The prologue, 1:1-18

i] The Word was made flesh


Unlike the other evangelists, John begins his gospel by giving Jesus an eternal origin. The Word who becomes flesh and lives amongst us comes from before the beginning. In v1-5 John gives us a cosmological view of Jesus. Jesus is God's creative Word who is the light and life of humanity. Although surrounded by darkness, his light shines eternally. In v6-8 John records the witness of John the Baptist. Then in v9-13 John goes on to describe the entry of God's creative Word into human time and space. Most people reject the Word, but some believe and become children of God.


The light shines in the darkness

and the darkness did not overcome it


i] Context: The gospel as a whole expands on the themes raised in the prologue, particularly the fact that Christ is the light / life of humanity and that the darkness has not overcome him. The argument presents as follows:

The prologue, 1:18. The thesis for the book as a whole.

The testimonies to Christ, 1:19-2:12. Witnesses to the person of Jesus.

Argument Proper - Part I: The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50. Each event / sign, with its related discourses, presents the good news of salvation / eternal life through faith in Christ. Rather than Dodd's 7 signs, these notes tend to follow Lindars' arrangement and end up with 8 signs / events + discourses. Each presents Jesus as the life / light of humanity, calling for a response of faith in the terms of 3:16.

Argument Proper - Part II: The book of glory, 13:1-20:31:

The upper room discourse, 13:1-17:26. This section concerns living by faith, which faith, in the power of the indwelling compelling of Christ, prompts brotherly love.

The glorification of Christ, 18:1-20:31. This section explains how faith rests on the faithfulness of Christ.

Postscript, 21:1-25.


The prologue introduces the main themes found in the rest of the gospel: the Word / Jesus, the divine pre-existent Son, from God, of God, the source of life / grace / truth, is rejected by the darkness / the world / his own, yet not overcome by them. Most of the key words found in this gospel are introduced in the prologue: life, light, truth .... The prologue traces the divine Word from eternity to human history, v1-5, his introduction by the Baptist, v6-8, his revelation as the true light, rejected by most, accepted by some who by receiving him become children of God, v9-13, his in-fleshing to reveal God's grace and truth, v14, confirmed by the testimony of the Baptist, v15, and Moses, v16-18.


ii] Background: Questions over authorship and form abound. The prologue may well come from the hand of an editor, drawing together the Johannine gospel tradition, and the form may be poetic, reflecting Aramaic parallelism, yet these matters are highly speculative.


iii] Structure: The Word was made flesh:

The Word's involvement with creation, v1-5;

The Word predates history, v1-2;

The Word is the agent of creation, v3;

The Word is the source of all life, v4-5;

The Baptist's witness about the coming light, v6-8;

The Word incarnate, v9-14;

The Baptist's testimony to the Word, v15;

Christ the final witness, v16-18.


iv] Interpretation:

The prologue establishes the thesis, partitio, of this gospel:


The light shines in the darkness

and the darkness did not overcome it


"The prologue summarizes how the Word which was with God in the very beginning came into the sphere of time, history, tangibility - in other words, how the Son of God was sent into the world to become the Jesus of history, so that the glory and grace of God might be uniquely and perfectly disclosed. The rest of the book is nothing other than an expansion of this theme", Carson.


The prologue presents in four parts, v1-5, 6-8, 9-13, 14/15-18; the first three parts are as follows:

John begins by introducing us to oJ logoV, "The Word", a mystery hidden but now revealed, a mystery personified in Christ. In the Old Testament, God's eternal revelation is found in the Law and the Prophets, and in the wisdom literature this body of truth, this knowledge of God, is personified in Wisdom. For John, this eternal law / wisdom is Word, a word now personified in Jesus. For a Greek thinker the Logos is the rational principle permeating all reality, but it is unclear whether John is reflecting this idea. At any rate, the Logos is the ruling fact / word of the universe, a fact / word that is the self-expression of God in the person of Jesus.

So, in v1-2 John makes the point that before anything existed, the Word existed, existed with God. He also makes the point that the Word is personal, in that he dwells with God, and that he is of the very nature of God, the self expression of God.

Moving from the eternal realm to the realm of human existence, John tells us that the Word acted as the divine agent of creation, v3. Of course, how darkness / evil gets tangled up in God's good creation remains a mystery. The evidence of the problem was easy enough to see, and thankfully there was a solution. Into the darkness the Word radiated a transforming revelation which enlivened those who took the time to hear, v4. Their enlivening was possible because the divine Word, proclaimed by the prophets of old, could not be quenched by the darkness that had taken hold of God's good world, v5.

