command I have received from My Father.”

19 Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. 20 And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?”

21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”

33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” 39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. (John 10:11-39)

In John 10:17-18, Jesus says that He has received the command from His Father to give His life. And yet, Jesus gives it because He chooses to give it; no one has forced it upon Him (“No one takes 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”). He can lay down His life and pick it up again; He can die, and He can rise from the dead. This power only belongs to God, the supernatural one who has power over all the natural world. And this same God has power over life and death. This explains why Jesus calls Himself “The Resurrection and the Life” in John 11:25.

John 11

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”

32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”

They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” (John 11:17-44)

Here in John 11, we see Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, a feat that could only be accomplished by God Himself. Jesus has said that He has life and judgment within Himself, and He demonstrates this in a tangible way by raising Lazarus who’d been dead for four days and had started to stink (John 11:17, 39). In our study of the Doctrine of the Trinity, we can’t forget that the only reason why God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit can be studied in this doctrine is because all three persons are God.

At the end of the following chapter, Jesus has more to say about the relationship between He and the Father:

49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” (John 12:49-50)

Jesus says here that He hasn’t “spoken on My own authority,” meaning that He didn’t come down from Heaven because He wanted to; He didn’t come down from Heaven to advance His own agenda but, instead, to do what His Father told Him to do: “the Father who sent Me gave Me a command” (v.49). He speaks “just as the Father has told Me” (v.50).

John 14

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions;if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.

29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. (John 14:1-31)

John 14 has become one of the most beloved chapters of Scripture because in it, Jesus gives the believer hope beyond this life by reminding them that He has prepared a place for them and that He will return again for those who have faith in Him. In verse 1, Jesus tells His disciples to “believe in God, believe also in Me,” placing Himself squarely in the same place as God the Father. It isn’t enough to believe in God the Father; one must also believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ. Here’s where we see Jesus call Himself God and demand believers place their faith in Him as God. In verse 2, there are “many rooms” (as the NKJV says, “many mansions”) in “My Father’s House,” again referring to the fact that His Father owns Heaven and that the Father and He are in familial relationship. Jesus says “I go to prepare a place for you,” telling His disciples that He is working on a place for them. When all is made ready, He will return for them and all who believe in Him.

In verse 6, Jesus says that He is the mediator between God the Father and mankind: “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” In other words, mankind can’t get to the Father unless they come by way of the Father’s Son, Jesus. Jesus is the way to the Father, and those who want to get to the Father and deny Jesus will never get what they seek.

In verses 7-14, Jesus speaks of how He is the witness of the Father on earth, that those who’ve seen Jesus have seen God the Father. Jesus says that “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me,” referring to His union with the Father and the Father’s union with Him. Wherever He goes, He’s aware of His Father’s presence. In verses 12-14, the Lord says that whatever the disciples ask in His name, He will do it “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In other words, by granting their requests, the Father is glorified as a good God, as a benevolent Creator, as a God who hears and answers prayer. And, as the Father exalts Jesus, Jesus will grant their requests to exalt the Father.

Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (John 14:16-17)

16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

It is here in John 14 that we see Jesus introduce the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of Truth,” in John’s Gospel. Prior to now, there’s been very little discussion and teaching on the Spirit, though Jesus did talk with Nicodemus about the Spirit of God in John 3, and what it’s like for “everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).

The Holy Spirit is considered to be “Him,” capitalized, to reflect that the Holy Spirit is also God. Jesus says that “the world cannot receive Him” because the world doesn’t believe and thus, doesn’t know Him. The Father will give this “Helper.” Though the King James and the New King James translate this word as “Helper,” the Greek phrase used here is ἄλλον παράκλητον (allon parakleton), a phrase that means “another” (allon) “counselor” (parakleton) or another “advocate.” The word “another” implies “in addition to,” meaning that Jesus is implicitly saying that He is their Counselor and Advocate, which fits with what Scripture says of Him:

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,

As when at first He lightly esteemed

The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,

And afterward more heavily oppressed her,

By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,

In Galilee of the Gentiles.

2 The people who walked in darkness

Have seen a great light;

Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,

Upon them a light has shined.

3 You have multiplied the nation

And increased its joy;

They rejoice before You

According to the joy of harvest,

As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4 For You have broken the yoke of his burden

And the staff of his shoulder,

The rod of his oppressor,

As in the day of Midian.

