John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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In the beginning - This expression is used also in Genesis 1:1. John evidently has allusion here to that place, and he means to apply to "the Word" an expression which is there applied "to God." In both places it clearly means before creation, before the world was made, when as yet there was nothing. The meaning is: that the "Word" had an existence before the world was created. This is not spoken of the man Jesus, but of that which "became" a man, or was incarnate, John 1:14. The Hebrews, by expressions like this, commonly denoted eternity. Thus. the eternity of God is described Psalm 90:2; "Before the mountains were brought forth, etc.;" and eternity is commonly expressed by the phrase, before the foundation of the world." Whatever is meant by the term "Word," it is clear that it had an existence before "creation." It is not, then, a "creature" or created being, and must be, therefore, uncreated and eternal. There is only one Being that is uncreated, and Jesus must be therefore divine. Compare the Saviour's own declarations respecting himself in the following places: John 8:58; John 17:5; John 6:62; John 3:13; John 6:46; John 8:14; John 16:28.

Was the Word - Greek, "was the λόγος Logos." This name is given to him who afterward became "flesh," or was incarnate (John 1:14 - that is, to the Messiah. Whatever is meant by it, therefore, is applicable to the Lord Jesus Christ. There have been many opinions about the reason why this name was given to the Son of God. It is unnecessary to repeat those opinions. The opinion which seems most plausible may be expressed as follows:

1. A "word" is that by which we communicate our will; by which we convey our thoughts; or by which we issue commands the medium of communication with others.

2. The Son of God may be called "the Word," because he is the medium by which God promulgates His will and issues His commandments. See Hebrews 1:1-3.

3. This term was in use before the time of John.

(a) It was used in the Aramaic translation of the Old Testament, as, "e. g.," Isaiah 45:12; "I have made the earth, and created man upon it." In the Aramaic it is, "I, 'by my word,' have made," etc. Isaiah 48:13; "mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth." In the Aramaic, "'By my word' I have founded the earth." And so in many other places.

(b) This term was used by the Jews as applicable to the Messiah. In their writings he was commonly known by the term "Mimra" - that is, "Word;" and no small part of the interpositions of God in defense of the Jewish nation were declared to be by "the Word of God." Thus, in their Targum on Deuteronomy 26:17-18, it is said, "Ye have appointed the word of God a king over you this day, that he may be your God."

(c) The term was used by the Jews who were scattered among the Gentiles, and especially those who were conversant with the Greek philosophy.

(d) The term was used by the followers of Plato among the Greeks, to denote the Second Person of the Trinity. The Greek term νοῦς nous or "mind," was commonly given to this second person, but it was said that this nous was "the word" or "reason" of the First Person of the Trinity. The term was therefore extensively in use among the Jews and Gentiles before John wrote his Gospel, and it was certain that it would be applied to the Second Person of the Trinity by Christians. whether converted from Judaism or Paganism. It was important, therefore, that the meaning of the term should be settled by an inspired man, and accordingly John, in the commencement of his Gospel, is at much pains to state clearly what is the true doctrine respecting the λόγος Logos, or Word. It is possible, also, that the doctrines of the Gnostics had begun to spread in the time of John. They were an Oriental sect, and held that the λόγος Logos or "Word" was one of the "Aeones" that had been created, and that this one had been united to the man Jesus. If that doctrine had begun then to prevail, it was of the more importance for John to settle the truth in regard to the rank of the Logos or Word. This he has done in such a way that there need be no doubt about its meaning.

Was with God - This expression denotes friendship or intimacy. Compare Mark 9:19. John affirms that he was "with God" in the beginning - that is, before the world was made. It implies, therefore, that he was partaker of the divine glory; that he was blessed and happy with God. It proves that he was intimately united with the Father, so as to partake of his glory and to be appropriately called by the name God. He has himself explained it. See John 17:5; "And now, O Father, glorify thou we with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." See also John 1:18; "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." See also John 3:13; "The Son of man, which is in heaven." Compare Philippians 2:6-7.

Was God - In the previous phrase John had said that the Word was "with God." Lest it should be supposed that he was a different and inferior being, here John states that "he was God." There is no more unequivocal declaration in the Bible than this, and there could be no stronger proof that the sacred writer meant to affirm that the Son of God was equal with the Father; because:

1. There is no doubt that by the λόγος Logos is meant Jesus Christ.

2. This is not an "attribute" or quality of God, but is a real subsistence, for it is said that the λόγος Logos was made flesh σάρξ sarx - that is, became a human being.

3. There is no variation here in the manuscripts, and critics have observed that the Greek will bear no other construction than what is expressed in our translation - that the Word "was God."

continued...

In the beginning - That is, before any thing was formed - ere God began the great work of creation. This is the meaning of the word in Genesis 1:1, to which the evangelist evidently alludes. This phrase fully proves, in the mouth of an inspired writer, that Jesus Christ was no part of the creation, as he existed when no part of that existed; and that consequently he is no creature, as all created nature was formed by him: for without him was nothing made that is made, John 1:3. Now, as what was before creation must be eternal, and as what gave being to all things, could not have borrowed or derived its being from any thing, therefore Jesus, who was before all things and who made all things, must necessarily be the Eternal God.