In the second part of the prologue John (our author-editor) tells us that the age of the prophets comes to an end with the appearance of the Baptist (John the Baptist), v6-8. He is not himself the "light", he is not the Word, but serves to bear witness to the Word, testifying to the appearance of the Word even now incarnate in the world. The Baptist's testimony has but one purpose, that "all might believe."

In the third part of the prologue John introduces us to the incarnate Word himself, v9-13/14. Even as the Baptist was testifying to the manifestation of the final revelation of God to mankind, the light that enlivens was already appearing in the world, v9. Yet, as the Word, now made flesh, appeared in a world of his own making, in the midst of his own people, his own kind, the world did not know him, they did not welcome him, v10-11. Some, though, did welcome him, they believed in him, they decided to personally trust him for their eternal salvation, and as a result, they received the privilege of membership in God's own family, v12. They became recipients of a spiritual rebirth; not so much a life-changing experience, but rather a divine rebirth from above, v13.

So it was that the Word became flesh and took his place in a troubled and broken world, v14. John, and his fellow apostles, were alive to see the Word now made flesh, and what they saw was the Shekinah glory of God, the radiating presence of the divine, the Son of God, Messiah, the one full of divine kindness and eternal reality.


The parataxis found in v10-11: These verses evidence poetic parallelism where the idea expressed in v10 is repeated in v11. Note also how John picks up on the concluding thought of v9 ("coming into the world") to introduce the thought in v10 and 11. The parataxis in v10 involves the side-by-side placement of three separate clauses which are integrally linked in content, but not by syntax. The sentence may better be expressed by using a main clause and two subordinate clauses: "he was in the world, but the world, although it owed its existence to him, failed nevertheless to recognize him", Bruce. John's point is that humanity is in darkness and so does not recognize the light / the Word / Jesus.


What is meant by receiving / accepting Christ?, eg., v12 As is common in John, to accept/receive Jesus is the same as to believe in Jesus, to become a believing one - sometimes with the words "believe in his name." To accept / receive / believe in Jesus results in life, sonship. The main question is what is involved in accepting? Barrett says "to accept him in obedience and faith as the envoy of the Father." Yet, for John, obedience, in the sense of duty to God, is honed down to believing in his Son. Believing involves a personal acceptance, or reception, of Jesus on the basis of the received revelation of whom Jesus is and what he promises. This revelation (the truth concerning Jesus) will vary in depth from person to person, with the only consequence being, more is expected of those who have. This is why "his own" stand condemned. A similar sense applies to the word "to know, recognize." To know Jesus is to believe in Jesus, cf., v10, "to not know" is "to not believe."


Is John speaking of water baptism and/or the virgin birth in v13? Some commentators are of the view that John is contrasting natural birth with the spiritual birth that is associated with Christian baptism, cf., Richardson. Yet, this is very unlikely. It is also argued that John may be alluding to the virgin birth here (see "were born" below). Certainly the early church fathers argued this case, eg., Irenaeus, Tertullian. Again, this is very unlikely, but see Lindars p.92 for a discussion on the issue. John is addressing the issue of spiritual birth, as against natural birth. Membership of God's family is a spiritual reality made possible by God himself and results in new/eternal life. Those who welcome the Word/Jesus receive this birthright and all the privileges and blessings that come with it.


In 1:14 what does John mean when he says that Jesus, "the Word", is "full of grace and truth"? The phrase "grace and truth" is a descriptive of the Word - he is kind and true. John only uses the word "grace" in the prologue, but the word "truth" is used some 25 times throughout the gospel and thus, truth may be the dominant idea in this passage, in the sense that the incarnate Word is the revelation of truth to mankind. Brown argues that the phrase is rooted in Old Testament covenantal language, "the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in hesed and emet" (covenant mercy/kindness/love and dependability/faithfulness - translated in the LXX by the words mercy and truth), Ex.34:6. The Word exhibits the divine quality of "enduring love." Beasley-Murray takes a similar line translating the phrase as "gracious constancy." He notes the weight given to the word "truth" in John, describing it as "firmness, stability, and of persons, steadfastness or trustworthiness." C.H. Dodd is more to the point when he argues that truth is "eternal reality as revealed to men." Descriptives like "dependable / enduring grace / mercy / kindness" serve well to describe this divine truth, this revelation of the divine in Jesus, which revelation is a radiation of divine glory that transforms those who dare to gaze.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 1:1

