"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [John 1:1 KJV]
Last but certainly not least we come to the end of verse one where we read, "...and the word was God". We have up to this point noted the following:
(1) In the beginning references us to the original creation and reminds us of Genesis 1:1.
(2) The "word" that was in the beginning is a plan, promise, purpose placed into a spoken word; in this case the spoken word of Yahweh (Psalm 33:6).
(3) This plan is said to be "with" Yahweh in the sense that in Hebrew thought a man's plans or words are "with him" that is to say "in his mind or thought".
But what about the word being God?
First, think about it in relation to you and your own word. Your word is expressive of your very being. Even “old timers” say, “A man’s word is his bond,” or “A man’s only as good as his word.”A man’s thoughts, plans, promises, purpose, words, etc. are (in Hebraic thought) said to be with him, and can also be said to be him in some sense of the phrase. Your thoughts and plans are reflective of yourself. I have a good friend who's been in carpentry for over 25 years. His thoughts, plans, and words often come out in the form of a finished house. The finished house show's forth the excellency and skill of the carpenter; the house is not one-to-one identical with the carpenter but is an expression of the previously existing plans in the mind of the carpenter.
Secondly, let me say that a technicality must be discussed here in reference to the translation of John 1:1c. Please stay with me as I know technicalities can sometimes be difficult, but you must realize that the Bible was not written in English and the translations into English do not always exactly “mirror” the original intent of the original language. In this case we must look at the Greek text of John 1:1c in order to determine the proper understanding of the “word was God.”
Literally the text reads: “kai theos en o logos,” which is in English “and God was the word.” In Greek this reveals to us that the word is the subject because of the definite article “the” before it. Notice that there is no definite article before theos (God), showing that this use of God is slightly different from the former use of God in this very same verse. John 1:1b “the word was with God” literally reads “the word was withthe God,” with “the” God meaning Father Yahweh. This is why translations of John 1:1c place “the word” first in the clause. It is because the subject is the word and God is used as somewhat of an adjective and not a noun as in John 1:1b. (Adjectives describe nouns and even adverbs at times. A very simple sentence to illustrate is “The grass is green.” Grass is the subject and green is the adjective describing the color of the grass.).
In English the subject comes first, but in Greek the subject can come second, but be distinguished as the subject because of the definite article before it. Such is the case with John 1:1c.
If God was to have the definite article then we could say that the “word” is to be identified exactly with the noun “God,” but this is not the case. An example in English will suffice. If I say “THE preacher is THE man, or THAT man,” then I am identifying the preacher as some direct, specific man. However if I say, “The preacher is man,” the word man becomes an adjective. In this case I mean that the preacher is to be classified as male, he is human.
This is why the New English Bible states, “What God was, the word was.” James Moffat renders this “And the word was divine.” In other words Yahweh’s (God’s) word, plan, promise, thought, intent that was with him was in and of itself divine because it belonged to him. It was the expression of the very being and nature of God. And this word became flesh or humanity and dwelt among men.
Yeshua Messiah did not exist literally in the beginning with God, but the thought, plan, purpose, intent, etc. of Yeshua Messiah existed in the beginning – in the plan or word of Almighty Yahweh. Remember G.B. Caird's translation of John 1:1, 14:
"In the beginning was the purpose, the purpose in the mind of God, the purpose which was God’s own being… this purpose took human form in Jesus of Nazareth." [New Testament Theology, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995, pg. 332.]
PS: For further explanation of John 1:1c please see the following resources:
1. Basics of Biblical Greek, Second Edition by William D. Mounce, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1993.
2. Jesus as They Knew Him, by William Barclay, Harper and Row, New York, 1962, pg. 21-22.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.