John 1:10 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Charles Swindoll


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BY GOSPEL OF JOHN (shaded area)

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John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him: en to kosmo en (3SIAI) kai o kosmos di autou egeneto (3SAMI) kai o kosmos auton ouk egno (3SAAI) (NASB: Lockman)

Barclay - He was in the world, and, although the world was made by him, the world did not recognize him.

KJV John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

NET John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him.

ASV John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not.

BBE John 1:10 He was in the world, the world which came into being through him, but the world had no knowledge of him.

CJB John 1:10 He was in the world- the world came to be through him- yet the world did not know him.

CSB John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him.

DBY John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world had its being through him, and the world knew him not.

ESV John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

NAS John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

NIV John 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

NLT John 1:10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn't recognize him.

GWN John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him. Yet, the world didn't recognize him.

NAB John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.

NJB John 1:10 He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognise him.

NKJ John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

NRS John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.

RSV John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.

TNT John 1:10 He was in the worlde and the worlde was made by him: and yet the worlde knewe him not.

WEB John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

YLT John 1:10 in the world he was, and the world through him was made, and the world did not know him:


The supreme tragedy and utter irony was (and still is!) that the creatures created by Jesus rubbed shoulders with Him, yet were blind to His identity as the true Light! And as an old song goes..."and the beat goes on and on and on!" The world was in darkness and did not know the light but instead shunned the light. Men still run from the true Light (Jn 3:19-20) but will one day can no longer run and hide but will be forced to bow their knee before the true Light (Php 2:10)!

Spurgeon - This is a sad verse. He was a stranger in his own house. He was unknown amidst his own handiwork. Men whom he had made, made nothing of him.

Vincent on He was in the world - He was in the world. Not merely at His advent, but before His incarnation no less than after it.

Kenneth Gangel summarizes this passage - With the device of repetition, John taught incarnation, creation, and rejection all in one verse. (Holman New Testament Commentary) (Bolding added)

He was in the world - The verb was (ēn of the verb eimi) is in the imperfect tense which depicts continual existence, a continuous state, not a completed past. "The Word continually was" is the idea. This truth provides definitive proof of Christ’s deity, for only God is eternal. As Phillips says "It suggests the idea of "absolute, supra-temporal existence." Or stated another way, the verb ēn in the imperfect tense "denotes neither a completed state nor a coming into being. It is appropriate to eternal, unchanging being.

Morris - John is affirming that the Word existed before creation, which makes it clear that the Word was not created.

As Phillips says John "does not refer to a start, but to an infinite state!"

Vincent adds that ēn (from eimi) in imperfect tense signifies that Jesus was in the world "Not merely at His advent, but before His incarnation no less than after it."

John Phillips commenting on John's use of the imperfect tense adds that "This is not nearly so arresting in English as it is in the original. In each case it sets before the reader not something past, or present, or future, but something ongoing. It refers to a mode of existence that transcends time. Time is a device to help finite beings relate to their mode of existence. The verb John uses takes us into the sphere of the timeless. In other words, the one John calls "the Word" belongs to a realm where time does not matter. The word did not have a beginning. The word will never have an ending. The word belongs to eternity....But says John, when we think of Jesus, that is where we must begin. We must go back to the dateless past, to a time before time. We must think of Jesus as never having begun at all. He is eternally God." (Exploring the Gospel of John)


The world was made through Him - John repeats the truth of John 1:3 (note) that Jesus is Creator - "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." Jesus is the One through Whom the world (physical) was created, but tragically the One the world (humanity) did not know (as Savior, Redeemer, Lord).

Natural (General) Revelation is a perfect "commentary" on this passage! The Creator's creation bears clear testimony to the Creator! Read Romans 1:18-22 so that all men are without excuse! And yet God did not only give general revelation, but in this passage we see He, the Creator, entered the very creation He had created to give us "special" revelation in His incarnation. Now we are really without excuse!!!

Related Resource - Can a person be saved through general or natural revelation?

Other passages affirm the role of Jesus in Creation...

Heb 11:3-note By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Col 1:16-note Col 1:17-note - For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Beloved, this includes your life, even when it seems to be falling apart! The Greek word "all" means ALL without exception! Run to the One Who created the world when your world seems to be falling apart!).

