New English Translation
The Prologue to the Gospel
1 In the beginning[a] was the Word, and the Word was with God,[b] and the Word was fully God.[c] 2 The Word[d] was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created[e] by him, and apart from him not one thing was created[f] that has been created.[g] 4 In him was life,[h] and the life was the light of mankind.[i] 5 And the light shines on[j] in the darkness,[k] but[l] the darkness has not mastered it.[m]
6 A man came, sent from God, whose name was John.[n] 7 He came as a witness[o] to testify[p] about the light, so that everyone[q] might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify[r] about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone,[s] was coming into the world.[t] 10 He was in the world, and the world was created[u] by him, but[v] the world did not recognize[w] him. 11 He came to what was his own,[x] but[y] his own people[z] did not receive him.[aa] 12 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name[ab]—he has given the right to become God’s children 13 —children not born[ac] by human parents[ad] or by human desire[ae] or a husband’s[af] decision,[ag] but by God.
14 Now[ah] the Word became flesh[ai] and took up residence[aj] among us. We[ak] saw his glory—the glory of the one and only,[al] full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 15 John[am] testified[an] about him and shouted out,[ao] “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am,[ap] because he existed before me.’” 16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another.[aq] 17 For the law was given through Moses, but[ar] grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only one,[as] himself God, who is in closest fellowship with[at] the Father, has made God[au] known.[av]
The Testimony of John the Baptist
19 Now[aw] this was[ax] John’s[ay] testimony[az] when the Jewish leaders[ba] sent[bb] priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”[bc] 20 He confessed—he did not deny but confessed—“I am not the Christ!”[bd] 21 So they asked him, “Then who are you?[be] Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not!”[bf] “Are you the Prophet?”[bg] He answered, “No!” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Tell us[bh] so that we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John[bi] said, “I am the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight[bj] the way for the Lord,’[bk] as the prophet Isaiah said.” 24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.[bl])[bm] 25 So they asked John,[bn] “Why then are you baptizing if you are not the Christ,[bo] nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 John answered them,[bp] “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not recognize,[bq] 27 who is coming after me. I am not worthy[br] to untie the strap[bs] of his sandal!” 28 These things happened in Bethany[bt] across the Jordan River[bu] where John was baptizing.
29 On the next day John[bv] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God[bw] who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is greater than I am,[bx] because he existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize[by] him, but I came baptizing with water so that he could be revealed to Israel.”[bz]
32 Then[ca] John testified,[cb] “I saw the Spirit descending like a dove[cc] from heaven,[cd] and it remained on him.[ce] 33 And I did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining—this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have both seen and testified that this man is the Chosen One of God.”[cf]
35 Again the next day John[cg] was standing there[ch] with two of his disciples. 36 Gazing at Jesus as he walked by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”[ci] 37 When John’s[cj] two disciples heard him say this,[ck] they followed Jesus.[cl] 38 Jesus turned around and saw them following and said to them, “What do you want?”[cm] So they said to him, “Rabbi” (which is translated Teacher),[cn] “where are you staying?” 39 Jesus[co] answered,[cp] “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. Now it was about four o’clock in the afternoon.[cq]Read full chapter
- John 1:1 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.)
- John 1:1 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 Expositor’s Greek Testament, 1:684). See also Mark 6:3, Matt 13:56, Mark 9:19, Gal 1:18, 2 John 12.
- John 1:1 tn Or “and what God was the Word was.” Colwell’s Rule is often invoked to support the translation of θεός (theos) 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.
- John 1:2 tn Grk “He”; the referent (the Word) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 1:3 tn Or “made”; Grk “came into existence.”
- John 1:3 tn Or “made”; Grk “nothing came into existence.”
- John 1:3 tc There is a major punctuation problem here: Should this relative clause go with v. 3 or v. 4? The earliest mss have no punctuation (P66,75* א* A B Δ al). Many of the later mss which do have punctuation place it before the phrase, thus putting it with v. 4 (P75c C D L Ws 050* pc). NA25 placed the phrase in v. 3; NA26 moved the words to the beginning of v. 4. In a detailed article K. Aland defended the change (“Eine Untersuchung zu Johannes 1, 3-4. Über die Bedeutung eines Punktes,” ZNW 59 : 174-209). He sought to prove that the attribution of ὃ γέγονεν (ho gegonen) to v. 3 began to be carried out in the 4th century in the Greek church. This came out of the Arian controversy, and was intended as a safeguard for doctrine. The change was unknown in the West. Aland is probably correct in affirming that the phrase was attached to v. 4 by the Gnostics and the Eastern Church; only when the Arians began to use the phrase was it attached to v. 3. But this does not rule out the possibility that, by moving the words from v. 4 to v. 3, one is restoring the original reading. Understanding the words as part of v. 3 is natural and adds to the emphasis which is built up there, while it also gives a terse, forceful statement in v. 4. On the other hand, taking the phrase ὃ γέγονεν with v. 4 gives a complicated expression: C. K. Barrett says that both ways of understanding v. 4 with ὃ γέγονεν included “are almost impossibly clumsy” (St. John, 157): “That which came into being—in it the Word was life”; “That which came into being—in the Word was its life.” The following stylistic points should be noted in the solution of this problem: (1) John frequently starts sentences with ἐν (en); (2) he repeats frequently (“nothing was created that has been created”); (3) 5:26 and 6:53 both give a sense similar to v. 4 if it is understood without the phrase; (4) it makes far better Johannine sense to say that in the Word was life than to say that the created universe (what was made, ὃ γέγονεν) was life in him. In conclusion, the phrase is best taken with v. 3. Schnackenburg, Barrett, Carson, Haenchen, Morris, KJV, and NIV concur (against Brown, Beasley-Murray, and NEB). The arguments of R. Schnackenburg, St. John, 1:239-40, are particularly persuasive.tn Or “made”; Grk “that has come into existence.”
- John 1:4 tn John uses ζωή (zōē) 36 times: 17 times it occurs with αἰώνιος (aiōnios), and in the remaining occurrences outside the prologue it is clear from context that “eternal” life is meant. The two uses in 1:4, if they do not refer to “eternal” life, would be the only exceptions. (Also 1 John uses ζωή 13 times, always of “eternal” life.)sn An allusion to Ps 36:9, which gives significant OT background: “For with you is the fountain of life; In your light we see light.” In later Judaism, Bar 4:2 expresses a similar idea. Life, especially eternal life, will become one of the major themes of John’s Gospel.
- John 1:4 tn Or “humanity”; Grk “of men” (but ἄνθρωπος [anthrōpos] is used in a generic sense here, not restricted to males only, thus “mankind,” “humanity”).
- John 1:5 tn To this point the author has used past tenses (imperfects, aorists); now he switches to a present. The light continually shines (thus the translation, “shines on”). Even as the author writes, it is shining. The present here most likely has gnomic force (though it is possible to take it as a historical present); it expresses the timeless truth that the light of the world (cf. 8:12; 9:5; 12:46) never ceases to shine.sn The light shines on. The question of whether John has in mind here the preincarnate Christ or the incarnate Christ is probably too specific. The incarnation is not really introduced until v. 9, but here the point is more general: It is of the very nature of light, that it shines.
- John 1:5 sn The author now introduces what will become a major theme of John’s Gospel: the opposition of light and darkness. The antithesis is a natural one, widespread in antiquity. Gen 1 gives considerable emphasis to it in the account of the creation, and so do the writings of Qumran. It is the major theme of one of the most important extra-biblical documents found at Qumran, the so-called War Scroll, properly titled The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness. Connections between John and Qumran are still an area of scholarly debate and a consensus has not yet emerged. See T. A. Hoffman, “1 John and the Qumran Scrolls,” BTB 8 (1978): 117-25.
- John 1:5 tn Grk “and,” but the context clearly indicates a contrast, so this has been translated as an adversative use of καί (kai).
- John 1:5 tn Or “comprehended it,” or “overcome it.” The verb κατέλαβεν (katelaben) is not easy to translate. “To seize” or “to grasp” is possible, but this also permits “to grasp with the mind” in the sense of “to comprehend” (esp. in the middle voice). This is probably another Johannine double meaning—one does not usually think of darkness as trying to “understand” light. For it to mean this, “darkness” must be understood as meaning “certain people,” or perhaps “humanity” at large, darkened in understanding. But in John’s usage, darkness is not normally used of people or a group of people. Rather it usually signifies the evil environment or ‘sphere’ in which people find themselves: “They loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19). Those who follow Jesus do not walk in darkness (8:12). They are to walk while they have light, lest the darkness “overtake/overcome” them (12:35, same verb as here). For John, with his set of symbols and imagery, darkness is not something which seeks to “understand (comprehend)” the light, but represents the forces of evil which seek to “overcome (conquer)” it. The English verb “to master” may be used in both sorts of contexts, as “he mastered his lesson” and “he mastered his opponent.”
- John 1:6 sn John refers to John the Baptist.
- John 1:7 tn Grk “came for a testimony.”sn Witness is also one of the major themes of John’s Gospel. The Greek verb μαρτυρέω (martureō) occurs 33 times (compare to once in Matthew, once in Luke, 0 in Mark) and the noun μαρτυρία (marturia) 14 times (0 in Matthew, once in Luke, 3 times in Mark).
- John 1:7 tn Or “to bear witness.”
- John 1:7 tn Grk “all.”
- John 1:8 tn Or “to bear witness.”
