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In the beginning (εν αρχη). Αρχη is definite, though anarthrous like our at home, in town, and the similar Hebrew be reshith in Genesis 1:1. But Westcott notes that here John carries our thoughts beyond the beginning of creation in time to eternity. There is no argument here to prove the existence of God any more than in Genesis. It is simply assumed. Either God exists and is the Creator of the universe as scientists like Eddington and Jeans assume or matter is eternal or it has come out of nothing.
Was (ην). Three times in this sentence John uses this imperfect of ειμ to be which conveys no idea of origin for God or for the Logos, simply continuous existence. Quite a different verb (εγενετο, became) appears in verse John 1:14 for the beginning of the Incarnation of the Logos. See the distinction sharply drawn in John 8:58 "before Abraham came (γενεσθα) I am" (ειμ, timeless existence).
The Word (ο λογος). Λογος is from λεγω, old word in Homer to lay by, to collect, to put words side by side, to speak, to express an opinion. Λογος is common for reason as well as speech. Heraclitus used it for the principle which controls the universe. The Stoics employed it for the soul of the world (ανιμα μυνδ) and Marcus Aurelius used σπερματικος λογος for the generative principle in nature. The Hebrew memra was used in the Targums for the manifestation of God like the Angel of Jehovah and the Wisdom of God in Proverbs 8:23. Dr. J. Rendel Harris thinks that there was a lost wisdom book that combined phrases in Proverbs and in the Wisdom of Solomon which John used for his Prologue (The Origin of the Prologue to St. John, p. 43) which he has undertaken to reproduce. At any rate John's standpoint is that of the Old Testament and not that of the Stoics nor even of Philo who uses the term Λογος, but not John's conception of personal pre-existence. The term Λογος is applied to Christ only in John 1:1; John 1:14; Revelation 19:13; 1 John 1:1 "concerning the Word of life" (an incidental argument for identity of authorship). There is a possible personification of "the Word of God" in Hebrews 4:12. But the personal pre-existence of Christ is taught by Paul (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:17) and in Hebrews 1:2 and in John 17:5. This term suits John's purpose better than σοφια (wisdom) and is his answer to the Gnostics who either denied the actual humanity of Christ (Docetic Gnostics) or who separated the αεον Christ from the man Jesus (Cerinthian Gnostics). The pre-existent Logos "became flesh" (σαρξ εγενετο, verse John 1:14) and by this phrase John answered both heresies at once.
With God (προς τον θεον). Though existing eternally with God the Logos was in perfect fellowship with God. Προς with the accusative presents a plane of equality and intimacy, face to face with each other. In 1 John 2:1 we have a like use of προς: "We have a Paraclete with the Father" (παρακλητον εχομεν προς τον πατερα). See προσωπον προς προσωπον (face to face, 1 Corinthians 13:12), a triple use of προς. There is a papyrus example of προς in this sense το γνωστον της προς αλληλους συνηθειας, "the knowledge of our intimacy with one another" (M.&M., Vocabulary) which answers the claim of Rendel Harris, Origin of Prologue, p. 8) that the use of προς here and in Mark 6:3 is a mere Aramaism. It is not a classic idiom, but this is Koine, not old Attic. In John 17:5 John has παρα σο the more common idiom.
And the Word was God (κα θεος ην ο λογος). By exact and careful language John denied Sabellianism by not saying ο θεος ην ο λογος. That would mean that all of God was expressed in ο λογος and the terms would be interchangeable, each having the article. The subject is made plain by the article (ο λογος) and the predicate without it (θεος) just as in John 4:24 πνευμα ο θεος can only mean "God is spirit," not "spirit is God." So in 1 John 4:16 ο θεος αγαπη εστιν can only mean "God is love," not "love is God" as a so-called Christian scientist would confusedly say. For the article with the predicate see Robertson, Grammar, pp. 767f. So in John 1:14 ο Λογος σαρξ εγενετο, "the Word became flesh," not "the flesh became Word." Luther argues that here John disposes of Arianism also because the Logos was eternally God, fellowship of Father and Son, what Origen called the Eternal Generation of the Son (each necessary to the other). Thus in the Trinity we see personal fellowship on an equality.
The same (ουτος). "This one," the Logos of verse John 1:1, repeated for clarity, characteristic of John's style. He links together into one phrase two of the ideas already stated separately, "in the beginning he was with God," "afterwards in time he came to be with man" (Marcus Dods). Thus John clearly states of the Logos Pre-existence before Incarnation, Personality, Deity.
All things (παντα). The philosophical phrase was τα παντα (the all things) as we have it in 1 Corinthians 8:6; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16. In verse John 1:10 John uses ο κοσμος (the orderly universe) for the whole.
Were made (egeneto). Second aorist middle indicative of γινομα, the constative aorist covering the creative activity looked at as one event in contrast with the continuous existence of ην in verses John 1:1; John 1:2. All things "came into being." Creation is thus presented as a becoming (γινομα) in contrast with being (ειμ).
By him (δι' αυτου). By means of him as the intermediate agent in the work of creation. The Logos is John's explanation of the creation of the universe. The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 1:2) names God's Son as the one "through whom he made the ages." Paul pointedly asserts that "the all things were created in him" (Christ) and "the all things stand created through him and unto him" (Colossians 1:16). Hence it is not a peculiar doctrine that John here enunciates. In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul distinguishes between the Father as the primary source (εξ ου) of the all things and the Son as the intermediate agent as here (δι' ου).
Without him (χωρις αυτου). Old adverbial preposition with the ablative as in Philippians 2:14, "apart from." John adds the negative statement for completion, another note of his style as in John 1:20; 1 John 1:5. Thus John excludes two heresies (Bernard) that matter is eternal and that angels or aeons had a share in creation.
Not anything (ουδε εν). "Not even one thing." Bernard thinks the entire Prologue is a hymn and divides it into strophes. That is by no means certain. It is doubtful also whether the relative clause "that hath been made" (ο γεγονεν) is a part of this sentence or begins a new one as Westcott and Hort print it. The verb is second perfect active indicative of γινομα. Westcott observes that the ancient scholars before Chrysostom all began a new sentence with ο γεγονεν. The early uncials had no punctuation.
In him was life (εν αυτω ζωη ην). That which has come into being (verse John 1:3) in the Logos was life. The power that creates and sustains life in the universe is the Logos. This is what Paul means by the perfect passive verb εκτιστα (stands created) in Colossians 1:16. This is also the claim of Jesus to Martha (John 11:25). This is the idea in Hebrews 1:3 "bearing (upholding) the all things by the word of his power." Once this language might have been termed unscientific, but not so now after the spiritual interpretation of the physical world by Eddington and Jeans. Usually in John ζωη means spiritual life, but here the term is unlimited and includes all life; only it is not βιος (manner of life), but the very principle or essence of life. That is spiritual behind the physical and to this great scientists today agree. It is also personal intelligence and power. Some of the western documents have εστιν here instead of ην to bring out clearly the timelessness of this phrase of the work of the Λογος.
