Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | July 9, 2007

Why was the Baptist Distinguished? (Lesson 2: Question 2 Answer)

2.  Why was the author careful to distinguish that John was not the light?

Some have argued that the care that the Apostle John makes in these opening chapters to differentiate between Jesus and John was done apologetically.  Presumably at the time that this was written there still remained a Baptist-sect that esteemed John over Jesus.  This would especially be seen later when the Apostle records the Baptist as explicitly denying that he is the Christ.15 This view seems to find some support in Acts 19:1-5, where Luke records that follower’s of the Baptist still existed long after his death.  Although, this is an interesting argument Vos points out that it is promoted by a school of thought that is denying the historical connection between Jesus and John and classifies them as competitors.  It seems that the Apostle John’s distinctions are less calculated than that and are simply being done for clarity sake.

The pronouns employed in the original Greek text would have been sufficient to distinguish that John was not the Light.  However, the explicit statement makes for certain that no confusion between the two occurred.  As alluded to above this may have been done, since John was esteemed so highly, even by Christ Himself (Matt 11:11) who states there is none among those born among women that is greater than him. Maybe the Apostle John is ensuring his readers that One greater has come.  This greater One was actually God in human flesh who was the Light of men.  And as we will see later on in chapter one, is the one who “takes away the sin of the world.”

15 Geerhardus Vos (1948) Biblical Theology Old Testament and New Testaments (Banner of Truth Trust, 2000) 311


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