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  • In the beginning means in eternity past. As the introduction to this Gospel, this chapter begins in eternity past with God, who had divinity but not humanity (v. 1); it then passes through His creation of all things (v. 3), His incarnation (v. 14), His becoming the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (v. 29), and His being the Spirit who causes the believers to be transformed into living stones for His building (vv. 32, 42), and continues all the way to eternity future, in which the Son of Man, who has both divinity and humanity, is the center for the communication between heaven and earth and for the union of God and man in eternity. After this, ch. 2 shows that the principle of the Triune God as life is to change death into life (John 2:1-11) and that the purpose of life is to build the house, the temple, of God (John 2:13-22). In chs. 3—11, nine cases are given to illustrate how God as life meets the different needs of different kinds of people. As a result, in the beginning of ch. 12 a miniature of the church is produced (John 12:1-11). From John 12:12 to the end of ch. 17 an explanation is given concerning how the church is produced through the multiplication and increase of the incarnated God-man by means of His death and resurrection. Chapters 18—20 show the accomplishing of the multiplication and increase, which causes Him to have many brothers (John 20:17) and enables Him to enter into them (John 20:22) to be their life and everything that they may be constituted His Body as His increase and expression. Finally, ch. 21 reveals that He will be with them in an invisible way until His coming back (John 21:22).

  • The Word is the definition, explanation, and expression of God; hence, it is God defined, explained, and expressed.

  • The Word is not separate from God. It is not that the Word is the Word and God is God, and that they are thus separate from each other. Rather, the two are one; hence, the next clause says that the Word was God.

  • That the Word is God implies that God in His person is not simple; He is triune.

  • Not God the Son only, but the complete Triune God.

  • Or, This One.

  • In the beginning, that is, from eternity past, the Word was with God. Contrary to what is supposed by some, it is not that Christ was not with God and was not God from eternity past, and that at a certain time Christ became God and was with God. Christ's deity is eternal and absolute. From eternity past to eternity future, He is with God and He is God. This is why this Gospel, unlike Matthew (ch. 1) and Luke (ch. 3), has no genealogy of Christ (Heb. 7:3).

  • Since v. 3 refers to the creation in Gen. 1, life here should refer to the life signified by the tree of life in Gen. 2. This is confirmed by the fact that in Rev. 22 John mentions the tree of life. Since life is in Him, He is life (John 11:25; 14:6), and He came that man might have life (John 10:10b). The introduction to this Gospel is composed of this entire chapter; it begins with life (v. 4) and ends with building (vv. 42, 51), that is, with the house of God (see note John 1:421a, note John 1:512 and note John 1:513). Hence, it is an introduction to life and building.

  • The light for the old creation was physical light (Gen. 1:3-5, 14-18). The light for the new creation is the light of life mentioned here.

  • The verb has the sense of being sent as an envoy with a special commission.

  • Or, This one.

  • To believe into is to receive.

  • For human beings to become children of God is for man to have the divine life and the divine nature.

  • To believe into is to receive.

  • Lit., out of.

  • Blood (lit., bloods) here signifies the physical life; will of the flesh denotes the will of fallen man after man became flesh; and will of man refers to the will of the man created by God.

  • For the Word as God to become flesh is for God to have the human life and the human nature.

  • Rom. 8:3 indicates that although this flesh was the flesh of sin, it had only the likeness of the flesh of sin and did not have the sin of the flesh. It is the Word who became such flesh, and this Word was God, the complete Triune God (v. 1). That the Word became flesh means that the Triune God became a man of flesh in the likeness of a sinful man. By so doing God entered into sinful man and became one with sinful man. However, He had only the likeness of a sinful man and not the sin of a sinful man. Hence, He was a sinless God-man, the complete God and the perfect man, having two natures, the divine nature and the human nature. Although His two natures were mingled to produce a God-man, the individual characteristics of the two natures remained distinct; the two natures did not intermix to form a third nature. Rather, the divine nature existed in the human nature and was expressed through the human nature, full of grace, which is God enjoyed by man, and reality, which is God obtained by man. In this way the invisible God was expressed so that men can obtain and enjoy Him as their life for the fulfillment of His New Testament economy.

    God's becoming flesh was contrary to the teaching of the Gnostics of that time. The Gnostics maintained that since the flesh is an evil substance, God, who is pure, could never be united with the evil flesh. Using the teaching of the Gnostics as a basis, the Docetists denied that Christ had come in the flesh (1 John 4:2). John wrote this Gospel in part to refute the heresy of the Docetists and to prove strongly that Christ, the God-man, is indeed God who became flesh (having only the likeness of the flesh of sin but not the sin of the flesh) that through this flesh, on the one hand, He might destroy the devil (Heb. 2:14) and put away the sins of man (Heb. 9:26), and, on the other hand, God might be united with man and be expressed through humanity for the fulfillment of His glorious purpose, a purpose He planned in eternity past for eternity future.

