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The Lord of Glory: An Exposition of John 17:3 Pt. 2

I continue with my exegesis of John 17:3 (https://answeringallah.com/the-lord-of-glory-an-exposition-of-john-173-pt-1/).

Jesus – The Visible Appearance of Yahweh God

John provides further confirmation that Jesus had the glory which belongs uniquely to Yahweh:

“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified (doxasthe). I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, ‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up (hypsotho) from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. The crowd spoke up, ‘We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up (hypsothenai)”? Who is this “Son of Man”?’ Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.’ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory (eiden ten doxan autou) and spoke about him.” John 12:23-41

Jesus describes his death and subsequent exaltation in the words of Isaiah 52-53, the Suffering Servant of Yahweh who dies for the sins of God’s people. John himself refers to Isaiah 53:1 in explaining why so many of the Jews did not believe in Jesus. Here are the passages in question taken from the English translation of the Greek Version of the OT, otherwise known as the Septuagint (LXX):

Behold, my Servant shall understand, and be exalted/lifted up (hypsothesetai), and glorified (doxasthesetai) exceedingly. As many shall be amazed at thee, so shall thy face be without glory from men, and thy glory shall not be honoured by the sons of men. Thus shall many nations wonder at him; and kings shall keep their mouths shut: for they to whom no report was brought concerning him, shall see; and they who have not heard, shall consider.” Isaiah 52:13-15

O Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? We brought a report as of a child before him; he is as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he wasa man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed. All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins. And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death. And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practised no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth. The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed: the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to shew him light, and to form himwith understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins. Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:1-12

John also quotes Isaiah 6:10 to show that the reason these Jews didn’t believe is that they were incapable of doing so since God hardened their hearts as a just consequence of their persistent rebellion and unbelief.

What makes this assertion so amazing is that right after he cites Isaiah 6:10 John says that Isaiah actually saw the glory of Jesus and spoke about him! However, if we read Isaiah 6 in context the glory that the blessed prophet saw was the glory of Yahweh as he sat on his exalted throne:

“And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, that I saw (eidon) the Lord sitting on a lifted up (hypselou) and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory (tes doxes autou). And seraphs stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered their face, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (tes doxes autou). And the lintel shook at the voice they uttered, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people having unclean lips; and I have seen (eidon)with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts. And there was sent to me one of the seraphs, and he had in his hand a coal, which he had taken off the altar with the tongs: and he touched my mouth, and said, Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins. And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, behold, I am here, send me. And he said, Go, and say to this people, Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Isaiah 6:1-10

It is rather clear from the above that John is claiming that when Isaiah saw Yahweh seated on his throne the blessed prophet was actually seeing the preincarnate Christ in his heavenly glory! This means that Jesus is none other than the Lord of the OT who spoke to the prophets!

This is not a novel interpretation but is the view held by the majority of NT scholars, just as the following quotations indicate:

“The quotation in this passage is from Isaiah 6:10, part of the passage in which Isaiah recounts his call to the prophetic ministry. When John says that Isaiah saw ‘his glory’ he means the glory of Jesus as the context makes it clear (vv. 36-38; see also 1:14). But in the context of Isaiah 6, the glory that Isaiah saw was the glory of the Lord… Here again, John speaks of Jesus not only as having existed during Old Testament times but also as having been the glorious Lord who spoke to and through the prophets. Thus this passage is another affirmation in the New Testament of the divine preexistence of Jesus Christ.” (Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ[Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 2: Like Father, Like Son: Jesus Shares the Attributes of God, Chapter 8. Jesus Has Always Been There, pp. 93-94; bold emphasis ours)

And:

  1. Referring to the prophecy, the evangelist says, Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. The allusion is to Isaiah’s vision of God in the temple and his commission to be his messenger to Israel (Is. 6:1-13). The evangelist implies that what Isaiah saw in the temple was in fact ‘Jesus’ glory’, i.e.the glory of the pre-existent Christ. There are other NT and early Christian writings which imply the pre-incarnate Christ appeared in the OT times. Paul speaks of the rock in the wilderness from which water gushed as Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). Justin Martyr says, when Moses ‘was tending the flocks of his maternal uncle in the land of Arabia, our Christ conversed with him under the appearance of fire from a bush’ (I Apologylxii. 3-4; Dialogue with Trypho the Jew128). (Colin Kruse, The Gospel According to John: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)[William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, July 30, 2004], p. 275; underline emphasis ours)

Again:

12:39-41. On the text (Is 6:10), see comment on Mark 4:12. Isaiah 6:1-5 refers clearly to Isaiah seeing a vision of God, the Lord of hosts, in his glory when he received this message, but John explains that this manifestation of God was the Son, Jesus (v. 41). (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, p. 296; underline emphasis ours)

