The translations try to communicate to us who he is and when he was. Here's what John 1:1 looks like in Greek:
- Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
Most translate it literally:
- "In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." NIV, NASB, KJV, ESV, NKJV,
Some explain the verse a bit in their translation:
- "In the beginning, the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God." NLT
- "The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one." The Message
- "In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself." Amplified Bible
Already, as everything that we know had it's beginning– time, sun, moon, days, plants, animals, air, life– already as creation began, the Word was there. John goes on to say "all things were made through him." To be specific, John then says, "without him nothing was made." In other words, everything that we know, all of creation, owes its existence to him. The Word is the Creator. The Word created atmosphere and firmament and heavens and the rotation of the earth. The Word created minerals and landscapes, plants and animals. The Word created all that there is. Maker of heaven and earth (Isaiah 51:13).
Word. That's an interesting… um… word… to use. John chose the word "word" to describe this Creator. What does "word" mean? The Greek word for "word" is logos. That's where we get words today like "logo" or "logic". It's also how we can make words like "psychology" – the word of the mind & behavior, or the logic/study of the mind & behavior. We also get a great word like "theology" – the word of God, or the logic/study of God. One way, then, to understand the Word is to contemplate the Word as the ultimate logic, the underlying reason, the formational and foundational principle of all of Creation. So when we ask "why is all this here?" the answer is because the Word made it so.
So who is this Word? Who can create like that? It takes me quite some
time just to create a Lego spaceship… or a to plant a tree– let
alone grow one from nothing.
Well, logos also has another primary meaning. A "word" is something that is spoken. It is the spoken expression of the mind or the will. It is an audible or written manifestation of the author. It is an intelligible utterance of communication. So another way, then, to understand the Word is to contemplate the Word as a chosen expression and manifestation of the one who willed for all of creation to made so. And this is where John starts to get really interesting…
(more on this tomorrow I hope!)