John 1:1-18 - Outline of John (Book Notes menu page)
1:1. In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
The Gospel of John begins at a very different starting place than the other three gospels. Each of the gospels has a specific emphasis.
Consider the chart below:
(key vs.)
Theme (OT ref.)Opens with:
(Mat 1:1)
Behold your King (Zech 9:9)
. . . David's righteous Branch (Jer 23:5,6)
-Genealogy of Jesus through Joseph,
establishes His right to David's throne.
(Mar 10:45)
Behold My servant (Isa 42:1)
. . . My Servant the Branch (Zech 3:8)
-Jesus' baptism & entry into ministry.
A servant's credentials are in His work.
(Luk 19:10)
Behold the man (Zech 6:12)
. . . The Man, whose name is the Branch.
-Genealogy through Mary, establishes
His physical descendancy from Adam.
(Joh 20:30,31)
Behold your God (Isa 40:9)
. . . The Branch of the Lord (Isa 4:2)
-A statement of His eternal existence
and role in the Godhead.
Purpose- John states his purpose for writing this gospel in John 20:31:
"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing ye might have life through His name."
The composition and order of this book were carefully chosen to fulfill this purpose. Some distinquishing features include:
  • Simple words, but profound concepts.
    John is often thought of as the "simple gospel," because it is written with a basic vocabulary. A beginning reader has no difficulty with phrases like: " in me, and I in you" (14:20). But who can fully digest the meaning of those words?
  • Original material and fewer recorded miracles than the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). Although the other gospels were available to the writer, approximately 90% of the material in this book is unique to John. Each of the eight miracles are set forth as signs (20:30) of some great truth, which is subsequently further developed.
  • Chronological sequence with frequent markers showing...
    • time (eg., "the next day..."; "...and it was the Passover...")
    • location (eg., "in Bethabara beyond Jordan...", 1:28; " Cana of Galilee...", 2:1)
  • Emphasis upon the Deity of Christ, yet, without diminishing His humanity.
    • The words "Son" and "Son of God" are used more often than in the other gospels.
    • Only John records Christ's "I Am..." declarations. (see 8:58; 6:35; 8:12; 10:7,11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1).
    Yet, Christ is presented with very human characteristics:
    • He became weary & thirsty on a journey (4:6,7).
    • He wept at the death of a friend (11:33-36).
    • His human name, Jesus, is used almost exclusively (rather than His title, Christ).
    Why? Because, God became a man. (1:14; 16:28).
Let's turn again to the opening text:
1:1. In the beginning was the Word,
the Word- GK= Logos
[This word is similar in meaning to the Aramaic "Memra," used in the Targumim, to refer to God. The Targumim (the plural form of a single 'Targum') were Aramaic translations, paraphrases and explanations of passages in the Hebrew Bible.]
The GK word means...
  1. a thought or concept,
  2. the expression or utterance of that thought.
Logos is a fitting designation for Christ because:
  1. in Him are embodied all the treasures of the divine wisdom, the collective "thought" of God.
    1Cor 1:24; Eph 3:11; Col 2:2,3 (cp. Prov 8:22-36).
  2. He is, from eternity, but especially in His incarnation, the utterance or expression of the Person, and "thought" of Deity. cp. John 1:3-5,9,14-18; 14:9-11; Col 2:9.
    In the Being, Person, and work of Christ, Deity is told out.
    [Above note adapted from the ScofRB.]
in the beginning 'was'...- This verb is in the durative GK "imperfect" tense.
The sense is that at whatever point you choose to begin, the Word already was.
cp. Gen 1:1; 1Joh 1:1; Rev 22:13
and the Word was with God,
with- GK= pros, indicates "not mere company, but the most intimate communion." [WEVine]
This line could be translated: "The Word was face to face with God." [Liberty Commentary on NT]
  1. The Word is a distinct person.
  2. The Word is in close fellowship with another distinct person (ie., God the Father).
  3. Yet, both persons are equals...
and the Word was God.
Some of the cults (eg., Jehovah's Witnesses), which deny the deity of Christ,
render this "the Word was 'a' god." They point to the lack of a definite article in the GK.
However, note the following points to the contrary...-
  1. In GK, no article is needed where a definite predicate nominative precedes a verb.
  2. The GK word order here is "God was the Word."
    This is, in fact, an emphatic statement of His deity.
  3. Other passages also lack a definite article before "God," yet obviously refer to "the God" (eg., Joh 1:6,12,13). In Joh 13:3 the first occurrence of the word "God" lacks an article.
  4. Some passages include the definite article with obvious reference to Christ (cp. Mat 1:23).
The witness of Scripture requires the deity of Christ. Examples:
1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
Php 2:6; Heb 1:8
1:3 All things were made by him;
and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Eph 3:9; Heb 1:1,2,10; 3:4
1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
life- GK= zoe. Only God has life in Himself. Men receive life from Him.
Joh 5:26; 17:3; 1Joh 1:1,2
light {GK= phos, source of illumination} - Men have neither life nor light in themselves.
Apart from an external source of light (eg., the sun), men are in physical darkness.
Men are in spiritual darkness (Joh 3:19), because they are spiritually dead (Eph 2:1,2).
