Moses asked to see the visible glory of God, and He proclaimed His name verbally. Jesus is saying, "If you want to see the mind and nature of God, if you want to see His attitudes, look at Me." God reveals Himself and declares His glory to us through the life, works, and words of Jesus of Nazareth as He opens our minds by His Holy Spirit.
Jesus is "the way" because of all mankind, only He, unmarred by sin, has intimate knowledge of God. Knowing God depends on our knowledge of the truth about Jesus. He shows the way we must walk, the direction and manner of living and relating to others. This is precisely the knowledge Jesus gives. Many times when we ask directions in a strange city, the response confuses us because we are unfamiliar with the town. But when we ask directions of Jesus, He says, "Come, follow Me, and I will take you there."
Some people may teach truth, but He embodies truth; He is "the truth." A man may teach geometry, and his character may not affect his teaching. But if one teaches moral truth, character is paramount. Keeping the third commandment properly revolves around knowing the truth about God and His way.
Colossians 1:15; 2:9 are among the strongest statements in the Bible about the divine nature of Jesus: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . . For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." He not only is equal to and reflects God, but He also reveals God to us because He is God. He is completely holy and has authority to judge the world.
We can have no clearer view of God than by looking at Christ. He is the full revelation of God to man. He is the complete expression of God in a human body. He is unique: God became a man, imposing upon Himself the same time-space limitations as other men.
He had every opportunity to waste time, get sick, eat gluttonously and become overweight, drink and experience a hangover, "fly off the handle" in anger, or attack others when someone pricked His vanity. He could have become bitter from rejection or depressed when things did not go His way. He could have worked or played with intense competitiveness to "win at all costs." He had to face death, His own as well as of loved ones. He could have felt "the deck was stacked" against Him.
The gospels show God coping with life on the same terms as men. Now we can really see what kind of character God possesses. Jesus' life gives us firsthand knowledge of what the true way of life is, allowing us to cooperate with Him in His purpose. Among many other things, we see God teaching, healing, sacrificing His life, correcting in love, guarding His flock, and patiently counseling.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)
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)
The glory of God has been declared in the person of Jesus Christ. Did Jesus come radiating beauty everywhere He went? Was there a heavenly aura about Him, a halo over His head? Did He glow like burnished bronze, so that anybody could point and say, "Hey, there goes God"? No. He revealed the glory of God by what He did and by what He said. And much of what He said is recorded in this Book—for you and me.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)
In John 1:14, 18, the Greek term translated as “only begotten” is monogenes. Only John uses this adjective to describe Jesus, and he uses it five times. Its most common usage in Greek is as a term of endearment, though that is not all it adds to Jesus' standing before humanity. The way John uses it also specifically indicates a human family relationship.
It also carries the sense of “only,” intensifying the sense of endearment with the idea of singleness or uniqueness. Thus, the sense of “only” becomes an important addition. There are no others like Him, and Scripture adds that there never has been. He is unique even in respect to all other usages of “son of God” in the Bible. He stands alone. Our Savior has no competition.
At this point, we need to grasp a simple, Greek grammatical rule that most English-speakers are not normally exposed to. In Greek, ho is the equivalent of the English definite article “the.” However, the apostle John does not place ho before “only begotten” in verse 14, nor before “Father” in verse 18 (though most English translations supply it anyway). Its absence is legitimate in Greek usage, as it intensifies the descriptive power of the term “only begotten”—and thus what John is attempting to explain. It amplifies its power.
By writing it in this manner, John specifically signifies that Jesus is the single, sole, exclusive, only representative and—this is important—character (image) of the Being, the Father, who sent Him. This lays additional, greater glory upon the characteristics revealed about Jesus in context.
The apostle's object was to demonstrate and emphasize as best he could through mere words the height of the level of glory he and his fellow apostles witnessed in their three-and-a-half-year relationship with Jesus. With words, He severs Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary, from all other set-apart sons of God in the Scriptures, as well as from any kind of earthly, human, generational relationship.
Essentially, he is stating that Jesus' relationship with the Father was unoriginated. All human relationships are originated and continue through the pairing of a father and a mother. Jesus' relationship with the Father was not so. There is nothing we humans could conceive of as a sexual act by the Father that produced Jesus.
This reality should have a major impact on how we understand Their unity. Recall that Jesus says in John 10:30, “I and My Father are one.” Therefore, everything the Father is in character Jesus is also, even though Jesus is a separate personality from the Father. Just as the Father has always existed, so has the Son. The apostle John used this grammatical rule five times, so we would get the point. Jesus was and is every bit as much God as the Father.
Thus, the term “begotten” as used regarding Jesus does not apply in the same way it does for humans. Nevertheless, John used it to establish the concept of a family relationship so we could understand our relationship to God, as Father and child, more clearly.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Eight): Hebrews 1
Jesus Christ was sent as the Forerunner (Hebrews 2:10, archegos, “one who goes before”) to live among men in order to reveal His Father, the Living God (Matthew 11:27; John 14:7-11; 17:6-7). This prodigious work necessitated that Christ be willing to “drink the cup” and suffer many burdens, the greatest being His arrest, persecution, crucifixion, and death at the hands of His own creation. As our Forerunner and an example to all men, it was incumbent on Christ to submit to the will of the Father and to do so with a perfect attitude of faithful humility. His incomparable level of submission allowed Him to become our Savior, a type of which is ultimately required of everyone to enter the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 11:6; James 4:6).
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing Malchus' Ear (Part Two)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing John 1:18:
1 John 4:7-8