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John 1:1

Context
The Prologue to the Gospel

1:1 In the beginning 1  was the Word, and the Word was with God, 2  and the Word was fully God. 3 

John 5:18-23

Context
5:18 For this reason the Jewish leaders 4  were trying even harder to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God.

5:19 So Jesus answered them, 5  “I tell you the solemn truth, 6  the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, 7  but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father 8  does, the Son does likewise. 9  5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed. 5:21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, 10  so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. 11  5:22 Furthermore, the Father does not judge 12  anyone, but has assigned 13  all judgment to the Son, 5:23 so that all people 14  will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

John 14:6-10

Context
14:6 Jesus replied, 15  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. 16  No one comes to the Father except through me. 14:7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. 17  And from now on you do know him and have seen him.”

14:8 Philip said, 18  “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” 19  14:9 Jesus replied, 20  “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known 21  me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? 22  The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, 23  but the Father residing in me performs 24  his miraculous deeds. 25 

John 20:28

Context
20:28 Thomas replied to him, 26  “My Lord and my God!” 27 

1 sn In the beginning. The search for the basic “stuff” out of which things are made was the earliest one in Greek philosophy. It was attended by the related question of “What is the process by which the secondary things came out of the primary one (or ones)?,” or in Aristotelian terminology, “What is the ‘beginning’ (same Greek word as beginning, John 1:1) and what is the origin of the things that are made?” In the New Testament the word usually has a temporal sense, but even BDAG 138 s.v. ἀρχή 3 lists a major category of meaning as “the first cause.” For John, the words “In the beginning” are most likely a conscious allusion to the opening words of Genesis – “In the beginning.” Other concepts which occur prominently in Gen 1 are also found in John’s prologue: “life” (1:4) “light” (1:4) and “darkness” (1:5). Gen 1 describes the first (physical) creation; John 1 describes the new (spiritual) creation. But this is not to play off a false dichotomy between “physical” and “spiritual”; the first creation was both physical and spiritual. The new creation is really a re-creation, of the spiritual (first) but also the physical. (In spite of the common understanding of John’s “spiritual” emphasis, the “physical” re-creation should not be overlooked; this occurs in John 2 with the changing of water into wine, in John 11 with the resurrection of Lazarus, and the emphasis of John 20-21 on the aftermath of Jesus’ own resurrection.)

2 tn The preposition πρός (pros) implies not just proximity, but intimate personal relationship. M. Dods stated, “Πρός …means more than μετά or παρά, and is regularly employed in expressing the presence of one person with another” (“The Gospel of St. John,” The Expositors Greek Testament, 1:684). See also Mark 6:3, Matt 13:56, Mark 9:19, Gal 1:18, 2 John 12.

3 tn Or “and what God was the Word was.” Colwell’s Rule is often invoked to support the translation of θεός (qeos) as definite (“God”) rather than indefinite (“a god”) here. However, Colwell’s Rule merely permits, but does not demand, that a predicate nominative ahead of an equative verb be translated as definite rather than indefinite. Furthermore, Colwell’s Rule did not deal with a third possibility, that the anarthrous predicate noun may have more of a qualitative nuance when placed ahead of the verb. A definite meaning for the term is reflected in the traditional rendering “the word was God.” From a technical standpoint, though, it is preferable to see a qualitative aspect to anarthrous θεός in John 1:1c (ExSyn 266-69). Translations like the NEB, REB, and Moffatt are helpful in capturing the sense in John 1:1c, that the Word was fully deity in essence (just as much God as God the Father). However, in contemporary English “the Word was divine” (Moffatt) does not quite catch the meaning since “divine” as a descriptive term is not used in contemporary English exclusively of God. The translation “what God was the Word was” is perhaps the most nuanced rendering, conveying that everything God was in essence, the Word was too. This points to unity of essence between the Father and the Son without equating the persons. However, in surveying a number of native speakers of English, some of whom had formal theological training and some of whom did not, the editors concluded that the fine distinctions indicated by “what God was the Word was” would not be understood by many contemporary readers. Thus the translation “the Word was fully God” was chosen because it is more likely to convey the meaning to the average English reader that the Logos (which “became flesh and took up residence among us” in John 1:14 and is thereafter identified in the Fourth Gospel as Jesus) is one in essence with God the Father. The previous phrase, “the Word was with God,” shows that the Logos is distinct in person from God the Father.

sn And the Word was fully God. John’s theology consistently drives toward the conclusion that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is just as much God as God the Father. This can be seen, for example, in texts like John 10:30 (“The Father and I are one”), 17:11 (“so that they may be one just as we are one”), and 8:58 (“before Abraham came into existence, I am”). The construction in John 1:1c does not equate the Word with the person of God (this is ruled out by 1:1b, “the Word was with God”); rather it affirms that the Word and God are one in essence.

4 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” See the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 10.

5 tn Grk “answered and said to them.”

6 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”

7 tn Grk “nothing from himself.”

8 tn Grk “that one”; the referent (the Father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 sn What works does the Son do likewise? The same that the Father does – and the same that the rabbis recognized as legitimate works of God on the Sabbath (see note on working in v. 17). (1) Jesus grants life (just as the Father grants life) on the Sabbath. But as the Father gives physical life on the Sabbath, so the Son grants spiritual life (John 5:21; note the “greater things” mentioned in v. 20). (2) Jesus judges (determines the destiny of people) on the Sabbath, just as the Father judges those who die on the Sabbath, because the Father has granted authority to the Son to judge (John 5:22-23). But this is not all. Not only has this power been granted to Jesus in the present; it will be his in the future as well. In v. 28 there is a reference not to spiritually dead (only) but also physically dead. At their resurrection they respond to the Son as well.

