The Apostle John tells us that the utterance was with God and the utterance was God and in the utterance that was God there was life, and this “life” was the “light of men” and the “true light that enlightens every person by his coming into the world,” and this “life” was God.
Which is interesting.
Because the Apostle John also tells us that “no one has seen God at any time,” yet this “life” that was in the utterance of God—who made the world—was the “life” that was the “light of men” that was seen by John the Baptist.
For according to the Apostle John: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light [manifested “life”], that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (Jn. 1:6-9). [Author’s emphasis throughout.]
Which brings us to ask this.
When did the prophet John bear witness to the “light” that was God?
Now there came a day when the Pharisees and others had come to confront John the Baptist in an attempt to discredit him as a prophet by openly challenging his authority to baptize for the remission of sins, even asking him why he would think to do this if he was not the Christ. And John responded by saying: “I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing” (Jn. 1:26-28).
Thus John implied by his response that there would be another baptizer, one who would baptize with the spirit of God, and this man was known to John the Baptist.
For on the following day when John saw Jesus coming to be baptized, John openly announced that Jesus was the lamb of God by saying: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me” (Jn. 1:29-30). (John addressed Jesus as a “man” who was “before” him, showing that John was aware of Jesus’ preeminence as the lamb of God.)
Which is a revealing testimony by John the Baptist.
Because in the days of John the Baptist the one who would take away the sin of the world was already living among the people of Judea. Which meant that Jesus would have certainly been known by others long before he came to be baptized by John the Baptist.
For understandably Jesus was known by his mother and step-father, Mary and Joseph, and by his siblings, and also by some of the elders at the temple, and by leaders in the community who knew Jesus as the carpenter’s son, and also by many others in Jesus’ community who undoubtedly knew of Jesus as he grew into adulthood. Which allows us to conclude then that from the time of Jesus’ birth to the time of his baptism—a period of about 30 years—there were probably hundreds of people, or perhaps even thousands of people, who had seen or known of Jesus before he was baptized by the prophet John. (Those who witnessed the birth of Jesus were able to testify that Jesus came “in the flesh” by being born of Mary.)
However, even though many people had seen Jesus and knew of Jesus, even before he was known by John the Baptist, there would no doubt have been only a very few who would have understood Jesus to be the “lamb of God.”
Therefore, if we should presuppose that Jesus was the “life” that was the “light of men” that came into the world when he was born of his mother Mary, then we would have to conclude then that there were undoubtedly many witnesses to the “light of men,” with the particular exception being John the Baptist, who would have been too young to be a valid witness to the “life” that came into the world. Meaning then that because John was sent to bear witness of the light, then it is certain that no one had been a witness to the “life” that was the “light of men” until John was called to be a witness to the “light” that was God.
Simply, those individuals who witnessed the birth and early life of Jesus were not a witness to the “life,” for according to the Apostle John there was a man “sent from God” to be a “witness” to the “life” that was the “light of men,” which means there had to be a credible witness and a visible manifestation of the “life” that could be witnessed.
And there was.
Because John testified to what God had commissioned him to witness, and so John said: “‘I have seen the Spirit coming down, as a dove, out of heaven, and it remained on him; and I did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water, He said to me, On whomsoever thou mayest see the Spirit coming down, and remaining on him, this is he who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit; and I have seen, and have testified, that this is the Son of God’” (Jn. 1:32-34, YLT). (See also, Rom. 8:9-11.)
Therefore, according to the testimony of John the Baptist, what he saw with his eyes was a manifestation of the spirit of God that was the “life” that descended upon the one who was the lamb of God, which allowed John to announce that Jesus was the anointed son of God. Showing then that the “life” that was the “light of men” was not Jesus, because John had already baptized Jesus before he saw the manifestation of the spirit of God.
Thus John became a witness to the “life” that was God, which came to be in Jesus.
Such then was the witness and testimony of John the Baptist.
However, there was another witness to the “life” that was seen by John the Baptist.
For when the time came for Jesus to be baptized he went to see John the Baptist, and after being baptized Jesus came out of the water and witnessed the “life” that was the “light of men” when he saw: “the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mk. 1:10-11).
Leading us to conclude then that Jesus, like John the Baptist, was not the “light,” but Jesus, like John, was a witness to the “life” that was the “light of men,” and this life descended from heaven and came to be in Jesus. And this was affirmed by Luke who wrote: “Then Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River” (Lk. 4:1, ISV). (Raising the issue of how to determine the “day” that Jesus became the “begotten” son of God (Rom. 1:3-6; Heb. 1:5).)
And so we can say that the “life,” which was the spirit of God that descended upon Jesus, was the “light” that was witnessed by John the Baptist, and by this life the utterance (logos) who was and is God was manifested in Christ. Because Jesus said, “The words [logos] that you’re hearing me say are not mine, but come from the Father who sent me” (Jn. 14:24, ISV).
Something that was reviewed by the Apostle John who wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (I Jn. 1:1-3). (Jesus was not himself eternal, and so it was the eternal life in Jesus that was manifested to the disciples, and by this “life” Jesus became the “light of the world.”) (See also, Acts 10:36-43.)
Therefore we could say that the logos and spirit of God were manifested to the disciples by the miracles God did through Jesus and by the words of God that were voiced by Jesus, and because God was in Christ by the spirit of God, Jesus was able to voice to his disciples: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn. 9:5). (See also, Mt. 5:14; Jn. 8:12.)
Leaving us with one more thing to consider.
And that is when Jesus came out of the water he not only saw the “light,” as did John the Baptist, but he also heard the voice of God, making Jesus a witness to the logos of God when God said: “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Allowing us to conclude then that the Apostle John and others kept record of the witness and testimony of John the Baptist, and the testimony of Jesus, both of whom were a witness to the “life” that was the “light of men,” which was the spirit and power of God, noting also that Jesus, and likely John, were also witnesses to the utterance that was God, which allowed John the Baptist to testify that Jesus was the son of God.