The Agora
Bible Commentary

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John 1

Joh 1:1

Author: John. Sig "grace of Yah". Brother of James, son of Zebedee and Salome, of Bethsaida, a fisherman. Of high social standing (Joh 18:16). Salome was a sister of Mary (Mat 27:56), who ministered to Christ (Mat 20:20). John, one of the select three (Mark 5:37n). Given the care of Mary mother of Jesus (John 19:26). After her death, left Jerusalem and preached in Asia, centered in Ephesus, persecuted (Rev 1:9). Banished to island of Patmos; last living apostle; died c 98 AD.

I think the gospels are arranged in the order we have them for a real purpose: Matthew comes first, having numerous refs to the OT; it is the "bridge" with the OT -- and good for Jews who were well versed in the OT: 'Here's the next logical step... Christ!' Mark and Luke in the middle I'll pass by for now. But then comes John, probably written later, and written (evidently) to supplement the other 3 (many incidents reported by John, and many discourses of Jesus, are not reported in the other 3). But more than that, John is on another level -- it was intended to present a spiritual, idealistic, universal (I'm groping for words here... several other words might fit too) view of the life of Jesus.

Bottom line: it isn't supposed to be easy. And it is intended to be read as an extended, and elevated, statement of the gospel... AFTER the other three gospels are mastered. And it is intended to be interpreted, when it has difficult language, from the vantage point of the more concrete statements of the other three.

None of which helps us to understand it better -- only to appreciate WHY it can be so difficult to understand! Example: Matthew and Luke tell us about the birth of Jesus -- ordinary, straightforward (although miracle-filled) factual story. Angel appears, young engaged women conceives by power of Holy Spirit, Jesus is born (the Son of God Himself, and the son of Mary). Then comes John: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... and the Word was made flesh. The point is: if we want a simple statement of who Jesus was and is, we don't go to John first. We go to Matthew and Luke... and only after we are sure our understanding is grounded in the facts of the case... only then do we read and begin to appreciate John's statement. And it will never be easy; it isn't supposed to be easy. Doing it the other way round (John first) is a perfect recipe for confusion.

So John is this "heaven's eye-view" of who Jesus is.. everything that concerns him, everything he says in John, everything he does in John, is God's perspective... it's like a class of angels looking down and studying these peculiar creatures called men, and that most special of men -- the One that came directly from God in Heaven: 'What does this really mean, from God's point of view?' 'What is the universal aspect? What is the timeless, eternal lesson?'

One irony is: seems to me, at the same time John's Gospel is by far the most profound, AND... it is expressed in by far the simplest language: life, love, hate, dark, light, truth, word, faith... in English, you could almost tell the whole story in one-syllable words: The life was the light of men. God is love. God so loved the world that He gave His Son... Simple? yes, and profound. There was a real genius at work here (do I mean John? or do I mean God inspiring John? or both).

So I would say, if you've been reading it for 30 or 40 years, off and on, and you are still not sure what some passages mean... and you think it could have been stated better... well, that's about "par for the course". Give it another 30 years -- and, if Christ hasn't come yet, I can see a great-granny in her rocking chair whispering, "NOW I begin to see...!"

See Lesson, "Logos".

The first ch of John is considered one of the primary proof texts of the commonly-accepted doctrine of the Preexistence of Christ -- ie, that Christ had a personal, individual, and sentient existence before his conception and birth; indeed, that he was coexistent with the Father as a second person of the "trinity".

Christadelphians often seek to refute this teaching, in John 1 at least, by asserting that the "Word" was not Christ literally, but the "Idea" or "Logos" of Christ, existing in the mind of the Father long before his conception and birth of the Son, and that this Idea found expression in Jesus when he was born (v 14?), as the embodiment of the Purpose of Almighty God.

This general idea -- that the "Word" of God from the beginning (the Law and prophets of the OT) described and pointed toward the Messiah who was yet to come -- is certainly correct, but... is that what this passage is about?

