John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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(1) In the beginning.—The reference to the opening words of the Old Testament is obvious, and is the more striking when we remember that a Jew would constantly speak of and quote from the book of Genesis as Berēshîth (“in the beginning”). It is quite in harmony with the Hebrew tone of this Gospel to do so, and it can hardly be that St. John wrote his Berēshîth without having that of Moses present to his mind, and without being guided by its meaning. We have then, in the earlier words, a law of interpretation for the later, and this law excludes every such sense as “the Everlasting Father” or “the divine wisdom,” which is before all things, though both these have been supported by here and there a name of weight; much more does this law, strengthened as it is by the whole context, exclude any such sense as “the commencement of Christ’s work on earth,” which owes its existence to the foregone conclusion of a theory, and is marked by the absence of any support of weight. Our law seems equally to exclude from these words the idea of “anteriority to time,” which is expressed, not in them, but in the substantive verb which immediately follows. The Mosaic conception of “beginning” is marked by the first creative act. St. John places himself at the same starting point of time, but before he speaks of any creation he asserts the pre-existence of the Creator. In this “beginning” there already “was” the Word. (See expressions of this thought in John 17:5; Proverbs 8:23; 1John 1:1; Revelation 3:14.)

Was the Word.—See Excursus A: Doctrine of the Word.

With God.—These words express the co-existence, but at the same time the distinction of person. They imply relation with, intercourse with. (Comp. the “in the bosom of the Father” of John 1:18, and “Let us make man” of Genesis 1:26.) “Throned face to face with God,” “the gaze ever directed towards God,” have been given as paraphrases, and the full sense cannot be expressed in fewer words. The “with” represents “motion towards.” The Being whose existence is asserted in the “was” is regarded as distinct, but not alone, as ever going forth in communion with God. (Comp. the use of the same word “with” in Matthew 13:56; Matthew 26:11; Mark 6:3; Mark 9:19; 1Corinthians 16:6-7; Galatians 1:18; Galatians 4:18.)

Was God.—This is the completion of the graduated statement. It maintains the distinction of person, but at the same time asserts the oneness of essence.



John 1:1 - John 1:14

The other Gospels begin with Bethlehem; John begins with ‘the bosom of the Father.’ Luke dates his narrative by Roman emperors and Jewish high-priests; John dates his ‘in the beginning.’ To attempt adequate exposition of these verses in our narrow limits is absurd; we can only note the salient points of this, the profoundest page in the New Testament.

The threefold utterance in John 1:1 carries us into the depths of eternity, before time or creatures were. Genesis and John both start from ‘the beginning,’ but, while Genesis works downwards from that point and tells what followed, John works upwards and tells what preceded-if we may use that term in speaking of what lies beyond time. Time and creatures came into being, and, when they began, the Word ‘was.’ Surely no form of speech could more emphatically declare absolute, uncreated being, outside the limits of time. Clearly, too, no interpretation of these words fathoms their depth, or makes worthy sense, which does not recognise that the Word is a person. The second clause of John 1:1 asserts the eternal communion of the Word with God. The preposition employed means accurately ‘towards,’ and expresses the thought that in the Word there was motion or tendency towards, and not merely association with, God. It points to reciprocal, conscious communion, and the active going out of love in the direction of God. The last clause asserts the community of essence, which is not inconsistent with distinction of persons, and makes the communion of active Love possible; for none could, in the depths of eternity, dwell with and perfectly love and be loved by God, except one who Himself was God.

John 1:1 stands apart as revealing the pretemporal and essential nature of the Word. In it the deep ocean of the divine nature is partially disclosed, though no created eye can either plunge to discern its depths or travel beyond our horizon to its boundless, shoreless extent. The remainder of the passage deals with the majestic march of the self-revealing Word through creation, and illumination of humanity, up to the climax in the Incarnation.

John repeats the substance of John 1:1 - John 1:2, apparently in order to identify the Agent of creation with the august person whom he has disclosed as filling eternity. By Him creation was effected, and, because He was what John 1:1 has declared Him to be, therefore was it effected by Him. Observe the three steps marked in three consecutive verses. ‘All things were made by Him’; literally ‘became,’ where the emergence into existence of created things is strongly contrasted with the divine ‘was’ of John 1:1. ‘Through Him’ declares that the Word is the agent of creation; ‘without Him’ {literally, ‘apart from Him’} declares that created things continue in existence because He communicates it to them. Man is the highest of these ‘all things,’ and John 1:4 sets forth the relation of the Word to Him, declaring that ‘life,’ in all the width and height of its possible meanings, inheres in Him, and is communicated by Him, with its distinguishing accompaniment, in human nature, of light, whether of reason or of conscience.

So far, John has been speaking as from the upper or divine side, but in John 1:5 he speaks from the under or human, and shows us how the self-revelation of the Word has, by some mysterious necessity, been conflict. The ‘darkness’ was not made by Him, but it is there, and the beams of the light have to contend with it. Something alien must have come in, some catastrophe have happened, that the light should have to stream into a region of darkness.

John takes ‘the Fall’ for granted, and in John 1:5 describes the whole condition of things, both within and beyond the region of special revelation. The shining of the light is continuous, but the darkness is obstinate. It is the tragedy and crime of the world that the darkness will not have the light. It is the long-suffering mercy of God that the light repelled is not extinguished, but shines meekly on.

John 1:6 - John 1:13 deal with the historical appearance of the Word. The Forerunner is introduced, as in the other Gospels; and, significantly enough, this Evangelist calls him only ‘John,’-omitting ‘the Baptist,’ as was very natural to him, the other John, who would feel less need for distinguishing the two than others did. The subordinate office of a witness to the light is declared positively and negatively, and the dignity of such a function is implied. To witness to the light, and to be the means of leading men to believe, was honour for any man.

The limited office of the Forerunner serves as contrast to the transcendent lustre of the true Light. The meaning of John 1:9 may be doubtful, but John 1:10 - John 1:11 clearly refer to the historical manifestation of the Word, and probably John 1:9 does so too. Possibly, however, it rather points to the inner revelation by the Word, which is the ‘light of men.’ In that case the phrase ‘that cometh into the world’ would refer to ‘every man,’ whereas it is more natural in this context to refer it to ‘the light,’ and to see in the verse a reference to the illumination of humanity consequent on the appearance of Jesus Christ. The use of ‘world’ and ‘came’ in John 1:10 - John 1:11 points in that direction. John 1:9 represents the Word as ‘coming’; John 1:10 regards Him as come-’He was in the world.’

Note the three clauses, so like, and yet so unlike the august three in John 1:1. Note the sad issue of the coming-’The world knew Him not.’ In that ‘world’ there was one place where He might have looked for recognition, one set of people who might have been expected to hail Him; but not only the wide world was blind {‘knew not’} , but the narrower circle of ‘His own’ fought against what they knew to be light {‘received not’} .