Finally,

88 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent supplied here is “Christ” rather than “Jesus” because it involves what Isaiah saw. It is clear that the author presents Isaiah as having seen the preincarnate glory of Christ, which was the very revelation of the Father (see John 1:18; John 14:9).

sn Because he saw Christs glory. The glory which Isaiah saw in Isa 6:3 was the glory of Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). Here John speaks of the prophet seeing the glory of Christ since in the next clause and spoke about him, “him” can hardly refer to Yahweh, but must refer to Christ. On the basis of statements like 1:14 in the prologue, the author probably put no great distinction between the two. Since the author presents Jesus as fully God (cf. John 1:1), it presents no problem to him to take words originally spoken by Isaiah of Yahweh himself and apply them to Jesus. (NET Bible; underline emphasis ours)

This further means that Isaiah saw the very glory which Jesus says he had with the Father before the world was created.

Interestingly, John uses the same language to describe his experience as an eyewitness who had seen Christ after he had made his tabernacle among them by becoming flesh:

“And the Word became flesh and tabernacle/pitched his tent (eskenosen) among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory as of the One and Only of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Thus, both Isaiah and John were given the privilege of seeing the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah saw the glory of the preincarnate Christ whereas John saw the glory of the Incarnate Christ!

It is also interesting that in this very same chapter of John Jesus went on to say that whoever sees him sees the Father:

“Then Jesus cried out, ‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.’”John 12:44-46

Nor is this the only time that Jesus said this:

If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” John 14:7-11

Jesus’ point is that he is the only One capable of manifesting God perfectly since he is the Son who shares the same nature and glory of the Father and who alone comprehends him. As such, there is no need to see the Father when the Son is present since the Father perfectly reveals himself, i.e., his nature, characteristics, etc., in the Person of his beloved Son. This is brought out clearly in the following passages:

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Luke 10:22 – Cf. Matthew 11:27

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.” John 6:44-46

Jesus explains that the reason why all who are taught by God the Father come to him is that he is the only One who has seen him, e.g., he alone perfectly comprehends God and therefore is the only One qualified to reveal him. As noted NT scholar Murray J. Harris explains:

“Central to the Christian tradition is the belief that God as he is in himself cannot be seen by the physical eye; he is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 4:12). No one has seen him or can see him (1 Tim. 6:16). But equally central is the conviction that, in Christ, God the Father has revealed himself perfectly. Jesus Christ has accurately and comprehensively made visible the invisible nature of God:

No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is God and who resides in the Father’s heart – he has revealed him. (John 1:18, my translation)

“Only the Son who shares the divine nature (cf. John 1:1) is qualified to reveal the Father personally and completely. John’s compound verb (exegesato, ‘he has revealed’) implies the perfection of God’s self-revelation in Christ. In response to Philip’s request, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us’ (John 14:8), Jesus remarked, ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).

“It is not only the apostle John who expresses this view of the role of Jesus. Paul depicts Jesus as ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col. 1:15). That is, he is the exact and visible expression of a God who has not been seen and cannot be seen. Then there is the author of Hebrews, who declares that ‘the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being’ (Heb. 1:3). The two Greek terms in this verse are colorful. Apaugasma (‘radiance’) pictures Christ as the ‘outshining’ or ‘effulgence’ or ‘irradiated brightness’ of God the Father’s inherent glory. Charakter (‘exact representation’) points to Christ as the flawless expression of God’s nature, one who is indelibly stamped with God’s character.” (Harris, Three Crucial Questions about Jesus [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1994], pp. 70-71)

Jesus – The Divine King on the throne

Isaiah 6:1 and 52:13 also help us to better understand Jesus’ reference to the glory that he shared with the Father and which he was about to receive. A comparison of these texts along with some others indicates that the Servant is exalted to sit on God’s throne thereby sharing Yahweh’s rule over creation:

“Behold, my Servant will act wisely; he will be exalted (yarum) and lifted up (nissa)and shall be very high.” 52:13 Heb.

“Behold, my Servant shall understand, and be exalted (hypsothesetai), and glorified (doxasthesetai) exceedingly.” LXX

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord (adonai) seated on a throne, exalted (ram) and lofty (nissa), and the train of his robe filled the temple.” 6:1 Heb.

“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, exalted (hypselou) and lifted up, and the house was full of his glory.” LXX

“For thus says the exalted (ram) and lofty (nissa) One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high (marom) and holy place, but also with him who is crushed (dakka; cf. Isa. 53:5, 10) and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 Heb.

