The Word… was God

Heaven2  John is bold.  As a Hebrew, he believed in the One True God.  And as a follower of Jesus, he never denied this fact.  He never suggested that there were two true gods.  He never gave the impression that he rejected the greatest command of the Old Testament, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strengths." (Deut 6:4-5 NIV)

But John said that in the beginning, with God, was this entity that he called the "Word."  The Word, John said, created everything that exists.  Of course, as a Hebrew, he believed that God created everything that exists.  God SPOKE, and everything came into being.  The WORD is God speaking… and yet, the WORD of God is distinct from God and existed before everything in relationship with God.  Follow that?  John wrote: "And the Word was with God."  Together.  On equal footing.  The Creator God and the Creator Word.  In unison.

Then John says this astonishing thing: "καὶ θεὸς ἦν λόγος."  This is translated in English: "And the Word was God." 

In order, left to right, it could be read, "And God was the Word."  In the Greek construction, though, the general rule is that the noun with the article is the subject even though it comes after the noun without the article.  The emphasis in the beginning of John's book is on the Logos, the Word.  So, Theos, God, is the descriptive noun in this sentence for the Word.

Not sure you can get away with saying that.  Unless, of course, it is a true statement.  And the Word was God.

Not only, in John's mind, then is the Word the action and the manifestation of God's desires and power; and not only is the Word a distinct and worthy partner with God, doing the same work, acting together with the same will.  The Word is in actuality, also God.

This is hard to wrap our minds around.  John is talking about Jesus.  John, in thinking of a descriptive "word" to use to help us understand who Jesus is, chooses to refer to Jesus as the "WORD."  Jesus, then, as the Word, is the Creator of all things.  Just like God.  Jesus, then, as the Word, existed before everything started.  Just like God.  Jesus, then, as the Word, was close in relationship with God before everything began.  And now, John declares, Jesus, as the Word, is actually God.

Some people throughout history have certainly not been able to accept this as a right comment.  Many have tried to translate this verse: "And the Word was a god."  People seem to be able to breathe a little easier if Jesus is "merely" a semi-devine being, or a quasi-deity.  Jehovah's Witness thought is emphatic on this point, as would be a myriad of other religious beliefs.  Some other religions, perhaps with a little more consistently in their arguments, just flat out reject this whole verse in John altogther, seeing the first two comments about the Word as blasphemous as the third.  John's intention certainly is that all three comments about the Word, while distinct and independent in their own right, belong together in the same breath.

So was John right?  Is Jesus God?  Well, at least John intends for there to be no other way to understand Jesus.  He is blatant about it.  He starts off his book with as bold of a statement about the Yahweh identity of Jesus Christ.  The very same God who spoke creation into being is the very same Jesus who created all things.  The very same God who existed before everything began is the very same Jesus who existed before everything began.  God and Jesus are the very same.

Even John, a follower of the One True God, came to understand Jesus as the One True God.  Even though he was a devout monotheist, John could not reject from his heart and his mind and his strength the fact that Jesus was actually the LORD GOD Almighty that he was raised to know and worship. 

And in saying all this, John has only written one verse.


Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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