ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ  ἦν,     καὶ ἡ ζωὴ     ἦν   τὸ φῶς   τῶν ἀνθρώπων

In him    life  was  and  the life  was the light of all men


in   ipso  vita erat    et    vita erat lux hominum

in,  him  life   was  and  life  was  light to all men


English Translations with variant readings:

Traditional: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

CJB: In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind

CEV: received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone.

GW: He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.

LB: Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind

TM: What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.

NAB: through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;

NCV: In him there was life, and that life was the light of all people.

NLT: The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.


Comments and Commentaries:

Earlier John asserts that Jesus (The Word) created all things. This verse adds the idea that he sustains everything that he made because he was “life” and it’s life that is sustained by God’s word.

Hebrews 1:3 supports this idea it says, “who is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, sustaining all things by the word of power…”

That life is “in him” means “he is the source of this life.”

It seems that “life” is referring to eternal life, not physical life. According to most of the commentators the Greek word for life is only used in John to refer to eternal life.

In John it seems that eternal life is not longevity as much as it is quality. He talks about “real” life or “true” life in contrast to just life. We should think of  not only never ending life but the best quality of life also. John’s “life” is not mere existence.

That life gave “light” to mankind or the human race. Whereas the first phrase refers to everything; plants, plants, animals etc., the last phrase refers to the uniqueness of humanity being created in  the image of God with such a nature to be able to recognize how the universe declares the glory of God. Mankind also has been presented with the light of life of God’s son. God’s very own Jewish people will not comprehend it but many will.


CLV (Chuck Larsen Version): The Word had eternal life in himself and he brought that life to mankind so that all might comprehend the truth.