The prologue, v1-13/14: i] The Word and creation, v1-5: a) The Word, the existence of which predates history, is in a personal relationship with God, and is God, v1-2. John seems to adopt the literary form of poetic parallelism here, with the first two verses consisting of the first two lines. In these lines John introduces us to the Word, and states that he existed before the creation of the world.

en + dat. "in [the beginning}" - [the word was] in [beginning, / first (existed)]. The preposition is probably temporal here, given that arch/ is anarthrous (without an article). Probably referring to the beginning of history, "when all things began", NEB, or possibly "before all things", ie., before the creation. Possibly a allusion to Gen.1:1. Although the aspect of the verb to-be h]n is unclear (there is no distinction between aorist and imperfect in the Gk. verb to-be) the sense is that the Word existed before the creation of the world; "The Word was (already existed) in the beginning (when the world was created)." Note that the presence of the article in oJ logoV indicates that "Word" is the subject of the sentence.

proV + acc. "with" - [and the word was] toward, to [god]. Here expressing association, "with". The Classic Gk. "in the presence of", doesn't work. The divine wisdom = the Word, stands with God, ie., is in a personal relationship with God, "a certain reciprocity of fellowship", Harris. Cassirer's "by the side of God" reflect the view that proV + acc. can stand in place of para + dat.

qeon (oV) "[the Word was] God" - [and the word is] god. Predicate nominative. Under Colwell's rule the anarthrous qeon could be viewed as a definite noun, "a God." Of course, the rule doesn't mean it is necessarily definite. In any case, the use of an article would imply that divinity belongs to Christ alone, rather than also belonging to the Father and the Spirit, cf., 20:28. The sense is that the Word shares the attributes of God, ie., the noun "God" here is qualitative, cf., Wallace 269; "and what God was the Word was", NEB.


Following poetic form, John repeats the ideas expressed in v1.

ou|toV pro. "he" - this one [was in beginning with god]. Nominative subject. Referring back to the oJ logoV, "the word". John favors demonstrative pronouns which we usually translate as a personal pronoun, as here. As usual, the object in a prepositional phrase is anarthrous (without an article), but is translated as if the article is present; "in the beginning."


b) The Word is the agent of creation, v3. Jesus, as the Word, created all that we know and experience. There is nothing in our time and space that is not from his hands. Again poetic parallelism is evident with both lines contained in this verse.

di (dia) + gen. "through" - [all things] through, by means of [him]. With the genitive, as here, the preposition is instrumental, expressing agency; "by means of." Both Law and Wisdom are viewed in Jewish tradition as instruments of creation. For John, the Word is the instrument of creation. "It was through the agency of the Word that everything else came into being", Barclay.

egeneto (ginomai) aor. "were made" - came to be, came into being. The aorist expresses completed action, "came into being." In typical form the verb is singular when used with a neuter plural subject - panta, "all things".

cwriV + gen. "without" - [and] without, not with, apart from, independent of [him]. Expressing seperation.

oude e{n "nothing [was made]" - [came to be] not one thing. "All creation took place through him and there was nothing without him."

o} pro. "that [has been made]" - that which [has come into being]. Note the punctuation issue here giving a reading which runs into v4, "That which has come to be was life in him", Zerwick, but Schnackenburg strongly argues for the more widely rendered punctuation, as NIV.


c) The Word is the source of life, v4-5. John now uses two powerful Old Testament images that serve to describe the divine eternal word: life and light. Just as God's revealed word in the law and the prophets was life and light to his people Israel, so Jesus is life and light. Jesus is life in that he possesses and dispenses divine life. This divine life radiates a divine light which is God's life-giving eternal truth / revelation. The purity of the divine light shines in the midst of cosmic evil ("darkness"), but no matter how hard the darkness tries, it cannot quench the light.

We may have here the beginning of a new verse, or an extension of v3b. Variant readings further confuse the issue.

All things were made through him,

and without him was not anything made.

