JOHN 1:1-18 Translation/Interpretation

Post Date: 10/30/2001 8:59:50 AM (Mountain USA)

Author: Chris C

EVERYONE -

Here is my latest work on the expanded translation/interpretation of John 1:1-18. This version is based upon the parallel accounts in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 3, Mark 1, Luke 1-3), as well as the vocabulary of 1-John 1:1-10.

I know that this is a bit difficult to read, but the expanded rendering (in parentheses) is necessary on account of the prevalence of the metaphors (light, life, darkness, etc), as well as the difficulty of reading the translation without a Trinitarian bias.

The key to the following interpretation is that I see the "word" to be the heavenly announcement that the Apostles heard during the public ministry of John the baptizer and the baptism of Jesus when he (Jesus himself) was anointed with holy spirit and began his public ministry. This marks "the beginning" of the ministry of the apostles and their kindred experience with Jesus (see Acts 1:20-22).

JOHN 1:1-18

1:1 IN THE BEGINNING (at the time when John the baptizer was preaching in the wilderness) WAS THE MESSAGE (was the gospel announcement about the appearing of Jesus, the Christ), AND THE MESSAGE WAS TOWARD GOD (and the gospel announcement about the appearing of Jesus, the Christ, was for repentance toward God the Father), AND GOD WAS THE MESSAGE (and God the Father, Himself, was making the gospel announcement about repentance and the appearing of Jesus, the Christ, through John the baptizer),

1:2 AND IT (the gospel message about the appearing of Jesus, the Christ) WAS IN THE BEGINNING TOWARD GOD (was about repentance toward God the Father, since the time John the baptizer was preaching in the wilderness).

1:3 ALL THINGS (everything now manifest pertaining to the eternal life and true fellowship with God the Father, Himself, through Jesus, the Christ) CAME INTO BEING THROUGH IT (came to be manifest on account of the gospel message about the appearing of Jesus, the Christ), AND APART FROM IT (and without the gospel message about the appearing of Jesus, the Christ) NOTHING CAME INTO BEING THAT HAS COME INTO BEING (nothing pertaining to the eternal life and true fellowship with God the Father, Himself, through Jesus, the Christ, would be manifest)

1:4 IN IT (in the gospel message about the appearing of Jesus, the Christ) WAS LIFE (was the manifestation of the eternal life through Jesus, the Christ), AND THE LIFE (and the manifestation of the eternal life through Jesus, the Christ) WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN (is the eternal life and the true fellowship with God the Father, Himself, for all the people)

1:5 THE LIGHT SHINES (the eternal life and the true fellowship with God, Himself, through Jesus, the Christ, was manifest) IN THE DARKNESS (among the unbelieving Jews), AND THE DARKNESS (and the unbelieving Jews) DID NOT COMPREHEND IT (did not recognize the eternal life and the true fellowship with God the Father through Jesus, the Christ, when it was proclaimed)

1:6 THERE CAME A MAN SENT FROM GOD WHO'S NAME IS JOHN (God the Father sent John the baptizer)

1:7 HE (John the baptizer) CAME AS A WITNESS TO TESTIFY ABOUT THE LIGHT (came to declare, on behalf of God the Father that the eternal life and the true fellowship is through Jesus, the Christ), SO THAT ALL (all the people) MIGHT BELIEVE (might have true fellowship with God the Father through Jesus, the Christ) THROUGH HIM (on account of John's preaching/baptizing in the wilderness).

1:8 HE (John the baptizer, himself) WAS NOT THE LIGHT (was not the way of the eternal life and the true fellowship with God the Father, which is Jesus, the Christ), BUT HE (John the baptizer) CAME TO TESTIFY ABOUT THE LIGHT (was sent to declare that the eternal life and the true fellowship with God the Father is through Jesus, the Christ)

1:9 THERE WAS THE TRUE LIGHT (there was the eternal life and the true fellowship of Jesus, the Christ, himself) WHICH COMING INTO THE WORLD (who dwelling among the circumcised Jews) ENLIGHTENS EVERY MAN (manifested the eternal life and the true fellowship with God the Father for all the people of Israel, whether circumcised or uncircumcised)

1:10 HE (Jesus, the Christ) WAS IN THE WORLD (dwelt among the circumcised Jews) AND THE WORLD (and the circumcised Jews) WAS MADE FOR HIM (were his own people) AND THE WORLD (but the circumcised Jews) DID NOT KNOW HIM (did not recognize Jesus, the Christ)

1:11 HE (Jesus, the Christ) CAME TO HIS OWN (dwelt among the circumcised Jews), AND THOSE (and the circumcised Jews) WHO WERE HIS OWN (who were his own covenant people) DID NOT RECEIVE HIM (did not acknowledge Jesus, the Christ)