Was the Word - Or, existed the Logos. This term should be left untranslated, for the very same reason why the names Jesus and Christ are left untranslated. The first I consider as proper an apellative of the Savior of the world as I do either of the two last. And as it would be highly improper to say, the Deliverer, the Anointed, instead of Jesus Christ, so I deem it improper to say, the Word, instead of the Logos. But as every appellative of the Savior of the world was descriptive of some excellence in his person, nature, or work, so the epithet Λογος, Logos, which signifies a word spoken, speech, eloquence, doctrine, reason, or the faculty of reasoning, is very properly applied to him, who is the true light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world, John 1:9; who is the fountain of all wisdom; who giveth being, life, light, knowledge, and reason, to all men; who is the grand Source of revelation, who has declared God unto mankind; who spake by the prophets, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, Revelation 19:10; who has illustrated life and immortality by his Gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10; and who has fully made manifest the deep mysteries which lay hidden in the bosom of the invisible God from all eternity, John 1:18.

The apostle does not borrow this mode of speech from the writings of Plato, as some have imagined: he took it from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and from the subsequent style of the ancient Jews. It is true the Platonists make mention of the Logos in this way: - καθ' ὁν, αει οντα, τα γενομενα εγενετο - by whom, eternally existing, all things were made. But as Plato, Pythagoras, Zeno, and others, traveled among the Jews, and conversed with them, it is reasonable to suppose that they borrowed this, with many others of their most important notions and doctrines, from them.

And the Word was God - Or, God was the Logos: therefore no subordinate being, no second to the Most High, but the supreme eternal Jehovah.

In the beginning was the word,.... That this is said not of the written word, but of the essential word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is clear, from all that is said from hence, to John 1:14 as that this word was in the beginning, was with God, and is God; from the creation of all things being ascribed to him, and his being said to be the life and light of men; from his coming into the world, and usage in it; from his bestowing the privilege of adoption on believers; and from his incarnation; and also there is a particular application of all this to Christ, John 1:15. And likewise from what this evangelist elsewhere says of him, when he calls him the word of life, and places him between the Father and the Holy Ghost; and speaks of the record of the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus, as the same thing; and represents him as a warrior and conqueror, 1 John 1:1. Moreover this appears to be spoken of Christ, from what other inspired writers have said of him, under the same character; as the Evangelist Luke, Luke 1:2, the Apostle Paul, Acts 20:32 and the Apostle Peter, 2 Peter 3:5. And who is called the word, not as man; for as man he was not in the beginning with God, but became so in the fulness of time; nor is the man God; besides, as such, he is a creature, and not the Creator, nor is he the life and light of men; moreover, he was the word, before he was man, and therefore not as such: nor can any part of the human nature be so called; not the flesh, for the word was made flesh; nor his human soul, for self-subsistence, deity, eternity, and the creation of all things, can never be ascribed to that; but he is the word as the Son of God, as is evident from what is here attributed to him, and from the word being said to be so, as in John 1:14 and from those places, where the word is explained by the Son, compare 1 John 5:5. And is so called from his nature, being begotten of the Father; for as the word, whether silent or expressed, is the birth of the mind, the image of it, equal to it, and distinct from it; so Christ is the only begotten of the Father, the express image of his person, in all things equal to him, and a distinct person from him: and he may be so called, from some action, or actions, said of him, or ascribed to him; as that he spoke for, and on the behalf of the elect of God, in the eternal council and covenant of grace and peace; and spoke all things out of nothing, in creation; for with regard to those words so often mentioned in the history of the creation, and God said, may Jehovah the Son be called the word; also he was spoken of as the promised Messiah, throughout the whole Old Testament dispensation; and is the interpreter of his Father's mind, as he was in Eden's garden, as well as in the days of his flesh; and now speaks in heaven for the saints. The phrase, , "the word of the Lord", so frequently used by the Targumists, is well known: and it is to be observed, that the same things which John here says of the word, they say likewise, as will be observed on the several clauses; from whence it is more likely, that John should take this phrase, since the paraphrases of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel were written before his time, than that he should borrow it from the writings of Plato, or his followers, as some have thought; with whose philosophy, Ebion and Cerinthus are said to be acquainted; wherefore John, the more easily to gain upon them, uses this phrase, when that of the Son of God would have been disagreeable to them: that there is some likeness between the Evangelist John and Plato in their sentiments concerning the word, will not be denied. Amelius (f), a Platonic philosopher, who lived after the times of John, manifestly refers to these words of his, in agreement with his master's doctrine: his words are these,

"and this was truly "Logos", or the word, by whom always existing, the things that are made, were made, as also Heraclitus thought; and who, likewise that Barbarian (meaning the Evangelist John) reckons was in the order and dignity of the beginning, constituted with God, and was God, by whom all things are entirely made; in whom, whatsoever is made, lives, and has life, and being; and who entered into bodies, and was clothed with flesh, and appeared a man; so notwithstanding, that he showed forth the majesty of his nature; and after his dissolution, he was again deified, and was God, as he was before he descended into a body, flesh and man.

