What does John 1:20 mean?
ESV: He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
NIV: He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, 'I am not the Messiah.'
NASB: And he confessed and did not deny; and this is what he confessed: 'I am not the Christ.'
CSB: He didn't deny it but confessed, "I am not the Messiah."
NLT: He came right out and said, 'I am not the Messiah.'
KJV: And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
Verse Commentary:
In John's gospel, he typically refers to Israel's spiritual leaders using the term "the Jews." The Baptist was willing to answer questions from these local religious leaders. However, he made it very clear that he was not the Messiah, nor was he claiming to be. The term Messiah comes from a Hebrew word meaning "the anointed One," or the Savior. Prophecies such as Isaiah chapter 53, Psalm 22, and Daniel 9:25–26 had predicted His coming. The Jewish people had waited for this rescuer for centuries. Recently, this waiting had become especially painful, as Israel was under the control of the Roman Empire. The concept is translated into Greek using the term "Christos," from which we derive the English title "the Christ." Unlike arrogant spiritual leaders, John the Baptist is not interested in personal glory. He preaches only to lead people towards God's Promised One. Several times in this conversation, John implies that he would much rather talk about the Messiah than about himself.
Verse Context:
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.
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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