John Chapter 1

The Word became a human

1 In the beginning was the Word.
And the Word was with God
and the Word was God;

2 he was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made through him
and without him nothing came to be.
Whatever has come to be,

4 found life in him,
life which for humans was also light.

5 Light that shines in the dark:
light that darkness could not overcome.

6 A man came, sent by God;
his name was John.

7 He came to bear witness,
as a witness to introduce the Light
so that all might believe through him.

8 He was not the Light
but a witness to introduce the Light.

9 For the Light was coming into the world,
the true Light that enlightens everyone.

10 He was already in the world
and through him the world was made,
the very world that did not know him.

11 He came to his own,
yet his own people did not receive him;

12 but all who have received him
he empowers to become children of God
for they believe in his Name.

13 These are born, but without seed
or carnal desire or will of man:
they are born of God.

14 And the Word was made flesh;
he had his tent pitched among us,
and we have seen his Glory,
the Glory of the only Son
coming from the Father:
fullness of truth and loving-kindness.

15 John bore witness to him open ly, saying:
This is the one who comes after me,
but he is already ahead of me
for he was before me.

16 From his fullness we have all re ceived,
favor upon favor.

17 For God had given us the Law through Moses,
but Truth and Loving-kindness
came through Jesus Christ.

18 No one has ever seen God,
but God-the-Only-Son made him known:
the one who is in and with the Fa ther.


First Part: Jesus Reveals Himself Through Signs

John the Baptist presents Jesus, the Lamb of God

19 This was the testimony of John when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, ¡°Who are you?¡±

20 John recognized the truth and did not deny it. He said, ¡°I am not the Messiah.¡±

21 And they asked him, ¡°Then who are you? Elijah?¡± He answered, ¡°I am not.¡± They said, ¡°Are you the Prophet?¡± And he answered, ¡°No.¡±

22 Then they said to him, ¡°Tell us who you are, so that we can give some answer to those who sent us. How do you see yourself?¡±

23 And John said, quoting the prophet Isaiah, ¡°I am the voice crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord.¡±

24 Those who had been sent were Pharisees;

25 so they put a further question to John: ¡°Then why are you baptizing if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?¡±

26 John answered, ¡°I baptize you with water, but among you stands one whom you do not know;

27 although he comes after me, I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal.¡±

28 This happened in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ¡°There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

30 It is he of whom I said: A man comes after me who is already ahead of me, for he was before me.

31 I myself did not know him, but I came baptizing to prepare for him, so that he might be revealed in Israel.¡±

32 And John also gave this testimony, ¡°I saw the Spirit coming down on him like a dove from heaven and resting on him.

33 I myself did not know him but God who sent me to baptize told me: ¡®You will see the Spirit coming down and resting on the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.¡¯

34 Yes, I have seen! and I de clare that this is the Chosen One of God.¡±


Jesus meets the first disciples

35 On the following day John was standing there again with two of his dis ciples.

36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and said, ¡°There is the Lamb of God.¡±

37 On hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus.

38 He turned and saw them following, and he said to them, ¡°What are you looking for?¡± They answered, ¡°Rabbi (which means Master), where are you staying?¡±

39 Jesus said, ¡°Come and see.¡± So they went and saw where he stayed and spent the rest of that day with him. It was about four o¡¯clock in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard what John had said and followed Jesus.

41 Early the next morning he found his brother Simon and said to him, ¡°We have found the Messiah¡± (which means the Christ),

42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ¡°You are Simon, son of John, but you shall be called Cephas¡± (which means Rock).

43 The next day, Jesus decided to set off for Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ¡°Follow me.¡±

44 Philip was from Beth saida, the town of An drew and Peter.

45 Philip found Natha nael and said to him, ¡°We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets as well: he is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.¡±

46 Nathanael replied, ¡°Can anything good come from Nazareth?¡± Philip said to him, ¡°Come and see.¡±

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, ¡°Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.¡±

48 Nathanael asked him, ¡°How do you know me?¡± And Jesus said to him, ¡°Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you.¡±

49 Nathanael answered, ¡°Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!¡±

50 But Jesus replied, ¡°You believe because I said: ¡®I saw you under the fig tree.¡¯ But you will see greater things than that.