- John 1:9 tn Grk “every man” (but in a generic sense, “every person,” or “every human being”).
- John 1:9 tn Or “He was the true light, who gives light to everyone who comes into the world.” The participle ἐρχόμενον (erchomenon) may be either (1) neuter nominative, agreeing with τὸ φῶς (to phōs), or (2) masculine accusative, agreeing with ἄνθρωπον (anthrōpon). Option (1) results in a periphrastic imperfect with ἦν (ēn), ἦν τὸ φῶς…ἐρχόμενον, referring to the incarnation. Option (2) would have the participle modifying ἄνθρωπον and referring to the true light as enlightening “every man who comes into the world.” Option (2) has some rabbinic parallels: The phrase “all who come into the world” is a fairly common expression for “every man” (cf. Leviticus Rabbah 31.6). But (1) must be preferred here, because: (a) In the next verse the light is in the world; it is logical for v. 9 to speak of its entering the world; (b) in other passages Jesus is described as “coming into the world” (6:14; 9:39; 11:27; 16:28) and in 12:46 Jesus says: ἐγὼ φῶς εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐλήλυθα (egō phōs eis ton kosmon elēlutha); (c) use of a periphrastic participle with the imperfect tense is typical Johannine style: 1:28; 2:6; 3:23; 10:40; 11:1; 13:23; 18:18 and 25. In every one of these except 13:23 the finite verb is first and separated by one or more intervening words from the participle.sn In v. 9 the world (κόσμος, kosmos) is mentioned for the first time. This is another important theme word for John. Generally, the world as a Johannine concept does not refer to the totality of creation (the universe), although there are exceptions at 11:9. 17:5, 24; 21:25, but to the world of human beings and human affairs. Even in 1:10 the world created through the Logos is a world capable of knowing (or reprehensibly not knowing) its Creator. Sometimes the world is further qualified as this world (ὁ κόσμος οὗτος, ho kosmos houtos) as in 8:23; 9:39; 11:9; 12:25, 31; 13:1; 16:11; 18:36. This is not merely equivalent to the rabbinic phrase “this present age” (ὁ αἰών οὗτος, ho aiōn houtos) and contrasted with “the world to come.” For John it is also contrasted to a world other than this one, already existing; this is the lower world, corresponding to which there is a world above (see especially 8:23; 18:36). Jesus appears not only as the Messiah by means of whom an eschatological future is anticipated (as in the synoptic gospels) but also as an envoy from the heavenly world to this world.
- John 1:10 tn Or “was made”; Grk “came into existence.”
- John 1:10 tn Grk “and,” but in context this is an adversative use of καί (kai) and is thus translated “but.”
- John 1:10 tn Or “know.”
- John 1:11 tn Grk “to his own things.”
- John 1:11 tn Grk “and,” but in context this is an adversative use of καί (kai) and is thus translated “but.”
- John 1:11 tn “People” is not in the Greek text but is implied.
- John 1:11 sn His own people did not receive him. There is a subtle irony here: When the λόγος (logos) came into the world, he came to his own (τὰ ἴδια, ta idia, literally “his own things”) and his own people (οἱ ἴδιοι, hoi idioi), who should have known and received him, but they did not. This time John does not say that “his own” did not know him, but that they did not receive him (παρέλαβον, parelabon). The idea is one not of mere recognition, but of acceptance and welcome.
- John 1:12 tn On the use of the πιστεύω + εἰς (pisteuō + eis) construction in John: The verb πιστεύω occurs 98 times in John (compared to 11 times in Matthew, 14 times in Mark [including the longer ending], and 9 times in Luke). One of the unsolved mysteries is why the corresponding noun form πίστις (pistis) is never used at all. Many have held the noun was in use in some pre-Gnostic sects and this rendered it suspect for John. It might also be that for John, faith was an activity, something that men do (cf. W. Turner, “Believing and Everlasting Life—A Johannine Inquiry,” ExpTim 64 [1952/53]: 50-52). John uses πιστεύω in 4 major ways: (1) of believing facts, reports, etc., 12 times; (2) of believing people (or the scriptures), 19 times; (3) of believing “in” Christ” (πιστεύω + εἰς + acc.), 36 times; (4) used absolutely without any person or object specified, 30 times (the one remaining passage is 2:24, where Jesus refused to “trust” himself to certain individuals). Of these, the most significant is the use of πιστεύω with εἰς + accusative. It is not unlike the Pauline ἐν Χριστῷ (en Christō) formula. Some have argued that this points to a Hebrew (more likely Aramaic) original behind the Fourth Gospel. But it probably indicates something else, as C. H. Dodd observed: “πιστεύειν with the dative so inevitably connoted simple credence, in the sense of an intellectual judgment, that the moral element of personal trust or reliance inherent in the Hebrew or Aramaic phrase—an element integral to the primitive Christian conception of faith in Christ—needed to be otherwise expressed” (The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 183).
