The Word

Posted: October 12, 2014 in John

John 1:1-5, “The Word”

Great books have great beginnings.  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” from “A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens.  “Call me Ishmael,” from “Moby Dick,” by Herman Melville.  “All children, except one, grow up,” from “Peter Pan,” by JM Barrie.  Yet probably the most famous (and most important) of all are two from the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1 – and John 1:1,  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  As wonderful as the other gospel accounts are, none begin with an introduction simultaneously so theologically explosive and artistically sublime.  Matthew jumps right into a genealogy of Christ the King.  Mark is characteristically blunt, simply stating the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Luke begins as a formal address, almost scholastic in nature, as he opens up his orderly history.  But John?  John begins from the very beginning and beyond, reaching into the recesses of eternity in an attempt to describe the Incarnate God with Whom he walked for three years.  How exactly does someone describe the infinite using the crude tools of finite men?  How can someone use mere pen and ink in written word to describe the infinite divine eternally Living Word of God? ‘Tis a massive challenge, and by the Holy Spirit, John does it masterfully, leaving us in awe of Jesus before we even finish reading the first sentence on the page.

But before we can even get to that sentence, we need to take a broad look at this book as a whole.  By the time John wrote his gospel account, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ had been in existence for several decades.  Most scholars agree that John provided the final gospel out of the four, and even a casual comparison of John with the others shows vast differences.  Whereas Matthew, Mark, and Luke closely resemble each other (“synoptic” = “together look”), John looks nothing like them.  The synoptics cover so much of the same ground in so much of the same way that theories abound how the individual authors used the earlier gospels to write their own account (with Mark most likely being the first).  Yet although John seems to be aware of the other accounts (at least Mark’s gospel), he wrote a completely different perspective of Jesus.  There are some familiar elements: the preparation ministry of John the Baptist, the feeding of the 5000, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and of course the passion narrative itself (rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection).  But there’s not too much else.  Unmentioned are events such as the wilderness temptation, the transfiguration, the parables, and even the instructions of the Last Supper.  Yet John introduces other events completely unknown in the synoptics: the early ministry of Jesus in Cana, the many trips to Jerusalem, and the entire account of Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead.

Do these differences make John wrong?  No – it just makes John different.  John supplements the synoptic gospels in an amazing way, and through this unique book we gain a fuller picture of our Lord Jesus.  We see Him from a completely different angle, and we are (once again) left in awe of our Savior and our God.

Who was the author?  Although these things are always debated, there was no doubt among the early church that it was the apostle John – the brother of James, and son of Zebedee.  John never identifies himself in the text (nor do any of the other gospel writers, FYI), but it would not have been expected otherwise.  When someone wrote a letter, they identified themselves – as we see in the letters of Paul.  Of course even in the letters of John, we don’t see a direct identification – the only identification is “the Elder,” who just happens to write exactly like the writer of the gospel and the book of Revelation (in which John does actually identify himself – Rev 1:9).  The early church was convinced John had written this book, going all the way back to Irenaeus, who had spoken with Polycarp on the matter.  Himself a disciple of John, Polycarp would have certainly known the truth of authorship.

When was it written?  That point is debated a bit more.  Again, scholars generally agree that the gospel of John is the final gospel written, and most place it in a range of 70-95AD, writing originally from Ephesus, where tradition strongly attests him going after leaving Judea.  The fact that he doesn’t mention the destruction of the temple would not be all that unusual if he wrote in the mid-80s after more than a decade has passed.  The way he mentions Peter’s death (20:19) is perhaps an indication that John wrote after Peter’s martyrdom, and partially explaining why he himself was still alive after such a long time (20:23).

Why did he write it?  John himself states it best: John 20:30–31, "(30) Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. (31) But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name."  The book of John is unashamedly evangelistic.  There is a goal in this book: that the reader may believe upon the name of Jesus and be saved.  If we miss that, we’ve missed everything.  There is much wonder and beauty and theology in the gospel of John.  We can have our minds stretched and our eyes bulge out, but without seeing Jesus as the Lord God and believing upon Him, then we’ve missed the message.  John wrote this written word about the Living Word that we might believe upon Him and receive life.  If you hear nothing else in this study of the book of John, hear this: believe upon Jesus as God the Son for the forgiveness of sins and live!

