John 1:18

Happy April Fool’s Day! One of my favorite days of the year! For those who are interested, I am entirely evil on this day. I did happen to prank my own mother, again. I love her dearly, but her picture should be next to the word “gullible” in the dictionary. It’s practically become a tradition. As of this point, no one has April Fooled me yet, although my roommate did have a nice try in trying to tell me that my check for the rent bounced.

Now let’s get to the text. We’re going through the New Testament looking for clues to understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. We’ve been going through the prologue of John and tonight, we shall end it by looking at John 1:18. Let’s look at this in a number of different versions. First, the NIV:

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.


No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The ESV:

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side,  he has made him known.

And lastly, the NASB:

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

This is one of the debated passages about what the text says, but with any translation, we can still find the full deity of the Son. I recommend reading works on textual criticism for those who want some more information on that. I would not consider it my area of expertise. A number of good commentaries on the passage can help as well as works on textual criticism such as those by Dan Wallace or Bruce Metzger.

Let us consider some aspects though. John has brought us full circle starting with the Word and the God he is with and ending the passage with both of them. It begins by saying no one has seen God. Some might think this rules out the deity of Christ at the start, but that is not what John is saying. He is saying that no one has seen God in his essence with comprehension. God has always been at a distance. The text would indicate not even the angels have truly seen God. It would also mean that when we look at a theophany in the OT, it is most likely a Christophany, as all those times people said they saw God, they were seeing the Son. That’s how this passage can harmonize with the others that have people seeing God.

However, the one who knows God is the one who is in his bosom. He shares the most intimate relationship possible with the Father. He is the Son who bears the nature of God although he does not have paternity as the Father has. He is of the same substance as the Father. 

The last clause is particular interesting when it talks of how the Son has revealed the Father. The word there is the word that we get “exegete” from. Exegesis is the process whereby one reads a text and reveals the substance of what is therein. 

This is what the Son does of the Father. How do we know what he is like? We know by looking at the Son. Unless someone knows the Son, it is impossible for them to know the Father. We might have some ideas of him that are correct, but in order to really know the Father, one must know the Son.

And so, John has brought us full circle. The Word was in the beginning with God and was God and the Word has come forth from the Father. That Word reveals the Father through his Son. To know the Son is to know the Father for the Son is the revelation of who the Father is.

We shall continue going through John tomorrow.

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