In John 1:1-5, John the apostle says this:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended [overcame (NASB)] it not.”
In this passage, the apostle John begins his gospel, or good news, by explaining the person and work of God the Son before He came to earth to take upon Himself a human nature, and become a man.
The passage can be divided into 2 main sections, which can further be divided into 7 sub-sections:
I. His Person
- His Pre-Existence
- His Personality
- His Partnership
- His Preeminence
II. His Work
- His Productivity
- His Provision
- His Perseverance
In verses 1-2, John describes the person of God the Son:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God.”
John begins this section by describing the pre-existence of God the Son: “In the beginning was the Word . . .” How do we know that John means the beginning of the universe by “the beginning”? Because of the Greek word for “was”. Notice the contrast between “the beginning” and “was”. “The beginning” tells of something that hasn’t always existed, and yet John says that when “the beginning” began, the Word already “was”. The word, “was,” in the Greek denotes a state of pre-existence. That is, it describes the Word as already existing, and always existing, before “the beginning”. Thus, John is saying that, when the universe began to exist by the Word of God, the Word of God already existed, and therefore, had always existed, since, if He had not, He would have come into existence at the beginning. So, when God created the heavens and the earth, the Word was there with Him, and witnessed the creation of all things.
Secondly, John describes the personality of God the Son by the use of the word, “Word”. The Greek word that’s translated “Word” is logos, which refers to an expression of thought, or a message. Secular Greeks had the concept of a logos, which was a rational power that had created all things, like a divine mind. The Jews, on the other hand, thought of “the Word” as the Word of God from the Old Testament, which was intimately linked with God and all that He was. They saw it as so much a part of God that it was almost as if it was God Himself. After all, the only way they knew the particulars about God was by Him revealing to Him through His Word. However, John here is referring to “the Word” which “was” in the beginning. The Word here is the Expression of thought that has always existed, the Message that has always existed. In other words, this Word is conveying something that has always existed, and was present at the beginning of the universe.
Thirdly, John describes the partnership of God the Son by saying that the Word was with God. This word denotes the Word’s intimate fellowship and communion with God before the beginning, and at the beginning. The Word and God had always been Partners together, and cooperated in the beginning of the universe.
Finally, on this subject of God the Son’s person, John describes the preeminence of the Word by saying that the Word was God. How does this fit in with what John has just said about the Word being with God? Is it possible for the Word to be both with God, and God Himself at the same time? The answer is yes, and no. Here we see the doctrine of the Holy Trinity implied, as it is impossible that the Word can be both God Himself and with God Himself, since that would mean that the Word is more than one Person, but He is only one Person. The answer is that the first “God” and the second “God” aren’t referring to the same Person, although they are referring to the same essence, or nature. The Word was with God the Person, but the Word was God the nature or essence. The Word shares all of the divine attributes and characteristics of God the Person, but He is not the same Person as this God. The Word was with God the Person, but was God in nature or essence. In other words, the Word was with God, and was divine — He shared the essence, attributes, and nature of God, but was not the same Person, being a different Person.
To conclude this section of the passage, John then says that “the same [the Word] was in the beginning with God”. In this verse, he combines some of what he has said about the Word’s pre-existence with His partnership with God, and adds that, not only was the Word existing before the beginning, but God was as well. Therefore, they both were existing before the beginning of the universe in intimate fellowship and communion.
Beginning in verse 3, John moves on to the second main section of this passage, in which He describes the work of God the Son: “3 All things were made through him [the Word]; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended [overcame (NASB)] it not.”
He begins this section by describing the productivity of the Word: “all things were made through him [the Word]; and without him was not anything made that hath been made”. What does “all things” refer to? What can it refer to but all things? The apostle Paul tells us what John means by “all things” in Colossians 1:15-16a:
“. . . 15 who is the image [note the similarity to “the Word”] of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers . . .”
However, not only did He make all things, but there was not a single thing made without Him.