And the life was the light of men (κα η ζωη ην το φως των ανθρωπων). Here the article with both ζωη and φως makes them interchangeable. "The light was the life of men" is also true. That statement is curiously like the view of some physicists who find in electricity (both light and power) the nearest equivalent to life in its ultimate physical form. Later Jesus will call himself the light of the world (John 8:12). John is fond of these words life and light in Gospel, Epistles, Revelation. He here combines them to picture his conception of the Pre-incarnate Logos in his relation to the race. He was and is the Life of men (των ανθρωπον, generic use of the article) and the Light of men. John asserts this relation of the Logos to the race of men in particular before the Incarnation.
Shineth (φαινε). Linear present active indicative of φαινω, old verb from φαω, to shine (φαοσ, φως). "The light keeps on giving light."
In the darkness (εν τη σκοτια). Late word for the common σκοτος (kin to σκια, shadow). An evident allusion to the darkness brought on by sin. In 2 Peter 2:17 we have ο ζοφος του σκοτου (the blackness of darkness). The Logos, the only real moral light, keeps on shining both in the Pre-incarnate state and after the Incarnation. John is fond of σκοτια (σκοτος) for moral darkness from sin and φως (φωτιζω, φαινω) for the light that is in Christ alone. In 1 John 2:8 he proclaims that "the darkness is passing by and the true light is already shining." The Gnostics often employed these words and John takes them and puts them in the proper place.
Apprehended it not (αυτο ου κατελαβεν). Second aorist active indicative of καταλαμβανω, old verb to lay hold of, to seize. This very phrase occurs in John 12:35 (ινα μη σκοτια υμας καταλαβη) "that darkness overtake you not," the metaphor of night following day and in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 the same idiom (ινα καταλαβη) is used of day overtaking one as a thief. This is the view of Origen and appears also in 2Macc. 8:18. The same word appears in Aleph D in John 6:17 κατελαβε δε αυτους η σκοτια ("but darkness overtook them," came down on them). Hence, in spite of the Vulgate comprehenderunt, "overtook" or "overcame" seems to be the idea here. The light kept on shining in spite of the darkness that was worse than a London fog as the Old Testament and archaeological discoveries in Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Crete, Asia Minor show.
There came a man (εγενετο ανθρωπος). Definite event in the long darkness, same verb in verse John 1:3.
Sent (απεσταλμενος). Perfect passive participle of αποστελλω, to send.
From God (παρα θεου). From the side of (παρα) God (ablative case θεου).
Whose name (ονομα αυτω). "Name to him," nominative parenthetic and dative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 460).
John (Ιωανης). One ν in Westcott and Hort. In the giving of the name see Luke 1:59-63, Hellenized form of Jonathan, Joanan (Gift of God), used always of the Baptist in this Gospel which never mentions the name of John son of Zebedee (the sons of Zebedee once, John 21:2).
For witness (εις μαρτυριαν). Old word from μαρτυρεω (from μαρτυς), both more common in John's writings than the rest of the N.T. This the purpose of the Baptist's ministry.
That he might bear witness (ινα μαρτυρηση). Final clause with ινα and aorist active subjunctive of μαρτυρεω to make clearer εις μαρτυριαν.
Of the light (περ του φωτος). "Concerning the light." The light was shining and men with blinded eyes were not seeing the light (John 1:26), blinded by the god of this world still (2 Corinthians 4:4). John had his own eyes opened so that he saw and told what he saw. That is the mission of every preacher of Christ. But he must first have his own eyes opened.
That all might believe (ινα πιστευσωσιν). Final clause with ινα and first aorist active subjunctive of πιστευω, ingressive aorist "come to believe." This is one of John's great words (about 100 times), "with nine times the frequency with which it is used by the Synoptists" (Bernard). And yet πιστις, so common in Paul, John uses only in 1 John 5:4 and four times in the Apocalypse where πιστευω does not occur at all. Here it is used absolutely as in John 1:50, etc.
Through him (δι' αυτου). As the intermediate agent in winning men to believe in Christ (the Logos) as the Light and the Life of men. This is likewise the purpose of the author of this book (John 21:31). The preacher is merely the herald to point men to Christ.
He (εκεινος). "That one," i.e. John. He was a light (John 5:35) as all believers are (Matthew 5:14), but not "the light" (το φως).
But came (αλλ'). No verb in the Greek, to be supplied by repeating ηλθεν of verse John 1:7. See similar ellipses in John 9:3; John 13:18; John 15:25. In Johannine fashion we have the final ινα clause of verse John 1:7 repeated.
There was (ην). Imperfect indicative. Emphatic position at the beginning of the sentence and so probably not periphrastic conjugation with ερχομενον (coming) near the end, though that is possible.
The true light (το φως το αληθινον). "The light the genuine," not a false light of wreckers of ships, but the dependable light that guides to the harbor of safety. This true light had been on hand all the time in the darkness (ην imperfect, linear action) before John came.
Even the light (not in the Greek). Added in the English to make plain this interpretation.
Lighteth every man (φωτιζε παντα ανθρωπον). Old verb (from φως) to give light as in Revelation 22:5; Luke 11:35. The Quakers appeal to this phrase for their belief that to every man there is given an inner light that is a sufficient guide, the Quaker's text it is called. But it may only mean that all the real light that men receive comes from Christ, not necessarily that each one receives a special revelation.
Coming (ερχομενον). This present middle participle of ερχομα can be taken with ανθρωπον just before (accusative masculine singular), "every man as he comes into the world." It can also be construed with φως (nominative neuter singular). This idea occurs in John 3:19; John 11:27; John 12:46. In the two last passages the phrase is used of the Messiah which makes it probable here. But even so the light presented in John 11:27; John 12:46 is that of the Incarnate Messiah, not the Pre-incarnate Logos. Here κοσμος rather than παντα occurs in the sense of the orderly universe as often in this Gospel. See Ephesians 1:4.
He was in the world (εν τω κοσμω ην). Imperfect tense of continuous existence in the universe before the Incarnation as in verses John 1:1; John 1:2.
Was made by him (δι' αυτου εγενετο). "Through him." Same statement here of "the world" (ο κοσμος) as that made in verse John 1:3 of παντα.
Knew him not (αυτον ουκ εγνω). Second aorist active indicative of common verb γινοσκω, what Gildersleeve called a negative aorist, refused or failed to recognize him, his world that he had created and that was held together by him (Colossians 1:16). Not only did the world fail to know the Pre-incarnate Logos, but it failed to recognize him when he became Incarnate (John 1:26). Two examples in this sentence of John's fondness for κα as in verses John 1:1; John 1:4; John 1:5; John 1:14, the paratactic rather than the hypotactic construction, like the common Hebrew use of wav.
Unto his own (εις τα ιδια). Neuter plural, "unto his own things," the very idiom used in John 19:27 when the Beloved Disciple took the mother of Jesus "to his own home." The world was "the own home" of the Logos who had made it. See also John 16:32; Acts 21:6.
