In the Beginning Was the Word

Trinitarians and those who reject the Trinity but who otherwise believe that Jesus was/is God typically cite John 1:1 as the absolute proof of their belief. For the unfamiliar, John 1:1 states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

First, please note that nowhere in the text or surrounding context (or anywhere else in the Bible for that matter) is there any mention of the holy spirit being part of a three-in-one godhead. Although the verse is cited as “proof” that the Word is God Almighty, a frequently overlooked aspect of the verse is the opening phrase: “In the beginning.” But the question is: In the beginning of what?

Since God describes himself as the King of eternity – having no beginning or end – it is inappropriate and virtually meaningless to refer to any sort of beginning in relation to the timeless God. So, what does “in the beginning” mean? According to the Trinity doctrine Jesus has always existed as part of a godhead. So, what is the significance of that phrase?

Those familiar with the entire Bible will undoubtedly recognize the phrase “in the beginning” as also being the very first words of Genesis, which says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The beginning of Genesis 1:1 is in reference to an actual beginning, in this case, the beginning of the creation of the physical universe. (In the Bible the heavens may refer to God’s residence in the spirit dimension, the starry heavens or the sun in the heavens or even the atmospheric heavens, such as the birds of heaven or clouds of the heavens. Genesis 1:1 is in reference to the starry heavens – the universe.) Science now generally agrees with the statement of Genesis that the universe had a beginning, what is humorously called the Big Bang. So, since the phrase at Genesis 1:1 is in regards to something that actually began, should not John 1:1 be similarly understood? But, again, since God had no beginning why does the gospel writer use the same expression as is found in Genesis?

The key to unlock this mystery is found at Job 38:7. That is where God asked Job where he happened to be when the earth was created, when all the angels shouted in applause in praise of God’s great work. Ah, so, there were intelligent beings in heaven (the spirit realm) before the material heavens and earth were created. This means that Genesis 1:1 is not an absolute statement but is only relative to the material cosmos. There is another cosmos (world) that exists outside the physical realm. And that world was created before the material universe we inhabit. So, the “in the beginning” of John 1:1 must be understood to be in reference to the absolute beginning of all creation – not merely our local, visible heavens and earth.

Although it is humanly incomprehensible, the truth revealed in the Scriptures is that God had no beginning. He has always existed. He will always exist. He is timeless – outside the restrictions and limitations imposed upon his creation. Admittedly, it really plays havoc upon our finite, liquid-cooled brains, to try to come to grips with how God could have been alone forever and ever, even though at some point he became the Creator. (Let’s just leave that thought alone for now for the sake of our own mental wellbeing.) But we can at least understand the concept that at some point God decided to start a family. And the first creature that came into existence was called the Word. That is why it says, “In the beginning was the Word.” The entity that eventually became the man, Jesus, is also called the firstborn Son of God. In fact, at Colossians 1:15 Paul said that Jesus was the firstborn of all creation. (New American Standard Bible) This is in perfect harmony with what is stated at John 1:1 as regards the Word being with God in the beginning.

Jesus is also called “the only-begotten son.” What does that expression mean? The Greek Scriptures use the expression monogenes in connection with sons or daughters who were the only child of a parent(s). For example, in the Greek translation of the Hebrew book of Judges monogenes is used in connection with Jepthah’s daughter. Monogenes is also used at Luke 7:12 in describing the only son of a widow whom Jesus resurrected. In both accounts it is clear that monogenes is used to denote an only child. Why should it be any different with Jesus? But how was Jesus the only child of God? He was the only Son of God, in that, he was the first and only creature that God directly created, because after God begot the Word, he then gave him the privilege and power to create all other things. That is why, for example, in Genesis God stated: “Let us make man in our image.” And that is why the Scriptures also reveal that all things were created through the agency of his firstborn. In other words, God is the Creator, but the Word is the means through which God accomplished the creation of all things. That is the truth revealed in the Bible.

Being made in God’s image and the exact representation of God, as Paul stated at Hebrews 1:3, the firstborn of all creation could righty speak for God; hence, the Word. But if the Word is not God why does the verse say “and the Word was God”? That question will be considered in another article.

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