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John 1

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Verse 1

"And the Word was with God" ÷(pros ton Theon). (John 1:1.)"The Life. .which was with the Father" (pros ton Patera), (; 1 John 1:2.)

Commentary on 1 John 1:1-3 by E.M. Zerr

1 John 1:1. This verse is equivalent to the first verse of John’s account of the Gospel. When the words the beginning are used as an abstract term, that is one without any qualifying context, they always have the same meaning. The popular notion is that they mean "the beginning of time." That is wrong because time (which merely means duration) had no beginning and of course will have no end. The means by which we measure time, such as the movements of the earth and other planets, will come to an end, but that does not mean that time will end then. It would be like saying that if the clocks all stopped that time would stop also. Not so; the means we were using to measure it only have stopped. The term the beginning means the beginning of the material creation. The reader should see the comments on this subject at John 1:1 in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary. In our present verse John comes to a later period and refers to the circumstance when the word took upon himself that form which could be seen and handled by fleshly man.

1 John 1:2. This verse gives some more details of the general truths that are stated in the preceding one. The life is the same as "Word of life" above which was with the Father• before the inhabitants of the earth ever heard about it. It was manifested to the extent that it could be seen with human eyes as well as be "handled" as stated in the first verse. The manner in which this was done is expressed somewhat more directly by this same writer in John 1:14 which says that "the Word was made flesh." Everyone will understand this refers to the fact of the life of Christ in a fleshly body on the earth. Show unto you that eternal life. Such a life is spiritual and thus cannot literally be shown, but John means that when a man sees Christ he is seeing eternal life in that He is the one who gives us the hope of eternal life.

1 John 1:3. John was especially concerned with the divinity of Christ, that although He dwelt among men in the flesh (in order that they might see and hear Him), yet he was (and is) the divine Son of God. Have fellowship with us denotes having a share in or being partakers with the apostles in the relationship between God and Christ and their faithful disciples.

Commentary on 1 John 1:1-3 by N.T. Caton


The writer of this Epistle from the very outset seems to have before his mind some claim that is being put forth with more or less apparent candor, and urged as‘ true with great zeal and persistence, which is regarded by him as heretical and subversive of the cause of Christ. In the very first utterance contained in the first verse of this chapter he begins a refutation of this pernicious doctrine. Affirma­tively, the writer says in this chapter that the Word of Life was from the beginning. That living Word was manifested, and was seen, heard and handled by the apostles, and only what they had seen, heard and handled did they declare to the world; that those who accepted this message and acted upon it had fellowship not only with the apostles, but also with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, which, being a great honor, ought to render them joyful to completeness. The declaration is plainly stated that the message so declared by the apostles was that God is light, and that to have and retain fellow­ship with him we must walk in the light. Those who claim this fellow­ship while walking in darkness lie, and have no regard for the truth. Those walking in the light, should they in an unguarded moment give way to temptation and sin, are therefrom cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Sin, of course, must be penitently confessed. The writer then says: "If we think we have no sin, we deceive ourselves; and if we say we have not sinned, we thereby make God a liar, who has already declared by his Word that all have sinned."

1 John 1:1—That which was from the beginning.

The peculiar characteristic of the writer of this Epistle is manifested in his very first utterance. When the same writer commences to write his memoirs, by us at the present day commonly called the Gospel by John, in the very outset of that production he asserts the majesty and moral gran­deur of the Lord Jesus in this most astonishing announce­ment: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1-51 : I). He thus boldly takes us back to the beginning of things, so far into the past of all existences as the great Creator has seen fit to make a revelation. Now, in this Epistle he desires his readers to understand that the living Word, about which he proposes a further discourse, is the same Word that was at the beginning of all things, and that so now he is the same Word at the beginning of the gospel age. The Word that was at the beginning has simply taken upon himself human flesh, and thus has become to us the living Word, and as the living Word we—that is, his chosen twelve apostles—have heard, seen and handled him.

At this point in the exposition of this verse more than ordinary care and caution should be invoked in order that we fail not in grasping in all its amplitude the force of the apostolic declaration. Think of it—heard, seen and handled. Three of the more important of the human senses are brought into lively exercise, and we are so clearly and definitely informed, for the purpose, no doubt to satisfy the reader or hearer, that he may rely upon the communi­cations made with the most implicit confidence. However, before proceeding further, it will be of advantage to have also before us the contents of verse 2.

1 John 1:2—For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness,

This entire verse is parenthetic, and designed to be, at least to some extent, explanatory of the facts contained in verse 1. The idea is this: The Word was with God at the beginning of all things; that same Word took upon himself flesh and became the Living Word—became Jesus who was born at Bethlehem—and this Living Word we apostles heard whenever he spoke, saw whatever he did, and to make the matter more absolutely certain, we handled him while here on earth—hence we bear witness; that is, testify. We testify to what we heard, what we saw, and to the further fact that we handled the Word of life. We show to you by our testimony that this is the author of eternal life to all, for; if he was with God at the beginning, and was God, he is eternal life himself, although for a time he abode here on earth in flesh. This brings us to a point where we can, with profit, apply the thoughts contained in the first verse. The essential qualifications of a witness are by the apostle plainly and boldly asserted. The issue is so sharply drawn that it can not be evaded. These qualifications are asserted, and may be investigated. If, however, the witnesses possess all these qualifications, their competency to testify must go unchallenged, and their testimony can not be either excluded or disregarded. The decision la sound reason and the com­bined wisdom and enlightened judgment of the ages is, that with the unimpaired faculties of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling, the information these communicate to the human soul is to be accepted and regarded as con­clusive. Sometimes only one of these senses may be called into exercise, and to that extent only will the testimony be admissible. Sometimes two. Sometimes all five of the senses are in lively exercise, as in the case of the miracle recorded in Matthew 14:15-21 verses, inclusive. It so happens that most generally two only of these senses—that of seeing and hearing—are in exercise, and these are considered all-sufficient to render a witness competent to testify in the most enlightened tribunals. The apostles having heard, seen and handled (felt) the Word of life while in the flesh, their competency to testify in relation thereto is placed beyond question, and, if honest, their testimony must be received as absolutely and overwhelmingly true by every intelligent man and woman on earth.

