We’re going through the New Testament and we’re looking for clues to understanding the Trinity. It’s my contention that if the church is going to be the force it was meant to be, it will have to be a force that has more than just nice experiences and good morals. We need hard truth. We need answers to the big questions people are asking. Our starting place will be the doctrine of God and when considering the doctrine of God, we need the doctrine that sets Christianity apart, the Trinity. We’ve been going through John 1 and spent the past three days on the first verse alone. Right now, we’re moving on down to John 1:2. That’s right. We’re going to tackle a whole verse today!
He was with God in the beginning.
There were three aspects I pointed out that we find about the Word in John 1:1. The first was the relation of the Word to the space-time creation. The Word was there in the beginning which means that there is no basis for the doctrine of Arius that states “There was a time when the Son was not.” (Of course, John hasn’t said the Word was the Son yet, but we will get there.) As long as there has been anything, there has been the Son.
The second was the relationship of the Word to God. If the Word is eternal, there has to be some relationship that the Word has to God who is definitely eternal in Jewish thought. We learned that since the Word has always been, the Word has always been with God. Thus, there was a distinction between the Word and God.
The third was the relationship of the Word to itself. We found that the Word has the nature of God. Some of you might be wondering how the Word can be distinct from God and still be God. The answer is that we have to understand our terms. The term “God” normally would make the Jewish person think of the Father. The Word cannot be identical to the Father and still be personally distinct from the Father. However, the Word can have the full nature of God and still be distinct from the Father. This is the doctrine of the Trinity in fact when we bring in the Holy Spirit.
So what about this verse?
I believe that what is going on in this verse is that John is wanting us to see all of these important characteristics again. John has a tendency to say the same thing twice but say it in different ways. Sometimes he’ll say it by repeating a synonymous version in a different way. Sometimes he’ll do it by giving the negative counterpart to what he has just said.
I believe that is what is going on in this verse. John wants us to know how important it is that we grasp the doctrine of the Word. Let’s look at each part. The Greek reads “The same was in (the) beginning with the God. ”
The same: Ontology. I find it interesting that he doesn’t use the word “he” specifically. It’s like John doesn’t want to reveal too much too soon.
was in the beginning: The relation of the Word to the space-time continuum.
with God: The relationship of the Word to God.
Each of these is mentioned again in this verse which leads to the question. If John thought the doctrine was so important to understand and God saw it so important that it was stated twice this way, why aren’t we taking it more seriously?