In the Beginning Was the Word

Open Bible on ground“In the beginning was the Word….” (John 1:1) As a lover of words, this statement opening the Gospel of John has always fascinated me.

“In the beginning” obviously refers to something other than the “Word”, as the Word already existed “in the beginning”. The phrase, “in the beginning” is a time reference. If the Word already existed in the beginning, the Word is timeless.

John also tells us in the beginning “the Word was with God…” (John 1:1) The Word existed with God before time and space. Language, communication existed before the creation. Language and communication is, therefore, more important, more significant, more lasting than this material world in which we live.

John 1:1 parallels the beginning of the creation story in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The harmony of the two is obvious.

Genesis 3:1 describes how God created the world: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” In that statement and in each subsequent statement, all the various components of the creation are prefaced with “God said…” In other words, (no pun intended) God spoke to create the world we know, and it was created by his Word.

John continues in the first verse of his Gospel to say that not only was the Word with God in the beginning, “the Word was God”. The creative force that moved over the waters, separated light from darkness and established everything we know was with God and it was God.

John, then, says something stunning in verse two: “He was with God in the beginning!” He was with God, and He was God, this Word that John speaks of. These phrases suggest that God was with God from before the beginning. God had communion (community) with Himself from the beginning (more accurately, from before the beginning).

Then in verse 3, John says, “All things came into being through Him….” God not only has communication and community in Himself, God has agency. Community, communication and agency are timeless and are part of who God is.

But there is more. John says, “[i]n Him [the Word] was life….” (John 1:4) In other words, the force (the Word/God) by which the world was created is life itself. Life emanates from God who is life. Life emanates from and is sustained by God.

At this point, John connects the timeless Word of God, who was with God and was God, by which and through which the world was created, to time and place: “[t]he Word become flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) John, of course, refers to Jesus. The import is unmistakable: there could be no more  significant event in human history!

The same life that spoke and created the world became flesh and lived in time and place as a man! The same God who spoke to create the world came to dwell among us and to speak His word to us.

No wonder the people were “amazed at his teaching”!; no wonder “his words had authority?” (Luke 4: 32) How incredible it would have been in the presence of the Word/Life/God living as a man and to have heard his word spoken face to face!

The significance of spoken word cannot be mistaken in Scripture. It is the instrument by which God created the world, and it is the vehicle by which God spoke to mankind through Jesus, God the Son, God the Word. Of this the prophet Isaiah spoke:

As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

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