Summary: Presents what John's prologue has to teach us about the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Two weeks ago we reflected on the opening text of Genesis and of the whole Bible. “In the beginning,” presented the already presence of the eternal God. He alone is Creator of man, who is made in his image; and he alone is Creator of all creation, which bears witness to him.
There is one other passage that opens up with “in the beginning.” It also speaks of the work of God as Creator. It also opens up mystery beyond mystery as we learn that the eternal God is more complex that anyone dare imagine. Introduced to us is God the Word, who is the Light of the world, who became flesh and dwelt among us.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
“The Word” – no other NT writer speaks of “the Word” (logos is the Greek term) as a living or divine being. Why this term? Where does John get it from?
John’s Greek readers would sense the import of the term logos, as it does appear in Greek philosophy even in reference to the concept of the divine. For his Jewish readers, the first words (“in the beginning) would have caught their attention and given meaning to the term of logos. These are the first words of Scripture, presenting God the Creator who spoke all things into existence. Genesis 1 presents how the power of God’s spoken word created the new creation.
Throughout the Law and the Prophets, the spoken word will be characterized as having great power, even the power to give life. God has Ezekiel speak words that bring dry bones to life. God speaks forth his miracles; he prophesies through the prophets what will take place. He speaks and power goes forth.
And so, it is not a large leap for Jewish readers to associate logos with God “in the beginning.” Indeed, Proverbs 8:22-31 presents a similar idea about wisdom, personified as a woman, who was with God at the beginning of creation. And so, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” – yes, that makes sense. Verse 2 reinforces the same concept: “He was in the beginning with God.” All of that is fine; it is a new expression, but the idea had already been planted in Scripture.
It is the phrase inserted in between those two clauses that shakes things up: “and the Word was God.” Was God? How can the Word be God and yet with God? Now we are moving not merely into new territory but into the complete unknown. The philosophers may have thought that they were saying something profound about the divine logos, but John explodes all of their concepts. The Word was God and the Word was with God. It is significant using the tense “was” because it indicates not so much the past (“the Word at that time was God) but the eternal past (the Word has always been God).
Is John introducing a second god? John is a Jew not a Greek. He believes in the one God. What he is doing is stretching the concept of the one God. There is the one God who is two persons – God the Father and God the Son. Other texts will lead us to God the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. John’s focus is on the identity of Jesus Christ, and, first things first, he is the eternal God, our Creator.