THE GOD OF JESUS: PART EIGHT
John, Chapter One
John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word (Greek: logos throughout), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God (KJV).
The NKJV and RSV renders verse two as, “He was in the beginning with God.” The NIV renders it, “He was with God in the beginning.”
As covered in Chapter Six, The Greek word logos appears 330 times in the NT and is translated into English primarily as “word” or “saying.” Its basic meaning is “to speak.” This word is derived from the verb legein which means to “say or speak.” It can also mean “reason or mind.” Nothing in its definition denotes personhood. The capitalization of “word” (logos) in John 1:1-2 does not indicate personhood for logos. All words were written in capital letters called uncials in Greek manuscripts of the NT until around the eleventh century A.D. Some English translations prior to the 1611 KJV did not capitalize “word.” For example, the Tyndale translation of the NT printed in 1526 in the English of that day reads as follows:
John 1: 1-3: In the beginnynge was the worde and the worde was with God: and the worde was God. The same was in the beginnynge with God. All thinges were made by it and with out it was made nothinge that was made.
In this translation the non-capitalization of “word” better reflects the Greek meaning of logos being the spoken word rather than giving the false impression logos is a person. It should also be noted that “it” is used instead of “Him” to refer to “word.” In eight English versions of the NT prior to the 1611 KJV translation, the word “it” is used instead of “Him” to identify logos and express what logos does. The Geneva Bible translation of 1599 renders verse three as “All things were made by it, and without it was made nothing that was made.”
It is apparent these translators did not see the logos as a person. Even though the Greek logos is in the masculine gender and in Greek requires a masculine pronoun such as “he” or “His,” they used “it” which is perfectly permissible in translation when context suggests a different pronoun is more applicable.
There is nothing in the word logos to indicate personhood. As already stated, this word means “to speak” and is also defined as “reason or mind.” A Greek speaking person would understand and use logos in a manner equivalent to our use of English words that convey the expression of reason and thought. John’s use of logos should not be seen as a reference to a person called the Son. Logos should be understood in terms of its Greek usage which is expressed will, purpose and thought.
The phrase “and the word was with God” is not a person being with God but is purpose, knowledge and wisdom being with God. In Job 12:13 the writer speaks of God by saying, “With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.” In Proverbs 8, wisdom is seen as existing from the beginning and being the instrument whereby God creates. The Hebrew word translated wisdom in this chapter is qanah and is very similar in meaning to logos. Here is a portion of what is written about wisdom in this chapter.
Proverbs 8:1: Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?
Proverbs 8:22: The Lord (YHWH) possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old (KJV).
Proverbs 8:27-31: I (wisdom) was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I (wisdom) was the craftsman at his side. I (wisdom) was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.
Many Scriptures speak of YHWH Elohim, through knowledge, wisdom and purpose of thought, creating heaven and earth.
Proverbs 3:19-20: By wisdom the LORD (YHWH) laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.
Psalm 104:24: How many are your works, O LORD (YHWH)! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Jeremiah 10:12: But God (Elohim) made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
In the Apocrypha book of Wisdom is found a prayer of Solomon that speaks of God creating through His word.
Wisdom 9:1-4: God of my fathers, LORD (YHWH) of mercy. you who have made all things by your word and in your wisdom have established man to rule the creatures produced by you, To govern the world in holiness and justice, and to render judgment in integrity of heart: Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne.
Here the author speaks of God by His word making all things and in His wisdom establishing man to rule. The author writes that wisdom is attendant at the very throne of God. Is the word of God and the wisdom attendant at his throne a person of a Triune indwelling of Father, Son and Spirit or is the word of God His cognitive function whereby He creates and sustains all things?
There are Biblical Scriptures that make it clear YHWH created all things through His word which is seen as the breath of His month. The Psalmist writes of God speaking His creation into existence.