In which words it is easy to observe plain traces of what the evangelist says in the first four verses, and in the fourteenth verse of this chapter; yet it is much more probable, that Plato had his notion of the Logos, or word, out of the writings of the Old Testament, than that John should take this phrase, or what he says concerning the word, from him; since it is a matter of fact not disputed, that Plato went into Egypt to get knowledge: not only Clemens Alexandrinus a Christian writer says, that he was a philosopher of the Hebrews (g), and understood prophecy (h), and stirred up the fire of the Hebrew philosophy (i); but it is affirmed by Heathen writers, that he went into Egypt to learn of the priests (k), and to understand the rites of the prophets (l); and Aristobulus, a Jew, affirms (m), he studied their law; and Numenius, a Pythagoric philosopher (n), charges him with stealing what he wrote, concerning God and the world, out of the books of Moses; and used to say to him, what is Plato, but Moses "Atticising?" or Moses speaking Greek: and Eusebius (o), an ancient Christian writer, points at the very places, from whence Plato took his hints: wherefore it is more probable, that the evangelist received this phrase of the word, as a divine person, from the Targums, where there is such frequent mention made of it; or however, there is a very great agreement between what he and these ancient writings of the Jews say of the word, as will be hereafter shown. Moreover, the phrase is frequently used in like manner, in the writings of Philo the Jew; from whence it is manifest, that the name was well known to the Jews, and may be the reason of the evangelist's using it. This word, he says, was in the beginning; by which is meant, not the Father of Christ; for he is never called the beginning, but the Son only; and was he, he must be such a beginning as is without one; nor can he be said to be so, with respect to the Son or Spirit, who are as eternal as himself; only with respect to the creatures, of whom he is the author and efficient cause: Christ is indeed in the Father, and the Father in him, but this cannot be meant here; nor is the beginning of the Gospel of Christ, by the preaching of John the Baptist, intended here: John's ministry was an evangelical one, and the Gospel was more clearly preached by him, and after him, by Christ and his apostles, than before; but it did not then begin; it was preached before by the angel to the shepherds, at the birth of Christ; and before that, by the prophets under the former dispensation, as by Isaiah, and others; it was preached before unto Abraham, and to our first parents, in the garden of Eden: nor did Christ begin to be, when John began to preach; for John's preaching and baptism were for the manifestation of him: yea, Christ existed as man, before John began to preach; and though he was born after him as man, yet as the Word and Son of God, he existed before John was born; he was in being in the times of the prophets, which were before John; and in the times of Moses, and before Abraham, and in the days of Noah: but by the beginning is here meant, the beginning of the world, or the creation of all things; and which is expressive of the eternity of Christ, he was in the beginning, as the Maker of all creatures, and therefore must be before them all: and it is to be observed, that it is said of him, that in the beginning he was; not made, as the heavens and earth, and the things in them were; nor was he merely in the purpose and predestination of God, but really existed as a divine person, as he did from all eternity; as appears from his being set up in office from everlasting; from all the elect being chosen in him, and given to him before the foundation of the world; from the covenant of grace, which is from eternity, being made with him; and from the blessings and promises of grace, being as early put into his hands; and from his nature as God, and his relation to his Father: so Philo the Jew often calls the Logos, or word, the eternal word, the most ancient word, and more ancient than any thing that is made (p). The eternity of the Messiah is acknowledged by the ancient Jews: Micah 5:2 is a full proof of it; which by them (q) is thus paraphrased,

"out of thee, before me, shall come forth the Messiah, that he may exercise dominion over Israel; whose name is said from eternity, from the days of old.

Jarchi upon it only mentions Psalm 72:17 which is rendered by the Targum on the place, before the sun his name was prepared; it may be translated, "before the sun his name was Yinnon"; that is, the Son, namely the Son of God; and Aben Ezra interprets it, , "he shall be called the son"; and to this agrees what the Talmudisis say (r), that the name of the Messiah was before the world was created; in proof of which they produce the same passage,

And the word was with God; not with men or angels; for he was before either of these; but with God, not essentially, but personally considered; with God his Father: not in the Socinian sense, that he was only known to him, and to no other before the ministry of John the Baptist; for he was known and spoken of by the angel Gabriel before; and was known to Mary and to Joseph; and to Zacharias and Elisabeth; to the shepherds, and to the wise men; to Simeon and Anna, who saw him in the temple; and to the prophets and patriarchs in all ages, from the beginning of the world: but this phrase denotes the existence of the word with the Father, his relation and nearness to him, his equality with him, and particularly the distinction of his person from him, as well as his eternal being with him; for he was always with him, and is, and ever will be; he was with him in the council and covenant of grace, and in the creation of the universe, and is with him in the providential government of the world; he was with him as the word and Son of God in heaven, whilst he as man, was here on earth; and he is now with him, and ever will be: and as John here speaks of the word, as a distinct person from God the Father, so do the Targums, or Chaldee paraphrases; Psalm 110:1 "the Lord said to my Lord", is rendered, "the Lord said to his word"; where he is manifestly distinguished from Jehovah, that speaks to him; and in Hosea 1:7 the Lord promises to "have mercy on the house of Judah", and "save them by the Lord their God". The Targum is, "I will redeem them by the word of the Lord their God"; where the word of the Lord, who is spoken of as a Redeemer and Saviour, is distinguished from the Lord, who promises to save by him. This distinction of Jehovah and his word, may be observed in multitudes of places, in the Chaldee paraphrases, and in the writings of Philo the Jew; and this phrase, of "the word" being "with God", is in the Targums expressed by, , "the word from before the Lord", or "which is before the Lord": being always in his presence, and the angel of it; so Onkelos paraphrases Genesis 31:22 "and the word from before the Lord, came to Laban", &c. and Exodus 20:19 thus, "and let not the word from before the Lord speak with us, lest we die"; for so it is read in the King of Spain's Bible; and wisdom, which is the same with the word of God, is said to be by him, or with him, in Proverbs 8:1 agreeably to which John here speaks. John makes use of the word God, rather than Father, because the word is commonly called the word of God, and because of what follows,