But the rejection was not universal, and John proceeds to develop the blessed consequences of receiving the light. For the first time he speaks the great word ‘believe.’ The act of faith is the condition or means of ‘receiving.’ It is the opening of the mental eye for the light to pour in. We possess Jesus in the measure of our faith. The object of faith is ‘His name,’ which means, not this or that collocation of letters by which He is designated, but His whole self-revelation. The result of such faith is ‘the right to become children of God,’ for through faith in the only-begotten Son we receive the communication of a divine life which makes us, too, sons. That new life, with its consequence of sonship, does not belong to human nature as received from parents, but is a gift of God mediated through faith in the Light who is the Word.

John 1:14 is not mere repetition of the preceding, but advances beyond it in that it declares the wonder of the way by which that divine Word did enter into the world. John here, as it were, draws back the curtain, and shows us the transcendent miracle of divine love, for which he has been preparing in all the preceding. Note that he has not named ‘the Word’ since John 1:1, but here he again uses the majestic expression to bring out strongly the contrast between the ante-temporal glory and the historical lowliness. These four words, ‘The Word became flesh,’ are the foundation of all our knowledge of God, of man, of the relations between them, the foundation of all our hopes, the guarantee of all our peace, the pledge of all blessedness. ‘He tabernacled among us.’ As the divine glory of old dwelt between the cherubim, so Jesus is among men the true Temple, wherein we see a truer glory than that radiant light which filled the closed chamber of the holy of holies. Rapturous remembrances rose before the Apostle as he wrote, ‘We beheld His glory’; and he has told us what he has beheld and seen with his eyes, that we also may have fellowship with him in beholding. The glory that shone from the Incarnate Word was no menacing or dazzling light. He and it were ‘full of grace and truth,’ perfect Love bending to inferiors and sinners, with hands full of gifts and a heart full of tenderness and the revelation of reality, both as regards God and man. His grace bestows all that our lowness needs, His truth teaches all that our ignorance requires. All our gifts and all our knowledge come from the Incarnate Word, in whom believing we are the children of God.

John 1:1-2. In the beginning — Namely, of the creation, (for the evangelist evidently refers to the first word of the book of Genesis, בראשׁית, bereshith, rendered by the LXX. εν αρχη, the expression here used,) was the Word — That is, The Word existed at the beginning of the creation, and consequently from eternity. He was when all things began to be; whatsoever had a beginning. And the Word was with God — Namely, before any created being had existed. This is probably spoken in allusion to the well-known passage in Proverbs, (John 8:30, &c.,) where divine wisdom is introduced, saying, The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old: I was set up from everlasting, or ever the earth was, &c. And the Word was God — Was strictly and properly divine. It is observable, “that John’s discourse rises by degrees. He tells us first, that the Word, in the beginning of the world, existed. Next, that he existed with God: and last of all, that he was God, and made all things.” “I know,” says Dr. Doddridge, “how eagerly many have contended, that the word God is used here in an inferior sense; the necessary consequence of which is, as indeed some have expressly avowed, that this clause should be rendered, The Word was a god; that is, a kind of inferior deity, as governors are called gods. See John 10:34; 1 Corinthians 8:5. But it is impossible he should here be so called, merely as a governor, because he is spoken of as existing before the production of any creatures whom he could govern: and it is to me most incredible, that when the Jews were so exceedingly averse to idolatry, and the Gentiles so unhappily prone to it, such a plain writer as this apostle should lay so dangerous a stumbling- block on the very threshold of his work, and represent it as the Christian doctrine, that, in the beginning of all things, there were two Gods, one supreme and the other subordinate: a difficulty which, if possible, would be yet further increased by recollecting what so many ancient writers assert, that this gospel was written with a particular view of opposing the Cerinthians and Ebionites; on which account a greater accuracy of expression must have been necessary.” As to the article ο being wanting before θεος, God, which some have urged as a proof that the word is here to be used in a subordinate sense, it must be observed, that there are so many instances in the writings of this apostle, and even in this chapter, (see John 1:6; John 1:12-13; John 1:18,) where the same word, without the article, is used to signify God, in the highest sense of the word, that it is surprising any stress should be laid on that circumstance. “On the other hand, to conceive of Christ as a distinct and co-ordinate God, would be equally inconsistent with the most express declarations of Scripture, and far more irreconcilable with reason.” The order of the words in the original, θεος ην ο λογος, has induced some to translate the clause, God was the Word. So it was read in the old English translation, authorized by Henry VIII., and thus Luther rendered it in his German translation, Gott war das wort. But there are almost every where, in several of the purest Greek writers, instances of such a construction as our present version supposes; and one of exactly the same kind occurs John 4:24 of this gospel, namely, πνευμα ο θεος, which we properly render, God is a spirit: so that there appears to be no sufficient reason for varying from our translation in this important passage. It may be proper to add here, in the words of Bishop Burnet, (On the Articles, p. 40,) “That had not John, and the other apostles, thought it [Christ’s proper deity] a doctrine of great importance in the gospel scheme, they would rather have waived than asserted and insisted upon it, considering the critical circumstances in which they wrote.” The same was in the beginning with God — The apostle repeats what he had before asserted, because of its great importance; and to signify more fully the personality of the Word, or only-begotten Son, (John 1:14,) as distinct from that of the Father.

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.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."


THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN Commentary by David Brown


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.


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."Joh 1:1-5 The Divinity of Christ.

Joh 1:6-13 The mission of John, and end of Christ's coming.

Joh 1:14 The incarnation of the Word.

Joh 1:15-18 Christ's superior dignity witnessed by John, and

evinced by his gracious dispensation.

Joh 1:19-28 John's record of himself to the messengers of the


Joh 1:29-34 His public testimony to the person of Christ.

Joh 1:35-42 Two of his disciples, hearing it, follow Jesus: Simon

is brought to Christ, and surnamed Cephas.

Joh 1:43-51 Philip is called, who bringeth Nathanael to Jesus.

In the beginning; in that beginning which Moses mentions, Gen 1:1, the beginning of all things, when the foundations of the world were laid, Pro 8:27,28; the beginning of time; for before that was no measure of time, all was eternity.

