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I. 1 In the beginning & was the Word, and the Word was a Genova
Prov. viii, 22,
Col. i. 17. 1 John 1.1. Rev. i. 2: xix. 13. CHAP. I. 1-18.] Prologue: in which is the divine Reason or Hind; nor indeed contained the substance and subject of the those of any human creature. These ideas whole Gospel. THE ETERNAL WORD OF are otherwise expressed. The usual ScripGOD, THE SOURCE OP ALL EXISTENCE, ture meaning of Logos is speech, or word. LIFE, AND LIGHT, BECAME FLESH, DWELT The logos of God is the creative, declara. AMONG US, WAS WITNESSED TO BY John, tive, injunctive Word of God. (6) That REJECTED BY HIS OWN PEOPLE, BUT RE- this is also the import in our prologue, is CEIVED BY SOME, WHO HAD POWER GIVEN manifest, from the evident relation which THEM TO BECOME THE SONS OF God. He it bears to the opening of the history of WAS THE PERFECTION AND END OF God's creation in Genesis. “ The Word” is not REVELATION OF HIMSELF; WHICH WAS an attribute of God, but an acting reality, PARTIALLY MADE IN THE LAW, BUT FULLY by which the Eternal and Infinite is the DECLARED IN JESUS CHRIST.
great first cause of the created and finite. 1-5.] THE ETERNAL PRÆ-EXISTENCE (c) Again, this “ Word” is undoubtedly in OF THE WORD: HIS PERSONAL DISTINCT. our prologue, personal :-not an abstracNESS; BUT ESSENTIAL UNITY WITH GOD. tion merely, nor a personification,-- not HIS WORKING IN CREATION, AND IN THE the speaking word of God, once maniENLIGHTENING OF MEN, BEFORE His fested in the prophets and afterwards MANIFESTATION
THE FLESH ; His fully declared in Christ, as Luthardt, NON-APPREHENSION BY THEM.
comparing our prologue with Heb. i. 1,1.] Before commenting on the truths here but a PERSON : for “ the Word was with declared, it is absolutely necessary to dis- God,” and “the Word became flesh :" cuss the one term on which the whole also the Word was God, not was God's :turns : viz. THE WORD. This term is used which certainly would be said of none but by St. John without explanation, as bearing a PERSON. (d) Moreover, the WORD a meaning well known to his readers. is identical with Jesus CHRIST, as the The enquiry concerning that meaning præ-existing Son of God. A comparison must therefore be conducted on historical, of verses 14 and 15 will place this beyond not on mere grammatical grounds. And doubt. (e) And Jesus Christ is the the most important elements of the en. Word of God, not because He speaks the quiry are, (L) the usage of speech as re- word ;-nor because He is the One progards the term, by St. John himself and mised or spoken of,—nor because He is other biblical writers: and (II.) the purely the Author and source of the Word as historical information which we possess spoken in the Scriptures, &c.,-any more on the ideas attached to the term.
than his being called life and light im(a) From the first consideration we find, plies only that He is the Giver of life and that in other biblical authors, as well as light: but because the Word dwells in in John, the term LOGOS, which is the and speaks from him, just as the Light original word here, is never used to signify dwells in and shines from, and the life VOL. I.
b pro 1:18:30. 6 with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was
1 John i. 2. c Phil. ii. 6.
lives in and works froin, Him.
