Today’s Text: John 1:1-18
Basics of the Book
Author: John, the Apostle
Date: 85-95 A.D.
Purpose: “These (things) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20:31)
This section introduces Jesus Christ to us in a way that is similar to Hebrews 1:1-4 and 1John 1:1-4 which provides us with a Heavenly view of His nature, position, identity and purpose. Since we are but a week from Christmas, we can rightfully say that this is the view of the coming of Christ from Heaven looking down on the earth. The “Christmas story” is usually told from Luke chapter 2, but in John chapter one you see the theology of that story. Thus we can easily say that Luke, the historian gave us the facts, but John the Apostle of love gave us the behind the scenes background that gives Luke’s account a significance that is the reason this birth is celebrated 2,000 years later.
Points of Interest
1:1-2 Without question “In the beginning…” here differs from the same words in Genesis 1:1. Genesis begins with creation: John begins with God alone. Here we are with the uncreated Creator. It is interesting that John identifies Him as the “Word” (logos). Naturally there are various theories and thoughts on this through the years, but here is what seems reliable and significant to me. First, Jesus is God’s messenger to mankind, as well as being the embodiment of God’s message (Heb. 1:1-4) It was by His Word that the universe came into being, and it is by His blood that we may enter into relationship with Him, as told in His Word. Thus, we may say that the Word is not only God’s person, essence and power, but that it is one and inseparable from the person of Jesus Christ, who is entirely one with God. Verse 2 is set up as transition in the sense that it begins the move from “what” to “whom”; from “the Word” to “he”: Jesus was there.
1:3-4 Now it becomes clear and unambiguous that this “he” is the one through who all things have been made. This is stated positively “all things” and negatively “without him nothing…”. Within him was life reminds of God breathing life into Adam. (Gen. 2:7) “He” contained life, was its very source, and this essence will be the light of the world. Life and light are two themes that carry throughout the entire gospel of John, and will become more and more clear as we go on. For now, suffice it to say that His very essence is “Truth” and that will illuminate a dark world that carries on without either Truth or God’s presence, since fellowship with God had ceased after the entry of rebellion into the world.
1:5 Verse five begins a section relating to the manifestation of the Word in the world that continues through verse 13. Here we see that this “light” shines in this world. Notice that we have made a progression now from word, to God to light. These terms are being used interchangeably to describe aspects or attributes of God Himself, but all the while they are One. That the darkness hasn’t understood the light refers to the fact that they have not comprehended the message which is in the words and person of Jesus Christ.
1:6-9 These verses speak directly of John the Baptist who was sent by God as a messenger to inform the people that the light “Messiah” was about to burst upon the scene. John (the Apostle) makes it quite clear that John (the Baptist) was not the light himself but only a messenger of the light, as foretold by the prophets.
1:10-11 Here we resume talking about “him” (yet to be named) who was in the world that he had caused to exist, and yet that very world did not recognize him for who he really was (and is). John goes on to point out that “he” came to that which was his own, and that they didn’t ‘receive’ him. This is a reference to the fact that Jesus not only came into this world, but that He came to His own people, the Jews, to whom the very Word of God had been entrusted. They who had been warned of His coming, they who most of all should have easily recognized Him and received Him with joy and thanksgiving; they did neither for the most part.
1:12-13 While the Jews as a whole did not receive “him” there were some individuals who did believe in “his” name and to those who did, “he” gave the right to become children of God. Notice that John switched from “receive him” to “believed in his name.” The people as a whole rejected him outright, while a few believed. As for “in his name” we must realized that His name is inseparable with His essence just as the Word is. Thus to believe in His Name is to believe Him. They would become God’s children not by a natural biological birth as the “children of Abraham” but by the addition of God’s life within through the process we refer to as being “born again”. It is a spiritual rebirth, not a matter of human biology.
1:14 This is the critical point where John identifies “him”. The Word becomes a man and dwells with “us”. This of course is Jesus. John goes on to point out that not only is he the Word made flesh, but that He is also God Himself in the flesh.
1:15-16 Now we briefly return to John the Baptist, here shown as giving testimony (in v. 15) that Jesus is the One he has been declaring to the people. Then, in verse 16 our author moves on to his own testimony about the blessings that Jesus has brought.
1:17-18 In these last two verses, John makes an amazing comparison between the Old and New Covenants: the Law was given… grace and truth came. The first was handed down from the top, while the second came in person to reveal all that God had in store for us. Even though no one has personally seen God the Father, He made Himself known to us by becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ. There is a conclusion we can draw from this: If you want to know God, get to know Jesus.
If you want to know Jesus, know the Word!
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