Barry is the founder and Professor of the M.Div. program for Mindanao Grace Seminary, Philippines.
In the Beginning
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
John establishes the deity of Christ in his first verse. This is of vital importance. There would be nothing miraculous or amazing about the incarnation if John did not establish these facts first.Going on, John then tells us:
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)
It is interesting that John does not include that nativity story. Matthew starts His account of Christ with the genealogy. It is somewhat like the book of Numbers with a list of “begats.” Then in chapter 2, Matthew gives a historical narrative of the birth of Christ.
Mark begins his account of the life of Jesus from the words of the prophet Isaiah. And then gives the story of Jesus’ baptism.
Luke begins his Gospel with the story of the Angel as it appears to Zacharias and Elizabeth and the birth of John the Baptist. Then in chapter 2 we have the account of the birth of Jesus.
As you know, we call these three books the synoptic Gospel. We use this word synoptic to say that they are somewhat the same. John start his Gospel in a completely different way. He starts in verse one of chapter one with the phrase “In the beginning...” Every good Bible student will recognize these words. And every Jew would have immediately recognized these words. These are the very same words of the first book of the Bible.
Gen. 1:1 says “In the Beginning.”
But John pulls a switch. Rather than saying “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” John says “In the beginning was the Word.”
In the beginning was the Word: Before creation, before the foundation of the world, before the world existed- there was the Word. The point that John is making with this phrase is that the Word was not created.The Word was not part of creation but was the agent of creation. The Word was the Creator.
John uses the very first word of the very first book of the Bible, to introduce His Gospel. This verse would have been very familiar to His Jewish readers. Then John combines this verse with the Greek concept of the “logos” (word). As English speakers, the weight of the word is lost to us. Logos could be used to refer to the “reason’ or “mind of God.” In his first sentence, John captures both the Jewish and Greek reader's attention. But he does not leave them to wonder about this Word.
In fact, in verse 3, we see that the Word was the agent that God used to create. How can the Creator be a part of creation? The Word is the Creator of creation. `
V.3 “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.”
The Word was the agent of God to Create. But the Word was not an impersonal force. The Scripture refers to the Word as “He” in verse 2.
As we read on in this chapter, we see that the Word refers to a person. Verses 10 through 13 also use the masculine pronouns “he" and “him.” Then in verse 20 we get the name Christ. This puts the pieces together that Christ Jesus is the one referred by the “Word.” The Word was in the beginning with God. The word was with God. And, the Word was the agent of Creation.
The Greek philosophers might be tempted to say that the Word was a demigod. They had the idea that God was separated from the material world. So not to corrupt himself with something outside Himself, he created a demigod (“little god”) that created the material universe.
John is fast to put that theory to death. Johns says that the “Word was God.” The Word was with God and the Word was God. John makes a distinction between two beings: the Word and God. This gives the impression that God is more than one. While denying the Greek demigod, John now creates as dilemma for his Jewish readers and for many today. Is there two gods?
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD, is one.”
This phrase is taken from Deuteronomy chapter 6 and verse 4. It is the beginning of the Jewish prayer, often referred to as the Shem (“hear”). Israelites had always believed that there was only one god. And there is sufficient Scriptural evidence to support their belief.
“...there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel” - 1 Kings 8:60
We must be careful here not to make the same mistake that the Jews of Jesus’ time did. We must not conflate the word God with the person of the Father. The Scripture refers to three separate persons as God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. They are separate and distinct persons who are the God-head. This is not a contradiction.
A Child is Born
The Word Became flesh. God became flesh! Did all person of the God-head take on a body? No. Just the Word. This is the uniqueness of Christ. He now has a body. God is three persons. And there is nothing to compare this to. All examples result in one heresy or another. The Trinity is not like anything else and cannot be compared to anything else. The Trinity is God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And the Son, which is the Word, took on flesh. The Holy Spirit did not take on flesh. The Father does not have a physical body. Only the Son.
Quotes Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”
These words are important. It is not random nor an accident how this verse is arranged. Read it slowly, please. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” You see, the Son cannot be born. The Word was with God in the beginning, and the Word was God. The Word takes on flesh and a “child is born.” That child was Jesus Christ, the Son of God.