1 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
JOHN 1: 1-18 ESV
1.1 Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. 2 οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. 3 πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν 4 ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· 5 καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.
6 Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ, ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης· 7 οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν, ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός, ἵνα πάντες πιστεύσωσιν δι’ αὐτοῦ. 8 οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς, ἀλλʼ ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός. 9 ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον.
10 Ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. 11 εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον. 12 ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, 13 οἳ οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκὸς οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρὸς ἀλλʼ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν.
14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας· 15 (Ἰωάννης μαρτυρεῖ περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ κέκραγεν λέγων· Οὗτος ἦν ὃν εἶπον· Ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν, ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν·) 16 ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν, καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος· 17 ὅτι ὁ νόμος διὰ Μωϋσέως ἐδόθη, ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐγένετο. 18 θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο.
JOHN 1: 1-18 SBLGNT
Let us do a quick review of these first eighteen verses to understand the structure of the Gospel of John. Here we see how John begins his Gospel with a prologue, a common literary style in early writings, and this style acts as an introduction to the main character of the biography. It allows the reader an awareness of the issues, seen and unseen forces that are acting within the narratives that directly affect the individual’s life.
It provides a lens and a basic presupposition that leads into the narratives that follow. Even though seen as a prologue, it also provides the narrative of the Word, Jesus Christ, which is the primary subject of the biography. It introduces who Jesus is and what Jesus has done; the rest of the Gospel will explain how Jesus acts on behalf of God, the Father, within a mortal story.
As Edward Klink in his book, ‘John’, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament adds an addition revelation of the mortal world,
“The introduction includes the plight of the world and the arrival of the unique Son, the revelation (Word) of God, through whom the readers are invited to become children of the Father. It is an introduction not merely to the Gospel but also the Gospel; the Son that God sent dwells among us, the fallen world that God love.”
The beginnings of many ancient books were important, and in recent years scholars have become increasingly conscious of the significance of beginnings and endings for their understanding of reading the Gospels. It provides important clues about the meaning of the material that lies in between, writes Morna D. Hooker, “Beginnings and Endings,” in The Written Gospel. These beginnings set in the form of a preface or prologue provides the information regarding purpose, method, and contents: key information needed to understand the rest of the narrative.
However, many scholars have argued that the prologue of the Gospel of John was not part of the original Gospel. Nevertheless, the lack of introduction prior to John 1:19 or other styles makes it highly unlikely.
Graig Keener, in his commentary of “The Gospel of John: A Commentary.” It makes this distinction,
“In fact, in the early twentieth century, there was an “almost unanimous” consensus that only fortified by contemporary literary criticism.”
However, P J Williams, in “Not the Prologue of John, disagrees, “some have argued against viewing these verses as a formal prologue.”
While Vern S. Poythress, in “Testing for Jonannine Authorship by Examining the Use of Conjunctions,” states, “There is no textual evidence that the prologue ever existed apart from the Gospel. There is also internal evidence that enforces the prologue’s relationship to the rest of the Gospel, not only by subject but also in linguistic agreement.”
Hence, The prologue describes the ultimate goal of God the Father, who creates “children of God” through his “unique Son”, Jesus Christ, who is the very expression (Word/Logos) of God. It introduces theological topics and the vision God has for His people and His creation through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
There are six key themes to grasp to underline the importance of the prologues. These include
- Jesus the Word/Logos – as God spoke and creation came onto being is reflected in the statement related in the person of the Word who is Jesus Christ. The truth and the very essence of God are revealed in a creative, revealed and redeemed nature in the Son. The Word brings the manifestation of His divine (agape) love of God Himself, into our very existence. Through the Word and truths that have been revealed, Christians stand as witnesses to its existence in our mortal realm. It begins within each and everyone one of us, and that is the foundation upon which the church stands today.
- Jesus is the Unique Son of God – Jesus Christ is God incarnate and has existed before creation, time and our perception of any mortal comprehension. He is in a loving (agape) divine relationship with the Father, and through whom we are called in faith to become “children of God.” Through the Holy of Holies, Jesus walked out into the realm of His creation and brought forth a new era and salvation to all humanity. It is through Jesus Christ, the full cycle of the creation narrative is centred on, and it is through him that the doorway into the New Covenant begins.
