We’ve been going through the New Testament looking for understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity and right now, we’re in the prologue of John. I plan to spend at least one day on every verse in this prologue as the whole gives us a brilliant look at who Jesus is. For an excellent look at this passage, I also recommend Spiros Zodhiates’s book, “Was Christ God?”
Today, we’re looking at John 1:4.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
The word for life here is not bios but rather what is transliterated as zooee. Bios refers to physical life mainly, but John is wanting us to see something deeper. He is wanting us to see the kind of life that is in the Word.
Note something. Life is in the Word. It is not given to the Word. It is not something external to the Word that the Word happens to possess. It is not something that is with the Word. It is in the Word. It is inherent to the nature of the Word.
How do we explain the existence of life? The Christian has a simple answer. God. God possesses life in himself and we partake of that life by grace. However, I also believe he means much more than physical life. He is speaking of spiritual life too as we are dead in transgressions and sins apart from him.
That’s why the second time he emphasizes the nature of this life by having it be THE life with the article. Apart from Christ, there is no life. There is no salvation apart from him. It is certainly not a politically correct statement to make, but it is definitely a biblically correct one.
The life is light also. It’s the light of men. It is by Christ that all can see. It is interesting that the creation account has light being mentioned very early in the accounts. Again, John is giving us a parallel of this and while the Genesis account describes the physical creation, John wants us to see beyond the physical creation to the spiritual realities that the physical is a pointer to.
G.K. Chesterton once said that God is like the sun. You cannot look at it, but without it, you cannot look at anything else. For Chesterton, God made sense of everything else and while one cannot see God, it is by God that one can see everything else.
This would also apply to those who are trapped in darkness. John points to the light while at the same time realizing that the reason that light needs to be emphasized is that man is in darkness. The reason the life of Christ needs to be emphasized is that man is dead in transgressions and sins.
And of course, both of these being in the Word point to the unique deity of the Word. The Word does not possess life so much as he is life. The pslamist could say that the Lord is his light, but John comes and says the Word is his light.
We shall look at verse 5 tomorrow.