World Wide Study Bible


a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

The Word Became Flesh


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

Select a resource above

Joh 1:1-14. The Word Made Flesh.

1. In the beginning—of all time and created existence, for this Word gave it being (Joh 1:3, 10); therefore, "before the world was" (Joh 17:5, 24); or, from all eternity.

was the Word—He who is to God what man's word is to himself, the manifestation or expression of himself to those without him. (See on Joh 1:18). On the origin of this most lofty and now for ever consecrated title of Christ, this is not the place to speak. It occurs only in the writings of this seraphic apostle.

was with God—having a conscious personal existence distinct from God (as one is from the person he is "with"), but inseparable from Him and associated with Him (Joh 1:18; Joh 17:5; 1Jo 1:2), where "THE Father" is used in the same sense as "God" here.

was God—in substance and essence God; or was possessed of essential or proper divinity. Thus, each of these brief but pregnant statements is the complement of the other, correcting any misapprehensions which the others might occasion. Was the Word eternal? It was not the eternity of "the Father," but of a conscious personal existence distinct from Him and associated with Him. Was the Word thus "with God?" It was not the distinctness and the fellowship of another being, as if there were more Gods than one, but of One who was Himself God—in such sense that the absolute unity of the God head, the great principle of all religion, is only transferred from the region of shadowy abstraction to the region of essential life and love. But why all this definition? Not to give us any abstract information about certain mysterious distinctions in the Godhead, but solely to let the reader know who it was that in the fulness of time "was made flesh." After each verse, then, the reader must say, "It was He who is thus, and thus, and thus described, who was made flesh."

2. The same, &c.—See what property of the Word the stress is laid upon—His eternal distinctness, in unity, from God—the Father (Joh 1:2).

3. All things, &c.—all things absolutely (as is evident from Joh 1:10; 1Co 8:6; Col 1:16, 17; but put beyond question by what follows).

without Him was not any thingnot one thing.

made—brought into being.

that was made—This is a denial of the eternity and non-creation of matter, which was held by the whole thinking world outside of Judaism and Christianity: or rather, its proper creation was never so much as dreamt of save by the children of revealed religion.

4. In Him was lifeessentially and originally, as the previous verses show to be the meaning. Thus He is the Living Word, or, as He is called in 1Jo 1:1, 2, "the Word of Life."

the life … the light of men—All that in men which is true light—knowledge, integrity, intelligent, willing subjection to God, love to Him and to their fellow creatures, wisdom, purity, holy joy, rational happiness—all this "light of men" has its fountain in the essential original "life" of "the Word" (1Jo 1:5-7; Ps 36:9).

5. shineth in darkness, &c.—in this dark, fallen world, or in mankind "sitting in darkness and the shadow of death," with no ability to find the way either of truth or of holiness. In this thick darkness, and consequent intellectual and moral obliquity, "the light of the Word" shineth—by all the rays whether of natural or revealed teaching which men (apart from the Incarnation of the Word) are favored with.

the darkness comprehended it notdid not take it in, a brief summary of the effect of all the strivings of this unincarnate Word throughout this wide world from the beginning, and a hint of the necessity of His putting on flesh, if any recovery of men was to be effected (1Co 1:21).

6-9. The Evangelist here approaches his grand thesis, so paving his way for the full statement of it in Joh 1:14, that we may be able to bear the bright light of it, and take in its length and breadth and depth and height.

7. through him—John.