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Jesus: The Word

John 1:1 (ESV) … “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Some interpreters have translated the opening phrase of this Gospel, “Before there was a beginning, the Word had been.” Indeed, the familiar repetition of Genesis 1:1 almost looks as if John wrote a Gospel of two beginnings—a creation account that parallels physical birth and spiritual rebirth. But it is important to notice that we are dealing with two beginnings, not creations. The central focus of this verse is eternality. Like his heavenly Father, Jesus always was and therefore existed at the beginning of time.

It is interesting that John should call Jesus the Word rather than some other name to introduce his book—interesting, but not surprising since the Jews often referred to God in such terminology. The doctrine at stake here is the deity of Christ. Jesus is God, and John wanted to make that point immediately. In fact, this prologue (vv. 1–18) begins and ends with a strong statement of this doctrine.

The term Word (logos) would have been familiar to the Greeks as well. Their understanding centered on ultimate reason or the rationale of the universe rather than the personal God revealed to Abraham and his descendants. John claimed that the God of creation, the ultimate mind of the universe, had taken on human form; he had become incarnate.

The Bible allows no place for atheism and no room for doubt about how God has spoken—through the Word. Before there was a beginning, the Word had been coequal with God throughout all eternity. But what did the apostle mean by with God? The Greek word is pros which literally means “toward,” implying a face-to-face relationship. John would have neither atheism nor unitarianism. He told us later in his Gospel that the Godhead consists of a trinity, but here in verse 1 we learn plurality.[1]

[1] Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, p. 9). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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