These introductory verses in John are like a big thesis statement for an essay. John is setting forth some truths that he will clarify as the Gospel continues.
John 1:1-13 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
The Word is defined in the very first verse. The Word is God and is with God. So the clear implication of this is that God is more complex than a single entity. Or course, we know this to be true because we believe in the Trinity. We understand that the Word is just as much God as God is God. By reading beyond these verses we will see that the Word is Jesus.
In the beginning – beginning of what? Creation. That is logically necessary. If God is God, then he is eternal and predates creation. There can be no beginning to eternity, so this is the beginning of creation. Note the tense of the verbs in the first two verses. The Word was with God. This indicates that the Word predates creation. It confirms our hypothesis that God is eternal.
The Word is the agent of creation. Col 1:16 and Heb 1:2 also specified that Jesus made the universe.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
It would seem natural that the Creator would also be the one that creates life. Life cannot exist without a living being as its source. Dead stuff cannot in any way create life from itself. However, this life is even broader than physical life. It is the light of men. In other words, our spiritual being is dependent upon Jesus. Whereas animals have life because of being created, we have more than just physical life.
Unfortunately, the light of men is complete darkness before God regenerates us. Therefore we are in darkness and can’t understand who Jesus is or any other spiritual truths until his light is in us.
6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
Verse 6 introduces John the Baptist (JTB). John (the Apostle) makes it clear that John is not the Christ. He is only a forerunner or one who preaches about him. Why all this emphasis on JTB not being the light is important for those who were following John’s baptism but had not yet know about Jesus. (We see that in Acts where isolated followers of JTB hadn’t heard of Jesus.
9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
Again we find the references to Jesus being the light of all men. Does this mean that all men are saved? We could go down that rabbit trail but when we get into the following chapters it will be clear that not everyone is or will be saved. This is more likely referring to the fact that there is no other light by which we can be saved. We have a hint here and previously that this is true. 1) the darkness didn’t understand 2) the world didn’t recognize him.
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
Jesus came first to Jews, his own. So as the Book of John unfolds, we will see that how and why the Jews rejected him.
There is a clarification in who will be children of God. Those who receive him. This is more than just opening the door and saying. “Come in Jesus.” There must be a proper belief or understanding of who Jesus is. There also must be an agreement and union with him. The concept of receiving is providing support to someone who with whom you completely agree. Receiving is providing physical and spiritual support. You don’t receive enemies and you don’t support those who have a different Jesus or gospel (Gal 1:8). You may invite them in and give them cookies and milk so you can witness to them, but you don’t assist them in their ministry. (Some won’t come in because that would appear to be receiving you.)
We are children of God only by God’s will. Just being born physically doesn’t make us God’s children. It points to divine election. God causes us to be born spiritual and that precedes us ever receiving him.