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.”
1:2 beginning. The definite article has been supplied. The actual Greek is en arche—that is, “in beginning.” The “Word of God” thus was there before the creation of the space-mass-time universe, so that John’s “beginning” even antecedes the Genesis “beginning,” extending without an initial beginning into eternity past, before even time was created. Note also John 17:24, where Jesus, in His humanity, acknowledged that He was with the Father, and loved by the Father, “before the foundation of the world.”
1:2 with God. The “Word of God” (i.e., Jesus Christ) was God, yet also “with God.” Thus God is both personal and plural (in a uni-plural sense only, however, a mysterious category that makes sense only in terms of the doctrine of the Trinity).
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.
1:4 life. The last part of John 1:3 and the first part of John 1:4 can also be read as follows: “That which was made was life in Him.” As Paul said: “In Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
1:5 comprehended. The darkened minds of sin-blinded men could not (because they would not!) come to the light when it was offered to them. “Men loved darkness, rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Note II Corinthians 4:6; Genesis 1:3.
1:7 for a witness. The gospel of John is uniquely designed to bear “witness” to the deity and saving work of Christ. This verse has the first of forty-seven uses of this word or its derivatives (“record,” “testimony,” etc.) all from the Greek marturia in John’s gospel, as well as seventeen times in his three epistles and sixteen times in Revelation—far more than by any other Biblical writer.
1:8 not that Light. What a testimony to John the Baptist! He was so Christlike in his life and teachings that people kept mistaking him for the promised Messiah, requiring John in his gospel (inspired by the Holy Spirit) to assure people that, despite all appearances, John the Baptist was not Christ.
1:9 lighteth every man. Even though some people live and die without ever hearing of Jesus, the witness imprinted by Him on His creation is such conclusive evidence that there is a Creator who is omnipotent, omniscient, holy and loving, that those who reject or ignore it are “without excuse.” See notes on Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-6; etc. He has also placed the light of conscience in each person (Romans 2:14-15), but that too is rejected in most instances.
1:10 by him. Here is yet another assertion that “the world was made by Him;” yet the men and women who were made by Him refused to recognize Him. “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28). He was the true light physically as well as spiritually, for He is the very energizer of the world (“upholding all things by the word of His power”—Hebrews 1:3), but the world preferred an evolutionary explanation.
1:11 his own. “He came unto His own things”—that is, the earth and its fullness (Psalm 24:1)—which He had created. But then “His own people”—even His chosen people—rejected Him. The people He made knew Him not, and the people whom He chose rejected Him, when He came as one of them.
1:12 power. “Power” here is the word for “authority” or “right.”
1:12 believe. Note also that “receiving Him” is here defined as “believing on His name,” with all that the latter implies (see the first note on John 1:1).
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).
1:15 witness. In his five books, John uses the Greek word martureo (translated “witness,” “testimony,” “record,” “report,” “martyr”) over sixty times.
1:15 before me. Even though John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus, he knew that, as the only begotten of the Father, Christ had existed eternally.
1:16 fulness. That is, from His fulness, we receive “grace upon grace,” endless and inexhaustible grace.
1:17 the law. Some would say that the Old Testament God was harsh and legalistic, whereas the New Testament God is one of grace and love. However, they are really the same God. The Hebrew words for “grace” and “gracious” occur at least 166 times in the Old Testament, and the word for “mercy” (same as “lovingkindness”) occurs over 200 times.
1:18 at any time. This passage confirms that on any of the many occasions in ancient times when God showed Himself in one way or another to man (e.g., Genesis 18:2; Job 42:5), we can be sure that each time it was a theophany, in which the triune God manifested Himself through the Second Person of the Godhead, the Word of God.
1:18 bosom of the Father. The Son is eternally in the Father’s “bosom” and eternally proceeding therefrom as the “only begotten Son” (Greek monogenes), uniquely different from the many other sons of God (angels are also called sons of God as are all those men and women who have been born again through faith in Christ). Those modern translators who delete the word “begotten” here are not only wrong in translation, but also in allowing dangerous heresy in the understanding of the nature of Christ.
1:18 declared. As the living Word, the Son reveals and speaks for the Father.