John Chapter 1, Verse 3

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Book of John
Chapter 1


3: παντα δι αυτου εγενετο και χωρις αυτου εγενετο ουδε εν ο γεγονεν— edit Textus Receptus
3: All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.— edit KJV text
3: All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.— edit Douay text

παντα δι αυτου εγενετο

panta = all things severally, as distinct from ho kosmos, the totality of the universe, Jn 5:10).

All things came into being (for creation is a becoming, as contrasted with the essential being of the Word) through Him.

In the Hebrew story of creation, each successive stage is introduced by "And God said" (Gen 1:3). The Psalmist personifies in poetical fashion this creative word: "By the word of Yahweh were the heavens made" (Ps 336; cf. Ps 14715, Isa 55:11). In later Judaism, this doctrine was consolidated into prose; cf., e.g., "Thou saidst, Let heaven and earth be made, and Thy Word perfected the work" (Template:2 Esd; cf. Wis 9:1). This was a Jewish belief which Philo developed in his own way and with much variety of application, sometimes inclining to the view that the logos was a mere passive instrument employed by God, at other times, under Greek influence, regarding it as the cosmic principle, the formative thought of God.

και χωρις αυτου εγενετο ουδε εν

This expresses negatively what had been said positively in the previous line, a common construction in Hebrew poetry (cf. Ps 1836f, Ps 399 etc. John uses this device several times (e.g. Jn 1:20, Jn 3:16, Jn 6:50, 1Jn 1:5, 1Jn 2:4.

"Apart from him nothing came into being." The sentence excludes two false beliefs, both of which had currency, especially in Gnostic circles: (a) that matter is eternal, and (b) that angels or aeons had a share in the work of creation.

The interpretation of this passage during the first four centuries implies a period or full stop at en, whereas since Chrysostom the sentence has generally taken as ending with ho gegonen: "apart from Him nothing came into being that did come into being." ho gegonene, if we adopt the later view of the construction, is redundant and adds nothing to the sense.

But this kind of emphatic explicitness is quite in accordance with the style of John. It is also the case that John favours en with with a dative at the beginning of a sentence, e.g. Jn 13:35 Jn 15:8 Jn 16:26, 1Jn 2:4 1Jn 3:10ff, 1Jn 4:2, so that to begin with en auto in v. 4 would be in his manner.

The early uncials, for the most part, have no punctuation, while the later manuscripts generally put the point after gegonen. But the evidence of MSS. as to punctuation depends upon the interpretations of the text with which scribes were familiar, and has no independent authority. In the present passage the Old Syriac, (also the Peshitta), Latin, and Sahidic versions, as well as the Latin Vulgate, decidedly favour the placing of the point after en, the O.L. b putting this beyond doubt by inserting autem in the next clause : "quod autem factum est, in eo uita est." The interpretation which places the point after en was adopted by Catholics and Gnostics alike in the early centuries ; cf. Irenaeus (Hoer. II. ii. 4, in. viii. 3), Hippolytus (c. Noetum, 12), Origen (in Ioann. 36, etc.), Clement of Alexandria (Paed. i. II, Strom. vi. II), and, apparently, Tertullian (adv. Prax. 21). It is difficult to resist their witness to the construction of the Greek, provided that the next sentence as read by them yields an intelligible meaning.

Harris ("Stoic Origins of St. John's Gospel," in Bulletin of John Rylands Library, Jan. 1922, quoting Stobaeus, Phys. 180), defends the construction "without Him was not anything made that was made," by citing a passage from the Stoic Chrysippus which is alike redundant in form: Fate is "the logos according to which all things that have been made have been made, and all things that are being made are being made, and all things that are to be made will be made."

This entry includes text from the International Critical Commentary on John.

All things. The universe. The expression cannot be limited to any part of the universe. It appropriately expresses everything which exists -- all the vast masses of material worlds, and all the animals and things, great or small, that compose those worlds. See Rev 4:11 Heb 1:2 Col 1:16.

Were made. The original word is from the verb to be, and signifies "were" by him; but it expresses the idea of creation here. It does not alter the sense whether it is said "were by him," or "were created by him." The word is often used in the sense of creating, or forming from nothing. See Jam 3:9 Gen 2:4 Isa 48:7, in the Septuagint.

By him. In this place it is affirmed that creation was effected by the Word, or the Son of God. In Gen 1:1, it is said that the Being who created the heavens and the earth was God. In Ps 10225ff, this work is ascribed to Jehovah. The Word, or the Son of God, is therefore appropriately called God. The work of creation is uniformly ascribed in the Scriptures to the second person of the Trinity. See Col 1:16 Heb 1:2, Heb 1:10.

By this is meant, evidently, that he was the agent, or the efficient cause, by which the universe was made. There is no higher proof of omnipotence than the work of creation; and hence God often appeals to that work to prove that he is the true God, in opposition to idols. See Isa 40:18ff Jer 10:3ff Ps 242, Ps 3911 Prov 3:19.

It is absurd to say that God can invest a creature with omnipotence. If he can make a creature omnipotent, he can make him omniscient, and can in the same way make him omnipresent, and infinitely wise and good; that is, he can invest a creature with all his own attributes, or make another being like himself, or, which is the same thing, there could be two Gods, or as many Gods as he should choose to make. But this is absurd. The Being, therefore, that created all things must be divine; and as this work is ascribed to Jesus Christ, and as it is uniformly in the Scriptures declared to be the work of God, Jesus Christ is therefore equal with the Father.

Without him. Without his agency; his notice; the exertion of his power. Comp. Mt 10:29. This is a strong way of speaking, designed to confirm, beyond the possibility of doubt, what he had just said. He says, therefore, in general, that all things were made by Christ. In this part of the verse he shuts out all doubt, and affirms that there was no exceptions; that there was not a single thing, however minute or unimportant, which was not made by him. In this way he confirms what he said in the first verse. Christ was not merely called God, but he did the works of God, and therefore the name is used in its proper sense as implying supreme divinity. To this same test Jesus himself appealed as proving that he was divine. Jn 10:37: If I do not THE WORKS of my Father, believe me not. Jn 5:17: MY FATHER worketh hitherto, and I work.

-- edit commentary

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