John 1:1-51

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John 1

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2The same was in the beginning with God.

3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

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

8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

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

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

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

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

14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

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

16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

18No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

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

20And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

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

22Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

23He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

24And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

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

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

27He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

28These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

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

30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

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

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

33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

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

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

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

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

38Then 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,) where dwellest thou?

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

40One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter‘s brother.

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

42And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

43The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

44Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

45Philip 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.

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

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

48Nathanael 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.

49Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

50Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

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

* [1:1–18] The prologue states the main themes of the gospel: life, light, truth, the world, testimony, and the preexistence of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Logos, who reveals God the Father. In origin, it was probably an early Christian hymn. Its closest parallel is in other christological hymns, Col 1:15–20 and Phil 2:6–11. Its core (Jn 1:1–5, 10–11, 14) is poetic in structure, with short phrases linked by “staircase parallelism,” in which the last word of one phrase becomes the first word of the next. Prose inserts (at least Jn 1:6–8, 15) deal with John the Baptist.

* [1:1] In the beginning: also the first words of the Old Testament (Gn 1:1). Was: this verb is used three times with different meanings in this verse: existence, relationship, and predication. The Word (Greek logos): this term combines God’s dynamic, creative word (Genesis), personified preexistent Wisdom as the instrument of God’s creative activity (Proverbs), and the ultimate intelligibility of reality (Hellenistic philosophy). With God: the Greek preposition here connotes communication with another. Was God: lack of a definite article with “God” in Greek signifies predication rather than identification.

* [1:3] What came to be: while the oldest manuscripts have no punctuation here, the corrector of Bodmer Papyrus P75, some manuscripts, and the Ante-Nicene Fathers take this phrase with what follows, as staircase parallelism. Connection with Jn 1:3 reflects fourth-century anti-Arianism.

* [1:5] The ethical dualism of light and darkness is paralleled in intertestamental literature and in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Overcome: “comprehend” is another possible translation, but cf. Jn 12:35; Wis 7:29–30.

* [1:6] John was sent just as Jesus was “sent” (Jn 4:34) in divine mission. Other references to John the Baptist in this gospel emphasize the differences between them and John’s subordinate role.

* [1:7] Testimony: the testimony theme of John is introduced, which portrays Jesus as if on trial throughout his ministry. All testify to Jesus: John the Baptist, the Samaritan woman, scripture, his works, the crowds, the Spirit, and his disciples.

* [1:11] What was his own…his own people: first a neuter, literally, “his own property/possession” (probably = Israel), then a masculine, “his own people” (the Israelites).

* [1:13] Believers in Jesus become children of God not through any of the three natural causes mentioned but through God who is the immediate cause of the new spiritual life. Were born: the Greek verb can mean “begotten” (by a male) or “born” (from a female or of parents). The variant “he who was begotten,” asserting Jesus’ virginal conception, is weakly attested in Old Latin and Syriac versions.

* [1:14] Flesh: the whole person, used probably against docetic tendencies (cf. 1 Jn 4:2; 2 Jn 7). Made his dwelling: literally, “pitched his tent/tabernacle.” Cf. the tabernacle or tent of meeting that was the place of God’s presence among his people (Ex 25:8–9). The incarnate Word is the new mode of God’s presence among his people. The Greek verb has the same consonants as the Aramaic word for God’s presence (Shekinah). Glory: God’s visible manifestation of majesty in power, which once filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34) and the temple (1 Kgs 8:10–11, 27), is now centered in Jesus. Only Son: Greek, monogenēs, but see note on Jn 1:18. Grace and truth: these words may represent two Old Testament terms describing Yahweh in covenant relationship with Israel (cf. Ex 34:6), thus God’s “love” and “fidelity.” The Word shares Yahweh’s covenant qualities.

* [1:15] This verse, interrupting Jn 1:14, 16 seems drawn from Jn 1:30.

* [1:16] Grace in place of grace: replacement of the Old Covenant with the New (cf. Jn 1:17). Other possible translations are “grace upon grace” (accumulation) and “grace for grace” (correspondence).

