on John 1 :4
In him was life - Many MSS., versions, and fathers, connect this with the preceding verse, thus: All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made. What was made had life in it; but This Life was the light of men. That is, though every thing he made had a principle of life in it, whether vegetable, animal, or intellectual, yet this, that life or animal principle in the human being, was not the light of men; not that light which could guide them to heaven, for the world by wisdom knew not God, 1 Corinthians 1:21. Therefore, the expression, in him was life, is not to be understood of life natural, but of that life eternal which he revealed to the world, 2 Timothy 1:10, to which he taught the way, John 14:6, which he promised to believers, John 10:28, which he purchased for them, John 6:51, John 6:53, John 6:54, which he is appointed to give them, John 17:2, and to which he will raise them up, John 5:29, because he hath the life in himself, John 5:26. All this may be proved:
1. From the like expressions; 1 John 5:11, This is the promise that God hath given unto us, eternal life, and this life is in his Son: whence he is styled the true God and eternal life, 1 John 5:20; the resurrection and the life, John 11:25; the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6.
2. From these words, John 1:7, John came to bear witness of this light, that all might believe through him, viz. to eternal life, 1 Timothy 1:16; for so John witnesseth, John 3:15, John 3:36.
And hence it follows that this life must be the light of men, by giving them the knowledge of this life, and of the way leading to it. See Whitby on the place. Is there any reference here to Genesis 3:20 : And Adam called his wife's name Eve, חוה chava, Ζωη, Life, because she was the mother of all living? And was not Jesus that seed of the woman that was to bruise the head of the serpent, and to give life to the world?
on John 1 :4
In him was life - The evangelist had just affirmed John 5:3 that by the λόγος Logos or "Word" the world was originally created. One part of that creation consisted "in breathing into man the breath of life," Genesis 2:7. God is declared to be "life," or the "living" God, because he is the source or fountain of life. This attribute is here ascribed to Jesus Christ. He not merely made the material worlds, but he also gave "life." He was the agent by which the vegetable world became animated; by which brutes live; and by which man became a living soul, or was endowed with immortality. This was a "higher" proof that the "Word was God," than the creation of the material worlds; but there is another sense in which he was "life." The "new creation," or the renovation of man and his restoration from a state of sin, is often compared with the "first creation;" and as the λόγος Logos was the source of "life" then, so, in a similar but higher sense, he is the source of "life" to the soul dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1. And it is probably in reference to this that he is so often called "life" in the writings of John. "For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in him self," John 5:26; "He giveth life unto the world," John 6:33; "I am the resurrection and the life," John 11:25; "This is the true God and eternal life," John 5:20. See also 1 John 1:1-2; 1 John 5:11; Acts 3:15; Colossians 3:4. The meaning is: that he is the source or the fountain of both natural and spiritual life. Of course he has the attributes of God.
The life was the light of men - "Light" is that by which we see objects distinctly. The light of the sun enables us to discern the form, the distance, the magnitude, and the relation of objects, and prevents the perplexities and dangers which result from a state of darkness. Light is in all languages, therefore, put for "knowledge" - for whatever enables us to discern our duty, and that saves us from the evils of ignorance and error. "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light," Ephesians 5:13. See Isaiah 8:20; Isaiah 9:2. The Messiah was predicted as the "light" of the world, Isaiah 9:2, compared with Matthew 4:15-16; Isaiah 60:1. See John 8:12; "I am the light of the world;" John 12:35-36, John 12:46; "I am come a light into the world." The meaning is, that the λόγος Logos or Word of God is the "instructor or teacher" of mankind. This was done before his advent by his direct agency in giving man reason or understanding, and in giving his law, for the "law was ordained by angels 'in the hand of a mediator'" Galatians 3:19; after his advent by his personal ministry when on earth, by his Spirit John 14:16, John 14:26, and by his ministers since, Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28.
on John 1 :4
1:4 In him was life - He was the foundation of life to every living thing, as well as of being to all that is. And the life was the light of men - He who is essential life, and the giver of life to all that liveth, was also the light of men; the fountain of wisdom, holiness, and happiness, to man in his original state.