What does it mean that the Word was in the beginning (John 1:1)?

The gospel of John and the book of Genesis have similar starts. Both John and Genesis begin with the phrase, "in the beginning." Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

In both cases, the essential meaning is: In the beginning, God was. He was there, had already been there, and He is the Creator. Before anything else existed, the Word existed. God introduced Himself to Moses as I AM (Exodus 3:14), for He has always been.

John 1 goes on to say that "He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:2–3). In saying this, John is making a clear reference to the divinity of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, was there with God in the beginning at the Creation. Without the Word, nothing that exists would ever have been created.

John refers to "the Word" several times throughout this chapter, further defining the Word with each mention. The Word is eternal (1:1a). The Word is distinct from God the Father (1:1b), however, the Word is God (1:1c). Jesus Christ, God the Son incarnate, is the Word: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14, see also verses 15–18).

"The Word" in John 1 is the Greek logos, a term which can refer both to something said as well as the thought or reasoning. In 600 BC a Greek philosopher used Logos to refer to divine plan or reasoning. John further explains that "from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known" (John 1:14–18). The Word—Jesus—revealed the Father to us. We see this in Hebrews 1:1–3 as well: "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (See also Colossians 1:15–20).

God created everything with His words (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). In the Old Testament, we see frequent references to "the word of the LORD" as God continued to communicate with His creation. And He speaks to us through His Word today—both His written Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17) and "the Word" (John 14:6). God created through His word, and it is through the Word—Jesus—that God restores His creation to Himself.

The gospel of John begins with a strong statement affirming that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh, and John goes on in the book to show the eternity and divinity of Jesus Christ, displayed through His life, death, and resurrection here on earth. In John's own words, the purpose of this gospel is "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).

Related Truth:

What does it mean that Jesus is the Word of God? What are John 1:1, 14 talking about?

What does John 1:14 mean when it says the Word became flesh?

Who is Jesus Christ?

How are both Jesus and the Bible the Word of God?

Is Jesus the Creator?

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