Week 1 – John 1:1-18
This week we’re studying the Prologue of John’s Gospel, John 1:1-18. Famously mysterious, John’s introduction is layered with metaphorical language and historical overtones, introducing many of the themes that will dominate his Gospel account, like light and life (1:4). One thing stands out though: the magnificent centrality of Jesus, both in this introduction and in the Gospel to follow. John starts by setting all eyes squarely on Jesus and declaring Jesus to be God himself.
The first few words echo Creation with “In the beginning…,” setting the scene for a remarkable statement about Jesus: “the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We see later in 1:14 that John is clearly talking about Jesus being this “Word” by referencing the incarnation with, “the Word became flesh.” The Word, logos in Greek, meant a lot of different things throughout Greek history, so depending on who you read they might make a big deal about Greek philosophical understandings for logos. Certainly John was aware of this in writing to a mixed audience of Jews and Greeks in the first century AD. But considering John’s ethnicity as a Jew, and the fact that he’s referencing Creation with his “In the beginning,” he’s most likely using this term to talk about the active, creative power of God’s Word, such as when God called light into creation by merely speaking (Genesis 1:3). John is attributing this Creation power to Jesus, saying “the world was made through him.”(John 1:10) He’s declaring in no uncertain terms that Jesus is God Almighty, and he intended for us to read his whole Gospel in light of this statement.
We see a whole host of other statements about Jesus in this passage: he is the light of men (1:4); the world rejected him (1:11); Jesus can make us the children of God (1:12); Jesus is God incarnate (1:14); he brings grace and truth (1:17); and he reveals to us who God is (1:18). These 18 verses cover quite a bit of territory; even John the Baptist makes an appearance twice, in v.6-8 and v.15. Looking at the litany of statements about Jesus we can see a number of things that we may or may not believe earnestly. Do we truly believe Jesus is the true light, the source of life, the bearer of grace and truth? Do we truly believe that we have the right to be children of God because of his work for us? Do we actually see Jesus as glorious? Looking at this passage we should be challenged to see Jesus our God for all he’s worth and to respond in adoration.
Questions for Discussion
• Could someone read John 1:1-18?
• What stood out to you from this passage?
• Why do you think John started his Gospel account this way?
• What metaphors does John use to talk about Jesus here? Why do you think John used those?
• How can this passage help us understand who Jesus is?
• In what ways does this passage encourage or challenge your beliefs?
• How do you think this passage calls you to respond to Jesus?