Check out these helpful resources
Did You Get Your Free SermonWriter Samples?
We send weekly emails that include everything you need to get started for Sunday (Biblical commentary, children’s sermon, sermon, Thought Provokers, & more).
Check it out! We offer four FREE SAMPLES so you can test SermonWriter. For more information, go to https://www.sermonwriter.com/free-sample
John 1:1-18 Biblical Commentary:
JOHN 1:1-18. THE PROLOGUE TO THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
The Gospel of John weds theology to poetry. It is poetic prose—prose with the soul of poetry—prose that, like poetry, packs layers of meaning in a word or phrase. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Those few words have inspired theologians to write books—and musicians to compose music—and artists to paint masterworks—and all of us to understand Jesus in a profoundly larger way.
Think of the Prologue as an overture—a beginning piece that introduces themes that the full work will treat in greater detail. Among the themes that it introduces are:
• The pre-existence of the Word (1:1-2; see also 17:5)
• God/Word and Father/Son as distinctive but yet one (1:1; see also 17:21-22)
• Jesus as God (1:1, 18; see also 20:28)
• Life (1:4; see also 3:16; 5:21-39; 6:40; etc.)
• Light (1:4; 1:9; see also 8:12; 9:5)
• The struggle between light and darkness (1:5; see also 3:19-21)
• The power of the light over darkness (1:5; see also 12:35)
• The relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist (1:6-8; 1:15; see also 1:19-34)
• Rejection (1:11; see also 4:44)
• The miracle of our being able to see God’s glory (1:14; see also 12:41)
• Jesus as the only Son of God (1:18; see also 3:16)
The overarching theme of this Gospel is that the Word, who was “in the beginning with God, and…was God” (v. 1), “became flesh and lived among us….full of grace and truth” (v. 14).
It is because the Word was present with God in the beginning that Jesus would later be able to say, “I say the things which I have seen with my Father” (8:38) and “I know him” (8:55) (Sloyan 20). Jesus alone reveals God with perfect clarity, because he alone has shared an intimacy with God in which there were no secrets or disagreements. Moses heard God on Mount Sinai, but could not see God. He read the words engraved on tablets of stone, but did not produce them. The Word, on the other hand, was present with God from the beginning, and participated fully in every stage of the creation (v. 3).
The surprise is that “those who were his own didn’t receive him” (v. 11). These would include those charged with the spiritual welfare of the Jewish community—scribes, Pharisees, and priests—men who should have seen the light in Jesus’ life—who should have welcomed him with open arms. The blessing is that “as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children” (v. 12).
The Prologue closely parallels the great hymn of Philippians 2:5-11, and also has much in common with Colossians 1:15-20 and the first chapter of Hebrews. These were written earlier than the Gospel of John, and it seems likely that the Prologue borrows from them.
JOHN 1:1-5. IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD
1In the beginning (Greek: en arche) was the Word (Greek: ho logos), and the Word was with God (Greek: ton theon—the God—with the article), and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn’t overcome it.
“In the beginning” (en arche) (v. 1a). The Jewish people know the books of their scriptures by their first words—in the same way that we know hymns by their first lines. “In the beginning” is their title for the book that we call Genesis. In the Greek Septuagint (LXX), the first words of Genesis are en arche (In the beginning). This Gospel begins with those exact words by design, because the Prologue models itself after the creation account:
• Both Genesis and this Prologue are accounts of creation at God’s word.
• Both speak of darkness and the light coming into being at the word of God to penetrate and to overcome the darkness.
• Both speak of life.
• In Genesis, God speaks, and that word brings man to life; in the Prologue, the Word of God brings eternal life to humanity.
Each of the four Gospels traces Jesus back to a particular beginning:
• Matthew traces Jesus’ genealogy to Abraham.
• Mark begins his Gospel by saying, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” but starts with Isaiah, who prophesies the coming of the one who will prepare Jesus’ way (Mark 1:1-3).
• Luke begins with the word of the angel to Zechariah announcing the coming birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-24) and the announcement to Mary of Jesus’ coming birth (Luke 1:26-38).
• The Gospel of John traces the Word back to the very beginning—before time—before the creation of the world. The Word is not part of the creation—was not created—but stood with God before the creation. This is important, because it is contrary to the prevailing Jewish thought of God working alone in creation.
