Summary: Jesus as the Word, co-eternal with God, active in Creation...
THE ETERNAL WORD
“In the beginning” (John 1:1) takes us back to a point before the creation of the heavens and the earth. The New English Bible goes some way towards capturing this dynamic with the expression: “When all things began, the Word already was.”
When we studied Genesis 1 we saw that "In the beginning God" there implied that God existed before the beginning of time. No mere thing existed before the beginning, but only God. There is no duality, no struggle between equal forces of good and evil: just God.
Yet we saw God in community with Himself. When God created man, He said let "us" make man in "our" image, after "our" likeness (Genesis 1:26).
In Genesis 1:1-3 we saw Him as the Creator, making all things of nothing. We saw Him as the Spirit moving across the face of the deep. And when He spoke the word which set Creation in motion we had the first hint of the One whom we now see more clearly in the New Testament: Jesus, the Word of God (John 1:1-3).
The creative activity of the word of God is seen elsewhere in the Old Testament. Psalm 33:6 speaks of the heavens being made by the word of the LORD, and the breath of His mouth. Breath, wind and Spirit are all the same word in the Hebrew language, so this verse proves to be as Trinitarian as Genesis 1:1-3.
The co-eternity of the three Persons of the Godhead is seen in Isaiah 48:16, where the speaker is already in existence, along with the Lord GOD and His Spirit, at the time of the beginning of Creation. The speaker is Isaiah, but the words belong to the eternal Son of God, who was “sent forth” by God.
The personification of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-31 is similar. Wisdom pre-dates the earth (Proverbs 8:23), and was present when the heavens were created (Proverbs 8:27). Yet Wisdom delights in the company of men (Proverbs 8:31).
The Word, John tells us, was with, towards, or “face to face with” God (John 1:1). As such He is both co-equal and co-eternal with God. This makes the condescension of God in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ seem all the more awesome.
The same Word who was in the beginning with God (John 1:2) became flesh (John 1:14), and is now known to us as Jesus, the Christ (John 1:17). He is later identified as the only begotten Son of God who is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), a recurring theme in John's Gospel (John 10:30; John 14:9; John 17:5; John 17:24).
John emphasises the instrumentality of the Word in the work of Creation (John 1:3). This is echoed throughout the New Testament. All created things are said to be “of” or “out of” God, and “by” or “through” the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6).
In Colossians 1:15 Jesus is named as the “first-born of every creature.” This does not imply that He is the first created, since we have already seen that He is not created at all, but co-eternal with the Father. It means that He is pre-eminent above all the creation.
To illustrate this use of the expression within the Bible, King David was said to be made God's firstborn. Yet David had older brothers, so in what sense was David now the firstborn? In that he would be exalted above all the kings of the earth (Psalm 89:27).
Colossians 1:16-19 goes on to reaffirm the place of Jesus as the One through whom Creation was mediated. “All things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is above all things, and by Him all things consist.” In Him the fullness of the Godhead is pleased to dwell.
This understanding of Jesus as the creative Word of God does three things.
First, it informs our faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3), ‘ex nihilio’ as we say: all things of nothing. So the Word of God is not a thing, but a creative Person who we can get to know in a personal way through faith.
It also informs our worship. We praise the Trinity in Unity when we join in the “holy, holy, holy” of the creatures in heaven. We prostrate ourselves with the elders above when we return “glory and honour and power” to the Lord who created all things (Revelation 4:8-11).
Finally, it informs our expectation. The One who is the Word of God in creation is also the Word of God in redemption. The One who became flesh and dwelt among us is also the One who died for us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:5). The One who is the firstborn of every creature is also the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18). The One who ascended into heaven is also the One who emerges from heaven on a white horse with His vesture dipped in (His own) blood, and His name is Faithful and True, the Word of God, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16).