As a skilled writer, John begins his book with the same message that he states in his purpose at the end.  As the gospel account opens, he carefully shows us Jesus as the Messiah, and gives us every reason to believe, so that we might have life and overcome the darkness of death.  The Word of God is the life-giving God…find life in the Word!

John 1:1–5

  • Who the Word is (vss. 1-2)

1 In the beginning was the Word,

  • As the old musical states, we need to start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start. We begin with the time.  In order to truly grasp who this “Word” is, we need to look at when the “Word” was.  The word was in “the beginning.”  Of course, that begs the question: “The beginning of what?”  And that’s precisely the point.  It’s the beginning of everything.  It’s the beginning of the beginning.  It is not by accident that John seems to echo the words of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  That is exactly the picture he paints of Jesus as the Word of God.  The Word was in this beginning, prior to anything else existing.  There is no mention of angel nor demon in either John 1 or Genesis 1.  In the beginning, there is only God, and there can be nothing else.  Prior to anything else, God IS.
    • This is even reflected in God’s name.  When God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush upon Mt. Sinai, this was the name He gave.  Exodus 3:14–15, "(14) God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” (15) God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation."   “Yahweh/Jehohah” is basically the 3rd Person equivalent.  If “I AM” is God speaking from the 1st Person, then “Yahweh” (The ever-existent One) is the 3rd Person spoken by man of God.  God is not “I was,” as if He is no longer existent.  He is not “I will be” as if there was a point He did not exist.  He simply IS.  He has always been, and He always will be.  There was never a point that God did not exist, nor will ever come a point where God ceases to exist.  He is God, and He is I AM.
    • And that’s John’s point in mentioning the beginning.  There can be no other being in all the universe who can truthfully claim to be “I AM.”  There may be angels who can claim to have been created close to the beginning, but none that can claim to have been IN the beginning.  Yet that is when the Word was.  The Word was in the beginning, and from the very get-go we see that John can be referring to no one else but God.
  • How does John describe Him?  He is “the Word.”  John will not use this description of Jesus past Chapter 1, but it still absolutely foundational to understand who John is talking about, as he goes on to tell of Jesus throughout the book.  This is no ordinary man – this is not even an extraordinary prophet.  Jesus is set apart from all of those.  He is unique among all the world – He is the “word.”  He is the λόγος.  The definition is technically “word,” but the concept is a bit bigger than that in the ancient Greek speaking world.  It could be thought of as an expression – the mind of something – that which was rational.  Some Greek philosophers used it to speak of meaning and truth.  Obviously John has no interest in promoting or debating Greek philosophy, but when he uses λογος to describe God the Son, he’s doing something more than simply calling Jesus something that God spoke.  The λογος is not a creation of God; He is the essence of God.  He is part of the very being of God.  To think of the λογος as “truth” is even biblical, in that Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn 14:6).  Yet even in this, Jesus is bigger than the Greek concept of λογος.  Jesus as the Word is the essence and expression of God, but Jesus is far more than theoretical.  As John will later go on to write in Chapter 1, the λογος became flesh, and dwelt among us.  To the Greeks, λογος was the immaterial behind the reality; John writes that the true λογος Word of God is not only the very essence and expression of God, but He Himself is a unique Person.  This aspect is emphasized next…

…and the Word was with God,

  • If the first phrase of verse 1 speaks of the Word’s nature and timelessness, the second phrase of verse 1 speaks of the Word’s relationship and person.  The Word is not a concept; the Word is a HE, and that Word was with God.  The Word was in the beginning, but the Word was not alone.  Only God exists in the beginning, and the Word being the essence and expression of God was with God – because He has always been with God.  John will go on to write of Jesus being God’s “only begotten Son,” (Jn 3:16), but we need to be careful of thinking of “begotten” as a point where Jesus came into existence (as in, “being born”).  No – Jesus as the Word was always with God.  He is mysteriously begotten of God, but He is eternally begotten of God.  The Word has always existed in that the Word was always with God.
    • Part of this goes back to what the Word/λογος refers to.  If the λογος is the essence / expression / rational part of something, then how could that ever be truly separated from it?  It simply is part of what that “something” is.  As people, our minds & thoughts are always with us – our bodies might shut down, but our minds are always present. Obviously we need to be careful about taking that analogy too far, because we want to be careful not to confuse the members of the Trinity.  Jesus is far more than “simply” the mind of God.  But the basic idea is that the λογος has always existed with God because there is no way for the λογος NOT to have existed.  The λογος was in the beginning, and the λογος was with God.
  • If your mind is starting to spin a bit from this, it’s normal.   I personally believe that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write these things to blow our minds a bit.  After all, we’re given the privilege of gazing upon eternal, infinite things.  The God that made us, and the God that we worship is so much bigger than ourselves.  So much so, that God has perfect relationship in Himself.  God had everything He needed within Himself.  There is only One God, but it’s not as if God was ever lonely.  The Father had fellowship with the Son who has fellowship with the Spirit, and each one individually with the other.  There is perfect unity among the Godhead, perfect love, peace, and every other facet of glorious relationship.  We humans so often get an overinflated view of ourselves, as if God needed to create us in order to somehow “complete” Himself.  God is complete IN Himself!  He doesn’t need to create someone in order to experience love; He has that within Himself in the Trinity.
    • What then does that tell us?  God did not need to create us, but God desired to do so.  His desire for you as a man or woman is for you to bring Him glory in the way that only you as a unique creation of God can do.  The love God has for us is not a need; it is a gift.  And it is a gift that we dare not ever take for granted – nor is it a gift that we can experience in any other way outside of Jesus Christ.