Psalm 33:6-9: By the word (Hebrew debar, Septuagint Greek: logos) of the LORD (YHWH) were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD (YHWH); let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
Trinitarianism teaches God is Father, Son and Spirit. OT Scripture identifies YHWH as Father. Nowhere is YHWH identified as Father, Son and Spirit. The Psalmist writes that YHWH by His word (the breath of His month) spoke the creation into existence. YHWH is identified as creator. Trinitarianism teaches God (YHWH) created everything through the person of the Son who is seen as the word John writes about in John, chapter one. Yet we see nothing in OT creation passages that suggest YHWH created through a person called the Son. There is nothing in OT creation passages to suggest the word of God is actually a person of a tri-unity of Father, Son and Spirit and it is this person who did the creating
Trinitarianism teaches God is a single Being of indwelling distinctions of Father, Son and Spirit. The Father is not the Son or Spirit, the Son is not the Father or Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father or the Son. Yet all three are seen as indwelling each other to form the single entity that is God (YHWH Elohim). Because John’s use of logos in John chapter one is seen to be a reference to the Son, John 1:1-2 is seen to show an indwelling relationship of Father and Son in the entity called God. This concept of mutual indwelling of Father, Son and Spirit is also derived from several other Scriptural passages. Let’s review these passages to see if they support the concept of mutual indwelling of Father, Son and Spirit.
Colossians 1:19: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Christ).
Colossians 2:9: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.
John 10:30: I and the Father are one.
John 14:9b-11a: Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father….Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.
While it is true the Scriptures speak of Jesus and the Father being one and the Father being in Christ and Christ in the Father, the Scriptures also speak of the Father being in us and we in the Father and we being one as Christ and the Father are one.
John 17:20-23: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 14:20: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
Colossians 2:10: and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
Ephesians 3:19b: that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
1 John 4:12,15: No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. Verse 15, If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
These oneness and fullness passages do not show that we indwell God in a literal sense so that we are God as God is God. Neither do they show Jesus and the Father literally indwelling each other making them of one essence. These are statements pertaining to being one in spirit and purpose. The oneness statements are all about being unified in spirit as the passage from John 17 clearly reveals. The Scriptures clearly show God indwells both us and Christ in a spiritual manner, not in essence of Being. See Chapter Nine for further discussion of this issue.
Because Trinitarians believe the Father and Son dwell in each other in a literal sense, they understand John 1:1-2 to read in the following ways:
John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word (the Son), and the Word (the Son) was with God (Father, Son and Spirit) and the Word (the Son) was God (Father, Son and Spirit). The same (the Son) was in the beginning with God (Father, Son and Spirit).
John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word (the Son), and the Word (the Son) was with God (A dimension of God) and the Word (the Son) was God (a dimension of God). The same (the Son) was in the beginning with God (A dimension of God).
Some Trinitarians see the first mention of God in John 1:1 and the reference to God in verse two as referring to the Father and understand John 1:1-2 to read as follows:
John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word (the Son), and the Word (the Son) was with God (The Father) and the Word (the Son) was God (Father, Son and Spirit or a dimension of God). The same (Son) was in the beginning with God (The Father).
There is a branch of Christianity called “Oneness theology” which rejects Trinitarianism and understands the Father is the one and only God. This theological system also believes the “Word” of John chapter one is God the Son. To avoid apparent polytheism, they see John 1:1 teaching the Son (the Word) and God (the Father) are one and the same single person. When John says the Word became flesh (verse 14), it is believed John is actually saying the one God became flesh. It is pointed out that since God is Father, when John says the Word was God, it is the same as saying the Word is the Father. Therefore, the Word is seen as the manifestation of the one God who is the Father. This one God, the Father, is seen as becoming incarnate in the Son as to the Son’s Divinity and becoming Father to the Son as to the Son’s humanity. This teaching is similar to a theology that arose in the second century called Patripassianism. Oneness theologians read John 1:1 as:
John 1:1-2: “In the beginning was the Word (the Son), and the Word (the Son) was with God (The Father) and the Word (the Son) was God (The Father). The same (the Son) was in the beginning with God (The Father).
