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1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


Where do we start? At the beginning is the normal answer!


For Luke, it would be the announcement to Zechariah that he and Elizabeth were to have a son, who would become the forerunner of Jesus: John the Baptist.


For Mark, it meant looking back to where the coming of John the Baptist would be prophesied in the scriptures, in Isaiah.


For Matthew, he traced Jesus’ genealogy back to Abraham.


But for John, he goes back to Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning   .   .   .’ . But not the creation story that everyone knew: here we are introduced to a third person, already in existence, and taking a major part in Creation.


1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.


Why use the term ‘Word’ – Greek: ‘Logos’?


It seems that the Jews would associate ‘the Word’ with God, but Greeks (and this gospel was written in Greek) used it not only for the spoken word, but also for the thought behind it, before it was spoken. It concentrated on the content of the communication. So at the same time ‘The Word’ could be


3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.


God the Father was the architect, ‘the Word’ was the person who carried out God’s word, God’s intention – ‘God said  .  .  .and it was so’.


Three people, all active in creation, separate beings yet together as One God.


But the whole of creation would be meaningless if plants and animals did not also have life. We are told in John 6:63 ‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life.’


But speaking of ‘The Word’, John says: 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.


So it seems that ‘The Word’ is Life and Light, and this Life and Light can be given by the Holy Spirit. We will see that this also refers to the new Life that we can have if we are ‘Born Again’ (John 3:7)


5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


It should be obvious to us by now who John was describing. But he continues to build up to his climax in verse 14, and the name of Jesus will still not be mentioned until verse 17.


In what way does the Light shine in darkness?

Since the Fall (Genesis 3) man had been living in spiritual darkness. The earth had, spiritually, been returned to the darkness and chaos that had existed before creation (Genesis 1:2) The Sun of Righteousness has now risen on this fallen world, revealing the true nature of the darkness. For individuals, it has now become possible to accept the light that Jesus brings.


‘and the darkness has not overcome it’ .  .  .  .  although many have tried.

It seems the reaction of the majority is to oppose ‘The Light’ – people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19) But darkness can never overcome light; it’s always the other way around.


Some translations (and the earlier NIV translation) have ‘has not understood it’. The original Greek can mean has not grasped it, taken it, or accepted it – so both are just as valid and perhaps ‘has not grasped it’  is a good compromise. It carries the thought that people living in darkness generally do not understand the Gospel and so are unable to accept it.


Before stating clearly who ‘The Word’ is, John now turns his attention to Jesus’ forerunner – John the Baptist.


6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.


Why did John have to precede Jesus?


John the Baptist’s message was essentially ‘Repent’. These days the power of that word has been weakened to mean feel sorry for what you have done. At the time of John it meant not only feel a profound sorrow for your sinful life in the sight of God, but immediately about-turn: turn your back on your sinful way of life. And then make your decision public by being baptised to demonstrate your desire to be clean ‘all over’.


John’s work was to create a favourable environment in which Jesus would be readily accepted:


 ‘A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3)


Why was John the Baptist important to John?


It is likely that John (and his brother James) had become disciples of John the Baptist before he directed them towards Jesus (John 1:35-39). He would have accepted John’s message of Repentance and understood the need for it before he could personally accept the salvation that Jesus brought.


8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.


John now expands on who John the Baptist was preparing for: ‘The Light’. But before we look at that it would be good to ask:

What is darkness?


Darkness is when there is no light!

It has no quality of its own.

But it is often considered frightening because of what it may conceal. Not just things we may bump into, or trip over, but things which hide in dark places in order to attack us.


Sometimes darkness can be good, but only where it causes the light to be more easily seen – to look at stars, fireworks, illuminations, cinema etc.


Generally darkness is something to avoid – we naturally look for the light.

But the Bible also speaks of the darkness of our heart, or soul.

What is that?

It can simply be when we are sad or depressed, but more likely it is the absence of the light of God’s presence.


Isaiah 9:2

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.


9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 


How sad then, that the people who had been looking forward to ‘The Light’, and for whom John the Baptist had prepared the way, rejected him.


Why did they ‘not recognise him’ and ‘not receive him’?

They were looking for a messiah who would save them from their enemies and lead their country to victory – not a God who demanded repentance, love and obedience; a God who was seeking his lost children to come home to him and so be saved.


Some too, like today, see no need of a saviour; they prefer to remain in comfortable darkness, rather than allow the light to reveal their true nature.


12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God 


Generally his own nation had rejected him, yet there were individuals, not only Jews, who did readily accept him. The word ‘believed’ is a strong word – it means to put ones faith in completely; to trust, with the implication that actions based on that trust will follow.


If we believe in ‘The Word’ or ‘The Light’, if we are prepared to accept Jesus as our Lord, then we are given the right (and that’s another strong word – usually reserved for those in authority) – the right to become part of God’s family, with all the privileges that brings.


13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.


Not ‘in God’s family’ because we could trace our family line back to Abraham, as the Jews believed, (actually we can all trace our ancestry back to Adam – and we still have his sinful tendencies). Not just adopted, but actually born of God: he literally becomes Our Father.


14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (I find it fascinating that the Greek used for the expression ‘one and only son’ is ‘Monogenës’ – mono-genes – which in our current use of the words in English points to a virgin birth!)


Can someone explain all that was involved for ‘the Word to become flesh’?

(Just to get people to think!)


Here was God the Son, humbling himself to become like one of his created beings. John had lived with him, had experienced his power and authority – and his grace and truth, and knew his faith in him was not misplaced. More than that he had ‘seen his Glory’ – and that could only mean that he was truly God (v18), more than that, that he was the ‘one and only’ Son of God.


Verse 15 is in brackets. We will take it with verse 19 in our next study. So we will continue with:


16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.


First we need to consider Christ’s fullness.

Can someone explain it?

(Not easy to describe the fullness of God’s divine nature!)

Does it refer back to verse 14: ‘full of grace and truth’?


Ok then, what is grace?

Quite likely someone will say ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense’ – (or you can!) but get them to explain what this means.


God’s grace is the free and unmerited gift of mercy and salvation, offered to sinful people through the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus. It is also ‘the empowering Presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do’ (James Ryle)


Then what was the ‘grace already given’?


Throughout the Old Testament God’s mercy to his sinful people is a constant theme. He saved them many times, he provided for them; he gave them a system of laws and sacrifices in order that the people could experience closeness to him. He poured out his unfailing love to them.


And so we read in Psalm 32:1 ‘Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.’


But we also read in Hebrews 10:4 ‘It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.’


So to verse 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


What was there before truth came?

Not necessarily lies (although the religious system had become corrupt), but perhaps ignorance, and limited knowledge.


18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.


John the Baptist came to point the way to Jesus. Did Jesus come to point the way to God? Partly – because he himself was God and was thus able to reveal God to us in him.


He actually came in order for us to be able to have a new, living relationship with God; the same ‘closest relationship with the Father’ that Jesus had as his son, we can have as sons and daughters. If we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we become adopted children - not second-rate children, but we are actually born into the family. (V13)




John IntroductionJohn 1b






John 1:1-14, 16-18   The Beginning:
The Word, The Light, The Creator, Grace, Truth

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