John 1:14-17

John 1:14-17
Narrative Lectionary


14 And the WordA becameB fleshC and livedD among us,

Notes on verse 14a

A “Word” = logos. From lego (to speak, tell, mention). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ.
B “became” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
C “flesh” = sarx. May be from saroo (to sweep, cleanse by sweeping); from sairo (to brush off). This is flesh, the body, human nature, materiality, kindred. Flesh is not always evil in scripture (as when it refers to Jesus taking on a human body). However, it is generally used in a negative way for actions made selfishly and not through faith. This can mean animal flesh, i.e. meat, or refer to body in contrast to soul/spirit. Flesh can be a way of talking about how things or people are related or talking about human frailty (physical or moral).
D “lived” = skenoo. 5x in NT – 1x in John 1 & 4x in Revelation. From skenos (tent, tabernacle; used figuratively for the body as the home of the spirit; this is generally a hut or temporary home); from skene (a tent, booth, tabernacle, dwelling – in a literal or figurative sense). This is to encamp, dwell, have or pitch a tent.

and we have seenE his glory,F the glory as of a father’sG onlyH son, 

Notes on verse 14b

E “seen” = theaomai. From thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance). This is to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit like a spectator. This is the root of the word “theatre.”
F “glory” = doxa. From dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is literally something that evokes a good opinion – something that connects to our understanding of intrinsic worth. The ultimate expression of this is, of course, God and God’s manifestation. So, this is opinion, honor, and dignity, but also praise, glory, renown, and worship.
G “father’s” = pater. This is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.
H “only” = monogenes. Related to “became” in v14. 9x in NT – 5x of parents referring to their only children and 4x of Jesus as the only son. From monos (alone, only, desolate); {probably from meno (to stay, remain, wait, continue, endure)} + genos (family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense); {from ginomai (see note B above)}. This is only begotten, unique, sole. Properly, this is one and only, one of a kind or the only one of its kind.

fullI of graceJ and truth.K 

Notes on verse 14c

I “full” = pleres. 16x in NT. From pletho (to fill, accomplish, supply; to fill to maximum capacity). This is to be full, complete, abounding in, or occupied with.
J “grace” = charis. From chairo (to rejoice, be glad; used to say hello; properly, delighting in the grace of God or experiencing God’s favor); from char– (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is grace, kindness, favor, gratitude, thanks. It is the sense of being inclined to or favorable towards – leaning towards someone to share some good or benefit. This can be literal, figurative, or spiritual. It is grace as abstract concept, manner, or action.
K “truth” = aletheia. From alethes (true, unconcealed; true because it is in concert with fact and reality – attested; literally, what cannot be hidden; truth stands up to test and scrutiny and is undeniable, authentic). {from a (not, without) + lanthano (unnoticed, concealed)}. Truth is literally that which is not or cannot be concealed. This word covers more than the sense of true versus false. It spoke of truth as that which corresponds to reality – reality as opposed to illusion. Thus, it includes, sincerity, straightforwardness, and reality itself.

15 (JohnL testifiedM to him and cried out,N “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranksO ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16 From his fullnessP we have all received,Q grace upon grace. 

Notes on verses 15-16

L “John” = Ioannes. From Hebrew yochanan (Johanan); from Yehochanan (“the Lord has been gracious”); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel); {from havah (to become); from hayah (to be, exist, happen)} + chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is John, meaning “the Lord has been gracious.”
M “testified” = martureo. From martus (a witness whether having heard or seen something; witness literally, judicially, or figuratively; by analogy, a martyr). This is to bear witness, testify, give evidence. It is to testify in a literal or figurative sense.
N “cried out” = krazo. This is to cry out, scream, shriek. It is onomatopoeia for the sound of a raven’s call. Figuratively, this means crying out urgently without intelligible words to express something that is deeply felt.
O “ranks” = ginomai. Same as “became” in v14. See note B above.
P “fullness” = pleroma. Related to “full” in v14. 18x in NT. From pleroo (to fill, make full or complete; properly, filling something up to the maximum extent or induvial capacity; used figuratively for furnish, influence, satisfy, finish, preach, perfect, and fulfill); from pleres (see note I above). This is fullness, supply, completion, superabundance, or multitude.
Q “received” = lambano. It does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.

17 The lawR indeed was given through Moses;S grace and truth cameT through JesusU Christ.V

Notes on verse 17

R “law” = nomos. From nemo (to parcel out). Literally, this is that which is assigned. It can be usage, custom, or law. This word can be used for human or divine law. It can be used specifically for the law of Moses or as a name for the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Sometimes it is used for scripture as a whole, used of the Gospel, or of any theology. It is also used for the “tradition of the elders,” which would be the oral Torah – the tradition of the laws plus their interpretations as they were passed down over time. We must carefully consider which meaning of “law” is meant when we interpret passages the word is found in.
S “Moses” = Mouses. From Hebrew Mosheh (Moses); from mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
T “came” = ginomai. Same as “became” in v14. See note B above.
U “Jesus” = Iesous. Related to “John” in v15. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (see note L above) + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
V “Christ” = Christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.

Image credit: “Flight into Egypt” by John August Swanson, 2002.

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