[ Home | Table of Contents | Previous Page | Next Page | Back Issues | Complete Index ]

With this study, we continue our examination of the prologue of John's Gospel.

John 1:6-7 - John the Baptist


6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.

In the previous couple of verses, John spoke of Christ as the light: "In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it" (vs. 4,5). Since the "darkness has not understood [the light]", God ameliorates the situation by sending a testimony to the light: "There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe." And so we are introduced to John the Baptist, one of the most important people in the Bible. As Christ Himself said: "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt. 11:11). In other words, in Christ's opinion, John the Baptist is greater than all humans up until that point of time--greater than all the patriarchs, all the prophets, all the kings and rulers of the Old Testament.

The writer of this Gospel here gives us a nice and succinct description of John the Baptist: "There came a man"; and what was special about him?: he was "sent from God"; his name?: "his name was John"; what was John's mission?: "he came as a witness to testify concerning that light"; for what desired result?: "so that through him all men might believe".

Let's look at each of these aspects of John the Baptist in detail:


* "There came a man" - Up to this point in John's Gospel, the focus has been on "the Word", who was affirmed to be "God" (vs. 1). In contrast, here we have John the Baptist who was a man. This is all to say that though Christ the "Word" is the central figure in God's plan of salvation, men also play an important role.


* "sent from God" - John the Baptist was the last of the pre-Christ prophets of God, sent out directly by God on a mission of prophecy, just as Moses was (see Ex. 3:10ff), and Isaiah (Isa. 6:8ff), and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4ff). That John the Baptist was truly "sent from God" is supported by the fact that he and his mission was prophesied in the Old Testament (see Matt. 3:3 concerning Micah 5:2).


* "his name was John" - The name "John" has been variously interpreted to mean, "God has been gracious", or "gift of God". And indeed, John was a gift of God to the world, preparing the way for Jesus Christ, heralding the coming of our Lord and King.


* "he came as a witness to testify concerning that light" - John (the writer of this Gospel) uses a legal term to describe John the Baptist's mission: he is a "witness to testify". We see throughout John's Gospel that Christ had plenty of legal testimony to support who He claimed to be: all three persons of the Trinity testify (the Father, see 5:32; 8:18; the Son, see 3:32; 8:14,18; the Holy Spirit, see 15:26; 16:14); Christ's works testify (see 5:36; 10:25; 14:11; 15:24); the Scriptures testify (see 5:39; 5:46); and there is various other human testimony (1:7; 4:39; 12:17; 15:27; 19:35; 21:24). Christ's ministry was not without legal validity; there was enough testimony about who Christ is to be proven in a court of law. John the Baptist was faithful to this mission, even testifying when he was in his mother's womb! (see Luke 1:41). Though John the Baptist's disciples desired to glorify him, he himself pointed them to Christ, always testifying on Christ's behalf (see John 1:19-34; 3:26-30). By the way: why does "the light" need testimony? Only because of the blindness described in vs. 5: "The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it." Light only needs a witness to a blind person. Our moral blindness has made it necessary for the light to need testimony.


* "so that through him all men might believe" - This is the desired result of John's ministry. God desires that "all men" come to know His Son.


This description of John the Baptist could very well be applied to all ministers of the Gospel, and we should all strive so that it may be applied to us. All true ministers of the Gospel must be "sent from God", they must have a sense that God is calling them to His work, and must be empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out their ministry. They should not enter the ministry because of their own worldly ambitions, but because of God's call on their lives.

Then also, all ministers of the Gospel are called primarily to be witnesses "to testify concerning [the] light." It is not their calling to preach their own thoughts and ideas, or to preach success in the world, or to preach so-called "life principles", or even to preach morality and "family values". No, they are to primarily "to testify concerning [the] light", to preach Christ, and the gospel of Christ, His teachings, His mission, His sacrifice, His love, His salvation, and His continuing work in our lives. Christ should be the central theme of every sermon and Bible study. So-called "life principles", and recipes for worldly success have no value compared to the salvation of the soul through faith in Christ.

Finally, the goal of ministers of the Gospel must be that "through [them] all men might believe." God chooses to do His work primarily through men. As Paul teaches: "[F]aith comes from hearing the message. . . How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?" (Rom. 10:17,14-15). That God leaves much of His work up to us places a great amount of responsibility upon us, but it is also a great privilege. To be called into the service of the Creator of the Universe is truly an honor! Let us live up to such a calling!

Father, help us live up to such a calling. Give us, by Your Spirit, the desire and ability to be successful in the service to which You have called us, that is, in testifying to the light, Jesus Christ. We praise You for all of the great witnesses to Christ that You have sent, so that we have a reasonable basis for our faith. Continue to work in our lives, so that we might be faithful witnesses to the light that shines in our lives, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray these things, Amen.


(Our study in John's Prologue will continue in the next issue.)

[ Home | Table of Contents | Previous Page | Next Page | Back Issues | Complete Index ]