…and the Word was God.

  • Not only was the Word with God, but the Word IS God.  Jesus is the Son of God, but He is not less than God.  Jesus (the Word) IS God.  Today, we say “Of course…what else would He be?”  We need to understand how groundbreaking this Christian truth was to the world at the time.  The Gentile world was overwhelmingly polytheistic.  Even if someone in the Roman empire didn’t worship the pagan deities of Greek and Roman mythology, they had their own pantheon of pagan gods to choose from to worship.  The world was filled with different gods and goddesses.  Yet that’s not the claim that John (nor the rest of the NT) makes.  It’s not that Jesus was just one of many gods; Jesus (the Word/the λογος) was GOD.  THE God – the One True God.  The God that was in the beginning before anything else existed, that is who the Word is.  And though the Word is God’s Son (as John will go on to say explicitly), this still did not make the Word some kind of lesser god.  It’s not like Hercules, who was supposedly half-god and half-human, being the son of Zeus.  On the contrary, Jesus/the Word is Someone completely different.  This Word IS Himself God.
  • Not only was this groundbreaking to the Gentiles, it was groundbreaking to the Jews.  The Jews were one of the only religious groups in the world at the time who were truly monotheistic – believing in no other God but the One God as described in the Bible.  For them to hear teachings about a Human who walked among them, having been born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, etc., but that this human was actually God in the flesh – that was beyond their belief.  This wasn’t simply difficult to understand; this was downright heresy to their ears.  But that is exactly the claim of the Bible…and (despite what others might say) that was exactly the claim of Jesus Himself.  There is a reason why the Jews picked up stones as a mob in one attempt (of several) to kill Jesus (Jn 8:58-59).  Jesus had just said that before Abraham was, “I AM,” – and the Jews knew exactly what that meant.  When Jesus was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin, it wasn’t because Jesus claimed to be a powerful prophet; it’s because He claimed to be God.  He was officially convicted of blasphemy (Mk 14:61-62)
    • This is proven through the Resurrection!  Jesus promised to give a single sign that demonstrated His authority and identity, and it would be the sign of the prophet Jonah.  He would go unto death, and rise again the third day (Mt 12:39-40).  And guess what?  That is exactly what Jesus gave.  Romans 1:4, "and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."  Is Jesus actually God?  Without a doubt!  He is risen from the dead!
  • Why past tense?  Because the Word has always been God.  Unlike some heresies that teach that there was a moment in time that Jesus had the divine come upon Him at His baptism, and leave Him at His crucifixion, there was never a time that the Word was not God.  He has always been God from the very beginning.  As Jesus is repeatedly described in the book of Revelation, He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev 1:8).  Jesus has always been God.  To say that “the Word was God” is not to imply that now Jesus is NOT God, but rather to affirm this is simply who Jesus has always been and always will be.  (In fact, the Greek tense is “imperfect” which implies an action already begun and presently continuing.)
