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Bible Commentaries
John 1

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verses 1-3


Before the world was created. The brief time from the Virgin Birth in Bethlehem to the Ascension from the Mount of Olives must be understood in its relationship to the WHOLE of the Son of God. Read what Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 1:15-20. John shows us, that: (1) the One who appeared in human form as Jesus the Christ EXISTED before the world was created; (2) that he was with God FACE TO FACE before the world was created; (3) that he was DIVINE – the same as God; (4) that he was the Word [LOGOS]; (S) that through him ALL creation was done. Some secrets of the divine nature of the Word, and the exact relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, must wait for Eternity to unfold. But this much is clear: God creates through the Word, and God speaks to man through the Word. When that Word became a human being and lived among us, we recognize him as Jesus the Christ. [On the wording of John 1:1 Seth Wilson writes: “THE TEV TRANSLATION DOES NOT MISREPRESENT WHAT JOHN ACTUALLY WROTE! The Bible teaches that Jesus, the Son of God, is so much the same as God that it is right to call him God; but it is not wrong to say he is the same as God, because he is the same deity with a distinct identity.” Compare Hebrews 1:1-3; Philippians 2:6-11; John 8:58.

Verse 4

4. The Word was the source of life. Compare John 5:26; John 11:25. The power which creates life and supports all Creation is in the Word (Hebrews 1:3). And this life brought light to men. That life reveals God to us in human terms that we can understand. Compare Matthew 4:14-17.

Verse 5


And the darkness has never put it out. His light drives away the darkness of ignorance and error. The darkness cannot extinguish the light!

Verse 6


God sent his messenger. The “advance man” is now introduced. This is John the Baptist. He was appointed to this mission, even before his birth.

Verse 7


Who came to tell people about the light. John came to lead a “spiritual renewal.” But his chief purpose was to point people to Jesus. See John 1:30.

Verse 8


He himself was not the light. John was not “The Man,” but only the “advance man.” [Some were teaching that John the Baptist was the Messiah.] John the apostle, makes it very plain!

Verse 9


This was the real light. See John 12:46. God’s final message to the world is through the Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Verses 10-11


God made the world through him. See Colossians 1:16. He was: in the world; God made the world through him; the world did not know him. He came to his own country. When he became a human being, he took Jewish citizenship (see Galatians 4:4). The “world” is the whole human race. His “country” is the Jewish Nation.

Verse 12


Some, however, did receive him. Many of the Jewish people did accept him as Messiah (see Acts 21:20). So he gave them the right. Compare John 6:44-45. To become God’s children. Everyone who believes is given the “right to become,” but he must reach out through faith to seize the sacrifice of Christ (see notes on Acts 2:38).

Verse 13


They did not become God’s children by natural means. Before the Cross, the Jews were God’s children, by natural means. After the Cross, the New Birth (John 3:5, Titus 3:5) initiates people into spiritual Israel.

Verse 14


The Word became a human being. The Word [Eternal Logos] took a body of flesh. One who denies this, is an Enemy of Christ [anti-Christ] (see 1 John 4:2-3). We saw his glory. See Luke 9:32; John 2:11. As the Father’s only Son. See note on John 3:16.

Verse 15


John told about him. John identified Jesus as the Messiah! See John 1:33-34.

Verse 16


Out of the fulness of his grace. See Colossians 1:19. His “grace and truth” bless all who belong to him. Giving us one blessing after another. He is a “stream of water, flowing ever deeper!”

Verse 17


God gave the Law through Moses. The Law is contrasted with “grace and truth.” Compare Hebrews 12:18-24; Romans 8:1-4. See also John 1:14.

Verse 18


No one has ever seen God. See 1 Timothy 6:16. Flesh and blood cannot look upon the Living God, The only One. See note on John 3:16. He has made him known. The Old Testament painted only a partial picture of God. In Jesus the Son we see the complete picture of God! See John 17:26.

Verse 19


The Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. Our writer now skips the childhood of Jesus, and most of John the Baptist’s work. He jumps to the time that Jesus, about thirty years old, begins his public career. A Council of seventy-two, called the Sanhedrin, ruled Israel. The term “Jew” often is speaking of this ruling Council. John the Baptist is asked officially: “Who are you?”

Verse 20


John did not refuse to answer. He made no attempt to conceal his mission. I am not the Messiah. [The terms “Christ” and “Messiah” mean the same thing in the Bible. Perhaps because “Christ” has come to be used as a personal name for Jesus, the TEV often prefers “Messiah” as a translation of CHRISTOS. ] John made it plain that he was not the Messiah they looked for.

Verse 21


Are you Elijah? The Jews expected Elijah to come before the Messiah. See notes on Matthew 16:14; Matthew 17:10. Are you the Prophet? Moses had predicted the coming of the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15).

Verse 22


Tell us who you are. “If you are not the Messiah, not Elijah, not the Prophet, who are you?”