and the word was God; not made a God, as he is said here after to be made flesh; nor constituted or appointed a God, or a God by office; but truly and properly God, in the highest sense of the word, as appears from the names by which he is called; as Jehovah, God, our, your, their, and my God, God with us, the mighty God, God over all, the great God, the living God, the true God, and eternal life; and from his perfections, and the whole fulness of the Godhead that dwells in him, as independence, eternity, immutability, omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence; and from his works of creation and providence, his miracles, the work of redemption, his forgiving sins, the resurrection of himself and others from the dead, and the administration of the last judgment; and from the worship given him, as prayer to him, faith in him, and the performance of baptism in his name: nor is it any objection to the proper deity of Christ, that the article is here wanting; since when the word is applied to the Father, it is not always used, and even in this chapter, John 1:6 and which shows, that the word "God", is not the subject, but the predicate of this proposition, as we render it: so the Jews often use the word of the Lord for Jehovah, and call him God. Thus the words in Genesis 28:20 are paraphrased by Onkelos,

"if "the word of the Lord" will be my help, and will keep me, &c. then "the word of the Lord" shall be, , "my God":

again, Leviticus 26:12 is paraphrased, by the Targum ascribed to Jonathan Ben Uzziel, thus,

"I will cause the glory of my Shekinah to dwell among you, and my word shall "be your God", the Redeemer;

once more, Deuteronomy 26:17 is rendered by the Jerusalem Targum after this manner,

"ye have made "the word of the Lord" king over you this day, that he may be your God:

and this is frequent with Philo the Jew, who says, the name of God is his word, and calls him, my Lord, the divine word; and affirms, that the most ancient word is God (s),

(f) Apud Euseb. Prepar. Evangel. l. 11. c. 19. (g) Stromat. l. 1. p. 274. (h) Ib. p. 303. (i) Ib. Paedagog. l. 2. c. 1. p. 150. (k) Valer. Maxim. l. 8. c. 7. (l) Apuleius de dogmate Platonis, l. 1. in principio. (m) Apud. Euseb. Prepar. Evangel. l. 13. c. 12. (n) Hesych. Miles. de Philosophis. p. 50. (o) Prepar. Evangel. l. 11. c. 9. (p) De Leg. Alleg. l. 2. p. 93. de Plant. Noe, p. 217. de Migrat. Abraham, p. 389. de Profugis, p. 466. quis. rer. divin. Haeres. p. 509. (q) Targum Jon. in loc. (r) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 54. 1. & Nedarim, fol. 39. 2. Pirke Eliezer, c. 3.((s) De Allegor. l. 2. p. 99, 101. & de Somniis, p. 599.

In {1} the {a} beginning {b} was {c} the Word, and the Word was {d} with God, and the {e} Word was God.

(1) The Son of God is of one and the selfsame eternity or everlastingness, and of one and the selfsame essence or nature with the Father.

(a) From the beginning, as the evangelist says in 1Jo 1:1; it is as though he said that the Word did not begin to have his being when God began to make all that was made: for the Word was even then when all things that were made began to be made, and therefore he was before the beginning of all things.

(b) Had his being.

(c) This word the points out to us a peculiar and choice thing above all others, and puts a difference between this Word, which is the Son of God, and the laws of God, which are also called the word of God.

(d) This word with points out that there is a distinction of persons here.

(e) This word Word is the first in order in the sentence, and is the subject of the sentence, and this word God is the latter in order, and is the predicate of the sentence.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN Commentary by David Brown

INTRODUCTION

The author of the Fourth Gospel was the younger of the two sons of Zebedee, a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, who resided at Bethsaida, where were born Peter and Andrew his brother, and Philip also. His mother's name was Salome, who, though not without her imperfections (Mt 20:20-28), was one of those dear and honored women who accompanied the Lord on one of His preaching circuits through Galilee, ministering to His bodily wants; who followed Him to the cross, and bought sweet spices to anoint Him after His burial, but, on bringing them to the grave, on the morning of the First Day of the week, found their loving services gloriously superseded by His resurrection ere they arrived. His father, Zebedee, appears to have been in good circumstances, owning a vessel of his own and having hired servants (Mr 1:20). Our Evangelist, whose occupation was that of a fisherman with his father, was beyond doubt a disciple of the Baptist, and one of the two who had the first interview with Jesus. He was called while engaged at his secular occupation (Mt 4:21, 22), and again on a memorable occasion (Lu 5:1-11), and finally chosen as one of the Twelve Apostles (Mt 10:2). He was the youngest of the Twelve—the "Benjamin," as Da Costa calls him—and he and James his brother were named in the native tongue by Him who knew the heart, "Boanerges," which the Evangelist Mark (Mr 3:17) explains to mean "Sons of thunder"; no doubt from their natural vehemence of character. They and Peter constituted that select triumvirate of whom see on [1753]Lu 9:28. But the highest honor bestowed on this disciple was his being admitted to the bosom place with his Lord at the table, as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (Joh 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20:24), and to have committed to him by the dying Redeemer the care of His mother (Joh 19:26, 27). There can be no reasonable doubt that this distinction was due to a sympathy with His own spirit and mind on the part of John which the all-penetrating Eye of their common Master beheld in none of the rest; and although this was probably never seen either in his life or in his ministry by his fellow apostles, it is brought out wonderfully in his writings, which, in Christ-like spirituality, heavenliness, and love, surpass, we may freely say, all the other inspired writings.

