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Bible Commentaries
John 1

Edwards' Family Bible New TestamentFamily Bible NT

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Verse 1

In the beginning ; of the creation. He who was with God in the beginning of all created things, is before all things, and has existed from eternity. Compare chap John 17:5 ; Colossians 1:17 .

The Word ; a term applied by John to the second person of the Godhead in his eternal existence. Just as he is called "the Life" and "the Light," because he has in himself life and light, and imparts them to his creatures at his pleasure; so he is called "the Word," because in him "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and by his word and Spirit he reveals them to men. See Revelation 19:13 .

With God ; in holy union, fellowship, and communion.

Was God ; this is a direct assertion of his divine nature as existing from eternity. The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ is God, the maker of all things that ever were made. All who have the Bible are therefore bound to acknowledge him in this character, and to pay him divine honors.

Verse 3

All things were made-not any thing made ; all things in the widest sense. Compare Colossians 1:16 ; Hebrews 1:2 . And as God, he upholds all things which he has made. Hebrews 1:3 .

Verse 4

In him was life ; he is the author and sustainer of all created natural and spiritual life.

The life was the light of men ; the Word is the light and life of men absolutely; since every kind of light and life comes from him. But here the apostle means more especially, that he who is the spiritual life is also the spiritual light of fallen men, "dead in trespasses and sins"; because it is by making them alive to God, that he enlightens them; so that the two gifts of life and light always come together.

Verse 5

Shineth in darkness ; sheds its rays among the spiritually ignorant, debased, and wretched.

Comprehended it not ; did not understand, and therefore rejected it. Compare chap John 8:19 ; John 16:3 ; Matthew 11:25-27 ; 1 Corinthians 2:8 ; 1 Corinthians 2:14 .

Verse 6

John ; John the Baptist. Matthew 3:1 .

Verse 7

The Light ; the Messiah.

Through him might believe ; through the testimony of John, might believe in Christ.

Verse 8

He was not that Light ; John was "a burning and a shining light," chap John 5:35 ; but he received all his brightness from the eternal Word, who alone is the true Light, because he has light in himself, and is the only source of light to men.

Verse 9

Lighteth every man ; the meaning is, that all true knowledge is from Christ. As Jesus Christ is the light of the world, all who reject him walk in spiritual darkness, while those who follow him have the light of life. God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines into their minds, and gives them the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ; and in his light they see correctly spiritual things. 2 Corinthians 4:6 .

Verse 10

In the world ; as its Creator, Instructor, and Redeemer.

Knew him not ; did not apprehend his true character.

Verse 11

His own ; his own land Judea, and his own people the Jews.

Received him not ; they did not believe on him, but rejected and crucified him.

Verse 12

Power ; right, privilege.

Sons of God ; spiritual children, adopted into his family, and conformed to his image.

Verse 13

Were born-of God ; changed, by his Holy Spirit, from supreme love of self and sin to supreme love of God and holiness. No man inherits this holy character by nature, nor can it be given to him by man. It is the gift of God alone. The change in men called being "born again," by which they become children of God, is produced not by men, but by God, and to him will for ever be all the glory.

Verse 14

Made flesh ; took upon him human nature-because a man. Thus the apostle teaches, in the most direct terms, that "the man Christ Jesus" is also the Word that was with God before the world was.

Beheld his glory ; Matthew 17:1-9 ; Mark 9:2-10 .

Only begotten of the Father ; possessed of his nature, and peculiarly the object of his infinite affection, dwelling in him, knowing him, and perfectly fitted to make him known.

Grace and truth ; favor to the guilty, knowledge of truth, and all needed good communicated to men.

Verse 15

He was before me ; because he existed from eternity with the Father. Compare chap John 8:58 .

Verse 16

All we ; disciples of Christ.

Grace for grace ; the fuller grace of the gospel for the less grace of the law; or, as some understand the words, continually new and larger measures of grace-all needed variety and abundance of unmerited favors. Matthew 13:12 .

Verse 17

The law was given by Moses ; a certain measure of grace accompanied the law of Moses, else no man could have been saved under it. Yet the proper office of the law itself was not grace, but rather restraint and conviction of sin. Romans 3:20 ; Galatians 3:19 .

Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ ; all the grace that belonged to the dispensation of the law came through Christ, while the gospel which he revealed is itself grace and truth in full measure.

Verse 18

Declared him ; revealed him. The apostle here teaches that all the revelations men have received of God, whether under the law or the gospel, had Jesus Christ for their source.

Verse 21

Elias ; Elijah. Malachi 4:5 ; Matthew 11:14 ; Matthew 16:14 ; I am not ; not in their sense-not Elijah in person, though he was Elijah in the sense in which Malachi had predicted him.

That prophet ; Jeremiah, or some distinguished prophet who they expected would appear.

Verse 23

The voice ; Matthew 3:3 .

Verse 26

With water ; in distinction from the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which Christ shall bestow. See Matthew 3:11 .

Verse 28

Beyond Jordan ; on the east side.

Verse 29

Lamb of God ; him who is to be offered as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of men. Exodus 12:3 ; Exodus 29:38-46 ; Isaiah 53:7 ; 1Co 5:7 ; 1 Peter 1:18-21 ; Isaiah 53:4 .

Taketh away ; expiates it and removes the penalty of it from man by bearing it in his own body on the tree. 1 Peter 2:22-25 .

Verse 31

I knew him not ; see note to ver John 1:33 .

But that he should be made manifest ; as much as to say, I knew not yet who this person was, but only that he was about to be manifested to Israel.

Verse 33

I knew him not ; John may have had a personal acquaintance with Jesus, but he did not know him as the one that was to baptize with the Holy Ghost. He was not authorized to say of Jesus, This is the one of whom I spoke, till he had received from God the sign named in this verse.

He that sent me ; God.

Which baptized with the Holy Ghost ; whose it is to give both the ordinary and the miraculous influences of the Spirit.

Verse 34

Bare record ; ver John 1:19-23 ; Matthew 3:17 .

Verse 39

The tenth hour ; four in the afternoon.

Verse 41

Messias-Christ ; the former word being Hebrew, the latter Greek, and both signifying the Anointed One. When men find the Saviour, and experience the blessedness of trusting in him, they desire that others, especially their friends, should become partakers of their joys.

Verse 42

Cephas ; a Syriac word, meaning the same as the Greek word Peter, and the English word stone, or rock. Matthew 16:18 .

Verse 44

Bethsaida ; Matthew 11:21 .

Verse 45

Moses-the prophets ; Luke 24:44 ; Genesis 3:15 ; Genesis 49:10 ; Deuteronomy 18:15-18 ; Isaiah 9:6-7 ; Isaiah 53:2-12 ; Jeremiah 23:5-6 .

Verse 46

Nazareth ; Matthew 2:23 .

Verse 47

Israelite indeed ; not merely a descendant of Israel, but one who has the true character of an Israelite-a holy and believing man.

No guile ; not hypocritical; open, honest, upright, sincere.

Verse 48

I saw thee ; he saw him in a supernatural way. This manifestation of his supernatural knowledge led Nathanael to the confession in the following verse. In secret communion with God, though unseen by men, we are never unobserved by Jesus Christ. He witnesses all our feelings, and is acquainted with our whole character. By yielding to the evidences of his truth, and improving the light we have, we receive from him greater light, and prepare for brighter manifestation of his power and glory.

Verse 49

Rabbi ; Master. Mat 23:7 Son of God ; this was an acknowledgment of him as the Messiah.

Verse 50

Greater things ; greater and more abundant evidences of his Messiahship.

Verse 51

Verily , verily ; truly, truly. When thus repeated, it denotes the great importance and absolute certainty of what was declared.

Hereafter ; rather, henceforward.

Heaven open-the angels of God ascending and descending ; the allusion is to Jacob’s vision of a ladder reaching to heaven, on which the angels of God were ascending and descending. The meaning is, henceforward ye shall see a constant communication established between heaven and the Son of man: the reference is not so much to particular appearances of angels, as to the full and constant communion which the Son of man has with God, and which he gives to each of his disciples in his measure.

Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 1". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fam/john-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.
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