1 John 1:3—That which we have seen and heard.

We apostles have told you nothing concerning the Lord Jesus, what he came into the world for, his teachings, his miracles, his death, burial and resurrection, his world-wide commission to his apostles, the establishment of his Church in the world, his great desire that all should become his followers, be pardoned here, walk in life as he commanded and have eternal life in the world to come, but just what we have seen and just what we heard of the Lord; and nothing but this have we declared unto you, and we so declare it that you may participate with us in this knowl­edge. This is fellowship. God’s love gave us a Savior, in fact, the whole Christian system. Jesus was sent by the Father; Jesus spoke the words of the Father and performed what the Father desired. We, his apostles, received the words of the Lord, and now we communicate to you, so that our fellowship—our participation in this knowledge and in these blessings—is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. It might be well here to state that, in all the courts of judicature in all civilized lands and nations no one ques­tions the competency of a witness to tell in a given case what he has seen, what he has heard, and, if the subject of inquiry admits of it, to tell what he has felt, tasted or smelt. It may be said that one witness might be deceived as to what he saw. This is true; but suppose one witness should testify that, at the same time, he also more than once heard plainly certain utterances. Think you that both senses could be deceived? Possibly, even this might occur, and mainly for this reason it is that more than one witness on some occa­sions is required in the courts to establish a given proposi­tion, although not absolutely requisite in the proof of a will. But what must be the evident conclusion where three or more, and even thirteen, as in the case of the resurrection of Christ, wherein all testify essentially to the same thing. Can it be possible that the sense of sight and hearing of so great a number could be deceived at one and the same time? Take now your own experience or that of any of your acquaintances—can you admit an illusion of both the senses of sight and hearing at one and the same time? But, admit­ting such a possibility, with your experience as a rule for guidance, what can you say when two, three or more all say that they saw, heard and handled at the same time a certain person whom they had known? If all such could be deceived, then there is no certainty in the evidence of sense, upon which the whole superstructure of our laws depend. Here I present a quotation from the introduction to the "Christian Preacher’s Companion," written by Alexander Campbell, which I regard as absolutely convincing on this point. "But we speak of perfect testimony of a large number of wit­nesses having ample and repeated opportunities for exami­nation of the most cautious, rational, discriminating charac­ter; most of them first opposed to the facts which they afterwards believed and reported, and withal having often two, frequently three, and sometimes all of the senses addressed in the same miracle. Such witnesses as these never were deceived, and not to believe them, who on such testimony changed their whole course of life, is to admit the chief of absurdities, viz.: an effect without a cause."

Commentary on 1 John 1:1-3 by Burton Coffman

The beautiful prologue (1 John 1:1-4) is like the one in John’s gospel, having the profoundest dimensions and embryonically stating the theme as: "God manifested in Jesus Christ, that man may have fellowship with the Father through the Son."[1] The remaining six verses are part of a complicated paragraph running through 1 John 2:28 and which begins with "God is light" (1 John 1:5), the first of three epic statements about God which are usually cited by scholars as marking in a rough sense the three major divisions of 1John. The other two are: "God is righteous" (1 John 2:29) and "God is love" (1 John 4:7-8). As noted in the introduction, however, a satisfactory classical outline of this letter is hardly possible.

The echoes of the great prologue in John’s gospel are so pronounced in these first four verses, with just those variations which are believable in John but which no forger would have dared to attempt, that this shorter prologue here has been understood by the Christians of all ages as a convincing Johannine signature. Nobody except John could have written this.


[1] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 1054.

1 John 1:1--That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life; (1 John 1:1)

It will be seen that this verse is not a complete sentence, the entire four verses of the prologue being "but one highly compressed and complicated sentence in the Greek."[2] This complexity has led to different opinions as to how it should be translated.

That which ... This neuter pronoun seems opposed to the usual view that "Word of life" here is a reference to Jesus Christ; therefore some render it "word of life," meaning "the message"; however, "Word of life," meaning Jesus Christ, is far better. "John goes on to speak of hearing, seeing and even touching, which makes it necessary for us to think of Jesus."[3]

From the beginning ... In the gospel (John 1:1), John wrote "in the beginning"; and based on the variation here, Macknight thought that the beginning of the gospel age is meant, rather than the beginning of all things.[4] However, as Morris pointed out, the gospel did not begin with the Incarnation. "It was always in God’s plan.[5] Paul used such expressions as "from times eternal" and "before the world was" regarding the gospel; and these considerations as well as the thundering echoes of the gospel prologue with which this passage has close affinity convince us that Roberts’ firm comment on this is correct:

John is referring to Christ and to his existence with the Father from eternity. In 1 John 2:13, he will speak of Christ as "one who was from the beginning." Compare John 1:1-2; John 1:14; John 17:5.[6]

That which we have heard ... Who are the "we" of this clause? The conviction here is that the apostolic eyewitnesses of Christ throughout his ministry and of his death, burial and resurrection are those meant.

Heard ... seen ... handled ... Such terms designate the holy apostles and perhaps a few others who might have been eyewitnesses (Luke 1:2). Certainly it is the apostles who are primarily the ones meant here. "This refers to the companionship of John and the other disciples with Jesus on earth."[7] Wilder and other recent commentators have construed the "we" of this passage and in 1 John 1:3 as meaning "all believers, whether eyewitnesses or not ... the church ... through the generations";[8] but such a view cannot possibly be right. "It is impossible to make good sense out of this if we think of `we’ as meaning ewe Christians.’ It must mean those believers who actually saw Jesus in the flesh."[9] The great facts of the Christian gospel are founded upon historical events witnessed by people who saw and experienced the things they preached. "We Christians talking to each other" did not "develop" our holy religion; it was revealed, and conveyed to us by competent and authentic witnesses, the Incarnate God in Christ being the source of all of it.

That which we have seen with our eyes ... Mere hearsay evidence formed no part of basic Christian teaching. The apostles recounted what they had heard, seen, beheld (more intensive investigation than merely seeing), and even handled. Was it not their hands that passed out bread and fishes for a vast multitude? Affirmations in these clauses forbid making "the message" the subject. Could the apostles have "handled" the message? Maybe they read by the Braille method! On the other hand, they did handle Christ. See the Saviour’s invitation for them to do so in Luke 24:39, where again this very unusual word for "touch" is rendered "handle," a word occurring only three times in the whole New Testament.[10] Many have seen in this word an allusion to the resurrection of Christ.

Concerning the Word of life ... Those intent on declaring the message of the gospel and not Christ himself as the subject of this prologue prefer the rendition "word of life," as in the ASV margin, the RSV and a number of other recent translations; but these should be rejected. The same considerations that required the capitalization of "Word" in the gospel also require the capitalization of "Word" here. It is the same word, the words "of life" not altering that fact. Many of the most dependable versions and translations attest this:

Word of life -- King James Version

Word of Life -- New Catholic Version, 1946

Logos of life -- James Moffatt

Word of Life -- Richard Francis Weymouth

WORD OF LIFE -- Emphatic Diaglott

Word of life -- John Wesley

Word of life -- Good News for Modern Man

Word of Life -- Amplified New Testament

Word of life himself -- J. B. Phillips

It is true, of course, that some great names among the scholars have insisted on making "message" the subject. Westcott, Dodd, Scott and White are among them, the most insistent being C. H. Dodd, who went so far as to translate the phrase "the gospel" instead of "Word of life." However, it should be noted that Scott was influenced by Dodd, and that Dodd had an axe to grind. He was anxious to sustain his theory of a different author for this epistle, one of his big points being that [Greek: logos] was used in a different sense in the epistle from that in the gospel. (See a discussion of this in the introduction.) What he actually did was to contrive a different meaning here and then offer his contrivance as a bona-fide argument against Johannine authorship of 1John! Westcott, one of the most distinguished scholars in a thousand years, in this, made one of his rare mistakes. He also missed the proper translation of John 1:18, significantly, both passages dealing with the ascription of outright deity to Jesus Christ. He justified the error in the gospel on the basis that other New Testament passages fully cover the question anyway and that the additional testimony was unnecessary; and he could have justified the error here in the same way. In spite of the insistence of a few influential men, however, the old meaning should be preserved in this text.