Secondly, John describes the Word’s provision: “4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” First, John says that life itself was in the Word. This life was not just from the Word, but had always been in Him. In other words, He was the Source of all life. There is no life apart from Him. All life that has ever existed has come from Him, and all life that exists now is from Him. Second, John says that this life was the light of men. What does this mean? What is the light that men have in them? What else can it be but the knowledge of truth that God has planted within each normal heart? This light is the same as the life that was in the Word — that is, the life from the Word is light to men. And notice that John says that it was the light of men. There is no other light for mankind but this life that comes from the Word. All information that is wrongly thought to be knowledge is no knowledge at all. It is no light to men. It cannot provide a way to know and understand reality — only the life of God can.
Lastly, John describes the Word’s perseverance: “5 And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended [overcame (NASB)] it not.” John says in this verse that the light shines in the darkness. That is, that is the way it always is. It was then, and it is now. The light of God’s life shines in the darkness of ignorance and sin. Wherever this light is, the darkness is removed and replaced with light. However, John then goes back to the history he is recording: the darkness didn’t overcome the light. No matter how thick the darkness of mankind’s sin and ignorance was, the light of God’s truth penetrated it, and replaced it. All through human history, the devices of men couldn’t remove the knowledge of God. Their lies, their philosophies, their counterfeit religions, could not remove the knowledge they had in them of God and of truth — their consciences. They may have destroyed their own consciences, but they could not remove the truth of God from everyone. How much more so is this today, when we now have the gospel and the complete Word of God being preached, taught, and offered to masses of people, all across the world, in so many ways?
So, in this passage, John describes to us the pre-existence, personality, partnership, preeminence, productivity, provision, and perseverance of God the Son, the Word. He is the Expression, or Message, of God the Father to us, and God commands us to hear His Word. He is our Creator and Sustainer, who created us, gave us life, and causes us to keep existing. He is also the Source of all truth that we know, and the darkness cannot overcome it when it shines in the darkness. He has always existed, has always been the Message, has always been with God, has always been God Himself, has made all things, has provided us with all things, and shines His Word in the darkness, which didn’t overcome it, nor will it ever. Let us worship Him as the pre-existent One, listen to Him as the Word, worship the God with whom He has always been, worship Him as God, praise Him for making all things, thank Him for giving us all we have, and bask and trust in His Word.
Are you absolutely certain, without any doubt whatsoever, that you know what the good news of Christ is? Please make sure:
Your Creator, God the Father, sent God the Son, His Son, to the earth, to become a man, without ceasing to be God. This man was Jesus of Nazareth, who lived the perfect life, perfectly pleasing the Father. Then, He was arrested by men, who were appointed by the Father to do so, and was nailed and hung on a cross. Although Jesus was perfectly pleasing to the Father, the Father ordained this event to happen to punish Jesus by making Him slowly die on the cross, and by treating Him as if He had committed our sins against His Father, all because of our sins against Him, which make us deserve physical, eternal, and spiritual death from God. For three hours, the Father crushed and forsook Jesus, putting Him to grief, because of our sins against Him. In so doing, Jesus satisfied the Father’s wrath and justice against sins. Then, He died, and was buried shortly after. His body lay in a grave for about 2 days, and then, He physically rose from the dead, and appeared to the apostle Peter, to the 11 apostles, to about 500 people at one time, to James, to all the apostles, and to the apostle Paul, during a period of 40 days, after which He ascended into heaven. The apostles then turned the Mediterranean world upside down with their new lives and preaching, revolutionizing the Mediterranean world, and undergoing incredible persecutions, while at the same time winning more and more converts, who gladly went to their deaths because of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s command to all people everywhere is to change the way they think about God, about the Lord Jesus Christ, about His death, about His resurrection, about themselves, and about their sins, and to depend only upon the Lord Jesus Christ, His death because of their sins, and His resurrection as the only grounds for His forgiveness of their sins and His gift of eternal life. If you have changed the way you think, and depend only upon the Lord Jesus Christ, His death for your sins, and His resurrection for God’s forgiveness of your sins, and your peace with God, then you will be saved from His wrath. If not, God has fixed a day on which He will judge you in righteousness through the Man He has appointed, having provided proof for all people by raising Him from the dead. If you fail to obey God’s command to repent and depend on the Lord Jesus Christ, then He will eventually cast you into eternal hell, and punish you for the sins you’ve committed against Him. Right now is the time to make sure that you have changed the way you think about the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you are only depending upon Him, His death for your sins, and His resurrection from the dead for His forgiveness of your sins. Depend upon Him, and you will be saved from His wrath.