Notes on John (Pt. 3): The Nine Titles of Christ

[Notes on John (Pt. 2)]

The Nine Titles of Christ

With all that is going on in the first chapter of John, it is easy to read past the various titles used of the Lord by various individuals in this passage. There are nine titles which teach about the nature, Person and work of Christ. These titles are:

  1. The Word[1] – Eternal God, Creator of all, equal to the Father but personally distinct
  2. The True Light[2] – Truth/Revealer of Truth
  3. The Son of God[3] – God Incarnate full of Grace and Truth
  4. The Lamb of God[4] – Sacrifice for the sins of God’s elect people
  5. Rabbi[5] – Our only Teacher (cf. Matthew 23:10)
  6. The Messiah[6] – Anointed One of God, the Promised Seed (cf. Genesis 3: 15, Psalm 2)
  7. The Son of Joseph[7] – Humble Son of a Carpenter (cf. Phil 2:5-11, esp. vv. 5-6)
  8. The King of Israel[8] – Royal Son appointed to rule God’s people (cf. Ps. 2, Ps. 110)
  9. The Son of Man[9] – Messianic King given All Dominion (cf. Dan. 7:13-14)

These titles unfold before us concretely in the life of our Lord as John’s historical record proceeds. The nine titles, furthermore, form a chiasm, at the center of which Christ’s identity as the only Rabbi is stressed, for it is only in Christ that all of Scripture finds its cohesion and clear expression.[10]

A. The Word: Creator of All (Pre-Incarnate Glory)

B. The True Light: Rejected by His own people

C. The Son of God: God-Man humbled to the point of death on the cross

D. The Lamb of God:  Promised Seed to be Wounded for our transgressions

E. Rabbi: The only True Teacher of Israel, God’s people

D’. The Messiah: Promised Seed to destroy the works of darkness

C’. The Son of Joseph: God-Man being exalted above every name

B’. The King of Israel: Ruling His own people

A’. The Son of Man: Lord of all (Post-Resurrection & Ascension Glory)

In the first four titles, we see Christ’s humiliation and death; in the last four, we see Christ’s exaltation; and at the center, we see that Scripture finds its fullest meaning and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

-h.

[Notes on John (Pt. 4)]


[1] 1:1-5

[2] 1:9-13

[3] 1:14-18

[4] 1:29-36

[5] 1:38; 49

[6] 1:41; 45

[7] 1:45

[8] 1:49b

[9] 1:51

[10] See my post on the Lord Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus in John 3, which evidences this contrast between “Israel’s teacher” and Christ “a” teacher “come from God,” for further corroboration. The Lord stresses this in John 5:39; 45-47; and John the Evangelist brings also stresses this through the use of irony in John 7:45-52.

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5 thoughts on “Notes on John (Pt. 3): The Nine Titles of Christ

  1. Heather says:

    While reading, I started to think I was seeing a pattern of Christ’s emptying and subsequent glorification.

    Then read your concluding statement

    In the first four titles, we see Christ’s humiliation and death; in the last four, we see Christ’s exaltation; and at the center, we see that Scripture finds its fullest meaning and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

    :D

    Don’t think I would have recognized the significance of “Rabbi” if you hadn’t pointed it out, though.

    This type of study is really exciting for me as it adds so much weight to the straightforward reading of the text.

    Like

  2. Hiram says:

    “This type of study is really exciting for me as it adds so much weight to the straightforward reading of the text.”

    Amen :) Because there are some who try to sneak stuff into the straight forward reading of the text, I try to get as close to the tiniest bits of the text’s structure in order to show that their readings have no grounding in the text itself.

    That was largely my intention in the two posts on Matthew 5:17-20. If you can establish that the doctrinally sound interpretation of the text agrees with the very skeleton of the passage you’re dealing with, you can confidently defend the Gospel against religious sophists (like the Jehvoah’s Witnesses or promoters of the “New Perspective on Paul”) who try to complicate things in order to confuse new believers.

    -h.

    Like

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