Verse 23


The voice of one who shoots in the desert. See note on Matthew 3:3. He was to get things ready for Jesus to carry out his mission.

Verse 24


The messengers had been sent by the Pharisees. See notes On Matthew 3:7.

Verse 25


Why do you baptize? The fact that they are mystified shows they were unfamiliar with the rite of baptism. If John were the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet, they could understand why he would introduce a new religious rite. But if he is none of these, why does he do this? [Josephus, the Jewish historian, makes no mention about “Gentiles converted to Judaism” being baptized (immersed) to make them Jews.]

Verses 26-27


I baptize with water. John’s baptism was water baptism. See notes on Matthew 3:11.

Verse 28


All this happened in Bethany. On the east bank of the Jordan River.

Verse 29


The next day John saw Jesus. John [the apostle] omits all of Jesus’ personal life up to this point. Jesus is now thirty years old, and walked from Galilee to the Jordan River area where John the Baptist is doing his work (about 60 or 70 miles distance). This conversation was after Jesus’ baptism (John 1:33), and probably after the Temptation. Here is the Lamb of God. A lamb was the common “SIN OFFERING” (see Leviticus 4:32). What John says points to Jesus as the “SIN OFFERING” for the whole world. Compare the language in Isaiah 53:7. The sin of the world. Both Jews and Gentiles!

Verse 30


This is the one I was talking about. See John 1:26-27. Because he existed before I was born. As a human being, John was six months older than Jesus. But Jesus was the Word (John 1:1-3).

Verse 31


I did not know who he would be. This means John did not know Jesus would be the Messiah, until the Holy Spirit clearly identified him. [Jesus and John were relatives (Luke 1:36).]

Verses 32-34

32–34. I saw the Spirit come down like a dove. John declares what he saw with his own eyes! See notes on Matthew 3:16. God had told John what the sign would be to identify the Messiah. John says that he did see it!

Verse 35


The next day John was there again. In John 1:19-28 we read of the visit of the priests and Levites. John 1:29-34 are “the next day.” This then, is the third day after the messengers from the Sanhedrin had come, and probably the second day after Jesus had come back from the Temptation. With two of his disciples. One of these was Andrew (John 1:40) and the other was certainly John, the writer of this Gospel.

Verse 36


Here is the Lamb of God! The day before, John had cited Jesus as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Now he personally directs his own disciples to Jesus.

Verse 37


And went with Jesus. John had pointed out the source of life. Christianity is following Jesus!

Verse 38


Where do you live, Rabbi? Their question implies their interest in Jesus. It may be they only wished to know where to find him in the future.

Verse 39


Come and see. This is an invitation, or perhaps a call. (Compare John 1:43.)

Verses 40-41


One of the two who heard John. Andrew was one of the first two disciples of Christ. At once Andrew found his brother Simon. Simon Peter. This is the true Christian spirit. Messiah. See note on John 1:20.

Verse 42


Your name will be Cephas. A Hebrew word meaning “rock.” Peter is the Greek form.

Verse 43


He found Philip and said to him. [The Philip in Acts 6:5 is a different person.] This Philip is only a name in the other Gospels. John tells us more about him (John 6:5; John 12:21; John 14:8).

Verse 45


Philip found Nathanael. He is identified as being from Cana in Galilee (John 21:2). He is named in only these two places, but he is certainly the Bartholomew who was one of the Twelve. We have found the one. Moses predicted the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15). They evidently mean, the Messiah. [The Jews thought the Prophet might be a second Moses, or a second Elijah, or perhaps the Messiah. But they tended to view the Messiah as a king, and the Prophet as a separate person. Christians see Jesus as both King and Prophet.]

Verse 46


Can anything good come from Nazareth? Nazareth was a “hick town.” The fact that the enemies of Jesus called him the Nazarene shows there was some disgrace connected with the name. Come and see. “Find out for yourself!” The strongest proof that Jesus is the Messiah is Jesus himself!

Verse 47


There is nothing false in him. Quite a contrast to the formalism and hypocrisy of that time. This also shows that the statement of Nathanael in John 1:46 was not based on jealousy (Cana and Nazareth were rival towns, about twelve miles apart).

Verse 48


How do you know me? Nathanael had never met Jesus before this. When you were under the fig tree. Johnson believes that Nathanael had some unusual experience under the fig tree, of which we are told nothing, and that he saw in what Jesus said, supernormal knowledge that both startled him and caused him to believe.

Verse 49


You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! This is the first recorded uninspired declaration of Jesus’ divinity, but he could not have understood what he was saying at that time. If he had, a “human being” could have instructed Peter (see notes on Matthew 16:17),

Verses 50-51


You will see heaven open. This language is based on “Jacob’s ladder,” (Genesis 28:12). Here Jesus makes himself that ladder, and communication between earth and heaven takes place through him. Son of Man. See John 9:35.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/john-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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