Translation Notes for John 1:1-14

Vocabulary to Review/Learn before Translating (in order of appearance):

σκοτία, ας, ἡ (16 occurrences) – darkness, gloom
καταλαμβάνω (15) – I seize, win, attain, overtake, catch; grasp (mid.)
φωτίζω (11) – I shine; illuminate, bring to light, reveal (trans.)
σκηνόω (5) – I live, dwell
θεάομαι (22) – I see, look at, behold, visit
μονογενής, ές (9) – only, unique
πλήρης, ες (16) – filled, full, complete, fully ripened, covered with


Parse ἀρχῇ.

Remember that in Greek the subject of a sentence normatively receives the definite article, not the object.


πάντα δι’αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο – Here, the passive construction signifies agency specifically that of an intermediate agent. “The subject of a passive verb receives the actions that is a pressed by διά + genitive. Here, the agent is intermediate, not ultimate” (Wallace 188). Best translated using the preposition “through”.

Parse ἐγένετο.

What is the root of ἐγένετο?

Parse γέγονεν.

What is the root of γέγονεν?


τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων – What is the best translation of this genitive?

A simple translation might render it “the light of men/mankind/humanity”; however, I take precision in translation whenever possible as a greater good than leaving it generic.


Pay attention to how σκοτία is used in the first clause versus the second. Make sure to correctly match the subject to the verb in the second clause.


ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ Θεοῦ – make sure to properly punctuate and locate this phrase in your translation. How should you translate this participle?

Make sure to supply a verb in the phrase ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης.


Parse μαρτυρήσῃ.

Parse πιστεύσωσιν.


To what antecedent noun does ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς refer?


Identify your subject and object.

Identify the antecedent of .

How should you translate the participle ἐρχόμενον?


To what does the language of ἴδια refer?

In this verse, the Word literally “came into his own” and his own did not receive him. What could this be referring to?


What does the phrase τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ modify?


If you are struggling with these constructions, look at how Eugene Peterson translates this verse in The Message.


Wright points out that ἐσκήνωσεν (the word commonly translated “lived” or “dwelt”) means “tabernacled” or “pitched his tent” (Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, 112-3).


Author: chandlerwarren

Pastor in rural Oklahoma. Educated in St. Andrews, Scotland.

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