They that were his own (ο ιδιο). In the narrower sense, "his intimates," "his own family," "his own friends" as in John 13:1. Jesus later said that a prophet is not without honour save in his own country (Mark 6:4; John 4:44), and the town of Nazareth where he lived rejected him (Luke 4:28; Matthew 13:58). Probably here ο ιδιο means the Jewish people, the chosen people to whom Christ was sent first (Matthew 15:24), but in a wider sense the whole world is included in ο ιδιο. Conder's The Hebrew Tragedy emphasizes the pathos of the situation that the house of Israel refused to welcome the Messiah when he did come, like a larger and sadder Enoch Arden experience.
Received him not (αυτον ου παρελαβον). Second aorist active indicative of παραλαμβανω, old verb to take to one's side, common verb to welcome, the very verb used by Jesus in John 14:3 of the welcome to his Father's house. Cf. κατελαβεν in verse John 1:5. Israel slew the Heir (Hebrews 1:2) when he came, like the wicked husbandmen (Luke 20:14).
As many as received him (οσο ελαβον αυτον). Effective aorist active indicative of λαμβανω "as many as did receive him," in contrast with ο ιδιο just before, exceptional action on the part of the disciples and other believers.
To them (αυτοις). Dative case explanatory of the relative clause preceding, an anacoluthon common in John 27 times as against 21 in the Synoptists. This is a common Aramaic idiom and is urged by Burney (Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 64) for his theory of an Aramaic original of the Fourth Gospel.
The right (εξουσιαν). In John 5:27 εδωκεν (first aorist active indicative of διδωμ) εξουσιαν means authority but includes power (δυναμις). Here it is more the notion of privilege or right.
To become (γενεσθα). Second aorist middle of γινομα, to become what they were not before.
Children of God (τεκνα θεου). In the full spiritual sense, not as mere offspring of God true of all men (Acts 17:28). Paul's phrase υιο θεου (Galatians 3:26) for believers, used also by Jesus of the pure in heart (Matthew 5:9), does not occur in John's Gospel (but in Revelation 21:7). It is possible that John prefers τα τεκνα του θεου for the spiritual children of God whether Jew or Gentile (John 11:52) because of the community of nature (τεκνον from root τεκ-, to beget). But one cannot follow Westcott in insisting on "adoption" as Paul's reason for the use of υιο since Jesus uses υιο θεου in Matthew 5:9. Clearly the idea of regeneration is involved here as in John 3:3.
Even to them that believe (τοις πιστευουσιν). No "even" in the Greek, merely explanatory apposition with αυτοις, dative case of the articular present active participle of πιστευω.
On his name (εις το ονομα). Bernard notes πιστευω εις 35 times in John, to put trust in or on. See also John 2:23; John 3:38 for πιστευω εις το ονομα αυτου. This common use of ονομα for the person is an Aramaism, but it occurs also in the vernacular papyri and εις το ονομα is particularly common in the payment of debts (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary). See Acts 1:15 for ονοματα for persons.
Which were born (ο εγεννηθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of γενναω, to beget, "who were begotten." By spiritual generation (of God, εκ θεου), not by physical (εξ αιματων, plural as common in classics and O.T., though why it is not clear unless blood of both father and mother; εκ θεληματος σαρκος, from sexual desire; εκ θεληματος ανδρος, from the will of the male). But b of the old Latin reads qui natus est and makes it refer to Christ and so expressly teach the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Likewise Irenaeus reads qui natus est as does Tertullian who argues that qui nati sunt (ο εγεννηθησαν) is an invention of the Valentinian Gnostics. Blass (Philology of the Gospels, p. 234) opposes this reading, but all the old Greek uncials read ο εγεννηθησαν and it must be accepted. The Virgin Birth is doubtless implied in verse John 1:14, but it is not stated in verse John 1:13.
And the Word became flesh (κα ο λογος σαρξ εγενετο). See verse John 1:3 for this verb and note its use for the historic event of the Incarnation rather than ην of verse John 1:1. Note also the absence of the article with the predicate substantive σαρξ, so that it cannot mean "the flesh became the Word." The Pre-existence of the Logos has already been plainly stated and argued. John does not here say that the Logos entered into a man or dwelt in a man or filled a man. One is at liberty to see an allusion to the birth narratives in Matthew 1:16-25; Luke 1:28-38, if he wishes, since John clearly had the Synoptics before him and chiefly supplemented them in his narrative. In fact, one is also at liberty to ask what intelligent meaning can one give to John's language here apart from the Virgin Birth? What ordinary mother or father ever speaks of a child "becoming flesh"? For the Incarnation see also 2 Corinthians 8:9; Galatians 4:4; Romans 1:3; Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14. "To explain the exact significance of εγενετο in this sentence is beyond the powers of any interpreter" (Bernard). Unless, indeed, as seems plain, John is referring to the Virgin Birth as recorded in Matthew and Luke. "The Logos of philosophy is, John declares, the Jesus of history" (Bernard). Thus John asserts the deity and the real humanity of Christ. He answers the Docetic Gnostics who denied his humanity.
Dwelt among us (εσκηνωσεν εν ημιν). First aorist ingressive aorist active indicative of σκηνοω, old verb, to pitch one's tent or tabernacle (σκηνος or σκηνη), in N.T. only here and John 1:7-15; John 12:12; John 13:6; John 21:3. In Revelation it is used of God tabernacling with men and here of the Logos tabernacling, God's Shekinah glory here among us in the person of his Son.
We beheld his glory (εθεασαμεθα την δοξαν αυτου). First aorist middle indicative of θεαομα (from θεα, spectacle). The personal experience of John and of others who did recognize Jesus as the Shekinah glory (δοξα) of God as James, the brother of Jesus, so describes him (James 2:1). John employs θεαομα again in John 1:32 (the Baptist beholding the Spirit coming down as a dove) and John 1:38 of the Baptist gazing in rapture at Jesus. So also John 4:35; John 11:45; 1 John 1:1; 1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:14. By this word John insists that in the human Jesus he beheld the Shekinah glory of God who was and is the Logos who existed before with God. By this plural John speaks for himself and all those who saw in Jesus what he did.
As of the only begotten from the Father (ως μονογενους παρα πατρος). Strictly, "as of an only born from a father," since there is no article with μονογενους or with πατρος. In John 3:16; 1 John 4:9 we have τον μονογενη referring to Christ. This is the first use in the Gospel of πατηρ of God in relation to the Logos. Μονογενης (only born rather than only begotten) here refers to the eternal relationship of the Logos (as in John 1:18) rather than to the Incarnation. It distinguishes thus between the Logos and the believers as children (τεκνα) of God. The word is used of human relationships as in Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42; Luke 9:38. It occurs also in the LXX and Hebrews 11:17, but elsewhere in N.T. only in John's writings. It is an old word in Greek literature. It is not clear whether the words παρα πατρος (from the Father) are to be connected with μονογενους (cf. John 6:46; John 7:29, etc.) or with δοξαν (cf. John 5:41; John 5:44). John clearly means to say that "the manifested glory of the Word was as it were the glory of the Eternal Father shared with His only Son" (Bernard). Cf. John 8:54; John 14:9; John 17:5.
