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The Word Made Flesh.

1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This sublime preface of John carries us back to the account given in Genesis of the beginning of all things, when, “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth.” The passage declares that at that time, before creation, the Word existed, was with God and separate from him, but was God, or divine. What this Word is we learn from verse 14th, where it is stated that it became flesh and dwelt among men in the person of Christ. This deep disquisition upon the divine Word, almost too deep for human understanding, was penned by John on account of certain false philosophies which began to creep into and to trouble the church. Much has been written, very learnedly, upon those heresies and upon the Word and its relation to the Father, but I will pass by all speculation and 27confine myself to what is the manifest meaning of the Scripture. This passage then affirms: 1. That the person afterwards manifest as the Christ existed before creation began; 2. That he was present with God; 3. That he was divine; 4. That he was the Word; 5. That by or through him were all things made that were made (verse 3). The first chapter of Genesis helps us to understand its meaning. God said, “Let there be light,” “Let there be a firmament,” “Let the earth bring forth,” etc., and it was done. God exhibits his creative power through the Word, and also manifests his will through the Word. Every careful reader of the Old Testament is struck with the prominence given to the Word of the Lord, and also with the frequent reference in the Pentateuch to the Angel of Jehovah through whom the Lord manifests himself. When Jesus came he was “the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person,” the manifestation of the Father, the “Word made flesh and dwelling among men.” There are mysteries belonging to the divine nature and to the relation between the Son and the Father that we have to wait for eternity to solve. They are too deep for human solution, but this is clear: that God creates and speaks to man through the Word. As we clothe our thoughts in words, God reveals his will by the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Joh 1:2)

2. The same was in the beginning with God. John reiterates a part of his first statement, partly for emphasis, and partly to bring out the thought that there is a real distinction between the Word and the Father. He labors to make clear two thoughts, that the Word was divine, God, and yet had an individuality of its own. From the beginning, that unknown epoch, before creation began, he was with God. (Joh 1:3)

3. And all things were made by him. Having affirmed the divine and uncreated nature of the Word, John next proceeds to tell of his relation to creation. All things, the world and all it contains, and the whole universe, were made by or through him. Paul declares (Heb. 1:2), “Through him the worlds were made.” The account of creation in Genesis helps us to understand. It was God who said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. It was when the Word was employed that the sun, moon, and stars took their place in the sky. All things that were made were spoken into being, or made through the Word. The Word was not yet named Jesus Christ, for he had not yet been manifested as our Savior, nor is it certain that he was called the Son of God until he appeared upon earth as the Son of Man. (Joh 1:4)

4. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. Here is a grand affirmation. He is a fountain of life from whence life flows like a river. From him life flowed in the beginning. Man can construct the statue, but he cannot breathe it into existence. The Word could create the form and endow it with life. And when the Word became flesh, he became a “fountain of living waters,” a well springing up to eternal life. Because he had life in himself, the dead heard his voice 28and lived, and when he was slain the grave could not hold him, but he came forth and brought to light life and immortality. Hence the sublime utterance, “I am the resurrection and the life.” “The life was the light of men.” Man was created in the divine image. In him was fuller life than in the brute creation. Hence he is intelligent, capable of reasoning, of learning, of progress. His life is light, in the sense that it enlightens him. Then, in him can dwell the Word, which is the true light that enlightens the world. As the sun chases away darkness, so Jesus, the light of the mind and soul, chases away error, ignorance and superstition. The Life will overcome death and the Light will fill the redeemed world with his glory. (Joh 1:5)

5. And the light shineth in darkness. Now the apostle comes more plainly to the thought that Christ is the light of the world. He is the light that shineth in the darkness, has shone in it as the Word, and who continues to shine. The sun shines in the heavens, but bats and owls that hate the light hide from his rays. So, too, Christ shines, but men who love darkness rather than light, can reject him and abide in darkness. The darkness comprehended it not. The sun shines upon the darkness and the darkness disappears, but when John wrote the true Light was shining in the earth and the people in darkness understood it not. Christ, the Light of the world, came to his own and his own received him not. They had eyes and saw not, hence were not enlightened. The difficulty was not that there was not light, but they loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. There is a sad tone running through this and the following verses to verse 14. (Joh 1:6)

6. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. Having declared the pre-existence of Christ, the apostle now begins the history of the Word being made flesh and dwelling among men as the Light of the World. He first presents the messenger who preceded him and who came to bear witness of the Light. He was a man “sent from God,” predicted by Isaiah and Malachi, and by the angel that appeared to Zacharias. Notice that John the apostle calls the great forerunner simply John, instead of John the Baptist, as do the other writers, as if the Baptist was the only John entitled to distinction. (Joh 1:7)

7. The same came for a witness to bear witness of the Light. John came, not so much as a reformer, as a witness. His work, as declared by Malachi, was to be a messenger to go before the Lord. In all his preaching he testified of Christ. When he preached repentance he declared the Kingdom was at hand. When he baptized he declared that there was one coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He said, “I am not he that should come, but there cometh one whose shoes I am unworthy to loose.” He pointed his disciples to Jesus and declared him the Lamb of God. That through him all men might believe. 29That John's preparation and testimony should cause men to believe upon the Light. The earliest disciples of Christ, including at least a part of the apostles, were men who had been prepared by John. John bore witness to Christ before he was manifested, The apostles bore witness after, for the same purpose, to cause men to believe. This too is the work of the church and of every preacher of the word. (Joh 1:8)

8. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness. An early heretical sect held that John the Baptist was the Messiah. The apostle is explicit in order to correct this error. It is said by the Savior, of the Baptist (John 5:35), that he was a shining light. It is well to keep in mind that the term here translated light is different. It is a word that means original, self-shining light, like the sun; in 5:35 it is one that means a reflected light, like the moon. Christ shines by his own light; John shone by Christ's light. (Joh 1:9)

9. That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into world. That was the real light who enlightens all men. Christ is the universal light. The Revision reads, “There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world.” Grammatically, both in the Greek and the English, coming may belong to the light, or every man. We believe that it should agree with light. That was the true or real light who, when he comes into the world, enlightens every man. Jesus says (John 12:46), “I am come a light into the world.” Here John affirms that he came into the world to lighten every man. It should be kept in mind that the apostle is now about to treat of the personal coming into the world of the Light in the form of the Christ. As the Creator of natural things, as the Word that has been spoken to man from the beginning, and as God manifest in the flesh, he is the source of all the moral and spiritual light the world has ever known. (Joh 1:10)

10. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. John has just spoken of the personal coming of the Light of the world. Lest any one should forget that he was already in the world as the Word, he says that he was in the world and was its Creator, and had been in it from the beginning, though the world did not recognize him. There is a connection between this and the following verse. This declares that (1) he was in the world, (2) the world was made by him, (3) it did not recognize him. The next verse states (1) that he came, personally, to his own. He took upon himself a fleshly form and came to the race to which he was united by fleshly ties; (2) his own received him not. The world is humanity in general, which knew him not; his own is the Jewish nation, who received him not. (Joh 1:11)

11. He came to his own, and his own received him not. It is stated above that he was 30in the world, from the beginning. Here it is stated that he came, to his own, when he came to Judea as the son of Mary, and, therefore, of the Jewish race. This passage is full of pathos and is an epitome of the Savior's earthly history. When the kingly babe came there was “no room” found even in the inn; a few days later he was carried to Egypt to save him from the murderous Herod; when he entered upon his ministry he was met by hatred, reviling and conspiracy; at last the Sanhedrim of the nation condemned him to death; and before Pontius Pilate, choosing a robber in his stead, they cried, “Away with him; crucify him!” His own people received him not. Even his townsmen of Nazareth sought to put him to death. (Joh 1:12)

12. To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. The Revision reads, “Children of God,” which is better. While the nation rejected him, some received him. To such as receive him in every age he gives power to become the children of God. The manner in which he is received is given; even to those who believe upon his name. It is not declared that they are made children by believing, but to the believer he gives the “power to become” a child. When one believes in Christ, his faith becomes a power to lead him to yield himself to God and to receive the Word into his heart. He can now repent of sin, surrender to the will of the Father, and then, “being baptized into Christ he puts on Christ,” is his brother and a child of God by adoption, whereupon, “because he is a son, God sends his Spirit into his heart,” enabling him to say: “Abba! Father.” Wesley says, “The moment we believe we are sons.” The Scriptures do not so teach, but that when we believe, Christ “gives us power to become children.” Without “belief upon his name” the “power” to become a child is impossible. (Joh 1:13)

13. Who were born, not of blood, nor by the will of the flesh. The Jews prided themselves on being Abraham's children, and trusted in their blood for salvation. John declares that blood, or race, has nothing to do with becoming the children of God; nor has this new birth which makes one a child of God aught to do with natural generation (the will of the flesh), nor earthly adoption (the will of the man). It is not a fleshly birth at all, but the spirit of the subject is born of God. In John 3:1–8 the Savior explains this birth more particularly. Faith, repentance and obedience prepare us for the gift of the Spirit, and we are thus made new creatures in Christ Jesus. (Joh 1:14)

14. And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. The Word assumed a human form and became incarnate as the child of Mary. It did not merely 31manifest itself, but dwelt among us for about thirty-three years. There was already a heretical sect, the Gnostics referred to in 2 John 7, who denied that Christ had come in the flesh. The apostle here makes this positive statement to meet this heresy. And we beheld his glory. Peter, James and John not only beheld the sinless and godlike life of Christ, but they saw the glory of the Mount of Transfiguration, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” Full of grace and truth. The Word incarnate, Christ, was full of grace and truth; his mission was one of grace or favor to men, and he was the Truth, as well as the Way and the Life. (Joh 1:15)

15. John testified of him. Verse 7 declares that John came to testify of Christ and here the substance of his testimony is given. When he saw Jesus he cried, “This is he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is preferred before me because he was before me.” (Joh 1:16)

16. Out of his fulness have we all received. It is John, the apostle, who speaks. The thought refers to the two preceding verses. John had seen the glory of Christ, who was “full” of grace and truth, and the Baptist declares that Christ existed before he came into the world, and then John declares, “We have all received of his fulness, and favor upon favor.” (Joh 1:17)

17. The law was given by Moses. It was not a system of grace, nor could it make men perfect; in contrast with it the system of grace and truth (see verse 14) were given by Jesus Christ. (Joh 1:18)

18. No man hath seen God, with bodily eyes, but he was manifested as the Word and at last the “only begotten Son hath declared him.” “He that hath seen me,” said Christ, “hath seen the Father. The Father is in me and I in him.” Christ came in human form, in order to reveal the Father to a race who knew him not.

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