John 1:3 – He Made All Things
Review of last 2 weeks:
John, in verses 1 and 2 has thus far painted an enormous portrait of Jesus as:
• Eternal – He never began to exist and is uncreated.
• 2nd Person of the Trinity – He was “with God” as in had a person-to-person relationship with God within the triune godhead.
• God – Jesus is God.
o The NT writers thought of him as God.
o He thought of himself as God
So the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is also the Eternal, 2nd Person of the Trinity, Word that is God, a.k.a., Jesus.
• What an awesome declaration by a Jew!
And by portraying Jesus as the Logos of God, he was appealing to Greek philosophical thought.
• Plato, we are told, once turned to that little group of philosophers and students that had gathered around him during the Greek Golden Age in Athens and said to his followers, “It may be that some day there will come forth from God a Word, a Logos, who will reveal all mysteries and make everything plain” – James Boice.
• Both of these appeals by John remind me of Paul at Athens in Acts 17:23 when he says I am going to proclaim to you who God this is!
Now that it is clear who Jesus is, in verse 3, John begins to show us what Jesus (the Word) does.
• And what he does is create.
• To the Jew, the idea that God created everything is nothing new.
o But assigning that activity to Jesus is just one more indication that John saw Jesus as God.
1) ALL THINGS WERE MADE THROUGH HIM – HE CREATES
John 1:3 (ESV) — 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
I think we all know what “made” means and here the meaning is not much different than what we would expect.
• It is the Greek word “ginomai” and it means “to begin to be” or “to come into existence.”
• So the universe or Adam, for example, began to exist and so had an uncaused cause.
• Where it gets interesting is when you contrast “made” with the “was” in verse 1 and 2.
o The “was” denotes the “continuous existence” of the Word.
• So we get a contrast of Eternal vs. Created giving us further affirmation of Jesus’ Divinity and Eternality.
• Plus John makes clear that “Jesus intended that we should recognize God’s existence” through what He made – James Boice.
The Bible echoes John’s declaration with respect to creator of everything that was made:
• Genesis 1:26 (ESV) — 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
• Job 26:13 (ESV) — 13 By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
• Psalm 102:25 (ESV) — 25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
• Isaiah 40:28 (ESV) — 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
• Isaiah 44:24 (ESV) — 24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,
• Isaiah 45:12 (ESV) — 12 I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.
• 1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) — 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
• Ephesians 3:9 (ESV) — 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
• Colossians 1:16 (ESV) — 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
• Hebrews 1:2 (ESV) — 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
So the point is clearly made that Jesus is Creator and everything else is created.
• But John makes another point which involves Jesus’ role in creation.
• Let’s take a look at this.
John tells us, in verse 3, that all things were made “through” him:
In fact, John repeats this phrase in verse 10.
• John 1:10 (ESV) — 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
And a quick look reveals that creation is not the only thing made or done “through him”:
• John 3:17 (ESV) — 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
• Acts 2:22 (ESV) — 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
• Romans 5:2 (ESV) — 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
• Ephesians 2:18 (ESV) — 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
• 1 John 4:9 (ESV) — 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
So what is John trying to convey by saying everything was made “through” him?
• Well, “through” means “that which intervenes between the act of the will and the effect, and through which the effect proceeds” – Strongs.
o But honestly, that doesn’t help us much.
• How about this one, “Christ mediates the action of another, i.e., the action of God” in creation – TDNT.
o It sounds about like the first one; not much help.
There are at least two ways that we can gain insight what John meant.
First, because John began his Gospel by alluding to Genesis, we should also look there to find insight:
• He separated the light and darkness – Genesis 1:4.
• He formed man from the “dust from the ground” – Genesis 2:7.
• He breathed into man’s nostrils the “breath of life” – Genesis 2:7.
• He “planted a garden in Eden” – Genesis 2:8.
• He “made to spring up” trees – Genesis 2:9.
So when John speaks of creation being “through him”, He means Jesus had an intimate role in physical creation.
• He got His hands dirty, so to speak.
• He is the potter and we are the clay.
• Jesus was hands-on in His creation.
Second, we can find insight by simply understanding what is to come in John’s Gospel.
• We just read above that John says, the world will be “saved through him”.
• In his letter, 1 John, we just read that we “might live through him”.
• We just read where Paul speaks of the fact that we have “access through him”.
• And in chapter 3, we will see that the “new birth” comes through him.
Quite simply, John is saying the hands-on, personal way creation was made through Jesus “…points forward to the new creation in the Redeemer, AND the original dependence of all things on the Son is thus a basis for his later seizure of power and for redemption in Him” – TDNT.
• In other words, Christ’s hands-on involvement in creation foreshadows His hands-on involvement in the new creation and redemption.
This is powerful imagery and truth at work here!
• The first creation was through Jesus, and guess what, salvation, redemption and the new birth – the 2nd creation – are through Him too.
• And just as Jesus was hands-on in the 1st creation, he will be so in redemption too (which John will make clear).
• How much more hands-on can you be than being made flesh and being crucified?!
BTW – It is my opinion that it makes sense in the reverse too.
• As hands-on as Jesus was in redemption, it speaks to just how involved Jesus was in creation.
• This leads me to our final point.
One more reason why John’s pronouncement of Jesus’ relationship to creation is significant:
It has to do with the beliefs of early Christians known as Gnostics.
• Gnostics were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy and held a number of heretical views.
o The one that pertains to our text today is their belief that creation came through an “emanation” of God, not God himself.
o To say God created matter directly was to blaspheme God because matter is evil.
Our text today, as we have just seen, clearly contradicts these Gnostic beliefs.
• Not only did Jesus create matter, but He became matter (vs. 14 – flesh).
Concerns with Jesus’ relationship to creation still linger to this day among some Christians.
• Though clearly affirming Christ’s incarnation, some still seek to escape the implications that arise from acknowledging that Jesus created this world.
• Motivated by this, they seek to distance Christ from making a world that is tainted by so much evil.
Francisco Ayala, a biologist and a former Dominican priest, is one such prominent Christian.
• His ideas concerning God as creator are best expressed by the “Evolution News & Views” blog:
• “He insists that the idea of God’s acting through ‘specific agency…amounts to blasphemy.’ For such direct control would imply that God bears responsibility for all the cruelties, pains, and dysfunctions that have accompanied the unfolding of life’s history.”
John was clear, “without him was not any thing made that was made.”
• It was made “through him” like redemption came “through him” – via personal involvement.
• We can’t run from this.
• To run from this is, in my opinion, to ignore the theological and practical effects of The Fall.
• And the Fall, of course, is why Jesus had to become “matter” to begin with.
Paul understood this:
• Romans 8:22–23 (ESV) — 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.