- John 1:13 tn The Greek term translated “born” here also involves conception.
- John 1:13 tn Grk “of blood(s).” The plural αἱμάτων (haimatōn) has seemed a problem to many interpreters. At least some sources in antiquity imply that blood was thought of as being important in the development of the fetus during its time in the womb: thus Wis 7:1: “in the womb of a mother I was molded into flesh, within the period of 10 months, compacted with blood, from the seed of a man and the pleasure of marriage.” In John 1:13, the plural αἱμάτων may imply the action of both parents. It may also refer to the “genetic” contribution of both parents, and so be equivalent to “human descent” (see BDAG 26 s.v. αἷμα 1.a). E. C. Hoskyns thinks John could not have used the singular here because Christians are in fact ‘begotten’ by the blood of Christ (The Fourth Gospel, 143), although the context would seem to make it clear that the blood in question is something other than the blood of Christ.
- John 1:13 tn Or “of the will of the flesh.” The phrase οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκός (oude ek thelēmatos sarkos) is more clearly a reference to sexual desire, but it should be noted that σάρξ (sarx) in John does not convey the evil sense common in Pauline usage. For John it refers to the physical nature in its weakness rather than in its sinfulness. There is no clearer confirmation of this than the immediately following verse, where the λόγος (logos) became σάρξ.
- John 1:13 tn Or “man’s.”
- John 1:13 tn The third phrase, οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρός (oude ek thelēmatos andros), means much the same as the second one. The word here (ἀνηρ, anēr) is often used for a husband, resulting in the translation “or a husband’s decision,” or more generally, “or of any human volition whatsoever.” L. Morris may be right when he sees here an emphasis directed at the Jewish pride in race and patriarchal ancestry, although such a specific reference is difficult to prove (John [NICNT], 101).
- John 1:14 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic, the incarnation of the Word. Greek style often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” but English style generally does not.
- John 1:14 tn This looks at the Word incarnate in humility and weakness; the word σάρξ (sarx) does not carry overtones of sinfulness here as it frequently does in Pauline usage. See also John 3:6.
- John 1:14 tn Grk “and tabernacled.”sn The Greek word translated took up residence (σκηνόω, skēnoō) alludes to the OT tabernacle, where the Shekinah, the visible glory of God’s presence, resided. The author is suggesting that this glory can now be seen in Jesus (note the following verse). The verb used here may imply that the Shekinah glory that once was found in the tabernacle has taken up residence in the person of Jesus. Cf. also John 2:19-21. The Word became flesh. This verse constitutes the most concise statement of the incarnation in the New Testament. John 1:1 makes it clear that the Logos was fully God, but 1:14 makes it clear that he was also fully human. A Docetic interpretation is completely ruled out. Here for the first time the Logos of 1:1 is identified as Jesus of Nazareth—the two are one and the same. Thus this is the last time the word logos is used in the Fourth Gospel to refer to the second person of the Trinity. From here on it is Jesus of Nazareth who is the focus of John’s Gospel.
- John 1:14 tn Grk “and we saw.”
- John 1:14 tn Or “of the unique one.” Although this word is often translated “only begotten,” such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12; 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clem. 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant., 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham’s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means “one-of-a-kind” and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God, Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14; 1:18; 3:16, and 3:18).
- John 1:15 sn John refers to John the Baptist.
- John 1:15 tn Or “bore witness.”
- John 1:15 tn Grk “and shouted out saying.” The participle λέγων (legōn) is redundant in English and has not been translated.
- John 1:15 tn Or “has a higher rank than I.”
- John 1:16 tn Grk “for from his fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” The meaning of the phrase χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος (charin anti charitos) could be: (1) love (grace) under the New Covenant in place of love (grace) under the Sinai Covenant, thus replacement; (2) grace “on top of” grace, thus accumulation; (3) grace corresponding to grace, thus correspondence. The most commonly held view is (2) in one sense or another, and this is probably the best explanation. This sense is supported by a fairly well-known use in Philo, Posterity 43 (145). Morna D. Hooker suggested that Exod 33:13 provides the background for this expression: “Now therefore, I pray you, if I have found χάρις (LXX) in your sight, let me know your ways, that I may know you, so that I may find χάρις (LXX) in your sight.” Hooker proposed that it is this idea of favor given to one who has already received favor which lies behind 1:16, and this seems very probable as a good explanation of the meaning of the phrase (“The Johannine Prologue and the Messianic Secret,” NTS 21 [1974/75]: 53).sn Earlier commentators (including Origen and Luther) took the words For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another to be John the Baptist’s. Most modern commentators take them as the words of the author.
