1 In the beginning - (Referring to Gen 1:1, and Prov
8:23.) When all things began to be made by the Word: in the beginning of
heaven and earth, and this whole frame of created beings, the Word existed,
without any beginning. He was when all things began to be, whatsoever had
a beginning. The Word - So termed Psa 33:6, and frequently by the seventy,
and in the Chaldee paraphrase. So that St. John did not borrow this expression
from Philo, or any heathen writer. He was not yet named Jesus, or Christ.
He is the Word whom the Father begat or spoke from eternity; by whom the
Father speaking, maketh all things; who speaketh the Father to us. We have,
in John 1:18, both a real description of the Word, and the reason why he
is so called. He is the only begotten Son of the Father, who is in the
bosom of the Father, and hath declared him. And the Word was with God -
Therefore distinct from God the Father. The word rendered with, denotes
a perpetual tendency as it were of the Son to the Father, in unity of essence.
He was with God alone; because nothing beside God had then any being. And
the Word was God - Supreme, eternal, independent. There was no creature,
in respect of which he could be styled God in a relative sense. Therefore
he is styled so in the absolute sense. The Godhead of the Messiah being
clearly revealed in the Old Testament, (Jer 23:7; Hos 1:6; Psa 23:1,) the
other evangelists aim at this, to prove that Jesus, a true man, was the
Messiah. But when, at length, some from hence began to doubt of his Godhead,
then St. John expressly asserted it, and wrote in this book as it were
a supplement to the Gospels, as in the Revelation to the prophets.
2 The same was in the beginning with God - This verse repeats
and contracts into one the three points mentioned before. As if he had
said, This Word, who was God, was in the beginning, and was with God.
3 All things beside God were made, and all things which were made,
were made by the Word. In Joh 1:1,2 is described the state of things before
the creation: Joh 1:3, In the creation: Joh 1:4, In the time of man's innocency:
Joh 1:5, In the time of man's corruption.
4 In him was life - He was the foundation of life to every living
thing, as well as of being to all that is. And the life was the light of
men - He who is essential life, and the giver of life to all that liveth,
was also the light of men; the fountain of wisdom, holiness, and happiness,
to man in his original state.
5 And the light shineth in darkness - Shines even on fallen man;
but the darkness - Dark, sinful man, perceiveth it not.
6 There was a man - The evangelist now proceeds to him who testified
of the light, which he had spoken of in the five preceding verses.
7 The same came for (that is, in order to give) a testimony -
The evangelist, with the most strong and tender affection, interweaves
his own testimony with that of John, by noble digressions, wherein he explains
the office of the Baptist; partly premises and partly subjoins a farther
explication to his short sentences. What St. Matthew, Mark, and Luke term
the Gospel, in respect of the promise going before, St. John usually terms
the testimony, intimating the certain knowledge of the relator; to testify
of the light - Of Christ.
9 Who lighteth every man - By what is vulgarly termed natural
conscience, pointing out at least the general lines of good and evil. And
this light, if man did not hinder, would shine more and more to the perfect
10 He was in the world - Even from the creation.
11 He came - In the fulness of time, to his own - Country, city,
temple: And his own - People, received him not.
12 But as many as received him - Jews or Gentiles; that believe
on his name - That is, on him. The moment they believe, they are sons;
and because they are sons, God sendeth forth the Spirit of his Son into
their hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
13 Who were born - Who became the sons of God, not of blood -
Not by descent from Abraham, nor by the will of the flesh - By natural
generation, nor by the will of man - Adopting them, but of God - By his
14 Flesh sometimes signifies corrupt nature; sometimes the body;
sometimes, as here, the whole man. We beheld his glory - We his apostles,
particularly Peter, James, and John, Luke 9:32. Grace and truth - We are
all by nature liars and children of wrath, to whom both grace and truth
are unknown. But we are made partakers of them, when we are accepted through
the Beloved. The whole verse might be paraphrased thus: And in order to
raise us to this dignity and happiness, the eternal Word, by a most amazing
condescension, was made flesh, united himself to our miserable nature,
with all its innocent infirmities. And he did not make us a transient visit,
but tabernacled among us on earth, displaying his glory in a more eminent
manner, than even of old in the tabernacle of Moses. And we who are now
recording these things beheld his glory with so strict an attention, that
we can testify, it was in every respect such a glory as became the only
begotten of the Father. For it shone forth not only in his transfiguration,
and in his continual miracles, but in all his tempers, ministrations, and
conduct through the whole series of his life. In all he appeared full of
grace and truth: he was himself most benevolent and upright; made those
ample discoveries of pardon to sinners, which the Mosaic dispensation could
not do: and really exhibited the most substantial blessings, whereas that
was but a shadow of good things to come.