aerial photo of city commercial buildings

John 1:9 – 13

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον.

10 Ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. 11 εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον. 12 ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, 13 οἳ οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκὸς οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρὸς ἀλλ’ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν.

In it but not of It

There’s no way to speed through the prologue. It’s like hitting Mother Lode. There’s so much to mine!

Have you ever been confused with Christians when they talk about “the world”? They quote John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…”. So, it’s a place of God’s affections. And then you hear Christians saying you’re so wordly! when you lust over buying that Infinity QX80. So, it’s a place of materialism and greed. And you might also hear (e.g. John 16) that the world needs to be overcome as a place opposed to God!

Similar, but a little different, is the use of the term Jews in John’s Gospel. Nearly everyone in the Gospel including the believers and those loving on the Lord were Jews…and yet, the “Jews” seem to be after him (John 8:48f).

In the verses above from the Gospel of John, we learn that God created the world, loves it, dived into it as a human, but the world didn’t know him. In 1:11, he came to his own (here probably means what he made — his own world), but his own people (here probably means Jews) rejected him.

So, between vv. 10 and 11, there is this sort of co-mingling of world (in Greek, cosmos) and Jesus own people (Jews), with the two entities (world and Jews) having double meanings, positive and negative (and, for world, also a neutral meaning: a created place).

Is John, then, a Jew being antisemitic? Likely not. Marching through the Gospel, it makes far more sense that there are anti-Jesus Jews (some scribes, Pharisees) and some pro-Jesus Jews (fishermen, tax collectors, lepers, blind people). And really it’s not about Jews at all, but we see ourselves in “the Jews.” The characters are familiar to us no matter what culture we live in — just observe folks at your next extended family Thanksgiving meal.

Now, regarding the world and piecing together all of its uses here: we are to love it, be in it, not of it, against it, but engaged with it?

Yes. And I don’t know about you, but that last sentence is really hard to live.

Really hard.