“was the Word” (logos) (v. 1b). I asked a seminary professor why John used logos (which means “word”) for Jesus. He asked me what we use words for. I answered that we use words to communicate with each other—to get a thought from one person’s mind to another person’s mind. The prof said, “Exactly! That was the reason that John referred to Jesus as the logos. He was a living, breathing Word from God—sent to reveal God and God’s kingdom to us.”
Logos is a brilliant choice of words to bridge the gap between the Jewish and Greek worlds. The first Christians were Jewish, but the Gospel spread quickly to Greeks, who know nothing of the messiah or the fulfillment of prophecy. John’s task is to couch this Gospel in language that they can understand and appreciate. Logos is a common word in Greek philosophy. Greeks believe that the world is highly volatile, but is under the control of Logos. John is saying that Jesus is that Logos.
Jews also understand logos (“the Word”):
• Out of respect, Jews prefer not to use God’s name, so they sometimes use the phrase, “the Word” as a substitute for God’s name.
• Philo, a Greek Jew, brought together Jewish and Greek thought and used logos to speak of God’s role in creation.
The Jewish concept of the Word (logos) of God is rooted in the Old Testament. To understand what that means here, we need to look back to the Old Testament, which uses the Hebrew word dabar to speak about “the word of God”—some sort of message from God to humans, whether a command, reprimand, or announcement—sometimes spoken through the agency of a prophet, but at other times spoken directly (Genesis 15:1, 4).
How much more directly could God have spoken than to send his Word to live “among us…full of grace and truth” (v. 14)? How much more visible could God make himself—without consuming us in the process (Exodus 33:23)?
The feminine equivalent of Logos is Sophia, which means Wisdom. In Sirach 24, there is a story of God granting Wisdom permission to dwell on earth. The earth, however, proved to be an inhospitable dwelling place for Wisdom, so God gave the world wisdom in the form of the Book of Moses (Craddock, 44). In a present-day analogy, we are tempted to treat scripture as the ultimate Word of God. That is not entirely inappropriate, because the scriptures are a powerful word from God. The ultimate Word, however, became flesh and dwelt among us.
“and the Word was with God” (ton theon—the God—with the article), “and the Word was God” (theos—without the article) (v. 1cd). “When Greek uses a noun it almost always uses the definite article with it…. Now when Greek does not use the definite article with a noun, that noun becomes much more like an adjective; it describes the character, the quality of the person. John did not say that the Word was ho theos; that would have been to say that the Word was identical with God; he says that the Word was theos—without the definite article—which means that the Word was, as we might say, of the very same character and quality and essence and being as God” (Barclay, 17).
By using theos with the article in the first instance and without the article in the second instance, the Prologue distinguishes between God and the Word while, at the same time, emphasizing their unity. If those opposing ideas—individuality and unity—seem incompatible, consider the relationship between husband and wife. In marriage, two people who retain their individual identities become, in some sense, one. (As one wag put it, after the wedding they learn which one.)
“and the Word was God” (v. 1d). This is not traditional Jewish theology of the messiah, whom Jews expect to be like King David—a great man—a God-empowered man—but only a man. The Jews were fiercely monotheistic, and the phrase, “the Word was God,” must set their teeth on edge.
John’s emphasis on the creative role of the Word counters Gnostic heresy. Gnosticism is dualistic, saying that matter is evil and, therefore, could not be created by God. Gnostics believe that the Old Testament God of creation is evil and must therefore be different from the New Testament Father of Jesus, who is good. John directly counters that line of thought, saying, “All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made” (v. 3).
“The same was in the beginning with God” (v. 2). This verse adds nothing new to verse 1, but restates for emphasis that Jesus was in the beginning with God.
“All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made” (v. 3). The Word not only existed with God in the beginning, but was intimately involved in the creation of all that is.
This verse does not say that all things were created by the Word—but through the Word. Paul uses similar language—”for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created… all things have been created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16). The author of Hebrews speaks of a Son, “through whom (God) also created the worlds (Hebrews 1:2). We need to be careful lest we read too much into this language, but perhaps the Father is the creative force and the Son (or the Word) is the instrumentality through which the creative power is channeled.