  • Question: “What about alternate translations of this, such as from the Jehovah Witnesses?  They claim that this says ‘and the Word was A god.’  Is that legitimate?”  In a word, no.  To understand, we need to learn a little Greek.  θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος  If we translate the words in the order they appear in the sentence, then we have “God was the Word,” yet we need to realize that Greek is not generally dependent upon word order in a sentence to determine meaning.  That has more to do with what “case” the nouns are in.  Without getting into the weeds too much, the grammar here tells us that “the Word” is the subject, whereas “God” is the object, and thus we can translate normally.  “OK, so what does that have to do with JW translation?”  It comes to the “the.” That little definite article makes all of the difference.  In English, we have two types of articles: definite (“the”) and indefinite (“a/an”).  We use the difference to distinguish between A bottle of water, and THE bottle of water.  In Greek, however, there is only one type of article: definite.  So when it’s not there, many times we can translate a word using the English indefinite article – which is the reason why the JW’s translate this “The Word was A God,” because “God/θεος” has no article.  However, although it can be done sometimes, that’s not always the case.  There are other instances in the NT where “God/θεος” has no article, but is referring to none other but the One True God.  1 Cor 12:6, “…diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” 2 Cor 1:21, “Now He who…has anointed us is God…”  2 Cor 5:19, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…”  In all these examples (and many others), there is plainly no other God in view than the One True God.  The lack of an article doesn’t mean “a” God in any of these cases – neither does it in John 1:1.  In fact, the construction of the sentence shows John emphasizing all of the quality and essence of God – but not just any God, the exact same God that John DID use the definite article with just two words prior.  John is using the strongest wording possible to say that the Word is (and has always been) nothing less than God of true God.  If John wanted to claim that Jesus is like God, but not truly God, John would have used a different sentence altogether.  If John wanted to say that Jesus was another God, but a different God than God the Father, then again he would have written another sentence specifically stating such a thing.  The error that JW’s make with this (aside from quoting Biblical scholars out of context) is that they force an English usage of the article upon the Greek.  In essence, they try to make Greek answer a question that it doesn’t ask.
  • So what IS John saying here?  He is teaching absolute correct theology in just a few simple words.  By using the article with “the Word” and not “God,” John avoids the heresy of modalism – the idea that the One God simply appears in a bunch of different forms.  John’s statement makes it clear that the Word was God; not that God the Father was the Word.  In addition, by not using the article with God here, but using it with God earlier, John emphasizes the essence of the One True God being that which the Word was.  IOW, the Word is of the exact same substance of Almighty God, without being the exact same Person as God the Father.  In one fell swoop, John affirms the Deity of Christ and the distinction and essence of the Trinity.
    • OK – that’s a lot of technical stuff to look at.  What’s the bottom line when people try to convince you that the Bible doesn’t say what the Bible clearly says?  Simply this: trust the word of God.  When in doubt, check it out.  Want to know how other Bible translations treat John 1:1? Take a look. Major translations are identical to one another. Even English paraphrases will say much the same thing.  When the only different translation is the translation of the Jehovah Witnesses, that says volumes about their inaccuracy.
  • BTW – did you notice how important a single word (even a single letter) is to the Bible?  This book is valuable – it is precious!  And it is a true God-powered miracle that we hold it in our hands the way that we do, reading the very words that were penned on the page thousands of years ago.  Value the word – read the word – pay close attention to it in study.  Every word and phrase is there for a reason…drink it in!