But, is not the whole question `much ado about nothing’? In a sense, yes. Roberts pointed out that, "There is little difference between saying that John is proclaiming the personal Word ([Greek: logos]) ... and saying that he is proclaiming the message about the life which is eternal." Our refutation of C. H. Dodd in the introduction was based, not upon the error of supposing a different use of [Greek: logos] in 1John from that of the gospel prologue, but upon the fact that the idea is exactly the same. Christ is the gospel. Preaching Christ and preaching the gospel are synonymous terms and were so used by the apostle Paul and the Christians of all generations. The word of the gospel is in fact a "living word" (Hebrews 4:12). Despite this, however, the translations which have been accepted for centuries should not be presumptuously set aside, far too many of those doing so having in mind exactly the same kind of attack upon New Testament books that Dodd made. It is one thing to change a translation in the light of new manuscript evidence, and possibly other bona-fide reasons; but many of the proposed changes are indefensible, as is the one in view here. Morris summed up the case thus:

While this term (Word of life) might well describe the gospel, we must bear in mind that Jesus is called "the Word," and that in him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:1; John 1:4).[11]

[2] Leon Morris, The New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1260.

[3] Ibid.

[4] James Macknight, Macknight on the Epistles, Vol. VI (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, reprint, 1969), 1John, p. 24.

[5] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1261.

[6] J. W. Roberts, The Letters of John (Austin, Texas: R. B. Sweet Company, 1968), p. 20.

[7] James William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 597.

[8] Amos N. Wilder, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York: Abingdon Press, 1956), p. 218.

[9] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1261.

[10] R. W. Orr, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 609.

[11] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 1261.

1 John 1:2 --(and the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare unto you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us)

This verse is parenthetical, but it regards the very thing in John’s mind from the first verse, namely, the Holy One, the same who in the beginning was "with God" and "was God" (John 1:1), called in the gospel "the Word" and here "the Word of life" (1 John 1:1).

This life manifested ... Moffatt was doubtless correct in capitalizing "Life" in both verses. "Manifested" is a term frequently used in the New Testament of the appearance of the Son of God in flesh (1 Timothy 3:16,1 Peter 1:20,1 John 3:5; 1 John 3:8). It is further illuminated by the counterpart of it in the gospel, "The word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:31). John also used the same word to describe the resurrection appearances of Jesus (John 21:1; John 21:14).

And we have seen, and bear witness ... By this, John refers to his gospel, to which, in a sense, this letter is an appendix. His "witness" or "testimony" is incorporated in that which he wrote. Again, "we" refers to the apostles. Macknight paraphrased the words here thus: "We apostles who accompanied him during his abode on earth, etc."[12] Clemance also understood this whole verse as concerning Jesus Christ. He wrote: "From what follows, there can be no question that the apostle here refers to the Lord Jesus Christ."[13] "Bear witness" means to proclaim, testify, or bear testimony, such words appearing no less than nineteen times in these epistles. Thus, John’s assault on error was a thundering reiteration of basic gospel truth. As Hoon said:

Because this epistle was occasioned by heresy and misconduct, argument and denunciation frequently appear. But the author did not first engage in apologetics; he knew that error is best met by confronting it with the truth it denies.[14]

[12] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 27.

[13] A. Clemance, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22,1John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 6.

[14] Paul W. Hoon, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 216.

1 John 1:3 --that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that we also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:

That ... we declare unto ... The word "declare" is here repeated from 1 John 1:2, indicating the close unity of the whole passage. "The proclamation (declaration in our version) need not refer to the Gospel of John specifically. It is the substance of all gospel or apostolic preaching."[15] Furthermore, the present tense shows the established and continual nature of that proclamation through the lives of the apostles and their writings. It is wrong to limit the proclamation to the contents of this epistle.

That which we have seen ... This repeated stress upon the eyewitness nature of the apostolic gospel is important, as it affirms dogmatically that the writer is himself one of the eyewitnesses.

Unto you also, that ye also ... One of these words (also) may be construed as applicable to the proclamation, "readers thus being informed that this letter is supplementary to the basic witness of the gospel."[16] "It also means `ye also’ who have not seen Jesus."[17]

That ye also may have fellowship with us ... Fellowship is from the Greek word [@koinonia], meaning "a close relationship or harmonious association as partners or sharers of the gospel."[18] Note too that a definite purpose of the epistle is the maintenance and extension of Christian fellowship, a fellowship which was threatened by the rise of heresies and the ensuing bitterness and strife which resulted. The purpose of the apostles regarding this essential fellowship of Christians "rebukes much of our modern evangelism and church life."[19]

And our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ ... Oneness with God in Christ is the basis of Christian fellowship, and it cannot exist without it. That is why the doctrinal and ethical nature of the Christian message should continually be stressed from the pulpit; because, in this essential basis is the principle of cohesion that binds Christians first to God in Christ and then to each other. Any congregation or church which depends upon a superficial social camaraderie to replace the word and doctrine as its cohesive power blunders fatally. If there would be fellowship, first let the heresies be denied and thwarted and the ethical behavior of Christians restored. This was exactly John’s purpose in this letter.

Father ... and Son Jesus Christ ... The equal dignity of Jesus Christ with the Father is clear in John’s association of their names together at the very outset of his letter.

[15] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 23.

[16] R. W. Orr, op. cit., p. 609.

[17] David Smith, Expositor’s Greek New Testament, Vol. V (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 170.

[18] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 24.

[19] John R. W. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 19 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), p. 64.

Verses 1-18

Joh 1:1-18

The Word Became Flesh - John 1:1-18

Open It

1. What are some of the slang expressions you used growing up?

2. *In what ways are words different from visual images?

Explore It

3. Who is the Word? (John 1:1)

4. *What is the relationship between the Word and God? (John 1:1-2)

5. What was the Word’s role in creation? (John 1:3)

6. How is the "life" the light of men? (John 1:4)

7. What was John’s role in relation to the light? (J 1:6)

8. How did the light give light to every person? (John 1:9)

9. Why didn’t the world recognize the light? (J 1:10)

10. *What is the benefit of receiving or believing in the Word? (John 1:12)

11. *How and why did the Word make His dwelling among us? (John 1:14)

12. Whose glory did the Word reveal? (J 1:14)

13. What did God give us through Moses? (John 1:17)

14. What did God give us through Jesus? (John 1:18)

15. Why is it significant that no one has seen God but "God the One and Only"? (John 1:18)

Get It

16. Why did the Word become flesh and live among us?

17. *How does a person receive the Word?