Believing Jesus and the Father are one and the same person does not square with the many Scriptures we have discussed which clearly show the Father and the Son to be different and separate entities. Jesus is shown as being a separate entity from the Father while He was a human and also after his ascension and glorification. Daniel 7:13-14, as quoted in Chapter Six, is sufficient evidence to establish the separation between Father and Son.
In view of what we have discussed in this Chapter and throughout this book to this point, can it be rightly concluded John is writing about the word of God being a person of a Triune God who became the man Jesus? Would it not be more consistent with the whole of Scripture to conclude John is seeing the word of God the Father (His expressed will and purpose) bringing about the birth of Jesus the Son and not that the word of God is actually God the Son? Remember, this is the same John who records Jesus as saying the Father is the only true God and the Father is the one and only God (John 17:3 and 5:44). This is the same John who quotes Jesus as saying His very life was given to Him by His Father and His Father is greater than He (John 5:26, and 14:28). This is also the same John who distinguishes Jesus from God the Father and writes of the Father being the true God and eternal life (1John 5:20).
Apostle John was a monotheist, as was Jesus. There is every reason to believe John, as did Jesus, embraced the Hebrew Shema which defines God as one. Nothing in the Shema indicates the oneness that is God is of a pluralistic nature. Is John identifying a new way of understanding the nature of God? Are we seeing progressive revelation at work here? Is John reveling God’s oneness to be a pluralistic entity of Father and Son? I submit John is doing none of these things.
In view of what John writes about the Father being the one and only true God, it appears inconceivable John would be writing of Jesus also being this God in the introduction to His Gospel. I submit John is writing of Jesus being the manifestation of the word of God and not the literal word of God. The literal word of God is the speech of God expressed as His knowledge, wisdom, power and will. Scriptures reveal it is through God’s word that all things are created and all things exist through His word. Understanding John’s use of the Greek logos in John 1:1-2 as relating to the speech of God is consistent with the actual meaning of this word and consistent with how this word is used throughout the NT to reflect the cognitive activity of God.
Understanding John’s use of the Greek logos as God’s spoken word allows for understanding John 1:14 to show that the will and purpose of God the Father to bring salvation to mankind was expressed in the birth of Jesus, the promised Messiah to Israel. Upon completing his Father’s will on earth, this Messiah was elevated to a position of great glory, power and authority where He remains to this very day.
John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Trinitarians question how the logos could become flesh (Christ) if the logos is to be understood as only the spoken word of God the Father. It is asked how a spoken word can become the man Jesus. The Greek word translated “became” is ginomai. This word occurs 677 times in the NT and by context can be seen to have a wide range of application both literal and figurative. As seen above, Psalm 33 tells us the creation was made through Gods spoken word which means it came to be as a result of God speaking it into existence. In John 1:3, the writer says all things were made (ginomai) by the Word which means all things came to be by the logos of God. Therefore, is it really so difficult to see the Son coming to be as a result of the Father's logos facilitating the Son's existence as opposed to the Son being the actual logos of the Father?
The word of the Father became flesh in that the Father’s purpose, as expressed by His logos, was made manifest in the birth of Jesus. Jesus became the Son of the Father through the Father’s begettal of Jesus in the womb of Mary and through resurrecting Him from the dead. The Son did not pre-exist as the logos of the Father. The logos is not a person called the Son. Jesus is not an incarnation of an eternally existing person identified as the logos of God. Jesus is the human manifestation of the Father's logos which is to say He is the manifestation of the will and purpose of God the Father as expressed through His logos. Jesus is God’s anointed envoy to facilitate God’s purpose to have man become adoptive sons of God in an eternal relationship with Him. Jesus fulfilled this purpose of God and was subsequently elevated by God to the highest position in the universe next to God Himself.
In John 1:1-2, the logos is revealed to have been from the beginning and was with God and virtually is God. Scripture reveals the logos is the expressed wisdom, understanding, knowledge and purpose of God and thus identifies and defines who God is. We are all identified by our speech which is a reflection of our thoughts which defines the essence of who we are. The same is true of God as the Scriptures reveal. Verse three of John one reveals it was through God’s logos all things were created. Using the pronoun “He” in association with logos is misleading as it suggests personhood for the logos which is not supported by the Scriptures we have already discussed.
