The God of Jesus was the God of the Old Testament, the same God that his hearers had always been worshipping.
For most of the last two thousand years, it would not have been necessary to say so.
It was central to the Church’s understanding of the Bible, that the relation between God and his people is a continuous history, beginning with
Abraham and coming to a climax with Jesus Christ.
One and the same God, from Genesis to Revelation.
This continuity seems to be coming under question again.
And yet it can be demonstrated from the words of Jesus himself.
I’ve done this once before, using the synoptic gospels alone.
But everything we find in John’s gospel leads to the same conclusion.
He claims the Temple of the Old Testament God as the Temple of his own God.
“You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade” (ch2 v16).
The Temple in Jerusalem was built and maintained to house the “name” of the God of Israel.
Nevertheless, Jesus calls it the house of his own Father.
So we are entitled to assume that every time he refers to “my Father” In this gospel, he is talking about the God of the Old Testament.
Anyone who wants to make a distinction between them is obliged, in the first place, to explain away that phrase “my Father’s house”.
He claims the scriptures provided by the God of the Old Testament as the scriptures of his own God.
He does this whenever he asserts that the scriptures speak about himself.
That is implied when he expresses surprise that Nicodemus does not understand about the power of the Spirit, even though he is a teacher of Israel
(ch3 v9). That is to say, anyone who has qualified to “teach Israel” by studying the scriptures should have been able to learn about the Spirit
from the scriptures themselves.
As he says to the Jews later, “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to
me” (ch5 v39).
“If you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote of me” (v46).
That includes the features of scripture which “foreshadow” the work of Jesus, such as Moses “lifting up the serpent in the wilderness” (ch3
He claims the prophecies provided by the God of the Old Testament as the prophecies of his own God.
He does this whenever he asserts that they are being fulfilled in his own work.
“It is written in the prophets; And they shall all be taught by God” (ch6 v45).
“He who believes in me, as the scripture has said; Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (ch7 v38).
“I know whom I have chosen. It is that the scripture may be fulfilled; He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me” (ch13 v18).
For that matter, the writer of the gospel also sees fulfilment of prophecies.
He sees the rejection of Jesus by the Jews as fulfilling the words of Isaiah (ch12 vv38-41).
At the crucifixion scene, he sees prophecy fulfilled when the soldiers divide up the garments of Jesus (ch19 v24), when he says “I thirst” (v28),
when his bones are not broken (v36), and in the fact that men were looking upon one who had been “pierced” (v37).
He claims the Jews, the people of the Old Testament God, as the people of his own God.
Not quite as explicitly as in the other gospels, where he calls them the children of God.
In John’s gospel, the claim is a little more oblique.
When the Word, the true light, came to his own place [TA IDIA], “his own people [HOI IDIOI] did not receive him” (ch1 v11).
“His own people” and “his own land” undoubtedly means the Jews in Judaea.
The people who reject Jesus, in this gospel, are the Jews, almost by definition.
Therefore John is claiming, on the Word’s behalf, that the Jews are the “special people” of the Word at the same time as
they have always
been the “special people” of the God of Israel.
This makes it impossible to separate the Word from the God of Israel.
“We worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews” (ch4 v22).
“We”; he identifies with the Jews, the worshippers of the Old Testament God.
“Worship what we know”; in other words, the Jews, in knowing and worshipping the Old Testament God, have always been knowing and worshipping his
“Salvation is of the Jews”. The exact translation is that salvation is from
, or out of [EK] the Jews. It begins with the Jews before moving
out into the rest of the world.
This is the teaching found more explicitly in Acts and other parts of the New Testament; namely that that God of Jesus, acting as God of Israel during
the Old Testament period, had been preparing the way for the salvation which he brought to completion in Jesus.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad” (ch8 v56).
Now Abraham was well-known as the “friend of God” (that is, the God of the Old Testament), and of course he was recognised as the ancestor of
Israel, God’s people.
How, then, could Abraham have foreseen, let alone rejoiced in, the “day” of Jesus if Jesus had been associated with a different God?
By these words, Jesus identifies his own God as the God of Abraham, and therefore by extension the God of Abraham’s descendants in Israel.
In short, Jesus claims the “special people” of the God of Israel as the “special people” of his own God, and so identifies the two Gods.
The Jews don’t understand him as offering a different God
This is true of his followers.
Their understanding of Jesus always associates him with what was promised by the God of Israel.
The first chapter sets the tone; “We have found the Messiah… We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote” (ch1 v41,
Each and every suggestion that Jesus is the Christ or “that prophet who is to come into the world” relates him to that God.
When they debate the matter, they test him by the criteria which they find in the scriptures.
“When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man?”
“Yes, but can the Christ come from Galilee?” (ch7 v31, vv41-2)
When the former blind man argues “We know that God does not listen to sinners” (ch9 v31), that understanding of God has to be drawn from the
scriptures, making it common ground between himself and the Pharisees.
Even the more hostile Jews never accuse him of putting forward a new God, which would have been a serious charge.
They complain that he calls God his Father (ch5 v18) and that he identifies himself with God (ch10 v33), and these things are offensive precisely
they understand him as talking about the God they have always known.
Every time he uses the word “God”, he fails to say that he means a different one
Every time he uses the word “God”, his hearers will take it for granted that he’s talking about the God of Israel, the God of the Old
If that’s not what he means, then he has a moral obligation to say so.
He would also need to say so because the difference between the two Gods would be an essential part of his message.
Yet he never does.
The obvious conclusion is that there’s no need for him to be making any distinction, because he’s talking about the same God that his people have
The message of Jesus to the Jews is never, at any time, “I’m offering you a better God than the one you’ve been worshipping”.
The message is always “We worship the same God, but I understand what he wants better than you do.”
He believes himself to be part of that single continuous history of the relation between God and his people.
edit on 17-6-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)