18. What happens when we receive or believe in the Word?

19. In what way can you receive or welcome Christ into your life?

20. *What insights can you gain from seeing Jesus as God’s Word?

21. How should being a child of God affect our lives?

22. In what way is John an example for us to follow?

23. How did Jesus reveal God’s glory to us?

Apply It

24. What do you need to do to be certain of your relationship with God?

25. *What will you do this week to better enjoy your status as a child of God?

26. How should the reality that God became a man affect your life today?

Verse 2

Joh 1:2

John 1:2

The same was in the beginning with God.—He was one of “us” when matter was originally created. “Let us make man in our image.” (Genesis 1:26). The Godhead is represented as composed of God, the originator and provider of all things; the Word, the creative agent of the Godhead; and the Holy Spirit, who, when the work of creation was completed by the Word, brooded upon the face of the matter, organized it, gave laws in accordance with which the work of procreation would proceed, and in and through which the Spirit took up his abode to guide the matter forward to its predestined end.

Verse 3

Joh 1:3

John 1:3

All things were made through him;—The Word was the creative agency of the Godhead.

and without him was not anything made that hath been made.—[Without the intervention or help of any other person or being, he created all things. This language is sweeping and unevadable. The logos was the active agent in the whole broad work of creation.] Jesus was the active representative of the Godhead in the work of creation. Hebrews 1:1-2 : “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds.” John 1:10 : “He was in the world, and the world was made through him.” Colossians 1:16 : “In him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been cre­ated through him, and unto him.”

Verse 4

Joh 1:4

John 1:4

In him was life;—He not only created, but he imparted life to all beings, vegetable, and animal. [Having predicated of him the creation of all material things, John now turns to the sentient creation, and especially man, its crown. As it is said that God created man, and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so the Word is capable of a higher work than making things; he makes them live. There has been much scien­tific groping to find and understand the subtle principle called life. Here is the answer and all any one can know about it. Life is an emanation from the logos with power of an infinite series of reproductions; life in all its varieties, physical, moral, spiritual. As all objects have their present form through him so all things that live, live by him.]

and the life was the light of men.—[In the case of man, the crown of creation distinguished from all the rest by impass­able lines, the life became light, which, in the Bible, is put for truth, knowledge, and holiness; darkness for ignorance, error, and sin. Spiritual light and life are mainly intended in the text. Or, rather, we should say that the thought progresses to light in its highest signification.] All light comes from God. This is not only true of spiritual light, but all true light of knowledge. Science, by many, is supposed to be the enemy of revelation; but where has science ever obtained a foothold in the world where the light of the revelation of God had not gone? Where has truth on any subject gained admission unless the light of God’s truth opened the way? Look at the condition of the world in all ages where the light of God’s revelation has not gone and see what practical truth on any subject exists among the heathen nations.

Verse 5

Joh 1:5

John 1:5

And the light shineth in the darkness;—[This verse is a bridge to verses 7 and 8. The thought advances from the light in the abstract to the visible exhibition of the light, shining with a brilliance that men had never seen before, the incarnate logos, the incarnate life, the incarnate light.]

and the darkness—[The world of humanity in the condi­tion to which sin had brought it—ignorance and sin.]

apprehended it not.—[The people rejected the light, pre­ferred the darkness, and so the darkness was not dispelled by the light. Did not take hold of it. Did not realize what had come into its midst. The thought is in regard to the condition of the world in the years of Christ’s life preceding John the Immerser’s testimony. The light was already shining. It was morally impossible for Jesus to be among men and not give forth divine light. But the world knew him not, even as John the Immerser himself knew him not till he saw the sign of God at his baptism. We have thus been led in the prologue from the profundity of eternity to the reality of the ministry of John. All the wonders of the opening chapters of Matthew and Luke are chronologically comprehended in these verses.]

Verse 6

Joh 1:6

John 1:6

There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John.—John the Baptizer came to prepare the way for Christ.

Verse 7

Joh 1:7

John 1:7

The same came for witness,—Christ was the light. John came to prepare for him that all, through Christ, might believe in God. [More literally “for testimony.” This is the predomi­nant character of John. All else is incidental or subordinate to this. The preaching, the baptism, the rousing men to repent­ance, while all in themselves useful and good, are only circum­stances of the testimony, only side employments of the witness bearer.]

that he might bear witness of the light,—“He” in this verse might more naturally refer to John, but a similar expression in verses 9 and 10 shows that it refers to Jesus the light. [This sentence gives the subject of the testimony. “The light” here is not abstract, but concrete. It is the light incarnate; in other words, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was to testify to the world that “the light” had come into the world.]

that all might believe through him.—[That all might believe on Christ through the testimony of John. See verses 29-42 for the beginning of this result. This idea of testimony is one of the fundamental notions of the gospel of Christ. It is correlative to, and inseparable from, that of faith. Testimony is given only with a view to faith, and faith is impossible except by means of testimony. The only faith worthy of the name is that which fastens itself upon a divine testimony given either in act or word.]

Verse 8

Joh 1:8

John 1:8

He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light.—John came to testify that others might believe in Jesus. [The apostle states that John was not the light probably in opposition to an idea of some that John himself was the Messiah. The clause is an emphatic reassertion of the statement of verse 7.]

Verse 9

Joh 1:9

John 1:9

There was the true light,—Jesus was the only source of the light, and all who came into the world if lightened at all, must receive this light from him.

even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world.—[Whether to connect the last clause, “coming into the world,” with “the true light,” or with “every man,” has been a hotly disputed question among commentators. We do not think there is any reference here to an innate light belonging to every man from birth, nor to an enlightening of men before the coming of Christ, under the old dispensation, or in the various heathen religions. The apostle has to do only with the present dispensa­tion. The true light was coming into the world, which lights every man (who receives it), that is, teaches him spiritual truth and duty, else he is not enlightened. He is the exclusive light giver.]

If God is the fountain and source of all light [and he surely is] only he who looks to God can find true light. Man is prone to look to himself for light; but in man is no light, save as he receives it from God.

Verse 10

Joh 1:10

John 1:10

He was in the world,—[John now takes a step forward. He who was coming had come. The babe had been cradled at Bethlehem, carried to Nazareth, and grown to man’s estate.]

and the world was made through him,—[He was no stranger and no intruder. All the fair scenes upon which he gazed were the product of his creative power as logos.]

and the world knew him not.—Jesus who created the worlds was in the world, but the world did not know him. [Of all this great world, and its sentient, teeming inhabitants, there was not one being who recognized him in his divine character as Creator of the universe and Redeemer of men.]

