John 1:4
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

New Living Translation
The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

English Standard Version
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Berean Study Bible
In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.

Berean Literal Bible
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

New American Standard Bible
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

King James Bible
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men.

International Standard Version
In him was life, and that life brought light to humanity.

NET Bible
In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.

New Heart English Bible
In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
In him was The Life and The Life is The Light of men.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.

New American Standard 1977
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Jubilee Bible 2000
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

King James 2000 Bible
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

American King James Version
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

American Standard Version
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Douay-Rheims Bible
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Darby Bible Translation
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

English Revised Version
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Webster's Bible Translation
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Weymouth New Testament
In Him was Life, and that Life was the Light of men.

World English Bible
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Young's Literal Translation
In him was life, and the life was the light of men,
Study Bible
The Beginning
3Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. 4In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.…
Cross References
John 3:19
And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 5:26
For as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.

John 8:12
Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life."

John 9:5
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.

John 12:46
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should remain in darkness.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

1 John 1:1
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands--this is the Word of life.

1 John 1:2
And this is the life that was revealed; we have seen it and testified to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.

1 John 5:11
And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
Treasury of Scripture

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

him.

John 5:21,26 For as the Father raises up the dead, and vivifies them; even so …

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes …

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man …

1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; …

Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also …

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

1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and …

Revelation 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, …

the life.

John 1:8,9 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light…

John 8:12 Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: …

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

John 12:35,46 Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you. …

Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and …

Isaiah 35:4,5 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, …

Isaiah 42:6,7,16 I the LORD have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, …

Psalm 49:6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude …

Psalm 60:1-3 O God, you have cast us off, you have scattered us, you have been …

Malachi 4:2 But to you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise …

Matthew 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which …

Luke 1:78,79 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on …

Luke 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.

Acts 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should …

Ephesians 5:14 Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ …

1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare …

Revelation 22:16 I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the …

(4) In him was life.--The creation, the calling into existence life in its varied forms, leads up to the source of this life. It is in the Word by original being, while of the highest creature made "in the image of God" we are told that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).

"Life" has here no limitation, and is to be understood in its widest sense; the life of the body, even of organisms which we commonly think of as inanimate, the life of the soul, the life of the spirit; life in the present, so far as there is communion with the eternal source of life; life in the future, when the idea shall be realised and the communion be complete.

Was.--This is in the Greek the same verb of existence that we have had in John 1:1-2, and is different from the word in John 1:3. Comp. Notes on John 1:6, and John 8:58. It places us, then, at the same starting point of time. The Word was ever life, and from the first existence of any creature became a source of life to others. But the "was" of the first clause of this verse should not be pressed, for we are not quite certain that the original text contained it. Two of our oldest MSS. have "is," which is supported by other evidence, and is not in itself an improbable reading. The meaning in this case would be "in the Word there ever is life." Creation is not merely a definite act. There is a constant development of the germs implanted in all the varied forms of being, and these find their sustaining power in the one central source of life. The thought will meet us again in John 1:17; but see especially the expression, "upholding all things by the word of his power" (Hebrews 1:3, Note).

And the life was the light of men.--We are led from the relation of the Word to the universe to His relation to mankind. That which to lower beings in the scale of creation was more or less fully life, as the nature of each was more or less receptive of its power, is to the being endowed with a moral nature and made in the divine image the satisfaction of every moral need, and the revelation of the divine Being. The "was" still carries us back to the first days of time, when creation in all the beauty of its youth was unstained by sin, when no night had fallen on the moral world, but when there was the brightness of an ever-constant noon-tide in the presence of God. But here, too, the "was" passes in sense into the "is." "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." In every man there are rays of light, stronger or feebler, in greater or lesser darkness. In every man there is a power to see the light, and open his soul to it, and the more he has it still to crave for more. This going forth of the soul to God, is the seeking for life. The Word is the going forth of God to the soul. He is life. In the feeling after, there is finding. The moral struggle is the moral strength. The eye that seeks for light cannot seek in vain. The life was and is the light of men.

Verse 4. -

(a) The Life, and therefore inclusive of the fact that the Logos always has been and now is