F B Meyer comments on John's repetition of the word world - Mark this touching repetition of the world; we shall often meet with it again. It is used repeatedly, as when a bereaved parent, brooding over the sin or misfortune of some beloved child, repeats his name again and again. "O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!"

Was made (1096)(ginomai) means to cause to be (cp our English word - "gen"-erate) or to become, to come into existence, to be formed. Ginomai is in the aorist tense (punctiliar) which describes an instantaneous intervention, decisive and at a moment or point in time. In other words ginomai in this context refers to a historical time in the past in which Jesus caused all things to exist. Indeed, He even created the Cradle He lay in at His birth and the Cross He was nailed to at His death! Hallelujah! What a Savior! (Hallelujah! What a Savior) (Hallelujah What A Savior - Austin Stone)

In Jeremiah Jehovah tells his weeping prophet "Thus you shall say to them (rebellious, idol worshipping Judah), “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens." (Jer 10:11,12) Thus Jehovah speaks of the utter folly of following false gods, and the tragedy of rejecting the true God, the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of everything!

Harris adds that "kosmos in John’s Gospel can be used to denote the world of humanity: Jn 1:10, 29; 6:33, 51; 12:19; 14:17, 19; 16:20; 17:21. An example of this usage (and another instance of hyperbole) is Jn 12:19, where the Pharisees say, “Look, the world has gone after him.” Particularly interesting is Jn 1:10, where kosmos occurs three times: the first and second refer to the created order (“he was in the world, and the world was created through him”), but the third instance (“the world did not know [i.e., recognize] him”) must refer to the world of humanity, since cognition is involved. (An Out-of-this-World Experience A Look at Kosmos in the Johannine Literature)

W E Vine on in the made through did not know Him - The word kosmos, world, had various meanings in the NT. Besides signifying an ornament (1Pe 3:3) and the ordered universe (Ro 1:20), and the inhabitants of the earth (Jn 1:29; 4:42), it means the earth, as in the second statement in this verse, and the world of men alienated from God, as in the last statement. They ought to have known Him.

Steven Cole explains that world (kosmos) "is a key concept in John. He uses it 78 times, often with reference to the evil system that is under Satan, “the ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). It is hostile both toward Jesus and His followers (Jn 7:7; 15:18; 16:20). (John 1:6-13 God’s Witness, Your Verdict)

John Heading on kosmos - usually the word refers to the world of men, and only occasionally to the physical creation. In the expressions "in the world" and "the world was made by him", no doubt there is an element of the physical, but after that the world of men is implied, "the world knew him not". The Lord stood in complete contrast to this world of men, "ye are of this world; I am not of this world" (Jn 8:23). This world of men had no knowledge naturally of this One in their midst; faith in the messages of the various witnesses sent by God was necessary for any man to know Him. Their ignorance was demonstrated, for example, by the names that they applied to Him (Matt 16:14). Even the religious leaders knew no better, for they knew not their own OT Scriptures that spoke of Him. (What the Bible teaches)

Hendriksen on kosmos - Here (Jn 1:10, 11) it indicates the realm of mankind which, though created by the Word, became alienated from the life of God. That kosmos does not here refer to birds and trees is evident from the clause: but the world did not acknowledge him. (New Testament Commentary Exposition of the Gospel According to John)

World (2889)(kosmos related to the verb kosmeo = to order or adorn, to put in order [Mt 25:7 = "trimmed"], to adorn literally [1Ti 2:9], to adorn figuratively [Titus 2:9-note]) means essentially something that is well-arranged, that which has order or something arranged harmoniously, an ornament, an adornment (1Pe 3:3)

Kosmos refers to an ordered system or a system where order prevails. Kosmos/kosmeo give us our English words cosmos (the ordered universe), cosmopolitan (literally a citizen of the world!) and cosmetics (those things we put on in order to bring order out of "chaos"!) English terms. A matter of "cosmic" significance, is something which is important for the whole world. When one speaks of a "cosmopolitan" city, it means a city which has citizens from many parts of the world. The Bible on the other hand uses kosmos to describe the original condition of the universe as one of perfection ("it was very good" Ge 1:31, not very chaotic! In this verse John uses kosmos to describe the world, i.e. the created universe (cf Acts 17:24, Ro 4:13, Jn 1:10, 1Jn 3:17, 4:17), the sum total of everything here and now, the orderly universe. It is notable that the future redeemed world is never called kosmos.