Verse 11

Joh 1:11

John 1:11

He came unto his own, and they that were his own re­ceived him not.—We have long thought “his own” referred to those prepared by John for him. They embraced a large portion of the Jewish nation, but only those who voluntarily took upon themselves the obligations by being baptized. This was a radical change in the order of God’s dealings with the Jews. Hitherto those he recognized as his servants were born after the flesh. All that were born of the fleshly family of Jacob were his servants. Now the voluntary principle was introduced by John. None were his save those who through faith in John’s teaching voluntarily took on themselves the obligations imposed in baptism. This principle introduced into the provisional and introductory stages of the kingdom was to be the distinguishing principle of God’s government henceforth. Hence, these to whom Christ came were his own, prepared for him by John, and they were born not of blood or the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, inasmuch as they were begotten by the word of God preached through John.

Verse 12

Joh 1:12

John 1:12

But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God,—Those of John’s disciples who heard and believed in Jesus became sons of God. The Jews had been servants. Through faith in Jesus they became sons by which they could address God as “Father.” (Galatians 4:5-6). All moved by faith in Jesus may become sons of God. [What is meant by receiving him, how much it includes, is to be found by reading the last clause of the verse, “even to them that believe on his name.” Nor is the “many” here to be confined to the Jews. John does not say all those from among them, but all those who in general. When Jesus is once rejected by unbeliev­ing Israel, there is henceforth only humanity and in it individual believers or unbelievers. Observe that receiving him, that is, the believing on his name, did not make them the children of God. It only brought them into such a relationship to him that it was now their right or privilege to become children of God if they chose to exercise it. How they became children of God is to be learned elsewhere. (See Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:26-40.]

even to them that believe on his name:—[That is, who be­lieve in the character belonging to him manifested by his name, “Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 20:31; also John 20:14; John 20:18).]

Verse 13

Joh 1:13

John 1:13

who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.—This relation of sons of God was not attained through the fleshly descent from Abraham or of any fleshly birth, but he is begotten of God. (John 3:5). All fleshly births are through the will of the flesh. This henceforth would not make a man a child of God. [Being a Jew did not involve the new birth or begetting. He must be born again even as others. Fleshly generation had nothing to do with it. Nor was it in any sense human in its origin. No human enactments, no human purpose, could bring it about. It was “from above.” (John 3:3). The begetting is purely of God with the Holy Spirit as the agent (John 3:8) and the word of God as the Spirit’s instru­mentality (1 Peter 1:23) and the birth or transfer to new rela­tionship of the whole man becomes complete in baptism (John 3:5).]

Verse 14

Joh 1:14

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us—This Word was Immanuel—God in the flesh. He dwelt among men as a man, subject to like passions and infirmities as man, tempted in all things as we are, yet his nature and life were manifesta­tions of divine life and truth. [The Word “became” denotes a single and complete act. His dwelling among us was not a mere transitory or momentary appearance followed by a quick vanish­ing. He remained with us about thirty-three and a half years so that we could study and know him.]

(and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father),—In the transfiguration and works of Christ his associates saw this glory. The working of miracles was showing forth the glory of God (John 2:11), full of kindness to man, teaching the truth of God. [They beheld his glory, not in any particular instance, as the transfiguration, for example, but the continuous glory of his life and character as manifested through the whole period of his active ministry and which marked him as the Son of God.]

full of grace and truth.—[Sweetness and light, or love and light. Through him both mind and heart are fed. Grace in his redemptive work; truth in his teaching. Not that there was no grace and truth before, but he is a rich storehouse of it all.]

Verse 15

Joh 1:15

John 1:15

John beareth witness of him,—[The present, "beareth witness,” is ordinarily explained by the permanent value of this testimony; but perhaps it is due rather to the fact that the author transports himself in a lifelike way backward to the moment when he heard this mysterious saying coming from such lips; he seems to himself to hear it still. We often use the present thus for the past in vivid narration.]

and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me.—John was careful that they should not think he was the prom­ised Messiah. He had already taught them that Jesus was greater than himself, and although born of the mother later than John, had existed long before John. Jesus said, "Before Abra­ham was born, I am.” (John 8:58). John was careful that the honor which belonged to Jesus should not be bestowed on him­self. [Though he is after me in point of revelation to the people, yet he at once takes position before me as the more im­portant of the two and destined to continue in this superiority. The immerser now turns to the essential precedence both in time and rank. Though he was subsequent in revelation, yet he existed long before his revelation and long before John, his revealer, and this in such dignity that he was entitled to take pre­cedence as soon as revealed.]

Verse 16

Joh 1:16

John 1:16

For of his fulness we all received,—Of the fullness and the grace of Jesus all who receive him partake. [The quotation from the immerser ceases with verse 15. It is the apostle who now speaks, having interrupted himself after verse 14 by the memory of the immerser’s testimony. In verse 14 he said that the Word was “full of grace and truth.” Now we, all believers who have been born again, have received from the rich stores of his fullness.]

and grace for grace.—One degree of grace leads on to a higher degree. [Ever growing supplies of grace from the full­ness of Christ.]

Verse 17

Joh 1:17

John 1:17

For the law was given through Moses;—The great law of God in the Ten Commandments was given by Moses. These commandments given as the standard of right and morality were given by Moses to the children of Israel. They were given as laws with their rewards and penalties. This law given to them was good and if one kept it it fitted him for eternal life. But the kindness and love of God were not manifested in these laws.

grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.—God’s char­acter for mercy and truth was received through Jesus Christ. There was no antagonism on the part of Jesus towards the law. The law was good and right. Jesus came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it and to introduce new features into the service of God that would enable man to obey this law and to attain to the righteousness of the law. [The grace of God was cer­tainly exhibited in giving the Mosaic revelation, and his truth was certainly contained in it, but it sinks into insignificance by the side of the revelations of these that come through Jesus Christ. We come now for the first time to the historical name of the incarnate logos, but to which the apostle has been tending throughout the passage. First the Word, then Life and Light, then the Only Begotten of the Father, now Jesus Christ, who embraces all that was said of him before.]

Verse 18

Joh 1:18

John 1:18

No man hath seen God at any time;—While no man hath seen God, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and the express image of his person and the effulgence of his power and is presented to man as the best beloved of the Father and the perfect representative of God, declaring God’s own fullness and perfectness and the full representative of God to the world.

the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father,—[Most intimate with him—not living, like Moses, at an infinite distance from him. This intimacy gives him such thorough knowledge of all that pertains to him as to qualify him for the next clause.]

he hath declared him.—[Revealed or manifested him. There is more in this than the mere declaration of a messenger. Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of God. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." God has now been seen in the per­son of his Son, who was “the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance.”]

Verse 19

Joh 1:19

John 1:19

And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent unto him from Jerusalem priests and Levites—The Jews in Jerusalem were the most zealous of the law. Jerusalem was the center of Judaism. John in the wilderness attracted the masses by his preaching.

to ask him, Who art thou?—The Jews at Jerusalem sent the priests and Levites to hear him, see what he claimed for him­self as a religious teacher, and demand of him who he was.

Verses 19-28

Joh 1:19-28

John the Baptist Denies Being the Christ - John 1:19-28

Open It

1. Why do people enjoy boasting about themselves and their accomplishments?

2. Why is it hard to be humble?

3. *What are the characteristics of a humble person?

