References to Dwelling in John’s Writings

Volitional Humiliation: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14-18).

Fruitful Question: “Master, where dwellest Thou?” (John 1:35-39).

Spiritual Provision: “The Spirit of truth … He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:15-17).

Eternal Condition: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them” (Rev 21:1-8).

Volitional Humiliation

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

What a staggering event indeed! His incarnation brought Him into an entirely new condition and marks a voluntary step in the experience of deity that is eternally irreversible. We hold our breath as we try to ponder its profound implications. Manhood has been glorified with the glory of deity.

It is only in John’s writings that we are informed of the Lord Jesus as the Word. In John 1:1-2 He is presented as the Personal Word, a title belonging to the Son of God, referring to Him in His super-infinite personality. His unique relation in the Godhead and His absolute deity are duly emphasized. As the Personal Word He is the Declarer and Interpreter of God. The Holy Scriptures are described as the Word of God (logos), the written Word, but the Lord Jesus is the Personal and Living Word. In becoming flesh He did not relinquish anything of His pure and essential Godhood, but by His coming into manhood He was able to articulate God to man.

The other references to Him as the Word are found in: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; that which we have looked upon, contemplated, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life; (and that life was manifested and we have seen and bear witness, and show unto you [repeat to you] the eternal life, which was with the Father, and has been manifested to us:) that which we have seen and heard declare we (report) to you” (1John 1:1-4, Darby).

There is a striking similarity between the prologue in John 1, and what is said in 1 John 1:1, 2, with some definite distinctions. Consider three significant issues:

Eternal Relation

“That which was from the beginning” (1John 1:1). This is similar to John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word.” The two beginnings seem to be identical; more probably they are not. The “beginning” in Genesis 1 refers to the beginning of time and creation, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” When creation took place, and when time began, the Word already existed. The world had a beginning but “The Word” had none. The “beginning” in 1 John 1:1 has reference to the coming in of Christianity in Christ. John witnessed such a beginning, and could have used the words of Luke 1:2, as one of “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.”

Historical Manifestation

“That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; that which we have looked upon (contemplated) and our hands have handled of the Word of Life” (1John 1:1). By His manifestation in manhood, the Lord Jesus became audible, visible, and tangible – heard, seen, and handled. By the Lord coming in flesh, John and his companions “beheld, contemplated, His glory.” They were privileged to look upon His outer form to see His inward glory. The gospel of John appears to underscore the fact that He is “the Word,” whereas, the epistle of John is emphasizing the Life, the Word of Life, the message of eternal life; the life that was manifested in perfection in the Lord Jesus. John proceeds in his epistle, to indicate that it can be possessed, enjoyed, and displayed by those who receive eternal life, and be recognized by others. The gospel of John speaks of the incarnation of the eternal Word, and the epistle of John speaks of the manifestation of the eternal Life.

Mutual Participation

“That you also may have fellowship with us” (1John 1:3).

What John and his companions witnessed is now passed on to the next generation. They were called upon to follow the steps of those who had gone before, appreciating the apostle’s doctrine, and persevering in the fellowship of such teaching; teaching such as Acts 2:42, “They continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine.”

Consider the reference to the Lord Jesus in the title as “the Word” in Revelation 19:13: “And He was clothed with vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called the Word of God.”

Four distinct names are ascribed to Him:

“Called faithful and true” – His Impartial Name.

“Which no one knew but He Himself” – His Incommunicable Name. The hymn writer wrote: “But the high mysteries of His name, An angel’s grasp transcend, The Father only (glorious claim), The Son can comprehend.”

“And His name is called the Word of God” – His Interpretative Name. All that God has to say, He has said in His Son. He alone can articulate God. The world rejected that Word, but He is coming again, and God will speak again, but this time in judgment.

King of Kings – His Imperial Name.

– To be continued