    The deep thought of the Gospel of John is that Christ, the incarnate God, came as the embodiment of God, as illustrated by the tabernacle (v. 14) and the temple (John 2:21), so that man could contact Him and enter into Him to enjoy the riches contained in God. Both the tabernacle and the temple had an outer court, a Holy Place, and a Holy of Holies. Therefore, John points out first that Christ was the Lamb (who took away sin — v. 29) offered on the altar, which signifies the cross, in the outer court of the tabernacle, and then that He was like the bronze serpent (which caused man to have life) lifted up on the pole (John 3:14), which signifies the cross. This shows how Christ in His redemption was received by His believers that they might be delivered from sin and obtain life and might enter into Him as the embodiment of God, typified by the tabernacle, to enjoy all the riches that are in God. The foot-washing in ch. 13 may be considered the washing in the laver in the outer court of the tabernacle, which washed away the earthly defilement of those who drew near to God, so that their fellowship with God and with one another could be maintained. In ch. 14 those who receive Christ are brought by Him into the Holy Place to experience Him as the bread of life (John 6:35), signified by the showbread, and as the light of life (John 8:12; 9:5), signified by the lampstand. Eventually, in ch. 17, through the highest and most mysterious prayer, which is typified by the burning incense on the golden incense altar, those who enjoy Christ as life and as light are brought by Him into the Holy of Holies to enter with Him into the deepest enjoyment of God and to enjoy the glory that God has given Him (John 17:22-24).

  • The Word, by being incarnated, not only brought God into humanity but also became a tabernacle to God as God's habitation on earth among men.

  • This refers to Christ's transfiguration on the Mount (Matt. 17:1-2, 5; Luke 9:32; 2 Pet. 1:16-18).

  • Gk. para, which means by the side of, implying with; hence, it is, literally, from with. The Son not only is from God but also is with God. On the one hand, He is from God, and on the other hand, He is still with God (John 8:16, 29; 16:32b).

  • Grace is God in the Son as our enjoyment; reality is God realized by us in the Son. The Greek word for reality is the same as that for truth in John 5:33; 8:32 and John 17:17, 19.

  • Lit., out of.

  • The law makes demands on man according to what God is; grace supplies man with what God is to meet what God demands. The law, at most, was only a testimony of what God is (Exo. 25:21), but reality is the realization of what God is. No man can partake of God through the law, but grace enables man to enjoy God. Reality is God realized by man, and grace is God enjoyed by man.

  • Lit., became.

  • The Father's only begotten Son declared God by the Word, life, light, grace, and reality. The Word is God expressed, life is God imparted, light is God shining, grace is God enjoyed, and reality is God realized, apprehended. God is fully declared in the Son through these five things.

  • Lit., into.

  • Or, explained.

  • Bethany here was a place on the east side of the Jordan and is different from the Bethany in John 11:1, which was a village on the west side of the Jordan.

  • Based on the Scriptures, the religious people were looking for a great leader (vv. 19-25) such as Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet (Dan. 9:26; Mal. 4:5; Deut. 18:15, 18). But Jesus was introduced to them as a little lamb with a little dove (vv. 29-33). The Lamb takes sin away from man, and the dove brings God as life to man. The Lamb is for redemption, to redeem fallen man back to God, and the dove is for life-giving, for anointing, to anoint man with what God is, to bring God into man and man into God, and for uniting the believers in God. Both the Lamb and the dove are needed for man to participate in God.

  • The world here refers to mankind, as in John 3:16.

  • I.e., 10:00 a.m., Roman time. Roman time is used throughout the book.

  • Messiah is a Hebrew word; Christ is the Greek translation. Both mean the anointed. Christ is God's Anointed, the One appointed by God to accomplish God's purpose, God's eternal plan.

  • Meaning a stone. In Matt. 16:18 the Lord mentioned this word when He spoke to Peter about the building of the church. It must have been from this that Peter obtained the concept of living stones for the building of a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5), which is the church. The stone here denotes a work of transformation that brings forth material for God's building (1 Cor. 3:12).

  • The information that Philip passed on to Nathanael in the words son of Joseph and from Nazareth was inaccurate. Jesus was born not of Joseph but of Mary (Matt. 1:16), and not in Nazareth but in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7).

  • The Messiah.

  • In Greek, Amen, amen. So throughout the book.

  • This is the fulfillment of Jacob's dream (Gen. 28:11-22). Christ as the Son of Man, with His humanity, is the ladder set up on the earth and leading to heaven, keeping heaven open to earth and joining earth to heaven for the house of God, Bethel. Jacob poured oil (a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the ultimate expression of the Triune God reaching man) upon the stone (a symbol of the transformed man) that it might be the house of God. Here in this chapter are the Spirit (v. 32) and the stone (v. 42) for the house of God with Christ in His humanity. Where this is, there is an open heaven.

  • This chapter, as the introduction to this Gospel, introduces Christ as both the Son of God (vv. 34, 49) and the Son of Man. Nathanael recognized Him as the Son of God and addressed Him as such (v. 49), but Christ said to Nathanael that He was the Son of Man. The Son of God is God; as such, He has the divine nature. The Son of Man is man; as such, He possesses the human nature. For the declaring of God (v. 18) and for the bringing of God to man, He is the only begotten Son of God. But for the building of God's habitation on earth among men, He is the Son of Man. God's building needs His humanity. In eternity past Christ was only God, only the Son of God, and had only divinity; but in eternity future Christ, as God and man and as the Son of God and the Son of Man, will have both divinity and humanity forever.

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