Explore It

4. What did the Jews want to know? (John 1:19)

5. Who did the Jews think John was? (John 1:20-21)

6. *What did John say about who he was? (John 1:20-22)

7. In what way was John a "voice of one calling in the desert"? (John 1:23)

8. What does the phrase "make straight the way for the Lord" mean? (John 1:23)

9. *How did John "make straight the way for the Lord"? (John 1:23)

10. Why did the Pharisees care that John was baptizing people? (John 1:24)

11. What did John say he was not worthy to do? (John 1:27)

12. *Who did John say was coming after him? (John 1:27)

13. Where did these events take place? (John 1:28)

Get It

14. *In what ways can you honor Christ with your accomplishments?

15. How can we point others to Christ?

16. In what situations is it difficult for you to be humble?

17. *If you had been John how would you have felt about your role?

18. In what ways is your life like John’s?

19. What special or unique means has God given you to share His Word?

Apply It

20. In what way can you be a voice for Jesus?

21. *What are some areas in which you struggle to be humble at this time in your life?

22. In what specific ways can you point others to Christ this week?

Verse 20

Joh 1:20

John 1:20

And he confessed, and denied not; and he confessed, I am not the Christ.—Without evasion or denial he said, I am not the anointed one of God. He was not willing to claim the honor that belonged only to Christ.

Verse 21

Joh 1:21

John 1:21

And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered, No.—It had been foretold that a great prophet should come into the world and that before the coming of that prophet Elijah should come again. He told them that he was neither Elijah nor this great prophet that was to come. Jesus said, “And if you are willing to receive it, this [John the Immerser] is Elijah that is to come." (Matthew 11:14). This statement of Jesus is thought to contradict John’s statement in this verse, but it is explained by Jesus when he says, “And he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah.” (Luke 1:17). John meant that he was not the veritable Elijah. Jesus said he came “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” [The Jews doubtless asked art thou literally Elijah. He said no. Art thou that prophet foretold by Moses? No, for Christ is that prophet. The difference is doubtless that one speaks of the literal Elijah, the other who came in the spirit of Elijah. No contradiction here.]

Verse 22

Joh 1:22

John 1:22

They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?—They wished him to define his mission, if neither the prophet nor Elijah [so that on their return to Jerusalem they could give an intelligent report to those who had sent them].

Verse 23

Joh 1:23

John 1:23

He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet.—He answered that he came in the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3), of the one who should come before and pre­pare the way for the prophet. His work was that of prepara­tion for the Lord.

Verse 24

Joh 1:24

John 1:24

And they had been sent from the Pharisees.—The Phari­sees were the most zealous and watchful of the religious parties of the Jews.

Verse 25

Joh 1:25

John 1:25

And they asked him, and said unto him, Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, neither Elijah, neither the prophet?—John gave as his reason for baptizing that he was come preparing for the Messiah and he baptized in water and the Messiah would baptize in the Holy Spirit. [The ques­tion shows that John’s baptism was to them a new rite. They could understand that Christ, or Elias, or “the prophets” might establish a new ordinance by divine authority, but if John is none of these, why does he do so? Their perplexity shows that the baptismal right was new to them. This refutes the claim that Gentile proselytes to the Jewish faith were baptized by all Jewish authorities before this time.]

Verses 26-27

Joh 1:26-27

John 1:26-27

John answered them, saying, I baptize in water: in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not, even he that cometh after me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose.—The preposition “in” is used here instead of “with.” This is right, yet to say “with” does not militate against the idea of a burial. We use “with” to indicate the ele­ment used even when the thing washed is wholly submerged. We say a cloth is dyed with indigo and leather is tanned with ooze when the thing is wholly submerged. “In” is better here as placing the point contrasted beyond doubt. John told them that the one for whom he came to prepare the way was in their midst and unknown to them and probably to John at this time who was so much his superior that he was not worthy to unlatch his shoes. The servant unlatched and bound the shoes of his master.

Verse 28

Joh 1:28

John 1:28

These things were done in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.—Much of John’s teaching was done on the west side of the Jordan, but this was done on the east side, opposite the line between Samaria and Galilee.

Verse 29

Joh 1:29

John 1:29

On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God,—The baptism of Jesus is not mentioned by the gospel of John, but it is particularly de­scribed by the other evangelists. When he was baptized and came up out of the water the voice came from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). The Holy Spirit also in the form of a dove descended upon him and abode with him. With these assurances John testified to his disciples that he was the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.

that taketh away the sin of the world!—[Jesus, the Lamb, when slain, took away the sin, not of Jews only, but of the world. He died for all.]

Verses 29-34

Joh 1:29-34

Jesus the Lamb of God - John 1:29-34

Open It

1. What function do initiation rites serve in a club or society?

2. *What can you infer about someone from his or her title (such as Doctor, Professor, or Prince)?

Explore It

3. *Why did John call Jesus the Lamb of God? (John 1:29)

4. What are the sins of the world? (John 1:29)

5. What does Jesus do with the sins of the world? (John 1:29)

6. *What did John mean that Jesus surpassed him because He was before him? (John 1:30)

7. How was Jesus before John? (John 1:30)

8. Why did John say he didn’t know who Jesus was? (John 1:31)

9. What reason did John give for baptizing Jesus? (John 1:31)

10. Why did John come to baptize people? (J 1:31)

11. What creature represented the Spirit of God? (John 1:32)

12. Why did the Spirit come down upon Jesus? (John 1:33)

13. With what did John baptize? (John 1:31; John 1:33)

14. With what will Jesus baptize? (John 1:33)

15. *What title did John ascribe to the person he baptized? (John 1:34)

Get It

16. What sin of yours has Jesus taken away?

17. *How do we receive the forgiveness that Christ bought for us?

18. In what way do you share Jesus’ identity as a child of God?

19. What role does the Holy Spirit play in your life?

20. *How does Jesus baptize us?

Apply It

21. *How can you honor Jesus’ Sonship with your life this week?

22. What steps can you take to appreciate better who Jesus is?

23. In what way can you reveal Christ to others this week?

Verse 30

Joh 1:30

John 1:30

This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man who is become before me: for he was before me.—He again states this of whom he had spoken, as born after he was, yet existing before him.

Verse 31

Joh 1:31

John 1:31

And I knew him not; but that he should be made mani­fest to Israel, for this cause came I baptizing in water.—Here one of the special objects of John’s baptism is said to be to make known Jesus to Israel.

Verse 32

Joh 1:32

John 1:32

And John bare witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven;—John was to know by the Spirit descending in the form of a dove which was he and then was to bear testimony to the world.

and it abode upon him.—The Spirit came in the form of a dove, abode upon him, not in this form; but its form dissolved, and took up its abode in Jesus. (Luke 3:22). This was when he was anointed with the Spirit above his fellows. (Hebrews 1:9).