“Thus says the Lord Most High (hypsistos), who dwells in the heights (en hypselois)for ever, Holy in the holies, is his name, the Lord Most High (hypsistos) resting in the holies, and giving patience to the faint-hearted, and giving life to the broken-hearted:” LXX

In light of these connections, it is apparent that the Lord Jesus Christ is claiming to have shared in the Father’s rule over all things and was going to return to sit on the Divine throne in heaven along with his Father. This interpretation is further confirmed by what Jesus told Pilate:

“So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’” John 18:33-37

Notice that Jesus says his kingdom is not of this world which can only mean that his kingdom is in heaven. However, the only One who rules from heaven is Yahweh God!

“Yahweh is in his holy temple; Yahweh’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.” Psalm 11:4

“I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.” Psalm 123:1

“Thus says Yahweh: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?” Isaiah 66:1

“And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.” Matthew 23:22 – cf. 5:34

Thus, the only way that Christ could share in his Father’s reign and be seated on the same glorious throne is if Jesus is Yahweh God!

Interestingly, Jesus applied Isaiah 52:13 in relation to the lifting up of the Son of Man (i.e., his crucifixion and subsequent ascension into heavenly glory) which would be the means through which his Deity would be revealed.

“And He said to them, ‘You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.’… Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up (hypsosete) the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” John 8:23-29

Jesus is saying that his exaltation will confirm that he is Incarnate Deity, i.e., Christ is the preexistent Divine Son of God who left his heavenly place of glory in order to accomplish his Father’s will. As NT scholar Craig S. Keener puts it:

In 12:41, John attributes to Isaiah’s revelation of Christ’s glory both Isaiah quotations (ancients did not speak of two or more Isaiahs), one about a scene of glory in the temple (12:39-40; Isa 6:1-10) and the other about the servant being glorified and lifted in suffering (12:38; Isa 52:13-53:1). Early Christians would have undoubtedly linked Isa 6:1 with 52:13, because both texts use “exalted and lifted up,” as does 57:15. If so, they would have noticed that 6:1 and 57:15 spoke of God, and may have concluded that it was actually Jesus’ lifting up by crucifixion that revealed his identity as deity (cf. 8:28). This fits 12:23-24 and the place of 1:14-18 in the context of John’s whole Gospel: Jesus’ death is the ultimate theophany. (Keener, The Gospel of John – A Commentary: 2-Volume Set [Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Massachusetts: February 2004, Hardcover], p. 885)

The following Biblical scholar agrees:

“Isaiah 52:13 states, with emphasis, the exaltation of the Servant, presumably following the humiliation and death described in the following passage. There are two points to note about it: (1) The words ‘exalted’ and ‘lifted up’ (‘my Servant shall be exalted and lifted up’) occur also in Isaiah 6:1, introducing Isaiah’s vision of God on his throne (where the throne is described as ‘exalted and lifted up’), and in Isaiah 57:15, which describes God, dwelling in the heights of heaven, as himself ‘exalted and lifted up.’ The combination of the two Hebrew roots rum (‘to be high’, ‘to be exalted’) and nasa (‘to lift up’) is rare in the Hebrew Bible, and the verbal coincidence between these three verses is striking. Modern Old Testament scholars think that the two later passages, Isaiah 52:13 and 57:15, must be dependent on Isaiah 6:1. Early Christians would have observed the coincidence and applied the Jewish exegetical principle of gezera sava, according to which passages in which the same words occur should be interpreted with reference to each other… So, in light of the connections with Isaiah 6:1 and 57:15, the meaning of Isaiah 52:13 is that the Servant is exalted to the heavenly throne of God. This is why, in John 12:38-41, Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 6 are brought together, and Isaiah is said to have seen Jesus’ glory, that is, when he saw the glory of the Lord in his vision in chapter 6 of his prophecy…” (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel – God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], 1. God Crucified, 3.2. Christological monotheism: The early Christian reading of Isaiah 40–55, p. 36; bold emphasis ours)

As does this next commentary:

“Verse 41 could be clearer for us poor readers in the twentieth century. In what way did Isaiah, living centuries before Jesus, see his glory? This must refer back to the contexts of the quotes from Isa 53 and 6. In the first, Isaiah speaks of the servant; in the second, of his inaugural glorious vision of God as King and Lord of hosts. In God’s glory, he has seen that of Jesus, for the Father shares it with himand it is with the same glory that the servant has been exalted.” (Neal M. Flanagan, O.S.M., “John,” The Collegeville Bible Commentary: Based on the New American Bible: New Testament, ed. Robert J. Karris [Liturgical Press, September 1992 (Paperback)], pp. 1002-1003; bold emphasis ours)

With that said we can now move on to the third part of my discussion (https://answeringallah.com/the-lord-of-glory-an-exposition-of-john-173-pt-3/).

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