John 1:1-5

John 1:1-5
Narrative Lectionary

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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.

Image credit: “Hands Around the World” – a tapestry made by more than 500 post primary students in Canada in 2012.

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