Spiritual darkness can be broken only by spiritual life. (Psa 36:9)
This is the reason Christ came into our sin darkened world: cp. Isa 42:6,7; Luk 1:78,79; 2:32
1:5. And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not.
shineth {GK= phaino, gives light} (present tense)- the One, who was the light, continues to shine.
comprehended- GK= katalambano, to take down, to take in.
The light shines, but men are blind to it (2Cor 4:4).
Those men, who do see, point others to Christ (2Cor 4:5,6).
Several such men bear testimony to Him in ch. 1. We are now introduced to the first:
1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John.
John- refers to John the Baptist
(not to be confused with John, the disciple of Jesus, and author of this book).
1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light,
that all [men] through him might believe.
1:8 He was not that Light,
{cp. v.19,20}
but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light.
{Isa 49:6; Joh 3:28; Acts 19:4}
1:9 [That] was the true Light,
which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
{cp. Joh 12:46; Rom 10:17,18}
1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him,
and the world knew him not.
the true Light... that cometh into the world...
The GK text, of v.9, is ambiguous as to whether the verb 'cometh' refers to 'the Light' or to 'every man.' However, in John's Gospel, there are six other occurrences of the phrase 'cometh into the world,' all of which refer to Christ (see Joh 3:19; 6:14; 9:39; 11:27; 12:46; 16:28). Therefore, most translations are similar to the NASB reading: "There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man."
world- GK= kosmos, the earth, the inhabitants of the earth (mankind, human order and affairs).
knew- GK= ginosko, to know, recognize, acknowledge.
Christ came to earth and became a man. But the Creator was not recognized by His creatures. cp. Acts 13:27; 1Cor 2:8
1:11 He came unto his own {things},
and his own
{people} received him not.
(The {enclosed} words above are implied by the GK gender.)
His own people- first the Jewish people, then all men rejected Him. cp. Isa 53:3; Luk 19:14
1:12 But as many as received him,
to them gave he power to become the sons
{GK= teknon, born ones, children} of God,
[even] to them that believe on his name:
receive- ie., to take, claim, accept as one's own.
power- ie., the right, or authority.
believe on- ie., to place trust in, commit oneself to.
In the context of trusting God, the word believe is usually linked with a preposition (eg., believe in, on, into, upon...).
I may believe a chair can hold my weight. But I will find no rest until I believe on the chair, committing my entire weight to it.
So, to become a child of God, I must entrust myself to the Person and work of Christ.
Note that v.9 applies to all men, but v.12 applies only to those individuals, who place their trust in Him.
his name- represents all that He is and all that He has done. cp. Heb 1:4; Acts 3:6
1:13 Which were born,
not of blood
{lit., bloods}, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of God.
Men become God's children-
  • not by natural birth ('bloods' suggests the mingling of paternal & maternal lines),
    cp. Joh 3:6; also Lev 17:11.
  • not by personal determination or effort (will of the flesh), cp. Titus 3:5
  • not by another's human intervention, eg., priestly action (will of man), cp. Psa 49:7
  • but by God's will and supernatural provision,
    which He applies to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ (cp. Joh 3:3,5; Gal 3:26; Jam 1:18).
It is to this end that...
1:14 And the Word was made flesh,
was made- lit., "became..."- He voluntarily became human. cp. v.1,2; Mic 5:2; Php 2:6,7; 1Tim 3:16
and dwelt among us,
dwelt- lit., tabernacled, tented (a temporary dwelling)- cp. 2Cor 5:1; Ex 40:34)
(and we beheld his glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of
{from} the Father,) full of grace and truth.
only begotten- GK= monogenes, unique, one of a kind.
(cp. word use in Heb 11:17 - Isaac was unique in that he was the one and only son of promise.)
The Word, who became flesh, (Jesus Christ) is unique. There is no other man who is God.
glory- ie., greatness, majesty.
As God, the Word has always possessed the glory of God. cp. Isa 40:5; Heb 1:3.
As the Son, His glory was revealed to men (eg., 2Pet 1:17) and overflowed in their behalf.
full of grace and truth- Jesus is the fullness of God in human flesh.
cp. v. 16,17; Psa 45:2; Col 1:19; 2:9
1:15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying,
This was he of whom I spake,
He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
John the Baptist (who was born a few months before Jesus) gives witness to His eternal existence & glory.
1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for {lit., upon} grace.
Col 2:9,10; Eph 1:6-8; 2:5-10; 1Pet 1:2
1:17 For the law was given by Moses,
[but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
the law- Reveals God's righteous standard and man's sinful condition.
- - It demands righteousness which man cannot fulfill. Gal 3:19-24
- - It condemns us, and brings us under the wrath of God. Rom 3:19,20
grace- undeserved favor, mercy.
- - In loving kindness, God Himself provided for our need. cp. Psa 85:4-13
truth- Christ fulfilled the law's demands,
both by His righteousness and by His sacrifice. Rom 3:21-26; 8:3,4
1:18 No man hath seen God at any time;
{cp. Joh 4:23,24; 5:37; 6:46}
the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father,
he hath declared [him].
the Son... is in the bosom of the Father- Stated in the present tense,
this stresses the continual intimacy of the Father & the Son. cp. v. 1.
declared -GK= exegeomai (the root of the English 'exegete'), to bring out, to unfold.
The Son reveals the Father to man. cp. Mat 11:27; Joh 14:8,9; 17:25,26

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