Main point summary
Jesus is God, and has made God known to all those who received Him.
a In the beginning was b the Word,
and c the Word was with God,
and d the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
e All things were made through him,
and without him was not any thing made that was made.
f In him was life, 1
and g the life was the light of men.
h The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man i sent from God, whose name was j John.
He came as a k witness,
to bear witness about the light,
l that all might believe through him.
m He was not the light,
but came to bear witness about the light.
n The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world was made through him,
yet o the world did not know him.
He came to p his own, 1
and q his own people 2 r did not receive him.
But to all who did receive him,
s who believed in his name,
t he gave the right u to become v children of God,
who w were born,
x not of blood
y nor of the will of the flesh
nor of the will of man,
but of God.
And z the Word a became flesh and b dwelt among us,
c and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of d grace and e truth.
( f John bore witness about him, and cried out,
“This was he of whom I said,
g ‘He who comes after me ranks before me,
because he was before me.’”)
For from h his fullness we have all received, i grace upon grace. 1
For j the law was given through Moses;
k grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
l No one has ever seen God;
m the only God, 1 who is at the Father’s side, 2 n he has made him known.
I would argue that the key to understanding this entire block is right at the end in verse 18. "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." Who is it that's at the Father's side? Jesus. The first thing this verse is doing is explicitly proclaiming Jesus's divinity. The second thing it's doing is proclaiming that Jesus has made the Father known to us, despite the fact that no one has ever seen God. And everything else in the passage comes around to support this point. Verses 1-5 contain facts about Jesus (here called the Word of God): That He was in the beginning with God, that everything was made through Him, and that in Him was life, the light of men. Verses 6-8 (as well as verse 15 later on) talk about John's witness. It feels a little out of place, but serves to introduce John the Baptist and clearly establish his role as a witness so that we might believe in Jesus, as well as killing any potential confusion over whether John the Baptist is Christ. Verse 9 is the linchpin upon which the rest of the passage turns. It's both the justification for John's witness, and the action that actually causes everything that follows. (In all honesty, bilateral isn't quite technically correct; while this is the ground for verses 6-8, it's honestly more of an action-result relationship with verses 10-17. For that matter, the "true light" in verse 9 is also the idea half of an idea/explanation relationship with verses 1-5. I ended up settling for bilateral because the resulting bracket is noticeably cleaner and actually puts the main point on the most important point, instead of God sending John to witness about something. Just know that this technically isn't the right bracket relationship here.) Finally, verses 10-17 contain a brief description of the results of Jesus's time here on earth; that many did not receive Him, but those who did He gave the right to become children of God (verse 12), to see His glory (verse 14), and to receive His grace (verse 16). But in conclusion, it all comes back around to the idea that Jesus is God. Here's how Jesus was God in the beginning, here's how John was sent so we'd believe Jesus is God, and here's what Jesus did as God while here on earth. John's gospel has a heavy focus on the identity of Jesus, and that comes through very clearly here in the introduction.