After the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, we find him in constant but silent company with Peter, the great spokesman and actor in the infant Church until the accession of Paul. While his love to the Lord Jesus drew him spontaneously to the side of His eminent servant, and his chastened vehemence made him ready to stand courageously by him, and suffer with him, in all that his testimony to Jesus might cost him, his modest humility, as the youngest of all the apostles, made him an admiring listener and faithful supporter of his brother apostle rather than a speaker or separate actor. Ecclesiastical history is uniform in testifying that John went to Asia Minor; but it is next to certain that this could not have been till after the death both of Peter and Paul; that he resided at Ephesus, whence, as from a center, he superintended the churches of that region, paying them occasional visits; and that he long survived the other apostles. Whether the mother of Jesus died before this, or went with John to Ephesus, where she died and was buried, is not agreed. One or two anecdotes of his later days have been handed down by tradition, one at least bearing marks of reasonable probability. But it is not necessary to give them here. In the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81-96) he was banished to "the isle that is called Patmos" (a small rocky and then almost uninhabited island in the Ægean Sea), "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Re 1:9). Irenæus and Eusebius say that this took place about the end of Domitian's reign. That he was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil, and miraculously delivered, is one of those legends which, though reported by Tertullian and Jerome, is entitled to no credit. His return from exile took place during the brief but tolerant reign of Nerva; he died at Ephesus in the reign of Trajan [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.23], at an age above ninety, according to some; according to others, one hundred; and even one hundred twenty, according to others still. The intermediate number is generally regarded as probably the nearest to the truth.

As to the date of this Gospel, the arguments for its having been composed before the destruction of Jerusalem (though relied on by some superior critics) are of the slenderest nature; such as the expression in Joh 5:2, "there is at Jerusalem, by the sheep-gate, a pool," &c.; there being no allusion to Peter's martyrdom as having occurred according to the prediction in Joh 21:18—a thing too well known to require mention. That it was composed long after the destruction of Jerusalem, and after the decease of all the other apostles, is next to certain, though the precise time cannot be determined. Probably it was before his banishment, however; and if we date it between the years 90 and 94, we shall probably be close to the truth.

As to the readers for whom it was more immediately designed, that they were Gentiles we might naturally presume from the lateness of the date; but the multitude of explanations of things familiar to every Jew puts this beyond all question.

No doubt was ever thrown upon the genuineness and authenticity of this Gospel till about the close of the eighteenth century; nor were these embodied in any formal attack upon it till Bretschneider, in 1820, issued his famous treatise [Probabilia], the conclusions of which he afterwards was candid enough to admit had been satisfactorily disproved. To advert to these would be as painful as unnecessary; consisting as they mostly do of assertions regarding the Discourses of our Lord recorded in this Gospel which are revolting to every spiritual mind. The Tubingen school did their best, on their peculiar mode of reasoning, to galvanize into fresh life this theory of the post-Joannean date of the Fourth Gospel; and some Unitarian critics still cling to it. But to use the striking language of Van Oosterzee regarding similar speculations on the Third Gospel, "Behold, the feet of them that shall carry it out dead are already at the door" (Ac 5:9). Is there one mind of the least elevation of spiritual discernment that does not see in this Gospel marks of historical truth and a surpassing glory such as none of the other Gospels possess, brightly as they too attest their own verity; and who will not be ready to say that if not historically true, and true just as it stands, it never could have been by mortal man composed or conceived?

Of the peculiarities of this Gospel, we note here only two. The one is its reflective character. While the others are purely narrative, the Fourth Evangelist, "pauses, as it were, at every turn," as Da Costa says [Four Witnesses, p. 234], "at one time to give a reason, at another to fix the attention, to deduce consequences, or make applications, or to give utterance to the language of praise." See Joh 2:20, 21, 23-25; 4:1, 2; 7:37-39; 11:12, 13, 49-52; 21:18, 19, 22, 23. The other peculiarity of this Gospel is its supplementary character. By this, in the present instance, we mean something more than the studiousness with which he omits many most important particulars in our Lord's history, for no conceivable reason but that they were already familiar as household words to all his readers, through the three preceding Gospels, and his substituting in place of these an immense quantity of the richest matter not found in the other Gospels. We refer here more particularly to the nature of the additions which distinguish this Gospel; particularly the notices of the different Passovers which occurred during our Lord's public ministry, and the record of His teaching at Jerusalem, without which it is not too much to say that we could have had but a most imperfect conception either of the duration of His ministry or of the plan of it. But another feature of these additions is quite as noticeable and not less important. "We find," to use again the words of Da Costa [Four Witnesses, pp. 238, 239], slightly abridged, "only six of our Lord's miracles recorded in this Gospel, but these are all of the most remarkable kind, and surpass the rest in depth, specialty of application, and fulness of meaning. Of these six we find only one in the other three Gospels—the multiplication of the loaves. That miracle chiefly, it would seem, on account of the important instructions of which it furnished the occasion (Joh 6:1-71), is here recorded anew. The five other tokens of divine power are distinguished from among the many recorded in the three other Gospels by their furnishing a still higher display of power and command over the ordinary laws and course of nature. Thus we find recorded here the first of all the miracles that Jesus wrought—the changing of water into wine (Joh 2:1-11), the cure of the nobleman's son at a distance (Joh 4:43-54); of the numerous cures of the lame and the paralytic by the word of Jesus, only one—of the man impotent for thirty and eight years (Joh 5:1-9); of the many cures of the blind, one only—of the man born blind (Joh 9:1-12); the restoration of Lazarus, not from a deathbed, like Jairus' daughter, nor from a bier, like the widow of Nain's son, but from the grave, and after lying there four days, and there sinking into corruption (Joh 11:1-44); and lastly, after His resurrection, the miraculous draught of fishes on the Sea of Tiberias (Joh 21:5-11). But these are all recorded chiefly to give occasion for the record of those astonishing discourses and conversations, alike with friends and with foes, with His disciples and with the multitude which they drew forth."