1:12 TO AS MANY (to as many of the people of Israel, whether circumcised or uncircumcised) AS RECEIVED HIM (as did acknowledge Jesus, the Christ), TO THEM (to as many of the people of Israel, whether circumcised or uncircumcised) HE (Jesus, the Christ) GAVE THE RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD (declared to be the true sons of Abraham), EVEN TO THOSE (even all of the people of Israel, whether circumcised or uncircumcised) WHO BELIEVE IN HIS NAME (who believe that Jesus, the Christ, is the Son of God)

1:13 WHO WERE BORN (who have the eternal life), NOT OF BLOOD NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN (not by human birth or the circumcision of the Jews), BUT OF GOD (but of God the Father)

1:14 AND THE WORD (and the gospel announcement about Jesus, the Christ) BECAME FLESH (was born a human being), AND DWELT AMONG US (and was heard, seen, and touched by the apostles), AND WE (and the apostles) SAW HIS GLORY, GLORY AS OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN FROM THE FATHER (as of the only son of a woman, conceived by God the Father, Himself) , FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.

1:15 JOHN (John the baptizer) TESTIFIED (declared on behalf of God the Father) ABOUT HIM (about Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God) AND CRIED OUT (and proclaimed), SAYING, THIS WAS HE (this is Jesus, the Christ) OF WHOM I SAID (of whom John the baptizer said), 'HE (the man, Jesus, the Christ) WHO COMES AFTER ME (who is sent by God the Father after John the baptizer) HAS A HIGHER RANK THAN I (is greater than John the baptizer), FOR HE (for Jesus, the Christ) EXISTED BEFORE ME'" (was born of a woman who conceived by the power of God the Father, Himself, who is the eternal life)

1:16 FOR OF HIS FULNESS WE HAVE ALL RECEIVED AND GRACE UPON GRACE (for all of the people of Israel, whether circumcised or uncircumcised, have received forgiveness of sins through the propitiation of Jesus, the Christ)

1:17 FOR THE LAW (for the distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision) WAS GIVEN THROUGH MOSES; GRACE AND TRUTH (the true fellowship of all the people of Israel, whether circumcised or uncircumcised) WERE REALIZED THROUGH JESUS CHRIST

1:18 NO ONE HAS SEEN GOD AT ANY TIME (no man has ever seen God the Father, Himself, at any time, past or present); THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD (the man, Jesus, the Christ, who was born of a woman who conceived by the power of God the Father, Himself), WHO IS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE FATHER (who is now in heaven with God the Father); HE (Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God) HAS EXPLAINED HIM (has manifested the eternal life of God the Father).

Chris C

Post Date: 10/30/2001 9:16:18 AM (Mountain USA)

Author: Chris C

EVERYONE -

Here are a few notes to clarify where I'm getting the gist of John 1:1-18 in the above interpretation. Whether anyone agrees with this or not, I hope that everyone understands where I'm coming from so that I can get some useful feedback.

1. I see "the beginning" as the time when the apostles first heard the call to follow Jesus from John the baptizer. See Mark 1:1, Luke1:1-3, Acts 1:20-22 where the time of John the baptizer is explicitly called "the beginning."

2. I see "the word" as a reference to the "message" or call to repentance and the appearing of Jesus and the Kingdom of God that John the baptizer was preaching in the wilderness when the apostles encountered him. Notice in Matt 3:1-17, Mark 1:1-11, Luke 3:1-20; and John 1:19-39 that all the Gospels identify John the baptizer as a "voice" (i.e. word/message). Although the "word" is later associated with Jesus himself (John 1:18), I think the actual preaching of John came first, and that Jesus ultimately continues the fulfillment of John's message.

These passages also relate that when John baptized Jesus with water there was a "voice" (word/message) that came out of heaven and declared Jesus to be the beloved "Son of God." Again, notice the reference to a "voice" and "message" that would obviously contain the "word" of God about Jesus. Hence, I see a correspondence between the "word/message/voice" that was being heard, and the later realization that this "message" was fulfilled in the appearing of the human, Jesus (John 1:18).

3. Notice in 1-John 1:1-5 that Apostle John refers to the "message" that the Apostles "heard" in "the beginning" and that they recognized Jesus was the Son of God about whom the "message/word" was spoken. According to the Gospels, it was John the baptizer who told the Apostles who Jesus was, so that they could recognize him and "begin" to follow Jesus (John 1:19-39).

The "word/message" of John the baptizer pointed to its own fulfillment in the appearing of the man, Jesus. Paul also told the Ephesian disciples that John's purpose was to "tell" the people of Israel about Jesus (Acts 19:4-5).

