Introduction to the Study:
The Prologue to the Gospel of John


Too few people, including conservative evangelical Christians, especially conservative evangelical Christians, understand what Christianity is really all about. Too often when you eaves drop in on a Christian's conversation about Christianity, they talk mainly about God: "God this...", "God that..." That is so unfortunate because the same conversation for all practical purposes could have been uttered by a Jew or a Muslim or a Unitarian, members of groups no one would confuse with Christianity.

What then is the essence of CHRISTianity? The first six letters of the word alone inform us about its major content, the person of CHRIST Himself. As we look at the introduction to this study, we will see that Christ is not simply the Savior of the world. Jesus didn't just come to save us. According to Luke 9:23 He has also called us to do what?

Now this calling is not just for a select group of monks, a serious error committed by Roman Catholicism according to Bonhoeffer. It is the call of Christ upon every person He encounters. The specifics of the calling may differ from individual to individual; however, the general call is extended to each and every one of us. The genuine, legitimate Christian responds positively to that call from Christ. No matter how "good" I or you may be, unless that call is controlling our lives, we are not living as Christians with integrity; we may not even be Christians.

Before we look at the teachings of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, we need first to nail down in our minds just who Jesus is and what His significance is for our lives. This look at the person of Christ will make the claims of Christ upon our lives in the Sermon much more significant.


The Word

The first verse in the Gospel of John focuses on a certain concept, theme, thing, or person. According to John 1:1, what is the focal point of the Prologue to John (John 1:1-18): "In the beginning was the ___________ and the ______________ was with God and the ______________ was God"? This is the focal point of these first 18 verses in John 1.

The Identity of the Word

  1. Now let's identify from John 1:14 just what or who this "Word" is. This is important because many well-meaning Christians instantly identify the Word with the Bible itself. We will assert that this Word is none other than Jesus Himself. What happens to the Word in John 1:14 which indicates that John is referring to Jesus: "And the Word became ____________________ and _____________ among us"? The first half of this statement points to the incarnation of Jesus, Jesus becoming something He was not before--human. According to v. 1 in what state did Jesus exist before coming to earth: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was ____________"?

    Two Reasons Jesus is Identified as the Word

  2. In case this is not clear enough, let us go back to John 1:1. According to that verse who is Jesus the Word? "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was _______________."

    Please, do NOT confuse Jesus though with God the Father. They are NOT one and the same person. There are THREE persons in the Godhead, not one. Their oneness is not based upon them being one and the same person. In fact, there is something about Jesus which distinguishes Him today completely from the Father and the Spirit. What do you think that is?

    Instead, their oneness is based upon a unity within the Godhead. We see traces of this kind of unity in people. In 2008 it looked like the Democratic Party was going to tear itself apart during the primary contest between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. Once Obama won the Democratic nomination, though, the Democratic Party came together and became "One" in their opposition to John McCain. That is the essence of Oneness in the Godhead, not there being only one person in the Godhead. (Another example of this can be found in John 10:27-30: unity based upon common, united function and goal.)

THEREFORE, when we approach the Sermon on the Mount, we are to approach it as being not only Jesus' Words, but also the Words of God the Father Himself who is speaking through His Son, Jesus. Therefore, how should we respond to Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount?

This is so important to remember because many times when we approach the Bible, we change the wonderful Protestant principle FROM "we are responsible for the way we interpret the Bible" TO "we can interpret it any way we want." This is where Dietrich Bonhoeffer kicks in: