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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
John 1

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-20

As God always was, there is no absolute beginning brought before us in the Scriptures. Both here and in Gen.11 the article the is lacking in the originals, showing that it refers to the commencement of the subject in hand. In Genesis it is the beginning of creation. Here it is the beginning of revelation. The phrase might be rendered idiomatically, "To begin with". The Logos, or Saying, or Expression, or Word, brings before us the revelation of God through sound, which appeals to the ears of His creatures. It is inferior to and in contrast with the revelation in which Christ is presented to sight, as the Image of God. Paul was saved by a sight of His transcendent glory. John was called by His word. Sound is slow and confined to the earth. Sight is swift and searches the heavens. This suggests the limited sphere of John's ministry. "With" suggests two Greek words neither of which is used here. hence for accuracy's sake it is best to translate literally "toward". "With God" has no cogency in this connection. "Toward" indicates that the revealed Word pointed the creature in the direction of God. Take every "thus saith the Lord" in the Hebrew Scriptures and they all point us to God, and reveal some attribute of the divine character.

It is impossible for the mind to entertain the two thoughts that the Word was toward (or with) God, and the Word was God. Nothing which is toward (or with) an object can actually be that object. The difficulty lies in the difference between English and Greek idiom. "Was" and "is" are usually omitted in Greek, unless they are used in a figurative sense. Thus "This is my body" does not mean that the bread of the communion actually is the Lord's body but represents it. As the bread stands for the Lord's body, so the Word took the place of God. The God of the Hebrew Scriptures spoke: it was an oral revelation. He was revealed as Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai, etc., by means of utterances which came to the fathers through the prophets. while His essence was concealed. As at Sinai, His voice was heard, but He was hid.

3 Tyndale, the first translator of our English Bible, used the pronoun "it" in referring to the Word, nor did he ever change it in his revisions.

3 Being is based on the Word of God; creation is connected with Christ as the Image of God ( Col_1:15-17 ). The reason of all existence is evident. It provides a field for God's selfrevelation. Sounds without ears are nothing and sights without eyes are vain. God wishes to be known: hence the need of creatures and a medium of revelation which is also the means of creation.

4 The Word of God is presented as the channel of life in both the physical ( Gen_1:11 ; Gen_1:20 ; Gen_1:24 ; Gen_1:27 ) and spiritual spheres ( Psa_119:25 ) ; as well as a light in the prevailing darkness ( Psa_119:105 ). Yet even the nation to whom the Word of God came remained in dense darkness.

6 The opening paragraph is a summary of the Hebrew revelation. The law and the prophets were until John. He, too, belonged to that period, and concluded the testimony to the Coming One.

13 An ancient reading, preserved by some of the early Fathers, is exceedingly apt and suggestive. It has "Who was begotten" and refers this statement to the incarnation of the Word, rather than to the spiritual birth of believers.

14 The pre-existence of Christ is clearly implied in the statement that the Word became flesh. The Word had not assumed a human form before; now It becomes a human being. In this way grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. The divine expressions of the Hebrew Scriptures now converge in the Man. His previous place is further confirmed by John, when he insists that He was before him, though, as to flesh, He was after him.

18 The various theophanies of the Hebrew Scriptures, such as Isaiah saw ( Isa_6:1 ), were not actual discoveries of the Deity, but sights of messengers through whom God communicated with mankind in the past ( Hab_2:2 ) .

19 The Jews did well in sending priests to John. But the priests had no sense of sin, so do not inquire about a sacrifice, but whether he is the ruler or prophet for whom they are looking.

Verses 21-51

Government and education are still the panaceas proposed by the majority of priest-craft. But John wisely withdraws himself from their notice, and as the Voice, heralds the coming of the Messiah Himself.

21-34 Compare Mat_3:3-17 ; Mar_1:2-11 ; Luk_3:4-22 ; Luk_3:29-36 .

29 First John points out God's Lamb for the sinner, then for the saint. No other animal was so freely used in the sacrifices of the Mosaic ritual. Not only was a lamb slain at the passover ( Exo_13:3 ), but it might be used as a sin offering ( Lev_:4:32 ) or a guilt offering ( Lev_5:6 ) and was prescribed for the cleansing of a leper ( Lev_14:12 ). But never, as here, did it take away the sin of the whole world. But it was not slain for sin only, but for worship and communion. Every morning and every evening witnessed the smoke of an ascending offering ( Lev_:29:38 ). It was used as a peace offering ( Exo_3:7 ). Besides this it was offered with the wave offering ( Lev_23:11 ), a symbol of the resurrection. Thus on seven different occasions a lamb was used to depict the sacrificial work of the Messiah. Indeed, His ministry of approximately four years may well be viewed as the antitype of the four days during which the Passover lamb was kept before it could be offered ( Exo_12:6 ). During this period He displayed His marvelous perfections to the world. Not a blemish was found in Him. No wonder that the disciples, when they found the true Lamb of God, left John, and followed Him!

40 The call of Simon Peter is worthy of careful consideration, as it is undoubtedly an index of his ministry. It is especially instructive when viewed in contrast with the call of Paul. He was introduced to Messiah by a blood relation. Hence he, in turn, proclaims Christ to the Circumcision. Paul met Christ Himself come down from heaven, outside the land, hence he goes to the Uncircumcision with a heavenly message. Peter was a disciple of John, who was eager to welcome the Messiah. Paul was His most malignant enemy. Hence Paul preaches an evangel of undiluted transcendent grace, such as Peter himself never even apprehended.

42 The contrast between Paul and Peter is further emphasized by their names. Simon, or Simeon, is Hebrew for "hear", or "hearken". He hearkened to the Word incarnate, and became His disciple. "Saul" suggests the disobedience of Israel's first king, and the words of Samuel,

"Behold, to hearken is better than sacrifice! To attend than the fat of rams" ( 1Sa_15:22 ). Simon was saved by sound. Saul was saved by sight. One was rewarded for his obedience, the other was favored because of his disobedience. One is the leading exponent of God's mercy to Israel, the other of God's transcendent and gratuitous grace to the nations. Both were given new names to accord with the character of their commissions. Simon was called Cephas or Peter, meaning "rock", because he was to be used as a foundation. Saul was called Paul, because his ministry filled the "interval" between the repudiation of Israel in the past and their reception in the future.

44 This is the western Bethsaida.

46 A devout Jew had good cause to question whether the Messiah should come out of Nazareth, unless he knew that He had been born in Bethlehem and His parents had gone there as a refuge from Herod's successor ( Mat_2:22 ). Moreover, though there was a spoken prophecy that He should be called a Nazarene ( Mat_2:23 ) , the name does not occur even once in the Hebrew Scriptures, or in the Talmud. "The Nazarene" was a term of reproach, and was used only by those who wished to insult Him.

47 Nathanael (gift of God) is a delightful type of the faithful in Israel. His position "under the fig tree" suggests those who longed for Messiah's kingdom and were looking for redemption in Israel, knowing from the Scriptures that the time spoken of by Daniel drew near. Nathanael heard His proclamation and acknowledged His right to the throne, and His higher glories as the Son of God. To such He promises a place in the coming kingdom. The opened heaven is a millennial picture, when all like Nathanael will enjoy the blessedness of heaven and earth united under the rule of their Messiah.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 1". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/john-1.html. 1968.
 
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