John 1 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of John 1)
1:1 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 (1 John 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.

1:3 2 All f things were made by him; and g without him h was not any thing made that was made.

(2) The Son of God declares that his everlasting Godhead is the same as the Father's, both by the creating of all things, and also by preserving them, and especially by the excellent gifts of reason and understanding with which he has beautified man above all other creatures.
(f) Paul expounds on this in (Colossians 1:15-16).
(g) That is, as the Father did work, so did the Son work with him: for the Son was a fellow worker with him.
(h) Of all those things which were made, nothing was made without him.

1:4 i In him k was life; and the life was l the light of men.

(i) That is, by him: and this is spoken after the manner of the Hebrews, meaning by this that by his force and working power all life comes to the world.
(k) That is, even at that time when all things were made by him, for otherwise he would have said, "Life in him", and not "life was".
(l) That force of reason and understanding which is kindled in our minds to acknowledge him, the author of so great a benefit.

1:5 3 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness m comprehended it not.

(3) The light of men is turned into darkness, but yet there is enough clearness so that they are without excuse.
(m) They could not perceive nor reach it to receive any light from it, no, they did not so much as acknowledge him.

1:6 4 There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John.

(4) There is another more full manifestation of the Son of God, by the consideration of which men are in good time stirred up, even to John's voice, who is as it were the herald of Christ.

1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all [men] n through him might believe.

(n) Through John.

1:8 He was not o that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light.

(o) That light which we spoke of, that is, Christ, who alone can enlighten our darkness.

1:9 5 [That] was p the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

(5) When the Son of God saw that men did not acknowledge him by his works, although they were endued with understanding (which he had given to all of them), he exhibited himself unto his people to be seen by them with their physical eyes: yet not even then did they acknowledge him or receive him.
(p) Who alone and properly deserves to be called the light, for he shines by his own accord and borrows light from no one.

1:10 q He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

(q) The person of the Word was made manifest even at that time when the world was made.

1:11 He came r unto his own, and his own received him not.

(r) The Word showed himself again when he came in the flesh.

1:12 6 But as many as received him, to them gave he s power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

(6) The Son being shut out by the majority of his people, and acknowledged but by a few, regenerates those few by his own strength and power, and receives them into that honour which is common to all the children of God, that is, to be the sons of God.
(s) He condescended to give them this power to take them to be his children.

1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the t will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

(t) Of that shameful and corrupt nature of man, which is throughout the scriptures described as an enemy of the spirit.

1:14 7 And the Word was made u flesh, and x dwelt among us, (and we beheld his y glory, the glory z as of the only begotten of the Father,) a full of grace and truth.

(7) That Son who is God from everlasting took upon himself man's nature, so that one and the selfsame might be both God and man, who manifestly appeared to many witnesses that saw him, amongst whom he was conversant and unto whom by sure and undoubted arguments he showed both of his natures.
(u) That is, man: so that, by the figure of speech synecdoche, the part is taken for the whole: for he took upon himself our entire nature, that is to say, a true body, and a true soul.
(x) For a time, and when that was ended, he went up into heaven: for the word which he uses is used with reference to tents: and yet nonetheless he is always present with us, though not in flesh, but by the power of his spirit.
(y) The glory which he speaks of here is that manifestation of Christ's majesty, which was as it were openly placed before our eyes when the Son of God appeared in the flesh.
(z) This word "as" does not indicate here a likeness, but rather the truth of the matter, for his meaning is this, that we saw such a glory which suited and was proper for the true and only begotten Son of God, who is Lord and King over all the world.
(a) He was not only a partaker of grace and truth, but was full of the very substance of grace and truth.

1:15 8 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh b after me is preferred c before me: for he was before me.

(8) John is a faithful witness of the excellency of Christ.
(b) That is, "He before whom I am sent to prepare him the way": so that these words refer to the time of his calling, and not of his age, for John was six months older than Christ.
(c) This sentence has in it a turning of the reason as we call it, as one would say, a setting of that first which should be last, and that last which should be first: for in plain speech it is this, "He that comes after me, is better than I am, for he was before me." We find a similar turning of the reason in (Luke 7:47): "Many sins are forgiven her, because she loved much", which is this much to say, "She loved much, because many sins are forgiven her."

1:16 9 And of his fulness have all we received, and d grace for grace.