Was the Word, that is, the eternal Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom more is spoken afterward. Nor is Christ in this text alone called the Word, but 1Jo 1:1, the Word of life; so Rev 19:13: and there are some who think he is so called, Luk 1:2, comparing that text with 2Pe 1:16, as also Psa 33:6. Nor is it an improper term by which to express the Son of God; for it both expresses something of his ineffable generation, as the word is begotten in our thoughts, and is the express image of them; and also his office in the revelation of his Father's will unto the sons of men, and revealing his Father to us, Mat 11:27: and there are some (if they be not too curious in their notion) who think by that phrase of David, 2Sa 7:21, For thy word's sake, ( expounded for thy servant's sake, 1Ch 17:19, which is the title of Christ, Isa 42:1), that Christ is meant. Besides, it is observed, that this term was more acceptable both to the Jews and the heathens, than the term of Christ, or the Son of God, would have been; for there was nothing more abhorred by the Jews than the latter; and the heathen writers made (as is noted by divers) a great use of this term, to express the name and the power of God. Nor is any thing more ordinary with the Chaldee paraphrast than this expression: Isa 45:12, I have made the earth; Chald. I in my word have made the earth. So Isa 48:13, Mine hand hath laid the foundation of the earth; Chald. By my word I have laid the foundations of the earth: this is taken from Moses's describing the creation by God's word of command, Let there be light, and there was light; the manner of expressing it by the word command, is significative that all things were made by his eternal Word; for would any Jew deny, that God by his word created the world? The evangelist therefore calleth Christ, to whom he was about to attribute the creation, the Word; not the word of God (so the Scriptures are called); to distinguish Christ in this notion from the revelation of the Divine will to the prophets, he is only called the Word, though he was the Son of God. Nor is it said, that in the beginning was the Word created, (as is said of the heavens and the earth, Gen 1:1), but was the Word: this proveth the eternal existence of the Second Person in the Trinity; for what was in the beginning did not then begin to be: the term the Word, without the addition of God, speaketh him a subsistence; and it being said, that in the beginning he was, speaks his eternal existence; for what had a being in the beginning of time must needs be eternal, nothing being when time began but what was eternal. To this purpose are those texts, Psa 90:2 Pro 8:22-31 Joh 17:5 Eph 1:4 2Th 2:13, which two texts compared show, In the beginning, here used, to be the same with before the foundation of the world: so 2Ti 1:9.

The Word was with God: lest any should say, Where was this Word before the foundations of the earth were laid? The evangelist saith, with God, which agreeth with Pro 8:27,30. This both distinguishes Christ from all creatures, (none of which were with God in the beginning), and also showeth the vanity of Sabellius, and those we call quakers, who will not allow Christ to be a distinct subsistence, or person, from his Father: it also denotes the Son's co-existence and his equality with his Father; and yet his filial relation; for God is not said to have been with the Word, but the Word was with God, which also speaks a perfect unity and consent between them.

And the Word was God: lest any should say, What but God can be eternal, or be said to have been and had an existence in the beginning of the world? The evangelist addeth, that the Word was God: that is, the person or subsistence spoken of and intended by him was the Divine Being, which is but one; though in it there be three distinct subsistences, all make but one and the same Divine Being. The first thing spoken here of Christ attributes to him eternity; the second speaks his relation to the Father; this speaks the oneness and sameness of his essence with that of the Father. The term God, which in the foregoing words is to be taken personally for God the Father, is here to be taken essentially, as it signifieth the Divine Being.

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.

John 1:1. Ἐν ἀρχῇ] John makes the beginning of his Gospel parallel with that of Genesis;[61] but he rises above the historical conception of בְּרֵאשִׁית, which (Genesis 1:1) includes the beginning of time itself, to the absolute conception of anteriority to time: the creation is something subsequent, John 1:3. Proverbs 8:23, ἘΝ ἈΡΧῇ ΠΡῸ ΤΟῦ ΤῊΝ ΓῆΝ ΠΟΙῆΣΑΙ, is parallel; likewise, ΠΡῸ ΤΟῦ ΤῸΝ ΚΌΜΟΝ ΕἾΝΑΙ, John 17:5; ΠΡῸ ΚΑΤΑΒΟΛῆς ΚΌΣΜΟΥ, Ephesians 1:4. Comp. Nezach Israel, f. 48, 1 : Messias erat מפני חוהו (ante Tohu). The same idea we find already in the book of Enoch 48:3 f., 48:6 f., 62:7,—a book which (against Hilgenfeld and others) dates back into the second century B.C. (Dilm., Ewald, and others). The notion, in itself negative, of anteriority to time (ἄχρονος ἦν, ἀκίχητος, ἐν ἀῤῥήτῳ λόγος ἀρχῇ, Nonnus), is in a popular way affirmatively designated by the ἘΝ ἈΡΧῇ as “primeval;” the more exact dogmatic definition of the ἀρχή as “eternity” (Theodor. Mopsuest., Euthym. Zig.; comp. Theophylact) is a correct development of John’s meaning, but not strictly what he himself says. Comp. 1 John 1:1; Revelation 3:14. The Valentinian notion, that ἀρχή was a divine Hypostasis distinct from the Father and the ΛΌΓΟς (Iren. Haer. i. 8. 5), and the Patristic view, that it was the divine σοφία

[61] See Hoelemann, de evangelii Joh. introitu introitus Geneseos augustiore effigie, Leipsic 1855, p. 26 ff.

(Origen) or the everlasting Father (Cyril. Al.), rest upon speculations altogether unjustified by correct exegesis.[62]

ἦν] was present, existed. John writes historically, looking back from the later time of the incarnation of the λόγος (John 1:14). But he does not say, “In the beginning the ΛΌΓΟς came into existence,” for he does not conceive the generation (comp. μονογενής) according to the Arian view of creation, but according to that of Paul, Colossians 1:15.

