Topics from the Gospel of John Part I: The Person of the Father -- By: Merrill C. Tenney

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 132:525 (Jan 1975)
Article: Topics from the Gospel of John Part I: The Person of the Father
Author: Merrill C. Tenney

Topics from the Gospel of John
Part I:
The Person of the Father

Merrill C. Tenney

[Merrill C. Tenney, Professor of Bible and Theology, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, Illinois.]

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of four articles, first delivered by the author as the Louis S. Bauman Memorial Lectures at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana, February 12–15, 1974.]

The Gospel of John is a unique document. It differs from the Synoptic Gospels in its language, in its structure, and in its approach to the Person of Christ. It differs from the Epistles because it is concerned more with viewing Christ through the glass of personal contact than through His significance in the theology of the church. It is unique in religious literature because it combines a mystical relationship (“Abide in me, and I in you,” John 15:4) with a genuine historical framework. The Prologue links the eternal Word, a suprahistorical being, with the manifestation of a historical Person in the flesh (1:14).

Behind this revelation is the concept of God. θεός was a term accepted in the world of the first century for the sovereign of heaven and earth. The Greeks called Zeus “the father of gods and men.” The Hebrews spoke of Yahweh: “Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God is one YHWH” (Deut 6:4). There could be no mistake about the meaning of the word. Furthermore, the theology of the Jews regarded God as a person, whose purpose and will had chosen them to be His people and to become the vehicle for His revelation to the world. The Exodus was the supreme demonstration of His power (Exod 15:11–13). The Law given at Sinai declared His holiness and His ethical standards for men. The prophets had expressed His love for His people, and His grief over their sins (e.g.,

Hos 11:1–8). Nevertheless the revelation was incomplete. He had revealed Himself in historical action and in religious types and symbols, but they were external. How could His love for them be realized in personal experience and how could redemption be more perfectly manifested than through sacrifices which had become perfunctory ritual? Could He be found only in the Temple service, or could He enter the life of the individual? Moses expressed this feeling in his intercessory prayer for a disobedient Israel when he included his own dominating desire: “Show me thy glory” (Exod 33:18...

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