The first 18 verses of this Gospel are referred to as a prologue. Basically, it is John’s outline of what he will be writing about, yetis is not a strict outline. Rather, it provides the topics about which he will write. Some believe that the prologue was written after the body of the Gospel, but there is no way to substantiate that. Whether he did or not does not affect what he writes in the prologue or in the body.
I. John 1:1,2 Here we have the declaration that there was a Word that existed already in the very beginning: this Word both existed with and as God. John writes this in a rather peculiar manner, referring to “the Word” rather than giving the name of Jesus Christ.
Question: Why might John use this vocabulary to emphasize what he wants to teach? (See verse 14)
The “beginning” that John refers to is everything prior to Creation. It is not the beginning of time, the creation of celestial beings (angels), the universe, the world, people, the nation of Israel, the Church… John is teaching here that God existed eternally, before any created thing.
As you read through the Gospel of John, take note of the many ways which John presents Jesus Christ as the Eternal God, the Creator.
II. John 1:3-5 Now John refers to the activity of the Word in creation.
A. Everything visible and invisible was created by the Word, Who existed before all things. In fact, ant thing – person, non person… was unable to exist at all apart from the Word.
In verse 3, the word for “made” implies a time of creation, which implies a time prior of non-existence. The Word, however, already existed before the beginning. In fact, the beginning itself is a created thing, which we know as “time”. The Word is before time. This is what John is emphasizing, and what he will emphasize throughout his writings.
Remember, context and plain meaning are integral parts of study and interpretation. It is possible to assign a different meaning to “the beginning”, but the context wold not support any other one.
B. Life is part of His creation, which comes from, or “out of” Him. Without Him there is no possibility of life, physical or spiritual. He is the source of Life, He is Life. Physical life is temporary, eternal life is not. The Word, Jesus Christ, is the source of both.
Further, Life is the Light often, or the source of light to human beings. In many other Scriptures, Life and Light are spoken of as eternal in nature, that is, Eternal Life and Spiritual Light which is righteousness. Darkness is the opposite, or opponent of, Light. Implied here is that mankind needs light and life, the eternal kind that only God Himself can provide.
C. This Light shines, or “blazes” out into the darkness. The darkness cannot comprehend it. This is a special word utilized by John. The word is “katalambanoe” which has more than one meaning. It seems that John is using a double meaning by this word, meaning both to “obtain or posses” and “comprehend or understand”. The main idea is that darkness, which is spiritual, can neither control nor understand the Light. Darkness cannot impose its will on Light: it cannot command Light or overcome Light. Darkness by ins every nature is without any Light. On the other hand, Light by its very nature has no darkness.
Question: Why does John use the opposing forces and natures of darkness and Light? How does this help to emphasize his teaching about Jesus Christ?
Darkness prevails over the world, but now Light has come to dispel the darkness. Here is the essence of the Gospel message:
1. Mankind is in spiritual darkness, born with a sin nature and in spiritual death, death and sin are his nature, Ephesians 2:1,2; Colossians 1:21; 2:13.
2. Nothing a man can do will remedy this, for darkness and death cannot change into Light and Life of themselves. Only the source of Life and Light can accomplish that, the Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 2:5,8,9; Colossians 1:13,14. Jesus Christ came into the world of darkness and death to make a way for Light and Life to prevail for mankind.
3. Thereupon no man could accomplish this is that death cannot bring life, darkness cannot bring light. Therefore, no good deed, regardless of its merit to mankind, is enough to bring Life and Light, because they are done from a nature of death and darkness, Isaiah 64:6; Colossians 1:21.
4. The Lord Jesus Christ came to this world and perfectly fulfilled God’s Laws, never sinned, because He is the source of Life snd Light. When He was crucified and shed His blood on the Cross, He made full payment for the sins of all mankind. 2 Corinthians 5:21. Again, only One without sin could pay for sin. While on the Cross He became a curse in man’s place, became death and darkness for mankind, Galatians 3:13. He shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins, Colossians 1:14.
5. Yet, He arose three days alter to expose death and darkness, triumphing over them, Acts 4:10-12.
6. As the One Who has paid the full price, He offers Life and Light to all men. When a person believes this and fully puts their hope in Jesus Christ, He freely gives them Life for death, Light for darkness,John 3:16; 5:24; Acts 2:21; Ephesians 2:8,9.
III. John 1:6-8 John now turns to the introduction of a special messenger, “John the Baptist”. This man was sent by God to be a herald, to provide a clear testimony from the Old Testament about the One who brought Life and Light, the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke 1 and Malachi 3 give more information concerning John the Baptist.
Question: According to verse 7, what is the main purpose of John’s witness?
Note that the word for “witness” is “marturion” in the Greek from which the modern word “martyr” is derived.
Question: What does the modern use of this word indicate about being a witness?
“All” is an important word here as well. John was a witness to “all” mankind, not only a chosen few. Not everyone will believe, but the witness is for all. “Believe” is a word used quite often by the apostle in his writings. It means “to be persuaded”, to simply to agree with some information, but in a type of commitment. Persuasion is much deeper than recognizing facts.
It can be noted here that the words about John being a witness have a judicial bent to them. In other words, John was providing evidence that is factual, not merely circumstantial or experiential. This is the kind of evidence that might be used in a court of law when attempting to ascertain truth. John gave this evidence from the Old Testament, showing the plan about the promised Messiah.
This is important because it indicates that we also must use God’s Word to give witness, for it is “the sword of the Spirit”, Ephesians 6:17.