In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:1–5 ESV
These precious words in the prologue to the Gospel of John give us a peek into eternity, into the timeless relationship between God and the Word, the perfect union which is, has been, and will always be. They have captivated generations of Christians with their profound insight into the being of the triune God, an insight which we will explore soon and in the next few devotionals.
But first, as verse 14 makes clear, the “Word” refers to the Son, the Lord Jesus, as he eternally is, being beyond time and space. There, he resides on his rightful throne in the highest heaven, together with God the Father in perfect love. Yet, because of the Son’s abundant grace and compassion, he chose to come down from heaven, down to our fallen world.
That is the central message of the gospel of John: The eternal God himself has become a part of his own creation, truly God and truly man. Why did he choose to become a man? To save fallen men from their own flesh and sin and redeem them to the glory of God. Without a savior, they would all have perished for all of eternity. Thus, through the work of the Holy Spirit, the Word took upon himself human flesh in order to dwell among miserable, sinful men like ourselves and save us, giving us the wonderful opportunity to behold the glory of eternity in the face of Jesus Christ, full of grace and truth.
Now, while all the other gospels begin with Jesus’s life on the earth, highlighting his humanity, the Gospel of John begins in eternity, highlighting his divinity and preexistence; thus, rather than tracings Jesus’s biological ancestry, it trances Jesus’s theological ancestry, revealing that he is the Son of the Father, eternally begotten by the Father.
With the first words of his gospel, “In the beginning,” John pull us back to the very beginning of the world, to the first verses of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, which says:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1 ESV
Here, at the very beginning, the triune God created our entire existence, each and every part of it, everything from the smallest atom to the largest star. All that we know and love in the world can be traced back to this glorious event. Initially, when the earth was without form and void, the Spirit of God hovered over the depths (Gen. 1:2). Then God spoke the Word into the emptiness, saying, “Let there be light,” and there was light. There had to be light, because God’s Word is absolute, accomplishing all of his purposes and prospering everywhere he sends him (Is. 55:11). Then when God saw the light that they had created together, he saw that it was “good.” (Gen. 1:4). And so were their next creations (Gen 1:10, 12, 18, 25).
Next, jumping forward to the sixth day, God the Father said to the Word, his Son, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” And so they did, and the final part of their creation, Adam and Eve, were good too (Gen. 1:26, 31).
Since every person speaks out of the abundance of their heart, meaning that a good person produces good and an evil person produces evil, obviously, when the holy God of love and goodness speaks, he will speak forth the greatest good, a majestic world which reflects him and his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature (Rom. 1:20; Luke 6:45). It will be, as God observed, very good (Gen. 1:31).
Now, by bringing us back here to the very beginning of the universe, John is showing us the credentials of Christ, which declare that he isn’t merely a god, or a prophet, or a great teacher, or some other inane foolishness like that; no, he is the everlasting Word, who always was and is.
Obviously, if the Word was already there in the beginning, he has to be eternal and preexistent. Contrary to what the heretics claim, there is no such thing as “before the beginning,” or “in the beginning of the beginning,” or some other contrived nonsense that only boggles the mind. This text is clearly referring to the beginning of creation from Genesis:
- In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1).
- In the beginning, was the Word (John 1:1).
Furthermore, without the Word, as verse 3 says, nothing has been created (John 1:3). Now, if nothing can be created without you, you cannot be created yourself. And if you cannot be created, then you have to be eternal. And therefore, the Word is eternal. Simple, right?
Why Man Twists The Text
Honestly, how could the prologue be any clearer? It couldn’t, yet natural man keeps inventing new and fresh ways to reinterpret the text in order to turn Jesus into a creature. He does this because he loathes and gnashes his teeth at the idea that God had to become human and die for his sins in order to save him. If the only one who can carry the weight of the man’s sin and redeem him is God almighty himself, the trice holy Yahweh, then his transgression has to be utterly heinous and immeasurable, an absolute abomination in the sight of God. The greater the redemption on the cross is, the greater the debt of sin is.
Therefore, in order to turn his sin into a more trivial offense, a sinful misdemeanor, he has to turn Jesus into a mere creature, by any grammatical means necessary. Perhaps he will concede that he needs an exalted, holy creature to pay for his sins; nevertheless, a holy creature is still a creature, a created thing. Regardless of how glorious and powerful a creature is, it still has far more in common with the bulls and goats, which cannot take away sin (Heb. 10:4) than it does with God.
But of course, that is just the kind of sacrifice the sinner is seeking: a smaller sacrifice for a smaller sin. Scripture, on the other hand, describes the sacrifice of Christ as the unique sacrifice of the only Son. That is the main point of that precious verse which every believer has memorized, and even nonbelievers can cite:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16 ESV
Unfortunately, because the natural man suppresses the truth, refusing to acknowledge the weight and gravity of his sin, he cannot acknowledge the true sacrifice of the only Son, the eternal and beloved Son of the Father. Therefore, whenever he reads John 1, he mentally dashes out of the Bible and into his own imaginary book, written by that demented god in his head who can somehow create another god “in the beginning before the beginning.” Thus, although his false god doesn’t transcend reality, he certainly transcends grammar.
The true Word, on the other hand, was “in the beginning.” There, before God’s first act of creation, before he had spoken the universe into existence, before any man, angel, or any other creature could utter their first word and praise their maker, inside of eternity past, was the Word, always and forever, holy and perfect.