Understanding John 1-1, and 1-14
John 1-1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
These verses are probably the most go to verses for those who assert the deity of Christ. They may then be the some of the most important verses in the entire Bible in understanding exactly who Jesus is. It is the Trinitarian assertion that the Word being referenced in these verses is the pre incarnate Jesus.
If we take it solely on these verses themselves it is impossible to draw that conclusion.
All we have in reference is the Word there is no mention of Jesus at all. All we actually know is that the word, whatever that is, was in the beginning, was with God and was God.
It’s also worth noting that this passage used to prove the trinity completely omits the Holy Spirit, 1 part of that trinity. This is something we see regularly in scripture. At the beginning of Paul’s writings for instance where he sends greetings from God the Father AND from Lord Jesus
1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:2 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
2 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Philemon 1:3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul always distinguishes between the Father who he calls God and Jesus. The Holy spirit is never mentioned.
Normally most trinitarians will go to John 1-14 as support for the understanding that the Word is Jesus
John 1-14 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.
They will say that John 1-14 is clearly referencing Jesus , and I will not dispute this.
In this verse Jesus is depicted as the flesh that the Word was made into. Therefore a trinitarian will further claim the Word in John 1-1, 1-2 is Jesus (pre incarnate). And the word which they say is Jesus is referenced as being with God and that it was God. Therefore Jesus was with God and Jesus was God.
It has to be agreed that there is certainly on the surface at least some validity in this claim. But what happens if you look at this without trinitarian spectacles? You remove the preconceived idea that God is 3 persons
What is actually being called upon here is nothing more than an appeal to circular reasoning. The Word became flesh which is Jesus so therefore Jesus must be the word pre incarnate. It is inserting back into John 1:1 an interpretation of the Word that is not derived from the verse itself.
If we analyse John 1-14 we will see that it merely says the Word became flesh. It does not say that Jesus became flesh or the pre existent son became flesh or indeed that Jesus was the Word. We know that Jesus was the flesh the word became but this in no way implies that Jesus was the Word before the Word became Jesus. The Word was (past tense) with God and the Word was (past tense again) God. The Word became flesh. It is the Word that became the flesh Jesus that was with God and the Word that became the flesh Jesus that was God.
These verses actually give more support to Modalism that would state that God acted as the father in the OT and the Son in the NT having ceased being the father and incarnated himself as the son. Using this reasoning God became flesh, God became Jesus therefore God would now be Jesus. Although it must be noted there is no distinguishing between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit when God is God and not Jesus. The Word became the flesh , the son, Jesus. Before it manifest in the flesh it was not the son but the Word and only became the son when it was manifest as flesh. The Holy thing, the Word manifest as flesh, would be called the son of God.
Luke 1-35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
In the corresponding verse in Matthew
Matthew 1-18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
In Luke we are told that that Holy spirit shall come upon thee (Mary) and the power of the Highest (God) shall overshadow thee. The Holy Ghost is simply the power of God. God’s power overcame her and it was God’s power that she was found with child of.
If the trinity were true and the Holy spirit was indeed identifiably different (although still God) from the father, and the father is identifiable as the father then how can it be that the Holy spirit and NOT the father is used here. Mary is found with child of the Holy spirit and not the father so wouldn’t this mean that the Holy spirit in fact is the father and the father not the father of Jesus, which now contradicts the understanding of the trinity. You would be hard pressed to find a christian believer who would say that the Holy Spirit was the father of Jesus yet this verse clearly states that it/he was.
The word became is the Greek word ἐγένετο egeneto from the verb γίνομαι ginomai which means to come into being, to be born, to come about.
So the word came into being, born as flesh. The flesh is Jesus.
Before we investigate this any deeper, it also can’t go without mentioning that in verse 14 John says we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the father.
This is actually an assertion to the resurrection. Jesus was declared the begotten son at his resurrection and this is when they beheld his glory when Jesus was resurrected.
See my writing when did God Begat Jesus
A very important thing we must note and keep in mind when reading the gospel of John is the very reason that John himself stated that he wrote his gospel. John states that it was so we would know Jesus was the CHRIST, the SON of God.
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
John did not then write his gospel so that we would know that Jesus was God. If Jesus was God it would make far more sense and I rather feel would be far more enlightening seeing this would be a revolutionary revelation, especially to the Jews who believed only the father was God, for John to have stated that was the reason for writing his gospel. If he had known that Jesus was God and his purpose of starting the gospel to declare that Jesus was God in 1-1,2,3 then we must ask as to why didn’t he continue that line of reasoning at the end? We must also ask why there is no explicit teaching or explanation about the trinity.
In His Gospel John also makes the rather definite statement regarding eternal life. It is to know God AND Jesus Christ whom God has sent. Not that Jesus is God
John 17-3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
God referred to as the only true God. It does NOT say to know God the Father and God the son but only refers to God of which Jesus is meant to be one person of and then distinguishes Jesus from that God. We have to know God and Jesus. This simply cannot mean we need to know the triune God and Jesus who is a person of the triune God. This would literally make no sense whatsoever.
There is nothing to support the view that there is a pre existent Son part/nature/person of God that became Jesus leaving the Father and Holy spirit as 2 parts/natures/persons of God that did not become flesh. There is no distinction between father, son and Holy spirit anywhere in these verses. We only have the Word which was God and God
We now need to investigate the Word and what exactly is its meaning?
We know from the verses that the Word was with God and was God.
If we say that the Word was Jesus then it must be asked If Jesus was God with which God was Jesus with?
The word translated as The word in these verses is the Greek Λόγος Logos
It is the contention of the trinitarian that Logos means Jesus or more to the point Jesus is the Logos which as we have already demonstrated is circular reasoned. If we look at strong’s definition of Logos
3056 a word, speech, divine utterance, analogy
Jesus is not one of the definitions of the word Logos.
