Book Excerpt: John’s Gospel: The Way It Happened

“Our Christ is dead.” Matthew spat the words as four separate invectives.

“No, Matthew, our Christ lives,” said John. “How did Paul put it? ‘Christ has existed from the beginning, from before the creation of the world.’”

“Paul said no such thing! My father read to me all the letters of Paul! We know Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary.”

Ruth spoke next, hoping to thwart the tension that seemed to be bubbling up between these two turbulent men. “Another letter from Paul has recently surfaced, Matthew. This time, written to the city of Colossae.”

“And you really think Paul wrote it?” Matthew scoffed. “Paul died thirty years ago.”

“It bears not only his name, but his spirit. ‘He is the visible likeness of the invisible God’, this letter claims.”

“Who is? Paul?”

“No,” Ruth smiled. “Our Lord Jesus. ‘For through Christ, God created everything in heaven and on earth. God created the whole universe through him and for him. Christ existed before all things.’”

Matthew stood dumbfounded. This didn’t sound like Paul at all.

“‘For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.’”

“Ruth,” John interrupted. “Sing the hymn for Matthew.”

“Sing?” Ruth winced. Mud-plastered stone fenced the courtyard but didn’t do much for privacy, the wall being only about four feet tall. Neighboring homes, their dwellers audibly and visibly present, stood but a few feet beyond the wall in every direction. From an upper window to the south, Ruth could hear a family praying loudly to Zeus. To the west, a man stood to salute someone in the name of Domitian Caesar. A Roman visitor must have wandered by, outside Ruth’s line of vision. “Now? Must I?”

“Please. The hymn I taught you.”

Ruth ducked her head and cautiously began:


In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

–John’s Gospel: The Way It Happened, 2013, pp. 15-16, by Lee Harmon

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