What does John 1 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
The first chapter of John begins with a clear, expressive description of Jesus as identical to God the Father. 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; John 1:14), "The Light" (John 1:4–13), "The Son of God" (John 1:15–28; John 1:49), "The Lamb of God" (John 1:29–34), "The Messiah" (John 1:3, 42), "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 identical to God (John 1:1, John 1:3). And yet, since He came in physical form, He was subject to all of 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 the Baptist (different from the author of this gospel) preached a message of repentance, preparing people for the arrival of the Messiah. Local religious leaders interrogated the Baptist about his teachings. In response, the Baptist clearly stated that he was not the Savior, just a man opening minds and hearts to receive the Chosen One. In front of these witnesses, the Baptist testifies that he has seen the Holy Spirit on Jesus, and that Jesus is the Son of God. He directs two of his followers, Andrew and John (the author of this gospel) to follow Jesus.

Andrew seeks out his brother, Simon, and brings him to Jesus. Jesus gives Simon the name "Peter," which makes more sense later on. Jesus then calls Philip, and Philip finds Nathanael in order to tell him about Christ. Nathanael is skeptical at first, but believes after Jesus demonstrates His supernatural wisdom. Jesus tells the five disciples that they will see far more amazing things as they follow Him. John's gospel only discusses seven miracles, but each is explained in order to prove that Christ is who He claimed to be. Chapter 1 is just the introduction to these amazing events.

Verse Context:
John 1:1–18 is a poetic introduction of Jesus Christ. Jesus is referred to using the Greek word Logos, meaning “The Word.” This passage clearly describes Jesus as identical to God, and co-creator with God. These verses summarize Jesus’ ministry and mission on Earth. The passage also explains how John the Baptist (a different John from the author of this gospel) was sent ahead of Christ to prepare for His arrival.
John 1:19–28 describes a conversation between John the Baptist (not the same John as the author of this gospel) and the local religious leaders. Baptizing converts to Judaism was common, but the Baptist was calling on Jews to repent and be baptized. The Baptist makes it clear that he is not the “Promised One,” but equally clear that his mission is to prepare the way for that One.
John 1:29–42 is a conversation between Jesus and John the Baptist, and records the moment when Jesus recruits His first two disciples. Jesus is identified as “The Lamb of God,” and “The Son of God.” The Baptist describes his vision of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, landing on Jesus. This confirms that He is the Messiah. The Baptist tells two of his followers, John and Andrew, to go and follow Jesus. They, in turn, introduce Jesus to Peter.
John 1:43–51 shows Jesus recruiting Philip and Nathanael. Philip seems eager to follow Jesus. Nathanael is skeptical, especially because Jesus is from a back-water town like Nazareth. When Jesus demonstrates His supernatural wisdom, Nathanael proclaims Him as the “Son of God” and “The King of Israel.” Jesus responds by predicting even more spectacular signs, and refers to Himself using the term “Son of Man,” an important figure in Jewish prophecy.
Chapter Summary:
The first chapter of John introduces Jesus as “the Word,” from the Greek Logos. This chapter clearly describes Jesus as identical to God. After this prologue, the chapter describes Jesus recruiting the first of His disciples, as well as a conversation between John the Baptist and the Pharisees. There are seven names for Christ in this chapter, including “The Son of God,” “The Word,” and “The King of Israel.”
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of the gospel of John equates Christ with God, and introduces John the Baptist. The Baptist specifically points to Jesus as the Promised One. Jesus collects the first five of His disciples. In this chapter, Jesus is given seven descriptive names, including “The Word,” “The Son of God,” and “The King of Israel.” This chapter sets the stage for the rest of the gospel, by giving the reader a sense of who Jesus truly is, and why He has come. The rest of the gospel is an exploration of the claims made in this initial passage.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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