Study one: A new Creation – Light in Darkness
John 1:1-18 forms the prologue to the rest of the gospel. Many of the theme words found in the rest rest of the Gospel are first introduced in these verses: life, light (1:4), witness (1:7), true (in the sense of ‘genuine’ or ‘ultimate’, 1:9), world (1:10), glory, truth (1:14).
These verses summarise how the ‘Word’ which was with God in the very beginning came into time, history, in the form of a human body—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.
It is not surprising that these verses only contain statements. In relatively short statements we learn who Christ is, what He came to do, and how his coming into the world opened up eternal life for those who believe in Him. John introduces themes in the Prologue which are expounded in the rest of the gospel. In a sense then, one would not fully understand what is said in verses 1-18 if one does not read and understand the rest of the Gospel.
Keep in mind that John sometimes uses the same word, but actually means different things things. For example:
- World: all created things, people, darkness, those who live in sin, those opposed to the Kingdom of God because of the prince of this world (12:31)
- Bread, water: real food, spiritual food, Holy Spirit
- Body, blood: real blood and body, spiritual sacrifice
It is further helpful to keep in mind how John sometimes uses different words to convey the same idea. For example:
- Light points to: life (new birth), sight, ability to hear, freedom, knowledge and understanding, which leads to: faith in Christ, acceptance, the ability to receive, forgiveness, eternal life
- Darkness points to: death, blindness, inability to hear, lack of knowledge, which leads to: unbelief, continuation of sin, rejection, condemnation, etc
1. Read John 1:1-18 and Genesis 1:1-5, 26-28
Write down the similarities between the two paragraphs
2. Read Hebrew 1:1-3.
Write down any recurring themes found in both Genesis 1 and John 1:1-18
3. Read Colossians 1:15-17
Compare them with the paragraphs above, what are the recurring ideas in these verses?
4. Read John 1:1-3, 14-15, 18
What do these verses tell us about Jesus Christ
5. Read Philippians 2:6-11
Write down what Paul says about Jesus Christ
6. Read John 1:5.
In some ways this verse is a “hinge” verse. What do you think happened between verses 4 and 5. (Think of verses like Genesis 3:3 and Romans 6:23, 1Corinthians 15:21-22)
7. Read John 1:4-5, 9
Go back one page to the table where light and darkness are described. With the explanation given there, why was it necessary for God to send his Son into this world?
8. Read John 1:9-10
Go back one page to the table where light and darkness are described. How do verses 9-10 describe the effects of darkness on those to whom Christ came?
9. Read John 1:12-13
The light of Christ brings forth life. Begin at the end of verse 13 and step by step work your way back – where do faith and the ability to receive Christ come from?
10. Read John 1:14
Right through the Scriptures the “glory of God” (or “glory of the Lord”) not only describe the majesty and greatness of God, but also his presence with his people. The Tabernacle was filled with the Glory of the Lord (Exodus 40:34-38), so was the Temple (1Kings 8:10), and so will it be in heaven (Revelation 21:23). The birth of Christ as described in Luke 29 tells of “the glory of the Lord” shining around the shepherds. As the angel said in Matthew 1:23, He would be called “Immanuel” – God is with us.
The word John used for “dwelling” in 1:14 can be translated as “tabernacle”.
With this explanation, what is the significance of the statement “The Word became flesh” in verse 14?
11. Read John 1:15
How does this verse reveal something about the two natures of Christ?
12. Read John 1:18
Try to explain the words “see” and “know” in the context of all of John 1:1-18 (look at “Light” in the table on page 5 again).
- Jesus Christ is God’s agent through whom for whom He created the world
- Christ’s coming into the world is light shining in darkness
- Those who are able to believe are the offspring of God through Jesus Christ
- Christ “tabernacled” with us to reveal the Father’s grace and truth