* [1:18] The only Son, God: while the vast majority of later textual witnesses have another reading, “the Son, the only one” or “the only Son,” the translation above follows the best and earliest manuscripts, monogenēs theos, but takes the first term to mean not just “Only One” but to include a filial relationship with the Father, as at Lk 9:38 (“only child”) or Heb 11:17 (“only son”) and as translated at Jn 1:14. The Logos is thus “only Son” and God but not Father/God.

* [1:19–51] The testimony of John the Baptist about the Messiah and Jesus’ self-revelation to the first disciples. This section constitutes the introduction to the gospel proper and is connected with the prose inserts in the prologue. It develops the major theme of testimony in four scenes: John’s negative testimony about himself; his positive testimony about Jesus; the revelation of Jesus to Andrew and Peter; the revelation of Jesus to Philip and Nathanael.

* [1:19] The Jews: throughout most of the gospel, the “Jews” does not refer to the Jewish people as such but to the hostile authorities, both Pharisees and Sadducees, particularly in Jerusalem, who refuse to believe in Jesus. The usage reflects the atmosphere, at the end of the first century, of polemics between church and synagogue, or possibly it refers to Jews as representative of a hostile world (Jn 1:10–11).

* [1:20] Messiah: the anointed agent of Yahweh, usually considered to be of Davidic descent. See further the note on Jn 1:41.

* [1:21] Elijah: the Baptist did not claim to be Elijah returned to earth (cf. Mal 3:19; Mt 11:14). The Prophet: probably the prophet like Moses (Dt 18:15; cf. Acts 3:22).

* [1:23] This is a repunctuation and reinterpretation (as in the synoptic gospels and Septuagint) of the Hebrew text of Is 40:3 which reads, “A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord.”

* [1:24] Some Pharisees: other translations, such as “Now they had been sent from the Pharisees,” misunderstand the grammatical construction. This is a different group from that in Jn 1:19; the priests and Levites would have been Sadducees, not Pharisees.

* [1:26] I baptize with water: the synoptics add “but he will baptize you with the holy Spirit” (Mk 1:8) or “…holy Spirit and fire” (Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16). John’s emphasis is on purification and preparation for a better baptism.

* [1:28] Bethany across the Jordan: site unknown. Another reading is “Bethabara.”

* [1:29] The Lamb of God: the background for this title may be the victorious apocalyptic lamb who would destroy evil in the world (Rev 5–7; 17:14); the paschal lamb, whose blood saved Israel (Ex 12); and/or the suffering servant led like a lamb to the slaughter as a sin-offering (Is 53:7, 10).

* [1:30] He existed before me: possibly as Elijah (to come, Jn 1:27); for the evangelist and his audience, Jesus’ preexistence would be implied (see note on Jn 1:1).

* [1:31] I did not know him: this gospel shows no knowledge of the tradition (Lk 1) about the kinship of Jesus and John the Baptist. The reason why I came baptizing with water: in this gospel, John’s baptism is not connected with forgiveness of sins; its purpose is revelatory, that Jesus may be made known to Israel.

* [1:32] Like a dove: a symbol of the new creation (Gn 8:8) or the community of Israel (Hos 11:11). Remain: the first use of a favorite verb in John, emphasizing the permanency of the relationship between Father and Son (as here) and between the Son and the Christian. Jesus is the permanent bearer of the Spirit.

* [1:34] The Son of God: this reading is supported by good Greek manuscripts, including the Chester Beatty and Bodmer Papyri and the Vatican Codex, but is suspect because it harmonizes this passage with the synoptic version: “This is my beloved Son” (Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22). The poorly attested alternate reading, “God’s chosen One,” is probably a reference to the Servant of Yahweh (Is 42:1).

* [1:36] John the Baptist’s testimony makes his disciples’ following of Jesus plausible.

* [1:37] The two disciples: Andrew (Jn 1:40) and, traditionally, John, son of Zebedee (see note on Jn 13:23).

* [1:39] Four in the afternoon: literally, the tenth hour, from sunrise, in the Roman calculation of time. Some suggest that the next day, beginning at sunset, was the sabbath; they would have stayed with Jesus to avoid travel on it.

* [1:41] Messiah: the Hebrew word māśiâh, “anointed one” (see note on Lk 2:11), appears in Greek as the transliterated messias only here and in Jn 4:25. Elsewhere the Greek translation christos is used.

