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And the Word Was God

13 May

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, AND THE WORD WAS GOD” (John 1:1). This final clause in the first verse of John is the definitive point for the Word. It says very clearly that the Word was God. It is a point that traditional Christianity receives as literally true. Therefore, we understand this verse as saying that, in the beginning (of God’s creative acts), the Word was already existing. Moreover, the Word was with or toward God (the Father), and this Word was God indeed. The verbs in each of the clauses within this verse are the same. The verb is ‘was,’ and in each case the verb is in the imperfect tense. This means that the activity of the Word was continually so. That is, the Word existed continually or already “in the beginning.” Likewise, the Word continually existed “with God,” and, finally, it was continually so that the Word was always God. In other words, as the NEB puts it in John 1:1, “what God (the Father) was, the Word was.”

The Biblical Unitarian[1] (BU hereafter) viewpoint, however, does not consider this clause as a definition for the Word. So, rather than permit the Scriptures to define the terms it uses, they define the Word themselves as the plan of God. Furthermore, rather than saying that the Word is God, they would say that this final clause merely describes the plan as divine. One of the main complaints they have of our believing that the Word was indeed God is the construction of this last clause in John 1:1. They try to make a point over the absence of the definite article (ho meaning the) before theos (God). However, if this were the construction of the clause, it would deny the truth of the previous clause “… and the Word was with God.” In other words, they would prefer the Scripture to read “ho theos en ho logos” or “the God was the Word.” If this were the case, then the Word could never be WITH God, because God and the Word would be the same “person.”

Admittedly, I am not a theologian, but I like to know and understand what the word of God is saying. Therefore, in the best way I know how, I will try to use the birth of the United States and George Washington in a manner to help explain what I mean in the paragraph above. I could say of George and the birth of the United States: “In the beginning (of the USA) was the George, and the George was with the Americans, and the George was American.”

The use of the article (the) does not always do well in our English language, but I used it to correctly parallel the Greek usage of the article (the) before the Word (logos) and God in John 1:1. Concerning my example above, it would be true that George existed before the birth of the United States (in the beginning – George was already there). It was also true that George was with the Americans (the people who lived here). Finally it is true that George was also American. He was born here. While George was American, one could not say that George was the American in the sense that he was the whole nation. One could say that, although George is American, George and American cannot be used interchangeably. Not all Americans were President, but every President was an American. Just as we can make a distinction between George and American without denying that George is indeed American, so we may make a distinction between the Word and God (the Father) in John 1:1.

Therefore, the final clause of John 1:1 shows the Word as being God, or what God (the Father) is so the Word is. John 1:2 repeats some of what the first verse says, but adds the idea that the personality and distinctiveness of the Word was with God from before the beginning of creation.

This means that not only is the Word God, but the Word has always existed as such with God (the Father) from before the beginning of time. In John 1:2 John emphasizes the plurality of the Godhead. He shows us that there is no mistake. We have understood correctly. There is one God, but God is a plurality. On the other hand, if the Word is a plan, as conceived by the BUs, in what way could it possibly be true that the ‘divine’ plan had existed with God from before the time the plan was so conceived? But the text says that the Word was indeed God, and (verse-2) ‘the same’ (God) was in the beginning with God.

[1]  The Biblical Unitarian website can be found here: (http://biblicalunitarian.com/html)

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1 Comment

Posted by on May 13, 2011 in Godhead

 

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One response to “And the Word Was God

  1. Paul

    May 16, 2011 at 15:40

    Glad I found this blog…

     

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