10 tn Grk “and makes them live.”

11 tn Grk “the Son makes whomever he wants to live.”

12 tn Or “condemn.”

13 tn Or “given,” or “handed over.”

14 tn Grk “all.” The word “people” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for stylistic reasons and for clarity (cf. KJV “all men”).

15 tn Grk “Jesus said to him.”

16 tn Or “I am the way, even the truth and the life.”

17 tc There is a difficult textual problem here: The statement reads either “If you have known (ἐγνώκατε, egnwkate) me, you will know (γνώσεσθε, gnwsesqe) my Father” or “If you had really known (ἐγνώκειτε, egnwkeite) me, you would have known (ἐγνώκειτε ἄν or ἂν ἤδειτε [egnwkeite an or an hdeite]) my Father.” The division of the external evidence is difficult, but can be laid out as follows: The mss that have the perfect ἐγνώκατε in the protasis (Ì66 [א D* W] 579 pc it) also have, for the most part, the future indicative γνώσεσθε in the apodosis (Ì66 א D W [579] pc sa bo), rendering Jesus’ statement as a first-class condition. The mss that have the pluperfect ἐγνώκειτε in the protasis (A B C D1 L Θ Ψ Ë1,13 33 Ï) also have, for the most part, a pluperfect in the apodosis (either ἂν ἤδειτε in B C* [L] Q Ψ 1 33 565 al, or ἐγνώκειτε ἄν in A C3 Θ Ë13 Ï), rendering Jesus’ statement a contrary-to-fact second-class condition. The external evidence slightly favors the first-class condition, since there is an Alexandrian-Western alliance supported by Ì66. As well, the fact that the readings with a second-class condition utilize two different verbs with ἄν in different positions suggests that these readings are secondary. However, it could be argued that the second-class conditions are harder readings in that they speak negatively of the apostles (so K. Aland in TCGNT 207); in this case, the ἐγνώκειτεἐγνώκειτε ἄν reading should be given preference. Although a decision is difficult, the first-class condition is to be slightly preferred. In this case Jesus promises the disciples that, assuming they have known him, they will know the Father. Contextually this fits better with the following phrase (v. 7b) which asserts that “from the present time you know him and have seen him” (cf. John 1:18).

18 tn Grk “said to him.”

19 tn Or “and that is enough for us.”

20 tn Grk “Jesus said to him.”

21 tn Or “recognized.”

22 tn The mutual interrelationship of the Father and the Son (ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί ἐστιν, egw en tw patri kai Jo pathr en emoi estin) is something that Jesus expected even his opponents to recognize (cf. John 10:38). The question Jesus asks of Philip (οὐ πιστεύεις, ou pisteuei") expects the answer “yes.” Note that the following statement is addressed to all the disciples, however, because the plural pronoun (ὑμῖν, Jumin) is used. Jesus says that his teaching (the words he spoke to them all) did not originate from himself, but the Father, who permanently remains (μένων, menwn) in relationship with Jesus, performs his works. One would have expected “speaks his words” here rather than “performs his works”; many of the church fathers (e.g., Augustine and Chrysostom) identified the two by saying that Jesus’ words were works. But there is an implicit contrast in the next verse between words and works, and v. 12 seems to demand that the works are real works, not just words. It is probably best to see the two terms as related but not identical; there is a progression in the idea here. Both Jesus’ words (recall the Samaritans’ response in John 4:42) and Jesus’ works are revelatory of who he is, but as the next verse indicates, works have greater confirmatory power than words.

23 tn Grk “I do not speak from myself.”

24 tn Or “does.”

25 tn Or “his mighty acts”; Grk “his works.”

sn Miraculous deeds is most likely a reference to the miraculous signs Jesus had performed, which he viewed as a manifestation of the mighty acts of God. Those he performed in the presence of the disciples served as a basis for faith (although a secondary basis to their personal relationship to him; see the following verse).

26 tn Grk “answered and said to him.”

27 sn Should Thomas’ exclamation be understood as two subjects with the rest of the sentence omitted (“My Lord and my God has truly risen from the dead”), as predicate nominatives (“You are my Lord and my God”), or as vocatives (“My Lord and my God!”)? Probably the most likely is something between the second and third alternatives. It seems that the second is slightly more likely here, because the context appears confessional. Thomas’ statement, while it may have been an exclamation, does in fact confess the faith which he had previously lacked, and Jesus responds to Thomas’ statement in the following verse as if it were a confession. With the proclamation by Thomas here, it is difficult to see how any more profound analysis of Jesus’ person could be given. It echoes 1:1 and 1:14 together: The Word was God, and the Word became flesh (Jesus of Nazareth). The Fourth Gospel opened with many other titles for Jesus: the Lamb of God (1:29, 36); the Son of God (1:34, 49); Rabbi (1:38); Messiah (1:41); the King of Israel (1:49); the Son of Man (1:51). Now the climax is reached with the proclamation by Thomas, “My Lord and my God,” and the reader has come full circle from 1:1, where the author had introduced him to who Jesus was, to 20:28, where the last of the disciples has come to the full realization of who Jesus was. What Jesus had predicted in John 8:28 had come to pass: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he” (Grk “I am”). By being lifted up in crucifixion (which led in turn to his death, resurrection, and exaltation with the Father) Jesus has revealed his true identity as both Lord (κύριος [kurios], used by the LXX to translate Yahweh) and God (θεός [qeos], used by the LXX to translate Elohim).



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