be found by tracing the gradual perWORD, which became flesh, is not from, sonification of the Word, or Wisdom of nor of, Time or Space (ch. iii. 31; viji. God, in the 0. T. and Jewish writings. 58); but eternally pre-existent,—and (6) We find faint traces of this personitimanifested in Time and Space, for the cation in the book of Psalms : see Ps. gracious ends of divine Love in Redemp. xxxiii. 4, 6; cxix. 89, 105; cvii. 20; cxlvii. tion (ch. iii. 16, 17). (9) This Word 15, 18. But it was not the mere offspoke in the law and prophets, yet par- spring of poetic diction. For the whole tially and imperfectly (ver. 17; ch. v. 39, form and expression of the 0. T. revela46); but in the personal word, spoke tion was that of the Word of God. The forth in fulness of grace and truth. It Mosaic History opens with God said, was He who made the worlds (ver. 3); He, Let there be light. Spoken commands, who appeared to Isaiah (Isa. vi. compare either openly, or in visions, were the comch. xii. 41); He, whose glory is manifested munications from God to man. It is the in His power over nature (ch. ii. 11); He, Word, in all the Prophets; the Word, in by reception of whom the new birth is the Law; in short, the Word, in all God's wrought (ch. i. 12, 13); who has power dealings with his people : see further, over all flesh (ch. xvii. 2),—and can be- Isa. xl. 8; lv. 10, 11: Jer. xxiii. 29 al. stow eternal life (ibid.); whose very suf- (c) And as the Word of God was the conferings were His glory, and the glorifying stant idea for His revelations relatively of God (ch. xvii. 1 al.); and who, after to man, so was the Wisdom of God, for those sufferings, resumed, and now has, those which related to His own essence the glory which He had with the Father and attributes. That this was a later before the world began (ch. xviii. 5, 24). form of expression than the simple re(h) Luthardt, in his Commentary on cognition of the divine Word in the Mosaic this Gospel, has propounded the follow and early historical books, would natuing view of the term "Word” and its rally be the case, in the unfolding of usage: "Jesus Christ is the fulness of spiritual knowledge and divine contemplathat word of God which was fragmentarily tion. His Almightiness was first felt, manifested in the prophets eb. i. 1). before His Wisdom and moral Purity were But in this prologue, "the Word' is not appreciated. In the books of Job (ch. to be taken as identical with Jesus not yet xxviii. 12 ff.) and the Proverbs (ch. viii. incarnate, nor is He the subject of vv. 1 ff.” ix.) we find this Wisdom of God perAnd he urges ch. x. 35, 36 (see note there, sonified; in the latter in very plain and where I have discussed this) as a key striking terms; and this not poetically text to the meaning of “the Word.” only, but practically ; ascribing to the It seems to me, that while much of his view Wisdom of God all his revelation of is true and sound, that part of it will not Himself in His works of Creation and hold which denies the identity of the Providence. So that this Wisdom empræ-existent “Word” with Jesus, in the braced in fact in itself the Power of God; Apostle's mind. Had he intended by the and there wanted but the highest divine “Word" of vv. 1–4 any other than the attribute, Love, to complete the idea. personal Son of God, who in ver. 14 be- But this was reserved for the N. T. mani. came flesh, I do not see how “was with festation. (d) The next evidences of the God," and "was God,” could be used of gradual personification of the Wisdom of “the Word.” Nor again can I con- God are found in the two Apocryphal sent with him to disconnect the use of Books, the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of “Logos” by St. John from its previous Sirach, and the Wisdom of Solomon. history. The reasons given in this note The first of these, originally written in for believing such use, as matter of fact, to Hebrew, belongs probably to the latter have been prepared by the Alexandrine half of the second century before Christ. philosophy, are no way affected by the In ch. i. 1, Wisdom is said to be "from objections which he alleges, the difference the Lord, and with Him for ever :" and between the “ Logos" of St. John and that in ver. 4, “ Wisdom hath been created of Philo, and the corrupt character of the before all things.” Then in ch. xxiv. 9— philosophy itself.
II. (a) We are 21, the same strain is continued; “He now secondly to enquire, how it came created me from the beginning before the that St. John found this term “ Logos” so world,” &c., and the passage concludes ready made to his hands, as to require with these remarkable words, “ They that no explanation. The answer to this will eat me shall yet be hungry, and they that
in the beginning with God.
3 e All things were made e Ps. Fuxili. 6.
