What does the apostle John mean by saying that Jesus “declared” Him?
The Amplified Bible suggests two alternate translations, and both are much longer statements because the translators thought the Greek word underlying “declared” needed fleshing out, as it says a great deal about a critical purpose that Jesus' ministry accomplished. The first alternate translation is, “He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen”; and the second is, “He has interpreted Him, and He has made Him known.” Both suggest that the Father is in some way an unknown element in this unfolding story, as if He is a mysterious, surprise package.
James Moffatt translates the same phrase as “God has been unfolded by the divine one.” “Unfolded” is about as mysterious as “declared.” How does a person “unfold” another? Commentator William Barclay translates it with a long sentence: “The unique One, the Divine One, He who is nearest the heart of the Father, who has disclosed to us the mystery of God.”
The issue in the apostle John's mind was not that nobody even knew the Father existed. His existence is revealed in the Old Testament, though not frequently expanded by its writers. Genesis 1:26 clearly states, “Let Us make man in Our image.” The plural pronouns strongly suggest co-Creators working together during creation. But the relationship between the two is not defined. Only God creates as These were creating. God's Word shows no other beings creating as These did. Angels do not create.
There are a few passages in the Old Testament regarding another God-Being whom Jesus refers to as “the Father.” We will begin with Psalm 2:2, 7-9:
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed . . .. “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'”
First, the psalmist mentions the Messiah (“His Anointed”), and second, he brings out the idea of sonship, suggesting that some sort of family relationship already existed between the two creative God-beings in Genesis 1.
So, what did the apostle John intend in John 1:18? Jesus needed to reveal Their close, cooperative, and creative working-relationship. Also, John 1 shows that They are virtually mirror images of each other in character and purpose, as Jesus states in John 10:30: “I and My Father are one.” They are not one Person but united in purpose. They have been working harmoniously together for a long, long time on the same project. Finally, Jesus revealed in His ministry, in part, that the Father and Son were together accomplishing a glorious purpose.
In the real Lord's Prayer, Jesus says:
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)
His statement summarizes what the divine Father and Son are accomplishing together. They are expanding Their kind and degree of Family unity to others as finished products in the image of the Father and Son.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Nine)