4. In Acts 1:20-22, the Apostles explicitly relate that "the beginning" of their experience with Jesus was at the "baptism of John." Hence, I see Apostle John explaining the same "beginning" in John 1:1-18 where the subject is appearance of John the baptizer and Jesus (John 1:1-52).

Chris C

Post Date: 11/2/2001 8:37:07 AM (Mountain USA)

Author: Kris Dekker

Chris -

Two questions:

- Your use of "toward" instead of "with" (traditional): Do you have anything to verify that as the more likely rendering or is that simply hermeneutical choice?

- Your defense of "in the beginning" usage is plausible (perhaps even believable if I'm in a wild mood). Do you have any kind of similar defense for your interpretation of "all things" referring solely to covenantal benefits, etc.? I know Paul makes some similar statements as John concerning "of Him, through Him..." and the like. When John uses this similar language about the Father in Revelation (Rev. 4:11), does he mean the same thing there as he does in John 1? If so, is he not then ascribing the origin of "all things" to two different persons? (Or are they REALLY 2?)

Kris

Post Date: 11/2/2001 9:46:09 AM (Mountain USA)

Author: Chris C

Kris -

Thanks for the feedback. Nobody was responding to this topic so I figured everyone just thinks I'm completely "cracked" and didn't even want to consider going out on another limb with me! :-)

1. The reason I think the Greek "pros" should be translated "toward" here is because this is usually how it is translated in the NT. Translating as "with" is more popular (on account of the Trinity doctrine), but is actually an unusual way of translating "pros." I think this makes good sense to when you think of God "calling" people back "toward" him through the message of repentance that John and Jesus were preaching. In other words, John's "word/preaching" about repentance was calling people back "toward" for forgiveness of sins.

2. I'm glad that someone else out there can see that there just might be a parallel between "the beginning" in Mark 1:1, Luke 1:1-3, Acts 1:20-22 and John 1:1. Afterall, how many "beginnings" can there be in the NT? Especially when all these passages are dealing with the same context of the time of John and Jesus, right?

I really think that people have just become so accustomed to assuming that "the beginning" in John 1:1 is coming from Genesis 1:1 (because of the Trinity doctrine) that they miss the fact that another NT "beginning" is documented in Mark 1:1, Luke 1:1-3, and Acts 1:20-22 and is certainly not referring back to Genesis!

3. I think the whole issue with the "all things" is simply to look at the rest of John's Gospel where he uses "all things" in 3:35, 4:29, 5:30, 13:3, 14:26, 15:15, 16:30, 17:10, and 19:28 to speak of everything that Jesus was accomplishing during his earthly ministry, and have nothing to do with Genesis 1:1.

It seems reasonable to me, then, to think that if "the beginning" is (plausibly) the time of John the baptizer and Jesus, then the "all things" that Jesus is doing probably "began" at that time as well.

4. Another thing to note here, Kris, is that in John 1:7 Jesus is said to be the "light" that "shines in the darkness" and John the baptizer is said to be the one who "testifies about the light." Let me show you why I think that a Trinitarian appeal to Genesis 1 actually DISPROVES that John 1:1-3 is talking about the past.

In Genesis 1, God creates "light" in "the beginning" when there is "darkness" everywhere, right? Well, if John 1:7 is saying that the appearing of Jesus is the same as the "light shining in the darkness" and that John the baptizer is the one who "testifies about the light", then the comparison with Genesis 1 would require that John the baptizer was present with Jesus "in the beginning."

Afterall, how could John the baptizer "testify about the light that is shining in the darkness" if John is not living at the same time as the "light" shines? Just as the "light" appears at "the beginning" in Genesis 1, it seems that John 1:1-7 is saying that "in the beginning" is when John the baptizer was "testifying about the light" (Jesus) too. The relationship between John and Jesus seems to demand that whole Genesis motif in John 1 is being applied to the same time when they are ministering together.

I hope you see my point here. If Apostle John is using the Genesis 1 language of "light" and "darkness" to speak of John the baptizer and Jesus, then it seems likely that he's also using "the beginning" to speak of the time of both men, too. Afterall, the context has not changed between John 1:1-2 and John 1:3, and John could not "testify" about Jesus "in the beginning" unless John was present "in the beginning" with him, right?

This is also similar to my point about 1-John 1:1-5. How could the Apostles "hear, see, handle, and touch" Jesus "from the beginning" unless they were present with Jesus "from the beginning." And, this is exactly what they say in Acts 1:20-22 where they acknowledge that they lived with Jesus "BEGINNING with the baptism of John" and until Jesus ascended.