2 He was in the beginning with God.

  • Just in case we didn’t get the point the first time, John says it all over again verse 2.  There is nothing here he did not state in verse 1; we just needed to read it again giving time to let it sink in a bit. The Word was in the very beginning, and that Word was with God the whole time. 
  • Again, this is the distinction between Jesus’ deity and His humanity.  There was an instant in time when Jesus became a Man, but not so with Him as God.  The Word has always been God, demonstrated by the fact that He was in the beginning with God.  How so?  Just look at what the Word did in the act of creation…
  • What the Word did (vs. 3)

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

  • Only God creates, and that is exactly what the Word did.  When God created the heavens and the earth, it was all done through the Word.  How so?  God spoke.  When God spoke, He let loose the Word, and through the Word He expressed His will to create, and things were created.  [“God said…”] It was as simple as that.  Objection: “Come on, John is just using an analogy.  Isn’t this pressing it too far?”  No, not really.  Granted, there’s no way this side of heaven that we’ll ever be able to fully understand the intricacies of how all of this worked, but this is exactly what the Bible says.  John did not use the description “the Word” by mere accident when referring to Jesus.  It wasn’t only because this was a concept that the Greeks might recognize.  This was the description given him by the Holy Spirit to describe the inner counsel of God.  Whenever the “word of the Lord” would come to someone in the OT, the mind of God was being revealed to them.  Jesus IS that revelation.  Thus when God audibly speaks, we would expect the will/essence/revelation of God to manifest Himself – and that is exactly what Jesus did in the act of creation.  “All things were made through Him,” exactly as the Bible declares that they were.
  • Of course, if ALL things were made through the Word, that means “nothing” was made without the Word.  Exactly…which is what John goes on to affirm.  Every atom in this universe was put there by the creative work of God the Son.  Everything from the largest star imaginable to the smallest single-cell organism came into being because Jesus caused it to be so.  God created it all, and thus God the Son – the Word – the λογος created it all.  Every single man, woman, and child owes his/her existence to the grace and power of Jesus Christ.  BTW – we do not only find our origin in Jesus; we find our ongoing existence in Him as well.  Colossians 1:15–17, "(15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (16) For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (17) And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."  Jesus is the image (another way to describe the “expression” or the “revelation”) of God, and He has the preeminence over all things because He created all things.  We live because Jesus wills us to live.  If He so desired, all the universe would fly apart because “in Him all things consist.”  THAT is our Jesus!
    • What does that say to someone who has rejected Jesus?  Look again at Whom you reject!  This is not merely another teacher or another guru.  This is not one of many religions from which to choose, of which you can’t tell one from the other.  This is the Almighty God – the Creator – the King.  All the evidence you need of His existence is YOUR existence.  YOU are here, which means Someone created you.  Things exist all around you, which means Someone created those things.  That Someone is the Lord Jesus Christ.  He created you, and He gave you life and breath this very day.  He has revealed Himself to you in the past (and He is certainly revealing Himself to you right now).  This is not a God you want to reject.  Don’t turn away from the All-powerful Son of God; receive the love and grace He offers you today.
  • BTW – If Jesus created the physical universe, what does that say about physical things?  What He created was good.  When John wrote, there was a school of thought (both inside Christian circles and outside) that taught a form of dualism: anything spiritual was good; anything physical was inherently bad.  The physical was always bad, no matter what, and the way to free yourself from it was to learn the right knowledge (“gnosis”) so that you would operate in the spirit.  That ancient heresy of Gnosticism never really died out…it still gets taught among the church.  So many Christians think that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as your spirit is good – or that to engage in any physical activity is a waste of time because what God really cares about is our spirit.  If that was the case, why would God create a physical world?  Why would He have a plan to re-create the physical world?  It’s true that we are spiritual beings in physical bodies, but we can’t really separate things all that easily.  We will be using physical bodies in eternity, just as we are today.  God DOES care about the physical, which is why He created it.  We just need to keep things in the right priority.  We don’t make ourselves righteous in the sight of God through physical acts, but we certainly are to use the physical bodies God has given us for His glory.
  • What the Word does (vss. 4-5)

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

  • In the past, the Word created everything in existence, and the ramifications of that shoot out to this very day.  The Word created the world, and the Word gave “life” to the world of men.  When Adam was formed from the dust of the earth, God breathed in to him, and Adam became a living being. BTW – if Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and a visible physical God literally breathed life into a physical being, then Who was it that breathed into Adam?  Jesus.  Jesus gave life to Adam, and thus Jesus gave life to all who followed in Adam’s line (all of us).
  • Obviously there’s more to it than physical life – the years upon earth that last a few decades.  There is eternal life as well.  Where does that originate?  In the same fount: Jesus.  In Him is life eternal – life abundant – life everlasting.  All that we need to be who God created us to be is only found in Jesus.  He alone offers life.  It’s no wonder that John describes this life as “the light of men.”  There is hope in the life found in Jesus.  This is what sustains us – this is what overcomes the darkness of death.  See vs. 5…