The usual Christadelphian approach to John 1 is to assume that (1) "beginning" refers to Gen 1, or earlier, and that (2) "Word" therefore cannot refer literally to Christ, at least at that "beginning".

Much of what follows in the next 17 vv is a slightly different approach, which (1) has no problem with the "Word" being a title of Christ, but (2) interprets "beginning" in an entirely different way.

BEGINNING: "Archee"; signifying "first in order", from root "arch, archon" = a ruler. Cp v 15. "The beginning": a characteristic phrase of John, referring to the beginning of the NEW CREATION in Christ: consider carefully Joh 15:27; 16:4; 8:25; 6:64; 1Jo 1:1; 2:7,13,14,24; 2Jo 1:6. [Notice in some of these passages that the KJV translation shows certain words italicized, and that omitting these words actually enhances the sense of the passages.]

The "beginning" of the Gospel of John is obviously patterned after the "beginning" of Genesis -- hence much similarity of language, and connection of ideas. But it is the beginning of a new, or spiritual "creation" in Christ. As there was a Sun, created or ordained in the heavens by God, in the Genesis-beginning when He decreed, "Let there be light", so likewise... "In the (new, spiritual) beginning" God testified of Christ: "Let there be light" (cp Gen 1:3 with 2Co 4:6; Mat 4:17; Mar 1:1; Luk 1:1,2; Act 10:37), and this time a new spiritual Light came into the world. And so God made and ordained His Son Jesus Christ the "beginning" and the first cause of His new spiritual creation (Rev 3:14).

It is instructive and significant that each gospel begins with a "beginning": cp Mat 1:1 (genesis); Mar 1:1 (archee); Luk 1:3 (anothen). And that the four gospel accounts are placed at the head of the New Testament. Here, in the coming of His Son, God has begun the work of His new, spiritual, "creation" -- the corner piece, the foundation stone of which is His Son.

As a separate point, it may be noted how often the Greek "ktisis" (creation) -- when used in the NT -- signifies, not the creation of Genesis, but the new, spiritual creation, in Christ, of regenerated and forgiven men and women who bear his name.

THE WORD: Jesus was a man (Act 2:22; 1Ti 2:5; Rom 8:3; Heb 2:14) who spoke God's words (Joh 8:28; 7:16). Thus, one of his names is "the word of God" (1Jo 1:1; Rev 19:13; 1:2 -- only 3 other instances of John's use of the phrase "word of God", all referring to Christ personally). In Greek philosophy, "logos" = an impersonal, abstract wisdom; but in Hebrew thought, "logos" = God Himself. Yahweh is the source of all wisdom! Here "logos" occurs with the definite article ("ho") which serves to strengthen its meaning. Hence, 'The Word' can also be seen to be the "Divine Expression". Christ was exactly this. It was in Christ that God fully revealed Himself to mankind. It was through Christ's life and mission that God expressed and illustrated His new covenant, showing us the better way -- which is the power of salvation for those who believe. See Lesson, "Logos".

WITH: "Pros" = facing toward or moving toward.

THE WORD WAS GOD: As John used the definite article ("ho") to strengthen the meaning of "logos", so here there is no definite article: ie, "THE word" was not THE God personally, but rather "of God", or "godly", or A (manifestation of) God. (In v 14: John writes that "we beheld his glory", as of one who came from God, and was therefore "divine".) This phrase is translated, "The word was DIVINE" (Moffatt). John is affirming Christ's divinity, not his deity. Christ was the Son of God, the 'Divine Expression' from heaven which dwelt among us, "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being" (Heb 1:3).

Joh 1:2

This verse may be understood most literally if we define and circumscribe "beginning" to mean to the beginning of the "New Creation" in Christ. Truly Christ was with the Father in all the work of the New, spiritual, Creation in Himself; he was the prototype and the catalyst; such a Creation could not be without him!