Verse 33

Joh 1:33

John 1:33

And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit.—John did not know Jesus. Whether it was that he was not acquainted with Jesus or that he did not know that he was the Christ has been a matter of doubt. Although their mothers were cousins, they lived eighty miles apart, and it is possible that they had not met. Or it may mean that John did not have the full assurance that he was the Christ until he was assured by the sign appointed by God and in some way revealed to John.

Verse 34

Joh 1:34

John 1:34

And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.—Having seen this sign from God he testified that Jesus is the Son of God.

Verse 35

Joh 1:35

John 1:35

Again on the morrow John was standing, and two of his disciples;—This was the day after the facts stated in the preceding verses had occurred. It was some weeks at least after his baptism. He had been baptized, had been forty days in the temptation, had returned to where John was baptizing, and John had testified to his disciples what had happened at his bap­tism.

Jesus’ First Disciples - John 1:35-42

Open It

1. What gets you excited or enthusiastic?

2. *How would you feel if a good friend abandoned your friendship in favor of someone else?

3. What nicknames have you had over the years?

Explore It

4. Who besides Jesus had disciples? (John 1:35)

5. What did John say when he saw Jesus? (John 1:36)

6. How did John identify Jesus for his disciples? (John 1:37)

7. *What did John’s disciples do when John identified Jesus? (John 1:37)

8. What did Jesus ask John’s disciples? (John 1:38)

9. What did John’s disciples call Jesus? (J 1:38)

10. What did John’s disciples ask Jesus? (J 1:38)

11. *What was the first thing Andrew did after he had followed Jesus? (J 1:40)

12. Who was Andrew’s brother? (John 1:40)

13. *What did Andrew tell his brother about Jesus? (John 1:41)

14. What nickname did Jesus give to Simon? (John 1:42)

15. What words did the author interpret for us? (J 1:37; John 1:41-42)

Get It

16. *What does it mean to follow Jesus?

17. What hinders us from following Jesus?

18. *What must we leave to follow Jesus?

19. To what friends and relatives could you introduce Jesus?

20. How can we spend time with Jesus to get to know Him better?

Apply It

21. Whom do you want to introduce to Jesus this week?

22. How could you introduce Christ to a friend or relative?

23. *What change in your daily routine would enable you to follow Jesus better?

Verse 36

Joh 1:36

John 1:36

and he looked upon Jesus as he walked,—[Jesus, passing by or in sight, John beheld him.]

and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God!—[The lamb was slain to save the first-born of Israel when the first-born of Egypt was destroyed, and at every Passover feast a lamb was slain by every family of Israel. In the types of Judaism the lamb was slain pointing forward to “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” He came to die as a sacrifice to take away the sins that man had committed and to lead him to live a holy life.]

Verse 37

Joh 1:37

John 1:37

And the two disciples heard him speak,—Some of the disciples of John were jealous that Jesus gathered followers at the expense of John, but John had none of this feeling. He came to make ready a people for Jesus, bear testimony to his claims, and direct his disciples to Jesus as the Lord, and rejoiced to see him increase, while he himself decreased in followers.

and they followed Jesus.—Again at a later date he with two of Us disciples saw Jesus walking and again bore witness that he was the Son of God and his disciples thus assured left John and followed Jesus.

Verse 38

Joh 1:38

John 1:38

And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?—Jesus seems at all times to desire that those who followed him should know, what they took upon themselves so he asked what they were seeking.

And they said unto him, Rabbi (which is to say, being in­terpreted, Teacher), where abidest thou?—He saw them com­ing after him and asked what they sought. They called him Rabbi, which means teacher. They declared in’ this they were his disciples, had come to learn of him, and asked where he dwelt that they might come unto him as learners.

Verse 39

Joh 1:39

John 1:39

He saith unto them, Come, and ye shall see. They came therefore and saw where he abode; and they abode with him that day: it was about the tenth hour.—He acknowledged him­self a teacher, accepted them as learners, and asked them to come with him to his home. They did and remained with him, for it was now four o’clock in the afternoon. They spent the night with him. We may well suppose that the time was spent in discoursing of his mission and teaching. The work of Jesus in the world has been greatly hindered and marred by the un­faithfulness of his followers, yet, imperfect as that work has been, the contrast between the conditions of the world where

Jesus has been known and where he has not must convince the most superficial observer of the immense good Jesus has done the world. The lifting up of the common people, the provisions for the unfortunate and helpless are found only where the teach­ings of Jesus have gone. There is not a hospital or asylum for the unfortunate in the world that has not been built by the influence of Jesus. It would be difficult to find a country where a workingman could get more than twenty-five cents a day for labor save where Christ is known. He lifts up and helps the helpless today through the influence of his teaching as in his personal ministry.

Verse 40

Joh 1:40

John 1:40

One of the two that heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.—We may well feel sure that his stay with Jesus satisfied his desire to know and strength­ened his faith in Jesus. Andrew was one of the first called of the followers of Jesus. He was Peter’s brother. Their home was in Bethsaida, a city on the Sea of Galilee. This was also the home of John and James, the sons of Zebedee. They are now at Bethany—not the Bethany near Jerusalem, but a village on the east side of the Jordan, near its entrance into the Dead Sea. Simon Peter was the older of the two brothers, likely the more aggressive, and became in one sense the first leader among the disciples.

Verse 41

Joh 1:41

John 1:41

He findeth first his own brother Simon,—So moved by a natural and fleshly feeling he first sought Simon. The teaching of Jesus does not destroy the ties of the flesh, but sanctifies them. Andrew first sought his own brother. Every Christian should act on this principle. The person who is in­different to the salvation of his own kindred and people, but who is zealous of the salvation of strangers, does not follow the example of either Jesus or his disciples. Jesus first preached to his own people then to others.

and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ).—Messiah is the Hebrew term for Christ in the Greek, then chiefly spoken, or anointed in English. He was anointed by the Spirit which descended upon and abode with him [at his baptism].

Verse 42

Joh 1:42

John 1:42

He brought him unto Jesus. Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter).—His report brought Simon to Jesus, who, when he looked upon him, saw what was in him, and gave him the name of Cephas, the Hebrew of which Peter is the Greek translation, which in English means rock. It seems that Jesus gave him this name as describing in some respects his character. Andrew first came to Christ and was instrumental in bringing Peter. In their after life Peter was the more active, forward, and prominent in his work. Andrew is seldom mentioned save in the innumeration of the apostles of the Lord. It is an example of how an humble one may be instru­mental in bringing forward one of more power and general effectiveness. Peter was already a disciple of John as were these others. The leading characteristics of Peter was the promptitude with which he decided and acted on questions. Jesus beheld him and knew him, for he needed not to be told what is in man.