Eph. iv. 9. Col. i. 16. Heb. i. 2. Rev. iv. 11.
drink me shall yet be thirsty." In Maker ; and He (the Word) rethe book of the Wisdom of Solomon, dating joices in the prerogative .... not being probably about 100 before Christ, we find unbegotten, as God, nor begotten, as we, (in ch. vi. 22—ch. ix.) a similar personifica- but intermediate between the extremes, tion and eulogy of Wisdom. In this re- acting as a hostage to both :” “ there are, markable passage we have“ Wisdom, that as it seems, two temples of God; one, this sitteth by Thy throne” (ch. ix. 4)—said to world, in which also His first-begotten have been present when Thou madest divine Word is High Priest:" "the the world” (ch. ix. 9)--parallelized with viceroy of God." "he contains and hath * Thy word” (ch. ix. 1, 2: see also ch. fulfilled all things :" “ the second God, xvi. 12). In ch. xviii. 15, 16, the “ Al- which is His Word.” These instances, the mighty Word” is set forth as an Angel number of which might be much enlarged, coming down from heaven, and destroying will serve to shew how remarkably near to the Egyptians. It seems highly pro- the diction and import of some passages in bable that the author's monotheistic views our Gospel Philo approached in speaking were confused by the admixture of Pla- of the Word. At the same time there tonism, and that be regarded Wisdom as a is a wide and unmistakeable difference kind of soul of the world. He occasionally between his “Word” and that of the puts her for God, occasionally for an attri. Apostle. He does not distinguish it from bute of God. But he had not attained the Spirit of God, nor does he connect it that near approach to a personal view with any Messianic ideas, though these which we shall find in the next step of our latter were familiar to him. Besides, his enquiry. (e) The large body of Jews resi- views are strangely compounded of Pladent in Alexandria were celebrated for tonisin and Judaism. The “ Wore" their gnosis, or religious philosophy. The seems with him to be one comprehending, origin of this philosophy must be referred or ruling, the “powers” or “ideas of to the mixture of the Jewish religious God, which, although borrowed from element with the speculative philosophies Plato, he Judaically calls “angels,” and of the Greeks, more especially with that the “Word” their "archangel." We see of Plato, and with ideas acquired during by this however how fixed and prepared the captivity from Oriental sources. One the term, and many of its attributes, were of these Alexandrine writers in the second in the religious philosophy of the Alexan. century A.c. was Aristobulus, some frag; drine Jews. (f) Meanwhile the Chaldee ments of whose works have been preserved paraphrasts of the 0. T. had habitually
He tells us that by the voice of used such expressions as the glory,' or God” we are not to understand a “spoken the presence,' or 'the word,' of God,- in word,” but the whole working of God in places where nothing but His own agency the creation of the world. But the could be understood. The latter of these most complete representation of the Judæo- - the Memra, or word of God -- is used alexandrine guosis, or philosophic theology, in so strictly personal a sense, that there has come down to us in the works of can be little doubt that the Paraphrasts Philo, who flourished cir. A.D. 40–50. It understood by it a divine Person or would be out of the province of a note to Emanation. (9) From these elements, give a review of the system of Philo: the the Alexandrine and Jewish views of the result only of such review will be enough. * Word” or “ Wisdom” of God, there He identifies the “word” with the “wis. appear to have arisen very early among dom” of God; it is the “ image of God;" Christians, both orthodox and heretic, the “archetype and pattern of light, but formal expressions, in which these or itself like none of created things :”
:” “the equivalent terms were used. Of this the eldest of begotten things :" “the eldest Apostle Paul furnishes the most eminent son of the Father of all that are :” “ His example. His teacher Gamaliel united in first-begotten, the eldest angel, being as an his instruction both these elements, and archangel with many names (i. 427): they are very perceptible in the writings “the shadow of God, using whom as an of his pupil. But we do not find in them instrument He made the world :" " through any direct use of the term WORD,” as whom the world was constituted :” “ The personally applied to the Son of God. Father which begat all gave to the Arch- This shews him to have spoken mainly angel and the eldest born, the Word, the according to the Jewish school,-among eminent prerogative, that, standing be- whom, as Origen states, he could find none tween, he might divide the made from the who held “ that the WORD was the Son of
a by him; and without him was not any thing made that