Gary Burge on kosmos in John - In some cases it bears a positive connotation (e.g., Jn 3:16: "God so loves the world"). Other times it is neutral (e.g., 8:26, where Jesus says, "What I have heard from him [God] I tell the world"). But for the most part, references to kosmos are decidedly negative. The world is not the created order of things; it is not the natural environment per se. It is the sphere of creation that lives in rebellion (Jn 1:10; 7:7; 14:17, 22, 27, 30; 15:18-19; 16:8, 20, 33; 17:6, 9, 14, 25). Thus when we read about Jesus' appearance in the world, God's love for the world (Jn 3:16), or Jesus' salvation of the world (Jn 4:42), such passages are not ringing endorsements of the world, but testimonies to the character of God and his love. (NIV Application Commentary)

MacArthur - John gives it several shades of meaning: 1) the physical created universe (v. 9; cf. v. 3; 21:24, 25); 2) humanity in general (3:16; 6:33, 51; 12:19); and 3) the invisible spiritual system of evil dominated by Satan and all that it offers in opposition to God, His Word, and His people (3:19; 4:42; 7:7; 14:17, 22, 27, 30; 15:18, 19; 16:8, 20, 33; 17:6, 9, 14; cf. 1Co 1:21; 2Pe 1:4; 1Jn 5:19). The latter concept is the significant new use that the term acquires in the NT and that predominates in John. Thus, in the majority of times that John uses the word, it has decidedly negative overtones. (The MacArthur Study Bible)

Kosmos - 186x in 151v with the majority of uses of kosmos by the apostle John - John 1:9-10, 29; 3:16-17, 19; 4:42; 6:14, 33, 51; 7:4, 7; 8:12, 23, 26; 9:5, 39; 10:36; 11:9, 27; 12:19, 25, 31, 46-47; 13:1; 14:17, 19, 22, 27, 30-31; 15:18-19; 16:8, 11, 20-21, 28, 33; 17:5-6, 9, 11, 13-15, 18, 21, 23-25; 18:20, 36-37; 21:25; 1Jn 2:2, 15-17; 3:1, 13, 17; 4:1, 3-5, 9, 14, 17; 5:4-5, 19; 2 John 1:7; Rev 11:15; 13:8; 17:8

Jesus said to those Jews most of whom did not know Him - "And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world." (John 8:23)

John 3:19-20 "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.


Did not know - Did not get to know Him. Did not recognize Him for Who He really was. For example, Matthew records " coming to His home town He began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?" (Mt 13:54-55) So even in His hometown they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah!

Morris - “The world’s characteristic reaction to the Word is one of indifference.”

John explains at least in large part why the world did not know the Word Who came into the World He created...

And this is the judgment, that the Light is come (perfect tense = speaks of having arrived at a point in time with enduring or permanent impact) into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for (explains how one can discern their love of darkness) their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (Jn 3:19-21)

Boice - Jesus was the Light of the world. When he came into the world his light shone upon men’s darkness and revealed the darkness for what it was. Men hated him for it. Thus, they would not acknowledge him to be God’s Son, the Lord of glory....I remember how shocked and astonished I was at my discovery of the moral depravity of the Roman world of Christ’s day the first time I visited the remains of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Pompeii was buried by an eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Today it has been uncovered, and a person can therefore visit the city and come away with the feeling that he has almost seen life as it was during the first century. I remember my visit, and I remember my shock at discovering the visual record in Pompeii of the city’s moral and sexual depravity. But it is the same today. The point of John’s statement is that men and women are so in love with their sins that they do not want anyone to dissuade them from them. (Gospel of John, James Montgomery Boice)

Paul gives another reason the world did not know Him...

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2Cor 4:3-4)

Spurgeon - Oh, what terrible estrangement sin has caused between God and man! What dreadful ignorance sin has created in the human mind! The world was made by Christ, yet “the world knew him not.”