5. Regarding Rev 4:11, I think it could be taken either way. It's hard to tell whether it is God the Father or Jesus that is the one doing the "creating." However, it's certainly true that God the Father "created" the world, and it's also true that Jesus is the "author" (creator) of the "new covenant" that also existed at the time of Revelation. It just depends on which way you want to take it.

Chris C

Post Date: 11/2/2001 9:51:29 AM (Mountain USA)

Author: Donald Hochner

Chris -

I want to ask you one question what you wrote on John 1:15, "...FOR HE (for Jesus, the Christ) EXISTED BEFORE ME'" (was born of a woman who conceived by the power of God the Father, Himself, who is the eternal life)".

I'm not sure which one "he" are you referring to, Jesus or God the Father? I am assuming you'd say Jesus but what about "existed before me"?

Other than that, I think you've explained very well. Let's hope to hear some more from others.

Donald H.

Post Date: 11/2/2001 11:58:51 AM (Mountain USA)

Author: Chris C

Don -

Let me give a little bit more explanation about "existing before me" in John 1:15. It was difficult to use only the wording in the parentheses to express what I'm seeing here.

1. I think the "he" is definitely referring to the man, Christ Jesus in John 1:15. Let me try to clarify what I'm thinking about how Jesus "existed before" John the baptizer.

2. Notice that John 1:14 has just stated that "the word became flesh" and that Jesus was "begotten from the Father." In other words, the true "father" of Jesus is God Himself, and not a human "father" like John the baptizer had. Jesus' Father also resides in "heaven" and I think that's why Jesus could say that he "came down from heaven." This is not a claim of "preexistence," but is another way of saying that Jesus had a heavenly "Father" who was greater than even Abraham (who was an earthly father).

In John 1:15, I think John the baptizer is simply acknowledging the DIVINE Sonship of Jesus. Notice that John the baptizer says that Jesus is "greater" than him, and "has a higher rank" than he does. This is simple to understand because we know that having "God" for a Father would make the "Son" of a more noble birth than any other man, just like the Jews considered themselves a "greater" nation because they had "Abraham" for their father.

Now, take this idea of DIVINE "Sonship" one step further. Notice in John 1:4 and 1-John 1:2 that the arrival of Jesus is said to be the arrival of "eternal life" because the eternal God is Jesus' own Father. In other words, Jesus' Father (God Himself) is not only "greater" than the earthly father of John the baptizer (and all other people), but Jesus' Father is also an eternal Father who "existed before" John the baptizer's earthly father.

Thus, I think John the baptizer realizes that Jesus "existed before" him in the sense that John the baptizer knows that having an "eternal" Father would mean that Jesus "existed in the loins of the Father" (to use the Hebrew idiom) long before John the baptizer could have been conceived by his own earthly father. At best, John the baptizer could claim to be a "son of Abraham," but not a "Son of God" (which would be the "greater").

If this seems confusing, then compare this thought to the context of John 8:58 (where Jesus says "before Abraham existed, I am"). Notice in John 8:32-53, that the Pharisees are claiming that "Abraham is their father" and that they are "descendants of Abraham." In other words, the Pharisees are claiming that they are of noble birth because they can trace their descendancy back to "father Abraham." In this sense, you can see that the Jews still thought of Abraham as their "father" even though he lived many generations before the time of Jesus.

Well then, if Jesus was saying that God Himself was his "Father,"then Jesus would be making a claim to have a descendancy that goes farther back in time than even "father Abraham." Thus, the Pharisees knew that he was making a claim to being greater than Abraham because Jesus was claiming to be descended from a "Father" who lived before Abraham.

Also take note that in John 8:53 that the Pharisees also raise the issue of the fact that even "Abraham" and "all the prophets" died. This is significant with respect to Jesus because the "Father" of Jesus is "eternal" and cannot die. Thus, any descendant of God the Father would have no beginning or end either.

Don, I hope you can see that, from the way that the Jews understood their "descendancy/genealogy," all Jesus had to do was claim that God was his own Father (instead of a mortal human father) and the Jews would perceive Jesus to be saying that he had an "eternal" descendancy.

In other words, John the baptizer or the Pharisees could only claim to trace their "father" all the way back to Abraham, who only lived a few thousand years in the past, and who also eventually died. Jesus, on the other hand, could claim his Father to be an eternal being who "EXISTED BEFORE" Abraham and any earthly father!

From this line of reasoning, I think we can also see why "receiving the right to become children of God" (John 1:12) is so important. Being a "child of God" (whether Jew or Gentile) is greater than being a "son of Abraham" (circumcised only) and also means that one has "eternal" life, since God is an eternal Father (unlike mortal Abraham).

Chris C

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