* [1:42] Simon, the son of John: in Mt 16:17, Simon is called Bariona, “son of Jonah,” a different tradition for the name of Simon’s father. Cephas: in Aramaic = the Rock; cf. Mt 16:18. Neither the Greek equivalent Petros nor, with one isolated exception, Cephas is attested as a personal name before Christian times.

* [1:43] He: grammatically, could be Peter, but logically is probably Jesus.

* [1:47] A true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him: Jacob was the first to bear the name “Israel” (Gn 32:29), but Jacob was a man of duplicity (Gn 27:35–36).

* [1:48] Under the fig tree: a symbol of messianic peace (cf. Mi 4:4; Zec 3:10).

* [1:49] Son of God: this title is used in the Old Testament, among other ways, as a title of adoption for the Davidic king (2 Sm 7:14; Ps 2:7; 89:27), and thus here, with King of Israel, in a messianic sense. For the evangelist, Son of God also points to Jesus’ divinity (cf. Jn 20:28).

* [1:50] Possibly a statement: “You [singular] believe because I saw you under the fig tree.”

* [1:51] The double “Amen” is characteristic of John. You is plural in Greek. The allusion is to Jacob’s ladder (Gn 28:12).

a. [1:1] 10:30; Gn 1:1–5; Jb 28:12–27; Prv 8:22–25; Wis 9:1–2; 1 Jn 1:1–2; Col 1:1, 15; Rev 3:14; 19:13.

b. [1:3] Ps 33:9; Wis 9:1; Sir 42:15; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2; Rev 3:14.

c. [1:4] 5:26; 8:12; 1 Jn 1:2.

d. [1:5] 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35, 46; Wis 7:29–30; 1 Thes 5:4; 1 Jn 2:8.

e. [1:6] Mt 3:1; Mk 1:4; Lk 3:2–3.

f. [1:7] 1:19–34; 5:33.

g. [1:8] 5:35.

h. [1:9] 3:19; 8:12; 9:39; 12:46.

i. [1:12] 3:11–12; 5:43–44; 12:46–50; Gal 3:26; 4:6–7; Eph 1:5; 1 Jn 3:2.

j. [1:13] 3:5–6.

k. [1:14] Ex 16:10; 24:17; 25:8–9; 33:22; 34:6; Sir 24:4, 8; Is 60:1; Ez 43:7; Jl 4:17; Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 1:2; 4:2; 2 Jn 7.

l. [1:15] 1:30; 3:27–30.

m. [1:17] 7:19; Ex 31:18; 34:28.

n. [1:18] 5:37; 6:46; Ex 33:20; Jgs 13:21–22; 1 Tm 6:16; 1 Jn 4:12.

o. [1:20] 3:28; Lk 3:15; Acts 13:25.

p. [1:21] Dt 18:15, 18; 2 Kgs 2:11; Sir 48:10; Mal 3:1, 23; Mt 11:14; 17:11–13; Mk 9:13; Acts 3:22.

q. [1:23] Is 40:3; Mt 3:3; Mk 1:2; Lk 3:4.

r. [1:25] Ez 36:25; Zec 13:1; Mt 16:14.

s. [1:26] Mt 3:11; Mk 1:7–8; Lk 3:16; Acts 13:25.

t. [1:29] 1:36; Ex 12; Is 53:7; Rev 5–7; 17:14.

u. [1:30] 1:15; Mt 3:11; Mk 1:7; Lk 3:16.

v. [1:33] Sg 5:2; Is 11:2; Hos 11:11; Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:21–22.

w. [1:33] Is 42:1; Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16.

x. [1:34] Is 42:1; Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 9:35.

y. [1:35–51] Mt 4:18–22; Mk 1:16–20; Lk 5:1–11.

z. [1:41] 4:25.

a. [1:42] Mt 16:18; Mk 3:16.

b. [1:45] 21:2.

c. [1:48] Mi 4:4; Zec 3:10.

d. [1:49] 12:13; Ex 4:22; Dt 14:1; 2 Sm 7:14; Jb 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Ps 2:7; 29:1; 89:27; Wis 2:18; Sir 4:10; Dn 3:92; Hos 11:1; Mt 14:33; 16:16; Mk 13:32.

e. [1:51] Gn 28:10–17; Dn 7:13.


