We’re continuing our look at the New Testament’s witness to the doctrine of the Trinity. For a little over a week, we have been in the prologue of the book of John spending at least one day on each verse. (We’re not even to my favorite part of it yet.) Today, we’re going to be looking at John 1:6.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
The gospel of John is the gospel where John the Baptist is not identified as the Baptist. He is simply called John, which is interesting as that is the name of the author of the book. Our writer tends to refer to himself as “The disciple whom Jesus loved.” It could be John is wanting to distinguish himself more from the other John, a well-known one.
Indeed, John the Baptist was well-known and we find this situation rising up in the New Testament. Consider Acts 18 first.
24Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
And then Acts 19:
1While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
4Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.6When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7There were about twelve men in all.
Already, there was a danger that people would follow John the Baptist and maybe even think of him as the Messiah. The apostle John could very well be countering that. That would explain why he has “man” in John 1:6 without the article. John is not “the man.” He is a man. He is a man who is sent from God and being sent from God, he has a purpose from God.
In saying this, we cannot deny the importance of John the Baptist. He had an important role to play in the life of Christ. However, this would be like praising the scribe who wrote a book rather than the author of the book. It would be like complimenting the waiter for doing an excellent job with your meal instead of acknowledging the cook.
The Baptist comes from God. The one we see truly coming though is different in that not only does he come from the Father, but he has the same nature as the Father. John the Baptist always sought in Scripture to humble himself before Christ realizing his superior. Let’s make sure we do the same.