John 1

1:1 In the beginning [before the creation of the universe] was [the Word has always existed] the Word [a title for Jesus used by John], and the Word was with [face-to-face; existed distinct from God yet inseparable from (Jn. 1:18) and associated with (Jn. 17:5; 1 Jn. 1:2) God; with God at the beginning] God, and the Word was [not another God but…] God [affirms divinity of Jesus; the Word had complete equality with God].

1:2 He [the Word] was with God in the beginning [cf. Jn. 17:5,24].

1:3 Through him [Jesus] all [without exception] things were made [“came into existence”; something which previously did not exist but which came into being; cf. Jn. 1:10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2]; without him nothing [not one single thing] was made [brought into existence/being] that has been made.

1:4 In him was life [word occurs 36 times in John’s Gospel; spiritual and physical life; cf. 1 Jn. 1:1-2], and that life [the life that comes only through Christ] was the light of men [apart from Christ people live in darkness].

1:5 The light shines [denotes continuing action] in the darkness [in dark, fallen world], but the darkness has not understood [“has not overcome, has not extinguished, or has not obliterated”] it.

1:6 There came a man [and as such played a subservient role] who was sent from God; his name was John [John lived in the desert until his public appearance (Lk. 1:80); read Jesus’ words about John in Matt. 11:11].

1:7 He [John] came as a witness to testify concerning that light [Jesus the Messiah], so [the purpose of John’s witness] that through him all [gift of eternal life offered to all but not all choose to believe; cf. Jn. 3:16-17; 12:32] men [those who heard John’s testimony] might believe [“trust in” Jesus].

Note: John pointed people to Jesus. In what ways are you pointing people to Jesus?

1:8 He [John] himself was not [message more important than messenger] the light; he came only as a witness [cf. Jn. 3:25-30; 5:35; read Mk. 6:14-29 re: price John paid for being faithful witness] to [John did not call attention to himself but to the light] the light.

1:9 The true [that which is authentic and real; the true source of enlightenment] light that gives light to every [offer of salvation is for all people] man was coming [refers to Jesus, “the true light”] into the world.

1:10 He was in [Jesus became an inhabitant of the world He created] the world [the created world (including people)], and though the world was made through him, the world [here a reference to humanity in general; humanity in opposition to God; people lost in sin] did not recognize [know; implies willful rejection] him.

1:11 [a paradox] He came to that which was his own [three views re: meaning of “his own”: (1) people of Israel, (2) earth’s inhabitants, (3) Christ’s immediate family members; literally “his own things”], but his own [His own people; cf. Rom. 1:18-32; 2:1-29 re: rejection by both Jews and Gentiles] did not receive him.

1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name [“name” represented the character and nature of a person], he gave the right [power or authority] to become children of God–

Note: How would you explain to someone the difference between knowing about Jesus and receiving Him?

1:13 children born [note three references to natural human birth] not of [1] natural descent, nor of [2] human decision or [3] a husband’s will, but [note reference to spiritual birth] born of God.

1:14 [this is John’s “nativity scene”] The Word became flesh and made his dwelling [literally “pitched His tent” (see Matt. 1:23 re: the name Immanuel)] among us [cf. Phil. 2:5-11]. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only [“one of a kind” (or unique)], who came from the Father, full of [1] grace and [2] truth [note the order: grace often paves the way for truth].


Note: About Grace and Truth

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were undoubtedly full of truth. Their attitudes were so starched in truth that they avoided the wrinkles that result from contact with sinful humanity.

Truth kept them a measured and safe distance away from publicans, prostitutes, and the hoi polloi — the masses who were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.

The religious leaders could quote chapter and verse to tell you what you were doing wrong while thanking God that they were not like you (Luke 18:11). Truth never looked so ugly.

Jesus was different from the religious leaders of His day. Because He was full of grace, He stopped at a well to converse with a woman who dragged her sinful past with her every time she went to fetch water. As a result, He had the opportunity to share truth with her (John 4:1-38).

Grace ushered Jesus into the home of a tax-collector named Zaccheus and gave Him the opportunity to share truth with this sinful citizen of Jericho (Luke 19:1-10). Grace rescued a woman caught in adultery and consequently made her receptive to truth (John 8:1-11).

Grace allowed Jesus to interact with sinful humanity in a way the religious leaders did not understand. Truth transformed that sinful humanity in a way the religious leaders could not comprehend.

Grace and truth must work together if the world is to be open to the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, as you begin each day, determine to be like Jesus — full of grace and truth. Dare to be known as “a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners” (Matthew 11:19).

Don’t let truth to keep you isolated in the holy place. Instead, allow grace to take you by the hand and introduce you to hurting people in the market-place. Determine to allow grace to make you receptive to others so that others will be receptive to the truth of the gospel.


1:15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me has surpassed [means literally “in front of” and indicated a superior position] me because he was [existed] before [Jesus existed before John’s physical birth] me.'”

1:16 From the fullness [the sum total of all that is in God (cf. Col. 1:19] of his grace [God’s unmerited favor] we have all [refers to all Christians] received one blessing after another.

1:17 For the law [which condemns the guilty] was given through Moses; grace [God’s unmerited favor] and truth [designates God’s fidelity] came through Jesus Christ [Gr. translation of “messiah”].

Note: How do you show the grace of God to others?

1:18 No one has ever seen God [cf. Ex. 33:20], but God the One and Only [Jesus], who is at the Father’s side, has made him known [means to “explain something fully”].