51 Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.¡±

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Comments John, Chapter 1

• 1.1 In the beginning was the Word. The real beginning is not the creation of the universe. For this beginning of time, space, matter, existence explains nothing yet demands an explanation. The real beginning is beyond time. John does not say that at this beginning ¡°God was¡± because we know it. He speaks of the Word. We keep this traditional term word, although the term word that John uses says more than ¡°word.¡± It is both ¡°thought¡± and ¡°word¡±, which is the word expressing what one carries in oneself. We ought perhaps translate with: The ¡°Expression¡± of God. To speak of this Word, or Expression of the Father, or to speak of his Son, is the same thing. In other pages he will be called Splendor (Heb 1:1) and Image (Col 1:15) of the Father. The Son is not part of the Father, or another God since he has nothing that is of himself but all which is the Father¡¯s is also his (Jn 16:15).

John will remind us that no one has ever seen God (v. 18). The Father from whom existence comes and all that exists is without beginning and his springing forth is known only to himself. John tells us here that for him, ¡°being,¡± is communicating himself, expressing himself, giving himself. God expresses himself in him who is at the same time his Word and his Son and through this uncreated, unique Word, which fully expresses him; he creates a universe that is yet another way of saying what is in God.

This is still not enough to satisfy the need of God to communicate himself. As several texts of the Old Testament have already said (Pro 8:22 and 31, 2 S 7:2-30), God has entered through his Word into the history of human kind. It was he who was ¡°spoken¡± of in their own way by all who carried the Word, all the prophets of the Bible and those of other religions as well. The Word enlightened all human beings, including those who did not know God; he was the conscience of the upright in every race, in every age. This Word, Son and Expression of the Father came one day to give us the definitive word by means of his own existence in becoming human among us.

Whatever has come to be, found life in him (v. 4). It is a property of life to develop from within until maturity is reached. This growth is to be seen throughout history in all the work of the Word; it is the language of God that develops among humankind. Whether we study the history of our race from its origins, or whether we read the Old Testament, we see how the language of God has been developed among humans. It always was a human language, but this language was inhabited by the Spirit of God, and in a special way within the history of Israel, it was also the word of God. We shall find this living word in him who is the Son-made-human, Jesus, but in a way that disconcerts us. For there is the mystery about the Son: it is true that he is God like the Father, but having received all, he is in a posture of offering: he empties himself so that the Father may exalt and glorify him anew.

A man came, sent by God. Twice in verses 6-8 and 15, John, the author of the Gospel, speaks to us of John the Baptist, precursor of Jesus. The Word has truly identified himself: he has not come with glory; he was introduced by a word which came from himself, but remained human in John¡¯s preaching. It was easy to reject this witness and in fact when he came to his own, to the people of Israel, his own did not receive him.

The Word was made flesh. John uses the word flesh to underline the utter humility of God who, despite being spirit, became a creature with a mortal body. John says: was made, and not: ¡°took the appearance¡± of a human person, because the Son of God was truly human.

God become human dwelt among us. The root sense of this verb ¡°dwell¡± in the Bible is: to have one¡¯s tent pitched. So John is pleased to allude to the sacred tent that served as the Hebrews¡¯ sanctuary in the desert: in that tent, God was present beside them (Ex 33:7-11). In reality Jesus, the Son of God become human, is the true Temple of God among people (Jn 2:21), a temple as humble and apparently fragile as the tent in the desert was: nevertheless, in him is the fullness of God. The apostles saw his glory at certain moments of his mortal life (Jn 2:11 and Lk 9:32). They saw his glory in his Passion and Resurrection.

