New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:1 In the beginning. It is significant that the Apostle John began his gospel with the words: “In the beginning.” He obviously intended that his record should start with the same words as Genesis, that is, with creation. Since his explicit purpose in writing was to win his readers to Christ as Son of God and Savior (see John 20:30-31), he realized the foundational importance of prior belief in special creation of all things by God. People need to know Jesus Christ as offended Creator before they can believe with understanding on Him as sin-bearing Savior and Redeemer. A foundation of true creationism as the only meaningful context for true evangelism is thus revealed through John, under divine inspiration.
1:1 Word. The “Word” (Greek logos) is the first of at least a dozen titles given to Christ in this first chapter of John’s gospel. Note the others: “the Light” (John 1:7-9); “only Begotten Son” (John 1:14, 18); Jesus Christ” (John 1:17); “the Lord” (John 1:23); “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36); “Master” (John 1:38); “King of Israel” (John 1:49); “Son of God” (John 1:34, 49); “Son of man” (John 1:51); “Jesus of Nazareth” (John 1:45); Messiah” (John 1:41). Probably, “the Word of God” (a phrase used 1200 times in the Old Testament) is the most meaningful. Note Psalm 33:6; Hebrews 11:3; II Peter 3:5.
1:1 Word was God. This is a very strong assertion that Jesus is God. The eternal Word, who was to be made man (John 1:14), is God (not merely “a god” as some have alleged), and is the same God who created heaven and earth in the beginning. In fact, He is the only “true God” (I John 5:20), who was there “in the beginning.”
1:3 made by him. This is an emphatic statement declaring that Jesus Christ, before His incarnation, had made everything in the universe. He is the God of Genesis 1:1, the God of all creation. Furthermore, note that “all things were made.” They are not now being made, as the concept of evolution requires. The Creator rested from all His work of creating and making all things (Genesis 2:1-3) after the six days of the creation week. Also, note the past tense in such passages as Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2-3; and other verses dealing with creation.
1:14 made flesh. This is the great verse of the incarnation, when the eternal Word took on human flesh. Since this verse, and the following verses, unequivocally refer to “Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), there is no legitimate escape (though many have tried) from the great truth that Jesus was the great God and Creator, as well as perfect Man and redeeming Savior. Furthermore, He has assumed human flesh forever, while still remaining fully God. He is not part man and part God, or sometimes man and sometimes God, but is now and eternally the God-Man. He is fully and always true God and perfect Man—man as God created and intended man to be. On the reality and importance of the incarnation, see also Philippians 2:5-8 and I John 4:2,3.
1:14 dwelt. This is not the usual word for “dwelt” but rather is the Greek word for “tabernacled.” As in the tabernacle (or tent) in the wilderness, where the glory of God was resident for a time, so God in Christ dwelled on the earth for a time, in a body prepared by God (Hebrews 10:5). Eventually, when the Holy City descends out of heaven to the new earth, then “the tabernacle of God” will forever “be with men,” and He “will dwell with them” and “be their God” eternally (Revelation 21:3).
1:14 beheld his glory. The Greek word for “tabernacle” (skene) is a cognate word to shakan, the Hebrew word for “dwell,” both being related to what has come to be known as the shekinah glory cloud that filled the ancient tabernacle (Exodus 40:34). The latter term is not directly used in either Testament, but was used in Talmudic literature with this meaning. It is thus commonly associated with the glory of God dwelling in either the tabernacle (or the later temple) or in Christ’s human body. In this sense, the disciples “beheld His glory” while He was on earth, and Christ prayed that we would also behold His glory in heaven (John 17:5,22,24). Even now, we can, in a spiritual sense, behold His glory as we see Him in the written Word, just as the disciples recognized Him as the living Word (see II Corinthians 3:18).
1:14 only begotten. “Only begotten” is the Greek monogenes, which precisely means “only begotten,” not just “only,” as some translators render it. God has many “sons” and “daughters” (e.g., John 1:12), but Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son; in fact, He eternally proceeds from the Father, manifesting and revealing Him.
1:14 grace and truth. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” to mankind (John 1:17).