Shelby G. Floyd
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3 KJV).
The fourth book of the New Testament was written by the apostle John, which the preponderance of internal and external evidence proves beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was written, from the city of Ephesus, near the end of the first century. The book is preeminently designed to produce a settled faith that Jesus is the Christ, the divine Son of God, in order that men might have everlasting life in his name (John 20: 30-31).
Christ, As the Word Has Always Existed
Matthew, Mark and Luke in their account of the gospel of Jesus Christ begin with his birth, and conclude with his death, burial, resurrection and ascension, but John goes before the birth of Christ and shows that Christ has existed forever. In the prologue of this book we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
In this reading one will notice that the term “Word” is used three times. Therefore, it is necessary that we identify to whom or what this term applies. A word is an articulate sound or series of sounds which symbolizes and communicates an idea. A word then represents willpower, reason, logic, thought, knowledge, understanding and power; but in our text it is not used in its ordinary signification, but is used rather to refer to a person, and that person is Christ who is the very embodiment of all thought, will, reason, logic, knowledge, understanding and power.
Christ Identified as the Eternal Word
But we are not left in the dark as to whom the Word refers, for John says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1: l4). This is a reference to the birth of Christ as recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. However, John has some things to affirm concerning Christ which preceded his birth. These must now deserve our attention.
The Word Was in the Beginning
There are several propositions stated which we will now examine. Proposition number one—the Word was in the beginning. This is equivalent to saying that Christ was in the beginning. The beginning mentioned here has reference to the absolute beginning of all things, and reminds us of the opening statement of the Bible penned by God’s great servant Moses. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1: 1). The material and physical universe is not eternal for it clearly had an absolute beginning, but it is affirmed in our first proposition that the Word was in the beginning. Does this mean that Christ had a beginning also? Definitely not, for the verb was in the original is in the imperfect tense which denotes continued action in past time. The verb was is from a word which means to be or to exist. In our first proposition the idea of the verb preponderates and Christ is said to exist in contrast to those things which did not exist until the beginning. The idea then is simply this: the Word was always in existence even before “the beginning.” Since Christ then precedes all creation, he is uncreated himself, and therefore an eternal being from everlasting to everlasting.
The Word Was With God
Proposition number two—“the Word was with God.” Again, the verb was is in the imperfect tense, and simply means that Christ always existed with God the Father. There never was a time when Christ did not exist along with his Father. Christ is as eternal as God the Father. The preposition with indicates the close proximity between the Word and the Father, and conveys the idea that there is society within the Godhead. Christ has always had his face turned towards the Father. Christ was with the Father in the beginning when God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1: 26). Since the Word or Christ was with God the Father, he is a distinct person from the Father. Christ is not the Father, and the Father is not Christ. Therefore, there is more than one person in the divine Godhead, and those persons are eternal.
The Word Was God
Proposition number three—“the Word was God.” For the third time the verb was, is found in the imperfect tense which means that Christ, the Word, has always been God. In this proposition the term God is without the article in the original which denotes the quality of being God rather than the person of God. When John therefore said that the Word was God, he means that the Word was deity, or divine. Christ then has always been divine, just as divine as his Father. He shares the same nature as does the Father. In the Philippian letter, Paul described the humility of Christ by pointing out how be left heaven and condescended to come to this earth and take upon himself our human nature, ultimately to be crucified and to die upon the cross. Christ, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2: 6-9).
Christ then did not think it robbery to be equal with his Father. In John 10: 30, Christ made himself equal with the Father when he said to the Jews, “I and my Father are one.” They were not one person, but they were definitely one in their divine nature. On another occasion the Jews sought to kill Christ because he made himself equal to God. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; in their minds not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (John 5: 17-18).
John, as well as the writer of Hebrews, then were absolutely correct when they affirmed that the Word, Christ, was God: “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1: 3). Let us then have a greater respect for Christ our Lord, through whom and by whom God has spoken to us in these last days, and by whom also be made the worlds (Hebrews 1:1-3). Let us believe his word and obey his commandments and trust him for the life to come.
Copyright © 2014 Shelby Floyd All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd