John 1:1-18

John 1:1-18
Christmastide C6

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1 In the beginningA was the Word,B and the Word was with God,C and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into beingD through him, and withoutE him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life,F and the life was the lightG of all people.H 5 The light shinesI in the darkness,J and the darkness did not overcomeK it.

Notes on verses 1-5

A “In the beginning” = en + arche. These are the same first two words that begin the first verse of the book of Genesis in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Bible from mid-3rd century BCE).
B “Word” = logos. From lego (to speak, tell, mention). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ.
C “God” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
D “came into being” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another; this is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth
E “without” = choris. Probably from chora (an open or detached space). This is separately or separate from, without. Figuratively, this is detached.
F “life” = zoe. From zao (to live, be alive). This is life including the vitality of humans, plants, and animals – it is life physical and spiritual and life everlasting.
G “light” = phos. From phao (to shine or make visible, especially with rays of light); from the same as phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is light, a source of light, fire, or radiance. This is light with specific reference to what it reveals. It is luminousness whether natural or artificial, abstract or concrete, literal or figurative.
H “people” = anthropos. Literally says “light of the people” and not “all people.” This is human or humankind – people of all genders.
I “shines” = phaino. Related to “light” in v4. See note G.
J “darkness” = skotia. 16x in NT – 14x figurative & 2x literal. From skotos (darkeness, whether physical or moral – so, sin and the aftermath of sin; shadiness, obscurity); from the base of skia (shadow, shade, outline, darkness; properly, the shadow of a looming presence; figurative for a spiritual reality good or bad).This is darkness or dimness. Also has the figurative meanings of spiritual darkness as in its antecedents. 
K “overcome” = katalambano. 15x in NT – 4x of realizing or understanding, 3x of overcoming or overtaking, 3x of making something one’s own, 2x of attaining or winning a prize, 2x of catching a woman in adultery, and 1x of demon seizing boy. From kata (down, against, among; down from a higher to a lower place, focusing on the destination) + lambano (to take or receive actively). This is to seize, arrest, catch, overtake, perceive, or comprehend. This is grabbing something with initiative and self-interest. Can include taking hold of in a forceful way. Used figuratively for understanding.

6 There was a man sentL from God, whose nameM was John.N 7 He came as a witnessO to testifyP to the light, so that all might believeQ through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The trueR light, which enlightensS everyone, was coming into the world.T

Notes on verses 6-9

L “sent” = apostello. From apo (from, away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up) {probably from histemi (to make to stand, stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand firm, be steadfast.} This is to send forth, send away, dismiss, send as a messenger. It implies one that is sent for a particular mission or purpose rather than a quick errand. This is where “apostle” comes from.
M “name” = onoma. May be from ginosko (know, recognize, learn from firsthand experience). This is a name, authority, cause, character, fame, reputation. The name was thought to include something of the essence of the person so it was not thought to be separate from the person.
N “John” = ioannes. From Hebrew yochanan (Johanan); from Yehochanan (“the Lord has been gracious”); from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel); from havah (to become); from hayah (to be, exist, happen) + chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is John.
O “witness” = marturia. From martureo (to bear witness, testify, give evidence; to testify in a literal or figurative sense); from martus (a witness whether having heard or seen something; witness literally, judicially, or figuratively; by analogy, a martyr). This is testimony, witness, evidence, record, reputation.
P “testify” = martureo. Related to “witness” in v7. From martus (see note O).
Q “believe” = pisteuo. From pistis (faith, faithfulness, belief, trust, confidence; to be persuaded or come to trust); from peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is to believe, entrust, have faith it, affirm, have confidence in. This is less to do with a series of beliefs or doctrines that one believes and more to do with faithfulness, loyalty, and fidelity. It is trusting and then acting based on that trust.
R “true” = alethinos. From alethes (true, unconcealed; true because it is in concert with fact and reality – attested. Literally, what cannot be hidden; truth stands up to test and scrutiny and is undeniable, authentic); from a (not) + lanthano (concealed, hidden, unnoticed; to shut one’s eyes to, unwittingly, unawares). This is literally made of truth – that which is true or real, authentic. Something that is true from its source and has integrity.
S “enlightens” = photizo. Related to “light” in v4. 11x in NT. From phos (see note G above). This is to shine, give light, illumine, reveal. To shine or brighten up literally or figuratively.
T “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is were “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own,U and his own people did not acceptV him. 12 But to all who receivedW him, who believed in his name, he gave powerX to become childrenY of God, 13 who were born,Z not of blood or of the will of the fleshAA or of the will of man,BB but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and livedCC among us, and we have seenDD his glory,EE the glory as of a father’s onlyFF son, fullGG of graceHH and truth.II

