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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 1 - Verse 4
Verse 4. In him was life. The evangelist had just affirmed Joh 1:3 that by the Logos or Word the world was originally created. One part of that creation consisted in breathing into man the breath of life, Ge 2:7. God is declared to be life, or the living God, because he is the source or fountain of life. This attribute is here ascribed to Jesus Christ. He not merely made the material worlds, but he also gave life. He was the agent by which the vegetable world became animated; by which brutes live; and by which man became a living soul, or was endowed with immortality. This was a higher proof that the "Word was God," than the creation of the material worlds; but there is another sense in which he was life. The new creation, or the renovation of man and his restoration from a state of sin, is often compared with the first creation; and as the Logos was the source of life then, so, in a similar but higher sense, he is the source of life to the soul dead in trespasses and sins, Eph 2:1. And it is probably in reference to this that he is so often called life in the writings of John. "For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself," Joh 5:26; "He giveth life unto the world," Joh 6:33; "I am the resurrection and the life," Joh 11:25; "This is the true God and eternal life," 1 Jo 5:20. See also 1 Jo 1:1,2; 5:11; Ac 3:15; Col 3:4.
The meaning is, that he is the source or the fountain of both natural and spiritual life. Of course he has the attributes of God.
The life was the light of men. Light is that by which we see objects distinctly. The light of the sun enables us to discern the form, the distance, the magnitude, and the relation of objects, and prevents the perplexities and dangers which result from a state of darkness. Light is in all languages, therefore, put for knowledge —for whatever enables us to discern our duty, and that saves us from the evils of ignorance and error. "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light," Eph 5:13. See Isa 8:20; 9:2. The Messiah was predicted as the light of the world, Isa 9:2, compared with Mt 4:15,16; Isa 60:1. See Joh 8:12, "I am the light of the world;" Joh 12:35,36,46
"I am come a light into the world." The meaning is, that the Logos or Word of God is the instructor or teacher of man-kind. This was done before his advent by his direct agency in giving man reason or understanding, and in giving his law, for the "law was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator" (Ga 3:19); after his advent by his personal ministry when on earth, by his Spirit (Joh 14:16,26), and by his ministers since, Eph 4:11; 1 Co 12:28.
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