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Jesus, The Word was with God, Word Was God

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

To equate Jesus with God was a proposition not lightly made. John was a Palestinian Jew, with all the horror such a person would have for blasphemy. He was not a philosopher, not even a theologian. He was a man who had spent three-and-a-half extraordinary years in the company of Jesus. For well over half a century he had thought things over. It was his conviction now, as it had been his conviction then, that Jesus of Nazareth was no ordinary man. He was—and is—God.

John begins with an affirmation, “In the beginning was the Word,” that does not refer to a start, but to an infinite state.

The Greek used by John is the word logos. It was a word familiar to Greek philosophers and a word adopted for his own purposes by the Jewish philosopher Philo. To the Greeks, the word had reference to the abstract conception that lies behind everything concrete—to the ideal, to what we could perhaps call wisdom.

But John did not get his views of Jesus from Greek philosophy or from the speculations of Philo. John borrowed the Greek word but he used it in a new sense, in a more Hebrew sense. The Hebrews left the Greeks far behind when it came to the eternal verities lying behind the world of time and sense. The Hebrew would argue from the thought to the thinker, from “wisdom” to God. The Greeks did not go that far. Thus, when John calls Jesus “the Word,” the logos, he is referring to him as the thinker, the omniscient genius behind the created universe.

That, however, does not exhaust the statement, “In the beginning was the Word.” We must look also at the verb. The imperfect tense used in the Greek expresses a continuous state, not a completed past. It suggests the idea of “absolute, supratemporal existence.” The Lord Jesus, in other words, was pre-existent before the creation of the universe (not mentioned until we get to verse 3). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (italics added); the imperfect tense is used each time. This is not nearly so arresting in English as it is in the original. In each case it sets before the reader not something past, or present, or future, but something ongoing. It refers to a mode of existence that transcends time. Time is a device to help finite beings relate to their mode of existence. The verb John uses takes us into the sphere of the timeless. In other words, the one John calls “the Word” belongs to a realm where time does not matter. The word did not have a beginning. The word will never have an ending. The word belongs to eternity.

That in itself is a disturbing statement for some. We can go back in our minds quite easily a century or two, even a millennium or two. Astronomers have accustomed themselves to think in terms of billions of years. But to go back beyond the beginning, to no beginning at all—that is disquieting.

But, says John, when we think of Jesus, that is where we must begin. We must go back to the dateless past, to a time before time. We must think of Jesus as never having begun at all. He is eternally God.[1]

[1] Phillips, J. (2009). Exploring the Gospel of John: An Expository Commentary (Jn 1:1a). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp.


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