In the Beginning Was the Word
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The Gospel of John is the Gospel we go to for the plan of salvation, where an explanation of salvation and what it’s all about and why Jesus came are given in detail. The Gospel of John was written by the one who was probably the youngest of all the disciples, of whom it is said, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”1
Most authorities, theologians, and historians pretty well agree that he was probably the youngest disciple, and perhaps only a teenager. And yet he understood the plan of salvation and why Jesus came. Not just to fulfill all the prophecies about the Messiah, not even to be the Messiah at that time, in a sense. John explained clearly, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the meaning of Jesus and who He really was.
Who does John say Jesus was? He was the Word. That’s the first thing John says: “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.”2
Jesus was most of all the Word of God. What is a “word”? The Greek uses the word “logos,” meaning “word,” but it has a very deep meaning. “Logos” is a kind of word which means it is an expression, or even a manifestation of something. So Jesus is the expression of God.
God was trying to communicate His love through Jesus, making Jesus an expression of God’s love. God wanted to show the world His love. You can’t see love, you can’t see God, so He sent His Word. He said it in Jesus! He showed it in Jesus. He expressed it in Jesus. He communicated it in Jesus!
This is the depth of the Greek word “logos,” meaning a real genuine expression, something that is almost tangible; it’s so expressive and so real and says it so effectively with such expression, such meaning. Jesus was the expression of God’s love. He was the meaning of God’s love. He was the communication of God’s love. He said God’s love. He showed God’s love. He symbolized God’s love. He manifested God’s love.
It seems that John really captured that and understood the spiritual depths of the love of God and His salvation and what Jesus really meant to the whole world, not just to the Jews. John grasped the deepest and greatest meaning of Jesus, and it had to be by the Holy Spirit. It’s marvelous that he could show such depth when he was the youngest. He had to depend on the Holy Spirit to grasp the meaning and convey that Jesus was the Word of God, the expression of God, the love of God, as well as the Son of God.—David Brandt Berg
The expression of God
In Philippians 2:6–8, Paul refers to Jesus’ equality with God. He states that Jesus “existed in the form of God,” but that He did not feel the need to grasp or hold on to that equal nature/form. Instead, for our behalf, He “emptied Himself” (literally, laid aside His privileges), taking the form of a bond-servant. “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Colossians 2:9 speaks of Jesus and says, “For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”
Related to this is the teaching that Jesus is the very image or expression of God. John 1:1 refers to Jesus as the Word. In the Greek, Word is from logos, which means “thought” or “expression.” In Colossians 1:15, it says that Christ is “the image of the invisible God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 also says that Christ “is the image of God.” Hebrews 1:3 says that Christ “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation (express image) of His nature.”—Bob Williams
God is the creator of all things. God is eternal and existed before anything else was in existence. This being the case, for Jesus to be God, then He must be eternal and He must have also existed before anything else existed. He must have had a part in creating all that is created. According to the first three verses of the Gospel of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.
When John was speaking of God the Son before He was born on earth, he referred to Him as the Word, not as Jesus. These verses show that the Word/Jesus had a hand in creation, as “all things were made by Him.” The word John used, translated into English as Word, was logos in the original Greek. The term Logos was first used in the 6th century BC by a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates a changing universe. As such, to a Greek speaker at the time, Logos meant reason, so they would have understood the verses as “in the beginning was the reason or mind of God.” They would understand that before creation the Logos existed with God eternally. Therefore the Logos, the Word, God the Son, was in existence before any created thing—including time, space, or energy—existed.
As one of the early church fathers, Athanasius, wrote, “There was never a time when He (the Logos) was not.” He is eternal. The Logos, God the Son, was with God the Father, and was God.
John 1:14 goes on to say:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John states clearly that the Logos, the Word, God the Son, became flesh and lived on earth. This means no less than that God the Son lived on earth for a time as a human being. It means that He, an eternal immaterial being, entered into His creation in time and space. This could only happen if God became incarnate, if He became man, which is exactly what happened when Jesus of Nazareth was born. He became the God-man, God in human flesh who dwelt amongst us.—Peter Amsterdam
Full of grace and truth
Truth is not simply something passive that we intercept, like the outcome of a CSI3 episode that leaves us entirely certain of “what really happened.” Truth certainly has this definitive element; to be sure, the Logos which became flesh is God’s definitive account of truth. But this is something far deeper and more dimensional than cold, unresponsive facts, as further evidenced in John’s description of Christ as one “full of grace and truth” in himself. There is a corresponding, interactive, participatory quality to truth, which takes longer than an hour to absorb and is best understood by engaging its depth and character within a world of impersonal, simplistic alternatives. For if truth is personal—indeed, a Person—it demands a lifetime of shared engagement with the one who is truth and the Spirit who actively leads us into a discovery of this truth.
Without any doubt, the mystery of the Christian religion is great—mystery not in the hidden CSI sense, but mystery revealed. Paul’s description of Jesus is as full of inscrutable truths as it is compelling evidences: “He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.”4 Evidences of the heights and depths of this divine mysterious truth can indeed be received as factual, definitive fingerprints. But so they are clues that point to a multi-dimensional, inexhaustible Person full of grace and truth.—Jill Carattini
Published on Anchor June 2015. Read by Jon Marc.
1 John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20.
2 John 1:1–3.
3 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation—an American television series.
4 1 Timothy 3:16.