(9) Christ is the most plentiful fountain of all goodness, but he gave out his gifts most bountifully at that time when he exhibited and showed himself to the world.
(d) That is, grace upon grace; as one would say, graces piled one upon another.

1:18 10 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the e bosom of the Father, he hath f declared [him].

(10) The true knowledge of God proceeds only from Jesus Christ.
(e) Who is nearest to his Father, not only in respect of his love towards him, but by the bond of nature, and by means of that union or oneness that is between them, by which the Father and the Son are one.
(f) Revealed him and showed him unto us, whereas before he was hidden under the shadows of the law, so that our minds were not able to perceive him: for whoever sees him, sees the Father also.

1:19 11 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

(11) John is neither the Messiah, nor like any of the other prophets, but is the herald of Christ, who is now present.

1:20 And he g confessed, and h denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

(g) He did acknowledge him, and spoke of him plainly and openly.
(h) This repeating of the one and the selfsame thing, though in different words, is often used by the Hebrews, and it has great force, for they used to speak one thing twice in order to set it out more certainly and plainly.

1:21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, i I am not. Art thou k that prophet? And he answered, No.

(i) The Jews thought that Elias would come again before the days of the Messiah, and they took as the basis of their opinion (Malachi 4:5), which is to be understood as referring to John, see (Matthew 11:14). And yet John denies that he is Elias, answering their question just as they meant it.
(k) They are inquiring about some great prophet, and not about Christ, for John denied before that he is Christ, for they thought that some great prophet would be sent like Moses, using to support this position (Deuteronomy 18:15), which is to be understood to refer to all the company of the prophets and ministers, which have been and shall be to the end, and especially of Christ who is the head of all prophets.

1:24 12 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

(12) Christ is the author of baptism, and not John: and therefore the authority of this does not come from John, who is the minister, but wholly from Christ the Lord.

1:25 And they asked him, and said unto him, l Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

(l) By this we may prove that the Jews knew there should be some change in religion under the Messiah.

1:26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one m among you, whom ye know not;

(m) Whom all the world sees, and sees even amongst you.

1:29 13 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold n the Lamb of God, which o taketh away the p sin of the world.

(13) The body and truth of all the sacrifices of the law, to make satisfaction for the sin of the world, is Christ.
(n) This word "the" which is added has great force in it, not only to set forth the worthiness of Christ, and so to separate him for the "lamb" which was a symbol of him, and from all other sacrifices of the law, but also to remind us of the prophecies of Isaiah and others.
(o) This word is in the present tense, and signifies a continuous act, for the Lamb rightfully has this power both now and forever to take away the sins of the world.
(p) That is, that root of sins, namely, our corruption, and so consequently the fruits of sins, which are commonly called in the plural number, sins.

1:31 And q I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

(q) I never knew him by face before.

1:32 14 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

(14) Christ is proved to be the Son of God by the coming down of the Holy Spirit, by the Father's voice, and by John's testimony.

1:34 And I saw, and bare record that this is r the Son of God.

(r) This word "the" points out to us some excellent thing, and makes a distinction between Christ and others, whom Moses and the prophets commonly call the sons of the most High.

1:35 15 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

(15) John gathers disciples not to himself, but to Christ.

1:36 16 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

(16) Christ is set before us to follow, not as a vain shadow, but as our Mediator.

1:37 17 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

(17) In this first gathering of the disciples we have shown to us that the beginning of salvation is from God, who calls us unto his Son by the ministry of his servants: whom, as he guides us, we must also hear, and follow him home, so that being instructed by him we may also instruct others.

1:38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) s where dwellest thou?

(s) Where is your lodging?

1:39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the t tenth hour.

(t) It was getting later in the night.

1:41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the u Christ.

(u) That is, anointed, and king after the manner of the Jewish people.

1:45 18 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

(18) God uses the good endeavours of the unlearned such that he makes them teachers of the learned.

1:46 19 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

(19) We must especially take heed of false presumptions, which prevent us from entrance to Christ.

1:47 20 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

(20) Simple uprightness discerns the true Israelites from the false.

1:48 21 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

(21) The purpose of miracles is to set before us Christ the Almighty, and also the only author of our salvation, in order that we may apprehend him by faith.

1:51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God x ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

(x) These words signify the power of God which would appear in Christ's ministry by the angels serving him as the head of the Church.