5 For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,

And garments rolled in blood,

Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.

6 For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end,

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,

To order it and establish it with judgment and justice

From that time forward, even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:1-7)

10 Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,

And His arm shall rule for Him;

Behold, His reward is with Him,

And His work before Him.

11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;

He will gather the lambs with His arm,

And carry them in His bosom,

And gently lead those who are with young.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,

Measured heaven with a span

And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?

Weighed the mountains in scales

And the hills in a balance?

13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,

Or as His counselor has taught Him?

14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,

And taught Him in the path of justice?

Who taught Him knowledge,

And showed Him the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:10-14)

As can be seen, Paul quotes Isaiah 40:13 in Romans 11:

11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!

13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,

And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;

27 For this is My covenant with them,

When I take away their sins.”

28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has become His counselor?”

35 “Or who has first given to Him

And it shall be repaid to him?”

36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:11-36)

The Holy Spirit, as is the case with Jesus, is referred to as “Counselor.” Jesus, alongside the Holy Spirit being an advocate (Jesus’ words here in John 14), is also called an Advocate:

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)

Jesus is not only our Counselor, but also our Advocate and the appeasing sacrifice (or propitiation) for the sins of the entire world. So when Jesus says that the Father will send “another Helper,” He’s referring to the Holy Spirit and defining His own identity for the believers as well. This Advocate, Helper, Counselor, will come and dwell inside believers. He is called “the Spirit of Truth.” Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth” in two successive chapters:

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15)

We’ll cover these two references as we continue to build the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Gospel of John.

19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:19-24)

Those who love Jesus, God’s Son, will be loved by God the Father (v.21). Those who “keep My word” will know the Father’s love because they love the Son, and “We will come to him and make Our home with him.” In other words, you can’t accept one without accepting the other. To accept the Father is to accept the Son (and to accept the Son is to accept the Father), and God the Father and God the Son will indwell the believer: “We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” This seems similar to what Jesus says in Revelation 3:20-21 to the Church at Laodicea:

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:20-21)

The Father and the Son will come and dwell in those who believe in the Son. Again, salvation isn’t just tied to Jesus but also the Father and the Holy Spirit. Salvation is trinitarian (involving all three persons of the Godhead). The Lord continues to teach regarding the third person of the Godhead and Trinity at the end of John 14:

25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:25-26)

The Holy Spirit is called parakletos here as well, showing that once again, He is the Advocate and Counselor, and the one who “is called alongside” the believer. Para means “alongside” and kletos is a form of kaleo, meaning “to call”; thus, parakletos, in the Greek, means “to call alongside.” The Holy Spirit is the One who is to come alongside the believer and lead and guide the believer in the truth.

John 15:26

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (John 15:26)

The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Truth,” the One who leads and guides the believer into all truth. Jesus says a few things about the Holy Spirit here: 1) The Holy Spirit is called an Advocate and Counselor (we tackled this in the last section); 2) Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to the believers from the Father, showing that the Father is the One who had the Spirit at this time; 3) The Holy Spirit is called The Spirit of Truth; 4) the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father; and 5) The Holy Spirit will testify and bear witness to Jesus Christ.

This last point, point #5, is very important. In discussions with inclusivists, those who believe that salvation is “inclusive” and accepts other religions as equally valid before God as Christianity, often say that “the Spirit isn’t subordinate to Jesus, the Spirit has a ministry of His own.” I’ve said to them, “The Holy Spirit has a ministry, true, but the Spirit’s ministry is to testify and bear witness of Jesus Christ, not to bear witness of Himself or to work against what Christ has done.” The Spirit’s work is to lead and guide the believer into what Jesus has done, taught, and spoken. We’ll see more about this in John 16 in the next section.