This is where an appeal to Greek philosophy is often called upon to show the philosophical beliefs attached to the word Logos. Scholars will often be found quoting Heraclitus , Plato, Philo and maybe Socrates and bring to attention their writings and philosophical ideas surrounding the meaning of Logos. I will just point out John was not Greek and it is very reasonable to assume he was using the word in the same way as the Hebrew Dabar which can be addressed at a later time, and the whole writing could turn into a debate about which is the correct worldview attached to the word rather than what the word actually means. However I shall not be appealing to philosophy for fact of the Bible which states that we shouldn’t.
Colossians 2-8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
I shall leave that for the philosophers, I believe, and this may sound alien to some, that the answer as to what the use of the word Logos meant in the Bible can be derived from the Bible itself.
The word Logos appears 69 times in the NT and derivatives of a total of 331 times . Not once is it translated as Jesus
It however has been translated as
Matthew 5-37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Matthew 7-24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock
Matthew 8-8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
Matthew 10-14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet
Matthew 12-36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment
Luke 5-15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.
Logos as shown in the definition has a meaning divine utterance, and that is EXACTLY what the Logos is. It is the literal spoken word of God. The spoken word of God was with God and the spoken word of God was God.
The Word of God….is God’s literal spoken word…
John 1-1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Logos means utterance, a spoken word, speech, an idea, and that is EXACTLY what the Logos is. It is the literal spoken word of God. The spoken word of God was with God and the spoken word of God was God.
Now some people will claim here that this is an incorrect understanding of the word “with”. They will claim that it means towards, and so will assert that the Word, the pre incarnate son, was facing the God, who they have to assert is the father despite the fact that neither the son of the father are referenced. This is all reading into the text a preconceived understanding that is not derived from the text itself. There simply is no grammatical reason to assert that ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν means anything more than the (word) was with God.
When we go back to the Genesis creation account we will see that it was through the spoken word of God that things were created.
Genesis 1-3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Genesis 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
Light was the manifestation of the word that God spoke. God spoke and it became reality. Light being the actualisation of the spoken word of God.
“God said” appears 10 times in the first chapter of Genesis.
God spoke and things became, through his word. “Said” being the Hebrew אָמַר amar which just happens to mean an utterance.
Both John and Genesis agree that what is, became through the spoken word of God, the Logos in the Greek. God did not make the physical world , the Genesis act of creation, through his son but rather through his Word.
This is echoed in Psalm 33 where we are told that God made the heavens by his word, the breath of his mouth.
Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Word is the Hebrew דָבָר dabar which is speech/word
Again this shows that the word of God is God’s literal word.
In the book of Acts we see that God sent the word BY Jesus Christ
Acts 10:36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
The Greek word translated as word in this verse is Logos. The word translated as BY here is the Greek διά dia which means by account of or THROUGH.
So the Logos, Gods literal spoken word, came through Jesus Christ.
This was actually prophesied of all the way back in Deuteronomy when God said that he would raise up a prophet like Moses.
Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
God said that he would put HIS words in the mouth of that prophet. The prophet would speak all that God would command him to say.
Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
Peter, in the book of acts, attests to the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy. The one that God speaks through.
Acts 3: 20And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 24Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
So God would speak through the Messiah, the prophet, that God would raise up.
The Messiah would speak all the words that God would command him. So when the Messiah would speak he would speak the words of God.
At the transfiguration of Jesus God stated that Jesus was his son and that we should hear him.
Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Mark 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
Hebrews 1: 1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
God never spoke directly through any of the prophets before Jesus. The prophets were always given the words of God through Angels, visions and dreams.
This was not so with Jesus. The father directly spoke through him.
Jesus is the mediator between GOD and man. There now is only ONE Mediator, there are no more prophets.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
As we are told in Hebrews God who spoke to the fathers in the past through the prophets has now spoken through his son. It is important to note that YHWH, the father, never once speaks himself in the NT. We never see thus saith the LORD or I the LORD or I your God, God spoke directly through Jesus.
And we see this is exactly what we see, Jesus mediates between God and man. Jesus himself stated that he spoke all the words that he had been given to say. Jesus states that his doctrine was not his but the one that sent him.
John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Jesus further that words that he had spoken were not his but were the words of the one who had sent him who Jesus said was the father.
John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
So very clearly Jesus associated the words that he spoke as not being his but the fathers. As we know the prophet, Jesus, would speak the words that God gave him and Jesus states that the one who gave him his words was the father, who we know is God.
Again Jesus reiterated that the words he spoke were not his but the fathers
John 14:24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
We have even more attestation that Jesus did nothing of himself but as the father taught him, he spoke.
John 8:26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. 28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
The words he spoke were the fathers that the father gave him.
John 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
So it is very clear that Jesus spoke the literal words of God the father just as was prophesied that he would do. The flesh, Jesus, speaking the words that God the father had taught him to say.
This was after Jesus had received the Holy Spirit. Jesus required the Holy Spirit in order to do and speak that which God gave him to do and say.
Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Jesus himself told the disciples that the spirit of the father would speak through them.
Matthew 10: 19But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
What is important to note here is that the Spirit is being referred to as the Spirit of the FATHER.
Jesus was talking to his disciples telling them they would be delivered up to governors and kings.
Matthew 10: 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
We know for a fact that this did not happen to the disciples until after they had received the Holy spirit. The Holy Spirit then IS the Spirit of the father. It was through the Holy Spirit which is the spirit of God the father that Jesus spoke the words of the father, who is God.
The Word which was God spoken directly through the Messiah, the prophet that God had promised to send. The one who sent Jesus was the father who is the God that said he would send the prophet.