Ὁ ΛΌΓΟς] the Word; for the reference to the history of the creation leaves room for no other meaning (therefore not Reason). John assumes that his readers understand the term, and, notwithstanding its great importance, regards every additional explanation of it as superfluous. Hence those interpretations fall of themselves to the ground, which are unhistorical, and imply anything of a quid pro quo, such as (1) that ὁ λόγος is the same as Ὁ ΛΕΓΌΜΕΝΟς, “the promised one” (Valla, Beza, Ernesti, Tittm., etc.); (2) that it stands for ὁ λέγων, “the speaker” (Storr, Eckerm., Justi, and others). Not less incorrect (3) is Hofmann’s interpretation (Schriftbeweis, I. 1, p. 109 f.): “ὁ λόγος is the word of God, the Gospel, the personal subject of which however, namely Christ, is here meant:” against which view it is decisive, first, that neither in Revelation 19:13, nor elsewhere in the N. T., is Christ called ὁ λόγος merely as the subject—matter of the word; secondly, that in John, ὁ λόγος, without some additional definition, never once occurs as the designation of the Gospel, though it is often so used by Mark (John 2:2, John 4:14, al.), Luke (John 1:2; Acts 11:19, al.), and Paul (Galatians 6:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:6); thirdly, that in the context, neither here (see especially John 1:14) nor in 1 John 1:1 (see especially ὃ ἑωράκαμενκαὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν) does it seem allowable to depart in Ὁ ΛΌΓΟς from the immediate designation of the personal subject,[63] while this immediate designation, i.e. of the creative Word, is in our passage, from the obvious parallelism with the history of the creation, as clear and definite as it was appropriate it should be at the very commencement of the work. These reasons also tell substantially against the turn which Luthardt has given to Hofmann’s explanation: “ὁ λόγος is the word of God, which in Christ, Hebrews 1:1, has gone forth into the world, and the theme of which was His own person.” See, on the other hand, Baur in the Theol. Jahrb. 1854, p. 206 ff.; Lechler, apost. u. nachapost. Zeit. p. 215; Gess, v. d. Person Chr. p. 116; Kahnis, Dogmat. I. p. 466. The investigation of the Logos idea can only lead to a true result when pursued by the path of history. But here, above all, history points us to the O. T.,[64] and most directly to Genesis 1, where the act of creation is effected by God speaking. The reality contained in this representation, anthropomorphic as to its form, of the revelation of Himself made in creation by God, who is in His own nature hidden, became the root of the Logos idea. The Word as creative, and embodying generally the divine will, is personified in Hebrew poetry (Psalm 33:6; Psalm 107:20; Psalm 147:15; Isaiah 55:10-11); and consequent upon this concrete and independent representation, divine attributes are predicated of it (Psalm 34:4; Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 119:105), so far as it was at the same time the continuous revelation of God in law and prophecy. A way was thus paved for the hypostatizing of the λόγος as a further step in the knowledge of the relations in the divine essence; but this advance took place gradually, and only after the captivity, so that probably the oriental doctrine of emanations, and subsequently the Pythagorean-platonic philosophy, were not without influence upon what was already given in germ in Genesis 1. Another form of the conception, however, appears,—not the original one of the Word, but one which was connected with the advanced development of ethical and teleological reflection and the needs of the Theodicy,—that of wisdom (חָבְמָה), of which the creative word was an expression, and which in the book of Job (Job 28:12 ff.) and Proverbs (Proverbs 8, 9), in Sir 1:1-10; Sir 24:8, and Bar 3:37 to Bar 4:4, is still set forth and depicted under the form of a personification, yet to such a degree that the portrayal more closely approaches that of the Hypostasis, and all the more closely the less it is able to preserve the elevation and boldness characteristic of the ancient poetry. The actual transition of the ΣΟΦΊΑ into the Hypostasis occurs in the book of Wis 7:7-11, where wisdom (manifestly under the influence of the idea of the Platonic soul of the world, perhaps also of the Stoic conception of an all-pervading world-spirit) appears as a being of light proceeding essentially from God,—the true image of God, co-occupant of the divine throne,—a real and independent principle revealing God in the world (especially in Israel), and mediating between it and Him, after it has, as His organ, created the world, in association with a spirit among whose many predicates ΜΟΝΟΓΕΝΈς[65] also is named, John 7:22. The divine λόγος also appears again in the book of Wis 9:1, comp. Wis 9:2, but only in the O. T. sense of a poetically personified declaration of God’s will, either in blessing (John 16:12, comp. Psalm 107:20) or in punishing (John 18:15). See especially Grimm, in locc.; Bruch, Weisheitslehre d. Hebr, p. 347 ff. Comp. also Sir 43:33. While, then, in the Apocrypha the Logos representation retires before the development of the idea of wisdom,[66] it makes itself the more distinctly prominent in the Chaldee Paraphrasts, especially Onkelos: see Gfrörer, Gesch. d. Urchristenth. I. 1, p. 301 ff.; Winer, De Onkel. p. 44 f.; Anger, De Onkel. II. 1846. The Targums, the peculiarities of which rest on older traditions, exhibit the Word of God, מֵימְרָא or דִּבּוּרָא, as the divinely revealing Hypostasis, identical with the שְׁבִינָה which was to be revealed in the Messiah. Comp. Schoettg. Hor. II. p. 5; Bertholdt, Christol. p. 121. Thus there runs through the whole of Judaism, and represented under various forms (comp. especially the מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה in the O. T. from Genesis 16, Exodus 23 downwards, frequently named, especially in Hosea, Zechariah, and Malachi, as the representative of the self-revealing God), the idea that God never reveals Himself directly, but mediately, that is, does not reveal His hidden invisible essence, but only a manifestation of Himself (comp. especially Exodus 33:12-23); and this idea, modified however by Greek and particularly Platonic and Stoic speculation, became a main feature in the Judaeo-Alexandrine philosophy, as this is set forth in PHILO, one of the older contemporaries of Jesus. See especially Gfrörer, I. 243 ff.; Dähne, Jüdisch-Alex. Religionsphil. I. 114 ff.; Grossmann, Quaestion. Philon., Lpz. 1829; Scheffer, Quaest. Phil. Marb. 1829, 1831; Keferstein, Philo’s Lehre von dem göttl. Mittelwesen, Lpz. 1846; Ritter, Gesch. d. Philos. IV. 418 ff.; Zeller, Philos. d. Griechen, III. 2; Lutterb. neut. Lehrbegr. I. 418 ff.; Müller in Herzog’s Encykl. XI. 484; Ewald, apost. Zeit. 257; Delitzsch in d. Luther. Zeitschr. 1863, ii. 219; Riehm, Hebr. Brief, p. 249; Keim, Gesch. J.I. 212. Comp. also Langen, d. Judenth. z. Zeit Christi, 1867; Röhricht as formerly quoted. According to the intellectual development, so rich in its results, which Philo gave to the received Jewish doctrine of Wisdom, the Logos is the comprehension or sum-total of all the divine energies, so far as these are either hidden in the Godhead itself, or have come forth and been disseminated in the world (λόγος σπερματικός). As immanent in God, containing within itself the archetypal world, which is conceived as the real world—ideal (ΝΟΗΤῸς ΚΌΣΜΟς), it is, while not yet outwardly existing, like the immanent reason in men, the ΛΌΓΟς ἘΝΔΙΆΘΕΤΟς; but when in creating the world it has issued forth from God, it answers to the ΛΌΓΟς ΠΡΟΦΟΡΙΚΌς, just as among men the word when spoken is the manifestation of thought. Now the ΛΌΓΟς ΠΡΟΦΟΡΙΚΌς is the comprehension or sum-total of God’s active relations to the world; so that creation, providence, the communication of all physical and moral power and gifts, of all life, light, and wisdom from God, are its work, not being essentially different in its attributes and workings from ΣΟΦΊΑ and the Divine Spirit itself. Hence it is the image of the Godhead, the eldest and first-begotten (ΠΡΕΣΒΎΤΑΤΟς, ΠΡΩΤΌΓΟΝΟς) Son of God, the possessor of the entire divine fulness, the Mediator between 21 ΛΌΓΟς ΤΟΜΕΎς, ΔΗΜΙΟΥΡΓΌς, ἈΡΧΙΕΡΕΎς, ἹΚΈΤΗς, ΠΡΕΣΒΕΥΤΉς, the ἈΡΧΆΓΓΕΛΟς, the ΔΕΎΤΕΡΟς ΘΕΌς, the substratum of all Theophanies, also the Messiah, though ideally apprehended only as a Theophany, not as a concrete humanized personality; for an incarnation of the Logos is foreign to Philo’s system (see Ewald, p. 284 ff.; Dorner, Entwickelungsgesch. I. 50). There is no doubt that Philo has often designated and described the Logos as a Person, although, where he views it rather as immanent in God, he applies himself more to describe a power, and to present it as an attribute. There is, however, no real ground for inferring, with some (Keferst., Zeller), from this variation in his representation, that Philo’s opinion wavered between personality and impersonality; rather, as regards the question of subsistence in its bearing upon Philo’s Logos (see especially Dorner, Entwickelungsgesch. I. 21; Niedner, de subsistentia τῷ θείῳ λόγῳ apud Philon. tribute, in the Zeitsch. f. histor. Theol. 1849, p. 337 ff.; and Hölemann, de evang. Joh. introitu, etc., p. 39 ff.), must we attribute to him no separation between the subsistence of God and the Logos, as if there came forth a Person distinct from God, whenever the Logos is described as a Person; but, “ea duo, in quibus cernitur ΤΟῦ ὌΝΤΟς ΚΑῚ ΖῶΝΤΟς ΘΕΟῦ essentia s. deitas plenum esse per suam ipsius essentiam et implere cuncta hac sua essentia, primo diserte uni substantiae tribuuntur, deinde distribuuntur, sed tantum inter essentiam et hujus actionem, quemadmodum nomina ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ et ΤΟῦ ΛΌΓΟΥ hujus ipsius dei” (Niedner). Accordingly, Philo’s conception of the Logos resolves itself into the sum-total and full exercise of the divine energies; so that God, so far as He reveals Himself, is called Logos, while the Logos, so far as he reveals God, is called God. That John owed his doctrine of the Logos—in which he represents the divine Messianic being as pre-existent, and entering into humanity in a human form—solely to the Alexandrine philosophy, is an assertion utterly arbitrary, especially considering the difference between Philo’s doctrine and that of John, not only in general (comp. also Godet, I. 233), but also in respect to the subsistence of the Logos in particular.[67] The form which John gave to his doctrine is understood much more naturally and historically thus, without by any means excluding the influence of the Alexandrine Gnosis upon the apostle;—that while the ancient popular wisdom of the Word of God, which (as we have above shown) carries us back to Genesis 1:1, is acknowledged to be that through which the idea of the Logos, as manifested in human form in Christ, was immediately suggested to him, and to which he appended and unfolded his own peculiar development of this idea with all clearness and spiritual depth, according to the measure of those personal testimonies of his Lord which his memory vividly retained, he at the same time allowed the widespread Alexandrine speculations, so similar in their origin and theme, to have due influence upon him, and used[68] them in an independent manner to assist his exposition of the nature and working of the divine in Christ, fully conscious of their points of difference (among which must be reckoned the cosmological dualism of Philo, which excluded any real incarnation, and made God to have created the world out of the ὕλη). Whether he adopted these speculations for the first time while dwelling in Asia Minor, need not be determined, although it is in itself very conceivable that the longer he lived in Asia, the more deeply did he penetrate into the Alexandrine theologoumenon which prevailed there, without any intermediate agency on the part of Apollos being required for that end (Tobler). The doctrine is not, however, on account of this connection with speculations beyond the pale of Christendom, by any means to be traced back to a mere fancy of the day. The main truth in it (the idea of the Son of God and His incarnation) had, long before he gave it its peculiar form, been in John’s mind the sole foundation of his faith, and the highest object of his knowledge; and this was no less the case with Paul and all the other apostles, though they did not formally adopt the Logos doctrine, because their idiosyncrasies and the conditions of their after development were different. That main truth in it is to be referred simply to Christ Himself, whose communications to His disciples, and direct influence upon them (John 1:14), as well as His further revelations and leadings by means of the Spirit of truth, furnished them with the material which was afterwards made use of in their various modes of representation. This procedure is specially apparent also in John, whose doctrine of the divine and pre-existent nature of Christ, far removed from the influences of later Gnosticism, breaks away in essential points from the Alexandrine type of doctrine, and moulds itself in a different shape, especially rejecting, in the most decided manner, all dualistic and docetic elements, and in general treating the form once chosen with the independence of an apostle. That idea of a revelation by God of His own essence, which took its rise from Genesis 1, which lived and grew under various forms and names among the Hebrews and later Jews, but was moulded in a peculiar fashion by the Alexandrine philosophy, was adopted by John for the purpose of setting forth the abstract divinity of the Son,—thus bringing to light the reality which lies at the foundation of the Logos idea. Hence, according to John,[69] by ὁ λόγος, which is throughout viewed by him (as is clear from the entire Prologue down to John 1:18)[70] under the conception of a personal[71] subsistence, we must understand nothing else than the self-revelation of the divine essence, before all time immanent in God (comp. Paul, Colossians 1:15John 1:1-5. The Logos described. The first five verses describe the pre-existence, the nature, the creative power of the Logos, who in the succeeding verses is spoken of as entering the world, becoming man, and revealing the Father; and this description is given in order that we may at once grasp a continuous history which runs out of an unmeasured past, and the identity of the person who is the subject of that history.

