In The Beginning Was The Word
IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD
I appreciate _______ reading this passage of scripture and if I were to give you a simple summary of this gospel it would be this: “It’s all about Jesus!”
- This book is all about Him.
- He is the central character.
- Jesus is the focus of everything that John is going to talk about here in this book.
- He is everything and everything is about him and that is true in reference to the verses that were read.
From the way that the apostle John introduces his gospel here with the words that were read, obviously John wants people to learn or at least be reminded of some things about Jesus.
- When John writes this gospel it has been 40-50 years since Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended into heaven.
- In 40-50 years people forget; their memory dulls; recall of an event changes.
- And in 40-50 years two new generations have come on the scene who would have only heard about Jesus.
- And those who did remember the things that Jesus did, in 40-50 years they could get discouraged; possibly struggle with doubt.
- So, John writes this gospel to teach us or remind us of some things about Jesus.
In fact, look at what John says in chapter 20:30-31:
Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
- If you look at chapter 21:25 John tells us that “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.”
- So, even though Jesus did many other things, John is only going to record 7 of Jesus’ miracles.
- And look at why, vs. 31:
31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
- Vs. 31 is the primary reason why John writes this gospel account; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
And, just because John is writing so that “we believe”, that should not cause us to conclude that we do not need to hear what John says because we already believe.
- We need to hear what John says because we often become lethargic in our faith and what John says will help us to stay strong.
So, John’s purpose for writing this gospel is to teach us and remind us that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you/I may have life in His name.”
- So, let’s look at the passage that was read and hopefully learn or be reminded of some things that John wants us to know and remember about Jesus.
- Look at John 1:1.
John says, “In the beginning was the Word.”
- When you look at vs. 3 there is little doubt that when John says “in the beginning” he has reference to the creation.
So John says, “In the beginning was the Word.”
- We know that “The Word” is a reference to Jesus because in verse 14 John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- In Revelation 19:13 John has a vision about the victorious Jesus who has defeated His enemies, and in that vision Jesus rides on a white horse and John speaking of Jesus says, “And the name by which He is called is The Word of God.”
- So, John is speaking of Christ.
So, why does John refer to Jesus as “the Word”, the Logos (Greek).
- Well, throughout the Old Testament the Word of the Lord is thought of as an affective agent for the accomplishing of the divine will; “By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made”; Psalm 33:6.
- When God speaks He does something. His Word is a divine action.
- We see this in the creation when God said, “Let there be light; Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters; Then God said, “Let there be vegetation.”
- The work of creation was accomplished by the Word of God; the Logos going forth and creating.
- And when John uses this term in reference to Jesus He is saying that Jesus is “was and is affective agent for the accomplishing of the will of God; that Jesus is the One who went forth and created; Jesus is the Creator.
So, John says in vs. 1:”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
- And notice that word “was.”
- That word “was” makes these statements emphatic; it removes the doubt.
- Therefore, just as at the beginning of the creation of the world God existed, so also the Son, the Christ, existed.
In fact, Jesus Himself actually confirms what John says here. This is John 17:4-5: Jesus is praying here and, speaking to the Father, He says, “I glorified you on earth having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
And a little later in vs. 24 Jesus again says, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for you loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
In both of these passages Jesus is saying, “I was with you Father in that period before time began; I was there, I shared your glory” and those statements all help us to understand what John is talking about in vs. 1 when John says, “In the beginning was the Word.”
- There was never and will never be a time when the Word will not exist.
In fact, notice that there is no genealogy here in John’s gospel like in Matthew and Luke’s gospel accounts.
- The reason is clear.
- There is no genealogy recorded because Jesus is the eternal God. He has no beginning. He has no end. In the “beginning” the Word already existed.
- Some today want to tell us otherwise but Jesus is not a created being. Jesus, the Son of God, the Word, existed in the beginning, before the world began.
And notice also that John says that “the Word was with God.”
- John is not saying that “the Word” simply coexisted with God.
- This is a statement that says that the Word existed in the closest possible connection with the Father.
In fact, this phrase can be rendered, “The Word was face to face with God.”
- That is a phrase that speaks of equality; when it comes to being deity there is nothing lesser and nothing lacking in “the Word” in terms of Jesus’ Godhood.
- The Word has the very same nature as God the Father.
