John 1:1-13

INTRODUCTION. John, the writer of this account of the life of Christ on earth, was one of the twelve apostles and was among those closest to Jesus. In addition to an eyewitness account of the actions and teachings of Jesus John was also privileged to write the book of the Revelation.
The Gospel according to John relates Jesus' visit to earth to lay down his life so that, "the world through him might be saved. " (John 3:17) The Revelation recounts the events surrounding the revelation of Christ as, "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:16).

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.

[In the beginning] That is, before anything was formed - before God began the great work of creation. This is the meaning of the word in Genesis 1:1, to which the evangelist evidently alludes.

[Was the Word] Or, as in the Greek text, existed the Logos. Logos signifies both a concept or thought and also the expression of that thought. In this Gospel John is introducing God the Son, the incarnate expression of God.

[And the Word was with GOD] God and the expression of himself coexisted.

[And the Word was GOD] God and the expression of himself were one and the same. No subordinate being, no second to the Most High, but the supreme, eternal Jehovah. People struggle with the idea of the trinity. How can God be three (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and yet be one? The Bible tells us that humans are also tripart beings, created by God as body, soul and spirit. In the case of humans the three are so closely merged that we act and think in the singular. Even more so with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

[All things were made by him] This phrase fully proves, in the mouth of an inspired writer, that Jesus Christ is not merely part of the creation. He existed when nothing had yet been created. He is no creature, because all created nature was formed by him: For "Without him was not any thing made that was made." Now, as what was before creation must be eternal, and, as what gave being to all things could not have borrowed nor derived its being from any other, therefore Jesus, who was before all things and who made all things, must be the ETERNAL GOD.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

[In him was life] The expression is not to be understood as life natural, but of the life eternal
which he revealed to the world (2 Timothy 1:10),
to which he taught the way (John 14:6),
which he promised to believers (John 10:28),
which he purchased for them (John 3:16),
which he is appointed to give them (John 17:2),
and to which he will raise them up (John 11:25-26), because he has this life in himself (1 John 5:11).

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Darkness may be here understood: 1. The heathen world, 2. The Jewish people, and 3. The fallen spirit of man.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

This was John the Baptist. As it is good practice for a guest speaker to be introduced to his audience, on a much greater scale John the Baptist was sent from God to be the "introducer" of Jesus.

7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

[That all men through him might believe] He testified that Jesus was the true light - the true teacher of the way to the kingdom of glory, and the Lamb, or sacrifice, which was to bear away the sins of the world, verse 29. John invited men to believe in Jesus for the remission of their sins, that they might receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, verses 32-34. This was bearing the most direct witness to the Light which was now shining in the dark wilderness of Judea and, from thence, shortly to be diffused over the whole world.

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

[Which lighteth every man] As Christ is the spring and fountain of all wisdom, so all the wisdom that is in man comes from Christ; the human intellegence is a ray from his brightness, and reason itself springs from this Logos, the eternal reason.

[That cometh into the world] Or, coming into the world, a common phrase among the rabins, to express every human being. As the human creature sees the light of the world as soon as it is born, from which it had been excluded while in the womb of its parent; in like manner, this heavenly light shines into the soul of every man, to convince of sin, righteousness and judgement; and it is through this light, which no man brings into the world with him, but which Christ mercifully gives to him on his coming into it, that what is termed conscience among men is produced. There was much light in the law, but this shined only upon the Jews. The superior light of the Gospel is to be diffused over the face of the whole earth.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

[He was in the world] From its very commencement he governed the universe, spoke by his prophets and often, as the angel or messenger of Jehovah, appeared to them and the partiarchs. Now, he had become flesh and taken up residence among those whom he wished to save. verse 14.

[The world knew him not.] Did not acknowledge him; for the Jewish rulers knew well enough that he was a teacher come from God; but they did not choose to acknowledge him as such. Men love the world and this love hinders them from knowing him who made it, though he made it only to make himself known. Christ, by whom all things were made and by whom all things are continually supported, is continually manifesting himself by his providence and by his grace, yet the foolish heart of man regards it not! For the answer to this puzzle see John 3:19.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

[He came unto his own] To those of his own family, city, country, and his people, his own citizens, brethren, subjects.

[Received him not] Would not acknowledge him as the Messiah, nor believe in him for salvation. To receive Christ is to acknowledge him as the promised Messiah; to believe in him as the victim that bears away the sin of the world; to obey his Gospel, and to be a partaker of his holiness, without which no man can have a relationship with God.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

[Gave he power] Privelege, honor, dignity or right. He who is made a child of God enjoys the greatest privelege which the Divine Being can confer this side of eternity. Those who accept Jesus Christ, as he is offered to them in the Gospel, have, through his blood, a right to this sonship; for by that sacrifice this blessing was purchased; and the fullest promises of God confirm it to all who believe.
And those who are engrafted in the heavenly family have the highest honor and dignity to which it is possible for a human soul to arrive. What an astomishing thought is this! The sinner, who was an heir to all God's curses, has, through the sacrifice of Jesus, a claim on the mercy of the Most High, and a right to be saved! Even justice itself, on the ground of its holy and eternal nature, gives salvation to the vilest who take refuge in this atonement; for justice has nothing to grant, or Heaven to give, which the blood of the Son of God has not merited.

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

[Which were born, not of blood] Who were regenerated not of bloods - the union of father and mother, or of a distinguished or illustrious ancestry; for the Hebrew language makes use of the plural to point out the dignity or excellence of a thing; and probably by this the evangelist intended to show his countrymen that even having Abraham and Sarah for their parents would not entitle them to the blessings of the new covenant; as no man could lay claim to them but in consequence of being born of God. Therefore, neither the will of the flesh - anything that the corrupt heart of man could purpose on its own behalf, nor the will of man - anything that another may be disposed to do in our behalf, can avail here. This new birth must come through the will of God - through his own unlimited power and boundless mercy, prescribing salvation by Christ Jesus alone.

Historical information drawn from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 11/12/2006

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