(1b) was the Word
Verse 1 is a beautiful articulation of the relationship between the Father and the Son, Jesus. John is the only writer that names Jesus as the Word, and we see this title appear also in 1John 5:7-8 and Revelation 19:13. The sentence structure, especially in the Greek, shows the Oneness between God the Father, and God the Son. If you remember, while Jesus was on this earth he said,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)
I believe this is how they created the universe. The Father made the plan for His family and spoke the words of creation, placing the all, τὰ πάντα, in Christ, flowing through Jesus into manifestation. Jesus doesn’t do anything except as He sees the Father do, the same is true in the beginning at the creation, (Jn 1:3, Col 1:16-17). The all, τὰ πάντα, of existence, including all of mankind, was created through Jesus, according to the good pleasure and will of the Father, pre-deposited and held safe in Jesus for those who might believe in Him. It was in Christ in Whom he placed the exceeding riches of His glory and grace for all those who would accept His Son and believe in Him, (Eph 1:5-10, Jn 1:12).
Therefore, in the beginning was the Word. The Greek is ἦν ὁ λόγος. The English word “was” doesn’t give us the full meaning of the Greek word ἦν. This Greek word, in the lemma form, is εἰμί, it means “to be”. ἦν is in the imperfect tense, portraying not only something done in the past, but is still continuing on with no assessment of stopping. This reminds me of the name of God, The Great I AM, which literally means, He has always been, He is, and He will always be in the future (Rev 1:8). This is the sense the word ἦν is implying. He was the Word, He is the Word, and will always be the Word in the future.
Now, notice the word structure which takes place in verse 1, of which I want to point out the use of the definitive article, the English word “the”. In Greek, the name of a person, most of the time, is preceded with the article. So, the name of Jesus is ὁ Ἰησοῦς, the Jesus. The ὁ is the article. In English we don’t pronounce the article in front of someone’s name, but in Greek it helps define and clarify the grammar. In verse 1, we see the article in front of the Word, ὁ λόγος, telling us that the Word is a person, and we also see the article in front of God, τὸν Θεόν, describing the Father, (τὸν is the same as ὁ, it is the accusative case of the article). Anytime I see the article in front of θεός, the Greek word for God, I translate it “the Father”. So, let’s see what this first verse is saying.
(1c)and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John is making a statement, showing the relationship between the Father and Jesus. In this beautifully articulated verse, we have one of the most compact theological statements in the Bible. The word structure in the Greek tells us Jesus has all the attributes of the Father, but He is not the Father, He is His own person. Allow me to break this down for you. There are two significant word arrangements I want to point out. We already discussed the significance of the definite article above. This distinguishes between the person God, who is the Father, and the title of God. Word order is the second. Word order in English is a vital part of translation and meaning, but in Greek, it doesn’t really make a difference in translation, however word order mainly focuses on emphasis. Below is the statement, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, how it was originally written in Greek.
καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος
A literal translation in English is, “and the Word was with the God, and God was the Word.” Notice the use of the definite article in front of the first use of the word God, τὸν Θεόν, this is specifically describing the Father, however the next word for God does not use the article and places God in front of ὁ λόγος, whereas the English translates it after, saying the Word was God, but the Greek says, God was the Word. The King James translation says, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”, but the Greek places God in front of “the Word”, saying God was the Word.
This structure is vital to our theology. If this were written any other way, we would have a very different way we view the relationship between the Father and Jesus. For example: the lack of the second article is what separates the Father from Jesus. The Bible is telling us that the Father and Jesus are two separate beings, but share the same divine attributes. If the second article was in place, it would be translated, “and the Word was with the Father, and the Father was the Word”, making the Father equal to the Word instead of Jesus. The lack of the second article tells us that Jesus is not the Father, He is a separate person.
The word order tells us that Jesus has all the divine attributes of God the Father and not just any god. For example: if the word order were different and the word for God was subsequent to the Word, then it could be translated, “and the Word was a god”. If this were the case, then Jesus would be a god, but not the God, making Him subordinate to the Father, and not sharing the same divine attributes as the Father.
Martin Luther said it like this, “the lack of the article is against Sabellianism, the belief that the Trinity is not the One, same God; the word order is against Arianism, who deny the divinity of Jesus and maintain a gnostic perception that Jesus was created by the Father.
What a beautiful example of the Holy Spirit precisely organizing the words of the Bible in such a pristine fashion, giving us the understanding of the Trinity and the Oneness they share together.
Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