John 16

5 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:5-15)

Jesus says that He must go away because, “If I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you” (v.7). If Jesus goes away, “I will send Him to you.” The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, as Jesus said in previous chapters, but He has the power to send the Spirit to the believers. Jesus went into the Holy Spirit’s work and what He would do when Jesus sends Him into the world: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (v.8). The Holy Spirit will bring conviction to the world regarding sin (its nature), righteousness (its nature, what it looks like), and judgment (the judgment of those who do not believe, that every soul will be judged for the deeds done in their body, be it good or bad). The world does not believe in Jesus, the Lord said, so the Spirit will convict them of sin — make them aware of their sin and how offensive it is to God. The Holy Spirit will convict them of righteousness because “I go to My Father and you see Me no more” (v.10). Since Jesus is going to the Father and will send the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will do His job to persuade men and women of their own sin and the righteousness of God. Jesus has said that it was to the advantage of the disciples that He depart because, if He does leave, then He can send the Holy Spirit from the Father.

Jesus makes it especially clear that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will come and take what is Jesus’ and declare it: “He will not speak on His own authority…He will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14-15), a reminder that the Spirit isn’t coming to promote Himself but to exalt Christ, as the Father does. Since Jesus is God’s final revelation to mankind, we’d expect the Spirit to bear witness to Jesus since He is present with Jesus all throughout His ministry, first overshadowing Mary to bring about Jesus’s human birth, bearing witness to Jesus as Messiah and Lord with miracles, then raising Him from the dead.

In verses 25-28, we see Jesus speak again about His relationship to the Father, with details about the Trinity being mentioned throughout the entire chapter:

25 “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. 28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” (John 16:25-28)

Jesus says that He doesn’t need to pray to the Father on behalf of the disciples because “the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (John 16:26-27). The Father loves the disciples due to their faith in Jesus; this alone tells us that the Father brings believers to Jesus, a message Jesus makes clear in John 6:36-37 when He mentions that the Father draws people to Jesus and that no man can come to Jesus without the Father’s drawing (John 6:44), and He discusses “all the Father gives to Me.” Their faith in Jesus and the Father’s love go hand in hand. Those who believe in and love Jesus have the Father’s love because Jesus is loved and exalted by His Father.

Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (John 17)

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:1-26)

We find ourselves here in Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17, where He prays to the Father before His arrest and crucifixion. Jesus has been teaching about Himself and the Father and the Spirit, and even in this prayer to His Father, Jesus gives sound doctrine to those who read His words. First, Jesus prays that the Father glorifies Him, as He has glorified the Father (v.1). This tells us that both the Father and the Son have glory upon themselves, that Jesus is divine because He has shared in the divine glory. Jesus says that the Father “have given Me authority over all flesh,” with Jesus implying that the Father has to give Him the authority (He doesn’t have it of His own). The Father’s will reigns supreme. “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do,” another statement that implies that the Father’s will is supreme. Jesus came to do the Father’s will.

Verse 5, where Jesus prays “Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was,” reveals that Jesus shared the divine glory with the Father “before the world was.” Now, John has already told believers in his Johanine Prologue (John 1) that “the Word,” Jesus, was in the beginning with God, that He was also the Creator of the world and that nothing was made apart from Jesus. He shared in the creation of the world with God the Father, and it makes sense, in light of these statements, that Jesus would share the divine glory with God the Father. What’s important about this is that Jesus is eternal because He was with the Father “before the world was,” and that He existed from eternity. These statements make Jesus more than just a prophet, more than just a mortal man; instead, Jesus is God Himself, equal in divinity to God the Father, Creator, “the Word,” and God Himself. Jesus can forgive sins, and God the Father exalts Him. These things are not possible for mortals. Jesus is divine, and sharing in the divine glory makes Him as much God as God the Father.

In John 17:11, Jesus prays to the Father to keep the disciples in His name so that they may be united “as We are,” showing that the Father and the Son are on one accord. Jesus has already told the disciples to love one another, that through their love for one another the world would know they belonged to Him (John 15:). Now, Jesus prays that the Father would keep them on one accord, and that their love for one another would reflect the relationship of love between the Father and the Son. What we see here is that the Lord desires that believers reflect Him accurately, that they love to reflect His love (the love of the Triune Godhead, the Trinity).

In verses 14 and 16 of John 17, Jesus says “I am not of the world,” a statement that reflects Him coming down from Heaven (what He tells Nicodemus in John 3 and what He teaches in John 6). Jesus is not from this world, meaning that He is not merely human. He is divine, sent from the divine realm, to earth. In verse 24, we read that “You have loved Me before the foundation of the world,” which tells us that the Father and the Son’s love and relationship are from eternity. This warns us against teachings that 1) deny Christ’s divinity and Godhood and 2) argue that Christ is a creation as is the earth itself.

