Vincent Word Studies - John 1:5 - 1:5

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Vincent Word Studies - John 1:5 - 1:5

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Shineth (φαίσει)

Note the present tense, indicating not merely the present point of time, but that the light has gone forth continuously and without interruption from the beginning until now, and is still shining. Hence φαίνει, shineth, denoting the peculiar property of light under all circumstances, and not φωτίζει, lighteneth or illuminateth, as in Joh 1:9. The shining does not always illuminate. Compare 1Jo 2:8.

In the darkness (ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ)

Σκοτία, darkness, is a word peculiar to later Greek, and used in the New Testament almost exclusively by John. It occurs once in Mat 10:27, and once in Luk 12:3. The more common New Testament word is σκότος, from the same root, which appears in σκιά, shadow, and σκηνή, tent. Another word for darkness, ζόφος, occurs only in Peter and Jude (2Pe 2:4, 2Pe 2:17; Jud 1:6, Jud 1:13). See on 2Pe 2:4. The two words are combined in the phrase blackness of darkness (2Pe 2:17; Jud 1:13). In classical Greek σκότος, as distinguished from ζόφος, is the stronger term, denoting the condition of darkness as opposed to light in nature. Hence of death, of the condition before birth; of night. Ζόφος, which is mainly a poetical term, signifies gloom, half-darkness, nebulousness. Here the stronger word is used. The darkness of sin is deep. The moral condition which opposes itself to divine light is utterly dark. The very light that is in it is darkness. Its condition is the opposite of that happy state of humanity indicated in Joh 1:4, when the life was the light of men; it is a condition in which mankind has become the prey of falsehood, folly and sin. Compare 1Jo 1:9-10. Rom 1:21, Rom 1:22.

Comprehended (κατέλαβεν)

Rev., apprehended. Wyc., took not it. See on Mar 9:18; see on Act 4:13. Comprehended, in the sense of the A.V., understood, is inadmissible. This meaning would require the middle voice of the verb (see Act 4:13; Act 10:34; Act 25:25). The Rev., apprehended, i.e., grasped or seized, gives the correct idea, which appears in Joh 12:35, “lest darkness come upon you,” i.e., overtake and seize. The word is used in the sense of laying hold of so as to make one's own; hence, to take possession of. Used of obtaining the prize in the games (1Co 9:24); of attaining righteousness (Rom 9:30); of a demon taking possession of a man (Mar 9:18); of the day of the Lord overtaking one as a thief (1Th 5:4). Applied to darkness, this idea includes that of eclipsing or overwhelming. Hence some render overcame (Westcott, Moulton). John's thought is, that in the struggle between light and darkness, light was victorious. The darkness did not appropriate the light and eclipse it. “The whole phrase is indeed a startling paradox. The light does not banish the darkness; the darkness does not overpower the light. Light and darkness coexist in the world side by side” (Westcott).