- The Word is “face to face with God.”
- The Word and God are not identical but they are ONE.
And if you look at the end of vs. 1, John says, “…and the word was God.”
- The New World Translation or the Jehovah’s Witness’ Bible translates this line quite differently.
- The Jehovah’s Witness translation says: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a”
- There is no justification for them to say that the “Word was a”
- Their translation is used to deny the teaching that Jesus is God, and is a wrong and misleading translation and the only reason they do that is because it fits their agenda.
Now, look at vs. 2. John really wants us to understand the eternal nature of Jesus because in verse 2 John repeats the statement again, “the Word was in the beginning with God.”
- Where God exists, the Word exists.
- There is not a time or place when the Word did not exist or when the Word was not God.
Now, look at vs. 3. Speaking of Jesus, John says: All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
- We read in Genesis 1 that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, but here in vs. 3 John wants us to know that the Word was just as involved in the creation process as God was.
- The creation was not the solitary act of either.
- The Father created, but He did it through the Word.
- The apostle Paul taught this very same thing. Look at Colossians 1:16:
16 For by Him (Jesus) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Both John and the apostle Paul want us to know that Jesus is God because “He created all things.”
Now, look at vs. 4: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
- In this gospel John uses the term “life” 36 times.
- And when John speaks of “life” he normally speaks of “eternal life” and that very well could be included here.
However, because John has just spoken of Jesus as being the Creator, in this verse the word “life” more than likely speaks of “life”; Jesus is the creator and it is only because there is “life” in Him, that there is life in anything on earth.
- Life does not exist in its own right.
- Life is not even spoken of as “made by” or “through” the Word.
- Life is spoken of as “existing in Him.”
- It is only because of Him that there is life in anything on earth.
But, if John does also have in mind here “eternal life” to pursue anyone or anything other than Jesus in who “life exists” is to pursue death.
- It is sad but the majority of the world’s population is looking for “life” in all the wrong places.
- The world has and continues to discount Jesus as being the source of life but graciously and mercifully He continues to provide “life” to those who discount Him; but little do they know that they are sealing their spiritual death.
- In Jesus alone is life and we must rely upon Him completely for our life or else we die in our sins.
And look at the end of the verse: “And the life was the light of men.”
- In this verse John links Jesus with life and life with the ‘light of men.”
- The individual who does not pursue Christ will not have life and therefore “walks in darkness.”
- And that is where the majority of humanity is; spiritual darkness.
- And we witness it every day.
But now, look at vs. 5: And the light shines in the darkness…
- It is the function of light to shine in the darkness; to oppose darkness; to dispel darkness.
- And if you will notice John says that the “light shines”; that is continuous action.
- The “light” never ceases to shine.
Now, look at the second part of the verse: …and the darkness did not comprehend it.
- In the Greek the word “comprehend” is not easy to translate.
- It has the idea of “laying hold of something as to make it one’s own.”
- In other words, it has the meaning of “overcome” or “overtake.”
Look at this in John 12:35. Jesus speaking to His disciples says, “For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you;
- The word translated “overtake” is the same Greek word that John uses in chapter 1:5.
So, what John is saying in chapter 1:5 is: And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness was not able to overtake or overcome it.
- And it may be that we are to understand what John says in reference to the creation (the light triumphed and not the darkness or chaos).
- Or, perhaps this is a reference to what happened at Calvary.
- At Calvary the light and the darkness came into bitter and decisive conflict; and the darkness could not prevail.
- Or perhaps we should understand what John says here in reference to our constant struggle with darkness and be assured as hard as darkness tries to overcome us; because of our faith in Christ the darkness will never prevail.
- What John says here in vs. 5 is an expression that is true in many situations and because of Christ it will always be true.
John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness (continuous action), and the darkness did not comprehend or overcome it.
- Now look at this found in Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world (where did we get that light?). A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
So, I have to ask myself, “Am I letting the light that Jesus has given me; am I letting it shine in such a way that others can see my good works, and glorify the Father who is in heaven?”
- It seems that the world is getting darker every day.
- If my light or your is burning low, Jesus encourages us to turn it back up, to take it out from under the peck-measure and put it back on the lampstand
- Because for some who are wandering and lost in that darkness, it may be that the light we shine will be the light that brings them to Christ.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024