- John 1:17 tn “But” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the implied contrast between the Mosaic law and grace through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 seems to indicate clearly that the Old Covenant (Sinai) was being contrasted with the New. In Jewish sources the Law was regarded as a gift from God (Josephus, Ant. 3.8.10 [3.223]; Pirqe Avot 1.1; Sifre Deut 31:4 §305). Further information can be found in T. F. Glasson, Moses in the Fourth Gospel (SBT).
- John 1:18 tc The textual problem μονογενὴς θεός (monogenēs theos, “the only God”) versus ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός (ho monogenēs huios, “the only son”) is a notoriously difficult one. Only one letter would have differentiated the readings in the mss, since both words would have been contracted as nomina sacra: thus qMs or uMs. Externally, there are several variants, but they can be grouped essentially by whether they read θεός or υἱός. The majority of mss, especially the later ones (A C3 Θ Ψ ƒ1,13 M lat), read ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός. P75 א1 33 have ὁ μονογενὴς θεός, while the anarthrous μονογενὴς θεός is found in P66 א* B C* L. The articular θεός is almost certainly a scribal emendation to the anarthrous θεός, for θεός without the article is a much harder reading. The external evidence thus strongly supports μονογενὴς θεός. Internally, although υἱός fits the immediate context more readily, θεός is much more difficult. As well, θεός also explains the origin of the other reading (υἱός), because it is difficult to see why a scribe who found υἱός in the text he was copying would alter it to θεός. Scribes would naturally change the wording to υἱός however, since μονογενὴς υἱός is a uniquely Johannine christological title (cf. John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). But θεός as the older and more difficult reading is preferred. As for translation, it makes the most sense to see the word θεός as in apposition to μονογενής, and the participle ὁ ὤν (ho ōn) as in apposition to θεός, giving in effect three descriptions of Jesus rather than only two. (B. D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 81, suggests that it is nearly impossible and completely unattested in the NT for an adjective followed immediately by a noun that agrees in gender, number, and case, to be a substantival adjective: “when is an adjective ever used substantivally when it immediately precedes a noun of the same inflection?” This, however, is an overstatement. First, as Ehrman admits, μονογενής in John 1:14 is substantival. And since it is an established usage for the adjective in this context, one might well expect that the author would continue to use the adjective substantivally four verses later. Indeed, μονογενής is already moving toward a crystallized substantival adjective in the NT [cf. Luke 9:38; Heb 11:17]; in patristic Greek, the process continued [cf. PGL 881 s.v. 7]. Second, there are several instances in the NT in which a substantival adjective is followed by a noun with which it has complete concord: cf., e.g., Rom 1:30; Gal 3:9; 1 Tim 1:9; 2 Pet 2:5.) The modern translations which best express this are the NEB (margin) and TEV. Several things should be noted: μονογενής alone, without υἱός, can mean “only son,” “unique son,” “unique one,” etc. (see 1:14). Furthermore, θεός is anarthrous. As such it carries qualitative force much like it does in 1:1c, where θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (theos ēn ho logos) means “the Word was fully God” or “the Word was fully of the essence of deity.” Finally, ὁ ὤν occurs in Rev 1:4, 8; 4:8; 11:17; and 16:5, but even more significantly in the LXX of Exod 3:14. Putting all of this together leads to the translation given in the text.tn Or “The unique one.” For the meaning of μονογενής (monogenēs) see the note on “one and only” in 1:14.
- John 1:18 tn Grk “in the bosom of” (an idiom for closeness or nearness; cf. L&N 34.18; BDAG 556 s.v. κόλπος 1).
- John 1:18 tn Grk “him”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 1:18 sn Has made God known. In this final verse of the prologue, the climactic and ultimate statement of the earthly career of the Logos, Jesus of Nazareth, is reached. The unique One (John 1:14), the One who has taken on human form and nature by becoming incarnate (became flesh, 1:14), who is himself fully God (the Word was God, 1:1c) and is to be identified with the ever-living One of the Old Testament revelation (Exod 3:14), who is in intimate relationship with the Father, this One and no other has fully revealed what God is like. As Jesus said to Philip in John 14:9, “The one who has seen me has seen the Father.”
- John 1:19 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic. Greek style often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” but English style generally does not.
- John 1:19 tn Grk “is.”
- John 1:19 sn John’s refers to John the Baptist.
- John 1:19 tn Or “witness.”sn John the Baptist’s testimony seems to take place over 3 days: day 1, John’s testimony about his own role is largely negative (1:19-28); day 2, John gives positive testimony about who Jesus is (1:29-34); day 3, John sends his own disciples to follow Jesus (1:35-40).
- John 1:19 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. Here the author refers to the authorities or leaders in Jerusalem. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 : 401-9.)
