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John 1:1

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 

Revelation 3:14

To the Church in Laodicea

3:14 “To 4  the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following: 5 

“This is the solemn pronouncement of 6  the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator 7  of God’s creation:

Revelation 19:11

The Son of God Goes to War

19:11 Then 8  I saw heaven opened and here came 9  a white horse! The 10  one riding it was called “Faithful” and “True,” and with justice 11  he judges and goes to war.

Revelation 19:13

19:13 He is dressed in clothing dipped 12  in blood, and he is called 13  the Word of God.

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 Here καί (kai) has not been translated due to differences between Greek and English style.

5 tn The phrase “the following” after “write” is supplied to clarify that what follows is the content of what is to be written.

6 tn Grk “These things says [the One]…” See the note on the phrase “this is the solemn pronouncement of” in 2:1.

sn The expression This is the solemn pronouncement of reflects an OT idiom. See the note on this phrase in 2:1.

7 tn Or “the beginning of God’s creation”; or “the ruler of God’s creation.” From a linguistic standpoint all three meanings for ἀρχή (arch) are possible. The term is well attested in both LXX (Gen 40:13, 21; 41:13) and intertestamental Jewish literature (2 Macc 4:10, 50) as meaning “ruler, authority” (BDAG 138 s.v. 6). Some have connected this passage to Paul’s statements in Col 1:15, 18 which describe Christ as ἀρχή and πρωτότοκος (prwtotoko"; e.g., see R. H. Mounce, Revelation [NICNT], 124) but the term ἀρχή has been understood as either “beginning” or “ruler” in that passage as well. The most compelling connection is to be found in the prologue to John’s Gospel (1:2-4) where the λόγος (logos) is said to be “in the beginning (ἀρχή) with God,” a temporal reference connected with creation, and then v. 3 states that “all things were made through him.” The connection with the original creation suggests the meaning “originator” for ἀρχή here. BDAG 138 s.v. 3 gives the meaning “the first cause” for the word in Rev 3:14, a term that is too philosophical for the general reader, so the translation “originator” was used instead. BDAG also notes, “but the mng. beginning = ‘first created’ is linguistically probable (s. above 1b and Job 40:19; also CBurney, Christ as the ᾿Αρχή of Creation: JTS 27, 1926, 160-77).” Such a meaning is unlikely here, however, since the connections described above are much more probable.

8 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence within the narrative.

9 tn The phrase “and here came” expresses the sense of καὶ ἰδού (kai idou).

10 tn A new sentence was started in the translation at this point and καί (kai) was not translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

11 tn Or “in righteousness,” but since the context here involves the punishment of the wicked and the vindication of the saints, “justice” was preferred.

12 tc It appears that “dipped” (βεβαμμένον, bebammenon), supported by several uncials and other witnesses (A 051 Ï), is the original reading. Due to the lack of the preposition “in” (ἐν, en) after the verb (βεβαμμένον αἵματι, bebammenon {aimati), and also probably because of literary allusions to Isa 63:3, several mss and versions seem to have changed the text to “sprinkled” (either ῥεραντισμένον [rJerantismenon] in P 2329 al; ἐρραντισμένον [errantismenon] in 1006 1841; ἐρραμμένον [errammenon] in 2053 2062; or ῥεραμμένον [rJerammenon] in 1611; or in one case περιρεραμμένον [perirerammenon] in א[2]). The reading most likely to give rise to the others is “dipped.”

tn Or perhaps “soaked.”

13 tn Grk “the name of him is called.”

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