posted on Mar, 27 2015 @ 06:16 PM
The opening verses of John’s Gospel make two sets of statements about the Word.
They describe what the Word was.
They describe what the Word became.
The way to understand the Word is to combine the two together.
The Word was… (vv1-5)
The Word was “In the beginning”.
This phrase is the well-known opening of the Genesis account of the Creation.
So the use of it here identifies the Word (and not just God) with the act of Creation.
And if the Word already “was” at the time of the Creation, that places the origin of the Word before the time of Creation.
The Word was “with God”.
The word “with” translates PROS, which is not just “standing next to”, but in some sense ”moving towards”, or “acting towards”
It implies a more direct relationship.
“God, was the Word”.
The word “God”(placed first for emphasis) comes without the Greek “the”.
That is, the Word is not identified with the totality of God.
Rather, “God” describes his nature.
“All things were made through him”.
“Were made” is a translation of EGENETO. That is, “became” or “came into existence”.
In other words, everything that was made came into existence through his agency.
The statement is then repeated in the negative form- ”Nothing that was made was made without his agency.
This double statement is important, because it makes it logically impossible to include the Word itself among the “things which were made”.
For if the Word was one of the “things which were made”, it would have to come into existence before it came into existence, so that it
could help to bring itself into existence.
Which is obviously absurd.
So this declaration from John means that the Word must be excluded from the category of “things which were made”.
(None of the clean-shaven men in the village shave themselves.
They all get shaved by the village barber.
Which means, does it not, that the barber himself cannot be one of the clean-shaven men of the village?
Because in that case he would be a “clean-shaven man shaving himself”, which has already been ruled out.)
In short, the Word is uncreated; a feature of the Creator God, and not a feature of the created world.
The Word is also given as the provider of Life, and as such the provider of Light.
These words, too, are an echo of the creation account in Genesis.
The light shines out in the darkness, irresistibly; the darkness could not swallow it up and overcome it.
(My quick test of Bible translations. Do not bother with any translation which claims, in v5, that the darkness “has not understood” the
The Word became…(v14)
The Word “became flesh”.
This is a translation of SARX EGENETO.
The word EGENETO has already been used in v3 to describe the event of being created.
In becoming “flesh”, and only then, the Word joined the ranks of “the things which were made”.
The “flesh” which the Word “became” is the nature of man, as distinct from the nature of God which was claimed for the Word in v2.
When the Word became flesh, did it cease to be the Word?
There are two options about the meaning of “became”.
When the land between England and Germany was flooded, that land became sea- and consequently ceased to be land. The new status replaced the old
But when the man Abraham Lincoln became President, he did not cease to be the man Abraham Lincoln. His new status was an addition to his old
The structure of the sentence shows that “The Word became flesh” has the second kind of meaning.
If the sentence had read “The Word became flesh, and the flesh dwelt among us”, that would have been like “the land became sea”.
But in fact the two verbs have the same subject; the meaning of the sentence is therefore that the Word became flesh and the Word dwelt among
In other words, “the flesh” must have been an addition to the previous nature of the Word, which continued to exist as the Word.
As the later Creeds would put it, his humanity was “taken up” into his divinity.
Finally, the following verses clearly identify this “Word became flesh” with Jesus Christ.
In v15, John the Baptist bears witness “to him”, that is the Word mentioned in the previous verse.
V16 declares that we have received grace from the same, and v17 gives the name of Jesus Christ as the source of this grace.
He is then implicitly identified in the next verse as “the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father”.
Which brings us round in a full circle back to the teaching of the first verse.
Thus the message of this passage is describing two stages in the history of the Word.
First, the Word was with God and the Word was God.
Then the Word became flesh (that is, became human).
And the result is a conjunction of the two natures, the nature of God and the nature of humanity.