That which has been made was life in him,

and the life was the light of men.

en + dat. "in [him]" - [life was] in [him]. Local, expressing incorporative union / relational, "in relationship with him / in union with him", such that the divine self-existent life resides in the Word, as it resides in the Father.

hJ zwh (h) "that life [was the light]" - Nominative subject of the verb to-be. The use of the article with zwh is anaphoric, referring back to the anarthrous (without an article) use of zwh in the clause "life was in him"; " and that life was the light of men" "Light, to fwV, serves as a predicate nominative. Both life and light are Old Testament images used to describe both wisdom and the Law. God's revelation is light and its enlightening enlivens. For John, Jesus is divine life, and that life radiates a pure and good divine truth which gives life. Both images are further developed by John in his gospel on occasions when lost humanity discovers God's saving grace in Christ. The Word enlightens, such that its enlivening provides authentic existence.

twn anqrwpwn (oV) "of men" - Ridderbos argues that the genitive is adjectival, objective, such that the life that was in the Word was meant for humanity; "the life was the light for men." Possibly attributed, where the head noun limits the genitive noun; the light is that which dispels sin and darkness in humanity and so consequently is life-giving / enlivens. "Men" in the sense of "the human race / human beings / humanity."


As in the creation when darkness was dispelled by light, so in the new age of the coming kingdom, spiritual darkness is dispelled by the life-giving radiant light that shines from the Word.

fainei (fainw) pres. "shines" - [and the light] appears, shines. Emphatic by position. The present tense is durative; "the light keeps on giving light", A.T. Robertson.

en + dat. "in" - Local, expressing space.

th/ skotia/ (a) "the darkness" - Nominative subject of the verb "to grasp." John uses the images of darkness and death as opposites of light and life. As light has an ethical quality of goodness producing life, so darkness has an ethical quality of evil producing death.

ou katelaben (katalambanw) aor. "has not understood" - [and the darkness] did not take, grasp = overcome / understand [it]. Emphatic by position. With the root meaning "seize" the word may mean "overcome in a hostile manner", or it may mean "understand, comprehend" = "take hold of with the mind". Barrett argues that it is possible to hold both meanings since John may well be playing with the word, so also Carson. Yet, the darkness at this point in the prologue is cosmological and therefore "overcome" is the better understanding of the word, so Bruce. "The darkness has never put it out", CEV.


ii] John the Baptist, the forerunner for the Word made flesh, v6-8. The Baptist's task is to bear witness, to give testimony, concerning the light of the world, in order that all might believe. Christ (the anointed one, Messiah) is that light, and this because he is the incarnate Word / revelation of God, a word that enlightens and enlivens. The Baptist bears witness that this light is coming into the world in the Christ who is even now in the midst of his people.

The lack of a connecting particle for what is an abrupt change in subject matter is somewhat strange, although the thematic linkage of "light" is strong, so Schnackenburg.

apestalmenoV (apostellw) perf. pas. part. "who was sent" - [a man came] having been sent. The participle may be treated as adjectival, attributive, as NIV, although it is best taken with the verb egeneto, "came", to form a periphrastic construction; "there was (appeared / came) a man from (sent from / appointed by) God. "The perfect tense here, as opposed to the imperfect and present in the first five verses, indicates a move into actual time - historical time. The word often carries the sense of "to entrust / commission", so this man is commissioned to undertake an important task for God. The Baptist is one crying in the wilderness (the synoptic gospels align him with Elijah, but not in this gospel), foretold by the prophets to prepare for the coming of the Messiah (although for the author of this gospel, the Baptist is someone more than a prophet). "God sent a man named John", CEV.

para + gen. "from [God]" - from, by [god]. An interesting choice of preposition here when we might expect apo + gen., expressing origin "from", or uJpo + gen. expressing agency, "by, through", even "under the authority of." McHugh suggests that para is chosen to express both ideas.

IwannhV "John" - [name to him was] john. Predicate nominative of an assumed verb to-be. The clause, "his name was John", stands without a verb and as such is typically Semitic. Our author simply calls him "John" rather than the Baptist, or John the Baptist. and this because he doesn't need to distinguish him from the other John, the disciple of Jesus, brother to James, and friend to Peter. Our author doesn't mention, by name, John the apostle. This fact gives some weight to the argument that the apostle John is the source, although not necessarily the final editor, of the gospel. Note that the dative pronoun autw/, "to him", is a dative of possession.


ou|toV pro. "he" - this one [came]. Nominative subject of the verb "to go, come." We would expect the personal pronoun autoV, "he", but John often uses a more emphatic demonstrative pronoun, "this one."