How does the Word save us? John does not speak only of Jesus rescuing us from the abyss of sin; he prefers to speak of Jesus allowing us to attain a status totally unexpected and beyond our reach: he made them children of God. We are made children of God by the very Son of the Father, provided that we believe in his Name, which is in his divine personality.

In him was the fullness of Love and Truth (v. 14). Love (or Grace) and Truth (or Faith fulness) are God¡¯s two main qualities (Ex 34:6-7). These words are repeated as a refrain throughout Psalm 89. John means then that he has recognized the fullness of Jesus¡¯ divinity (Col 2:9).

God has given us the Law. While recounting the sins of Israel, the biblical story foretold the time when there would be no need for a Law engraved in stones or written in books (Jer 31:31). Some day God would change the sinners¡¯ hearts (Ezk 36:26) so that relationships of mutual Love and Faithfulness between God and humankind would begin (Hos 2:21-22). John affirms that the promised time of Love and Truth (of perfect religion) arrived through Jesus Christ.

• 19. THE LAMB

The authorities wondered: ¡°Who is this who on his own initiative has begun to preach?¡± At that time, various Jewish groups ¡°baptized,¡± or bathed, as a means of purification and to hasten the coming of the Messiah.  
Regarding John the Baptist¡¯s preaching and baptism, see Luke 3:10.

The Messiah is the name the Jews gave to the expected Savior. They also expected the Prophet, but it was not clear whether or not the Prophet would be someone other than the Mes siah. It was believed that the prophet Elijah would reappear before the Messiah¡¯s arrival (Mk 9:11).

There is the Lamb (v. 29). In the language of the Jews, the word ¡°Lamb¡± can mean both servant and lamb. Jesus is the Servant of God spoken of by the prophets, who was to sacrifice himself for his brothers and sisters. He is also the true Lamb that replaces the Paschal Lamb (Mk 14:12).

A man comes after me (v. 30). In history, Jesus appears after John, but being the Word of God, he existed before all creatures. He also precedes, that is to say, all ¨C including John the Baptist ¨C are guided by his light.

• 35. DISCOVERING JESUS

This Gospel is the work of John the Evangelist who should not be confused with John the Baptist. John the Evangelist was one of the first two disciples to follow Jesus (v. 39).

John, concerned about helping us understand the profound meaning of Jesus¡¯ actions, dwells on details to which we would not immediately pay attention. For example, the Bible begins with the poem describing Creation as happening in seven days, and because John sees Jesus¡¯ work as a new creation, he describes the beginning of Jesus¡¯ public ministry as happening within a week (seven being a symbolic number) (vv. 29, 35, 43 and 2:1).

On the first day John the Baptist affirmed: there is one among you whom you do not know. We see how, during the week, John the Baptist was the first to discover Jesus.
Then later, John, Andrew and Simon also discovered him. The last day of the first week will be at the wedding in Cana, where Jesus will let them discover his glory.

What are you looking for? (v. 38). John did not forget these first words Jesus spoke to them. We want to know who Jesus is, but he asks us what our inner dispositions are: because we will gain nothing through finding him unless we are dis posed to submit ourselves to him.

These two disciples began to live with Jesus. With time, they would discover that he is the Teacher, the Messiah, the Son of God. So, too, with us. We progress in this knowledge of Jesus Christ as we go on our journey through life.

John the Baptist was without jealousy; he had encouraged his disciples to follow Jesus, and later the first two brought others. Likewise, we come to Jesus because of another per son who spoke to us of him, or involved us in an apostolic task.

These two disciples recognized Jesus. It would be more exact to say that Jesus recognized those whom the Father had entrusted to him. Thus he recognized Nathanael when he was un der the fig tree (v. 48). Among the Jews, this expression referred to a teacher of the Law engaged in teaching religion, since ordinarily they taught under the shade of a tree. In the same way, Jesus recognized Simon whom the Father chose to be the first Rock of the Church (Mt 16:13).

You will see the heavens opened. See Genesis 28:12.