1–5. The Word in His own Nature

1. In the beginning] The meaning must depend on the context. In Genesis 1:1 it is an act done ‘in the beginning;’ here it is a Being existing ‘in the beginning,’ and therefore prior to all beginning. That was the first moment of time; this is eternity, transcending time. Thus we have an intimation that the later dispensation is the confirmation and infinite extension of the first. ‘In the beginning’ here equals ‘before the world was,’ John 17:5. Compare John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; and contrast ‘the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,’ Mark 1:1, which is the historical beginning of the public ministry of the Messiah (John 6:64): ‘the beginning’ here is prior to all history. To interpret ‘Beginning’ of God as the Origin of all things is not correct, as the context shews.

was] Not ‘came into existence,’ but was already in existence before the creation of the world. The generation of the Word or Son of God is thus thrown back into eternity. Thus S. Paul calls Him (Colossians 1:15) ‘the firstborn of every creature,’ or (more accurately translated) ‘begotten before all creation,’ like ‘begotten before all worlds’ in the Nicene creed. Comp. Hebrews 1:8; Hebrews 7:3; Revelation 1:8. On these passages is based the doctrine of the Eternal Generation of the Son: see Articles of Religion, i. and ii. The Arians maintained that there was a period when the Son was not: S. John says distinctly that the Son or Word was existing before time began, i.e. from all eternity.

the Word] As early as the second century Sermo and Verbum were rival translations of the Greek term Logos = Word. Tertullian (fl. a.d. 195–210) gives us both, but seems himself to prefer Ratio. Sermo first became unusual, and finally was disallowed in the Latin Church. The Latin versions all adopted Verbum, and from it comes our translation, ‘the Word.’

None of these translations are at all adequate: but neither Latin nor any modern language supplies anything really satisfactory. Verbum and ‘the Word’ do not give the whole of even one of the two sides of Logos: the other side, which Tertullian tried to express by Ratio, is not touched at all; for ὁ λόγος means not only ‘the spoken word,’ but ‘the thought’ expressed by the spoken word; it is the spoken word as expressive of thought. It is not found in the N.T. in the sense of ‘reason.’

The expression Logos is a remarkable one; all the more so, because S. John assumes that his readers will at once understand it. This shews that his Gospel was written in the first instance for his own disciples, who would be familiar with his teaching and phraseology.

Whence did S. John derive the expression, Logos? It has its origin in the Targums, or paraphrases of the Hebrew Scriptures, in use in Palestine, rather than in the mixture of Jewish and Greek philosophy prevalent at Alexandria and Ephesus, as is very commonly asserted.