Paul has a similar thought - For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know (ginosko) God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1Cor 1:21)

Steven Cole on did not know Him - John heightens the irony here by noting again (as in Jn 1:3) that Jesus made the world and yet, “the world did not know Him.Knowing Jesus (or not knowing Him) is another major theme in John. When the Samaritans believe in Jesus through the witness of the woman at the well, they say to her (Jn 4:42), “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know (not ginosko but eido = a supernaturally given knowledge) that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” In like fashion, Peter testifies (Jn 6:69), “We have believed and have come to know (ginosko in the perfect tense = speaks of having arrived come to know at a point in time permanent effect - they still know) that You are the Holy One of God.” But in Jn 8:19, Jesus says to the hostile Jews, “You know (eido) neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know (eido) My Father also.” Why didn’t the world know its Creator and Savior? One reason is that it is spiritually blind (Jn 9:39-41; 2Cor. 4:4). Another reason is that they love their sin (“darkness,” Jn 3:19-21). In many cases, the cause is just indifference. People are immersed in their own things and don’t have the time or desire to know Jesus in a personal, saving way. (John 1:6-13 God’s Witness, Your Verdict)

Trapp says "This little world knew not Christ, for God had hid Him under the carpenter's Son; His glory was inward, His kingdom came not by observation."

Edwin Blum says that "The failure to recognize (egnō, “know”) Him was not because God’s nature was somehow “hidden” in people, as some suggest. Rather, it is because of human ignorance and blindness, caused by sin (John 12:37). (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Gerald Borchert on did not know Him - The use of ouk egnō (“did not know”; the NIV has the less acceptable “did not recognize”) introduces into the Prologue another of the great themes of the Gospel and encapsulates the seriousness of the human dilemma. Western Christians generally have lived with the concept of “knowing” as primarily related to the sphere of intellectual information (i.e., head knowledge). But they need to recognize that such a definition is a far cry from the Johannine meaning of “knowing.” Knowing is a relational idea in this Gospel. This may be illustrated from Gen 4:1, where it states (literally) that Adam “knew” his wife, and that kind of knowledge resulted in children. That knowledge obviously was not primarily intellectual! Accordingly, knowing the Logos in this Gospel is more than knowing facts about the Logos

Know (1097)(ginosko) means to acquire information through some modality, as through sense perception (hearing). However ginosko involves experiential knowledge, not merely the accumulation of known facts. Knowledge possessed through the intellectual process of learning is one thing. Knowledge gained by experience, by an active relationship between the one who knows and the person or thing known, is far superior to the former. Ginosko describes the latter quality of knowledge and is what every Christ follower should desire as their personal, permanent possession regarding the Person of Christ (e.g., see ginosko in Jn 8:32, Jn 17:3, Php 3:10). By extension, ginosko was used of the intimate relationship between husband and wife (Mt 1:25 = says Joseph "knew her not" means he did not have intercourse with Mary until after the birth of Jesus) and between God and His people (Jn 17:3). Stated another way ginosko frequently implies an active relation between the one who knows and the person known.

Hendriksen explains what John means by using ginosko in this passage - As is clear from Mt. 7:23 the verb ginosko means not only to know, to come to know, to recognize, to perceive, to understand, but also to acknowledge as one’s own. So also here: the fact that more than mere intellectual recognition is intended is evident also from the parallelism in Jn 1:5 and Jn 1:11. (New Testament Commentary Exposition of the Gospel According to John)

W E Vine writes that "In the NT ginosko frequently indicates a relation between the person “knowing” and the object known; in this respect, what is “known” is of value or importance to the one who knows, and hence the establishment of the relationship, e.g., especially of God’s “knowledge,” 1Cor 8:3, “if any man love God, the same is known of Him.""

Charles Swindoll adds that ginosko "refers to intelligent comprehension with an emphasis on the process or act of knowing. Throughout John’s literature, “knowing” and “obeying” are inseparable (as they are in Old Testament literature). In the Upper Room, Jesus placed great emphasis on His followers knowing the mind of God so they might become integral to His redemptive plan. The disciples struggled with lack of understanding until they received the Holy Spirit. (Insights on John)

Ginosko is used 57x in 51v in John's Gospel (222 total uses in the NT - so John uses about 22%) - John 1:10, 48; 2:24-25; 3:10; 4:1, 53; 5:6, 42; 6:15, 69; 7:17, 26-27, 49, 51; 8:27-28, 32, 43, 52, 55; 10:6, 14-15 (2x in each verse), Jn 10:27, 38 (2x), Jn 11:57; 12:9, 16; 13:7, 12, 28, 35; 14:7 (3x), Jn 14:9, 17 (2x), Jn 14:20, 31; 15:18; 16:3, 19; 17:3, 7-8, 23, 25 (3x), Jn 19:4; 21:17