Full (πληρης). Probably indeclinable accusative adjective agreeing with δοξαν (or genitive with μονογενους) of which we have papyri examples (Robertson, Grammar, p. 275). As nominative πληρης can agree with the subject of εσκηνωσεν.
Of grace and truth (χαριτος κα αληθειας). Curiously this great word χαρις (grace), so common with Paul, does not occur in John's Gospel save in John 1:14; John 1:16; John 1:17, though αληθεια (truth) is one of the keywords in the Fourth Gospel and in 1John, occurring 25 times in the Gospel and 20 in the Johannine Epistles, 7 times in the Synoptics and not at all in Revelation (Bernard). In John 1:17 these two words picture the Gospel in Christ in contrast with the law of Moses. See Epistles of Paul for origin and use of both words.
Beareth witness (μαρτυρε). Historical (dramatic) present indicative of this characteristic word in John (cf. John 1:17). See John 1:32; John 1:34 for historical examples of John's witness to Christ. This sentence is a parenthesis in Westcott and Hort's text, though the Revised Version makes a parenthesis of most of verse John 1:14. The witness of John is adduced in proof of the glory full of grace and truth already claimed for the Incarnate Logos.
Crieth (κεκραγεν). Second perfect active indicative of κραζω, old verb for loud crying, repeated in dramatic form again for emphasis recalling the wonderful Voice in the wilderness which the Beloved Disciple can still hear echoing through the years.
This was (ουτος ην). Imperfect indicative where John throws the tense back in past time when he looked forward to the coming of the Messiah as in Acts 3:10 where we should prefer "is" (εστιν). Gildersleeve (Syntax, p. 96) calls this the "imperfect of sudden appreciation of the real state of things."
Of whom I said (ον ειπον). But B C and a corrector of Aleph (Westcott and Hort) have ο ειπων "the one who said," a parenthetical explanation about the Baptist, not the words of the Baptist about Christ.
After me (οπισω μου). See also John 1:27. Later in time John means. He described "the Coming One" (ο ερχομενος) before he saw Jesus. The language of John here is precisely that in Matthew 3:11 ο οπισω μου ερχομενος (cf. Mark 1:7). The Beloved Disciple had heard the Baptist say these very words, but he also had the Synoptic Gospels.
Is become (γεγονεν). Second perfect active indicative of γινομα. It is already an actual fact when the Baptist is speaking.
Before me (εμπροσθεν μου). In rank and dignity, the Baptist means, ο ισχυροτερος μου "the one mightier than I" (Mark 1:7) and ισχυροτερος μου "mightier than I" (Matthew 3:11). In John 3:28 εμπροσθεν εκεινου (before him, the Christ) does mean priority in time, but not here. This superior dignity of the Messiah John proudly recognizes always (John 3:25-30).
For he was before me (οτ πρωτος μου ην). Paradox, but clear. He had always been (ην ιμπερφεχτ) before John in his Pre-incarnate state, but "after" John in time of the Incarnation, but always ahead of John in rank immediately on his Incarnation. Πρωτος μου (superlative with ablative) occurs here when only two are compared as is common in the vernacular Koine. So the Beloved Disciple came first (πρωτος) to the tomb, ahead of Peter (John 20:4). So also πρωτον υμων in John 15:18 means "before you" as if it were προτερον υμων. Verse John 1:30 repeats these words almost exactly.
For (οτ). Correct text (Aleph B C D L) and not κα (and) of the Textus Receptus. Explanatory reason for verse John 1:14.
Of his fulness (εκ του πληρωματος). The only instance of πληρωμα in John's writings, though five times of Christ in Paul's Epistles (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:13). See Colossians 1:19 for discussion of these terms of the Gnostics that Paul employs for all the attributes of God summed up in Christ (Colossians 2:9) and so used here by John of the Incarnate Logos.
We all (ημεις παντες). John is facing the same Gnostic depreciation of Christ of which Paul writes in Colossians. So here John appeals to all his own contemporaries as participants with him in the fulness of the Logos.
Received (ελαβομεν). Second aorist active indicative of λαμβανω, a wider experience than beholding (εθεασαμεθα, verse John 1:14) and one that all believers may have.
Grace for grace (χαριν αντ χαριτος). The point is in αντ, a preposition disappearing in the Koine and here only in John. It is in the locative case of αντα (end), "at the end," and was used of exchange in sale. See Luke 11:11, αντ ιχθυος οφιν, "a serpent for a fish," Hebrews 12:2 where "joy" and "cross" are balanced against each other. Here the picture is "grace" taking the place of "grace" like the manna fresh each morning, new grace for the new day and the new service.
Was given (εδοθη). First aorist passive indicative of διδωμ.
By Moses (δια Μωυσεως). "Through Moses" as the intermediate agent of God.
Came (εγενετο). The historical event, the beginning of Christianity.
By Jesus Christ (δια Ιησου Χριστου). "Through Jesus Christ," the intermediate agent of God the Father. Here in plain terms John identifies the Pre-incarnate Logos with Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. The full historical name "Jesus Christ" is here for the first time in John. See also John 17:3 and four times in 1John and five times in Revelation. Without Christ there would have been no Christianity. John's theology is here pictured by the words "grace and truth" (η χαρις κα η αληθεια), each with the article and each supplementary to the other. It is grace in contrast with law as Paul sets forth in Galatians and Romans. Paul had made grace "a Christian commonplace" (Bernard) before John wrote. It is truth as opposed to Gnostic and all other heresy as Paul shows in Colossians and Ephesians. The two words aptly describe two aspects of the Logos and John drops the use of Λογος and χαρις, but clings to αληθεια (see John 8:32 for the freedom brought by truth), though the ideas in these three words run all through his Gospel.
No man hath seen God at any time (θεον ουδεις εωρακεν πωποτε). "God no one has ever seen." Perfect active indicative of οραω. Seen with the human physical eye, John means. God is invisible (Exodus 33:20; Deuteronomy 4:12). Paul calls God αορατος (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17). John repeats the idea in John 5:37; John 6:46. And yet in John 14:7 Jesus claims that the one who sees him has seen the Father as here.
The only begotten Son (ο μονογενης υιος). This is the reading of the Textus Receptus and is intelligible after ως μονογενους παρα πατρος in verse John 1:14. But the best old Greek manuscripts (Aleph B C L) read μονογενης θεος (God only begotten) which is undoubtedly the true text. Probably some scribe changed it to ο μονογενης υιος to obviate the blunt statement of the deity of Christ and to make it like John 3:16. But there is an inner harmony in the reading of the old uncials. The Logos is plainly called θεος in verse John 1:1. The Incarnation is stated in verse John 1:14, where he is also termed μονογενης. He was that before the Incarnation. So he is "God only begotten," "the Eternal Generation of the Son" of Origen's phrase.
Which is in the bosom of the Father (ο ων εις τον κολπον του πατρος). The eternal relation of the Son with the Father like προς τον θεον in verse John 1:1. In John 3:13 there is some evidence for ο ων εν τω ουρανω used by Christ of himself while still on earth. The mystic sense here is that the Son is qualified to reveal the Father as Logos (both the Father in Idea and Expression) by reason of the continual fellowship with the Father.
