The author of the Gospel of John is identified as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (21:20,24)…this is John, the Apostle. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome and was the younger brother of the Apostle James. Jesus referred to these two brothers as “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:14). John was instrumental in the growth of the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 3:1; 8:14; Galatians 2:9). Eventually, he became the pastor of the church in Ephesus. He spent the later part of his life in forced exile on the island of Patmos (a prison island), where he wrote the book of Revelation. He also wrote the short epistles of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are commonly referred to as the “synoptic gospels”. The word “synoptic” comes from two Greek words (syn, meaning “together”, and optic, meaning “seen”) that mean, “a view together, a collective view, a synopsis”. They share many similarities in content, and expression, and give a comparable chronological narration of the Lord’s miracles, parables, and messages. John stands in contrast to them in that it does not follow such a strict chronological rendering of the Lord’s ministry. It includes no parables and only seven of the miracles that Jesus performed. And, it deals more with the discourses, conversations, and prayers of Jesus. It has been said that Matthew presents Christ as King, Mark presents Christ as Servant, Luke presents Christ as the Son of Man, and John presents Christ as the Son of God.
John 1:1-5-John gives a definitive identification of Who Jesus is…God. He tells us of Jesus’ pre-existence (“In the beginning”…before time began), identification (“the Word was God”), participation in creation (“all things came into being by Him”), and light that brings salvation (“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men”).
(Ryrie, 1:1) In the beginning. Before time began, Christ was already in existence with God. This is what is meant by the term ”the pre-existent Christ.” See Gen. 1:1 and 1 John 1:1. Word (Greek: logos). Logos, means word, thought, concept, and the expressions thereof. In the Old Testament the concept conveyed activity and revelation, and the word or wisdom of God is often personified (Ps. 33:6; Prov. 8). In the Targums (Aramaic paraphrases of the O.T.) it was a designation of God. To the Greek mind it expressed the ideas of reason and creative control. Revelation is the keynote idea in the logos concept. Here it is applied to Jesus, who is all that God is and the expression of Him (1:1,14). In this verse the Word (Christ) is said to be with God (i.e., In communion with and yet distinct from God) and to be God (i.e., identical in essence with God).
For a more extensive study of the meaning of logos (and rhema), see:
John 1:6-8-These verses serve as an introduction to John the Baptist (the “baptizer”). John’s purpose was to be a witness to the identification of the light, Jesus.
John 1:9-13-Jesus came to the world, but was largely not received. However, everyone who did receive Him…they became children of God. The new birth is supernatural, and as such is distinct from natural birth.
John 1:14-15-“And the Word became flesh…” (cf. 3:13,31). John testified that Jesus existed before him…but, He was born into this world after him. God took on humanity (incarnation), He became flesh and blood…when Jesus was born. He still possessed all of the aspects of His deity (cf. Philippians 2:6). He was 100% God and 100% man…the God-man.
John 1:18-No man has seen God in His essence, His Spirit-being. Jesus has “explained” (the Greek word from which we get our English word “exegete”) God.
No man hath seen God at any time – This declaration is probably made to show the superiority of the revelation of Jesus above that of any previous dispensation. It is said, therefore, that Jesus “had an intimate knowledge of God,” which neither Moses nor any of the ancient prophets had possessed. God is invisible: no human eyes have seen him; but Christ had a knowledge of God which might be expressed to our apprehension by saying that he saw him. He knew him intimately and completely, and was therefore fitted to make a fuller manifestation of him. See John 5:37; John 6:46; 1 John 4:12; Exodus 33:20; John 14:9. This passage is not meant to deny that men had witnessed “manifestations” of God, as when he appeared to Moses and the prophets (compare Numbers 12:8; Isaiah 6:1-13); but it is meant that no one has seen the essence of God, or has “fully known God.” The prophets delivered what they “heard” God speak; Jesus what he knew of God as his equal, and as understanding fully nature.
No man hath seen God at any time (Θεὸν ουδεὶς εώρακεν πώποτε)
God is first in the Greek order, as emphatic: “God hath no man ever seen.” As to the substance of the statement, compare John 3:11; Exodus 33:20; 1 John 4:12. Manifestations of God to Old Testament saints were only partial and approximate (Exodus 33:23). The seeing intended here is seeing of the divine essence rather than of the divine person, which also is indicated by the absence of the article from Θεὸν, God. In this sense even Christ was not seen as God. The verb ὁράω, to see, denotes a physical act, but emphasizes the mental discernment accompanying it, and points to the result rather than to the act of vision. In 1 John 1:1; 1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:14, θεάομαι is used, denoting calm and deliberate contemplation (see on John 1:14). In John 12:45, we have θεωρέω, to behold (see on Mark 5:15; see on Luke 10:18). Both θεάομαι and θεωρέω imply deliberate contemplation, but the former is gazing with a view to satisfy the eye, while the latter is beholding more critically, with an inward spiritual or mental interest in the thing beheld, and with a view to acquire knowledge about it. “Θεωρειν would be used of a general officially reviewing or inspecting an army; θεασθαι of a lay spectator looking at the parade” (Thayer).
John 1:19-28-John was baptizing at the Jordan River and the Pharisees sent a delegation to ask him who he was. He said that he was not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet…but one preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. He also said that the One coming was already in their midst (:26).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray that through the Holy Spirit You would continue to explain, to exegete God the Father to me. Help me to know You better each and every day. Please let Your light shine in me and through me.