If you find yourself fortunate enough to study biblical Greek (like our Agape Christi upperclassmen), you will inevitably encounter this foundational verse: John 1:1. It reads, “Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.” Or to put it in the English tongue, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” This remarkably precise statement is the cornerstone of John’s gospel. It illuminates all rationality and shatters the man-made molds of understanding.
In the current advent season, we would be remiss to stop at John 1:1 and go no further. John 1:14 sings at its highest pitch as we celebrate the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. But it would be equally dull of us to approach John 1:14 with a lite rendering of John 1:1 as our framework. So here are a few truths to stir your affections for the Word:
1. The Word has no beginning. We really don’t have a category for this truth. We exist in time and space and are subject to them. The Word created time and space. There was never a moment (as we would call it) where He didn’t exist in His fullness. It is easy to get sloppy with our thinking and give credence to God (the Father) being eternal, but then treat the Word as coming after God in the mystery of eternity past. Perish the thought; the Word has an equal eternality with God, for He was always with Him. The Alexandrian saint Cyril elaborates, “The generation of the [Word] did not precede his existence, but he existed eternally, and eternally existed by generation.”
2. The Word was with God. The word πρός (with) is much more powerful than what our English understanding will grant us. The Word is not just in proximity to God, but there is also great intimacy between the Word and God. The Word is bent towards God and God towards Him. Certainly, this Word is not just another eternal being with a separate will. He was “in the bosom of the Father” and their fellowship was full and inseparable.
3. The Word was fully God. The Word is not a lesser version of God the Father. He is a separate person of the same substance. Everything that God the Father is, the Word is. Athanasius gives a tangible analogy when he writes, “As the stream which is born of the fountain, and not separated from it, though there are two forms and names… As the fountain is not the stream, nor the stream the fountain, but the two are one and the same water which flows from the fountain into the stream; so the Godhead pours itself, without division, from the Father into the Son.” The Word is on equal footing with the Father. The Word is “very God of very God.”
We will not fully grasp the incarnation of the Word of God on this side of eternity. But may this One in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” be worshiped accordingly. And may His infinite condescension “to save his people from their sins” make our hope all the more sure!
Mr. Erickson teaches Introductory Greek to 4th-9th graders at Agape Christi Academy, as well as history, Bible, and literature.