John 1:1-18 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Word Became Flesh
Comments for Study 1

John 1:1-18
Key verse: 1:14


I. Jesus, the Creator God (1-5)

>1. What do verses 1 and 2 teach us about the Word?

* "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2)

* "Word" is capitalized and so is personified. Verse 2 specifies the word as, "He." Verse 14 further specifies "the Word" as Jesus, who became flesh.

* The Word was in the beginning. Here "in the beginning" in Greek (the original language) is one word. Genesis 1:1 (which is in Hebrew) starts out with this statement, and has a similar meaning. "In the beginning" in definition is different that "at the beginning" or "during the beginning". It refers to before anything existed. In Genesis starting in verse 3, words are used to create, and so implying that the Word existed before all of creation. The basis of this universe is time, space, and mater. Therefore, the Word existed before these things. The Word is not constrained by time. He is without a beginning of time; he is eternal.

* The Word was with God. The Word was a companion to God. They were separate identities.

* The Word was God. In the beginning the Word, Jesus, was and is God.

* "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." (Hebrews 1:3)

* "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, (Or Wonderful, Counselor) Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

* John 1:1-2 is a statement of the trinity. There is one God, yet three distinct identities to God.

>Why do you think the author uses the term, "Word"?

* To show that Jesus is the Word incarnate and so further defines Jesus' identity.

* To show Jesus was God's instrument of creation. (Genesis 1:3-30)

* To show the power and greatness of Jesus.

* Verse 18 says Jesus has made God known. Indeed God communicates with us using words, written and spoken. Jesus is that word.

* In the Old Testament the word of God is often described as being the instrument of God.

* "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." (1 John 1:1)

* "He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God." (Revelation 19:13)

* Other New Testament references to Jesus being the Word could be Hebrews 4:12, Acts 20:32, and Luke 1:2.

>2. What is Jesus' relationship to creation? (3)

* "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:3)

* "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth." (Psalm 33:6)

* "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." (Isaiah 40:28)

* "'Tell them this: 'These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.'' (The text of this verse is in Aramaic.) But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding." (Jeremiah 10:11-12)

* "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:16-17)

* One can think of and see the greatness of creation. With this in mind one can get a grasp and a small glimpse of the greatness of Jesus.

* The word "all things" in verse 3 is very important. Jesus created all. This is double emphasized in the second sentence of this verse. Jesus was created, as some say, but this can not be true because he could not have created himself for he created all.

>3. In what sense is Jesus the source of life?

* "In him was life, and that life was the light of men." (John 1:4)

* Jesus is the source of all life.

* Jesus gives both physical and spiritual eternal life. Animals and materials do not have spiritual nor eternal life.

* Light and life are interchangeable in verse 4. The symbolism of light and darkness is often used in the gospel of John. (John 3:2; 13:30)

* "'The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.'" (Acts 17:24,25)

* Jesus is the sustainer of life, food, water, air, etc.

* "Jesus answered, 'It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4)

>What is the special function of this life of God in men and in the world?

* "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood (Or darkness, and the darkness has not overcome) it." (John 1:5)

* "The light shines" -Jesus always shines, through out eternity.

* Nature reveals God, yet in simple clouded form. "Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:19,20)

* The word of God reveals God.

* The best revealing of God is in Jesus, Christ the Son of God.

* Light is self evidencing.

* In the dark one cannot find his way around, he does not know were he is and what the reality of his surroundings are. But when a light shines he can see clearly so that he can get around, always knows where he is at and the reality of his surroundings. This is true spiritual when Jesus, the light shines.

* "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (John 8:12)

* "'I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.'" (John 12:46)

* "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)

>What do you think the nature of darkness is? (5)

* "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood (Or darkness, and the darkness has not overcome) it." (John 1:5)

* Darkness represents evil and sin in sinful man. It represents life without Jesus, the light. If a person was born and raised in darkness, in a cave all their lives, they would have no comprehension of light. Spiritually people do not know they are in darkness of sin and do not know anything about God. Often we forget this.

* Light and darkness are completely opposite.

* "Now the earth was (Or possibly became) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (Genesis 1:2)

* Light always expels darkness. When Jesus comes into a persons heart he expels the darkness.

* "overcome" -darkness is inferior. Darkness can not reject the light.

* "understood" -People don't know what light is like if they had not seen it.