Trinitarians sometimes point out that logos is a masculine noun in the Greek preceded by the masculine pronoun “he” which indicates personhood for logos. However, the masculine gender in Greek has nothing to do with such identification. Masculine and feminine genders randomly apply to persons, places and things and are not at all indicative of gender. Though logos is masculine, and according to Greek rules of grammar requires a masculine pronoun such as “he” or “him,” this has nothing to do with the noun signifying a person. Masculine nouns often relate to places and things in the Greek language. Therefore, masculine nouns can be legitimately translated into another language with a pronoun such as “it.” The overall dynamics associated with a word must be considered in order to properly determine how any individual word is used in Scripture. When logos is understood to be the speech of God and not a person of a Triune Godhead, it becomes more appropriate to refer to logos as “it” which is what translators of the Greek into the English did prior to the KJV of 1611.
In John 1:4-5, the Apostle writes of the logos being life and light. In 1 John 1:1-2, the Apostle writes of Jesus being the logos of eternal life which was with the Father and appeared in the first century. Since it is the Son who appeared in the first century, it is believed the logos is the literal Son of God. Scripture shows the Son originates from the Father. Jesus clearly said His Father is the source of His life (John 5:26). Scripture shows eternal life comes from the Father through the Son. Trinitarians see this as the logos literally being the Son.
1 John 1:1-2: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word (logos) of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
Just as all reality is the expression of the logos of God, so was the logos of God expressed in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the manifestation of the life and light that is God. This doesn’t mean Jesus has intrinsic life and light as God has. This doesn't mean Jesus is the literal logos of God. Jesus is the human vehicle through whom God’s logos is articulated. As previously discussed, God is identified as light and Jesus is identified as the Son of this God who is light. In John’s first epistle, light is contrasted with darkness and appears to be a way of expressing righteousness versus unrighteousness, truth versus falsehood, life versus death. Jesus is seen in Scripture as reflecting the righteousness and truth that is of God. Jesus said God’s word is truth and Jesus, as the manifestation of the word of God, is seen as light. The use of the word light in association with Jesus in the NT Scripture can be seen by context to refer to Jesus reflecting His Father’s will, purpose and righteousness and manifesting the very life of God. Jesus is the light of the world because He is a reflection of God His Father who is identified by John as one in whom there is no darkness at all and who is perfect light.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed His listeners to be a light to the world. The implication is that we also can express the light of God. This does not make us ontologically one with God. Jesus being a light does not equate with Him being ontologically one with God.
1 John 1:5-7: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
As discussed in Chapter six, John is saying God is light and he distinguishes between God who is light and His Son Jesus. John defines God as light. When Apostle John writes of John the Baptist being a witness to the true light coming into the world, the true light is the Father who is being manifested in the Son. The Father is the true light coming into the world through the agency of Jesus. John is not saying Christ is intrinsically this light and therefore God as God is God. John shows in his epistle God is light in distinction from the Son He sent. In his Gospel, John is seeing Christ as the manifestation of the very light that is God. When Jesus said He was the truth and the life, He was expressing the truth and life that is from the Father. Jesus did not possess intrinsic light or life. Jesus plainly said His life was given to Him by the Father.
John 5:26: For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
Paul wrote that all life comes from God and it is God who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:13, 16). The context of 1 Timothy 6 clearly shows when Paul speaks of God he is speaking of the Father. If the life of the Son and the Son being light originates with the Father, the Father is the source and origination of the Son's life and the Son being light. Within the doctrine of the Trinity, there cannot be any origination. In Trinitarian doctrine the three distinctions that are the one God do not derive life or light from each other. They eternally indwell each other and life and light is intrinsic to that eternal indwelling. Yet, oddly enough, Trinitarians teach the Son originates from the Father and see this as an eternal origination or begettal, a concept that will be discussed in Chapter Twelve.
