Jesus said that, as long as he was in the world, he was the light of the world (John 9:5). In other words, the world was in darkness, but he was light in that darkness; he revealed truth in a world based upon falsehood. People don’t realize that as far as spiritual truth is concerned, the natural man is blind. Spiritual understanding does not come by reading a book or by being trained in a religious school. We are able to understand spiritual matters only because we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 2:9-11). This is done as Christ is revealed to us by our heavenly Father. Knowing this will help us understand the next few verses of John.
John 1:4-13 NRSV In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. (5)The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (7) he came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. (8) he himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. (9) The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (10) he was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. (11) he came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. (12) But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, (13) who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. (emphasis mine)
John is still speaking of the Word as he begins this next section of his prologue. He claims that the Word is life. All life comes from God, but John has a particular life in view here. Mankind draws life from its source, Adam. While it is true that Adam received his life from God, Adam’s life had become corrupt and is even referred to as darkness or death at times in Scripture (Isaiah 9:2). Before coming to Christ, man is indeed alive, but his life will always end in death. He may be very knowledgeable, wise and cunning in the ways of this world, but when it comes to spiritual matters, he is blind. He considers such things to be foolishness (1Corinthians 2:14).
This is what John had in mind in John 1:4-5. The Word imparts eternal life to men. Those who receive such life have their dark hearts lit up. Once our hearts and minds are open, it is difficult to understand how we could ever have missed the plain truth that had been before our eyes. The Spirit of God gives us understanding (1Corinthians 2:9-11). As the Scripture says, the Word was Life (eternal), and this Life was the light of men, and eternal life from God imparts understanding of the things of God to our hearts. On the other hand, though this light dwells in the darkness (John 1:5), those who have not received Christ as Savior are unable to understand what the Spirit has to say.
The synoptic Gospels are clear about the fact that John the Baptist was sent before the Messiah to tell others he was coming (Matthew 3:3; 11-14; Mark 1:1-3, 7-9; Luke 3:4, 16-17). This is what the fourth Gospel is saying in John 1:6-8. God sent the Baptist to testify of the Light. He was sent to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah, in order that the people would believe Jesus. John 1:9 refers to the Word as the true Light and says he was coming into the world. In other words, the One who gives spiritual light (understanding) to everyone who comes to God was coming into the world. Concerning himself, Christ said:
John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
Nevertheless, as John testified in John 1:6, although Light dwelt in darkness, those in darkness could not understand or receive his testimony (cp. John 1:10-11). As a whole, neither the world nor the Jews knew him. However, those who could receive him were made the children of God, being born again of the Spirit (John 1:12-13). Remember, the Gospel of John is still speaking of the Word in these verses, though Scripture refers to the Word as Life or Light in John 1:4-9
Isaiah 9:2 KJV The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Matthew 4:16 KJV The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
The Biblical Unitarians (BU hereafter) at this point continue to argue that John is still writing about God’s divine plan. Yet, as the Scriptures testify, life comes from life. Eternal life is given only by the one who possesses eternal life. If they would try to claim that John 1:4-5 is speaking of Jesus after his birth, this understanding would make the next few verses sound ridiculous. If John 1:4-5 speaks of Jesus during his ministry in the flesh (John 1:14), what is the sense of John’s ministry? John 1:6 testifies of God’s call upon John the Baptist. He was sent to witness to the fact that Jesus was the Light (John 1:7-8, 33). He was to preach that the true Light was coming into the world (John 1:9; cp. Matthew 3:3; 11-14; Mark 1:1-3, 7-9; Luke 3:4, 16-17). The true Light was light and life before he came into the world. This testimony of John is not only a witness to the ministry of Jesus, but also a proclamation that the One who is Light and Life was at that time coming into the world.
Whatever the Word is in John 1:1, the same is the true Light in John 1:9 that lights up each man in the world who comes to God. Whatever the Word is in John 1:1, it is this Word that possesses eternal life and gives light to men who are born again. The BUs say the Word is nothing more than a plan. How could a plan give life unless the plan has life? If the plan had life in itself, the BU argument is moot, because then it would be alive, a Person, just as Trinitarians claim. Life comes from life. Eternal life comes from God. There is no Scripture to support such an understanding as is taught by the BUs on this subject. All they have is their own reasoning. What they say concerning this issue has no Scriptural support.
John 1:10 should put to rest any idea that a plan is in view for John’s logos. Still speaking of the Word, John says,
John 1:10 KJV he was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He, the Word, was in the world. He had become flesh (John 1:14), and the world was made by or through (dia, G1223) him. This is the same wording as John 1:3 above. “All things (the world) were made by (through – dia, G1223) him…” The BUs try to side-step this by claiming John 1:10 is really speaking of the Father, but an honest look at the text will reveal to any unbiased reader that this is not so. It is the Word that is the subject of the John’s prologue. John is introducing a mystery – revealing something kept secret until the times of the apostles (cp. Mark 4:11; Romans 16:25).
In summary, the true Light that gives life to every man was coming into the world. John the Baptist was sent to announce his coming and to introduce him to the world. The Scripture claims the Word or the Light was in the world. The world was made through him, yet neither the world nor the Jews, whom he called his own, knew him. Thus was made evident that the Light dwelt in darkness, and the darkness was not able to perceive or know the Light. The whole prologue of John is about the Word and the Word becoming flesh. All of the pronouns refer to the one who is the Word. None of them refer to the Father. Thus, it is impossible for the BU argument to be true, namely, that John 1:10 refers to the Father when speaking of creating the world. The One who was in the world created the world. The pronouns refer to the same Person.