Explaining the Incomprehensible
This is my summary statement about the Apostle John’s beginning of his Gospel and its completion. He wrote a Gospel about the transcendent God approximately AD 85 after 60 years of reflection and teaching as Bishop (supposedly) of Ephesus. But, John did not reflect alone, as Jesus had described the work of the Holy Spirit in John 14.26& 16.14-15, which is a picture fulfilling the actions stated in Isaiah 30.21and Psalm 32.8. Conversing with Him is an example for our emulation, and the expressed depth of his comprehension should challenge our attentiveness to knowing and understanding God (Jeremiah 9.23-24). The following is my contemplation of John’s first several verses of chapter one.
“When all things began, the Word already was” (The New English Bible, John 1.1). “All that came to be was alive with his life, and that life was the light of men” (ibid, John 1.4; italics are my emphasis). “The real light which enlightens every man was even then coming into the world” (ibid, John 1.9; ibid.).
One conclusion that to be drawn from John’s musings is that the progression of knowledge to this date was already known by the Word before mankind ever began our journey of discovery of it. This includes the internet, AI, cell phones, the Hubble telescope, space exploration, etc. Each of these is the current iteration of discovery by a person who depended upon the successive discoveries of different persons in earlier generations and, perhaps, disparate epistemologies.
For example, Newton’s theory of gravitation was, in part, an attempt to explain Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, which were built upon the foundations of Copernicus and Brahe. “Kepler’s three laws of motion…were not just the insights of a brilliant geometer working from a few premises; they were also empirical—the result of a lifetime of data-gathering and model-fitting, building on the data painstakingly amassed by Tycho Brahe, an eccentric Danish nobleman with an interest in astronomy” (Stein, 2011, p. 21).
Stein presents similar collaborations for discovering the speed of light, the ideal gas constant, absolute zero, Avogadro’s number and the structure of chemical compounds, electricity and the proportionality constant, the Boltzmann constant and the laws of thermodynamics, the Planck constant and quantum theory, the Schwarzschild radius and cosmic space, the efficiency of hydrogen fusion, the Chandrasekhar limit and the burning Sun, the Hubble constant and the special theory of relativity, and Einstein’s general theory of relativity, dark matter, and omega. These “numbers that define our Universe” (Stein, Cover) have required the progressive discoveries and collaborations of many persons to reveal to us today what we know about each. But the current knowledge of each and their future iterations were already known to the Word from before Genesis 1.1, as John 1.1states! He, the Word, is the One Who has enlightened each curious person in the chain of discovery by mankind! Just how big IS our God?
So, while other Gospel writers include a fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies about Jesus’ birth, John begins before the beginning, even before Moses pronouncement in Genesis 1.1: “In the beginning, God created….” Perhaps John’s use of “Word” is like Solomon’s use of “Name” that was passed down from God’s pronouncement to hallow His Name in the Decalogue (Exodus 20.7). Solomon remembered what his father, King David, had told him about placing God’s Name in the Temple that David wanted to build. Solomon states this in his prayer of dedication of the Temple; 1 Kings 8.15-20. Verse 16is the fulfillment of what Moses had stated would be the place to celebrate the three important feasts of Israel; Deuteronomy 12.11: “…the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there….”
In 1 Kings 9.3, God states what would be meant by His Name “dwelling” in Solomon’s Temple: “‘My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.’” Notice in 1 Kings 8.30-53that God would hear in Heaven the prayers offered in or toward the Temple and would answer accordingly. But, only His Name, unseen, would be above the Ark and below and between the Cherubim (Exodus 25.17-22). Moses regularly conversed with this Name.
John knew the Torah and understood it from the perspective of the HolySpirit after Jesus was resurrected. And, John, probably, reflected often on his days of walking with Jesus and on hearing His sermons and prayers, including the prayer he includes in John 17.1-26. In verse 12, Jesus says, “I kept [the disciples] in your name, which you have given me.” What name was given to Him; Jesus (Luke 1.31& Matthew 1.21)! Thus, John repeats Jesus’ acknowledgement that His name, “Jesus”, is the name of God! [Paul does the same in Philippians 2.9-11andHebrews 13.8.]
So, from both the Old Testament and New (in Jesus’ blood), John named the Name (Deuteronomy 12.11) “Jesus” and told us that this was the Word that was from before the beginning of time (John 1.1) and that whatever knowledge we might ever discover (John 1.9) was already in “Jesus” before He began creating (John 1.4). [Paul comments on this aspect in Philippians 4.13 & 19; through the anointed Name, Jesus.] Stein’s numbers only prove Jesus’ encouragement in Matthew 6.33to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
I would love to ask Newton, Kepler, Einstein, and the others the most important question from their research: how do you know and understand God better through your discoveries of His special knowledge about the epistemologies which He assigned for your study (Jeremiah 1.5& John 3.27)? Our “boast” should be about explaining the incomprehensible from answering this question personally at the end of every day, as God encourages in Jeremiah 9.23-24. We should know and understand God better each day.
Stein, James D. 2011. Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers that Define Our Universe. Basic Books. New York.
The New English Bible. 1961. Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press.
Explaining the Incomprehensible 180624
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