"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1 KJV)
Generally, individuals who believe in the Deity of Christ will initially take a person to John 1:1 in hopes of persuading others to such a belief. I've often asked people why they believe that "Jesus is God" and the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, "Well, look at John 1:1." I have a good friend of mine who once held a conversation with a Pastor from a prominent Christian denomination. My friend was discussing the person of Christ with this Pastor and remarked to him that he could use a text of his own choosing for them to discuss. What was the first text the Pastor went to? None other than John 1:1.
Now, I do not make these comments to "downplay" John 1:1, I love the verse of Scripture with all my heart. My reason for this post is not to diminish from Scripture, but to examine the commonly held concept of the first sentence in the Gospel of John, that is, that it teaches the Deity of Christ; in other words that Yeshua as to His nature is God Almighty, yet distinct from the Father. I personally do not believe the verse of Scripture teaches such, and I do hope to explain why in this series of posts.
Let me begin by saying that just because a person uses a text of Scripture in attempts to prove what they believe doesn't necessarily mean that the text actually does so. It is rare that I have seen an in-depth exegesis of John 1:1 as well as verses 2-3 and verse 14. Most people are prone to a quick quote of the passage as if it solves all problems that others may have with believing that Yeshua is God, the second person of the Trinity. In this brief posting, I would just like to begin to deal with the verse by looking at the phrase, "In the beginning".
A student of Scripture, upon reading this phrase, should have his mind sort of race to the beginning of his Bible to the familiar Genesis 1:1 where the words "In the beginning" occur. We might also think of a somewhat less quoted passage of Scripture, yet still pertinent, in Hebrews 1:10 where we read, "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands." Although it is not the scope of this discussion, Hebrews 1:10 is a reference to Yahweh the Father, and not to the Son as many theologians claim and believe.
Proverbs 8:1-31 also uses the phrase in reference to the creation, specifically in verse 22: "Yahweh possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old." Some believe that the wisdom personified here in Proverbs 8 is none other than Yeshua himself, but such cannot be the case. Both Proverbs 8:1 and 9:1 speak of wisdom as a female and Yeshua is most certainly not a female. What is occurring here is a personfication of wisdom. Yahweh used His great and awesom wisdom in the beginning, to create the world; it was as a worker at His side. We might compare the personfication of the attribute "charity" in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 where charity is said to "not seek her own". This doesn't mean that the "charity" mentioned by Paul is a woman in the faith that always seeks after the good of others, Paul is simply personifying "charity" or love as not being selfish, but caring for the welfare of others.
In conclusion to the phrase, "In the beginning" when we look at all the Biblical texts that mention the phrase we see a common strand. What is meant by this phrase is the creation or foundations of the world. Thus John 1:1's time reference dates far back, before the world existed, at a time when there was only the self-existing One; Almighty Yahweh.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.