WITH: Same as v 1.

BEGINNING: See v 1n.

Joh 1:3

ALL THINGS: There is plainly an intended, and extended, parallel between the material creation of Gen 1 and spiritual creation of new men and women in Christ. Cp Col 1:15-18; 3:10; 2Co 5:17; 4:6; 1Pe 1:23; 1Co 8:6. "All things" refer to men and women: Joh 5:17,20,21; 3:35; 13:3; 16:14,15; 17:10; Col 1:16; Eph 3:9. Cp 1Co 8:6: "To us there is but one God the Father, of whom are ALL THINGS (even we unto him), and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are ALL THINGS (even we through him)."

WITHOUT HIM NOTHING WAS MADE: There should be a period (full stop) here. "Without me you can do nothing" (Joh 15:5). Then there is required a slight rearrangement, repunctuation, and retranslation of the text, which puts together the last portion of our v 3 with the first bit of v 4, and yields: "That which has been made (v 3b) was life in him (v 4a)."

THAT HAS BEEN MADE: There is a punctuation problem here: should this relative clause ['that (or what) has been made'] go with v 3 or with v 4? The earliest NT mss have no punctuation. Many of the later mss -- which do have punctuation marks -- place the equivalent of a period before this phrase, thus putting it with v 4. It has even been suggested that the editors of some later manuscripts introduced their own unusual punctuation to place this phrase (wrongly) at the end of v 3 (as it appears in most modern translations); and that this was done in a specific attempt to bolster the erroneous doctrine of the "Trinity" during the so-called "Arian controversy" of the 4th century -- in other words, to suggest that Jesus Christ himself was the Creator (or was with the Creator) in Genesis.

So the whole of these verses should probably read: "Through him (ie Christ himself) all things were made. Without him (Christ) nothing was made. What has been made was 'life in him', and that life was the light of men." Read this way, it may be seen that John's focus is unequivocally on the spiritual creation ('life in him') and not the earlier, physical, creation of Genesis.

Joh 1:4

"What was made was life in him" (RV footnote, etc; see v 3n).

THAT LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN: Proving that this is spiritual life, which is produced by the light of God's word -- not natural life! And thereby setting the parameters of "beginning" and "creation": the "beginning" of God's revelation of His Son to the world, and the new, spiritual "creation" of believers in him.

MEN: That is, all men: both Jews and Gentiles (cp v 7).

Joh 1:5

Cp v 11.

LIGHT... DARKNESS: Parable of the Gospel: the epic battle between light and darkness: Jesus = the light, and the Pharisees, etc = the darkness. Cp 2Co 4:3,6.

UNDERSTOOD: Gr "katalambano" = "comprehended" (Act 4:13; 10:34) or "overcome" (RV mg). God's word will not return to Him void (Isa 55:7; 1Th 5:4). Both meanings are relevant: the enemies of Christ did not "understand" him, nor could they "overcome" him!

Joh 1:6

THERE CAME A MAN WHO WAS SENT FROM GOD: Note: Jesus was sent from God, just as John was! Cp Joh 6:39; Luk 4:43.

Joh 1:7

HE CAME AS A WITNESS TO TESTIFY...: "The revelation of God, unfolded age by age in divers portions and divers manners, concerned a Son of God to be born. In him is the highest manifestation of God that is possible. In view of this, the testimony of the prophets is so framed as to suggest the unveiling of the Father Himself -- a form of speech which has confused minds not established in the Bible doctrine of God manifestation. Isaiah foretells the commissioning of a Voice, to cry, 'In the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God... and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed' [Isa 40:3]. It was fitting that the way should be prepared for the Lord. If human monarchs and the world's great men once had their forerunners, calling for the removing of the stones from the way, the leveling of the depressions, the smoothing of the rough places, how much more when the Majesty of the Heavens deigned to visit His people" (CJo 16,17).