(1). In the Old Testament we find the Word or Wisdom of God personified, generally as an instrument for executing the Divine Will. We have a faint trace of it in the ‘God said’ of Genesis 1:3; Genesis 1:6; Genesis 1:9; Genesis 1:11; Genesis 1:14, &c. The personification of the Word of God begins to appear in the Psalm 33:6; Psalm 107:20; Psalm 119:89; Psalm 147:15. In Proverbs 8, 9 the Wisdom of God is personified in very striking terms. This Wisdom is manifested in the power and mighty works of God; that God is love is a revelation yet to come. (2) In the Apocrypha the personification is more complete than in O.T. In Ecclesiasticus (c. b. c. 150–100) Sir 1:1-20, Sir 24:1-22, and in the Book of Wisdom (c. b. c. 100) Wis 6:22 to Wis 9:18 we have Wisdom strongly personified. In Wis 18:15 the ‘Almighty Word’ of God appears as an agent of vengeance. (3) In the Targums, or Aramaic paraphrases of O.T., the development is carried still further. These, though not yet written down, were in common use among the Jews in our Lord’s time; and they were strongly influenced by the growing tendency to separate the Godhead from immediate contact with the material world. Where Scripture speaks of a direct communication from God to man, the Targums substituted the Memra, or ‘Word of God.’ Thus in Genesis 3:8-9, instead of ‘they heard the voice of the Lord God,’ the Targums have ‘they heard the voice of the Word of the Lord God;’ and instead of ‘God called unto Adam,’ they put ‘the Word of the Lord called unto Adam,’ and so on. ‘The Word of the Lord’ is said to occur 150 times in a single Targum of the Pentateuch. In the theosophy of the Alexandrine Jews, which was a compound of theology with philosophy and mysticism, we seem to come nearer to a strictly personal view of the Divine Word or Wisdom, but really move further away from it. Philo, the leading representative of this religious speculation (fl. a.d. 40–50), admitted into his philosophy very various, and not always harmonious elements. Consequently his conception of the Logos is not fixed or clear. On the whole his Logos means some intermediate agency, by means of which God created material things and communicated with them. But whether this Logos is one Being or more, whether it is personal or not, we cannot be sure; and perhaps Philo himself was undecided. Certainly his Logos is very different from that of S. John; for it is scarcely a Person, and it is not the Messiah. And when we note that of the two meanings of Λόγος, Philo dwells most on the side which is less prominent, while the Targums insist on that which is more prominent in the teaching of S. John, we cannot doubt the source of his language. The Logos of Philo is preeminently the Divine Reason. The Memra of the Targums is rather the Divine Word; i.e. the Will of God manifested in personal action; and this rather than a philosophical abstraction of the Divine Intelligence is the starting point of S. John’s expression.

To sum up:—the personification of the Divine Word in O.T. is poetical, in Philo metaphysical, in S. John historical. The Apocrypha and Targums help to fill the chasm between O.T. and Philo; history itself fills the far greater chasm which separates all from S. John. Between Jewish poetry and Alexandrine speculation on the one hand, and the Fourth Gospel on the other, lies the historical fact of the Incarnation of the Logos, the life of Jesus Christ.

The Logos of S. John, therefore, is not a mere attribute of God, but the Son of God, existing from all eternity, and manifested in space and time in the Person of Jesus Christ. In the Logos had been hidden from eternity all that God had to say to man; for the Logos was the living expression of the nature, purposes, and Will of God. (Comp. the impersonal designation of Christ in 1 John 1:1.) Human thought had been searching in vain for some means of connecting the finite with the Infinite, of making God intelligible to man and leading man up to God. S. John knew that he possessed the key to this enigma. He therefore took the phrase which human reason had lighted on in its gropings, stripped it of its misleading associations, fixed it by identifying it with the Christ, and filled it with that fulness of meaning which he himself had derived from Christ’s own teaching.

with God] i.e. with the Father. ‘With’ = apud, or the French chez: it expresses the distinct Personality of the Logos. We might render ‘face to face with God,’ or ‘at home with God.’ So, ‘His sisters, are they not all with us?’ Matthew 13:56; comp. Mark 6:3; Mark 9:19; Mark 14:49; 1 Corinthians 16:7; Galatians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; Philemon 1:13; 1 John 1:2.

the Word was God] i.e. the Word partook of the Divine Nature, not was identical with the Divine Person. The verse may be thus paraphrased, ‘the Logos existed from all eternity, distinct from the Father, and equal to the Father.’ Comp. ‘neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance.’

Chap. John 1:1-18. The Prologue or Introduction

That the first eighteen verses are introductory is universally admitted: commentators are not so unanimous as to the main divisions of this introduction. A division into three nearly equal parts has much to commend it:

1.  The Word in His own Nature (John 1:1-5).

2.  His Revelation to men and rejection by them (John 1:6-13).

3.  His Revelation of the Father (John 1:14-18).

Some throw the second and third part into one, thus:

2.  The historical manifestation of the Word (John 1:6-18).

Others again divide into two parts thus:

1.  The Word in His absolute eternal Being (John 1:1).

2.  The Word in relation to Creation (John 1:2-18).

And there are other schemes besides these. In any scheme the student can scarcely fail to feel that the first verse is unique. Throughout the prologue the three great characteristics of this Gospel, simplicity, subtlety, and sublimity, are specially conspicuous; and the majesty of the first verse surpasses all. The Gospel of the Son of Thunder opens with a peal.

