What does John 1:4 mean?
ESV: In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
NIV: In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
NASB: In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind.
CSB: In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
NLT: The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
KJV: In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Verse Commentary:
Verse 4 proclaims Christ's role as the giver of eternal life. John will spend much more time later in his gospel explaining Jesus' role in bringing life to mankind. This verse also refers to Jesus using the second of John's seven names for Jesus: "The Light." To a Hebrew, "light" was the ultimate value. All good things were said to be "light," and evil was "darkness." Light implies a revealing. Jesus not only exposes our sinfulness, He illuminates a way to be saved from it. Light implies knowledge and awareness, while darkness is ignorance. For some, darkness is a deliberate choice. They know that what they do is wrong, so they prefer to hide from the truth. Light guides and comforts, but it can be infuriating to someone who wants to stay in the shadows. The light, in this case, is specifically for mankind. Jesus will proclaim Himself as "the Light of the world" in John 8:12.
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.
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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