ALL MEN: That is, all kinds (classes, or races) of men. Examples of "all" probably meaning "without distinction" rather than all "without exception": Joh 1:9; 3:26; 5:28; 8:2; 12:32; 13:35; Rom 10:13; 1Ti 2:1,2; 4:15; 5:20; 6:17; Heb 2:9.

Joh 1:8

Vv 8,9: Christ -- not John the Baptist -- is the light of the world (Joh 8:12).

Joh 1:9

Notice: it is the Light [not every man] which was coming into the world (in ct KJV translation): cp Joh 12:46; 16:28.

ALL MEN: That is, all kinds (classes, or races) of men. Examples of "all" prob meaning "without distinction" rather than all "without exception": Joh 1:7; 3:26; 5:28; 8:2; 12:32; 13:35; Rom 10:13; 1 Tim 2:1,2; 4:15; 5:20; 6:17; Heb 2:9.

Joh 1:10

THE WORLD WAS MADE THROUGH HIM: This verse is difficult too, until we recognize that Christ "made" the world in this sense: that his sacrifice was efficacious backward into the past, even for earlier believers in Old Testament times (Rom 3:25; Heb 9:15). Cp vv 3/4: "What was made was life in him"... even for Adam and Abraham. (In this sense, the new or spiritual "creation" did have a sort of beginning -- at least prophetically and typically -- in the history of God's covenant peoples in the OT.)

Or, "the world was enlightened through him" (Diag), which is essentially the same thing: spiritual "enlightenment" leads, in faith, to a new and spiritual creation!

While the KJV has "made BY him", the NIV has "made THROUGH him", which is more accurate. Jesus did not physically and literally MAKE the "world", but the Father MADE -- and MAKES -- the "world"... through... him -- or by means of him. "In Christ" God continues to reconcile the world to Himself (2Co 5:19): Christ is the medium and the means, but his Father is the one MAKING!

Joh 1:11

"He came to his own (idia: neuter plural): ie his own land or country; but his own (idioi: masculine plural): ie his own people... did not receive him" (Eur 1:29).

RECEIVE: "Paralambano". The Jews "received" Jesus (sw Joh 19:16) only so as to put him to death! Cp parable of householder: Mat 21:33-46.

Joh 1:12

Vv 12,13 -- looking back to vv 1-4 -- describe more literally the "creative process" at the "beginning". These vv (12,13) demonstrate quite clearly that what is being discussed here is a spiritual "creation"! Those who believe in Christ's Name are re-created as "children of God".

"As many as..." (KJV): (1) As many as were ordered to eternal life believed (Act 13:48). (2) As many as were given to him received eternal life (Joh 17:2). (3) As many as touched him were made whole (Mar 6:56). (4) As many as are sons of God are led by the Spirit (Rom 8:14). (5) As many as walk by this rule receive peace (Gal 6:16). (6) As many as He loves He chastens (Rev 3:19).

BELIEVE IN HIS NAME: Cp Exo 23:21: "My name is in him".

Joh 1:13

NOR... A HUSBAND'S WILL: That is, as regards Jesus: not of Joseph's will -- not at all... he knew nothing about it and had no part in it until after the fact. But... yes, by the woman's will (ie, Mary's)! " 'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said' " (Luk 1:38). In speaking thus, Mary showed she knew the passages in the psalms in which the Messiah is called the son of God's maidservant (Psa 86:16; 116:16). Surely she knew the promise of the seed of the "woman" (Gen 3:15). Immediately she makes the connection, and gives her consent to become the mother of God's Son, a consent which is essential to His purpose. Surely God would not have allowed the Holy Spirit to overshadow a woman and bring forth new life in her virgin womb had she not given her consent, thus becoming a willing participant in this new act of creation!

Joh 1:14

THE WORD BECAME FLESH: "The Word became flesh" is here a straightforward reference to Christ's nature, not merely his birth (cp 1Jo 4:2). God manifested Himself in the flesh of humanity (1Ti 3:16), not in stone (Exo 34:6). Jesus was of David's seed (Rom 1:3); under a curse (Gal 3:13); being born of a woman, under the law (Gal 4:4); and made "sin" (2Co 5:21). He was of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3); in the likeness of men, of no reputation (Phi 2:7); and like his brethren (Heb 2:17).

Why was the "Word" made flesh? Mosaic sacrifices were from herd or flock (Lev 1:2), to show closeness of connection between offerer and offering. A sinless man is even closer to other men than is an animal!

The conception of Jesus in the virgin womb is likened to the original "Creation" of Genesis; in fact, it is the beginning of the new, spiritual "creation": cp Gen 1:2 (the Spirit of God hovering over the waters) like a mother bird brooding over her young: Deu 32:11 (cp Exo 19:4). The words portray the energy-giving presence of God -- wrapping, protecting, and caressing the chaos of the unfinished earth as He prepared to complete His creation. And THIS SAME ENERGY IN CREATIVE PROCESS is described in Luk 1:35 (the Holy Spirit will... overshadow you...): The language of Gabriel calls to mind that of Gen (cp Gen 1:2, LXX); the Spirit of God "overshadowing", or "moving upon" the face of the waters to bring forth life, as a mother hen brooding over her eggs and then her chicks. A direct parallel to the natural creation; this is the beginning of the spiritual, or new, creation. It is a picture of vast creative power, yet nonetheless tenderness and love. It is a picture of a God who sustains all things by His omnipotence, who acts as and when He chooses, and no man can understand, much less question, His prerogative. But also it is a picture of a God who is a Father, who pities His children, who lavishes mercies unnumbered upon those who can never hope to repay Him. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us..." (Cp Exo 40:35: the cloud abode on the tent of the congregation, and the glory of Yahweh filled tabernacle.)

MADE HIS DWELLING: "Tabernacled" (RV mg): Exo 25:8,9. Immanuel, a sanctuary (Isa 8:14; Exo 33:9; 40:35). The child, and the man, Jesus was set up on earth as the perfect tabernacle or temple, in which the glory of the Father dwelt: Joh 2:19-21; Mat 12:6.

HIS GLORY: Cp pillar of fire/cloud over tabernacle in wilderness (Num 10:34; Lev 9:22,23). Christ brought light of God's knowledge to men (2Co 4:4,6), teaching men to glorify God (Mat 5:16), and preaching of future, when God's glory will cover earth (Num 14:21).

"The glory of Christ manifested in the days of his flesh was not such as man usually attributes to the term glory. There was no room for circumstances of royal estate, no illumination of mystic brightness, no august presence, too holy, too sacred to be sullied by the breath of common humanity. Christ came, the carpenter of Nazareth; a worker amongst the workers; a poor man in a nation in which rich men even in our ideas would be regarded as poor, and yet, as the historian says, the three short years of that active life have done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of the philosophers and all the exhortations of the moralists. Can we then not see the glory of God in Jesus Christ? Test him where we will, he rings true. We must acknowledge there is something more than human; he is a reflection of the Divine" (FWT).

THE ONE AND ONLY (OR THE ONLY BEGOTTEN): The NIV mg is surely better here. Cp Isaac in Gen 22:8; cp Psa 22:20.

Joh 1:15

HAS SURPASSED ME: "Emprosthen" = to be in front of.

BEFORE ME: "Protos" = first, in sense of rank. Sig "first" or "chief": Mar 6:21; Act 13:50; 17:4; 28:7,17. Cp cases of younger men surpassing their older brothers: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, etc.

Joh 1:16

FROM THE FULLNESS OF HIS GRACE WE HAVE ALL RECEIVED: "The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exo 40:34,36,38). "He seems only to have in order to dispense to us. He stands like the fountain, always flowing, but only running in order to supply the empty pitchers and the thirsty lips which draw nigh unto it. Like a tree, He bears sweet fruit, not to hang on boughs, but to be gathered by those who need. Grace, whether its work be to pardon, to cleanse, to preserve, to strengthen, to enlighten, to quicken, or to restore, is ever to be had from him freely and without price; nor is there one form of the work of grace which he has not bestowed upon his people... Christ is the head upon which the oil is first poured; but the same oil runs to the very skirts of the garments [Psa 133:2], so that the meanest saint has an anointing of the same costly moisture as that which fell upon the head. This is true communion when the sap of grace flows from the stem to the branch, and when it is perceived that the stem itself is sustained by the very nourishment which feeds the branch. As we day by day receive grace from Jesus, and more constantly recognize it as coming from him, we shall behold him in communion with us, and enjoy the felicity of communion with him. Let us make daily use of our riches, and ever repair to him as to our own Lord in covenant, taking from him the supply of all we need with as much boldness as men take money from their own purse" (CHS).

ONE BLESSING AFTER ANOTHER: AV has "grace for grace". "For" = "anti". The word "fullness" steers the mind to the Glory of God in the Tabernacle (v 14). One of the dominant uses of "grace" in the NT is for "forgiveness of sins". Thus "grace anti grace" means: the true and full forgiveness in Christ, as against the typical forgiveness which the Mosaic system foreshadowed so fully. Thus, the lesser "grace" or "gift" is replaced by the greater "grace" or "gift"! The lesser "glory" of Moses' shining face is replaced by the greater "glory" of Christ's resurrection (2Co 3:10,13, etc). Hence v 17: "The law was given through Moses, but true grace came by Jesus Christ."

Joh 1:17

FOR THE LAW WAS GIVEN THROUGH MOSES: It may be said that the giving of the Law, by which Israel was constituted the people and nation of God, was a continuance of God's original creation -- or even the first, rudimentary, steps of His spiritual creation: men and women were being reconstituted or reborn as His own special family. So it is reasonable that the first, elementary, part of the Spiritual Creation would be seen by John as yet another pattern pointing forward to the fullness of the Spiritual Creation as it would be realized in the Son of God. What Yahweh began in Moses He finished -- or rather, will finish -- in Christ.

GRACE: The apostles received "grace" (ie, Holy Spirit): Eph 4:7; Rom 12:3; 1Co 1:4-7.

Joh 1:18

NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN GOD: Not even Moses (Exo 33:18,20).

GOD THE ONE AND ONLY [ OR THE ONLY BEGOTTEN] [Some mss have THE ONLY (OR ONLY BEGOTTEN) SON]: Some very old mss have "monogenes theos" instead of "monogenes huios" -- and this is the reading favored by the NIV here. If this is so, then it might be understood, as in Joh 1:1, as "God" without the definite article, ie "the only-begotten divine one" -- which may reasonably, and logically, be applied to Jesus Christ. However, a large body of evidence (which was utilized exclusively by the KJV translators, and generally followed by scholars for hundreds of years) points toward "only begotten SON"! This is much more reasonable, and easier.

WHO IS AT THE FATHER'S SIDE: Lit, 'in the bosom of the Father', an idiom for closeness or nearness: cp Joh 13:23. (Is this phrase a commentary of John, after the facts of the history, ref to Christ who was then in heaven?)

HAS MADE HIM KNOWN: "Exegeomai": to declare, interpret (cp English "exegesis"). In this final verse of the prologue is the climactic and ultimate statement of the career of the Logos, "the Word of God made flesh", Jesus of Nazareth. His whole life, all his teachings, and at last and especially his death and resurrection and ascension to heaven, all "expound" or "interpret" his heavenly Father.

Joh 1:19

THE JEWS: John's expression for the spiritual leaders, Sanhedrin, etc: Joh 7:1; 9:22; 18:12,14; 20:19; etc. Ct his ordinary designation of common people: "the multitude".

TO ASK HIM WHO HE WAS: The test of the prophet: prescribed by Law (Deu 18:21). How did they react? See v 26n.

Joh 1:20

The expectation of those times was that the Messiah would soon appear: Mat 2:4-6r.

I AM NOT THE CHRIST: Ct Act 5:36,37.

Joh 1:21

Perhaps John was "tested" by Israel on the same day (the 40th) that Jesus was being "tested" in the wilderness: cp v 29.

THE PROPHET: That is, the one described in Deu 18:15-18.

Joh 1:25

WHY THEN DO YOU BAPTIZE...?: By baptizing Jews, John was showing that they were no better than the Gentiles, who needed cleansing (Mat 3:9).

Joh 1:26

Evidently the leaders reached no final decision regarding John (Mat 21:24-27). But the common people recognized John as a prophet (Joh 10:41). Their decision was approved by Jesus (Mat 11:7-10). Later the Pharisees, etc rejected him (Luk 7:24-30).

Joh 1:27

The KJV has: "He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me."

THE THONGS... NOT WORTHY TO UNTIE: (1) In the presence of God's glory, Moses and Joshua must remove their sandals (Exo 3:5; Jos 5:15). But Jesus IS the glory of God! (2) Also, under the LM, when a near kinsman refused to take to wife the widow of his deceased brother, then the woman was to loose his shoe and remove it (Deu 25:9) -- sig he was either unwilling or unable to bring redemption to his deceased brother (ie Rth 4:5-8). In stating that he was unwilling to loose the sandal of Jesus, John Bapt was stating that Jesus was the "near kinsman" who could redeem Israel even after he (John Bapt) died, and after the LM was shown to be ineffective in doing so (cp idea, Rom 7:4).

Joh 1:28

BETHANY: A Bethany in the north (Joh 10:40; Enj 139). KJV has "Bethabara" -- which sig "house of passing away" [the Law was passing away] or possibly "house of crossing over" [site of a ferry house?].


Joh 1:29

JESUS COMING TOWARD HIM: Jesus was returning from the 40 days of temptation in the wilderness (vv 30-34 are past tense; John recounting a previous incident).

LAMB: A sacrificial animal (Gen 22:7,8; Exo 12:3,21; Rev 13:8). A body prepared for sacrifice (Psa 40:5-7). Depicts spirit of humility (Isa 53:7; Act 8:32; Mat 11:29; 21:5). Jesus' title in Revelation: Rev 14:4; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7-9; 21:9,22,23.

WHICH TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD: Jesus' death was necessary: Gen 3:15; 15:8,9; Num 21:9; Dan 9:26; Zec 9:11; Mat 26:39; Joh 3:14,15; Phi 2:8; Heb 12:2; 13:20. Jesus realized this: Mat 16:21; Luk 22:15,20; Heb 10:4-7. His resurrection was also necessary: Rom 4:25; 5:10.

Joh 1:30

BEFORE: "Protos", first in rank, chief (cp v 15).

Joh 1:31

I MYSELF DID NOT KNOW HIM: John knew not whom God had chosen as the Christ. He knew Jesus personally, but did not know he was the Christ until God pointed him out.

REVEALED; "Phaneroo".

TO ISRAEL: To the faithful in Israel, like Nathanael in v 47.

Joh 1:32

JOHN GAVE THIS TESTIMONY: John recounted what had happened about 40 days earlier .

THE SPIRIT: The means of revealing the Messiah: Isa 42:1; 61:1.

AS A DOVE: Like a dove descending softly, gently: but not necessarily in bodily shape of a dove. More likely, a tongue of fire, as in Act 2.

Joh 1:33

THE ONE WHO SENT ME: The angel Gabriel?

Joh 1:34

I HAVE SEEN AND I TESTIFY...: This testimony is essentially the end of John the Baptist's public work.

Joh 1:38

"Those who follow Jesus will always be subject to the moment when he makes the challenge, 'What seek ye?' " (MP 62).

RABBI: An announcement, in the first word of a disciple, of Christ's position: Rabbi, Master, Teacher.

WHERE ARE YOU STAYING?: 'Let us learn more of you; share your company; prolong these vital moments!'

Joh 1:40

ONE OF THE TWO: Was the other John the son of Zebedee?

Joh 1:41

THE FIRST THING ANDREW DID WAS TO FIND HIS BROTHER SIMON: As soon as a man has found Christ, he begins to find others. True grace puts an end to all spiritual monopoly. Andrew first found his own brother Simon, and then others. When Andrew went to find his brother, he little imagined how eminent Simon would become. Simon Peter was worth 10 Andrews so far as we can gather from sacred history, and yet Andrew was instrumental in bringing him to Jesus. You may be very deficient in talent yourself, and yet you may be the means of drawing to Christ one who shall become eminent in service.

Joh 1:42

YOU WILL BE CALLED CEPHAS: By renaming men, Jesus was assuming a divine prerogative! Cp Mat 16:17. But it was to take a process of 30 years duration before the bold and impetuous Simon (sig "to hear") became the solid, faithful Cephas/Peter (sig "rock").

Joh 1:43

An initial mission now complete, Jesus prepares to return home.

FOLLOW ME: A lifetime of meaning compressed in only two words!

Joh 1:44

BETHSAIDA: "House of fish".

Joh 1:45

Did Philip "find" Jesus (v 45), or did Jesus "find" Philip (v 43)?

NATHANAEL: Bartholomew: (1) Nathanael is never mentioned in Synoptics; Bartholomew is never mentioned in John. (2) Philip and Nathanael are linked here; in Synoptics, Philip and Bartholomew are linked. (3) Bartholomew is a surname: Bar-Talmai.

Joh 1:46

But Nathanael did not let natural, ingrained bias stand in his way.

Joh 1:47

"An Israelite (Prince with God), not a Jacobite (the "heel-grabber", or supplanter)." There was "guile" (KJV) or falseness in Jacob, but not in Nathanael.

IN WHOM THERE IS NOTHING FALSE: Cp Psa 32:2: the condition of forgiveness is a lack of guile.

"The day came when one of these apostles was impelled by the Spirit to give an estimate of his Master's life in these words, 'Who did no sin, neither was GUILE found in his mouth' (1Pe 2:22; Isa 53:9). What came to be a high mark in the life of this sinless man from Nazareth, he once saw latently in an unknown man (Nathanael) from Cana. Later on, when the man of Galilee makes water into wine, the guileless man from Cana will know that, uniquely, some good thing has come out of Nazareth, and he will confess it guilelessly" (GD).

Joh 1:48

STILL UNDER THE FIG TREE: That is, under the shadow and influence of the fig-tree nation of Israel (Luk 21:29). (Cp Luk 19:4: Zaccheus IN the fig tree!) No doubt, Nathanael spent much time under this tree, to read, pray, reflect... there Jesus saw his heart.

Joh 1:49

THE KING OF ISRAEL: The Messiah was to be the King of Israel: 2Sa 7:14; Psa 2:7; Isa 9:6.

Joh 1:50

Vv 50,51: Cp Elisha and young man: 2Ki 6:2,7. Elisha saw by power of Holy Spirit, and then opened eyes of young man, so that he did likewise.

Joh 1:51

The promise to Jacob/Israel (cp v 47): Christ is the stone pillar; angels minister to him at the time of his death and resurrection.

YOU: Plural, sig all the disciples.

ON THE SON OF MAN: Based on the vision of Jacob in Gen 28.

Not "upon", or by means of, as a ladder, but "upon", as coming down to rest upon! Cp Heb 2:6 with Psa 8; 80; Mat 21:16.

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