John 1:1. Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος· In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God) This is the thunder brought down to us by a “Son of Thunder;”[2] this is a voice from heaven, which man’s conjecturing in vain starts objections against. By no reasoning of his could any orthodox believer better establish the truth of this palmary [capital] text, or more effectually refute Artemonism, than has Artemon’s[3] modern follower himself, i.e. Samuel Crellius, whilst maintaining throughout the whole of his book, which he has entitled, “The Beginning of the Gospel of John restored according to ecclesiastical antiquity,” that, instead of Θεός, there ought to be written Θεοῦ. His whole system, both in the foundation and the superstructure, is mere conjecture: and the more I call to mind the contexture of his reasonings, the more I feel confirmed in the truth, which has been assailed by this foremost veteran of Unitarianism on such trifling grounds. To avow this again and again, I regard as the part of piety. In my Introduction [‘Apparatus’], page 559, line 11, there has crept in by mistake, “if you read Θεοῦ” [si Θεοῦ legas], whereas the thing speaks for itself, that it ought to have been written, “if you read Θεός” [si Θεός legas]. The easier such a lapse is, the more ought we to follow the steady agreement of all the transcribers, who happily retain the reading Θεός. The book of Artemonius contains two parts, the first of which is more of a critical character; the second, which is furnished with four Dissertations, more refers to the subject itself. The former we have of course examined in the Critical Introduction; whereas the second is a subject for the Gnomon, in which, as we stated in the Introduction, we would discuss Artemonius’ views, independently of the mere critical point of view. For in truth the divine honour of our God and Saviour is at stake; and this citadel of the Christian faith is every day more and more assailed; and this book of Artemonius (which is pronounced in the Biblioth. Angl., T. xv., p. 539, to be one of the weightiest of this class ever published) finds more numerous readers than is desirable. We shall therefore take the five or six first verses of John 1, and we shall make on them such remarks as are applicable, not merely for the refutation of Artemonius, but also for the explanation of John.—ἐν ἀρχῇ in principio) John’s style, especially in this passage, is pre-eminent for its simplicity, nicety [acute refinement, ‘subtilitas’], and sublimity. The Beginning here means that time, when all things began to be and were created by the Word, John 1:3. Ἐν ἀρχῇ, he says; that is, In the beginning, as the Septuagint Greek version of Genesis 1:1, and Proverbs 8:23. That by The Beginning in this passage no more recent time is meant, is proved by the whole series of things in the context; for the beginning of the Gospel [which some allege is meant here] was made, when John the Baptist went forth preaching, Mark 1:1 : but the ‘Beginning,’ which is here spoken of, is more ancient than the Incarnation of the Word. In like manner, none is higher [goes further back]. In the beginning of the heaven and the earth, God created the heaven and the earth: in the same beginning of the heaven and the earth, and of the world, John 1:10, already, the Word was in existence, without any beginning or commencement of itself. The Word itself is purely eternal; for it is in the same manner that the eternity of the Word and of the Father is described. He was, at the time when first were made whatsoever things began to be. Artemonius maintained that it is the beginning of the Gospel which is meant by John; and he thus explains the verse: in the beginning of the Gospel was the Word; and the Word, through His first ascension to heaven, was, in the same beginning, with God, etc. [Socinians have invented the figment of Jesus having ascended, to heaven for instruction before entering on His prophetic office.] This explanation he attempts to give colour to, by the authority of some of the ancients, Photinus, and such like. We shall examine his arguments. He lays it down, that the first epistle of John was written before his Gospel; and that the beginning of his Epistle is vindicated from the perversions of Cerinthus, by the beginning of his Gospel. Thence he infers, that the ‘Beginning,’ 1 John 2:13, etc., is the beginning of Gospel-preaching; and accordingly, that in ch. John 1:1 of the same Ep., and in ch. John 1:1 of his Gospel, ‘beginning’ is used in the same sense.—Part ii. c. 13. First [in answer we observe], John certainly wrote the Gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem, as we show at ch. John 5:2. Even Artemonius cannot assert this of the Epistle. The Gospel teaches the truth, ch. John 20:31. The Epistle goes further and refutes errors, and indicates that a great turn in affairs had taken place. John wrote the Gospel, according to the testimony of Irenæu[4] [PROVIDENS blasphemas regulas quæ dividunt Dominum], FORESEEING the blasphemous systems which rend the Lord’s body.—B. iii. c. 18. Such at least was the system even of Cerinthus, which Irenæu[5] pronounces to be not older than the Gospel of John, when, B. iii. c. 11, he says, that in the Gospel of John is refuted THE ERROR WHICH WAS DISSEMINATED [“inseminatus erat”] AMONG MEN BY CERINTHUS, AND MUCH EARLIER BY THE NICOLAITANS [errorem, qui a Cerintho et MULTO PRIUS a Nicolaitis inseminatus erat hominibus]. For the translator, whose authority otherwise is justly entitled to support, readily made a pluperfect “inseminatus erat” out of the Greek past participle, which is found in the fragments of Irenæu[6] collected out of Greek fathers of later ages. A comparison of chapter 11 with chapter 18, both of which we have here quoted in the author’s very words, will import the force of the tense to be perfect, rather than pluperfect. Certainly Irenæu[7] has not a word as to any perversion [alleged by Artemonius] of John’s Epistle by Cerinthus: and he himself, B. iii. c. 18, has so woven together quotations of the Gospel and of the Epistle, as to imply no obscure recognition of the fact, that the Gospel was written before the Epistle. Accordingly, as Peter condemned mockers, and Paul apostates, so John in his Gospel has condemned the false teachers about to arise; and in his Epistle, when they had actually come, he more openly stigmatized them. Thus we have shown that at least the foundation on which Artemonius builds so much, viz. the theory of the Epistle having been written before the Gospel, is uncertain conjecture; though it does not much concern our side of the question which of the two works was first in point of time. Not even in the Epistle itself is ‘Beginning’ always used in one signification: nay, in the opening of the Epistle, ‘Beginning’ is used absolutely, the beginning of all things, of heaven and earth; and so also in the opening of the Gospel. This is the only difference, that in the latter it is expressed, “In the beginning;” in the former, “From the beginning.” Artemonius, P. ii. c. 18, supposes that Cerinthus, who had perverted the words, “From the beginning,” is more expressly refuted by the words, “In the beginning;” but the Valentinians perverted the words, “In the beginning,” in just the same manner. It would be a more simple explanation to say, that “In the beginning” is rather used absolutely; “From the beginning” relatively, in this sense, In the beginning and thenceforward. In that beginning was the Word, in such a way, as that also before the beginning the Word was. See Proverbs 8:22, etc., “The Lord possessed me In the beginning of His way, before His works of old: I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was;” where mem, set down [occurring] four times in the Heb., the Septuagint render, at least in the second and fourth place of its occurrence, πρό, and rightly so (although Artem. Diss. i. stoutly denies it): for in the passage there follow in parallel correspondence, באין πρό, בטרם πρό, לפני πρό, עד לא. See below, John 1:30, ch. John 3:13, John 6:62, John 8:58, John 17:5; John 17:24 [all proving His pre-existence with the Father]. Artemonius, page 76, and everywhere throughout his book, urges that Justin Martyr was the first who taught that Jesus was the Son of God, before that the world was made. But the truth is, Justin praises that doctrine as new, not that it was recently invented, but because it was unknown to Trypho, and such like persons. We will bring forward in this place the single testimony of Ignatius, who, in his Ep. to the Magnesians, § 8, says, εἷς Θεός ἐστιν ὁ φανερώσας ἑαυτὸν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ Υἰοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν αὐτοῦ ΛΟΓΟΣ ΑΙΔΙΟΣ, οὖκ ἀπὸ σιγῆς προελθών. “There is one God, who manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, Who is the Eternal Word of Himself, not having come forth from silence” [i.e. Always having been The Word]. The objections, by which Artemonius tries to turn aside the force of this passage, P. ii. ch. 36, etc., are so far-fetched, that their effect ought to be, not to carry away the reader with them, but to confirm him in the truth.