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John chapter 1

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What does John chapter 1 mean?

The first chapter of John begins with a clear, expressive description of Jesus as God. It then segues to the ministry of John the Baptist, and the local religious leaders who questioned him. By the end of the chapter, Jesus has collected the first five disciples: John, Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael.

Along the way, John describes Jesus using seven specific titles. These names outline both the purpose of Jesus' ministry, and His status as both God and Savior. The seven names of John chapter one are "the Word" (John 1:1–3, 14), "the Light" (John 1:4–13), "the Son of God" (John 1:15–18, 34, 49), "the Lamb of God" (John 1:29–34, 36), "the Messiah" (John 1:17, 19–28), "the King of Israel" (John 1:43–49), and "the Son of Man" (John 1:50–51). Each of these is meant to explain a particular aspect of who Jesus is, and the reason He was born on earth.

The first 18 verses of John form a prologue, setting the tone for the rest of the gospel. Jesus is described using the Greek word logos, meaning "logic, word, order, or definition." Jesus is the message, the logic, the "word" of God. In describing Jesus, the prologue states that Jesus has always existed (John 1:2) and has always been God (John 1:1, 3). And yet, since He came in physical form, He was subject to all the physical struggles of a human man (John 1:14). Jesus is described as the "light" (John 1:4–5), an important concept in Hebrew philosophy. Much of Jesus' ministry, as described in John, is an "illumination" of human ignorance. Jesus constantly corrects mistaken concepts about God (John 1:1–18).

John the Baptist, not the same John as the author of this gospel, preached a message of repentance. His goal was to prepare people for the arrival of the Messiah. Local religious leaders interrogated the Baptist about his teachings. This is a reasonable investigation, since those men are responsible for the spiritual well-being of the Jewish people. However, their motives are not pure. In response to questions, the Baptist clearly states that he is not the Savior, just a man opening minds and hearts to receive the Chosen One (John 1:19–28).

This gospel doesn't fully record Jesus' baptism, but it does mention some of what happened. In front of these witnesses, John the Baptist testifies that he has seen the Holy Spirit on Jesus, and that Jesus is the Son of God. Even though the Baptist is several months older than Jesus (Luke 1:35–36), he repeats the idea that Jesus existed first. He seems to direct two of his students, Andrew and John—the author of this gospel—to follow Jesus the next day. The men spend time with Jesus, foreshadowing a pattern that will continue for the rest of His earthly ministry (John 1:29–39).

Andrew seeks out his brother, Simon, and brings him to Jesus. Jesus gives Simon the name "Cephas" or "Peter," which makes more sense later. Jesus then calls Philip, and Philip finds Nathanael to tell him about Christ. Nathanael is skeptical at first. He dismisses Jesus because Nazareth doesn't have a grand reputation. Jesus responds with a clever remark which counters the idea of judging a person based on such things. He also demonstrates supernatural wisdom. This leads Nathanael to change his mind. Jesus tells the five disciples that they will see far more amazing things as they follow Him (John 1:40–51).

John's gospel only discusses seven miracles, but each is explained to prove that Christ is who He claimed to be. Chapter 1 is just the introduction to these amazing events.
What is the Gospel?
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