John 1:1 – In The Beginning.

JOHN 1: 1 In the Beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.

In the beginning—when the heavens and the earth were created (Gen. 1:1)—the Word already existed. This is another way of saying that He existed from all eternity. He was not what certain heretics claimed him to be, a created being.

Was the Word. John and the heretics both spoke of the Word (ὁ λόγος); but though the term was the same, the meaning was different. John’s doctrine is not dependent on that of heretics nor on that of speculative philosophers like Philo, a prominent Alexandrian who flourished in the first century a.d. One never knows what to make of Philo’s Logos. He employs the term no fewer than thirteen hundred times! but the meaning is never very definite. It is described now as a divine attribute, then again as a bridge between God and the world, identical with neither but partaking of the nature of both. Philo allegorized, which makes it difficult to grasp his meaning. Thus, in his comments on Gen. 3:24 he discusses the Cherubim, equipped with flaming sword, who are placed at Eden’s gates to prevent access to the tree of life. As Philo sees it, these Cherubim are two divine potencies: God’s loving-kindness and his sovereignty. The sword is the Logos or Reason which unites the two. Balaam, the foolish prophet, had no sword (Reason), for he said to the ass: “If I had a sword, I would have pierced thee” (On the Cherubim, XXXII).

Surely, the term as employed by the evangelist cannot derive its meaning from such allegorization. It is rooted not in Greek but in Semitic thought. Already in the Old Testament the Word of God is represented as a Person. Note especially Ps. 33:6: “By the Word of Jehovah (LXX: τῷ λὁγῳ τοῦ κυρίου) were the heavens made.” What is probably the best commentary on John 1:1 is found in

Prov. 8:27–30:
“When he established the heavens, I was there;
When he set a circle upon the face of the deep.
When he made firm the skies above,
When the fountains of the deep became strong,
When he gave to the deep its bound,
That the waters should not transgress his commandment,
When he marked out the foundations of the earth;
Then I was by him, as a master workman;
And I was daily his delight,
Rejoicing always before him”

As a New Testament designation of the Christ, the term Word occurs only in 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; and Rev. 19:13. A word serves two distinct purposes: a. it gives expression to the inner thought, the soul of the man, doing this even though no one else is present to hear what is said or to read what is thought; and b. it reveals this thought (hence, the soul of the speaker) to others. Christ is the Word of God in both respects: he expresses or reflects the mind of God; also, he reveals God to man (1:18; cf. Matt. 11:27; Heb. 1:3).

And the Word was face to face with God (πρὸς τὸν θεόν). The meaning is that the Word existed in the closest possible fellowship with the Father, and that he took supreme delight in this communion. (Cf. 1 John 1:2.) So deeply had this former joy impressed itself upon the Logos that it was never erased from his consciousness, as is also evident from the high-priestly prayer:
“And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self or: in thine own presence, with the glory which I had with thee before the world existed.”
Thus, the incarnation begins to stand out more clearly as a deed of incomprehensible love and infinite condescension.

And the Word was God. In order to place all the emphasis on Christ’s full deity the predicate in the original precedes the subject. (και θεός ἦν ὁ λόγος). Over against every heretic it must be made plain that this Word was fully divine.

Exposition of the Gospel According to John, WILLIAM HENDRIKSEN, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids. Michigan

Categories: Behold The Man

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