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (v. 4). Verses 4-5 introduce the themes of life and light shining in the darkness—important themes in the Genesis 1 creation story and important throughout this Gospel.
More than one-quarter of all the references to life in the New Testament are found in this Gospel, and usually refer to eternal life (Morris, 73) (see 3:15-16, 36; 4:14, 36; 5:21-29, 39-40; 6:47, 51-54, 63, 68; 8:12; 10:1-28; 11:25; 12:25, 50; 14:6; 17:2; 20:31). The life that Jesus offers is more than mere physical existence—it is life in relationship with God. Life, in this sense, equates to salvation.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn’t overcome it” (v. 5). God’s first creative act was light (Genesis 1). The light of creation was the first step in bringing order to the formless void, and the light brought by the Word is the first step toward bringing order into the chaos of our lives.
Light and darkness are used in both Old and New Testaments as metaphors for good and evil—order and chaos—security and danger—joy and sorrow—truth and untruth—life and death—salvation and condemnation (Isaiah 5:20; John 3:19-21; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:17-18).
The verb “shines” is in the present tense, indicating an ongoing action. The light that was shining while Jesus walked the paths of Israel continues to shine on our highways and byways today. The cross failed to extinguish it.
“The darkness stands for the state of mind in which mankind fails to welcome the light” (Howard, 466). The promise is that the darkness did not and will not overcome the light. This is true, because the light comes from God and is of God—and God will not be defeated.
We have seen that even a small light can dispel even a great darkness—even a tiny candle can dispel the darkness of a large room. So also Jesus, “the light of the world,” can promise, “He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12).
JOHN 1:6-8. THERE WAS A MAN WHOSE NAME WAS JOHN
6There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 7The same came as a witness (Greek: eis marturian), that he might testify (Greek: marturese) about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light.
“There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John” (v. 6). John the Baptist renewed the prophetic tradition after four hundred prophetless years. Because his ministry was so powerful, some people thought of him as the messiah. This Gospel makes a number of references to John—always clearly establishing that he was subordinate to Jesus. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light (vv. 7-8).
The other Gospels call him John the Baptist to distinguish him from John, the son of Zebedee, but this Gospel refers to him only as John—and makes no mention of John, the son of Zebedee. The traditional explanation is that John, the son of Zebedee is the author of this Gospel, and prefers not to mention himself by name (Carson, 120).
“The same came as a witness (eis marturian), that he might testify (marturese) about the light” (v. 7a). The word for witnessing—martureo—is the word from which we get the word martyr. To witness for Christ often provokes the forces of darkness to violence, and Christian witnesses often become martyrs—a reality as true today in many parts of the world as it ever was in the Roman world. John died as a martyr because of his testimony regarding Herod’s marriage (Mark 6:14-29).
“that all might believe through him” (v. 7b). The Baptist’s purpose, stated early in this Gospel, is very much like the purpose of the Gospel itself—a purpose re-stated at the end of the book—”But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
“He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light” (v. 8). The author of this Gospel makes sure to tell us that John the Baptist is subordinate to Jesus. John “was not the light, but came to testify to the light” (v. 8). He confesses, “I am not the Messiah” (v. 20). He is not Elijah or the prophet (v. 21). He cries in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” (v. 23). He is “not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal” (v. 27).
The reason for this repeated emphasis on John’s subordinate status is quite simple. John is quite famous. John has his disciples and Jesus has his, a source of confusion and possible rivalry (Matthew 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; 7:18-23; John 3:25-30). Even decades later, Paul will encounter John’s disciples in Ephesus—disciples who are quite ignorant of Jesus until Paul’s arrival (Acts 19:1-7). The historian, Josephus, has more to say about John than about Jesus. John seems almost to be in competition with Jesus, even late in the First Century when this Gospel is written. The author of this Gospel goes to lengths, then, both to acknowledge John’s sent-by-God status and to make it clear that he is subordinate to Jesus.