* "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21)

* "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:28)

* "For God does speak--now one way, now another-- though man may not perceive it." (Job 33:14)

II. Jesus, the True Light (6-13)

John the Baptist Sees Jesus from Afar by James Tissot

>4. Who was the witness?

* "There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John." (John 1:6)

* John the Baptist.

* John means gracious.

* See a painting of John the Baptist Sees Jesus from Afar by James Tissot to the right.

>Who sent him?

* "There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John." (6)

* "'See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says the Lord Almighty.'" (Malachi 3:1)

* "'See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.'" (Malachi 4:5-6)

* John's parents were Zechariah and Elizabeth, of the priestly line of Levi. Before he was born the angle told them what John's mission would be. While John was still young he went into the desert to prepare for this mission by prayer and Bible study. His parents told him what little they knew but as John himself witnessed, God sent him to baptize and be a witness. (John 1:33)

>What was his testimony about himself and about Jesus? (7,8,9)

* "He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. < Or This was the true light that gives light to every man who comes into the world>" (John 1:7-9)

* John's purpose was that through him all men might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. (John 1:7,29,34)

* "Witness" -one who speaks from a firsthand account of what he has seen and/or experienced.

* John was a witness to "all men" not just Jews or the Israelites. (Revelation 14:6)

* In John's day people thought perhaps he might be the true light. He was not. John was but a reflection, a candles light, compared to Jesus, the true light.

* We need to recognize believers as witnesses of the light, but not greater than the true light.

* Servants of God testify to the true light.

* There has been many false lights in the world; Buddha, Mohammed, Confuses, Gandhi, ect. but they all went out. Only Jesus is the true light.

* John was a voice in the wilderness to all who came to him. He was a eye witness of Jesus being the Messiah and Son of God. (Luke 1:8, Luke 3:2-3; Matthew 3:4-6)

>5. How did the world respond to the true light?

* "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him." (John 1:10-11)

* The world refers to all people, Jew and Gentile that came, saw, and/or heard Jesus.

* His own refers to the Jews, including; the Pharisees, teachers of the Law, Sanhedrin, priests, and all the religious people of his day.

* Will we know and recognize Jesus when we see him on judgment day? Does being "religious" make us know Jesus? How do we get to know Jesus? Sheep know their shepherd by instinct, so we if Jesus is our shepherd know his voice know. (10:14) When the time comes we will know Jesus.

>Why did they not respond well to the true light?

* "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:19-20)

* Verses 5, 10, and 11 are similar in meaning to John 3:19-20.

* Rejection is a willful act.

* Men want their kind of savior. When Jesus came they could not accept God's true Savior, Jesus.

>Why was this response to unreasonable?

* Jesus is our creator, or giver, source and sustainer of life.

* For the Jews it was unreasonable because he is their Lord. The Lord gave them his prophets and words which foretold of Jesus' coming, what he would do and even when he would come.

>What can we learn here about unbelief?

* Unbelief and sin are not rationale nor logical.

* Unbelief means death, separation for Jesus the life of men.

* Unbelief is based on darkness.

* Unbelief is the basic reason for rejecting Jesus.

* Unbelief is not recognizing and not receiving. (John 1:5, 10=12)

* Unbelief is willful.

* When light shines in it can overcome all darkness.

>6. What right is given to those who receive Jesus?

* "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--" (John 1:12)

* "receive" -in heart, mind, soul, and strength of ourself.

* "right" -like when a person is adapted into a Roman family he receive all the rights of a Roman citizen as well as all that the Father owns.

* To further understand what it means to be a child of God one can look at the relationship that a Father and Son has.

* The definition of a Christian here is: "to receive and believe in Jesus' name."

* "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, < Aramaic for Father or Daddy> Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." (Galatians 3:26-4:7)

* "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." (1 John 3:1)

* God adopting us as his children is like a rich, noble, distinguished, and able royalty adopting a illegitimate street gang teenage delinquent as his child.

>By whose action are we born again into God's family?

* Being "born of God" is his work. (13) Yet we must receive and believe in Jesus. (12)

* Being "born of God" is spiritual.

* "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit (Or but spirit) gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You (The Greek is plural.) must be born again.'" (John 3:6-7)

>What are the different kinds of human activity or effort that cannot help us become God's children?