a literally, through. God.” (h) We find a much nearer ap- ning” is not said of an act done in the proximation to the Alexandrine method of beginning (as in Gen. i. 1), but of a state speech in the Epistle to the Hebrews, existing in the beginning, and therefore written evidently by some disciple inti. without beginning itself. was, not mately acquainted with the Alexandrine equivalent to “is” (see “ I am," ch. viii. gnosis (see the opening verses, and espe- 58 al.), as Euthymius and others have cially “upholding all things by the word of supposed; but Origen has given the true His power”). But even there we have reason for the indefinite past being used, not the “
Logos” identified personally “It would have been more strict, in with the Lord Jesus Christ, nor indeed speaking of God the Word, to say is; but personally spoken of at all,- however seeing that he is speaking with reference near some passages may seem to approach to the distinction of the Incarnation, which to this usage (ch. iv. 12, 13; xi. 3). () The took place at a certain time, the EvanAlexandrine gnosis was immediately con- gelist uses was instead of is.” The exist. nected with Ephesus, where the Gospel ence of an enduring and unlimited state of John was probably written. Apollos of being, implied in “ was,” is contrasted (Acts xviii. 24) came thither from Alexan- with “was made,” or “became" (the dria ; and Cerinthus is related by Theo- word is the same) in verses 3 and 14. doret to have studied and formed his phi
and the Word was with God] losophic system in Egypt, before coming With is here used in the sense of “chez,” to Ephesus. (1) These notices will serve abiding with. Basil remarks that St. to account for the term “ Logos” being John says “with God, not in God, that already found by St. John framed to his he may set before us the distinctness of use; and the anti-Gnostic tendency of his Person : that he may give no openwritings will furnish an additional reason ing for the confusion of person.” Both why he should rescue such important the inner substantial union, and the distruths as the præ-existence and attributes tinct personality of the “Word” are here of the divine Word” from the perver
asserted. The former is distinctly resions which false philosophy had begun to peated in the next words.
and the make of them. (k) In all that has been Word was God] This is the true form of said in this note, no insinuation has been the sentence; not. God was the Word.' conveyed that either the Apostle Paul, or This is absolutely required by the usage of the Writer to the Hebrews, or John, the Greek language : see in my Gr. Test. adopted in any degree their TEACHING But the sense to be conveyed here is as from the existing philosophies. Their weighty a consideration as the form of teaching (which is totally distinct from the sentence. Had St. John intended to any of those philosophies, as will be say, 'God was the Word,' —what meaning shewn in this commentary) is that of the could his assertion possibly have conHoly Spirit ;--and the existing philoso- veyed ? None other than a contradicphies, with all their follies and inadequacies, tion to his last assertion, by which he had must be regarded, in so far as they by distinguished God from the Word. And their terms or ideas subserved the work not only would this be the case, but the which the Spirit had to do by the Apostles asgertion would be inconsistent with the and teachers of Christianity, as so many whole historical idea of the Word, making providential preparations of the minds of this term to signify merely an attribute men to receive the fuller effulgence of of God, just as when it is said, “ God is the Truth as it is in Jesus, which shines love." Not to mention the unprecedented forth in these Scriptures.
inversion of subject and predicate which In the beginning) Equivalent to this would occasion ; " the Word” having “before the world was," ch. xvii. 5. The been the subject before, and again resumed expression is indefinite, and must be inter- as the subject afterwards. preted relatively to the matter spoken of. dering of the words being then as above, Thus in Acts xi. 15, it is “the beginning of their meaning is the next question. God the Gospel:” and by the same principle of (see the grammatical reasons in my Gr. interpretation, here it is the beginning Test.) must be taken as implying God in of all things, on account of "all things substance and essence,-not the Father,' were made by him” ver. 3. These in Person. It does not mean “divine," words, if they do not assert, at least nor is it to be rendered “a God”—but, as imply, the eternal præ-existence of the in “became flesh,” “flesh” expresses that divine Word. For “was in the begin. state into which the Divine Word entered
85, 46. h ch. iii. 19.
b was made. 4* In him was life; and 8 the life was the Ich; 26. light of men. 5 And " the light shineth in darkness; and the violi12 the darkness comprehended it not. b render, hath been.