JOHN 1:9-13. HIS OWN PEOPLE DID NOT ACCEPT HIM
9The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world (Greek: kosmos). 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world didn’t recognize (Greek: egno—recognize or know) him. 11He came to his own, and those who were his own didn’t receive him. 12But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children (Greek: tekna), to those who believe in his name: 13who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
“The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world” (kosmos) (v. 9). This is quite a statement, because the kosmos, in this Gospel, is a world in rebellion against God—a dark world. The fact that the light comes into the kosmos or that God loves the kosmos (3:16) is no endorsement of the kosmos, but instead bears testimony to God’s capacity for love.
The true light came to enlighten everyone—not just Israel (or any other sub-set of humanity).
“was coming into the world” (v. 9b). This clearly refers to the incarnation, a fact that is confirmed by the following verses that speak in poetic form of the experiences of Jesus.
“He was in the world and the world (kosmos) was made through him; and the world (kosmos) didn’t recognize (egno) him” (v. 10). The light came into the world where he could be seen and where his light could enlighten human understanding. All that exists owes its existence to him. But in spite of all that, the kosmos failed to recognize him—did not understand him—rejected him—crucified him.
“He came to his own, and those who were his own didn’t receive him” (v. 11). The Word (Jesus) came to the Israelites, God’s chosen people. God prepared them for centuries to receive him into their midst, but they rejected him.
However, we should be careful not to judge. Much of the world today is still in rebellion—still prefers darkness to light, because its deeds are evil (3:19-20). That is true of all of us at certain points in our lives. We are all sinners, in need of God’s grace (Romans 3:23).
“But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children (tekna), to those who believe in his name” (v. 12). In this Gospel, Jesus is the Son (huios) of God—and is the only one who is called huios. This Son is empowered to bring those who receive him and believe in his name into the family of God as children (tekna) of God—adopted into the family, but full heirs—entitled to all the rights and privileges of family members.
“who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man” (v. 13a). The Jewish people trace their ancestry to Abraham, thus establishing themselves as heirs to the covenant between God and Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). However, it is not this physical lineage—this bloodline—that is important. It was Abraham’s faith that set him apart (Hebrews 11:17-19), and those who embrace faith in God are his natural heirs.
“but of God” (v. 13b). God’s children are brought into God’s family by God’s action. We will hear more about this in chapter 3. Jesus says, “Unless one is born anew, he can’t see the Kingdom of God…. unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into the Kingdom of God!” (3:3, 5).
JOHN 1:14. AND THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND LIVED AMONG US
14The Word became flesh (Greek: sarx), and lived (Greek: eskenosen—tabernacled) among us. We saw his glory (Greek: doxan), such glory as of the one and only Son (Greek: monogenous—one and only offspring) of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Verse 14 is the centerpiece of the Prologue. Verses 1-13 move toward it, and verses 15-18 reprise it.
“The Word became flesh” (Greek: sarx) (v. 14a). This is a startling statement—expressed in bold, nearly vulgar, language. Sarx is an ugly-sounding word that depicts an often ugly reality—a focus on bodily indulgence rather than on Godly service. In the New Testament, sarx is most frequently used as a contrast with that which is spiritual (John 3:6; 6:63; Romans 7:18; 8:3-6; Galatians 5:17). But God so loved the world that he sent his beloved Son to become flesh—and to die on a cross—”that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (3:16).
For dualistic Greeks, who believe that all matter is evil, the thought of God becoming sarx is unimaginable—the equivalent of God becoming a pornographer or a prostitute. Paul uses sarx to speak of the sins of the flesh, but then he also says that God “by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful sarx, …he condemned sin in the sarx” (Romans 8:3). It is as if God has climbed into our sewer to deliver us from our sewage. John may have used this stark language, in part, to counter Gnostic or Docetic heresies that would deny Jesus’ humanity because of their dualistic philosophy.
The Word becoming flesh is the zenith of God’s revelation. God, who spoke earlier through the prophets, now speaks through his son (Hebrews 1:1-2).
“and lived (eskenosen—tabernacled) among us” (v. 14b). The distance between God and humans would seem so great as to be unbridgeable (see Luke 16:26). However, God, in love, bridges these worlds, using himself as bridge-building material.
This word, eskenosen, “tabernacled,” is quite familiar to Jewish readers. During their wanderings in the wilderness, God commanded the Israelites to build the tabernacle—an elaborate and beautiful tent that served as the symbol of God’s presence in their midst (Exodus 25-27)—and the precursor of the Jerusalem temple. Verse 14 declares that the God who once dwelled among them in the tabernacle and the temple now chooses to dwell among them in Jesus’ sarx. At 2:19-22, Jesus makes it clear that his sarx supersedes the tabernacle and temple.
