John 1:6-9

Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ, ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης· οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν, ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός, ἵνα πάντες πιστεύσωσιν δι’ αὐτοῦ. οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς, ἀλλ’ ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτόςἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the lightThe true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

Er, Which One is the One?

The Gospel of John starts with this wonderful song in verses 1 – 5 that seems rudely interrupted with verses 6-9 (some say 6-8 and verse 9 is part of the song) — read straight through 1 to 12 and see for yourself if vv. 6-9 aren’t a bit of a literary speed bump! This parenthetical remark about John appears to be a comment made within what was likely an established song to start John’s Gospel. But why?

Throughout the first century A.D. and into the second there were some folks who believed John the Baptist (not as in Southern Baptist but as in the one baptizing people) was the Messiah. He was charismatic and created a large following prior to losing his head at a royal dinner party. Some Messianic titles at that time included light; in Greek, φῶς, based on several OT verses.

Sooo, looks like John goes out of his way and interjects into the song, just to make it crystal clear to everyone, that John the Baptizer was not the Light but the one who gives witness to the Light.

Another little interesting tidbit here is the use of Ἐγένετο (“There was a”…) to start verse 6. Literally, “a man was created sent from God.” That’s a little weird and there are easier ways to say, “there was a dude named John.” John the Gospel writer, however, appears to want to keep the creation theme going, as if to say, “Listen up: John the Baptizer is a created one and not the One through whom all is created!”

Not to take anything away from John the Baptizer who is an interesting character we’ll talk about soon in these pages, but he isn’t The One, The Light, The One Through Whom All Things Came Into Being — just so we’re clear about that, the Gospel writer says.

And, if you think about, we still go around making larger-than-life people…well…larger than Life!