- John 1:19 tc ‡ Several significant witnesses have πρὸς αὐτόν (pros auton, “to him”) either here (B C* 33 892c al it) or after “Levites” (P66c vid A Θ Ψ ƒ13 579 al lat), while the earliest mss as well as the majority of mss (P66*,75 א C3 L Ws ƒ1 M) lack the phrase. On the one hand, πρὸς αὐτόν could be perceived as redundant since αὐτόν is used again later in the verse, thus prompting scribes to omit the phrase. On the other hand, both the variation in placement of πρὸς αὐτόν and the fact that this phrase rather than the latter αὐτόν is lacking in certain witnesses (cf. John 11:44; 14:7; 18:31), suggests that scribes felt that the sentence needed the phrase to make the sense clearer. Although a decision is difficult, the shorter reading is slightly preferred. NA28 has πρὸς αὐτόν in brackets, indicating doubt as to the phrase’s authenticity.
- John 1:19 sn “Who are you?” No uniform Jewish expectation of a single eschatological figure existed in the 1st century. A majority expected the Messiah. But some pseudepigraphic books describe God’s intervention without mentioning the anointed Davidic king; in parts of 1 Enoch, for example, the figure of the Son of Man, not the Messiah, embodies the expectations of the author. Essenes at Qumran seem to have expected three figures: a prophet, a priestly messiah, and a royal messiah. In baptizing, John the Baptist was performing an eschatological action. It also seems to have been part of his proclamation (John 1:23, 26-27). Crowds were beginning to follow him. He was operating in an area not too far from the Essene center on the Dead Sea. No wonder the authorities were curious about who he was.
- John 1:20 tn Or “the Messiah” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed”).sn “I am not the Christ.” A 3rd century work, the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions (1.54 and 1.60 in the Latin text; the statement is not as clear in the Syriac version) records that John’s followers proclaimed him to be the Messiah. There is no clear evidence that they did so in the 1st century, however—but Luke 3:15 indicates some wondered. Concerning the Christ, the term χριστός (christos) was originally an adjective (“anointed”), developing in LXX into a substantive (“an anointed one”), then developing still further into a technical generic term (“the anointed one”). In the intertestamental period it developed further into a technical term referring to the hoped-for anointed one, that is, a specific individual. In the NT the development starts there (technical-specific), is so used in the gospels, and then develops in Paul to mean virtually Jesus’ last name.
- John 1:21 tn Grk “What then?” (an idiom).
- John 1:21 sn According to the 1st century rabbinic interpretation of 2 Kgs 2:11, Elijah was still alive. In Mal 4:5 it is said that Elijah would be the precursor of Messiah. How does one reconcile John the Baptist’s denial here (“I am not”) with Jesus’ statements in Matt 11:14 (see also Mark 9:13 and Matt 17:12) that John the Baptist was Elijah? Some have attempted to remove the difficulty by a reconstruction of the text in the Gospel of John which makes the Baptist say that he was Elijah. However, external support for such emendations is lacking. According to Gregory the Great, John was not Elijah, but exercised toward Jesus the function of Elijah by preparing his way. But this avoids the real difficulty, since in John’s Gospel the question of the Jewish authorities to the Baptist concerns precisely his function. It has also been suggested that the author of the Gospel here preserves a historically correct reminiscence—that John the Baptist did not think of himself as Elijah, although Jesus said otherwise. Mark 6:14-16 and Mark 8:28 indicate the people and Herod both distinguished between John and Elijah—probably because he did not see himself as Elijah. But Jesus’ remarks in Matt 11:14, Mark 9:13, and Matt 17:12 indicate that John did perform the function of Elijah—John did for Jesus what Elijah was to have done for the coming of the Lord. C. F. D. Moule pointed out that it is too simple to see a straight contradiction between John’s account and that of the synoptic gospels: “We have to ask by whom the identification is made, and by whom refused. The synoptic gospels represent Jesus as identifying, or comparing, the Baptist with Elijah, while John represents the Baptist as rejecting the identification when it is offered him by his interviewers. Now these two, so far from being incompatible, are psychologically complementary. The Baptist humbly rejects the exalted title, but Jesus, on the contrary, bestows it on him. Why should not the two both be correct?” (The Phenomenon of the New Testament [SBT], 70).
- John 1:21 sn The Prophet is a reference to the “prophet like Moses” of Deut 18:15, by this time an eschatological figure in popular belief. Acts 3:22 identifies Jesus as this prophet.
- John 1:22 tn The words “Tell us” are not in the Greek but are implied.
- John 1:23 tn Grk “He”; the referent (John the Baptist) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 1:23 sn This call to “make straight” is probably an allusion to preparation through repentance.
- John 1:23 sn A quotation from Isa 40:3.