“We saw his glory” (doxan) (v. 14c). In the Old Testament, Moses asked to see God’s glory. God allowed him to see God’s goodness, but not God’s face—”for no one shall see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Now, however, we are allowed to see Jesus’ glory—and his face—and thus the Father is fully revealed to us. Jesus says, “He who has seen me (the Son) has seen the Father” (14:9).
Jesus enjoyed glory with the Father from the beginning, even before the creation (17:5). His works on earth reveal the glory of the Father and the Son (2:11; 11:4, 40). He will speak of his death as his glorification (12:23; see also 7:39; 13:31; 14:13; 17:4, 10).
“such glory as of the one and only Son (Greek: monogenous—one and only offspring) of the Father (v. 14d). The word monogenous is made up of two Greek words—mono, which means one or only—and genos, which means offspring. The Word of verse 1, then, is the only offspring—the unique progeny—the only Son of the Father.
The New Testament includes many references to Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 4:3, 6; 8:29; 14:33; 16:16; 26:63; 27:40, etc.). In at least two instances, his status as Son of God is linked with his status as Messiah (Matthew 16:16; John 11:27). On one occasion, Jesus refers to himself as God’s Son (John 10:36), and he often addresses God as Father or speaks of God as his Father (Matthew 11:25-26; 12:10; 15:13; 16:17, 27; 18:10, 19, 35; 24:36; 25:34; 26:39, 42, 53, etc.).
Various New Testament writers include references to Jesus as God’s Son (Acts 9:20; Romans 1:4; 8:3, 32; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:20; 4:4-5; Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 4:14; 6:6; 7:3; 10:29; 1 John 3:8; 4:15; 5:5, 10, 12-13, 20; Revelation 2:18). The newly converted Saul proclaimed Jesus as “the Son of God” (Acts 9:20) and the Messiah (Acts 9:22), the proximity of those verses suggesting that, in Saul’s mind, Son of God and Messiah were two different ways of expressing the same reality.
Jesus taught his disciples to think of God as their Father as well (Matthew 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 4, 6, 8-9, 14-15, 18, 26, 32; 7:11; 10:20, 29; 13:43; etc.), but the title, Son of God, clearly designates Jesus as the unique Son of the Father who enjoys a relationship with the Father that goes beyond the relationship that his disciples can experience (John 1:18; 3:35; 5:19-27; 6:40; 12:49).
“full of grace (Greek: charis) and truth” (Greek: aletheia) (v. 14e).
• Grace (charis) is a significant word in the New Testament. The use of charis in the New Testament has its roots in the Hebrew word hesed, used in the Old Testament to speak of God’s lovingkindness, mercy, and faithfulness.
We find it difficult to believe in grace, because our experience has shown us that grace is a scare commodity. We must be careful not to need too much of it, lest we find none at all.
But God doesn’t measure grace by the quarter-teaspoon. His gift to us—the Word, the only Son—is “full of grace.” The Word embodies grace, and dispenses it in its fullness. God’s grace is beyond measure (hyperballo Ephesians 2:7)—sufficient to cover our sins, no matter how numerous or grievous. We don’t need to earn forgiveness, but need only accept the gift that Christ offers.
• Truth (aletheia) is that which is real, untainted by falsehood. The truth to which these Christians have been obedient was made known to them by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is truth personified—“the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus promised, “If you remain in my word, then you…will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32).
The opposite is also true. Living according to untrue principles can rob people of their freedom. Therefore, we in the church need to be sure that we are teaching the truth—the truth that we find embodied in Christ through the scriptures and the Spirit.
JOHN 1:15-18. WE HAVE RECEIVED GRACE UPON GRACE
15John testified about him. He cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me, for he was before me.’” 16From his fullness (Greek: pleromatos) we all received grace upon grace (Greek: charin anti charitos—grace on top of grace). 17For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared (Greek: exegesato—explained) him.
