Number 102


(Originally published 10 Mar. 79)

The opening words of the Gospel of John introduce us at once to someone who is called "The Word." This being a title that we have not come upon before in the Bible, it is reasonable that the truth seeker would want to know who this One is that is given this descriptive name. When John says, "In the beginning was the Word," he starts his Gospel by answering a question, "Since when was the Word?" His God-inspired answer is that in the beginning the Word existed. When all created things began, the Word already was. We feel confident that even the first men who read this message noted the resemblance between the first phrase, "In the beginning," and the words with which Moses began when he wrote Genesis.

If the careful student turns to the original Greek of John 1:1, either by means of concordance or text, he will find that the inspired title given to the One who was in the beginning is "Ho Logos." This is a descriptive title, and as in all cases where such a title is given, we must know what the basic word in it means or it will be meaningless and empty. This must not be to us a ritualistic phrase, one used with no concept of its significance. Out of the 330 occurrences of logos in the New Testament it is translated word 218 times, and saying 50 times. It could well be defined as something said, or the expression of a thought. When used specifically of Christ it means the Divine Expression. Therefore, as an aid to clarity the terms Word, Expression, and Logos will be used interchangeably in this study.

When we accept the divine revelation that the Being we call God is incomprehensible, inaudible, and invisible, that He has not been known, heard, or seen by anyone, save only by those to whom He has in some special manner revealed, expressed, or declared Himself, we will more clearly understand the transcendent importance of the personality who in John 1:1 is called "the Expression of God." Let it ever be kept in mind that: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only God (monogenes Theos) who is in the bosom of the Father, He declares (interprets or unfolds) Him" (John 1:18 TRV).

Thus we learn from the first five Greek words that John wrote that the Word is a Being, a Personality, and One Whom we desire to know much better since in knowing Him, and only in knowing Him, can we know the God of whom He is the Expression. Since this One expresses and declares the incomprehensible God, He is the One we should seek above all, since to know Him is to know the Father (John 8:19). The next seven Greek words in John will advance us a giant step in this direction.

"And the Word was with God." This glorious statement has been used by many as the basis of certain "foolish and unlearned questions" which we have been told to avoid. "How can a person be with a person if he is that person?" they ask with an aplomb that indicates that it cannot be answered. "How can the Word be with God if He is God," is their follow-up salvo which they are sure breaches all the defenses of those who along with Thomas fall at the feet of Jesus and say: "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).

If proper study had preceded these questions, they would not have been asked. The Greek word for "with" here is pros. It is a preposition in the accusative case. In this context the passage should read: "And the Word (Expression) was toward God." One meaning of toward is "in relation to," which is its meaning here. The significance can be seen in Rom. 15:17 where ta pros ton Theon is translated "those things which pertain to God." Thus, from the second statement made in John 1:1 we learn that the Expression was in relationship to God, that He pertained to Him.

The next five words of verse one brings us the most important statement of all concerning the One called the Word: "And the Word was God."

In the Greek this declaration at first glance would appear to read: "And God was the Word." Some translators render it this way. But this fails to take into account a well-established rule of Greek grammar which deals with the presence or absence of the definite article in the subject and predicate of a sentence. In usage the subject is made clear by the article and the predicate by its absence. Here the subject is "The Word" and it has the article. The predicate is "was God" and has no article. Therefore, it must be translated, "And the Word was God." Here Theos (God) omits the definite article, making sure that we read it as the predicate and not as the subject. This fully explains the absence of the definite article. There is no indefinite article in New Testament Greek.

I cannot but feel that it is nothing more than theological japery on the part of those who insist on inserting the indefinite article (a) before "God" in order to make it say, "And the Word was a God." This is a ploy constantly used by the Jehovah Witness group, and idea that Pastor Russell got from the Christadelphians by way of Benjamin Wilson, the translator of The Emphatic Diaglott. If the self-styled Witnesses are serious about this, they should be logical and so translate it in John 1:12, 13, 18, and 3:2. Even though we know quite well that there be those "that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many); but to us there is but one God, the Father . . . and one Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 8:5, 6). Therefore we will resist every attempt to make He who is the Divine Expression a member of that company of unjust judges spoken of in Psalms 82:1 and 6. Those who insert the indefinite article "a" in John 1:1 finish up with two gods on their hands.

This is an idea that is flatly denied by Jehovah Elohim in Isaiah 43:10-11 where He declares: "I am He, before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD (Jehovah) and beside Me there is no Savior." Again in Isa. 44:8 He declares: "Ye are even My witnesses. Is there a God beside Me? yea. there is no God; I know not any." Then by a third declaration, He locks the truth in by saying: "I am the LORD (Jehovah), and there is none else, there is no God beside Me" (Isa. 45:5).

In view of these divine declarations, any attempt to make the Word of John 1:1 to be "a God" sets aside all the claims of Jehovah. He knew of no other God beside Himself, but the Jehovah Witnesses can show Him another one in John 1:1. Anyone who takes their translation seriously is simply declaring himself to be a polytheist, a believer in many gods.

In view of the most positive statement: "And the Word was God," it is hardly strange that those who would make the Lord Jesus to be an angel or spirit being are also found trifling with this simple declaration. We cannot allow this, so far as our minds tolerating it are concerned. It is by His Expression that the incomprehensible God is known by us. It is through Him that we enter into relationship with God. This is the One who could say: "I am the way . . . . . . no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6).

The next statement provides all believers with positive identification of the One who is the Word, and it fully answers the question posed in the subject of this study. The answer is as definite and final as anyone can ask: "All things came into existence through Him, and without Him not one thing that exists came into existence" (John 1:3 TRV).

In this declaration we have a positive statement in the first half, and a negative statement in the second half. The second statement emphasizes and locks in the positive first part. Thus the declaration is absolute. The One called "the Word" is the Creator, and if the Creator of all things in existence is not God, will someone then please tell us who or what is God, so that we can transfer our allegiance and worship to him or to it.

The declaration in John 1:3 absolutely identifies the One called "the Word" as being the same One called Jehovah in the Old Testament. In Isa. 42:5 we read: "Thus saith God (El) the LORD (Jehovah), He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein." Then in Isa. 44:24 we read: "Thus saith the LORD (Jehovah), thy redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD (Jehovah) that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens above; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself."

From these passages we learn that Jehovah, and Jehovah alone, is the Creator, and therefore must be identified as being one and the same as Elohim the Creator in Genesis 1:1, and also with the One called the Word (Ho Logos) in John 1:1-3. Thus we insist that it is positive Biblical theology when we declare that "the Word" of John 1:1 is the Creator, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the God of the Bible.

However, there is one more giant step for the believer to take if he would increase his faith in Jesus Christ. In John 1:14 we come to the crowning statement of the portion we are considering. Here we read: "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us." This tells us that He who is God, the Logos, the divine Expression, the great Creator became a man in this world, even an Israelite in Palestine, and was such for thirty-three years. This is our Lord Jesus, this is our Savior, this is our God.

As to how the Logos, the Creator, could assume our created nature will forever defeat all attempts of our finite comprehension. As to how He could do this without diminishing in the least His infinitude and universality is a secret that belongs to God (Deu. 29:29). But the tremendous fact is beyond question, and this is enough for the one whose greatest desire is to believe the record God has given of His Son. We know that a man cannot become God, but God can become a man. If not, then we have found something that God cannot do.


Issue no. 102