The Gospel of John endeavors to explain the mystery of the Person of Christ by the use of the term “logos” (word) and was written to confirm Christians in the belief that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Its purpose is evangelical and is so stated in John 20:31. John not only records events as do the other Gospels but also uniquely interprets the events by giving them spiritual meaning. The author makes significant use of such words as light, water, life, love, and bread. Traditionally the author of this Gospel is considered to have been John, the Beloved Disciple.

Introducing The Bible

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The term “Bible” was not used to designate the Holy scriptures until the time of the early Church Fathers about A.D 400. These Latin scholars borrowed the word from the plural Greek word, biblia, meaning “rolls” or “scrolls.” In the singular, the word biblion, or biblos, referred to the papyrus plant from which the principal writing material used by the Greeks was made. When some 20 or more papyrus sheets were glued together, producing a scroll about 25 to 35 feet in length, this too was called a biblion, often translated as “book” (see Rev. 22:18,19). In Luke 4:17,20 the roll (biblion) of Isaiah is mentioned, and John’s Gospel is referred to as a biblion in John20:30. In II Timothy 4:13 the word biblia appears and probably  refers to a group of papyrus rolls. Thus the term “bible” comes technically to mean “Book of Books,” or an especially important (or authoritative) collection of books.

During the 1,200 or more years when its materials were being written, the bible did not circulate as a single book. It was not until the 4th century A.D. that all of its units were copied together in a single “codex” or volume. Although no term that appears in the Bible itself refers to that volume as it is known today, several terms are used in the scriptures to designate various portions of the modern Bible. “The Law” (Josh. 8:34; Neh. 3:2; Luke 10:26); “the book of the law” (Josh. 8:34); “the law of the Lord” (Luke 2:23); “the law of Moses” (Josh. 8:31-32; Neh. 8:1; Luke.24:44); “the scriptures” (Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:24; John 5:39); “the holy scriptures” (Rom. 1:2); “the book of the covenant” (Ex. 24:7) are among the terms used for various portions of the Bible.

The Language Of The Bible

psalms in Aramaic

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The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, a Semitic language adapted from the ancient Canaanites and Phoenicians, as recent discoveries at Ras Shamra on the coast of Syria have made abundantly clear. There are also certain affinities with the other Semitic languages of ancient Syria, Assyria, Babylonia, and Arabia. During the long period of its growth, the Old Testament reflected a number of developments and semantic changes of its language, as scholars have come to understand. In addition, dialect differences between the north and south of Palestine have noted.

A few portions of certain books of the Old Testament and some words and phrases of the New Testament are recorded in the Aramaic language. The ancient Aramaeans inhabited particularly the region of Syria, but their language with its simplified script, was gradually adopted in everyday life all across the Near East. By the 5th century B.C. it was the lingua franca of the ancient world and therefore used by the Jews. In fact, when the Law was read in the synagogues by the time of Ezra, it was necessary to translate it into Aramaic so that the people might understand (Neh. 8:7-8). The following portions of the Old Testament were composed in Aramaic: Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Jeremiah 10:11; Daniel 2:4-7:28.

Because Aramaic was the language Jesus spoke, traces of Aramaic remain in the New Testament: Talitha Kumi, “maiden, arise” (Mark 5:41) and Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34), Paul uses “Abba, father” (Rom. 8:15), and Maranatha, “Our Lord cometh” (I Cor. 16:22). Although the point has been much debated, it is almost certain that all the New Testament books were written in Greek. Essentially the thought life of the Mediterranean world was Graeco-Oriental by the 1st century A.D., which saw the writing of the New Testament.

Rome ruled the world; yet Paul wrote to Rome in Greek, not Latin. The Greek used in the New Testament, however, was the everyday language, called koine’, which means “common.” It had descended from the language used by Alexander the Great and his armies at the time of their conquests more than two centuries earlier. It might be called “post-classic” Greek. New Testament Greek is not uniform throughout, for it varies from the semi-literary style of Luke, which approximates the classical, to the nonliterary style of the Gospel of Mark and Revelation.