“John testified about him. He cried out, saying, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me, for he was before me”‘” (v. 15). This Prologue has already mentioned John as the one who bore witness to the light (vv. 6-8). Now it mentions him again in this parenthetical note as bearing witness to the person (we will learn in verse 17 that his name is Jesus Christ) who is the light. Just as the Prologue subordinated John to Jesus in verse 8, so it also subordinates him here. John began his ministry before Jesus, so it would be possible to believe that he is senior to Jesus—more important. Not so, this Prologue tells us. Jesus began his work even before the creation (vv. 1-3), so he is prior in time and pre-eminent in stature to John. This mention of John in the Prologue helps to prepare us for his witness to Jesus, the story of which we will find immediately following the Prologue (vv. 19-34).
“From his fullness” (pleromatos) (v. 16a). To understand “fullness,” we must go back to verse 15, which tells us that the Word is full of grace and truth—attributes of God—attributes that the Word shares with God as the “Father’s only son” (v. 15). It is from this one who is full of grace and truth that we receive grace upon grace.
“we all received grace upon grace” (charin anti charitos) (v. 16b). This is another “packed-full-of-goodness” phrase—probably best translated “grace upon grace” or “grace on top of grace.” It tells us that we draw grace from the total resources of God, an inexhaustible warehouse. Regardless of our need for grace, the supply is greater. Imagine standing on a seashore watching the waves roll in. They come every few seconds, and the supply never fails. If we had been there the day before—or the year before—or a thousand years ago—we would have seen the waves maintaining their steady tempo. If we were to return tomorrow—or a thousand tomorrows—the waves would be rolling in as faithfully as when we first saw them. So it is with the grace of God—faithful—inexhaustible.
“For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (v. 17). This is the first mention in the Prologue of Jesus’ name. Until now, the identity of the Word has been a mystery, but now the mystery is stripped away and we learn that Jesus Christ is the one who brings God’s grace and truth to us.
To help people understand God’s intent for their lives, God gave the law to Moses and the people of Israel. Jesus Christ took the revelation of God’s will to the next level, where all people could experience the fullness of God’s grace and truth.
Paul speaks of the law as a tutor (Greek: paidagogos—instructor, schoolmaster)—given by God “to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all children of God, through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:23-24).
“No one has ever seen God at any time” (vs. 18a). When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God said, “You cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live” (Exodus 33:19-20). Now, “It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (v. 18). Now, because of Jesus, we can see God clearly.
“The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him” (v. 18b). Craddock notes that the rest of this Gospel is an elaboration on this verse (Craddock, 43).
Verse 1 declared that the Word was God, and verse 18 declares that the Son is God, thus forming an inclusio that brackets the Prologue, marking its beginning and its ending.
SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.
Barclay, William, The Daily Study Bible, “The Gospel of John,” Vol. 1 (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1955)
Beasley-Murray, George R., Word Biblical Commentary: John (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999)
Brown, Raymond, The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to John I-XII (Garden City: Doubleday, 1966)
Bruce, F. F., The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983).
Brueggemann, Walter, Cousar, Charles B., Gaventa, Beverly R., and Newsome, James D., Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV—Year A (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1992)
Bruner, Frederick Dale, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012)
Burridge, Richard A. in Van Harn, Roger (ed.), The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Text. The Third Readings: The Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001)
Carson, D. A., The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991).
Craddock, Fred R.; Hayes, John H.; Holladay, Carl R.; and Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year C (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1994)
Gossip, Arthur John and Howard, Wilbert F., The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 8 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1952)
Hendriksen, William, New Testament Commentary: John (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953)
Howard-Brook, Wes, Becoming the Children of God: John’s Gospel and Radical Discipleship (New York: Maryknoll, 1994).
Keener, Craig S., The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume I (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003)
Kostenberger, Andreas J., Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004)
Kruse, Colin G., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: John, Vol. 4 (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003)
Moloney, Francis J., Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of John (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1998)
Morris, Leon, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995).
O’Day, Gail R., The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume IX (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995)
Ridderbos, Herman (translated by John Vriend), The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997)
Sloyan, Gerald, “John,” Interpretation (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988)
Smith, D. Moody, Jr., Abingdon New Testament Commentaries: John (Nashville: Abingdon, 1999)
We welcome your feedback! [email protected]
Copyright 2015, Richard Niell Donovan