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

  • It’s been often observed that darkness is simply the absence of light.  If you turn on a single light in a room that is pitch-dark, it doesn’t matter if you have a tiny candle or a mega-watt flashlight, the darkness is going to flee as light floods the room.  That is what happens with the life that comes from the Word of God, Christ Jesus.  His life is the light of men, and when He lights us up, the darkness flees.  Darkness cannot stay where light exists.  The darkness of death?  Gone.  Jesus gives life.  The darkness of sin?  Gone.  Jesus gives forgiveness.  The darkness of demons?  Gone.  The most powerful work of Satan cannot begin to compare with the Almighty work of God the Son.  After all, Satan is just a created being, but the Word is the Creator.  No darkness can prevail over the light of Christ Jesus.
  • That seems to be the idea behind the phrase “and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  The word used here could be translated “overpower” – it has the idea of “to seize, to grasp, or to grasp with the mind” (hence “comprehend”).  Darkness cannot lay hold of light.  Again, by definition darkness retreats where light invades.  It is not possible for light to be overcome by the darkness, and this light is the life that comes from Christ Jesus.
  • What is John doing here?  He’s speaking of the victory of the Word Incarnate. There is nothing that can overcome Jesus because Jesus has overcome it all.  The Word Himself could not be extinguished by the darkness of death; He is the One who gives life and He vanquished death on the third day. 
  • In a sense, even this is previewed at the beginning of creation.  After all, if the life that was light was found in the Word, what was the Word doing at the beginning?  Shining in the darkness…exactly as Genesis proclaims.  Genesis 1:1–3, "(1) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (2) The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (3) Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light."  The Word of God is greater than the darkness, and the Word of God dispels the darkness.  There is nothing over which Jesus is not both sovereign and victorious.  The very darkness of nothingness is dispelled by Him.
  • That was true at the beginning of time, and the same will be true of the end of time.  As Jesus’ revelation to John comes to a close, John gets a glimpse of the eternal state in heaven, where he sees in the new creation that “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.” (Rev 22:5)  Why is there no lamp?  Because the Word of God dwells in their midst, and the light of the glory of God streams forth from Him.  In Him is life, and that light is the life of men shining in the darkness.  Because Jesus is there, darkness is not.  Where is darkness in eternity?  Ironically, it with a lake of fire in which Satan, Antichrist, the false prophet, and death itself will be thrown.  Jesus described hell as a place of outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Tragically, Satan and the demons will not be the only ones inhabiting that awful place – it will also be filled with people who have rejected the grace of Jesus Christ.  Those who do not believe upon the Son of God end up rejecting the light, and all that remains for them is eternal darkness.
    • That’s not what God wants for anyone.  That’s not what God wants for YOU.  Remember the reason why John wrote this book: John 20:30–31, "(30) Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. (31) But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name."  God wants to give you life.  Believe upon Jesus – embrace Him as God your King & Savior.  Those who do have life.

As John opens up his gospel account, he takes us to the very beginning – the beginning of the beginning in order that we can gaze upon the glory of the One who came to walk among us and give His life for us at the cross.

  • Who is the Word?  He is the λογος – the essence, substance, expression, and character of God.  He is God of true God, truly distinct from God the Father but always with God the Father.  He existed beyond time, as the Word is nothing less than glorious God.
  • What did the Word do?  He created all things.  The Word is not merely the impersonal mind of God; the Word is living and active as God Himself.  The Word created the worlds and everything within, which means the Word of God created us as people.  There is not a single human in existence that was not known and created by God the Son.  He created us, and He wants us to know Him.
  • What did the Word continue to do?  He gave life, and continues to give life.  Not only did He breathe life into the 1st man, but He continues to give eternal life to every man, woman, and child who comes to Him in faith.  Jesus is Himself a light that cannot be extinguished, and the light and life He grants to those who believe in Him will never be extinguished either.  The darkness cannot overcome the Light of the world.  The glory of the Living Word of God will shine forever and ever!

Understandably, this is heavy doctrine.  For just a few sentences, John lays a massive amount of truth upon the reader.  But there is a purpose to the weight: it leaves us in awe of the One of whom we are about to read in the rest of the book.  Have you ever driven along the highway, come up to the top of a hill or other peak, and been left breathless by the sight that you saw?  One moment, you’re not looking at much…just more road in front of you.  The next moment, you’re looking at the lay of the earth in front, perhaps just as the sun is shining just right.  We’re often left in awe by creation (as it should be) – here, as John begins his gospel, he wants us to be left in awe of our Creator.  From the moment we open the book, we go from looking at nothing to looking at Everthing.  Jesus – the Word, the λογος, the Infinite Creator God – this is the One who will clothe Himself in flesh and dwell among us.  To fully grasp His loving service, we have to first catch a glimpse of His infinite majesty, and that is what we see in the Word of God.

Take a moment to be in awe of the Word.  Jesus is the Word of God; He is the life-giving God.  Find life in Him!


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