John 1:4b–5: Life and Light

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1–5, ESV

In the last article, I began to explain the thematic words in John, starting with life; in this article, we will continue to look at life and its close companion: light.

Life and light are closely associated. “the life was the light of men.” The light is one with life. You can distinguish between them but never separate them. They’re one inside of God almighty. He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust, giving light and life to every man and the world (Matthew 5:45). Jesus reinforces this connection between life and light in John 8:12 when He says: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The connection is also found in the Old Testament in Psalm 36:9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

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John 1:4a: Pure Life; Pure Being

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1–5, ESV

Have you ever considered the statement that “In Him was life”? It is a phenomenal claim to make. Within those four words, John is claiming that all of life have their origin within Jesus Christ the Word, and that He is the being of pure life and pure being. This has three huge implications.

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John 1:3: The Glorious Creator

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1–5, ESV

When most Christians want to tell someone else about the glorious Deity of Christ, they usually take them to John 1:1, where it says: “and the Word was God.” It is, without a doubt, a magnificent testimony to his deity, but that is not the only one in the prologue.

No. John the evangelist is by no means done exalting Jesus as God and maker. He is emphatic, continuing to belabor the point that Jesus is God when he writes in verse 3 that “All things were created through him.” This statement is comprehensive: Absolutely everything that has ever been made was made through Jesus Christ. All things that exist owe their existence to Jesus the Word. Without Him, there would be no men on the earth, no fish in the sea or birds in the sky, no world, nothing, not even light. Without the Word, God would be a mute still staring out at the formless void in Genesis 1:2, because nobody can speak without words. If they tried to, they would only utter chaos and destruction, an incomprehensible mess of nothingness. Nobody would want to live in a universe created by that. And thankfully, nobody does. God the Father established this universe together with His Son, who is the Word containing all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 1:24–30).

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John 1:1–2: The Son’s Eternality

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1–5, ESV

These precious words, the opening words of the Gospel of John gives us a peak into eternity. They reveal the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son, and they have captivated generations of Christians with its beautiful brevity and profound insight into the triune nature of God. In these verses, the “Word” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ before he became man and dwelt among us.

In the beginning: John is drawing a parallel to creation from the first book of Moses where “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1). He is speaking of the very beginning of the universe. There, before God had spoken the universe into existence, before any man, angel or creature could praise his maker, inside eternity past, was the Word. Luke and Matthew highlights Jesus as man and king by including His genealogy in their gospels; while John highlights Jesus as God by beginning his gospel with Jesus’s preexistence and divinity.

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