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Although the figure of Jesus claims almost the whole attention of the Fourth Gospel, we must, in order to realise its fundamental ideas and discover their origin, look into Jn.’s answer to the question, What is God’s relation to the world, and the world’s relation to God? We have been obliged to touch upon this already; for the whole descent of Christ from heaven to earth would not have been necessary, if God by His own work had made the world according to His will. 159There is, therefore, in Jn., strictly speaking, exactly the same deep division between God and the world as exists in the system of the Gnostics. And to this he gives expression often enough.

Two kingdoms, we should almost say two worlds, are contrasted, the one which is above, and the one which is below; from the one is Jesus, from the other are the Jews (viii. 23). This lower kingdom is also called the earth; it is, therefore, quite literally supposed that Jesus came down from that heaven which forms an arch over the earth (iii. 31). Elsewhere, the lower kingdom is called also “this world,” or simply “the world”; heaven is consequently never included in it. The upper kingdom is that of light, truth, life; to the lower belong darkness, deception, and death (i. 5; iii. 19-21; viii. 44; vi. 47-54). The ruler of the upper kingdom is, of course, God; the ruler of the lower is the devil (viii. 44). Paul also has already called the devil the god of this world (2 Cor. iv. 4), but he has not set up any thing like so harsh an opposition between it and the kingdom of heaven. In Jn. this opposition is based on the thought that God cannot come into contact with the world, because the matter of which it consists is evil by nature and God would be denied by any contact with it. This idea is not only represented in the Gnostic system, but is found even in Plato, and has thence become the common property of many Greek philosophers, and, in particular, of the Jews also who, like Philo, made the philosophic thinking of the Greeks their own.

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