John’s Gospel as Re-Creation

Decades before John determined the produce a gospel, Paul had already written about “new creation.” To the Corinthians, he wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; NKJV), and to the Galatians, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6:15). There are two manners in which new creation appears in the New Testament: as a present reality and a future expectation. The present reality was what Paul and John respectively wrote about in the passages above and the latter’s gospel, but they also each wrote about the future expectation of new creation (Rom. 8:18–23; Rev. 21:1–5). My concern here is more the present reality as it pertains to the Christian than the future eschatological expectation, and I believe John’s gospel shows that God was in Christ recreating that which was in need of refurbishment.

Most of us have owned used things but have referred to them as new. The home I live in is new to me because we just moved into it within the past few months, but the house itself was built in 1984. The same goes formy wife’s car, a Kia Sorento. When we bought it, it was used, but we considered it new to us. I used to frequent a consignment store with my wife in Bowling Green that had name-brand clothing at a very lowprice. Others had paid the retail price, I presumedand taken the loss whereas I got to sweep in and collect the goods at a much lower price. They were new to me, but not entirely new in theory. Newcreation in the present tense, I suggest, is similar. Oh sure, we still have thorns and thistles, but we’re anticipating the end result and through the Spirit are new in Christ.

As Christians, we are “created” (note the past tense) in Christ Jesus for good works, for we are His “finished product” (Eph. 2:10; my translation). As such, we are present in the reality of new creation, but we still await its culmination in the fully realized experience at the resurrection of our bodies. As it is, we are participating in a greater eschatological reality. We express such by practicing the newness of life proper to the newcreation (Rom. 6:4). We tend to call it living Christianly, but we are demonstrating to the world and God’s glory, we pray, that how we live while Christians on earth now is how things shall be in the heavenly kingdom of God.

Until this point in history (c. 96), John’s gospel had only ever been preached. The former fisherman, now an old man with gray hair, was the last apostle of Jesus remaining. He had seen the church grow by leaps and bounds. He’d testified of Jesus as Israel’s Messiah with signs and wonders. With him was Polycarp, a young Christian in his twenties who’d go on to be a great leader in the church, but who would be martyred when in his eighties (c. 156). Polycarp was learning from John and was an ever promising young pupil.

Jerusalem had been destroyed just over twenty-five years earlier, and in the last few years, the Jews assembled in Jamnia (c. 90) to establish a school of the religious study of the Jewish Law. One of the first appointed deacons, Prochorus had been with Peter who’d appointed him to be a minister of Nicomedia. However, Peter had been crucified just before Jerusalem fell (c. 64), so Prochorus joined John and aided him. Now, John was about to send Prochorus to oversee the work at Antioch, but before he was to depart, Prohorus was to help John with one important work.

John had read Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He thought them each well written and accurate accounts of the ministry of Jesus though only Matthew was by a fellow apostle. However, the Synoptic accounts overlooked the earlier years of Christ’s ministry, and John believed that the church ought to know about this period of Jesus’ ministry since John himself was witness to it. John wasn’t taking this task lightly, because the Spirit had been speaking to him about writing another gospel account. Nevertheless, as an aged man whose eyesight wasn’t the best, and whose hand wasn’t steady, Prochorus would serve as his amanuensis—John would speak, andProchorus would write. The Spirit had told John, “Write a new genesis,” so John knew what he’d do. As Prochorus sat poised at the writing table, John first spoke, “In the beginning.”

What follows in John’s gospel is a retelling of the Genesis story, but this time instead of being separated from God, humanity is reconciled to Him. Rather than falling prey to sin and futility, freedom is given through the sacrifice of God on a cross. Yes, Jesus is God and identifies himself as such in the prologue of John’s gospel and throughout. Instead of being ruled by sin, the new Adam, Christ, conquers it so that His new creation can exist and operate in the newnessof life. The entire framework of this is accomplished inthe guise of the temple, as will be explained momentarily.

When in elementary school, I remember during science class the teacher showing us children how magnets stuck together and explained that they were from separate poles. However, when we’d take magnets from the same pole and try to put them together, they naturally repelled. When God created the heavens and earth, His creation of such was made so that we were with Him and Him with us. We had perfect fellowship, but when sin became the reality of human existence, we began to push God away. At every turn we have sought to push God away, likely due to our own shame. However, God has graciously pursued us to bring us to Himself. This is reconciliation. In His works on earth and the cross, God was, in Jesus, reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18–19).

Steven Hunter (PhD, Faulkner University) is the preaching minister for the Glendale Road Church of Christ in Murray, KY. He's also authored several books for Start2Finish, and Classically Christian explores Christianity from a church-historical perspective. Steven enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and is a practitioner of Goshin Ryu Jujutsu—a traditional Japanese martial art.