eiV + acc. "as [a witness]" - to/for [witness, testimony]. The preposition here expresses purpose; "in order to witness / for the purpose of witnessing." The word "witness, testimony" carries legal overtones, of bearing witness before a court, although often it just carries the sense "speak / tell", so "the purpose of his coming was to declare the truth", Barclay.

iJna + subj. "to [testify]" - that [he may testify]. Here adverbial, introducing a purpose clause; "in order to testify concerning the light."

peri + gen. "concerning" - about, concerning, with reference to. Expressing reference / respect; "to testify concerning ....." The same thought can be expressed by a dative of reference / respect, but John removes any ambiguity with the use of a preposition.

tou fwtoV (wV wtoV) "the light" - Predicate nominative. The light, or image of God, present in Christ. Light and life are extremely important images in this gospel. Some commentators argue that they come from a secular Greek source, but they are more likely Old Testament images. The Law is both life and light; it enlivens and enlightens because it is divine revelation. God's Word is now incarnate in Christ, the one who is both life and light. The world is in death and darkness, but Christ comes to bring life and light. In Christ's person and teaching, the light, or revelation of God, shines and gives life to those who are enlightened. To emphasize the divine light / revelation it may be capitalized in the same way we capitalize "Word"; "the Light", Weymouth.

iJna + subj. "that [.....might believe]" - that [... may believe]. Introducing a purpose clause, "in order that", expressing the purpose of the Baptist's testimony, namely that all might believe, although "believe" what? John doesn't tell us "what", although probably a belief / trust in the content of the testimony, the gospel - that all people might believe the divine message and by believing possess eternal life.

panteV adj. "all men" - all [may believe]. Obviously extending beyond the Baptist's generation, but probably limited to those who hear the testimony, so "all people who hear the message."

di (dia) + gen. "through [him]" - through, by means of [him]. Instrumental; expressing agency.


ekeinoV pro. "he himself" - that, that one. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. Again, as in v7, John uses the demonstrative pronoun as a more emphatic identifier; "that man", Cassirer.

all (alla) "-" - [was not the light] but. Strong adversative used in a counterpoint construction emphasizing the Baptist's role of testifying to the coming light, while not being the light himself., "not ..... but on the contrary ........"

iJna + subj. "he came only as [a witness to the light]" - he came that [he might testify]. The verb must be supplied. Here again introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that ......." The Baptist was not the light, but came in order to witness to the light; "John wasn't the light, he came only to tell about the light", CEV.

peri + gen. "to [the light]" - Expressing reference / respect, "concerning, about."


iii] The revelation of the true light, v9-14. Having spoken of the witness of the Baptist, John now compares the Baptist's witness with the witness of the light / the Word / Jesus. Jesus, the light of the world, unlike the Baptist, "gives light to every man", ie., "he is the savior and judge of the world", Fenton.

alhqinon adj. "the true [light]" - [the light] the real, genuine. This adjective serves as a nominative substantive standing in apposition to the nominative predicate "light". Barrett suggests "veracious". Not simply just "true" as opposed to false, but rather an "authentic" light that pales all others.

fwtizei (fotizw) pres. "[that] gives light to" - [which] enlightens [every man]. Standing as the main verb of the relative clause introduced by the relative pronoun o}, "which". Either "to shed light upon", "to bring to light", "to make visible", or "to illuminate inwardly", "to instruct", "to give knowledge", Barrett. "Shed light upon" is best.

panta adj. "every [man]" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to enlighten." Does Jesus enlighten "every man" or only those who believe? When the light is taken as a quality which brings meaning and purpose to a person's life, then obviously it is only to the few who "understand it." Yet, the light is ethical, it is pure truth, the wisdom of God, perfection.... and as such, it shines on all humanity without distinction. Yet at the same time, such shining is judgmental in that it separates - some come to the light, others flee from it.

hJn .... ercomenon (ercomai) pres. part. "was coming" - was coming. The present participle with the imperfect verb to-be forms a periphrastic imperfect construction. This assumes that the participle is neut. nom. in agreement with fwV, "light", as NIV. As such it refers to the coming of the Word into the world, the one who is light and life - probably serving as an allusion to the birth of Jesus. It is possible for the participle to be taken as masc. acc. standing in agreement with "man", ie., adjectival, attributive, limiting "man", "he was the true light which gives light to everyone who was coming into the world". This sense is unlikely.