Apostle John plainly teaches the Father is light. It is in the context of God the Father being light that we must read John 1:6-10. Here it is recorded that John the Baptist was a witness to light coming into the world and that the world was made by this light. Jesus was the manifestation of the light that is God. John bemoans the fact that the world did not recognize in Jesus the light that is God the Father.
John 1:6-10: There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
The Greek noun translated “light” is of neuter gender in Greek and requires a neuter pronoun such as “it.” By using the masculine pronoun “He” in place of “it,” the impression is given that Jesus, in and of Himself, is the true light. But as seen above and below, God the Father is the source of true light and this light came into the world through Jesus.
John the Baptist was a witness to light (God) coming into the world through the man Jesus. It is God the Father who is the light who created the world and all reality. Jesus was/is the representation and manifestation of the light that is God. The light that made the world and all reality was in the world through Jesus. Jesus was to be called Immanuel which was interpreted as “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). The Supreme, Most High, Creator God was not literally walking the streets of Judea. He was present in the world through the human person Jesus, His directly begotten Son. See Chapter Nineteen for an in-depth examination of Matthew 1:23.
Apostle Peter shows Jesus is not the literal logos of God but is the expression of God’s logos in fulfilling the promises made to the fathers.
Acts 13:32-34: "We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: "`You are my Son; today I have become your Father' (Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee, KJV). The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: "`I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.'
What God promised to the fathers He fulfilled by raising Jesus from the dead. As mentioned earlier, Jesus was dead. He would have remained dead but for the resurrection facilitated by the source of all life, God the Father. The message delivered to Mary by the angel Gabriel, shows how the Son of God came to be.
Luke 1:31-35: You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
The one and only Eternal Creator God, here pictured as “the Most High,” would by His power (Holy Spirit) beget Jesus who through the Virgin Mary is a human descendant of David. This totally human descendant of David would be given David’s throne and because of being conceived by the power of God and later resurrected by God’s power to eternal life, He was confirmed as the Son of God. Gabriel said Jesus would be called the Son of the Most High. Scripture reveals there is only one Most High and that is God the Father. Trinitarianism teaches the Son is equal with the Father and Spirit. That would make all three the Most High God. How could Jesus be the Son of the Most High God and also be the Most High God? Jesus is not the Most High. He is the Son of the Most High as Gabriel clearly revealed.
The clear distinction between the Son and the Most High God precludes Jesus being God as God is God which would mean the Son was also the Most High God. Jesus was a descendant of David and was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. The Son began His existence as the child born to Mary some 2000 years ago and through resurrection from the dead became the first to be born from the dead to eternal life.
Romans 1:3-4: regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Some Christian groups, who reject Trinitarianism, nevertheless see the logos in John chapter one as a pre-existent Being who became Jesus but is not God as God is God. These taking this position point out that the first mention of God in John 1:1 is the Greek “tov Theos” with “tov” (the) being the grammatically definite article identifying God as “the God.” This part of the passage literally translated can read “was with the God.” The second mention of God is without the definite article and can be translated “was a god.” or “the word a god was.” It is believed that being “a god” does not equate with being “the God.” Therefore, Jesus is seen as god (with a small g) and not YHWH Elohim.
The conclusion that John 1:1-2 is speaking of the one and only true God the Father and a lesser Being also called God is based on seeing this passage according to a particular perspective as to how the Greek should be read. This perspective includes seeing the definite article or the lack thereof as a significant dynamic in determining how the word God is to be understood. My examination of this issue has led me to conclude the presence or absence of the definite article in association with the word God is not a significant dynamic as to how the word God is to be understood. Various Greek scholars have come to the same conclusion.
While the presence or absence of the definite article doesn’t appear to be a significant dynamic relative to determining how the word God is to be understood in John 1:1-2, there are several proposed rules of Greek grammar that are used by Trinitarians to support their position that the Son is a co-eternal, co-equal and con-substantial distinction of the one God. Let us now turn to an examination of these proposed rules.