* "children born not of natural descent, (Greek of bloods) nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (John 1:13)

* "natural decent" -Jews

* "human decision" -Others actions to self or self to self, including parent of children. This is no work of man. (Galatians 2:8-9) We can't say, "I want to be saved." We must accept Jesus, God's way.

* "husband's will" -if one spouse becomes Christian it does not mean the other is suddenly one. Marriage does not make another a Christian.

>What does this mean to you?

* I am born of God. It was his will and decision and initiative.

* I must receive Jesus, not just one time but every day.

* I am born again.

III. Jesus, Full of Grace and Truth (14-18)

>7. Think about the meaning of incarnation. What did it cost Jesus, the incarnate God, to come and live among men?

* Incarnation means God in the flesh. The creator God became man, with flesh, bones, and blood.

* Jesus gave up his glory and power to be not only one of us but a servant of man.

* Incarnation is a mystery, but it is an essential teaching for Christians. Throughout our lives we need to know and believe this.

>What does this teach us about God who sent him?

* Sacrificial love.

* God loves man very much that he would send his own Son.

* God wants to reveal himself to us and the great extent he will go to reveal himself to us.

>What did the author mean when he said, "We have seen his glory"?

* "Glory" -to reveal.

* The author saw Jesus' glory while Jesus was still in the flesh. On the mount Jesus was transformed and when Jesus rose from the dead he was transformed.

* Since most theologians believe the gospel of John was written before the book of revelations that account does not apply here.

* In John's gospel Jesus talked about "his time" many times. Later Jesus revealed that "his time" was his time of greatest glory. Jesus indicated that this great time of glory was when he hung on the cross. This revealed to man God's glory. To man the cross is foolishness. To God it is glory.

>8. What did John the Baptist say about Jesus?

* "John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, 'This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.''" (John 1:15)

* "After me" -This is that Jesus was physically born after John (Luke 1:36-42), six months later and/or that John's ministry was greater before Jesus' was and started before Jesus' did.

* "Before me" -This is that Jesus is God who existed before John for John was only a man who was created by Jesus.

* John's ministry was powerful because he witnessed that Jesus is the eternal God.

>Find the verses that speak of Jesus' grace. What does it mean that he was full of grace?

* "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, < Or the Only Begotten> who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

* "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:16-17)

* "Grace" -Grace means unmerited divine assistance and/or beautiful.

* The nature of grace is forgiveness, humility, kindness and love.

* To be considered a man of grace we need to be like this.

* "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

>How does his coming into the world and his life among us show God's grace?

* Man was not able to save himself from sin and death. Only God could save men from these. Jesus' coming to man is God's assistance to us even though we are sinners and rebels against him.

* "'just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" (Matthew 20:28)

>9. Find the verses that refer to Jesus' truth. In what respect is he full of truth? (John 14:6; 8:31,32) Think about the source of all truth.

* "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (Or This was the true light that gives light to every man who comes into the world)" (John 1:9)

* "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, < Or the Only Begotten> who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

* "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)

* "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6)

* "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (John 8:31-32)

* "Truth" -Truth is the real revelation of God, full of revelation, all the gospel, both what man wants to hear (grace) and what man does not like to hear.

* Jesus never spoke a lie. He spoke the words of truth, God's words.

* Jesus showed and lived the true way man is to live.

* Grace and truth go together. They can not be separated. There is a balance in John's gospel. The two incidence in chapter two show this.

* "Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.' 'You are a king, then!' said Pilate. Jesus answered, 'You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.'" (John 18:37)

>10. In what respect was the Law a blessing?

* "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:16-17)

* It showed how to live. It is God's minimum standard for man.

* In the end, because of man's sinful nature, the law shows man's need for the Savior.

>How did God bless the world with one blessing after another?

* "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:16-17)

* The exact meaning of this verse is unclear. It seems to imply two things. I generally take it as one blessing after another.

* Examples: forgiveness of sins, eternal life and life to the full, friendship with God, hope of God, to be a child of God, freedom from sin and the law, freedom from darkness, the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit.

* "all" -not just a few or a chosen nation or race or gender.

* "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:22-24)

* All blessing are on account of Jesus.

>How can we see God? (18)

* "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, < Or the Only Begotten> < Some manuscripts but the only (or only begotten) Son> who is at the Father's side, has made him known." (John 1:18)

* "Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.' Jesus answered: 'Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.'" (John 14:8-10)

* Jesus made God know.

* By studying Jesus' words and life and by accepting, believing and applying them to our life we will see God.