(b) the Light of men. In him was life. "Life" in all its fulness of meaning - that grand addition to things which confers upon them all their significance for men. There is one impassable chasm which neither history, nor science, nor philosophy can span, viz. that between nothing and something. The evangelist has found the only possible method of facing it - by the conception of One who from eternity has within himself the potency of the transition. There is another impassable chasm in thought - that between non-living atoms and living energies and individualities. The assertion now is that life, ζωή, with all its manifestations and in all its regions; that the life of plant, tree, and animal, the life of man, of society, and of worlds as such; that the life of the body, soul, and spirit, the life transitory and the life eternal (ζωὴ αἰώνιος), was in the Logos, "who was God and in the beginning with God." Elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus said that "as the Father had life in himself, so he gave to the Son to have life in himself" (John 5:26); i.e. he communicated to the Son his own Divine self-dependence. The Gospel, however, lays the greatest emphasis on the life-giving powers of the Christ as incarnate Logos. The healing of the impotent man (ch. 5.), the raising of the dead Lazarus (ch. 11.), are chosen proofs of his life-giving energy. His claim (ch. 10.) to retake the life that he would voluntarily relinquish, and the august majesty with which, in his resurrection life (ch. 20, 21.), he proclaimed his absolute and final victory over death, constitute the reasons which induced the evangelist to lay down at the very outset that in the Logos was life. Life, in all its energies, past, present, and future, is an outcome, an effluence, of the Eternal Word. And the life was (and is) the light of men. Observe, it is not said here that physical life is a consequence or issue of the solar beam, or of the Word which in the beginning called light out of darkness. All the religious systems of the East and all modern sciences agree to extol and all but worship the light force, with all that seems so inseparably associated with it. The evangelist was reaching after something far more momentous even than that dogma of ancient faith and modern science. He is not speaking of "the light of the sun," but of "the light of men." Whatever this illumination may include, John does not refer it directly to the Logos, but to the life which is "in him." "The light of men" has been differently conceived by expositors. Calvin supposed that the "understanding" was intended - "that the life of men was not of an ordinary description, but was united to the light of understanding," and is that by which man is differentiated from animals. Hengstenberg regards it, in consequence of numerous associations of "light" with "salvation" in Holy Scripture, as equivalent to salvation; Luthardt with "holiness;" and many with the "eternal life," which would introduce great tautology. The context is our best guide. This light is said to be the veritable light which lighteth every man, and to be shining into darkness. Consequently, to make it the complex of all the gracious processes which beautify the renewed soul is to hurry on faster than the apostle, and to anticipate the evolution of his thought. "The light of men" seems to be the faculty or condition, the inward and outward means, by which men know God. "The light of men" is the conscience and reason, the eye of the soul by which the human race comes into contact with truth and right and beauty. The perfections of God answering to these functions of the soul are not, and were never, manifested in mere matter or force. Until we survey the operations of God in life we have no hint of either. The lower forms of life in plant or animal may reveal the wisdom and beneficence and 'beauty of the Logos, and so far some light shines upon man; but even these have never been adequately appreciated until the life of man himself comes into view, then the Divine perfections of righteousness and moral loveliness break upon the eye of the soul. In the life of conscience and reason a higher and more revealing light is made to shine upon man, upon his origin, upon his Divine image, upon his destiny. In the spiritual life which has been superinduced upon the life of the conscience and of the flesh, there is the highest light, the brightest and warmest and most potent rays of the whole spectrum of Divine illumination. "The life" which was in the Logos "was," has always been, is now, will ever be, "the light of men." The plural, "of men" (τῶν ἀνθρώπων), justifies this larger and sweeping generalization. The two "imperfects" (η΅ν) placing the process in the past do not compel us to limit the operation to the past or ideal sphere. They assert what was "in the beginning," and which can never cease to be; but they partly imply further consequences, which the actual condition of man has introduced. In him was life,.... The Persic version reads in the plural number, "lives". There was life in the word with respect to himself; a divine life, the same with the life of the Father and of the Spirit; and is in him, not by gift, nor by derivation or communication; but originally, and independently, and from all eternity: indeed he lived before his incarnation as Mediator, and Redeemer. Job knew him in his time, as his living Redeemer; but this regards him as the word and living God, and distinguishes him from the written word, and shows that he is not a mere idea in the divine mind, but a truly divine person: and there was life in Christ the word, with respect to others; the fountain of natural life is in him, he is the efficient cause, and preserver of it; whether vegetative, animal, or rational; and proves him to be truly God, and that he existed before his incarnation; since creatures, who have received such a life from him, did: and spiritual life was also in him; all his elect are dead in trespasses and sins, and cannot quicken themselves. Christ has procured life for them, and gives it to them, and implants it in them; a life of sanctification is from him; and a life of justification is upon him, and of faith is by him; all the comforts of a spiritual life, and all things appertaining to it, are from him, and he maintains, and preserves it. Eternal life is in him, and with him; not the purpose of it only, nor the promise of it barely, but the gift of it itself; which was granted in consequence of his asking it, and which he had by way of stipulation; and hence has a right and power to bestow it: now, this being in him proves him to be the true God, and shows us where life is to be had, and the safety and security of it:

and the life was the light of men; the life which was in, and by the word, was, with respect to men, a life of light, or a life attended with light: by which is meant, not a mere visive faculty, receptive of the sun's light, but rational knowledge and understanding; for when Christ, the word, breathed into man the breath of life, and he became a living soul, he filled him with rational light and knowledge. Adam had a knowledge of God; of his being, and perfections; of the persons in the Trinity; of his relation to God, dependence on him, and obligation to him; of his mind and will; and knew what it was to have communion with him. He knew much of himself, and of all the creatures; this knowledge was natural and perfect in its kind, but loseable; and different from that which saints now have of God, through Christ, the Mediator; and since this natural light was from Christ, the word, as a Creator, he must be the eternal God. The Socinians are not willing to allow this sense, but say that Christ is the light of men, by preaching the heavenly doctrine, and by the example of his holy life; but hereby he did not enlighten every man that cometh into the world; the greatest part of men, before the preaching, and example of Christ, sat in darkness; and the greatest part of the Jews remained in darkness, notwithstanding his preaching, and example; and the patriarchs that were enlightened under the former dispensation, were not enlightened this way: it will be owned, that all spiritual and supernatural light, which any of the sons of men have had, since the fall, was from Christ, from whom they had their spiritual life; even all spiritual light in conversion, and all after degrees of light; through him they enjoyed the light of God's countenance, and had the light of joy and gladness here, and of glory hereafter. 4. In Him was life—essentially and originally, as the previous verses show to be the meaning. Thus He is the Living Word, or, as He is called in 1Jo 1:1, 2, "the Word of Life."

the life … the light of men—All that in men which is true light—knowledge, integrity, intelligent, willing subjection to God, love to Him and to their fellow creatures, wisdom, purity, holy joy, rational happiness—all this "light of men" has its fountain in the essential original "life" of "the Word" (1Jo 1:5-7; Ps 36:9).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.
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