In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
I. IN HIM WAS LIFE. God is self-existent. Every being but He had a beginning. Every other being, therefore, must have been created. All life which had a commencement must be derived and not inherent. Christ's life was un-derived and inherent. Therefore He was Divine.
II. THE LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN. John does not declare it to be the life of men; which would be true. Every tribe of animated existence draws its life from God: But man placed above beasts and birds. The difference consists in deriving life from the Word and having the life which was in Him as our enlivening, illuminating principle in us. This light is that which enables man to walk in a wholly different region from the beasts which perish, penetrating the wonders and scanning the boundaries of the universe, while other creatures are limited to a single and insignificant province. This light is the soul: reason, judgment, conscience. If this soul be eclipsed man is morally and spiritually blind. It is a fine testimony to this light when we find it described as the life which was from all eternity in the Word. It gives a majesty to reason and a dignity to conscience when a man realizes that these are part of the life of his Creator. The man who debases them debases no earthborn or perishable thing. The Word endowed human nature with His own life; hanging up in its chambers a lamp, and continually feeding the flame with the flashings of His own eternity. Shall this lamp be substituted now that it has been fractured, its light dimmed, for the Word Himself? Or shall we boast ourselves free from all need of Him just because there glows in us a principle derived from Him? The strangest spectacle is that of a man taking reason and rejecting Christ as his guide, fancying that in directing himself by the shining of his own spirit he shows himself independent of Christ. Man shows his ignorance of creation in putting scorn on redemption. He draws from the Word those very energies by which he would prove himself independent of the Word. The intellectual capacities were Christ's shinings into the uncorrupted, even as our pardon, and renewal, and acceptance into the depraved and ruined. What gave virtue to His sacrifice was that the Self-existent died, and that which gave this worth was emphatically our light. Reason still burns brightly, conscience is not quenched, and immortality is assured because the Word who never had a beginning consented to be born; the Word who never can end consented to die.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In him was life; and the life was the light of men.