Other illustrations of the peculiarities of this Gospel will occur, and other points connected with it be adverted to, in the course of the Commentary.

CHAPTER 1

Joh 1:1-14. The Word Made Flesh.

1. In the beginning—of all time and created existence, for this Word gave it being (Joh 1:3, 10); therefore, "before the world was" (Joh 17:5, 24); or, from all eternity.

was the Word—He who is to God what man's word is to himself, the manifestation or expression of himself to those without him. (See on [1754]Joh 1:18). On the origin of this most lofty and now for ever consecrated title of Christ, this is not the place to speak. It occurs only in the writings of this seraphic apostle.

was with God—having a conscious personal existence distinct from God (as one is from the person he is "with"), but inseparable from Him and associated with Him (Joh 1:18; Joh 17:5; 1Jo 1:2), where "THE Father" is used in the same sense as "God" here.

was God—in substance and essence God; or was possessed of essential or proper divinity. Thus, each of these brief but pregnant statements is the complement of the other, correcting any misapprehensions which the others might occasion. Was the Word eternal? It was not the eternity of "the Father," but of a conscious personal existence distinct from Him and associated with Him. Was the Word thus "with God?" It was not the distinctness and the fellowship of another being, as if there were more Gods than one, but of One who was Himself God—in such sense that the absolute unity of the God head, the great principle of all religion, is only transferred from the region of shadowy abstraction to the region of essential life and love. But why all this definition? Not to give us any abstract information about certain mysterious distinctions in the Godhead, but solely to let the reader know who it was that in the fulness of time "was made flesh." After each verse, then, the reader must say, "It was He who is thus, and thus, and thus described, who was made flesh."

1:1-5 The plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word, seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, so was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father's mind to the world. What the evangelist says of Christ proves that he is God. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistence with the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made by him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as the life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This eternal Word, this true Light shines, but the darkness comprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyes may be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; and thus be made wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ. 1:1-3 The Beginning of Christ's Ministry

SUMMARY OF JOHN 1:

The Word Made Flesh. The Witness of John. John's Disciples Pointed to Christ. The Lord Calls His First Disciples. An Israelite Indeed.

In the beginning was the Word, etc. The first fourteen verses are introductory. In order to set at rest all controversy the Divine nature of Jesus, John glances, in the first three verses, back to the beginning, recorded in Genesis, and affirms: (1) That he who was afterwards manifest as the Christ existed before creation began; (2) that he was present with God; (3) that he was divine; (4) that he was the Word; (5) that by or through him were all things made that were made (Joh 1:3). The first chapter of Genesis helps us to understand its meaning. God said, Let there be light (Ge 1:3), Let there be a firmament (Ge 1:6), Let the earth bring forth (Ge 1:11), etc. and it was done. God exhibits his creative power through the Word, and manifests his will through the Word. There are mysteries belonging to the divine nature and to the relation between the Son and the Father that we have to wait for eternity to solve. They are too deep for human solution, but this is clear: that God creates and speaks to man through the Word. As we clothe our thoughts in words, so God reveals his will by the Word, and when the Word is clothed in flesh, as the Teacher of men, we recognize it as Jesus Christ.

SCOFIELD REFERENCE NOTES (Old Scofield 1917 Edition)

Book Introduction

The Gospel According to St. John

WRITER. The fourth Gospel was written by the Apostle John Jn 21:24. This has been questioned on critical grounds, but on the same grounds and with equal scholarship, the early date and Johanean authorship have been maintained.

DATE. The date of John's Gospel falls between A.D. 85 and 90. Probably the latter.

THEME. This is indicated both in the Prologue (1.1-14), and in the last verse of the Gospel proper (20.31), and is: The incarnation of the eternal Word, and Son of life; (2) that as many as believe on Him as "the Christ, the Son of God" (20.31) may have eternal life. The prominent words are, "believed" and "life."

The book is in seven natural divisions:

I. Prologue: The eternal Word incarnate in Jesus the Christ, 1.1-14.

II. The witness of John the Baptist, 1.15-34.

III. The public ministry of Christ, 1.35-12.50.

IV. The private ministry of Christ to His own, 13.1-17.26.

V. The sacrifice of Christ, 18.1-19.42.

VI. The manifestation of Christ in resurrection, 20.1-31.

VII. Epilogue: Christ the Master of life and service, 21.1-25.

The events recorded in this book cover a period of 7 years.