- The Plight of the World. In verse four 4, we see the shift from created life of humanity to the spiritual life of humanity. It summarizes the redemptive storyline. Jesus is the ‘light’ that has entered into his creation enveloped ‘by darkness’ So blinded is the world that many did not recognize (v5), know (v10) or receive (v11) the light. He has come to reclaim his creation, set all back into order, and subdue sin that was the element of disruption since the ‘Fall.’
- The Witness in John the Baptist. Edward Klink writes,
“John the Baptist reflects a God who initiates, intercedes and introduces himself to the world. The choice of verbs in v6 suggests that God acted on behalf of himself to create a witness to the Word, the one on whom it is necessary to believe (v7). The Baptist introduces the public ministry for Jesus, that is, the public ministry of God.”
- God in the Flesh. Since God walked the garden of Eden with his children, and when he appeared to Moses and the Israelites cowered in fear, humanity has been set apart from His presence. Humanity has lost that intimacy with its Creator and has drowned itself in darkness. In Jesus Christ, the world meets God again. In Jesus, God personally embraced humanity, taking upon himself its spiritual plight, and dwelled among us. No longer does God command his people to make for him a dwelling (Exod 25:9 –9” Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.”
- God reveals Himself in Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate expression of the grace of God, and he completes and fulfils all previously received grace from God. The Gospel of John invites the reader to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, through whom the grace and truth promised in the Old Testament were brought into being.
What does this all mean for us today? How do we read these 18 verses and find their application in our Christain life?
Many of us today do not quite see the personal application of this prologue to the Gospel of John. However, I believe that as Christians, and the prologue speaks volumes to the nature of our faith. The author, John writes with a distinct and applicable calling to each of us because he provides evidence of the nature of what he is about to reveal further in the Gospel.
He starts by setting the evidence to the nature of the Word/Logos and disengages any attempt to question the narratives that follow. Even to non-believers, the introduction is revealed as subjective reasoning, but the objectivity is anchored outside the author’s self-evidence. He uses the revelation of what has been made known to all seeking to know who and what God is. He does not add to the knowledge revealed; however, he provides the nature of who is the Messiah. Even the Jews who came later to ask did not know but did not question the narrative.
Each verse reveals further the intimacy of the knowledge of the Messiah, and each time the objective reasoning is ultimately embraced by who listened. Choices had to be made and decided to believe or not; was by their free will (v12). John confesses that he is not the Messiah, nor Isaiah, which left many bewildered since the prophecies called for the reincarnation of Isaiah. John did not lie as it had been revealed to his father, Zechariah, that Isaiah’s spirit and power were too be empowered to John the Baptist.
Ignorance and self reasoning, devoid of spiritual worth, misguided the Jews in seeking what was not there, even though it was.
Look at the church today, governed by individuals who act and govern with such authority but without any spiritual divine (agape) anchor in God. They assume their actions protect the spiritual essence of the mortar and brick they house themselves in. That is not the church; Jesus called us his bride, and it is an abomination of self-righteous individuals who act without spiritual discernment. You sin, you have failed, and God provides forgiveness, not man. If you sin and fail again, God continues to guide and provide, but until you sin and walk away and blaspheme the Holy Spirit, you have condemned yourself; I have watched with utter dismay when churches are more concerned with maintaining an outward image of purity while it rots at its core.
Money, image, prosperity and hundreds of puppets, who call themselves Christians, fill the isle while basking in their own self-righteous certitudes. World statistics show over 2 billion ‘Christians’, which brings an ironic question as to how many truly will be saved. Over the centuries, since creation, the numbers will be staggering unless we ask ourselves every day and waking moment if we will be saved because the reality proves that the nature of our objectivity and influences will ultimately condemn us. It is the reality of self and admission of our inability; no matter how we think we are righteous, we are not. How could you even fathom such a conclusion? Only God calls the righteous; righteous.
Like John the Baptist, anchor your objectivity and reasoning in the absolutes of God and seek him every waking moment of your life.