The Eternal Word became Flesh
The church, in every century since its infancy, has been forced to deal with people who claim to be Christians while denying altogether or distorting the deity of Christ. Yet, the greatest tragedy still is to miss the point of His coming into the world. Many today will affirm that he’s the divine Son of God as long as he remain as an infant in the manger, not demanding attention and obedience from the world. But this baby in the manger was no mere infant. He’s the eternal preexistent Word and He came into the world to subdue darkness and usher in the new creation. He came demanding full allegiance to the truth.
The Preexistence of the Divine Word(verse 1)
In the beginning was the Word
John the beloved begins his gospel by alluding to the first words of the first verse of the first book of the Bible, “In the Beginning.” The Word already was. Genesis starts with the beginning of history(Genesis 1:1), John begins with the beginning prior to history. The Word was and is from everlasting to everlasting(Psalm 90:2). He is the Alpha and Omega(Revelation 1:8). Therefore the power to end history and to begin a new one belongs to him. This calls attention not just to the first and old creation, as we will see in verses 2-5, but also anticipates the second and new creation in verse 13.
The Word was with God
Not only that the Word was in the beginning but He was in the beginning with God. There are many ways to express proximity, nearness or togetherness in the Bible. The prefix “syn” or “sun” means together, referring to two or more being together(i.e. Synagogue, Synchronize, Synonymous). The second one is the preposition “para” which means along side with(i.e. Parable, meaning thrown along side with, or Paramedics which means along side medics). But the word used here by John conotes the closest possible “withness” in scriptures. He used the preposition “pros” which implies not just proximity but intimate personal relationship(i.e Prosopon meaning to face or face to face). The Word was face to face with God. The use of preposition also distinguishes the person of the Word from God the Father. The Word was never lonely. He was in perfect and intimate fellowship with the Father.
The Word was God
But John did not left us with ambiguity. Lest we missed his point, he then goes on to say that this Word that is distinct from God was truly God. Literally in greek it says; “God was the Word.”
Some have argued that because the greek word “theos” is anarthorous, meaning without the definite article, then it must be translated with an indefinite article; “the Word was a god.” That only shows ignorance of how the greek grammar works! The definite article in greek doesn’t always function the same way as the English language does. Greek would use the definite article when English doesn’t require it, and sometimes in greek they would drop the article when English does require it. The presence of article can also work as a function marker that will tell us which of the two nominative/subjective case nouns is the subject. On the other hand, the lack of the article may have a qualitative nuance instead of mere indefiniteness. As one theologian said; the lack of article deals with Modalism, because it distinguishes the Word from the God of the second clause, but the word order deals with Arianism, because it gives emphasis to the being or nature of the Word. The Word was very God of very God, what God was the Word was.
Created and Sustained by the Word(verses 2-5)
Now in verses 2-5 John expounded on the theme of creation. He summarizes verse 1 in verse 2, the Word was in the beginning with God. Therefore he is not part of the created order but a co-creator with the Father. Verse 3 says that all things came into being through Him. As if that weren’t enough, he says further that apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. The Word created the whole universe and He has the power of being within himself. The greek philosophers saw the Logos as the only entity that unifies the diversity in the universe. He was the uncause cause, the primary mover.
The Life was the Light
Now since the power of being only belongs to him then life itself was in Him. He alone is the giver of life. Take note of how John was referencing the first creation. He says that the life was the Light. In Genesis, before God began creating life his first command was “Let there be light!” Light was essential for life. The scripture already atested to this truth long before science discovered that heat and light are needed for a life permitting Earth. One good example is photosynthesis in plants, or the water cycle or the vitamins needed for our bodies’ sustenance that only the sun can give, and many more. And the great Light that brought life to the whole universe was the Word. This also implies that the Word sustains the whole creation. The child in the manger, so tender and mild, did not cease to be God. While he sleeps he holds the universe in his hand and kept it in being.
When that light shines, it overcomes the darkness. But the greek word for overcome can also mean understand or grasp. So although the light overcomes the darkness in the physical and natural sense nevertheless the darkness can’t understand the light in a spiritual sense. It says that the life was the light of men and men living in darkness cannot understand the Light. The light was essential then in the first creation it is essential now in the second creation.
The Coming of the Word(verse 9, 14, 16-18)
And so the Light enlightens men by coming into the world. The Word became flesh. This Light is the very radiance of the glory of God. Verse 14 says; “we saw his glory”, and this glory is described as full of grace and truth.
Ever wondered why John refers to Jesus as the Word? That’s the nagging question right? Why not “the Deed” or “the Love”(which is theologically correct), or “the Work”? Because these words are ambiguous. They can’t describe God fully, but “The Word” can and is less ambiguous. Jesus is the Word because he is the very expression of God, the exact imprint of his nature. Jesus is God expressing himself. In verse 18 it says that “no one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known. In greek it literally says that “He exegeted God”, He explains God. Christ is God’s hermeneutic. When you see Christ you see the Father. That’s why knowledge about God through nature is not enough. When light shines on creation, darkened men will worship the creatures instead of the Creator(Romans 1:18-23). The Word makes all sinners doubly without excuse for their rejection of the Light.
The Response of Two Creations(verses 10-13)
So how does creation responded to the coming of the Word when they saw his glory?
There are two creations here:
1) Those who belong only to the old creation.
They rejected him. They love darkness rather than Light. As mentioned earlier, they again would exchange the glory of God for a lie instead the of fullness of grace and truth in the Word.
2) Those who belong to the new creation.
They receive him. That is, they believe him for who the Light and the Word really was, and they were given the right to be called children of God. Then in verse 13 John explains that these children were born not just of the first created order. Children born not by blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man but of God. In John 3, Jesus says that unless a man be born again, or born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6 put it this way: ‘For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.’
This is new creation(2 Corinthians 5:17). This has to happen first before any person can understand or grasp the Light. If and only if the light shines beyond our physical eyes, into the eyes of our hearts. The psalmist says the same thing; “Open the eyes of my heart, that I may behold wondrous things from your law” (Psalm 119:18).
So how would you respond to the eternal Word, Jesus Christ. Did God the Holy Spirit so hover over the waters of your hearts and commanded that light would shine out of darkeness in our hearts to behold the face of Jesus? Or will you reject him and replace the glory of God for things that are made? Do you belong to the old creation or the new creation?