In the Beginning

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

John 1:1-4

John begins his account with the words, “in the beginning” with a very different beginning in mind than we find in Genesis 1:1, for while Genesis begins with the creation, John begins with God alone.  The “God” that John refers to here is first called the Word (logos) God, the uncreated Creator, before the creation of anything… The Word. That “Word” was there first of all… with God; in fact the Word was and is God.

We throw those terms around in our day, don’t we? “The Word” referring to the Scriptures, and we seem to like to use it to prove our various points in arguments with each other as though the  “Word” is our own very precious tool for debating. Yet John, the Apostle of Jesus Christ uses it as a name for Almighty God!

Notice how the Word becomes God, and then in the next verse, God becomes “he.” He was with God in the beginning. The Word was with God in the beginning: “The Word” “God” and “He” were all together in the beginning, before anything had been created.

They are One.

Jesus is God’s messenger to mankind, as well as being the embodiment of God’s message (Heb. 1:1-4)  It was by His Word that the universe came into being, and it is by His blood that we may enter into relationship with Him, as told in His Word.  Thus, we may say that the Word is not only God’s person, essence and power, but that it is one and inseparable from the person of Jesus Christ, who is entirely one with God. Verse 2 is set up as transition in the sense that it begins the move from “what” to “whom”; from “the Word” to “he”: Jesus was there.

Now it becomes clear and unambiguous that this “he” is the one through who all things have been made.  This is stated positively “all things” and negatively “without him nothing…”  Within him was life reminds of God breathing life into Adam. (Gen. 2:7)  “He” contained life, was its very source, and this essence will be the light of the world.  Life and light are two themes that carry throughout the entire gospel of John, and will become more and more clear as we go on.  For now, suffice it to say that His very essence is “Truth” and that will illuminate a dark world that carries on without either Truth or God’s presence, since fellowship with God had ceased after the entry of rebellion into the world.

I hope that you have noticed how much theological truth that John has expressed in four simple, clear and easy to understand little verses; scholars write volumes and can’t say so much! This is precisely why I always tell my students that John’s gospel is very much a “Big Boy” book!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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13 Responses to In the Beginning

  1. Tom says:

    Yes Don, it is amazing reading those few verses! They say so much about our amazing almighty God!

  2. When I teach Muslims who claim we believe in three Gods (God, Jesus, and Mary) and that God didn’t have a wife and didn’t have a son, I refer them to this verse. They believe God spoke to Moses out of a burning tree. So, I ask them, “Did that make two God’s ~ one in heaven and one in the tree?”. I tell them God put his words in a holy book. So, does that make God two ~ one in heaven and one in paper? Then I tell them that God can and did just as easily put his words in a human body. Finally I ask them, if they put their voice in a tape recorder and sent it somewhere else, would that make them two ~ one in their body and one in the tape recorder? In all cases, it is no. They are still one. And God was still one when he walked among us.

  3. trotter387 says:

    Great theological point and one I would argue at length with you because in the context of the whole bible and the rest of John Chapter 1 plus Jesus own words this is out of sync with the rest.

    So as usual I would refer you to the Emphatic Diaglott and other Interlinear copies of translations:

    John 1:1 reads from greek to English:

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word”

    My 1st Century Greek is a little rusty however reviewing the structure of the sentence and removing the transliteration the we understand the Word to be consistently the same but God to be two separate entities – a god and the God.

    The Word was with the God but is described as a god – so using a variety of tools and manuscripts we can look back to the 3rd century AD at the early translations into the Coptic texts (strongly trinitarian) for insight on how this should be translated:

    The Sahidic Coptic translation uses an indefinite article with the word “god” in the final part of John 1:1. Thus, when rendered into modern English, the translation reads: “And the Word was a god.” Evidently, those ancient translators realized that John’s words recorded at John 1:1 did not mean that Jesus was to be identified as Almighty God. The Word was a god, not Almighty God.

    This has led to some scholars rendering the text as ‘the Word was divine’.

    So reverting to the principle of let the bible explain itself and maintaining the contextual integrity of the inspired we have a modern translation debate.

    Therefore whilst this text is evidence of a pre-human existence for Jesus Christ and that later he is referred to as the first born of all creation we either create a contradiction or take it as it reads that God (Almighty) and the Word were together when the creation of the universe and material and spiritual.

    Dogma creates divisions, the original text often provides insight and the principle of ‘let the bible interpret itself helps us to insure our understanding.

    One of the most comforting thoughts is that our faith in the redeeming power of Christ’s sacrifice is the route to salvation, we live up to the requirements of true Christians and focus on Gods Kingdom as the only hope for humanity and the planet, no the universe and we just might get there.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Needless to say, we don’t quite see eye to eye on the first point you’ve raised, but that’s OK by me, after all I don’t always see eye to eye with my wife either, but love triumphs over disagreements… which of course leads to your other point. Yep, on that one we are right in step; we just might “get there” one of these days!

      Thank you as always for a though-provoking and thoughtful discussion that is much appreciated!

  4. Pingback: In the Beginning | A disciple's study

  5. lovessiamese says:

    One of my favorite passages. John proves the triune

  6. g says:

    God is spirit and He committed Himself to His word. That is pretty amazing! The word is what He is. Jesus Christ was God’s son and unlike the first Adam, he lived the word of God and represented God’s heart to us. God chose Jesus Christ to be Lord over His creation and the energy and juice from God fuels it through the spirit that is given each of us when we confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from death to live eternally. That is what is simple. I don’t get excited about the label ‘trinity’ and find it a complicated concept. Among trinitarians there is a lot of dispute. It is just another label that divides Christians.

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