In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1
Meaning of John 1:1
The first verse of John establishes several significant facts and introduces a key term. The verse John 1:1 means that God claims ‘The Word’ has been there with him alongside. Hence, Jesus is spoken of as “The Word” from the Greek Word “logos”. Christ is the Logos, the meaning, the definition, and the “Word” of God. The very first name out of the seven names John used for Jesus is “The Word.” The rest of the gospel is John’s effort to prove this through various evidence, in particular, Jesus’ miracles. Verse 1 establishes that the universe had a beginning, contrary to the idea that it is endless. It also implies that God has existed (at least) from that beginning and before anything else that came into being.
Interpretations of John 1:1
The verse is one of the most quoted ones in the Bible, both by preachers and Christian believers. When one wants to talk about describing God, preachers often like to go back to this verse. However, it is also easy to interpret it in multiple ways since the verse might come across to be confusing and conflicting.
Interpretation #1 The “Word” and God are separate entities
The verse, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, can be interpreted as God and “word” being two different elements. Although the verse says that “word was God,” it also says that “the word was with God.” Thus in this interpretation, the Bible teachers question that the Word and God cannot be the same. Also, the scholars attribute Jesus as The Word, and Jesus was with God, who held greater power. God is called the highest entity, and He is cannot be just The Word.
Interpretation #2 The “Word” existed before God’s presence and thus has higher authority
The meaning of the first part of the verse, “In the beginning was the Word”, in this version, is fairly straightforward in its implication. It is taught and always believed that God created the world, universe, and everything among the religious, contrary to the beliefs of atheists and realists that it is all science. Hence, it is easy to accept that the Word existed before God, even if it changes the entire concept of creation and existence. It also gives rise to speculation that it was probably ‘The Word’ which created God, although the meaning and relevance of the Word are unclear in this particular interpretation.
Interpretation #3 The Word disappeared in God’s physical being after creation
In this interpretation, as the verse progresses, Apostle John shifts the meaning in the last phrase of John 1:1. One can interpret the meaning of the phrase “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” as a transformation from being separate from God in the beginning and eventually evolving into God’s being. It is only natural to assume that the Word became God or God became the Word. It is said that the Word came into existence first, but after God came into being, it merged into him. The first part says that Word was with God, which means that it co-existed with him, but the second part says that Word was God, which means Word must have entered into God and both became one.
Interpretation #4 God brought the Word into this world to help with the creation
The sequence of the revelations in this interpretation of John 1:1 is similar to the previous one with a little variation. Here, the verse means that God and the Word were working together to create the universe. The first part of the verse says, “In the beginning was Word,” which means that Word came around at the same time as God did. The next part says, “The Word was with God” which implies that God must have created the Word to help him make the rest of the world and universe. The creation of the universe is no simple task, and God must have required some help to do it.
Interpretation #5 Jesus is The Word also known as The Logos
The entire book of John narrates the life story of Jesus Christ. In this interpretation, the author John tries to show the ultimate expression of God’s love for His people. When John refers to Jesus as “the Word,” he talks about the Word that was made into humans and came to live on the earth. However, until then, Jesus was formless, i.e., not in human form and with God. The term “Logos” is the term for “ the word” in Hebrew, and the Word here is meant to be Jesus Christ, who created the universe with God, the Father. The phrase “with God” expresses the co-existence, at the same time, the distinction of person. The term “was God” maintains the division of person and also emphasizes the oneness of spirit.
Historical Background of John 1:1
The Gospel of John is a portrayal of Jesus Christ and his work of saving people. It focuses on the final three years of Jesus’ life, especially death and resurrection. The depiction of Jesus is said to be written by an eyewitness who was a huge part of these important events. The unusual words “the disciple whom Jesus loved” means John was the youngest of the disciples. It is clear on what he wants to write in the 21 chapters of the book. Therefore, what John is saying in John 1:1 is telling the world the ultimate things about Jesus and what he had seen in three years.
Literary devices in John 1:1
The book of John is an account of the life of Jesus. And although the verse seems short, it does have some significant literary devices. The examples are given below.
Chiasmus – In the verse John 1:1, as the chapter begins, the third part of the verse mirrors the first part.
Metaphor – Here, the ‘Word’ in ‘the Word was God’ is a good example of metaphor as God is compared to a spoken word that the readers see and read in the Bible. A few scholars also compare ‘Jesus’ with ‘The Word. For example, ‘The word was with God’.
Imagery – No one can figure out God’s physical attributes and the beginning of the earth or life. For Christians, The Bible is known as the Word of God, and God created the universe through his Word. Thus, this verse is also a good example of imagery. For example, ‘In the beginning was the Word‘.
Repetition – In John 1:1, the phrase ‘The Word’ is repeated three times to emphasize God as an authority, and creator and also establishes the authenticity of the Torah as well as the Bible as His spoken Word
Alliteration – The verse also has good use of alliteration in spite of being written as a letter or an epistle. For example, the sounds of /w/ in ‘and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’.
Consonance – John 1:1 also has also a good use of consonance. For example, the sound of /d/ is repeated in ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God‘.