- John 1:24 sn Pharisees were members of one of the most important and influential religious and political parties of Judaism in the time of Jesus. There were more Pharisees than Sadducees (according to Josephus, Ant. 17.2.4 [17.42] there were more than 6,000 Pharisees at about this time). Pharisees differed with Sadducees on certain doctrines and patterns of behavior. The Pharisees were strict and zealous adherents to the laws of the OT and to numerous additional traditions such as angels and bodily resurrection.
- John 1:24 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
- John 1:25 tn Grk “And they asked him, and said to him”; the referent (John) has been specified in the translation for clarity, and the phrase has been simplified in the translation to “So they asked John.”
- John 1:25 tn Or “the Messiah” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed”).sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.
- John 1:26 tn Grk “answered them, saying.” The participle λέγων (legōn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.
- John 1:26 tn Or “know.”
- John 1:27 tn Grk “of whom I am not worthy.”sn The humility of John is evident in the statement I am not worthy. This was considered one of the least worthy tasks of a slave, and John did not consider himself worthy to do even that for the one to come, despite the fact he himself was a prophet.
- John 1:27 tn The term refers to the leather strap or thong used to bind a sandal. This is often viewed as a collective singular and translated as a plural, “the straps of his sandals,” but it may be more emphatic to retain the singular here.
- John 1:28 tc Many witnesses ([א2] C2 K T Ψc 083 ƒ1,13 33 pm sa Or) read Βηθαβαρᾷ (Bēthabara, “Bethabara”) instead of Βηθανίᾳ (Bēthania, “Bethany”). But the reading Βηθανίᾳ is strongly supported by P66,75 A B C* L Ws Δ Θ Ψ* 565 579 700 1241 1424 pm latt bo as well as several fathers. Since there is no known Bethany “beyond the Jordan,” it is likely that the name would have been changed to a more etymologically edifying one (Origen mistakenly thought the name Bethabara meant “house of preparation” and for this reason was appropriate in this context; see TCGNT 171 for discussion). On the other hand, both since Origen’s understanding of the Semitic etymology of Bethabara was incorrect, and because Bethany was at least a well-known location in Palestine, mentioned in the Gospels about a dozen times, one has to wonder whether scribes replaced Βηθαβαρᾷ with Βηθανίᾳ. However, if Origen’s understanding of the etymology of the name was representative, scribes may have altered the text in the direction of Bethabara. And even if most scribes were unfamiliar with what the name might signify, that a reading which did not contradict the Gospels’ statements of a Bethany near Jerusalem was already at hand may have been sufficient reason for them to adopt Bethabara. Further, in light of the very strong testimony for Βηθανίᾳ, this reading should be regarded as authentic.
- John 1:28 tn “River” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for clarity.
- John 1:29 tn Grk “he”; the referent (John) has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
- John 1:29 sn Gen 22:8 is an important passage in the background of the title Lamb of God as applied to Jesus. In Jewish thought this was held to be a supremely important sacrifice. G. Vermès stated: “For the Palestinian Jew, all lamb sacrifice, and especially the Passover lamb and the Tamid offering, was a memorial of the Akedah with its effects of deliverance, forgiveness of sin and messianic salvation” (Scripture and Tradition in Judaism [StPB], 225).
- John 1:30 tn Or “has a higher rank than I.”
- John 1:31 tn Or “know.”
- John 1:31 sn John the Baptist, who has been so reluctant to elaborate his own role, now more than willingly gives his testimony about Jesus. For the author, the emphasis is totally on John the Baptist as a witness to Jesus. No attention is given to the Baptist’s call to national repentance and very little to his baptizing. Everything is focused on what he has to say about Jesus: so that he could be revealed to Israel.
- John 1:32 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events in the narrative. Greek style often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” but English style generally does not.
- John 1:32 tn Grk “testified, saying.” The participle λέγων (legōn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.
- John 1:32 sn The phrase like a dove is a descriptive comparison. The Spirit is not a dove, but descended like one in some sort of bodily representation.
- John 1:32 tn Or “from the sky.” The Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context.
- John 1:32 sn John says the Spirit remained on Jesus. The Greek verb μένω (menō) is a favorite Johannine word, used 40 times in the Gospel and 27 times in the Epistles (67 together) against 118 times total in the NT. The general significance of the verb μένω for John is to express the permanency of relationship between Father and Son and Son and believer. Here the use of the word implies that Jesus permanently possesses the Holy Spirit, and because he does, he will dispense the Holy Spirit to others in baptism. Other notes on the dispensation of the Spirit occur at John 3:5 and following (at least implied by the wordplay), John 3:34; 7:38-39, numerous passages in John 14-16 (the Paraclete passages) and John 20:22. Note also the allusion to Isa 42:1—“Behold my servant…my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit on him.”