He (εκινος). Emphatic pronoun referring to the Son.
Hath declared him (εξηγησατο). First aorist (effective) middle indicative of εξηγεομα, old verb to lead out, to draw out in narrative, to recount. Here only in John, though once in Luke's Gospel (John 24:35) and four times in John 10:8; John 15:12; John 15:14; John 21:19). This word fitly closes the Prologue in which the Logos is pictured in marvellous fashion as the Word of God in human flesh, the Son of God with the Glory of God in him, showing men who God is and what he is.
And this is the witness of John (κα αυτη εστιν η μαρτυρια του Ιωανου). He had twice already alluded to it (verses John 1:7; John 1:15) and now he proceeds to give it as the most important item to add after the Prologue. Just as the author assumes the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke, so he assumes the Synoptic accounts of the baptism of Jesus by John, but adds various details of great interest and value between the baptism and the Galilean ministry, filling out thus our knowledge of this first year of the Lord's ministry in various parts of Palestine. The story in John proceeds along the same lines as in the Synoptics. There is increasing unfolding of Christ to the disciples with increasing hostility on the part of the Jews till the final consummation in Jerusalem.
When the Jews sent unto him (οτε απεστειλαν προς αυτον ο Ιουδαιο). John, writing in Ephesus near the close of the first century long after the destruction of Jerusalem, constantly uses the phrase "the Jews" as descriptive of the people as distinct from the Gentile world and from the followers of Christ (at first Jews also). Often he uses it of the Jewish leaders and rulers in particular who soon took a hostile attitude toward both John and Jesus. Here it is the Jews from Jerusalem who sent (απεστειλαν, first aorist active indicative of αποστελλω).
Priests and Levites (ιερεις κα Λευειτας). Sadducees these were. Down below in verse John 1:24 the author explains that it was the Pharisees who sent the Sadducees. The Synoptics throw a flood of light on this circumstance, for in Matthew 3:7 we are told that the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees "offspring of vipers" (Luke 3:7). Popular interest in John grew till people were wondering "in their hearts concerning John whether haply he were the Christ" (Luke 3:15). So the Sanhedrin finally sent a committee to John to get his own view of himself, but the Pharisees saw to it that Sadducees were sent.
To ask him (ινα ερωτησωσιν αυτον). Final ινα and the first aorist active subjunctive of ερωταω, old verb to ask a question as here and often in the Koine to ask for something (John 14:16) like αιτεω.
Who art thou? (συ τις ει;). Direct question preserved and note proleptic position of συ, "Thou, who art thou?" The committee from the Sanhedrin put the question sharply up to John to define his claims concerning the Messiah.
And he confessed (κα ωμολογησεν). The continued paratactic use of κα (and) and the first aorist active indicative of ομολογεω, old verb from ομολογος (ομον, λεγω, to say the same thing), to confess, in the Synoptics (Matthew 10:32) as here.
And denied not (κα ουκ ηρνησατο). Negative statement of same thing in Johannine fashion, first aorist middle indicative of αρνεομα, another Synoptic and Pauline word (Matthew 10:33; 2 Timothy 2:12). He did not contradict or refuse to say who he was.
And he confessed (κα ωμολογησεν). Thoroughly Johannine again in the paratactic repetition.
I am not the Christ (Εγω ουκ ειμ ο Χριστος). Direct quotation again with recitative οτ before it like our modern quotation marks. "I am not the Messiah," he means by ο Χριστος (the Anointed One). Evidently it was not a new question as Luke had already shown (Luke 3:15).
And they asked him (κα ηρωτησαν αυτον). Here the paratactic κα is like the transitional ουν (then).
What then? (Τ ουν;). Argumentative ουν like Paul's τ ουν in Romans 6:15. Quid ergo? Art thou Elijah? (Συ Ελιας ει;). The next inevitable question since Elijah had been understood to be the forerunner of the Messiah from Malachi 4:5. In Mark 9:11 Jesus will identify John with the Elijah of Malachi's prophecy. Why then does John here flatly deny it? Because the expectation was that Elijah would return in person. This John denies. Jesus only asserts that John was Elijah in spirit. Elijah in person they had just seen on the Mount of Transfiguration.
He saith (λεγε). Vivid dramatic present.
I am not (ουκ ειμ). Short and blunt denial.
Art thou the prophet? (ο προφητης ε συ;). "The prophet art thou?" This question followed naturally the previous denials. Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15) had spoken of a prophet like unto himself. Christians interpreted this prophet to be the Messiah (Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37), but the Jews thought him another forerunner of the Messiah (John 7:40). It is not clear in John 6:15 whether the people identified the expected prophet with the Messiah, though apparently so. Even the Baptist later became puzzled in prison whether Jesus himself was the true Messiah or just one of the forerunners (Luke 7:19). People wondered about Jesus himself whether he was the Messiah or just one of the looked for prophets (Mark 8:28; Matthew 16:14).
And he answered (κα απεκριθη). First aorist passive (deponent passive, sense of voice gone) indicative of αποκρινομα, to give a decision from myself, to reply.
No (Ου). Shortest possible denial.
They said therefore (ειπαν ουν). Second aorist active indicative of defective verb ειπον with α instead of usual ο. Note ουν, inferential here as in verse John 1:21 though often merely transitional in John.
Who art thou? (Τις ει;). Same question as at first (verse John 1:19), but briefer.
That we give answer (ινα αποκρισιν δωμεν). Final use of ινα with second aorist active subjunctive of διδωμ with αποκρισιν from αποκρινομα, above, old substantive as in Luke 2:47.
To those that sent (τοις πεμψασιν). Dative case plural of the articular participle first aorist active of πεμπω.
What sayest thou of thyself? (Τ λεγεις περ σεαυτου;). This time they opened wide the door without giving any hint at all.
He said (εφη). Common imperfect active (or second aorist active) of φημ, to say, old defective verb.
I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness (Εγω φωνη βοωντος εν τη ερημω). For his answer John quotes Isaiah 40:3. The Synoptics (Mark 1:3; Matthew 3:3; Luke 3:4) quote this language from Isaiah as descriptive of John, but do not say that he also applied it to himself. There is no reason to think that he did not do so. John also refers to Isaiah as the author of the words and also of the message, " Make straight the way of the Lord " (Ευθυνατε την οδον του κυριου). By this language (ευθυνω in N.T. only here and James 3:4, first aorist active imperative here) John identifies himself to the committee as the forerunner of the Messiah. The early writers note the differences between the use of Λογος (Word) for the Messiah and φωνη (Voice) for John.
They had been sent (απεσταλμενο ησαν). Periphrastic past perfect passive of αποστελλω.
From the Pharisees (εκ των Φαρισαιων). As the source (εκ) of the committee of Sadducees (verse John 1:19).
Why then baptizest thou? (Τ ουν βαπτιζεισ;). In view of his repeated denials (three here mentioned).
If thou art not (ε συ ουκ ε). Condition of first class. They did not interpret his claim to be "the voice" to be important enough to justify the ordinance of baptism. Abrahams (Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels) shows that proselyte baptism was probably practised before John's time, but its use by John was treating the Jews as if they were themselves Gentiles.