Notes on verses 10-14

U “own” = idios. This is something that belongs to you or that is personal, private, apart. It indicates a stronger sense of possession than a simple possessive pronoun. This is where “idiot” comes from (denoting someone who hasn’t had formal training or education and so they rely on their own understanding).
V “accept” = paralambano. Related to “overcome” in v5. From para (by, beside, in the presence of) + lambano (see note K). This is to take or receive, admit, acknowledge. This is taking with personal initiative or associating oneself with someone or something. This word can be used to mean assuming an office and figuratively for learning.
W “received” = lambano. Related to “overcome” in v5 & “accept” in v11. (see note K). This is active, but not generally violent, taking or receiving.
X “power” = exousia. From exesti (to be permitted or lawful); {from ek (out, out of) + eimi (to be, exist)}. This is power to act or weight. It especially denotes moral authority or influence. It can mean domain, liberty, freedom, capacity, mastery, right, force, or strength.
Y “children” = teknon. From tikto (to beget, bring forth, produce, yield). This is a child, descendant, or inhabitant. The primary association with children in Jesus’s day was not of those who are innocent, but those who are fully dependent on others.
Z “born” = gennao. Related to “came into being” in v3. From genna (descent, birth); from genos (family, offspring, kind, kin, race); from ginomai (see note D above). This is to beget, bring forth, give birth to. Properly, it refers to a father begetting, but is used by extension for the mother.
AA “flesh” = sarx. May be from saroo (to sweep, cleanse by sweeping); from sairo (to brush off). This is flesh, the body, human nature, materiality, kindred. Flesh is not always evil in scripture (as when it refer to Jesus taking on a human body). However, it is generally used in a negative way for actions made selfishly and not through faith. This can mean animal flesh, i.e. meat, or refer to body in contrast to soul/spirit. Flesh can be a way of talking about how things or people are related or talking about human frailty (physical or moral).
BB “man” = andros. This is male or husband.
CC “lived” = skenoo. 5x in NT. From skenos (tent, tabernacle; used figuratively for the body as the home of the spirit; this is generally a hut or temporary home); from skene (a tent, booth, tabernacle, dwelling – in a literal or figurative sense). This is to encamp, dwell, have or pitch a tent.
DD “seen” = theaomai. From thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance). This behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit. This root is where the word “theatre” comes from.
EE “glory” = doxa. From dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is literally something that evokes a good opinion – something that connects to our understanding of intrinsic worth. The ultimate expression of this is, of course, God and God’s manifestation. So, this is opinion, honor, and dignity, but also praise, glory, renown, and worship.
FF “only” = monogenes. Related to “came into being” in v3 & “born” in v13. 9x in NT – 5x of parents referring to their only children and 4x of Jesus as the only son. From monos (alone, only, solitary, desolate) [probably from meno (to stay, remain, wait, continue, endure)] + genos (see note Z). This is only begotten, unique, sole. Properly, this is one and only, one of a kind or the only one of its kind.
GG “full” = pleres. 16x in NT – 8x for full or Spirit or faith, 5x for physically full or complete, 2x for full of badness; and 1x for a leper  covered in sores. From pletho (fill, fulfill, supply, accomplish, complete; this is to fill to the limit – to individual capacity). This word is full, complete, abounding in, replete.
HH “grace” = charis. This is grace, kindness, favor, gratitude, thanks. It is the sense of being inclined to or favorable towards – leaning towards someone to share some good or benefit. This can be literal, figurative, or spiritual. It is grace as abstract concept, manner, or action.
II “truth” = aletheia. Related to “true” in v9. From alethes (see note R above). This is truth, but not simply truth in contrast to a lie. It is truth as encompassing reality, moral truth, straightforwardness. Literally, what cannot be hidden – that which is entirely real, authentic.

15 (John testified to him and cried out,JJ “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16 From his fullnessKK we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The lawLL indeed was given through Moses;MM grace and truth came through JesusNN Christ.OO 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart,PP who has made him known.QQ

Notes on verses 15-18

JJ “cried out” = krazo. This is to scream, cry aloud, shriek, or croak. It is an onomatopoeia – meant to sound like a raven’s caw. Figuratively used to describe a loud, urgent scream – an inarticulate sound that comes from deep emotion.
KK “fullness” = pleroma. 18x in NT. From pleroo (to fill, fulfill, complete; fill to individual capacity); from pleres (to be full, complete, abounding in). This is fullness or superabundance.
LL “law” = nomos. From nemo (to allot, parcel out, apportion). This is law, custom, principle whether from God or humanity; can refer to the Torah or the Old Testament as a whole; this is law in the sense that it is that which is prescribed for one to do.
MM “Moses” = mouses. From Hebrew Mosheh (Moses); from mashah (to draw out). Used of Moses and also form the first five books of the Bible.
NN “Jesus” = iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be) + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
OO “Christ” = christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.
PP “heart” = kolpos. 6x in NT. This is the bosom, fold of a garment used like a pocket. Can also be a bay or gulf. This is the upper portion of the chest. Invoking the bosom calls to mind intimacy and union.
QQ “made…known” = exegeomai. 6x in NT. From ex (from, from out of, out from among) + hegeomai (to lead, think, be of opinion; to go before like a chief; to be first in priority like the primary thought; to esteem highly or be a leading authority; commanding in an official capacity) [from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, drive)]. This is to show the way, lead, explain, relate. Figuratively, to unfold, narrate, or declare. It is to explain so as to clarify that which is the most important. This is where the English “exegesis” comes from.

Image credit: “Awake my Soul” by Mike Moyers, American, 2011.

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