John 1 - KJV Study Bible

1:1–18. The introduction to John occurs in two cycles of three points each—the message, the messenger, and the hearers. The key idea is the Word (Gr. logos). In the Old Testament, Creation was by the Word of God: “And God said, Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3; cf. 2 Pet. 3:5). The Scriptures are also called the Word of God (Acts 8:14).

1:1. In the beginning (Gr. en archēi, lit., “in beginning”) with God signifies the perfect fellowship between God the Father and God the Son in eternity. The Word was God: Just as the previous expression (the Word was with God) emphasizes distinction in the Godhead, this phrase stresses the essential unity. In the Greek text of this verse, God is a predicate adjective, appearing without article and preceding the Word, thus emphasizing Jesus’ divinity. John could not have expressed the full divinity of Christ more completely.

1:3. Made by him: Compare with Colossians 1:16, and Hebrews 1:2.

1:4, 5. Life . . . light: See also 8:12; 9:5; 11:25; 14:6. In John’s writings, life represents salvation and deliverance through Christ, and light denotes Jesus’ revelation of God which calls men to accountability.

1:6. John: This is John the Baptist (cf. vv. 19–34).

1:9. Lighteth every man means that God’s revelation is universally available. It does not signify universal salvation (cf. v. 12; 3:18, 36).

1:10. Knew: The world did not acknowledge or recognize Him (v. 2) as the true Light.

1:11. Unto his own: He came to His own, that is, the world (cf. v. 10). His own received him not: His own people, the Jews, did not receive Him. Jesus was rejected by His own world in general, and by His own people in particular (cf. Is. 53:3; Luke 19:14).

1:12. Received him (lit., “take”) emphasizes appropriating Jesus Christ, taking Him as Savior. Power literally means “authority.” Even to them that believe is explanatory of receive. To believe on his name is the same as taking Him as Savior.

1:13. Born: This follows the thought in the previous verse of becoming a son of God. Born implies a birth, and verse 13 explains how it takes place (cf. 3:3–7). Blood is literally “bloods.” One’s family lineage or national heritage does not bring about the New Birth. But of God: The New Birth is not of human origin. Rather, it is spiritual and supernatural.

1:14. Made flesh indicates the incarnation of God the Son. The use of flesh contradicts the Gnostic heresy that God could not be united with human flesh, which was seen as evil. Dwelt among us: John uses the word for “tabernacled,” here translated “dwelt.” The Old Testament tabernacle was where God dwelt among the Jews in the wilderness. In this context, God is dwelling in the person of Jesus Christ. We beheld his glory: Perhaps John refers to the shekinah glory which appeared in the tabernacle of the Old Testament. The expression signifies the visible manifestation of God. John later uses glory to refer to Jesus’ life (2:11), death, and resurrection (12:23).

1:15. After me: Jesus came into this world about six months after John (for human chronology, see Luke 1:56, 57). He was before me: Jesus existed in eternity, so had precedence over John in authority.

1:16, 17. Fulness (cf. Col. 1:19): Here the fullness looks back to verse 14, “full of grace and truth.” Grace for grace means “grace heaped on grace.” Grace is evident in the Old Testament (cf. Gen. 6:8; Ex. 34:6) but not in the fullness now experienced in Jesus Christ. Grace is God’s unmerited favor toward sinners for their salvation (cf. Eph. 2:8, 9).

1:18. No man hath seen God: That is, no one has ever seen God in all of His essence, since God is Spirit (4:24; 1 Tim. 6:16). Only begotten Son: Some manuscripts read “only begotten God.” He hath declared him: Although no one has seen God in all of His essence, people have at least seen God in Jesus Christ (cf. 14:9).

1:19—2:11. Here the events of the first week are given: John testifies to the Sanhedrin (vv. 19–28); John testifies of his experience of baptizing Jesus (vv. 29–34); John testifies further and the first two disciples are called (vv. 35–39); Simon Peter comes to Christ (vv. 40–42); two more disciples, Philip and Nathanael, come to Christ (vv. 43–51); Jesus performs the first miracle (2:1–11).

1:21. Elias (Elijah): Malachi predicts the coming of Elijah in the last two verses of the Old Testament (Mal. 4:5, 6). But John says he is not Elijah in the way that the Jews think, that is, as inaugurator of the regime of the Jewish earthly kingdom. Contrast this with what Jesus says in Matthew 11:11–14 and 17:11–13. That prophet refers to the promise in Deuteronomy 18:15 of the Messiah’s coming.

1:23. I am the voice: When asked who he is, John replies that who he is matters less than what he says. John underscores his message (cf. Is. 40:3).

1:25. Why baptizest thou: Baptism could only be performed by prophets, or other authorities. It was the rite of Gentile entrance into Judaism.

1:29. Lamb of God: The lamb was used for sacrifice in the Passover (Ex. 12) and the sin offering (Lev. 4). Some suggest that this may allude to the scapegoat (Lev. 16), or to the suffering servant (Is. 53:7).

1:31. The baptism of Jesus serves as a proof of His deity to John. The Holy Spirit came on Jesus and remained (cf. 3:34) to assist in His baptismal work. Before Jesus’ baptism, John knew Him only as a good cousin, not as the Lamb of God. Not until he saw the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus did John realize that He was the Son of God (v. 34).

1:39. Tenth hour: This was ten o’clock in the morning. John used Roman time, not Jewish time as is used in the other gospels. See 19:14.

1:40. One of the two: The other disciple was probably John, the author of this gospel.

1:41, 42. Simon means “Hot-tempered, Volatile, and Violent.” Cephas (Aramaic) means “Stable as a Rock.” Petros (Greek) means “Rock.”

1:44. Bethsaida was on the north coast of the Sea of Galilee where Philip, Andrew, Peter, James, and John worked as fishermen. The other gospels indicate Capernaum was another home of Andrew and Peter.

1:45. Nathanael may have been the disciple who is called Bartholomew elsewhere in the gospels.

1:48. When thou wast under the fig tree: This was a favorite place used by the Jews for meditation. Jesus evidently meant a specific time which Nathanael understood. And if Nathanael had been praying concerning the promised Messiah (v. 45), this would explain his remarkable response in verse 49, where he confesses Jesus’ deity and messiahship.

1:49. Nathanael believed readily because of the witness of Philip (v. 45), and the sincerity of his heart (no guile, v. 47). But he was not gullible; he questioned anyone from Nazareth (v. 46), and the impact of the presence of Jesus (v. 47, 48). Nathanael was from Cana in Galilee (see 21:2); in chapter 2 we find Jesus also at Cana. Perhaps chapter 2 records Nathanael’s wedding.

1:51. Here is another reference to Jacob, who saw angels ascending and descending (Gen. 28:12). We have no record of when the disciples saw this prophecy fulfilled. In this passage the angels were ascending first, then descending; perhaps a reference to prayers sent heavenward and then answered. Jesus is presented as the stair between heaven and earth.

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