Verse 43

Joh 1:43

John 1:43

On the morrow he was minded to go forth into Gali­lee, and he findeth Philip: and Jesus saith unto him, Follow me.—Galilee was his home, and the day following that on which Peter came to him he was minded to return to Galilee and found Philip. Philip is of the same city (Bethsaida) of Peter and Andrew, James and John. They had all come down to hear the preaching of John, had been taught by him, and tarried with him until he bore testimony to Jesus. We are not to conclude that Philip and Jesus heretofore had not known each other.

Verses 43-51

Joh 1:43-51

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael - John 1:43-51

Open It

1. How do people feel when they find something that’s been missing for a for long time?

2. What famous people would you like to meet? Why?

3. *About what things are people today skeptical?

Explore It

4. How did Jesus and Philip meet? (John 1:43)

5. What did Jesus say to Philip? (John 1:43)

6. *How did Philip respond to Jesus’ invitation? (John 1:44-46)

7. What did Philip do after he followed Jesus? (John 1:45)

8. What did Philip tell Nathanael about Jesus? (John 1:45)

9. *Why was Nathanael skeptical that Philip had found the Messiah? (John 1:46)

10. How did Nathanael respond to the fact that Jesus was from Nazareth? (John 1:46)

11. What did Jesus say when he saw Nathanael? (John 1:47)

12. *What convinced Nathanael that Jesus was the Son of God? (John 1:47-50)

13. What was Nathanael’s response to Jesus’ greeting? (John 1:48)

14 Why was Nathanael surprised? (John 1:48)

15. Why did Nathanael call Jesus the Son of God and the King of Israel? (John 1:48-49)

16. What were the greater things to which Jesus referred? (John 1:50)

17. What did Jesus tell Nathanael he would see? (John 1:51)

18. Who is the Son of Man? (John 1:51)

Get It

19. What about Christ stirs skepticism today?

20. *What stereotypes about Christ prevent people from trusting Him today?

21. What convinced you that Jesus was the Son of God?

22. *What makes Jesus qualified to rule our lives?

23. How is Jesus the King of your life?

24. What do you have in common with Jesus?

25. How can Jesus’ identity as the Son of God inspire your confidence in Him?

Apply It

26. How will you show your trust in the God who knows all about you this week?

27. *How would you share your faith with a skeptical person this week?

28. In what way will you recognize Jesus as the ruler of your life today?

Verse 44

Joh 1:44

John 1:44

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.—All of the twelve save Judas seem to have lived on the Sea of Galilee. This is not Philip, one of the seven, but the apostle Philip, which name is associated with Bartholomew.

Verse 45

Joh 1:45

John 1:45

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.—So soon as Philip had found Jesus his first impulse seemed to be to bring others to him. This is the essential spirit of Christ. No one imbued with his spirit can know Christ and be indifferent to others, all others knowing him. First, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, but stops not until it reaches the uttermost parts of the earth. Converting your family stimulates the desire and leads you to convert your neighbor, your countryman—all who sit in “the valley and shadow of death.” The spirit of Christ will let man enjoy no good alone. Jesus could not enjoy the glory of heaven unless man could have an opportunity to share it with him. Good is multiplied to us as we divide it with others.

Verse 46

Joh 1:46

John 1:46

And Nathanael said unto him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.—Nazareth seemed to have an ill name among the people. Philip insisted that he should come and see before deciding. He did so. Nathanael was of Cana in Galilee, and is thought to be the same as Bartholomew, with whose name Philip’s is asso­ciated in the list of apostles.

Verse 47

Joh 1:47

John 1:47

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!—The super­natural knowledge that enabled Jesus to know men and what their thoughts, purposes, and characters were enabled him to tell the character of Nathanael, whom he did not know, so announced him an Israelite in whom was no deceit or guile. This was a compliment. Such are prepared to receive the pure and guileless life of the Son of God.

Verse 48

joh 1:48

John 1:48

Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me?—He asked, “How and from what do you know me?” showing he had no acquaintance with him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.—Jesus responded that he knew him as he sat under the fig tree before Philip called him. I take it that Jesus could not see him by his sight, and that Nathanael knew it required superhuman knowl­edge and his frank and guileless spirit, taken with what Philip had told him, he confessed that Jesus is the Son of God.

Verse 49

Joh 1:49

John 1:49

Nathanael answered him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art King of Israel.—His knowing things that were beyond his power to learn by his senses with none to inform him satisfied the guileless spirit of Nathanael that he was super­human. Putting it with the teaching of John and the testimony he had borne to Jesus which he learned of Philip and had likely heard of others satisfied him at once, and he acknowledged him as the Son of God, the King of Israel.

Verse 50

Joh 1:50

John 1:50

Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee underneath the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.—Jesus complimented him on his ready faith in this testimony and assured him that he should see greater things than these.

Verse 51

Joh 1:51

John 1:51

And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascend­ing and descending upon the Son of man.—When this prom­ise was fulfilled we know not unless at the ascension of Jesus. The angels ascending and descending upon him, possibly was not literal, but meant that he would be constantly watched over and guarded here in the world by the angels of God, and that their ministration to him as the Son of God would be manifested to Nathanael in the care and love God would show him.

Questions on John Chapter One

E.M. Zerr

1. What was in the beginning?

2. Where was it?

3. Tell what was made by him.

4. In him was what?

5. How were men benefited by this?

6. Which was stronger, the light or the darkness?

7. From what source was John sent?

8. What did he come to bear?

9. To what end was this?

10. What persons are "he" and "light" in John 1:8?

11. What will the true light do?

12. Tell what the world did not know.

13. To whom did he came?

13. How did they treat him?

14. What did he do for the exceptions to this?

15. By what had they been born?

16. In what form was the Word made?

17. It could then dwell where?

18. But what glory did it display?

19. Of what was it full?

20. What did John bear for Christ?

21. Which of these persons was preferred?

22. Tell the reason here given.

23. For what had fullness and grace been received?

24. What did Moses give?

25. Tell what came by Christ.

26. Who only has seen God?

27. What qualified him to declare his glory?

28. Of what was John asked?

29. What admissions did he make?

30. What did he claim to be?

40. He was to do what?

41. Who were sent to question him?

42. Distinguish priests and Levites.

43. State the next question they asked him?

44. With what did John baptize?

45. Who was unrecognized among them now?

46. State the preference John mentions.

47. How unworthy did he profess to be?

48. Where were these things being done?

49. What presentation did John make next day?

50. How did he classify him?

60. Did he at first know him?

61. By what means did he recognize him?

62. What conclusion did this form for him?

63. The "next day" after what, in John 1:35?

64.What did John repeat then?

65. Who then followed Jesus?

66. Why were they following?

67. Did they obtain their desire?

68. Tell who they were.

69.What change in name did Jesus make now?

70. When was the "day following," in John 1:43?

71. Where did Jesus go on this day?

72. Whom did he take?

73. Tell what he said to Nathanael.

74. Repeat Nathanael’s question.

75. And the answer.

76. What did Jesus say of Nathanael?

77. How long had he known this?

78. What confession did this bring from Nathanael?

79. Relate the prediction Jesus made now.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/john-1.html.
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