21 things about ‘the Word’ in 18 verses

The Gospel of John is thick with theological statements and concepts. John says much about Jesus, about God, about humanity, about belief or trust, and about sin. Some of the most potent and pregnant verses of the entire Bible are known as John’s prologue – the first 18 verses of his Gospel.

‘The Word’ is John’s unique way of referring to God the Son, and John introduces his reader to this focal point of his Gospel with amazing profundity. Here are 21 things John conveys about ‘the Word’ in just 18 verses (and the astute reader will find even more).

  1. The Word was ‘already existing’ in the beginning (v1, 2).
  2. The Word is distinct (in some sense) from ‘God’ (v1, 2).
  3. The Word is (in some other sense) ‘God’ (v1).
  4. The Word is the creator of all things (v3).
  5. The Word is the author of life (v4).
  6. The Word is the one through whom illumination/light/knowledge/wisdom comes (v4).
  7. The Word is unconquerable in illumination/light/knowledge/wisdom (v5).
  8. The Word is attested by God through the witness of others (v6).
  9. God intends for people to believe the Word (v7).
  10. The Word came into the world (v9).
  11. The Word is sovereign over the world, but the Word is also foreign to the world (v10).
  12. The Word was rejected by the very things He had made (v11).
  13. There were some who did receive the Word, and these He made children of God (v12).
  14. The Word is glorious, full of grace and truth (v14).
  15. The Word added humanity to His pre-existent nature and tabernacled among men (v14).
  16. The Word was perceived as glorious by John and others (v14).
  17. The Word is greater than John the Baptist because He existed before him, even though The Word came along after him (v15).
  18. The Word dispensed grace from His fullness (v16).
  19. The Word is Jesus Christ (v17).
  20. The Word brought a new covenant, distinct from the one that came through Moses (v17).
  21. The Word is the apex of God’s revelation of Himself (v18).

May we give ear to John’s witness and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and have life in His name (Jn. 20:31).

Are You in the Dark or the Light?

In the Bible, God often uses themes and imagery to make His teaching clear. Light and darkness are presented to us in the opening pages of Genesis when God tells us that He created light to dispel darkness at His command (Gen. 1:2-3).

This theme is picked up throughout the Bible, and it is especially prominent in the Gospel of John. John’s Gospel presents a world of darkness, inhabited by wicked people who want to remain in the shadows rather than be exposed to the light.

We find this to be true in our own experience, don’t we?

When someone does something they know they should not do, they often try to hide their activity under the cover of darkness. Either literally or figuratively, wicked things are generally done in darkness (in secret).

Additionally, when these secret things are exposed (when the light shines upon them), the nearly universal response is to run away from the light. How many times have we witnessed people lying to cover up their wickedness? Do the lies stop when someone is caught in a lie? No! The lies continue and become increasingly complicated. This common experience is not only found in the activities of others; it is found in our own activities as well.

What we read about in John’s Gospel aligns perfectly with our own experience: wickedness loves darkness and hates light.

The world of darkness and its wicked inhabitants is disheartening, for sure, but there is hope to be found in the light. John’s Gospel also teaches us that God’s light is both exposing and enlightening. God’s light of truth simultaneously condemns wickedness and provides a clear path towards redemption.

The essential message of Christianity is not a message of personal improvement or moralistic ascendency… quite the contrary.

The good news of Christianity is that God has shown love and mercy towards those who are morally filthy and personally blameworthy. However (and here is the rub), the mercy God offers is only available to those who are willing to expose their own wickedness to the light of His judgment.

If you want to keep pretending that you aren’t as bad as you really are, then you may remain in darkness (at least until you stand before God at the final judgment). But, for those who will come into the light, expose themselves of guilty and disgraceful, there is a great hope.

The hope we may have is provided in the reality that Jesus Christ is the substitute for all who trust in Him.

Jesus (fully God and genuinely human) was born without darkness and guilt. He lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s law, exposing Himself as morally and personally pure in the light. However, when Jesus died upon a Roman cross, He was counted as filthy and blameworthy on behalf of all those who would trust Him as their substitute. In this way, God both exposes wicked sinners for who they are and provides hope for their escape from His righteous judgment.

Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free;

for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.

Since our first parents disobeyed God, creation (including humanity) has become dark. Truth and righteousness have been dulled and obscured in disobedience (Rom. 1:18), and humanity has happily sided with the darkness (Jn. 3:19). However, God’s light is an overwhelming beam (Jn. 1:4-5), both exposing sin and bringing life to those who humbly receive Him (Jn. 1:12-13; cf. Jn. 3:16-21).

May the light of Christ’s truth shine upon us today.