ton kosmon (oV) "world" - [into] the world. For John, the world often equates with the domain of human activity, relational, organized and responsible, but here he may have a bigger picture in mind, namely, the "all things" of v3, the universe, the totality of God's creation. Still, if John is speaking of Jesus' special coming into the world, then obviously the world of human activity is the world he has in mind.


en + dat. "in [the world]" - [he was] in [the world]. Local, expressing space; "he came into the world", Phillips. For "world" see v9.

kai "and though" - and. Coordinative. The NIV has tried to overcome the parataxis caused by the concessive clause.

di (dia) + "[was made] through [him]" - [the world became = came to be] through [him]. Instrumental; expressing agency; "by means of ..."

ouk egnw (ginwskw) aor. "recognize" - [and the world] did not know, recognize [him]. Emphatic by position. In Greek thought, the word is commonly used of rational, cognitive understanding. John's use relies on the Old Testament understanding of the word which moves from a practical perception of people and things to include an inward bonding with those people and things. When used of Israel's knowledge of God it includes not just information about God, but of a bonding love and humble trust toward him. This is John's common use of the word and it is particularly evident in a relationship with God which expresses itself in an acceptance of Jesus. So, here we may say of Jesus' coming that "created humanity neither recognized him nor accepted him." "The whole world failed to recognize him", Phillips.


John here particularizes Jesus coming. His coming is not just to the world of human affairs, but to his own people, and even they reject him. Of course, there is nothing new in this, cf. Isa.65:2-3, Jer.7:25-26.

ta idia adj. "that which was his own" - [he came to] the = his own. John may mean that Jesus came to his own house, household, although Israel is probably to be preferred, "his own people"; "His own nation did not welcome him", CEV.

ou parelabon (paralambanw) aor. "did not receive [him]" - [and the own] did not receive, take to oneself, welcome. Those who should have known him and therefore should have received him, rejected him, did not accept him, did not put their trust in him.


Although the darkness engulfs a mass of humanity, there are those who "receive" the Word/light and who thus become "children of God." Note again the linking word "receive / received" between v11 and the new ideas presented in v12 and 13.

de "yet" - but/and. Transitional, although possibly contrastive, as NIV.

oJsoi ....... autoiV "to all who" - as many as [received him] to them [he gave the right to become children of God]. The nominative pronoun oJsoi introduces a pendent clause which serves as the logical subject of the sentence, although not the grammatical subject. The pronoun autoiV, "to them", resumes the subject of the pendent clause, but is dative, rather than nominative, because it serves as a dative of direct object in the sentence; See Novakovic. Most translations assimilate both clauses giving the sense "He gave the right to become children of God to those who receive / believe in him."

elabon (lambanw) aor. "received [him]" - Here "receive / accept" seems the intended sense.

toiV pisteuousin (iV ewV) dat. "to those who believed" - [he gave to them right to become the children of God] to the ones believing [in the name of him]. The participle serves as a substantive, standing in apposition to the dative indirect object autoiV "to them"; lit. "he gave the right to become children of God to them, to the ones believing in his name."

eiV to onoma "in [his] name" - into the name [of him]. cf. 2:23, 3:18. The preposition eiV here expresses direction or goal. Typically, an Old Testament idea, here as with the name of God - the "name" encapsulating the person. So, it is a belief in, an acceptance / reception of the person of Jesus and his claims for himself and for humanity.

edwken (didwmi) aor. "he gave" - Here God gives, as a gift, the right, or privilege, of sonship and thus, divinity (possibly just immortality, but we will become as Christ is, a new creation).

exousian (a) "the right" - authority, right (in the sense of privilege to be divine). Accusative direct object of the verb "to give."

genesqai (ginomai) aor. inf. "to become" - The infinitive is epexegetic specifying the content of the privilege.

tekna (on) "children [of God]" - Predicate accusative. John uses this word for believers who are God's children as distinct from the Son, Jesus.


oi} pro. "children" - the ones who. Nominative subject of the verb "to be born." The antecedent of the relative pronoun is oJsoi, "as many as", v12. "Those who were born, not ......"

egennhqhsan (gennaw) aor. pas. "born" - were born. In some manuscripts "were born" is singular, "was born", but this was an attempt to refer the statement to Christ's birth - without Joseph's blood-line and of the will of God. Rather, John is describing the new life of a believer. It involves a divine begetting (lit. ek qeou "out of God"), a spiritual rebirth (a birth "again" by "the Spirit", 3:3, 5...). "They being the ones whose birth was not owing to their bodily descent", Cassirer.

