We’re going through the New Testament and looking at the doctrine of the Trinity. What do we learn about the Trinity by the New Testament? I believe this is important as too many Christians really have no knowledge or even false knowledge (Although such a thing doesn’t exist but I wanted to contrast the knowledge aspect. It’d be best to say false beliefs) about the Trinity. We’re gong to be starting the gospel of John tonight and just going through the prologue could take us awhile as we’re going to look in-depth to attempt to find out what is going on in these eighteen verses.
We begin with John 1:1a. That’s right. We’re taking this one in parts.
In the beginning was the Word
When we approach this text, we’re going to approach it as if we’re foregn to what’s going on. We’re going to try to read it as if we were first century readers. To start with, let’s start at the beginning that begins “In the beginning.”
Sound familiar? You bet it does and any Jew would have understood it immediately. John is taking the readers back to the Genesis account. For some reason, he deems it important to tell the creation story all over again. The passage reads in Greek “en arche” which is exactly what the septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, says in Genesis 1:1.
Note also that there is no article before the word arche, but yet it is translated as “in the beginning.” People familiar with the debates on John 1:1 will know why this is important. For those of you who don’t know, simply stay tuned. You will see that this is indeed important.
“Was the Word.” First, there’s not mentioned a time after the beginning. The word “was” is very important here. Before anything happened, there was the Word. The Word did not come after the beginning. The Word was already there in the beginning.
Thus, when I look at John 1:1, I see each part of the verse as telling us something about the Word. The first part is telling us about the Word’s relationship to time. The Word is outside of time for when all things began, the Word was.
Note also that the emphasis is on the Word. John does not state God first and then mention the Word. John finds it most important to mention the Word first. That should tell us that this whole passage is meant to tell us about the Word.
Let’s look at the word for Word also. The Word is logos. The Greeks would have had a great appreciation for this word. Heraclitus saw the Logos as the reason behind the universe. The stoics also gave the logos a high place in their system of thought. They saw it as the reason that formed the universe.
John is writing for Jews also however who are familiar with the idea of logos. They would see a counterpart to Memra. In the targums of Jewish writing, God created everything by his word which was his Memra. The Jew would have understood the relation immediately to the creation.
Tomorrow, we shall look at another aspect of this verse.