New English Translation
14 Now[a] the Word became flesh[b] and took up residence[c] among us. We[d] saw his glory—the glory of the one and only,[e] full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 15 John[f] testified[g] about him and shouted out,[h] “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am,[i] because he existed before me.’” 16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another.[j] 17 For the law was given through Moses, but[k] grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only one,[l] himself God, who is in closest fellowship with[m] the Father, has made God[n] known.[o]Read full chapter
- 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.”