C render, the darkness. by a definite act, so in “was God," " God” if we regard solely manuscript authority. expresses that essence which was His in Some of our MSS. set a full stop at the beginning :-that He was very God.
not any thing made :” so that So that this first verse miglit be connected the sense of the words following would be, thus: the Word was froin eternity,- “ That which hath been made by (or in) with God (the Father),- and was Himself him was life.” The question must howGod. 2.] In order to direct the mind ever be determined by the sense of the to the difference in unity) between this passage, which is rendered weak, and in“ Word” and “ God,” St. John recalls the consistent with analogy, by adopting this reader's attention to the two first clauses punctuation :--weak, because in that case of ver. 1, which he now combines, in order we must render That which hath been to pass on to the creative work, which dis- made by Him was life (i. e. having life), tinctly belongs to the “ Word.” Thus and that life was the light of men ;' but also this verse fixes the reference of him how was that life, i. e. that living creation in ver. 3, which might otherwise, after the which was made by Him, the light of men ? mention of “ God,” have seemed ambi. - inconsistent with analogy, for St. Jobn's guous. 3.] All things (1 Cor. viii. 6. usage of beginning a sentence with “in” Col. i. 16), equivalent to "the world,” ver. or "by” and a demonstrative pron. should 10. This parallelism of itself refutes the have its weight: compare ch. xiii. 35; xv. Socinian interpretation of “all things," 8; xvi. 26: 1 John ii. 3, 4, 5; ii. (8) 10, *all Christian graces and virtues,' the 16, 19, 24; iv. 2 al. fr. Compare also whole moral world.' But the history of 1 John ii. 4,-ib. iii. 5. I have determined the term “ Logos” forbids such an expla- therefore for the ordinary punctuation. nation entirely. For Philo says,
“ Thou It is said to have been first adopted owing shalt find that the cause of the world is to an abuse of the passage by the Mace. God, by whom it was made; the matter, donian heretics, who maintained that if the four elements, out of which it was com- the exclusion (" without him was not any posed: the instrument, the Word of God, thing made that was made") was complete, through whom it was constituted :" see the Holy Spirit can also not have been also Col. i. 16, and Heb. i. 2. Olshausen without His creating power, i. e. was observes, that we never read in Scripture created by Him. But this would be rethat Christ made the world;' but the futed otherwise, for the Holy Spirit “was, Father made the world through the Son, and “was not made." 4.] In him or “the world was made by the Father, was life-compare 1 John v. 11, i. 1, 2, and through the Son:' because the Son and ch. vi. 33. life is not merely never works of Himself, but always as the spiritual life,' nor the recovery of blessedrevelation of the Father; His work is the ness,'-as some explain it:-the Word is Father's will, and the Father has no Will, the source of all life to the creature, not except the Son, who is all His will (in indeed ultimately, but mediately (see ch. whom He is well pleased). The Christian v. 26: 1 John v. 11).
and the life Fathers rightly therefore rejected the semi- was the light of men] This is not to be Arian formula, • The Son was begotten by understood of the teaching of the Incag an act of the Father's will;' for He is that nate Word, but of the enlightening and Will Himself. and without him] life-sustaining influence of the eternal Son This addition is not merely a Hebraistic of God, in Whom was life. In the mateparallelism, but a distinct denial of the rial world, light, the offspring of the Word eternity and uncreatedness of matter as of God, is the condition of life, and with. held by the Gnostics. They set matter, as out it life degenerates and expires :-s0 a separate existence, over against God, and also in the spiritual world that life which made it the origin of evil:- but St. John ex- is in Him, is to the creature the very concludes any such notion. Nothing was made dition of all development and furtherance without Him (the Word); all matter, and of the life of the spirit. All knowledge, implicitly evil itself, in the deep and in all purity, all love, all happiness, spring up scrutable purposes of creation (for it was and grow from this life, which is the light not in the beginning, but was made), was to them all. It is not “light,” but made through Him. The punctua- the light :- because this is the only true tion at the end of the verse is uncertain, light: see ver. 9, also ) John i. 5.