In the midst of you standeth (μεσος υμων στηκε). Adjective as in John 19:18, not εν μεσω υμων. Present active indicative of late verb στηκω from perfect stem εστηκα. John had already baptized Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah.
Whom ye know not (ον υμεις ουκ οιδατε). This was the tragedy of the situation (John 1:11). Apparently this startling declaration excited no further inquiry from the committee.
Coming after me (οπισω μου ερχομενος). No article (ο) in Aleph B. John as the forerunner of the Messiah has preceded him in time, but not in rank as he instantly adds.
The latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose (ου ουκ ειμ αξιος ινα λυσω αυτου τον ιμαντα του υποδηματος). Literally, "of whom I am not worthy that I unloose the latchet (see Mark 1:7 for ιμας) of his sandal (see Matthew 3:11 for υποδημα, bound under the foot)." Only use of αξιος with ινα in John, though used by Paul in this saying of the Baptist (Acts 13:25), ικανος ινα in Matthew 3:8, but ικανος λυσα (aorist active infinitive instead of λυσω, aorist active subjunctive) in Mark 1:7 (Luke 3:16) and βαστασα in Matthew 3:11.
In Bethany beyond Jordan (εν Βηθανια περαν του Ιορδανου). Undoubtedly the correct text, not "in Bethabara" as Origen suggested instead of "in Bethany" of all the known Greek manuscripts under the mistaken notion that the only Bethany was that near Jerusalem.
Was baptizing (ην βαπτιζων). Periphrastic imperfect, common idiom in John.
On the morrow (τη επαυριον). Locative case with ημηρα (day) understood after the adverb επαυριον. "Second day of this spiritual diary" (Bernard) from verse John 1:19.
Seeth Jesus coming (βλεπε τον Ιησουν ερχομενον). Dramatic historical present indicative (βλεπε) with vivid present middle participle (ερχομενον). Graphic picture.
Behold the Lamb of God (ιδε ο αμνος του θεου). Exclamation ιδε like ιδου, not verb, and so nominative αμνος. Common idiom in John (John 1:36; John 3:26, etc.). For "the Lamb of God" see 1 Corinthians 5:7 (cf. John 19:36) and 1 Peter 1:19. The passage in Isaiah 53:6 is directly applied to Christ by Philip in Acts 8:32. See also Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 9:28. But the Jews did not look for a suffering Messiah (John 12:34) nor did the disciples at first (Mark 9:32; Luke 24:21). But was it not possible for John, the Forerunner of the Messiah, to have a prophetic insight concerning the Messiah as the Paschal Lamb, already in John 1:53, even if the rabbis did not see it there? Symeon had it dimly (Luke 2:35), but John more clearly. So Westcott rightly. Bernard is unwilling to believe that John the Baptist had more insight on this point than current Judaism. Then why and how did he recognize Jesus as Messiah at all? Certainly the Baptist did not have to be as ignorant as the rabbis.
Which taketh away the sin of the world (ο αιρων την αμαρτιαν του κοσμου). Note singular αμαρτιαν not plural αμαρτιας (1 John 3:5) where same verb αιρω, to bear away, is used. The future work of the Lamb of God here described in present tense as in 1 John 1:7 about the blood of Christ. He is the Lamb of God for the world, not just for Jews.
Of whom (υπερ ου). Not περ, but υπερ. "On behalf of whom." John points to Jesus as he speaks: "This is he." There he is. See verse John 1:15 for discussion of these words of John.
And I knew him not (καγω ουκ ηιδειν αυτον). Repeated in verse John 1:33. Second past perfect of οιδα as imperfect. He had predicted the Messiah and described him before he met him and baptized him. See the Synoptics for that story. Whether John knew Jesus personally before the baptism we do not know.
But that he should be made manifest to Israel (αλλ' ινα φανερωθη τω Ισραηλ). Final clause with ινα and first aorist passive subjunctive of φανεροω. The purpose of John's ministry was to manifest to Israel with their spiritual privileges (John 1:49) the presence of the Messiah. Hence he was baptizing in water those who confessed their sins, he means, as in Mark 1:5. The Synoptic account is presupposed all along here.
Bare witness (εμαρτυρησεν). First aorist active indicative of μαρτυρεω. Another specimen of John's witness to the Messiah (John 1:7; John 1:15; John 1:19; John 1:29; John 1:35; John 1:36).
I have beheld (τεθεαμα). Perfect middle indicative of θεαομα, the realization of the promise of the sign (verse John 1:33) by which he should recognize the Messiah. As a matter of fact, we know that he so recognized Jesus as Messiah when he came for baptism before the Holy Spirit came (Matthew 3:14). But this sight of the Spirit descending as a dove upon Jesus at his baptism (Mark 1:10; Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:22) became permanent proof to him. John's allusion assumes the Synoptic record. The Semites regarded the dove as a symbol of the Spirit.
He said (εκεινος ειπεν). Explicit and emphatic pronoun as in verse John 1:8, referring to God as the one who sent John (verse John 1:6).
With the Holy Spirit (εν πνευματ αγιω). "In the Holy Spirit." Here again one needs the background of the Synoptics for the contrast between John's baptism in water (John 1:26) and that of the Messiah in the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8; Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16).
I have seen (εωρακα). Present perfect active of οραω. John repeats the statement of verse John 1:32 (τεθεαμα).
Have borne witness (μεμαρτυρηκα). Perfect active indicative of μαρτυρεω for which verb see John 1:32.
This is the Son of God (ο υιος του θεου). The Baptist saw the Spirit come on Jesus at his baptism and undoubtedly heard the Father's voice hail him as "My Beloved Son" (Mark 1:11; Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22). Nathanael uses it as a Messianic title (John 1:49) as does Martha (John 11:27). The Synoptics use it also of Christ (Mark 3:11; Matthew 14:33; Luke 22:70). Caiaphas employs it to Christ as a Messianic title (Matthew 26:63) and Jesus confessed under oath that he was (verse Matthew 26:64), thus applying the term to himself as he does in John's Gospel (John 5:25; John 10:36; John 11:4) and by implication (the Father, the Son) in Matthew 11:27 (Luke 10:22). Hence in the Synoptics also Jesus calls himself the Son of God. The phrase means more than just Messiah and expresses the peculiar relation of the Son to the Father (John 3:18; John 5:25; John 17:5; John 19:7; John 20:31) like that of the Logos with God in John 1:1.
Again on the morrow (τη επαυριον παλιν). Third day since verse John 1:19.
Was standing (ιστηκε). Past perfect of ιστημ, intransitive, and used as imperfect in sense. See same form in John 7:37.
Two (δυο). One was Andrew (verse John 1:40), the other the Beloved Disciple (the Apostle John), who records this incident with happy memories.
He looked (εμβλεψας). First aorist active participle of εμβλεπω, antecedent action before λεγε (says).