ek "of" - [not] out of, from. Expressing source / origin.

aiJmatwn (a atoV) gen. "natural descent" - bloods. Here the "blood" is plural and as translated in the NIV, represents the action of a man and a woman conceiving and bearing offspring, so the blood of the mother and the father. "Children of God" can't be produced by this means. John repeats the point two more times. "They were born not from human stock", TNT.

sarkoV (x koV) gen. "human [will]" - [nor from will] of flesh. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "will", as NIV. Flesh is not evil in itself, but it does represent a lost humanity apart from God. So again, breeding from a lost humanity won't produce children of God.

androV (hr droV) gen. "husband's [will]" - [nor from will] of a man, adult male, husband. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or subjective. A shift to non sexist language may be appropriate; "nor to human design", Berkeley.

all (alla) "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not .... but ....."

ek "born of [God]" - out of [god]. The preposition expresses source / origin, but possibly agency, "by God", so Novakovic. Membership of God's family requires divine action; "God himself was the one who made them his children", CEV.


The Word has became flesh, v14. It is unclear whether v14 should be placed with v9-13, or v15-18. It seems to stand as a central statement in the prologue, both concluding v9-13 and introducing v15-18.

kai "-" - and. So far in the prologue there have been numerous places where a conjunction like kai or de would have been expected but has been left out (an asyndeton?), so the conjunction here is probably significant, most likely emphatic, expressing unexpected surprise; "and yet / and in spite of that / nevertheless", McHugh. This conjunction is repeated in this verse and the ones following, serving as emphatic connectives, so "and indeed we have seen his glory ...."

sarx (x koV) "[became] flesh" - [the word became] a whole person. Predicate nominative. "He donned our humanity." "God chose to make himself known, finally and ultimately, in a real, historical man", Bruce.

eskhnwsen (skhnow) aor. "made his dwelling" - [and] tabernacled, lived, pitched a tent. Certainly an allusion to Exodus 25:9 and God's promise to tabernacle with his people. There is a possible parallel here between the "settling" of the Shekina Glory in the temple with the "dwelling" of the Word among us. Certainly John follows up with "we have seen his glory."

en + dat. "among [us]" - in = among [us]. Expressing space, "among", or possibly association, "with". He made his dwelling in the midst of human kind.

eqeasameqa (qeaomai) 1st pers. pl. "we have seen" - [and] we gazed upon. Something personally witnessed and confirmed.

autou gen. pro. "his" - [the glory] of him. The genitive is probably adjectival, possessive, as NIV, although ablative, source / origin is possible, "the glory radiating from him."

doxan (a) "glory" - Standing in apposition to "the glory." There is little doubt that John is alluding to the Shekinah glory, the "dwelling" of God in the midst of his people, often imaged in a glowing mist. The incarnate Word displays this glory, evidenced in his "grace and truth."

wJV "-" - as / like. Here expressing a characteristic quality rather than serving as a comparative; "The wJV here is not one of comparison or illustration, but of confirmation and unambiguous definition", Chrysostom.

monogenouV gen. neut. adj. "of the One and Only" - of a single kind, only one. The genitive is again possibly ablative, source / origin; "the glory as from an only one beside the Father." The only precious one, best-loved one, cf., Gen.22:2, 12, 16. The term implies uniqueness, he is "quite unique, in a class of his own", McHugh. The AV "only begotten" follows Jerome's translation intended to answer the Arian claim that Jesus was made, which claim attacked trinitarian theology, yet John is simply telling us that Jesus is a unique one (note neuter).

para + gen. "who came from [the Father]" - from / by [the father]. Probably expressing source here, "from beside of / from alongside of" such that the Word was with God and thus is a "one-of-a-kind Son", Kostenberger. "Came" is understood and refers to Jesus' mission and not to the procession of his person as an extension of the Trinity. The phrase modifies "Son", therefore "who", but could also modify "glory", although this is unlikely.

plhrhV (hV) adj. + gen. "full of" - What noun does this adjective modify? As it is nom. sing. it properly agrees with "the Word" which is similarly nominative singular. The problem is that this adjective is often treated as indeclinable and so therefore it may modify either "Son" or "glory". Carson suggests it modifies "glory", although "Son" seems to fit better.

caritoV kai alhqeiaV gen. "grace and truth" - Genitive complement of plhrhV, "full of" / genitive of content.


John Introduction


TekniaGreek font download


[Pumpkin Cottage]