The opening verses of John’s gospel
are perhaps the most theologically packed writings in all the Bible:
“In the beginning
was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning”
These words and the concepts they express form the foundation
for John’s entire gospel, which was written
to prove that
Jesus Christ is God’s incarnate Son.
The term translated “Word” is Logos in the Greek language.
John uses it here as an unmistakable
reference to Jesus Christ.
The Hebrews often referred to
God in terms of His powerful word
(Psalm 33:6; 107:20).
With a few simple statements, John declares that Jesus, like His Heavenly Father,
has always existed since the beginning of time.
Jesus was with God in the beginning
because He is God,
always has been.
Right out of the gate,
John presents the doctrine of the deity of Christ and
affirms His co-eternal nature with God as
Creator of the universe
(John 1:3). To his first-century, Greek-speaking audience, John communicates straightforward truths that don’t require explanation.
But for current-day Bible readers, the expression the Word was with God hides a vital truth about the relationship
between God and Jesus.
No single English equivalent exists to better express the full meaning of the word with in the phrase.
In English, we typically understand the preposition
with to mean “near” or “beside.”
But the original Greek term
expresses a living, active union in the closest, most intimate sense.
When John said,
"The Word was with God,”
he meant that the divine Word—Jesus Christ—was not only
present alongside God from all eternity
but was in a living, dynamic, co-equal
relationship of close
communion with Him.
The Holman New Testament Commentary explains,
"The Greek word is pros which literally means ‘toward,’
implying a face-to-face relationship”
(Gangel, K., Broadman & Holman, 2000, Vol. 4, p. 9).
The relationship between God and Jesus is eternal and intimately personal.
The works of Christ are the works of God.
The words of Jesus are the words of His heavenly Father.
Because they are one,
Jesus reveals the
heart and mind of God
The author of Hebrews explains:
“In these last days he [God the Father] has spoken to us
by his Son,
whom he appointed the heir of all things,
through whom also he created the world.
He is the radiance of the glory of God
and the exact imprint of his nature,
and he upholds the universe by the word of his power”
(Hebrews 1:2–3, ESV).
Jesus, who is the Word, was with God in every sense of the word.
Not only is Christ the image of the invisible God
(2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15),
He and the Father
one nature and essence
Jesus prayed for His followers to share in this
same inseparable, face-to-face union:
:I pray that they will all be one,
just as you and I are one—as you are in me,
Father, and I am in you.
And may they be in us so that the world
will believe you sent me.
I have given them the
glory you gave me,
so they may be one as
we are one”
(John 17:21–22, NLT).
When Jesus said,
“Before Abraham was born, I am!”
(John 8:58), He was claiming to be God. There was no doubt among the Jewish people that these words were a declaration of deity,
for they reacted by picking up rocks to stone
Jesus for blasphemy according to Mosaic Law
English readers may have to dig under the surface to understand
the apostle’s statement that “the Word was with God”
expresses the deity of Jesus Christ and His inseparable
oneness with God the Father.
But in John’s first epistle, his meaning couldn’t be more evident:
“And we know that the Son of God has come,
and he has given us understanding
so that we can
know the true God.
And we can have fellowship with the
one true God because we have fellowship
with Jesus Christ
He is the only true God, and he is eternal life”
(1 John 5:20, NLT).
The opening verses of John’s Gospel introduce us to
Jesus Christ as the incarnation of God.
John wants his readers to know that Jesus is
fully God in human form.
John then reveals the purpose of
God coming to earth as a human:
“In him was life,
and that life
was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has
not overcome it”
Jesus Christ came to bring the
light of God’s life
into a spiritually dark and dying world.
the creation of light was God’s
first creative move
In the process of generating life,
was God’s initial instrument
for illuminating the dark and
It was the inaugural instance of
in the darkness.
When John spoke of the
he was echoing the creation account.
Scripture tells us over and again that God is the
source of life and light:
"For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see”
Psalm 36:9, NLT; see also Acts 17:28; Psalm 27:1).
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all”
(1 John 1:5).
Jesus Christ is God’s light
sent down to earth to pierce through the darkness.
That light is God’s life,
both physical and eternal.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25; see also John 14:6).
The life within Christ is the life of God: “
For as the Father has life in himself,
so he has granted the Son also to have
life in himself”
The Bible tells us that the life of Christ serves as a light to all people.
That life is the light of truth—the message of Christ’s salvation and eternal life with God:
“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son”
(1 John 5:11).
The brilliance of Christ’s life and truth
shine like a light
into the darkness of this world.
In the New Testament, light and darkness are
common symbols of good and evil.
It’s clear that light in John 1:5 represents life,
eternal life with God in His heavenly kingdom.
Darkness is the absence of light—the lack of God.
It represents the power of evil, sin, and unbelief
in this world,
all of which lead to eternal death
(John 3:19; Job 10:22; 38:15; 1 Samuel 2:9).
John continues to focus on the theme of light and darkness throughout his gospel.
In John 8:12, Jesus proclaims to the people,
"I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life”
John 1:5 says the darkness “has not overcome”
the light because evil cannot overpower
who states, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness”
Jesus declared that those who
believe in the light
become sons and daughters
of the light:
"Put your trust in the light while there is
then you will
become children of the light”
(John 12:36, NLT).
According to the apostle Paul, Christians have passed from darkness into light:
“For once you were full of darkness, but
now you have light from the Lord.
So live as people of light!”
(Ephesians 5:8, NLT).
By loving one another, believers shine light into the darkness: “
Yet I am writing you a new command;
its truth is seen in him and in you,
because the darkness is passing and the
is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates a brother or sister is
still in the darkness.
Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light,
and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.
But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness.
They do not know where they are going,
darkness has blinded them”
(1 John 2:8–11).
The nature of light is to shine,
and darkness cannot exist in the presence of light.
Just as a bright street lamp
discourages criminal mischief
so the light of Christ dispels
of sin in the world.
Just as the first rays of dawn pierce the blackness of night,
God’s light and truth carry
to darkened hearts.
The light shines in the darkness means
has come into the world,
bringing the good news of God’s salvation to every person.
As Isaiah foretold,
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).
The life of Jesus,
which is the life of the Creator God Himself,
is the light of the world.
No power of darkness can defeat or snuff
out this light
(Matthew 16:18; John 16:33).
Jesus is the giver of life and bearer of light.
The Son of God continues to shine
His light to humankind through His church,
the body of Christ
Whoever believes in Him receives eternal life
(John 3:15; see also Psalm 112:4).