As he walked (περιπατουντ). Present active participle in dative case after εμβλεψας and like ερχομενον in verse John 1:29 vividly pictures the rapture of John in this vision of Jesus, so far as we know the third and last glimpse of Jesus by John (the baptism, verse John 1:29, and here).
Saith (λεγε). Historical present, change from ιστηκε before. He repeats part of the tribute in verse John 1:29.
Heard him speak (ηκουσαν αυτου λαλουντος). First active indicative of ακουω and present active participle of λαλεω in genitive case agreeing with αυτου, object of ακουω. "Heard him speaking" (kind of indirect discourse). John had disciples (μαθητα, learners, from μανθανω, to learn).
They followed Jesus (ηκολουθησαν τω Ιησου). Associative instrumental case after verb (first aorist active indicative, ingressive aorist, of ακολουθεω). These two disciples of the Baptist (Andrew and John) took him at his word and acted on it. John the Baptist had predicted and portrayed the Messiah, had baptized him, had interpreted him, and now for the second time had identified him.
Turned (στραφεις). Second aorist passive participle of στρεφω, vividly picturing the sudden act of Jesus on hearing their steps behind him.
Beheld (θεασαμενος). First aorist middle participle of θεαομα (verse John 1:32). Both participles here express antecedent action to λεγε (saith).
Following (ακολοθουντας). Present active participle of ακολουθεω (verse John 1:37). It was Christ's first experience of this kind and the two came from the Baptist to Jesus.
What seek ye? (Τ ζητειτε;). Not "whom" (τινα John 18:4; John 20:15), but "what purpose have you." The first words of Jesus preserved in this Gospel. See Luke 2:49; Matthew 3:15 for words spoken before this and Mark 1:15 for Mark's first report in the Galilean ministry.
Rabbi (Ραββε). Aramaic title for "Teacher" which John here translates by Διδασκαλε as he is writing late and for general readers. Luke, a Greek Christian, does not use it, but John recalls his first use of this term to Jesus and explains it. Matthew has it only in the greeting of Judas to the Master (Matthew 26:25; Matthew 26:49) and Mark once by Judas (Mark 14:45) and twice by Peter (Mark 9:5; Mark 11:21). John's Gospel has the disciples at first addressing Jesus by Rabbi while others address him by Κυριε (Lord or Sir) as in John 4:11; John 4:49; John 5:7. Peter uses Κυριε in John 6:68. In the end the disciples usually say Κυριε (John 13:6; John 13:25, etc.), but Mary Magdalene says Ραββουνε (John 20:16).
Being interpreted (μεθερμημευομενον). Present passive participle of μεθερμηνευω, late compound of μετα and ερμηνευω, to explain (John 1:42), old word from Hερμες, the god of speech (hermeneutics). John often explains Aramaic words (John 1:38; John 1:41; John 1:42; John 4:25; John 9:7, etc.).
Where abidest thou? (Που μενεισ;). They wished a place for quiet converse with Jesus.
Come and ye shall see (ερχεσθε κα οψεσθε). Polite invitation and definite promise (future middle indicative οψεσθε from οραω, correct text, not imperative ιδετε).
Where he abode (που μενε). Indirect question preserving the present active indicative after secondary tense (ειδαν, saw) according to regular Greek idiom. Same verb μενω as in John 1:38.
With him (παρ' αυτω). "By his side," "beside him."
That day (την ημεραν εκεινην). Accusative of extent of time, all during that day.
About the tenth hour (ωρα ως δεκατη). Roman time and so ten o'clock in the morning. John in Ephesus at the close of the century naturally uses Roman time. See John 20:19 "evening on that day," clearly Roman time. Thus also John 19:14 (sixth hour, morning) and Mark 15:25 (third hour, nine A.M.) suit. To his latest day John never forgot the hour when first he met Jesus.
Andrew (Ανδρεας). Explained by John as one of the two disciples of the Baptist and identified as the brother of the famous Simon Peter (cf. also John 6:8; John 12:22). The more formal call of Andrew and Simon, James and John, comes later (Mark 1:16; Matthew 4:18; Luke 3:1-11).
That heard John speak (των ακουσαντων παρα Ιωανου). "That heard from John," a classical idiom (παρα with ablative after ακουω) seen also in John 6:45; John 7:51; John 8:26; John 8:40; John 15:15.
He findeth first (ευρισκε ουτος πρωτον). "This one finds (vivid dramatic present) first" (προτων). Προτων (adverb supported by Aleph A B fam. 13) means that Andrew sought "his own brother Simon" (τον αδελφον τον ιδιον Σιμωνα) before he did anything else. But Aleph L W read πρωτος (nominative adjective) which means that Andrew was the first who went after his brother implying that John also went after his brother James. Some old Latin manuscripts (b, e, r apparently), have μανε for Greek πρω (early in the morning). Bernard thinks that this is the true reading as it allows more time for Andrew to bring Simon to Jesus. Probably πρωτον is correct, but even so John likely brought also his brother James after Andrew's example.
We have found the Messiah (Hευρηκαμεν τον Μεσσιαν). First aorist active indicative of ευρισκω. Andrew and John had made the greatest discovery of the ages, far beyond gold or diamond mines. The Baptist had told about him. "We have seen him."
Which is (ο εστιν). Same explanatory neuter relative as in verse John 1:38, "which word is." This Aramaic title Messiah is preserved in the N.T. only here and John 4:25, elsewhere translated into Χριστος, Anointed One, from χριω, to anoint. See on Matthew 1:1 for discussion.
Looked upon him (εμβλεψας αυτω). See verse John 1:36 for same word and form of John's eager gaze at Jesus. Luke uses this word of Jesus when Peter denied him (Luke 22:61).
He brought him (ηγαγεν αυτον). Effective second aorist active indicative of αγο as if Andrew had to overcome some resistance on Simon's part.
Thou shalt be called Cephas (συ κληθηση Κηφας). Apparently before Simon spoke. We do not know whether Jesus had seen Simon before or not, but he at once gives him a nickname that will characterize him some day, though not yet, when he makes the noble confession (Matthew 16:17), and Jesus will say, "Thou art Peter." Here the future passive indicative of καλεω is only prophecy. The Aramaic Χηφας (rock) is only applied to Simon in John except by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:12; Galatians 1:18, etc.). But the Greek Πετρος is used by all. In the ancient Greek πετρα was used for the massive ledge of rock like Stone Mountain while πετρος was a detached fragment of the ledge, though itself large. This distinction may exist in Matthew 16:17, except that Jesus probably used Aramaic which would not have such a distinction.
On the morrow (τη επαυριον). The fourth of the days from verse John 1:19.
He findeth Philip (ευρισκε Φιλιππον). Vivid dramatic present as in John 1:41, though ηθελησεν (was minded, wished) is aorist active indicative. Apparently not an accidental finding, possibly due to the efforts of Andrew and Peter. Both Andrew and Philip have Greek names.
Follow me (ακολουθε μο). Present active imperative, a direct challenge to Philip. Often Jesus uses this verb to win disciples (Mark 2:14; Matthew 8:22; Matthew 9:21; Matthew 19:21; Luke 9:59; John 21:19). Already Jesus had four personal followers (Andrew and Simon, John and James). He has begun his work.
