The Gk word ἐγένετο (from γίγνομαι) can mean many things: to come into being (to be born or to be produced), to take place, to become (one of ...), etc. In the beginning of John's Gospel, the word is used in both verse 3 and verse 6, and most translations translate it in different ways. That is, in the translation it isn't visible anymore that it's the same word. For example:

3 πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. [...] 6 Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ, ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης:
3 Through him [the Word from 1:1] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. [...] 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. (New International Version)

- Jn 1:3 and 1:6

Theoretically it would be possible that the author of the Gospel meant to put emphasis on the relationship between the two lines by letting the word reoccur: he would want to show that John the Baptist is one of the things that came into being through the Word.
On the other hand, it's also possible that the word reoccurs accidentally because it's just a word with many meanings.

Is there a way to know if it's likely that the author meant to emphasize a relationship between the verses here?

  • ἐγένετο ... 1067x in LXX + NT; 202x in NT; 17x in John. Luke/Acts is the heavy user with 61% of hits in NT as a whole. No idea what that means. :) Of course, it's also in Jn 1:10, 14, 17, and 28 ... and 2:1...
    – Dɑvïd
    Mar 24, 2014 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


When Mary received the news from the angel Gabriel that she would receive the Promised Seed, she went "in those days" (Luke 1:39) to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was already pregnant with John the Baptist (Luke 1:44). So John was physically older than Jesus.

Now in John 1:30 we see the perfect tense of γίγνομαι occur as follows. That is, John the Baptist indicates that Jesus "had become" before him, even though he (John) was born before Jesus.

John 1:30 (Greek Text)
30 οὗτός ἐστιν ὑπὲρ οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον, Ὀπίσω µου ἔρχεται ἀνὴρ ὃς ἔµπροσθέν µου γέγονεν ὅτι πρῶτός µου ἦν.

John 1:30 (NASB w/footnote reading)
30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who has become before me, for He existed before me.”

John is saying that Jesus is greater than him, because Jesus had preexisted John (notwithstanding that John was in fact born before Jesus). The verb γίγνομαι is in the perfect, which suggests completed action in past time with present results. In other words, the "γίγνομαι" of Jesus (described in John 1:3) preceded the "γίγνομαι" of John (described in John 1:6), even though John was physically older because he was born before Jesus. Thus "γίγνομαι" has different interpretive connotations for John the Baptist and Jesus in the Gospel of John.

  • 1
    What in the world is a "perfect aorist tense"? γέγονεν is perfect, not aorist.
    – fdb
    Mar 24, 2014 at 22:54
  • Thanks, I also changed the active voice to the middle voice.
    – Joseph
    Mar 25, 2014 at 1:25
  • @CamilStaps - The Lord created everything through the articulation of his word, which commanded all things into existence. That "Word" is the PERSON, by whom all things come into existence. (Paul leverages that concept to fit the PERSON into the Law of Moses in Rom 10:6-8.) In other words, everything exists through the "Word" of God, who is the PERSON of Jesus the Christ (cf. Jn 1:3 and Jn 1:10; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2; Heb 2:9-10; and Rev 4:11).
    – Joseph
    Mar 25, 2014 at 12:31

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