- John 1:34 tc ‡ What did John the Baptist declare about Jesus on this occasion? Did he say, “This is the Son of God” (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, houtos estin ho huios tou theou), or “This is the Chosen One of God” (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐκλεκτὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, houtos estin ho eklektos tou theou)? The majority of the witnesses, impressive because of their diversity in age and locales, read “This is the Son of God” (so P66,75 A B C L Θ Ψ 0233vid ƒ1,13 33 1241 aur c f l q bo as well as the majority of Byzantine minuscules and many others). Most scholars take this to be sufficient evidence to regard the issue as settled without much of a need to reflect on internal evidence. On the other hand, one of the earliest mss for this verse, P5 (3rd century), evidently read οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐκλεκτὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. (There is a gap in the ms at the point of the disputed words; it is too large for υἱός especially if written, as it surely would have been, as a nomen sacrum [uMs]. The term ἐκλεκτός was not a nomen sacrum and would have therefore taken up much more space [eklektos]. Given these two variants, there is hardly any question as to what P5 read.) This papyrus has many affinities with א*, which here also has ὁ ἐκλεκτός. In addition to their combined testimony P106vid b e ff2* sys,c also support this reading. P106 is particularly impressive, for it is a second third-century papyrus in support of ὁ ἐκλεκτός. A third reading combines these two: “the elect Son” (electus filius in ff2c sa and a [with slight variation]). Although the evidence for ἐκλεκτός is not as impressive as that for υἱός, the reading is found in early Alexandrian and Western witnesses. Turning to the internal evidence, “the Chosen One” clearly comes out ahead. “Son of God” is a favorite expression of the author (cf. 1:49; 3:18; 5:25; 10:36; 11:4, 27; 19:7; 20:31); further, there are several other references to “his Son,” “the Son,” etc. Scribes would be naturally motivated to change ἐκλεκτός to υἱός since the latter is both a Johannine expression and is, on the surface, richer theologically in 1:34. On the other hand, there is not a sufficient reason for scribes to change υἱός to ἐκλεκτός. The term never occurs in John; even its verbal cognate (ἐκλέγω, eklegō) is never affirmed of Jesus in this Gospel. ἐκλεκτός clearly best explains the rise of υἱός. Further, the third reading (“Chosen Son of God”) is patently a conflation of the other two. It has all the earmarks of adding υἱός to ἐκλεκτός. Thus, ὁ υἱός τοῦ θεοῦ is almost certainly a motivated reading. As R. E. Brown notes (John [AB], 1:57), “On the basis of theological tendency…it is difficult to imagine that Christian scribes would change ‘the Son of God’ to ‘God’s chosen one,’ while a change in the opposite direction would be quite plausible. Harmonization with the Synoptic accounts of the baptism (‘You are [This is] my beloved Son’) would also explain the introduction of ‘the Son of God’ into John; the same phenomenon occurs in vi 69. Despite the weaker textual evidence, therefore, it seems best—with Lagrange, Barrett, Boismard, and others—to accept ‘God’s chosen one’ as original.”
- John 1:35 sn John refers to John the Baptist.
- John 1:35 tn “There” is not in the Greek text but is implied by current English idiom.
- John 1:36 sn This section (1:35-51) is joined to the preceding by the literary expedient of repeating the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus being the Lamb of God (1:36, cf. 1:29). This repeated testimony (1:36) no longer has revelatory value in itself, since it has been given before; its purpose, instead, is to institute a chain reaction which will bring John the Baptist’s disciples to Jesus and make them Jesus’ own disciples.
- John 1:37 tn Grk “his”; the referent (John) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 1:37 tn Grk “And the two disciples heard him speaking.”
- John 1:37 sn The expression followed Jesus pictures discipleship, which means that to learn from Jesus is to follow him as the guiding priority of one’s life.
- John 1:38 tn Grk “What are you seeking?”
- John 1:38 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
- John 1:39 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 1:39 tn Grk “said to them.”
- John 1:39 tn Grk “about the tenth hour.” sn About four o’clock in the afternoon. What system of time reckoning is the author using? B. F. Westcott thought John, unlike the synoptic gospels, was using Roman time, which started at midnight (St. John, 282). This would make the time 10 a.m., which would fit here. But later in the Gospel’s Passover account (John 19:14, where the sixth hour is on the “eve of the Passover”) it seems clear the author had to be using Jewish reckoning, which began at 6 a.m. This would make the time here in 1:39 to be 4 p.m. This may be significant: If the hour was late, Andrew and the unnamed disciple probably spent the night in the same house where Jesus was staying, and the events of 1:41-42 took place on the next day. The evidence for Westcott’s view, that the Gospel is using Roman time, is very slim. The Roman reckoning which started at midnight was only used by authorities as legal time (for contracts, official documents, etc.). Otherwise, the Romans too reckoned time from 6 a.m. (e.g., Roman sundials are marked VI, not XII, for noon).