[The Gospel According to…] John 1:1-14

Bible turned to John 1 with Moonstruck Portland dark chocolate and glass of milk

Today’s passageJohn 1:1-14

Good news, everyone! In the gospel of John, the word “gospel” doesn’t even appear! At all!

Among Biblical scholars, in contrast to the “synoptic” gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, John’s gospel is known as the “weird” gospel. It’s written in a more philosophical style than the other three and relates several events that aren’t present in the other three (exclusive content!). Moreover, while Mark begins his narrative with the ministry of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus, and Matthew and Luke begin with Jesus’ birth, John’s gospel is the only one that can be said to begin its story before the creation of the world.

Its opening passage, well-known for its breadth of scope, introduces Jesus as “the Word,” divine in nature and dwelling with God since before the universe. What does John tell us in these verses about the good news that he intends to convey? Let’s list a few bullet points:

  • Jesus has brought light and life into the world to enlighten mankind (4, 9)
  • Jesus gives adoption as children of God to those who receive him and believe in his name (12)
  • Jesus, even as God (1), became flesh and lived among mankind, bringing the glory of the Father, grace, and truth (14)

An odd thing about the language John uses in verse 12: the Greek verb for “to believe” is πιστεύω. Usually in the New Testament where we see the phrase “believe in X,” it’s translating πιστεύω followed by a dative noun, i.e. “trust person X,” or πιστεύω with the Greek preposition εν, i.e. “believe X,” treating X as a basis on which to place one’s belief. But in verse 12, John uses πιστεύω with the preposition εις, “into”–a usage of the verb which as far as I know has no precedent in written Greek. John is saying that in some way we “believe into” Jesus’ name, that there’s a movement from outside to inside when we receive him.

Today I’ve finished off the Moonstruck dark chocolate. Thanks again to Jenny for contributing it! On Monday I will have new chocolate, never before seen on this blog, from a brand that is one of my favorites. It will be a new and exciting time for us all as I foray into new frontiers of John, so watch my Twitter or Tumblr for the link to drop–or, if you’re not into social media, just click that blue “follow” button in the sidebar. See you Monday!

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2 thoughts on “[The Gospel According to…] John 1:1-14

  1. I wonder if it was so clearly “good news” to him that he didn’t see a need to say it! He was one of Jesus’ closest friends, after all ;) It reminds me of C.S. Lewis saying that in today’s world, the gospel doesn’t seem like good news because people first have to be convinced of the bad news for which the gospel is good news. I think if that was true in the 1940s it’s even truer now.

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    1. All good points. The later date of John’s composition may have something to do with it too; I don’t know what the specific theological concerns were for the church at the end of the first century, but whatever points he meant to address, John evidently didn’t see a need to mention the gospel explicitly by name. :)

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