1:19 Now this was John’s [already introduced in the prologue] testimony when the Jews [does not refer to the people as a whole; most likely refers to the 71 members of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish high court); the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem; some of these were Pharisees (cf. 1:24)] of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites [descended from the tribe of Levi and chosen to serve God in matters related to the formal worship of God; temple servants who assisted the priests] to ask [in order to gain a clearer understanding of his claims re: his role] him who he was.

1:20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely [frankly and publicly], “I [emphatic] am not [a strong negative] the Christ [“Anointed One”].”

Note: John the Baptist consistently pointed others to Jesus. Are you prepared to point others to Jesus?

1:21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah [cf. 2 Kings 2:11 re: Elijah’s ascension to heaven in a chariot of fire; Jews believed Elijah would return to announce end time (cf. Mal. 4:5); John came and ministered “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (cf. Lk. 1:17)]?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet [refers to individual mentioned in Deut. 18:15,18]?” He answered, “No.”

Note: Asking questions provides an opportunity for others to learn about Jesus’ identity.

1:22 Finally they [the investigating committee] said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

1:23 John replied in the words of Isaiah [40:3] the prophet, “I am the voice [not the Word] of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way [or road] for the Lord.’”

1:24 Now some Pharisees [term means “separated ones” and were largest group of Jews in NT times] who had been sent [text does not indicate who sent these Pharisees; may have represented the Pharisees on the Sanhedrin and thus part of the group introduced in Jn. 1:19]

1:25 questioned [follow-up question indicates their concern about John’s authority and the purpose behind his baptizing] him, “Why then do you baptize [Gr. “baptizo” which means “to immerse”] if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet [referred to the individual mentioned in Deut. 18:15,18; a figure associated with the Messiah’s coming]?”

1:26 “I [in contrast to Jesus] baptize with water,” John replied, “but [once again John pointed his questioners to Christ] among you stands one you do not know.

1:27 He is the one who comes after me [or “the Coming One”], [note description of one of the most degrading or menial chores of a slave] the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie [John regarded himself as lower than the most humble servant].”

1:28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side [east] of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb [only John’s Gospel and Revelation use “Lamb” as a title for Jesus] of God [perhaps refers to Suffering Servant (Isa. 53:4-7); perhaps refers to Passover sacrifice (see 1 Cor. 5:7) or is an allusion to lambs offered in daily sacrifices in temple (Lev. 4:32-35)], who [note special role of this Lamb] takes away [“to lift”] the sin of the world [not merely the sin of Israel]!

1:30 This [Jesus] is the one I meant when I said [cf. Jn. 1:15], ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed [means literally “in front of” and indicated a superior position] me because he was [existed] before [Gr. “protos” means “first” and here refers to rank of importance] me [refers to Jesus’ preexistence].’

1:31 I myself did not know him [as the Messiah (until he saw sign to which 1:32-33 refer)], but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

1:32 Then John gave this testimony [explains how he knew Jesus was the One he awaited]: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him [details of Jesus’ baptism are described in the Synoptics: Matt. 3:16; Mk. 1:10; Lk. 3:22].

1:33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit [a baptism that would give spiritual life].’

1:34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God [title attached to Jesus in all four Gospels; designation expresses Jesus’ deity as the one, unique Son of God; cf. Matt. 3:17].”

1:35 The next day [the third day since Jn. 1:19] John was there again with two of his disciples [one of these was Andrew (see Jn. 1:40)].

1:36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said [once again John pointed others to Jesus], “Look, the Lamb of God [cf. Jn. 1:29]!”

1:37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed [the two disciples did not allow the opportunity to talk with Jesus to pass them by] Jesus.

Note: God expects us to act on opportunities to learn more about Jesus’ identity.

1:38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

1:39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day [what a marvelous day that must have been] with him. It was about the tenth hour.

1:40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother [this designation indicates Peter had the preeminent place in the early church when this gospel was written], was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.

1:41 The first thing Andrew [followers are natural recruiters; cf. Jn. 6:4-9; 12:20-22 re: other occasions when Andrew brought others to Jesus] did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ [“Anointed One”]).

1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked [a penetrating, searching gaze that looked beyond the actualities to behold the possibilities] at him and said, “You are [speaks of the actuality] Simon son of John. You will be [speaks of the possibility] called Cephas [Aramaic word meaning “rock”]” (which, when translated, is Peter).

1:43 The next day Jesus decided [resolved] to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

1:44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.

1:45 Philip found [like Andrew had found Simon] Nathanael [probably the Bartholomew of the other Gospels and Acts] and told him [note that Philip had studied the Scriptures and knew about the Messiah…], “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law [read Deut. 18:15-18], and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph [refers to Jesus’ family line].”

1:46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there [Nazareth possibly despised because Roman army stationed there; Nazareth is not mentioned in the OT]?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip [Philip did not argue with Nathanael but instead brought him to Jesus; Nathanael did not allow a stereotype about Nazareth to keep him from investigating further].

1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false [no deceit, cunning, or treachery in Nathanael; indicates that Nathanael was a man of honesty and integrity].”

1:48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree [“under the fig tree” was a euphemism (according to Jewish tradition) for meditating on the Scriptures] before Philip called you.”

1:49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are [note two titles for the Messiah…] the Son of God [denotes His relationship with God]; you are the King of Israel [denotes His relationship with the chosen people].”

1:50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.”

1:51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man [first use of this term in John’s Gospel].”

Note: “The thought is that the Son of Man is the means of bridging the gap between earth and heaven.” (Leon Morris)

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