The first eighteen verses in the gospel of John are a poetic introduction, emphasizing the premortal divinity of the Savior, His oneness with His Father, and His power to save us. An 1833 revelation received by Joseph Smith (Doctrine and Covenants 93) teaches many of the same concepts using similar phrases, but in a different order. The Savior also shared some of these messages in His first words to the Nephites and the Lamanites following His death (3 Nephi 9:15-18).
Here is a side-by-side comparison of these passages. Note that the passage in John ends with the statement that no one has seen God at any time. Joseph Smith revised this passage to clarify that everyone who has seen God testifies of the Son, which makes more sense in light of other scriptures and Joseph Smith’s own experience. Doctrine and Covenants 93 opens with a promise that the faithful will see God, and the Book of Mormon passage is followed by the appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ, whom the people not only saw but also touched (3 Nephi 11:15).
|John 1||D&C 93||3 Nephi 9|
|1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.||8 Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation|
|2 The same was in the beginning with God.||21 And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn;||15 …I was with the Father from the beginning….|
|3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.||10 The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.||15 …I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are….|
|4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.||9 The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.||18 I am the light and the life of the world….|
(See also Mosiah 16:9, 3 Nephi 11:11.)
|5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.|
|6 ¶ There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.||6 And John saw and bore record of the fulness of my glory, and the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed.|
|7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.|
|8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.|
|9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.||2 And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;|
|10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.|
|11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.||16 I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.|
|12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:||22 And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn.||17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.|
|13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.|
|14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.||11 And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.|
|15 ¶ John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.|
|16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.||12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;|
13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;…
16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;…
20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.
|17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.|
|18 No man hath seen God at any time [except he hath borne record of the Son; for except it is through him no man can be saved (JST)]; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.||1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;|
Here are the major themes I see in these passages:
- Jesus Christ created all things.
- He enlightens everyone, but not everyone recognizes or accepts His light.
- Those who receive Him are born again, becoming the sons and daughters of God.
- He is full of grace and truth.
- Because of Him, we can progress “grace for grace.”
Today, I will be grateful for the majesty and the goodness of our Savior. I will remember that He was with the Father from the beginning and is the Creator. I will remember that His light shines on all of us, and I will strive to open my heart to receive His grace.