In His high priestly prayer Jesus describes the knowledge the world did not possess but which He came to offer - "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." (Jn 17:3)

Steven Cole - These verses show the tragedy of sin and the terrible wickedness of the human heart. Sin is utterly irrational. If God loves sinners enough to send His own Son to pay for their sin and offer them eternal life as a free gift, it’s insane for them to scream, “Get out of here! Turn off that light! I love my sin so much that I’m willing to face eternal judgment rather than to receive the right to become God’s child!” (John 1:6-13 God’s Witness, Your Verdict)


Jon Courson - When the Bulls and the Blazers play basketball, people in the stands go crazy. They lift their hands in the air victoriously, clap exuberantly, and cheer wildly. They stand, yell, and stomp their feet. And they won't care who sees them. The same thing happens at rock concerts and hockey games, beauty pageants and rodeos. Humanity creatively and radically worships with abandon. But when it comes to worshiping Jesus, arms fold, voices hush, and sitting becomes the position of choice. Our culture finds it very easy to worship sports, movie, or rock stars—but has great difficulty worshiping Jesus. (Jon Courson's Application Commentary


While the World Sleeps - In the vivid imagination of many young children, high above the decorations and colorful holiday lights, a jolly man in a red suit is pulled through the sky by a team of flying reindeer. Youngsters go to bed in fitful anticipation of the next morning. It’s Christmas Eve!

Yet today my mind wanders across time and space to a very different scene. The animals are restless. A mule brays. A cow bumps the stable door. An anxious husband stops pacing the makeshift delivery room floor to console his love. Suddenly a newborn baby sputters with His first breath. With a spirited cry He announces His own arrival. The long-awaited Son has come!

On Christmas morning this year, children will leap out of bed and rush downstairs. Paper and ribbon will soon threaten to push everyone out of the room. Will we let it push out the Son of God too?

In all the excitement of the holiday, let’s draw attention to the Savior. Like John the Baptist, let’s point others to the One who came into the world but was not recognized by it (Jn. 1:6-10). May the greetings we speak, the cards we send, the presents we give be motivated by our love for Jesus. After all, He is the real reason for the season!

The world drowns the carol with its sleighbells—
Giftwraps the manger—shoves it out of sight;
Yet though the darkness deepens while the din swells,
The Star of Bethlehem still shines as bright.

The best gift in the world was wrapped in a manger.


Surprise! - A writer for The Washington Post conducted an experiment to test people’s perception. He asked a famous violinist to perform incognito at a train station in the nation’s capital one January morning. Thousands of people walked by as he played, but only a few stopped to listen. After 45 minutes, just $32 had been dropped into the virtuoso’s open violin case. Two days earlier, this man—Joshua Bell—had used the same $3.5 million Stradivarius for a sold-out concert where people paid $100 a seat to hear him perform.

The idea of a person not being recognized for his greatness isn’t new. It happened to Jesus. “He was in the world,” John said, “. . . and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). Why did people who had been expecting the Messiah give Jesus such a cold reception? One reason is that they were surprised. Just as people today don’t expect famous musicians to play in railway stations, the people in Jesus’ day didn’t expect Messiah to be born in a stable. They also expected Him to be a political king—not the head of a spiritual kingdom.

The people in the first century were blinded to God’s purpose in sending Jesus to this world. He came to save people from their sins (John 1:29). Receive God’s surprising gift of salvation that He offers freely to you today.

Amazing thought! that God in flesh
Would take my place and bear my sin;
That I, a guilty, death-doomed soul,
Eternal life might win!

God broke into human history
to offer us the gift of eternal life.

Lappin's Sermon Outline - THE DIVINE PRESENCE “And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came onto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”—Mt. 24:3. "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not.”—Jn 1:10.

INTRODUCTION.—If Jesus is in the world—a divine presence—where is He? How may we know Him?

I. He is where the gospel is being preached. Mt. 19:28.

II. He is where the needy are being relieved. Mt. 25:40.

III. He is where His table is spread—for Christians. “Where one or two” (Mt. 18:20).

IV. He is where sinners are repenting. “If any man hear and open.”