—ἦν, was) Not, was made. See the difference of the words marked, John 1:10; John 1:14-15, ch. John 8:58. The Father also is called ὁ ὤν, κ.τ.λ., Revelation 1:4. The Word was before the world was made, in which He afterwards was, John 1:10.—Ὁ ΛΌΓΟς) Speech [sermo], Word [Verbum]; it is also found written in Latin, Logos: see notes on Gregor. Thaum. Paneg., § 50.[8] That Logos, of whom John 1:14 speaks. Whence is it that John calls Him The Word? From the beginning of his first Epistle, says Artemonius, P. ii. ch. 14 and 19. More rightly, as is plain from what was said above, the expression may be regarded as derived [copied] from the Gospel into the Epistle. In both writings he uses the term Logos before he comes to the appellation of Jesus Christ. But he so terms Him, not copying Philo, much less Plato; but by the same Spirit which taught the inspired authors of the Old Testament so to express themselves. See Genesis 1:3; Psalm 33:6, “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth,” where the Septuagint has τῷ λόγῳ Κυρίου οἱ οὐρανοὶ ἐστερεώθησαν: Psalm 107:20, “He sent His word,” ἀπέστειλε τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ. Hence the very frequent appellation, The Word of God, in the Chaldaic Paraphrase: also Wis 16:12; Wis 18:15. The one and the same mystery in the Old and in the New Testament is expressed in similar terms. God is a Spirit, or eternal Mind: the Son of God is the Logos, the inmost, and yet at the same time the most fully manifested [exsertissimum, the most fully put forth] Word of the eternal Mind. He who spiritually knows the spiritual nature of God, knows also the spiritual nature of His Word: and understands why He is also called the Word, before He is called the Light and the Life; see 1 John 1:1, etc. Hence just as often the apostles, speaking of Christ, contradistinguish flesh and spirit; So He, whom John terms Logos, the same is termed by Clemens Romanus, a father of the Apostolic age, Spirit, εἷς Χριστὸς ὁ Κύριος ὁ σώσας ἡμᾶς, ὢν μὲν τὸ πρῶτον πνεῦμα, ἐγένετο σὰρξ, κ.τ.λ.: that is, The one Lord Christ, who hath saved us, although previously He was Spirit, yet was made flesh, etc.; which passage the objections of Artemonius, P. ii. ch. 44, etc., cannot rob us of. The Logos is He, whom the Father has begotten, or spoken, as His only-begotten Son, by Whom the Father speaking makes all things; who speaks of the things of the Father to us. The reason why He is called Logos, and the actual Description of what is the Logos, is given, John 1:18. He is the only-begotten Son of God, who was in the bosom of the Father, and acted most expressively the part of His Exponent [exegetam egit, the Declarer of Him, John 1:18, ἐξηγήσατο]. The idea in this clause receives additional emphasis and clearness from the two clauses that follow in this verse.—πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, with God) Therefore distinct [in personality] from the Father. Πρός for παρά [Latin apud, French chez], as εἰς for ἐν, John 1:18, denotes a perpetual, as it were, tendency of the Son to the Father in the unity of essence. He was with God in a peculiar and unique sense [singly and exclusively, ‘unicè’], because there was then nothing outside of God. Again, John speaks in this place more absolutely than in 1 Ep. ch. John 1:2, where he says, The Eternal Life was with the FATHER, in antithesis to the manifestation of Him made to believers, in order that they might become Sons. Thus we dispose of the difference, which Artemonius, P. ii. c. 18, tries to establish between the expression in the Epistle, and that in the Gospel: He also in Diss. ii., and elsewhere throughout his book, interprets the words, to be with God, of an ascension of Christ to heaven before His baptism. But this interpretation, when once the phrase, “In the beginning,” is rightly explained, forthwith falls to the ground. If Christ, before His passion, had trodden the way to life by an ascension of this kind, He would not have had it in His power subsequently to say, “THOU HAST MADE KNOWN to Me the ways of life;” and His whole journey, from His birth to that ascension, would have been of no benefit to us: but the plans, on which our salvation rests, would only begin to come into effect simultaneously with the descent, subsequent on the supposed ascension: whereby the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke would lose all their point. The words of Ignatius, in the Ep. already quoted, § 6, are clear: Jesus Christ before all ages, πρὸ αἰώνων, was with the Father, and in the end, ἐν τέλει, appeared: also the words of Hermas, The Son of God is elder than all creation, so that He TOOK PART IN His Father’s counsels for founding creation. These words Artemonius quotes, p. 404, etc., and cannot weaken their force.—Θεός, God) Not only was He with God, but also was God. The absence of the Greek article, especially in the predicate, does not weaken its signification, as meaning the true God. The Septuagint, 1 Kings 18:24, Βασιλ. Γ. ἔσται ὁ Θεὸς, ὃς ἂν ἐπακούσῃ ἐν πυρὶ, οὗτος Θεός. Moreover, when the predicate is placed before the subject, there is an emphasis on the word, ch. John 4:24, Πνεῦμα ὁ Θεός. Further, in this passage the same signification is confirmed from the fact, that there was then no creature, in relation to which the Word could be called God [in a lower sense]; it must therefore be here meant in an absolute sense. This fact presses hard against Artemonius; and on that account the more precious in our esteem ought this reading to be, which we have defended in our Critical Introduction. In this stronghold of the faith, in this most sure centre, we stand unmoved, and we fortify ourselves against all enticements which try to draw us off in a quite contrary direction [to other and irrelevant arguments]. There is no expedient to which Artemonius docs not resort, that he may prove Christ in Scripture is nowhere called or regarded as God; and, that we may take a cursory view of the second part of his book, especially in this passage, in Chap. I. he attacks the words, John 5:17, etc., John 10:29, etc., Php 2:6, etc.: in all which passages, the sentiment [sense] is not only vindicated as worthy of the Divine majesty of Jesus Christ, by the pious zeal of competent [able] interpreters, but even is shown to be so by the weakness of the Artemonian objections. Chap. II. denies that Christ was accounted as God by His disciples before His passion. But see John 1:14, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father;” 2 Peter 1:16, “We were eye-witnesses of His majesty,” etc. He denies that Jesus was accounted God after the Resurrection: but see John 20:28, “My Lord, and my God” [Thomas]; Acts 20:28, “The Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood;”[9] Romans 9:15, “Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever;” 1 Timothy 3:16, “God manifest in the flesh;”[10] Titus 2:13, “The glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” comp. notes, Ephesians 5:5, “The kingdom of Christ and of God;” Hebrews 1:10; Hebrews 3:4 [comp. with John 1:6, “Christ, a Son over His own house”], “He that built all things is God.” Even this one passage, John 1:1, would be enough for a soul hungering and thirsting, simple and candid. In Chap. III. he objects, that Christ is always contradistinguished from God. We reply: Not always, but for the most part, and that without compromising the Deity of the Son. The instance, 1 Timothy 1:1, “The commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ,”[11] Artemonius felt to be irresistible; for in that passage even God the Father is called Saviour, and yet the Son is not by that fact excluded. So also when the Father is called God, that is not done in contradistinction to Jesus. See the writer himself, how frigid is his reply on the passage! Chap. IV. extends too far the parallelism, John 1:1; John 20:31. Chap. V. discusses why Christ is not called God, when He is really God, inferior to the Father alone; but he produces such reasons as prove unanswerably, since Christ is really also called God, that Christ is called God, not in the sense in which the name is assigned to creatures, but in the sense in which it is assigned to the Father. Chap. VI., in order to escape the argument from the passage, Isaiah 9:5, when Christ is called by one name, compounded of twice four words, Wonderful, Counsellor, [the] Mighty GOD, [the] everlasting Father, [the] Prince [of] Peace, does open violence to the parallel passage, John 1:1In 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


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