[1] Word

Gr. "Logos" (arm. "Memra," used in the Targums, or Heb. paraphrases, for God). The Greek term means,

(1) a thought or concept;

(2) the expression or utterance of that thought. As a designation of Christ, therefore, Logos is peculiarly felicitous because,

the beginning.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Proverbs 8:22-31 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old…

Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which …

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Hebrews 1:10 And, You, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundation of the …

Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning …

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Revelation 1:2,8,11 Who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus …

Revelation 2:8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things said …

Revelation 21:6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning …

Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

the Word.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory…

1 John 1:1,2 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we …

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, …

Revelation 19:13 And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name …

with.

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is …

John 16:28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, …

John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory …

Proverbs 8:22-30 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old…

1 John 1:2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, …

the Word was.

John 10:30-33 I and my Father are one…

John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said to him, My LORD and my God.

Psalm 45:6 Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of your kingdom …

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin …

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government …

Isaiah 40:9-11 O Zion, that bring good tidings, get you up into the high mountain; …

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, …

Romans 9:5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ …

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was …

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the …

Hebrews 1:8-13 But to the Son he said, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: …

2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ…

1 John 5:7,20 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, …

In the beginning was (ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν)

With evident allusion to the first word of Genesis. But John elevates the phrase from its reference to a point of time, the beginning of creation, to the time of absolute pre-existence before any creation, which is not mentioned until John 1:3. This beginning had no beginning (compare John 1:3; John 17:5; 1 John 1:1; Ephesians 1:4; Proverbs 8:23; Psalm 90:2). This heightening of the conception, however, appears not so much in ἀρχή, beginning, which simply leaves room for it, as in the use of ἦν, was, denoting absolute existence (compare εἰμί, I am, John 8:58) instead of ἐγένετο, came into being, or began to be, which is used in John 1:3, John 1:14, of the coming into being of creation and of the Word becoming flesh. Note also the contrast between ἀρχή, in the beginning, and the expression ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, from the beginning, which is common in John's writings (John 8:44; 1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:24; 1 John 3:8) and which leaves no room for the idea of eternal pre-existence. "In Genesis 1:1, the sacred historian starts from the beginning and comes downward, thus keeping us in the course of time. Here he starts from the same point, but goes upward, thus taking us into the eternity preceding time" (Milligan and Moulton). See on Colossians 1:15. This notion of "beginning" is still further heightened by the subsequent statement of the relation of the Logos to the eternal God. The ἀρχή must refer to the creation - the primal beginning of things; but if, in this beginning, the Logos already was, then he belonged to the order of eternity. "The Logos was not merely existent, however, in the beginning, but was also the efficient principle, the beginning of the beginning. The ἀρχή (beginning), in itself and in its operation dark, chaotic, was, in its idea and its principle, comprised in one single luminous word, which was the Logos. And when it is said the Logos was in this beginning, His eternal existence is already expressed, and His eternal position in the Godhead already indicated thereby" (Lange). "Eight times in the narrative of creation (in Genesis) there occur, like the refrain of a hymn, the words, And God said. John gathers up all those sayings of God into a single saying, living and endowed with activity and intelligence, from which all divine orders emanate: he finds as the basis of all spoken words, the speaking Word" (Godet).

The Word (ὁ λόγος)

Logos. This expression is the keynote and theme of the entire gospel. Λόγος is from the root λεγ, appearing in λέγω, the primitive meaning of which is to lay: then, to pick out, gather, pick up: hence to gather or put words together, and so, to speak. Hence λόγος is, first of all, a collecting or collection both of things in the mind, and of words by which they are expressed. It therefore signifies both the outward form by which the inward thought is expressed, and the inward thought itself, the Latin oratio and ratio: compare the Italian ragionare, "to think" and "to speak."

As signifying the outward form it is never used in the merely grammatical sense, as simply the name of a thing or act (ἔπος, ὄνομα, ῥῆμα), but means a word as the thing referred to: the material, not the formal part: a word as embodying a conception or idea. See, for instance, Matthew 22:46; 1 Corinthians 14:9, 1 Corinthians 14:19. Hence it signifies a saying, of God, or of man (Matthew 19:21, Matthew 19:22; Mark 5:35, Mark 5:36): a decree, a precept (Romans 9:28; Mark 7:13). The ten commandments are called in the Septuagint, οἱ δέκα λόγοι, "the ten words" (Exodus 34:28), and hence the familiar term decalogue. It is further used of discourse: either of the act of speaking (Acts 14:12), of skill and practice in speaking (Acts 18:15; 2 Timothy 4:15), specifically the doctrine of salvation through Christ (Matthew 13:20-23; Philippians 1:14); of narrative, both the relation and the thing related (Acts 1:1; John 21:23; Mark 1:45); of matter under discussion, an affair, a case in law (Acts 15:6; Acts 19:38).

As signifying the inward thought, it denotes the faculty of thinking and reasoning (Hebrews 4:12); regard or consideration (Acts 20:24); reckoning, account (Philippians 4:15, Philippians 4:17; Hebrews 4:13); cause or reason (Acts 10:29).

