Theology of the Fourth Gospel

Theology of the Fourth Gospel - Theology of the Fourth...

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Theology of the Fourth Gospel: An overview by John R. Tyson In the Fourth Gospel God is unknown and unknowable until He reveals Himself through his Logos or Son (1:18; 5:37; 6:46; 7:28-29; 8:19, 54-55; 14:6, 7; 15:21; 16:3; 17:25). Revelation, when it is given, is utterly complete; it is so complete that to see the Son is the same as seeing the Father (14:9). God the Father is, above all, the Father of Jesus Christ. Notice for example, Jesus says "my" Father, and "your" Father but He never says "our" Father -- as though He and the disciples are "sons" of the Father in a similar way. Thus, the Father is secondarily the Father of those who are Christ's, by virtue of their union with Christ (17:21; 1:12- 13). "God is Spirit" (4:24), which is the most abstract conception of God we meet in Johannine literature (and perhaps in the whole NT). The affirmation of God as "Spirit" not only speaks of His essence, but also implies His omnipresence and transcendence -- since Spirit is not locked into time and space -- as in the passage in question "true Worship" is not geographically specific (not in Jerusalem or on "this mountain"). Closely connected with his conception of God as Spirit is a second idea, that He is invisible: "No man has seen God at any time" (1:18). This is a way of emphasizing the hiddeness of God and the importance of the Johannine doctrine of Divine Revelation. Since God is not accessible immediately to our eyes and ears and cannot be "known" in the immediate and direct sense that we know other human beings, it is only by a manifestation of God's will that we know Him in the person of His Son. Yet whosoever stands in fellowship with the Son stands in fellowship with His unseen Father; whoever has seen the Son has seen the Father. This spiritual, invisible, God, John insists, is the only true God (I. 5:20). He is the only God (5:44), and Eternal Life consists only in knowing Him (17:3), and knowing Him whom God sent -- Jesus Christ. Thus the Johannine conception of God stands in direct contradiction to all anthropomorphic conceptions of God, against all polytheistic conceptions, and against all Son- denying conceptions which fail to pierce the veil before the hidden God. All of the features thus far considered treat the Deity from a metaphysical perspective. But God, in the Johannine writings, is not thought of as a self-contained Being who dwells in complete isolation from the world of men and things. On the contrary, the main emphasis of the literature is laid upon the relationship and interaction which occurs between God and humanity, and the way in which God brings His mercy and love among us. Thus moving from the ethereal to the attributes of God the first major theme we meet is the affirmation that God is love. John exhorts his readers to love because the basis of their love is in God (I. 4:7). Those born of God's love, and their lives, are ruled by that principle; conversely those who do not love cannot be in fellowship with God because God is love (I. 4:8).
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Theology of the Fourth Gospel - Theology of the Fourth...

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