John 1

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

(a) The Word of God is the way by which God makes himself and his will known (1 Sam. 3:21). God’s word is powerful, creative and sustains all things. His word is the means by which the universe came into existence (Gen. 1:3). His word gives life to the dead (Eze. 37:4). His word is a lamp that guides us in the path of life (Ps. 119:105). God’s word always comes to pass (Is. 55:11).

(b) The Word was God. The primary way God reveals himself is through his Son. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14, Rev. 19:13), and the exact radiance or representation of God the Father (Heb. 1:3).

See entry for The Word of God.

John 1:4

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

(a) Life. Two kinds of life are described in the Bible; the psuche- or soul life we inherited from Adam and the zoe- or spirit life that comes from God (John 5:26). It’s the second kind of life that is described here. See entry for New Life.

(b) The Light of men. Adam’s fallen race lives in the valley of the shadow of death. Into this dark valley comes Jesus with the bright and shining revelation that God offers us a new life.

John 1:9

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

The true Light and the Light of Life and the Light of the world and the Light of men are all names for Jesus (John 1:4, 8:12, 9:5). Jesus is the Light of the World. See entry for John 9:5.

John 1:11

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

Receive Him. To receive him is to believe in him.

In the New Testament, there are more than 200 imperative statements linked with faith. Some of these statements exhort us to: receive Jesus (John 5:43), receive the message of Jesus (John 17:8), obey or heed the message or good news of Jesus (John 17:6) and turn to God in repentance (Acts 26:20).

Other scriptures encourage us to accept the word (Mark 4:20), confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9), call on the name of the Lord (Act 2:21), eat the bread of life (John 6:50-51), be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20), submit to God’s righteousness (Rom. 10:3), and be born again (John 3:3, 7). But the one imperative that appears far more than any other, is the instruction to believe. We are to believe in Jesus (see entry for John 3:16).

John 1:12

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

(a) Received Him. To receive him by faith is to believe in his name (see previous verse).

(b) Children of God. Although God is the Father of all (Acts 17:29, 1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 3:15), the phrase “children of God” usually refers to believers. See entry for Children of God.

John 1:13

who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

(a) Born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh. The children of God are God begotten, and not born of natural descent.

(b) Born … of God. To be born of God is to be born of the Spirit or born again. See entry for John 3:3.

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(a) The Word became flesh. The primary way God reveals himself is through his Son. Jesus is the embodiment of the Father’s will (Rev. 19:13), and the exact representation of his being (Heb. 1:3).

See entry for The Word of God.

(b) We saw his glory. The majesty, splendor, and beauty of the Father is revealed in the Son (Heb. 1:3).

(c) The Father; see entry for John 4:21.

(d) Full of grace and truth. See entry for John 1:17.

John 1:16

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

(a) His fullness. Saying God is full of grace, is like saying the ocean is full of waves.

(b) Grace upon grace means God can bless you with wave after wave of grace and never run out. See entry for Grace of God.

John 1:17

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

(a) The Law given through Moses points to our need for the grace that comes through Jesus (Gal. 3:24).

(b) Moses. The first recorded act of Moses is he killed a man (Ex. 2:11–12). The ministry of Moses, which is represented by the law, is associated with death (2 Cor. 3:6–7). The law ministers death, but Jesus gives life (John 10:10).

(c) Grace and truth are inseparable. Grace and law are different, but grace and truth are one and the same thing. Living under grace can be contrasted with living under law (Rom. 6:14–15), but only when you are in the grace of God are you walking in truth.

In Christ, we find the perfect and harmonious expression of God’s grace and truth. If you would preach the truth, preach grace. When you are preaching grace, you are preaching the truth, and the truth is that God sits on a throne of grace, not a throne of law (Heb. 4:16). Alternatively, if you preach the law, you are not preaching the gospel truth. You are preaching Moses instead of Jesus.

(d) Grace. The grace of God is embodied in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:4). The gospel of grace is synonymous with the gospel of Jesus. There is no difference.

(e) Truth is defined in Christ. Jesus is the definition and personification of Truth (see entry for John 14:6).

John 1:18

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

(a) The Father; see entry for John 4:21.

(b) He has explained him. Jesus is God explaining himself to the human race (Heb. 1:2-3).

John 1:19

This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

John the Baptizer; see entry for Mark 1:4.

John 1:21

They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

The Prophet. The Jews revered Moses, but Moses said that the Lord would send another prophet that they should listen to (Deu. 18:15). That Prophet was Jesus (John 6:14, Acts 3:22, 7:37).

John 1:25

They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

Although ceremonial washing was practiced by the Jews under the old covenant, John’s style of water baptism was considered strange by the Pharisees and they refused to participate (Luke 7:30). They did not understand its prophetic significance. See entry for Mark 1:8.

John 1:26

John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.

Baptize. The original word implies total immersion. See entry for Baptism.

John 1:28

These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Bethany beyond the Jordan should not be confused with the Bethany of Martha and Mary which was near Jerusalem. Bethany beyond the Jordan was also known as Bethabara, and when Jesus’ life was threatened in Jerusalem, he went there (John 10:40).

John 1:29

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

(a) The Lamb of God. Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of God (John 1:36, Acts 8:32, 1 Pet. 1:19, Rev. 5:6).

John was the greatest of the old covenant prophets and he had an old covenant understanding of Christ’s ministry. Just as lambs were brought as sin offerings, trespass offerings, and sacrifices for the Days of Atonement and Passover, Jesus is the Lamb of God who bears all our sin. “Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth…. he himself bore the sin of many” (Is. 53:7, 12).

Only a Lamb from God can bear the sins of the world. A son of Adam could not carry our sins, but a Son of God can.

See entry for Virgin Birth.

(b) The sin of the world! On the cross, the Lamb of God took away the sins of the world (Heb. 7:27). The startling announcement of the gospel is that God holds nothing against you, and that all may freely come to his throne of grace to receive grace. See entry for 1 John 2:2.

John 1:31

“I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”

Baptizing in water. The original word implies total immersion. See entry for Baptism.

John 1:33

“I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’

(a) Baptize… baptizes. The original word implies total immersion. See entry for Baptism.

(b) Water… Holy Spirit; John’s baptism of water prophetically foreshadowed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. See entry for Mark 1:8.

John 1:34

“I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

The Son of God. John the Baptist was the first person to recognize that Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus is the Christ (the anointed one), and the Lord (supreme above all), but ultimately Jesus is the Son of God. See entry for John 20:31.

John 1:42

He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

(a) Simon was a common Biblical name. Since there were two disciples named Simon, they were distinguished as Simon the son of John or Simon Peter and Simon the zealot (Matt. 10:4). In addition, the New Testament names seven other Simons including Simon the step-brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55), Simon the leper (Matt. 26:6), Simon of Cyrene (Matt. 27:32), Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36–40), Simon, the father of Judas Iscariot (John 13:2), Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9), and Simon the tanner (Acts 10:6).

(b) The son of John or Jonah, see Matt. 16:17.

John 1:46

Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Any good thing. In the New Testament, the phrase “good thing” can refer to Jesus himself. See the entry for Heb. 10:1.

John 1:49

Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”

The Son of God. If John the Baptist was the first person to recognize that Jesus is God’s Son, Nathanael was probably the second. Jesus is the Christ (the anointed one), and the Lord (supreme above all), but ultimately Jesus is the Son of God. See entry for John 20:31.

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