Question: Do you agree if we say, “The Word was WITH God”? Does it makes good sense to tell us “the Word was a unique expression of God”? “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was a unique expression of God, and God was the Word.”
The Gospel of John was originally written in Greek during the first century. So to answer your question, we want to understand the meaning of the original Greek words that are used in John 1:1.
Let’s look at the three truths about “the Word” in John 1:1.
1. In the beginning was the Word.
In Genesis 1:1, we learn that God existed from the very beginning. There was a time when only God existed and nothing else. Then God created everything, the heavens and the earth.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
John 1:1 states that “in the beginning was the Word.” From the very beginning, the Word existed. The Word, unlike you and me, was not created. The Word existed from the beginning. The Word is eternal, just as God is eternal.
So naturally, one will ask, who is this “Word” who is eternal from the beginning? Is “the Word” God Himself? Or is “the Word” a separate person who was with God? John 1:1 states “the Word” is both.
2. The Word was with God.
In the Greek, the phrase is (ho logos en pros ton theon). Literally, the phrase is “the word was with (toward) the God.”
The Greek preposition pros is often translated in most English translations as “with” and “to”. This word expresses direction ‘on the side of’, ‘in the direction of’. When this preposition is used between two different persons, it means “with” or “by, at or near.” Let’s look at three verses in the Gospels that translate the same Greek preposition pros.
“And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:56)
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6:3)
“Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” (Luke 9:41)
In John 1:1, the Greek preposition pros describes the Word as being beside God and facing God. It paints a picture that the Word has a close relationship with God. This Greek preposition does not mean “unique manifestation.”
“He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2)
John repeats the description with the same Greek preposition pros in verse 2.
So the Word is not the same person as God. The Word is next to God and facing God. This relationship the Word has with God existed from the beginning.
3. The Word was God.
In the Greek, the phrase is (theos en ho logos). The phrase means “the Word was God.” The Greek word theos means God. The Greek word theios means “divine” or “God-like.” John is not saying that the Word was “God-like and divine.” In John 1:1, “the Word” was theos.
- The Word was with God.
- The Word was God.
Both statements are true and stated in John 1:1.
The Word is everything that God is. Everything that can be said about God is who the Word is. John 1:17 explains that the Word is Jesus Christ. Now look at what verse 18 says.
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18)
John explains that “no one has ever seen God.” But then he refers to the Word as “the only God, who is at the Father’s side.” The Word Jesus is “the only God.” The Word is also “at the Father’s side.”
John 1:1 and John 1:18 help explain the precious doctrine of the Trinity. God is one. But God is also three persons: the Father, the Son (the Word), and the Holy Spirit.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
When Jesus commanded his disciples to go, he also commanded them to “baptize in the (one) name”, not three names. There are not three gods. There is one God. But the name of our one God is “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He is three persons.
Why is “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” important?
This truth is necessary for us to understand the good news of salvation. Jesus is God. But Jesus is not God the Father.
Jesus lived a perfect life, and he died on the cross without sin as a substitute for us. He was able to do this because He is God. Jesus and God the Father are not the same person. The Father planned this work of salvation and punish His Son instead of His people. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and He appeased the wrath of the Father and brought glory to Him.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)
Thanks for your excellent question.