John uses the word in a peculiar sense, here, and in John 1:14; and, in this sense, in these two passages only. The nearest approach to it is in Revelation 19:13, where the conqueror is called the Word of God; and it is recalled in the phrases Word of Life, and the Life was manifested (1 John 1:1, 1 John 1:2). Compare Hebrews 4:12. It was a familiar and current theological term when John wrote, and therefore he uses it without explanation.

Old Testament Usage of the Term

The word here points directly to Genesis 1, where the act of creation is effected by God speaking (compare Psalm 33:6). The idea of God, who is in his own nature hidden, revealing himself in creation, is the root of the Logos-idea, in contrast with all materialistic or pantheistic conceptions of creation. This idea develops itself in the Old Testament on three lines. (1) The Word, as embodying the divine will, is personified in Hebrew poetry. Consequently divine attributes are predicated of it as being the continuous revelation of God in law and prophecy (Psalm 3:4; Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 119:105). The Word is a healer in Psalm 107:20; a messenger in Psalm 147:15; the agent of the divine decrees in Isaiah 55:11.

(2) The personified wisdom (Job 28:12 sq.; Proverbs 8, 9). Here also is the idea of the revelation of that which is hidden. For wisdom is concealed from man: "he knoweth not the price thereof, neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me; and the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air" (Job 28). Even Death, which unlocks so many secrets, and the underworld, know it only as a rumor (Job 28:22). It is only God who knows its way and its place (Job 28:23). He made the world, made the winds and the waters, made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder (Job 28:25, Job 28:26). He who possessed wisdom in the beginning of his way, before His works of old, before the earth with its depths and springs and mountains, with whom was wisdom as one brought up with Him (Proverbs 8:26-31), declared it. "It became, as it were, objective, so that He beheld it" (Job 28:27) and embodied it in His creative work. This personification, therefore, is based on the thought that wisdom is not shut up at rest in God, but is active and manifest in the world. "She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors" (Proverbs 8:2, Proverbs 8:3). She builds a palace and prepares a banquet, and issues a general invitation to the simple and to him that wanteth understanding (Proverbs 9:1-6). It is viewed as the one guide to salvation, comprehending all revelations of God, and as an attribute embracing and combining all His other attributes.

(3) The Angel of Jehovah. The messenger of God who serves as His agent in the world of sense, and is sometimes distinguished from Jehovah and sometimes identical with him (Genesis 16:7-13; Genesis 32:24-28; Hosea 12:4, Hosea 12:5; Exodus 23:20, Exodus 23:21; Malachi 3:1).

Apocryphal Usage

In the Apocryphal writings this mediative element is more distinctly apprehended, but with a tendency to pantheism. In the Wisdom of Solomon (at least 100 b.c.), where wisdom seems to be viewed as another name for the whole divine nature, while nowhere connected with the Messiah, it is described as a being of light, proceeding essentially from God; a true image of God, co-occupant of the divine throne; a real and independent principle, revealing God in the world and mediating between it and Him, after having created it as his organ - in association with a spirit which is called μονογενές, only begotten (7:22). "She is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty; therefore can no defiled thing fall into her. For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness" (see chapter 7, throughout). Again: "Wisdom reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly doth she order all things. In that she is conversant with God, she magnifieth her nobility: yea, the Lord of all things Himself loved her. For she is privy to the mysteries of the knowledge of God, and a lover of His works. Moreover, by the means of her I shall obtain immortality, and leave behind me an everlasting memorial to them that come after me" (chapter 9). In 16:12, it is said, "Thy word, O Lord, healeth all things" (compare Psalm 107:20); and in 18:15, 16, "Thine almighty word leaped from heaven out of thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction, and brought thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword, and, standing up, filled all things with death; and it touched the heaven, but it stood upon the earth." See also Wisdom of Sirach, chapters 1, 24, and Baruch 3, 4:1-4.

Later Jewish Usage

continued...

1:1 In the beginning - (Referring to Gen 1:1, and Prov 8:23.) When all things began to be made by the Word: in the beginning of heaven and earth, and this whole frame of created beings, the Word existed, without any beginning. He was when all things began to be, whatsoever had a beginning. The Word - So termed Psa 33:6, and frequently by the seventy, and in the Chaldee paraphrase. So that St. John did not borrow this expression from Philo, or any heathen writer. He was not yet named Jesus, or Christ. He is the Word whom the Father begat or spoke from eternity; by whom the Father speaking, maketh all things; who speaketh the Father to us. We have, in John 1:18, both a real description of the Word, and the reason why he is so called. He is the only begotten Son of the Father, who is in the bosom of the Father, and hath declared him. And the Word was with God - Therefore distinct from God the Father. The word rendered with, denotes a perpetual tendency as it were of the Son to the Father, in unity of essence. He was with God alone; because nothing beside God had then any being. And the Word was God - Supreme, eternal, independent. There was no creature, in respect of which he could be styled God in a relative sense. Therefore he is styled so in the absolute sense. The Godhead of the Messiah being clearly revealed in the Old Testament, (Jer 23:7; Hos 1:6; Psa 23:1,) the other evangelists aim at this, to prove that Jesus, a true man, was the Messiah. But when, at length, some from hence began to doubt of his Godhead, then St. John expressly asserted it, and wrote in this book as it were a supplement to the Gospels, as in the Revelation to the prophets.
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