From Bethsaida (απο Βηθσαιδα). Same expression in John 12:21 with the added words "of Galilee," which locates it in Galilee, not in Iturea. There were two Bethsaidas, one called Bethsaida Julias in Iturea (that in Luke 9:10) or the Eastern Bethsaida, the other the Western Bethsaida in Galilee (Mark 6:45), perhaps somewhere near Capernaum. This is the town of Andrew and Peter and Philip. Hence Philip would be inclined to follow the example of his townsmen.
Philip findeth (ευρισκε Φιλιππος). Dramatic present again. Philip carries on the work. One wins one. If that glorious beginning had only kept on! Now it takes a hundred to win one.
Nathaniel (τον Ναθαναηλ). It is a Hebrew name meaning "God has given" like the Greek Θεοδορε (Gift of God). He was from Cana of Galilee (John 21:2), not far from Bethsaida and so known to Philip. His name does not occur in the Synoptics while Bartholomew (a patronymic, Bar Tholmai) does not appear in John. They are almost certainly two names of the same man. Philip uses ευρηκαμεν (verse John 1:41) also to Nathanael and so unites himself with the circle of believers, but instead of Μεσσιαν describes him "of whom (ον accusative with εγραψεν) Moses in the law (Deuteronomy 18:15) and the prophets (so the whole O.T. as in Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44) did write."
Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph (Ιησουν υιον του Ιωσηφ τον απο Ναζαρετ). More exactly, "Jesus, son of Joseph, the one from Nazareth." Jesus passed as son (no article in the Greek) of Joseph, though John has just described him as "God-only Begotten" in verse John 1:18, but certainly Philip could not know this. Bernard terms this part "the irony of St. John" for he is sure that his readers will agree with him as to the real deity of Jesus Christ. These details were probably meant to interest Nathanael.
Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? (Εκ Ναζαρετ δυνατα τ αγαθον ειναι;). Literally, "Out of Nazareth can anything good be." There is a tinge of scorn in the question as if Nazareth (note position at beginning of sentence) had a bad name. Town rivalry may account to some extent for it since Cana (home of Nathanael) was near Nazareth. Clearly he had never heard of Jesus. The best thing in all the world came out of Nazareth, but Philip does not argue the point. A saying had arisen that no prophet comes out of Galilee (John 7:52), untrue like many such sayings.
Come and see (ερχου κα ιδε). Present middle imperative (come on) and second active imperative (and see at once). Philip followed the method of Jesus with Andrew and John (verse John 1:39), probably without knowing it. Wise is the one who knows how to deal with the sceptic.
Behold (ιδε). Here an exclamation (see John 1:29) as often like ιδου.
An Israelite indeed (αληθως Ισραηλειτης). "Truly an Israelite," one living up to the covenant name, Israel at its best (Romans 2:29), without the guile (δολος, deceit, bait for fish, from δελεαζω, to catch with bait) that Jacob once had of which Isaac complained (Genesis 27:35, δολος, here in LXX). The servant of Jehovah was to be without guile (Isaiah 53:9).
Whence knowest thou me? (Ποθεν με γινωσκεισ;). Nathanael is astonished at this tribute, at any knowledge about himself by Jesus. He had overheard Christ's comment and longed to know its source.
Before Philip called thee (Προ του σε Φιλιππον φωνησα). Idiomatic Greek, προ and the ablative case of the articular aorist active infinitive (του φωνησα, from φωνεω, to call) with σε as the object and Φιλιππον, the accusative of general reference, "before the calling thee as to Philip."
When thou wast under the fig tree (οντα υπο την συκην). "Being under the fig tree," accusative present participle agreeing with σε. The fig tree was a familiar object in Palestine, probably in leaf at this time, the accusative with υπο may suggest that Nathanael had withdrawn there for prayer. Note genitive with υποκατω in verse John 1:50. Jesus saw Nathanael's heart as well as his mere presence there. He saw him in his worship and so knew him.
Thou art the Son of God (συ ε ο υιος του θεου). Whether Nathanael had heard the Baptist say this of Jesus (John 1:34) we do not know, apparently not, but Nathanael was a student of the Old Testament as Philip implied (John 1:45) and was quick to put together his knowledge, the statement of Philip, and the manifest supernatural knowledge of Jesus as just shown. There is no reason for toning down the noble confession of Nathanael in the light of Christ's claim in verse John 1:51. Cf. the confession of Peter in John 6:69; Matthew 16:16 and Martha's in John 11:27. Nathanael goes further.
Thou art King of Israel (Βασιλευς ε του Ισραηλ). To us this seems an anti-climax, but not so to Nathanael for both are Messianic titles in John 1:2 and Jesus is greeted in the Triumphal Entry as the King of Israel (John 12:13).
Answered and said (απεκριθη κα ειπεν). This redundant use of both verbs (cf. John 1:26) occurs in the Synoptics also and in the LXX also. It is Aramaic also and vernacular. It is not proof of an Aramaic original as Burney argues (Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 53).
Because (οτ). Causal use of οτ at beginning of the sentence as in John 14:19; John 15:19; John 16:6. The second οτ before ειδον (I saw) is either declarative (that) or merely recitative (either makes sense here).
Thou shalt see greater things than these (μειζω τουτων οψη). Perhaps volitive future middle indicative of οραω (though merely futuristic is possible as with οψεσθε in John 1:51) ablative case of τουτων after the comparative adjective μειζω. The wonder of Nathanael no doubt grew as Jesus went on.
Verily, Verily (Αμην, αμην). Hebrew word transliterated into Greek and then into English, our "amen." John always repeats it, not singly as in the Synoptics, and only in the words of Jesus, an illustration of Christ's authoritative manner of speaking as shown also by λεγω υμιν (I say unto you). Note plural υμιν though αυτω just before is singular (to him). Jesus addresses thus others besides Nathanael.
The heaven opened (τον ουρανον ανεωιγοτα). Second perfect active participle of ανοιγω with double reduplication, standing open. The words remind one of what took place at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:21), but the immediate reference is to the opened heaven as the symbol of free intercourse between God and man (Isaiah 64:1) and as it was later illustrated in the death of Stephen (Acts 7:56). There is a quotation from Genesis 28:12, Jacob's vision at Bethel. That was a dream to Jacob, but Christ is himself the bond of fellowship between heaven and earth, between God and man, for Jesus is both "the Son of God" as Nathanael said and "the Son of Man" (επ τον υιον του ανθρωπου) as Jesus here calls himself. God and man meet in Christ. He is the true Jacob's Ladder. "I am the Way," Jesus will say. He is more than King of Israel, he is the Son of Man (the race). So quickly has this Gospel brought out in the witness of the Baptist, the faith of the first disciples, the claims of Jesus Christ, the fully developed picture of the Logos who is both God and man, moving among men and winning them to his service. At the close of the ministry Christ will tell Caiaphas that he will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62). Here at the start Jesus is conscious of the final culmination and in apocalyptic eschatological language that we do not fully understand he sets forth the dignity and majesty of his Person.
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent