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
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,
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...!"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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.
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
"What was made was life in him" (RV footnote, etc; see v
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
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!
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.
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
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.
Vv 8,9: Christ -- not John the Baptist -- is the light of the
world (Joh 8:12).
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.
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
"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
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
BELIEVE IN HIS NAME: Cp Exo 23:21: "My name is in
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!
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
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.
HAS SURPASSED ME: "Emprosthen" = to be in front
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,
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
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
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.
NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN GOD: Not even Moses (Exo
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
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.
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.
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.
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
WHY THEN DO YOU BAPTIZE...?: By baptizing Jews, John
was showing that they were no better than the Gentiles, who needed cleansing
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).
The KJV has: "He it is, who coming after me is preferred
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
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?].
WHERE JOHN HAD BEEN BAPTIZING: Mat 3:19.
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.
BEFORE: "Protos", first in rank, chief (cp v 15).
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.
TO ISRAEL: To the faithful in Israel, like Nathanael in
JOHN GAVE THIS TESTIMONY: John recounted what had
happened about 40 days earlier .
THE SPIRIT: The means of revealing the Messiah: Isa
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
THE ONE WHO SENT ME: The angel Gabriel?
I HAVE SEEN AND I TESTIFY...: This testimony is
essentially the end of John the Baptist's public work.
"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!'
ONE OF THE TWO: Was the other John the son of
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.
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").
An initial mission now complete, Jesus prepares to return
FOLLOW ME: A lifetime of meaning compressed in only two
BETHSAIDA: "House of fish".
Did Philip "find" Jesus (v 45), or did Jesus "find" Philip (v
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.
But Nathanael did not let natural, ingrained bias stand in his
"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"
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.
THE KING OF ISRAEL: The Messiah was to be the King of
Israel: 2Sa 7:14; Psa 2:7; Isa 9:6.
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
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
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.