John 20

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:19-22)

Here in John 20, we see that Jesus has risen from the dead, a feat accomplished only by God Himself. Jesus raises Lazarus, and if He could raise Lazarus, He Himself could rise. This is why God became man: to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. And yet, it’s in His death that we see His power because He has power over life and death. Remember when He said in John 10:17 that He had the power to lay down His life and the power to take it up again? Jesus demonstrates that through His victory over death and His own resurrection, after demonstrating His power by raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11.

And it is also here in John 20 that Jesus inaugurates the “New Creation” theme of Scripture by appearing before the disciples, showing them His nail scars so as to kindle belief in them (they were hard to believe that He’d risen from the dead), and then breathing on them and giving them the Holy Spirit. The text says that Jesus “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). This mimics the creation of mankind back in Genesis 2, where God breathes the breath of life into mankind:

7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

In the New Creation, we now see Jesus breathing on the disciples and giving them the Holy Spirit. By breathing on them, Jesus makes them alive in Him, saves them, gives them His Holy Spirit. John’s Gospel compares the New Creation of believers characterized by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit with the creation of humanity in Genesis. That’s a connection that none of the other Gospel writers make, and one worth noting in our study. For John to make this connection between Jesus and the Creator God, and between believers with the Holy Spirit as New Creation versus mankind in Old Creation shows that John is making a connection between Jesus and the God of the Old Testament. This isn’t surprising, especially when you consider that John has other statements in his Gospel that harken back to Genesis. For one, John’s Gospel begins with the words “In the beginning,” which match the same three opening words of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). John’s entire first chapter consists of themes from Genesis:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own,and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

And he answered, “No.”

22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”

23 He said: “I am

‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

“Make straight the way of the Lord,”’

as the prophet Isaiah said.”

24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”

28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”

32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”

48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:1-51)

John 1:3 affirms that Jesus is the Creator God, which puts Jesus in Genesis 1 (Jesus was there when the world was created). Jesus goes on to say in the High Priestly Prayer (John 17) that He shared glory with God the Father “before the world began.” The “life was the light of men” and “the light shines in darkness” are all themes of Genesis (out of the darkness, God commanded the light to shine):

2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:2-5)

John 1 also places Jesus in line with the Old Testament sacrificial system:

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”

32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). (John 1:29-42)

In John 1:29, 35 John identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God.” This phrase refers to the lambs offered up in the Jewish Old Testament sacrificial system. Whenever a lamb was to be offered as a sin offering, it had to spotless, without blemish, perfect in appearance:

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. (Genesis 22:1-8)

3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. (Exodus 12:3-11)

‘When his offering is a sacrifice of a peace offering, if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord. 2 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. 3 Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the Lord. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 5 and Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is on the wood that is on the fire, as an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord.

6 ‘If his offering as a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord is of the flock, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offers a lamb as his offering, then he shall offer it before the Lord. 8 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar.

9 ‘Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as an offering made by fire to the Lord, its fat and the whole fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone. And the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 10 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 11 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire to the Lord. (Leviticus 3:1-11)

There are more Old Testament references to lambs as offerings, but these are enough to show that lambs were the sin offering in the Old Testament. Jesus, then, being called “the Lamb of God,” is being situated by John as the fulfillment of the Old Testament system. Whereas those other lambs had to be killed and then another lamb offered up the following day, Jesus is the Lamb of God who, when offered up once, killed the sacrificial system once and for all. As Paul says in Hebrews:

26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Hebrews 7:26-27)

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,

But a body You have prepared for Me.

6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin

You had no pleasure.

7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—

In the volume of the book it is written of Me—

To do Your will, O God.’”

8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:1-14)

Through his connections between Jesus, the Old Testament sacrificial system, and the Creator role we read of in Jesus, John shows us that, contra Marcion (a second-century heretic in the Christian church), there is a connection between the “God of the Old Testament” and the “God of the New Testament.” God is the same God in the New Testament as He was in the Old, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Table of Contents:
1. God in Three Persons: The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament
2. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Gospel of Matthew
3. “In the Beginning was the Word”: Trinitarian Theology in the Gospel of John

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