“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made.”
–Yochanan (John) 1:1-3
Some would read this and think this is all there is to this Scripture…but you MUST read on:
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn’t overcome it. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was Yochanan (John). The same came as a witness, that he might testify about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light. The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own, and those who were his own didn’t receive him. But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of YHWH. The Word became flesh, and lived among us (Emmanuel). We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. Yochanan (John) testified about him. He cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me, for he was before me.’” From his fullness we all received grace upon grace. For the Torah was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Yeshua the Messiah. No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has declared him.”
–Yochanan (John) 1:4-18
First, we focus on the term Word. “In the beginning was the Word.” The most important thing to know about this Word is found in verse 14: “The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Word refers to Yahushua Messiah.
John knows what he’s about to write in these 21 chapters. He is going to tell us the story of what Yahushua did and what he taught. This is a book about the life and work of the man Yahushua—the man that John knew and saw and heard and touched with his hands (1 John 1:1). He had flesh and blood. He was not a ghost or an apparition appearing and vanishing. He ate and drank and got tired, and John knew him very closely. Yahushua’s mother lived with John in the last part of her life (John 19:26).
Therefore, what John is doing in John 1:1–3 is telling us the most ultimate things about Yahushua that he can. It took John more than three years to figure out the fullness of who Yahushua was. But he does not want his readers to take more than three verses to find out what took him so long to know. He wants us to have in our minds, fixed and clear, from the beginning of his Gospel, the eternal majesty and deity and Creator rights of Yahushua.
Yahushua in His Infinite Majesty
That’s the point of verses 1–3. He means for us to read this Gospel worshipfully, humbly, submissively, awestruck that the man at the wedding and at the well and on the mountain is Creator of the universe. Do you see this and feel this? This is the structure of the book. This is the way John wrote—the way YHWH meant for him to put it together. You or I might have written it in a way that subtly lets Yahushua’s identity grow on the readers so that they wonder, Who is this man?
But John says no. “In the very first words out of the end of my pen, I will stun you and blow you away with the identity of this man who became flesh and dwelt among us. So there is no mistaking.” John means for us to read every word of this Gospel with the clear, solid, amazed knowledge that YAHushua was with YHWH and was YHWH and that the one who laid down his life for us (John 15:13) created the universe. John wants you to know and believe in a magnificent Savior. Whatever else you may enjoy about YHWH, John wants you to know and treasure YHWH in his infinite majesty.
But still we should ask, Why did he choose to call Yahushua “the Word”? “In the beginning was the Word.” John calls Yahushua the Word because he had come to see the words and the person of Yahushua as the truth of YHWH in such a unified way that Yahushua Himself—in his coming, and working, and teaching, and dying and rising—was the final and decisive Message of YHWH. Or to put it more simply: What YHWH had to say to us was not only or mainly what Yahushua said, but who Yahushua was and what He did. His words clarified Himself and His work. But His self and His work were the main truth YHWH was revealing. “I am the truth,” Yahushua said (John 14:6).
He came to witness to the truth (John 18:37) and he was the truth (John 14:6). His witness and His person were the Word of truth. He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31), and He said, “Abide in me” (John 15:7). When we abide in Him we are abiding in the Word. He said that His works were a “witness” about Him (John 5:36; 10:25). In other words, in His working He was the Word.
In Revelation 19:13 (by the same author as the Gospel), he describes Yahushua’s glorious return: “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of YHWH.” Yahushua is called The Word of YHWH, as He returns to earth. Two verses later John says, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword” (Revelation 19:15). In other words, Yahushua strikes the nations in the power of the Word of YHWH that He speaks—the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). But the power of this Word is so united with Yahushua Himself that John says that He doesn’t just have a sword of YHWH’s Word coming out of His mouth, but He is the Word of YHWH.
So as John begins his Gospel, he has in view all the revelation, all the truth, all the witness, all the glory, all the light, all the words that come out of Yahushua in his living and teaching and dying and rising, and he sums up all that revelation of YHWH with the name: He is “the Word”—the first, final, ultimate, decisive, absolutely true and reliable Word. The meaning is the same as Hebrews 1:1–2: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, YHWH spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” The Son of YHWH incarnate is YHWH’s climactic and decisive Word to the world.
Now what does John want to tell us first about this man Yahushua whose deeds and words fill the pages of this Gospel? He wants to tell us four things about Yahushua:
- the time of His existence
- the essence of His identity
- His relationship to God
- His relationship to the world.
1) The Time of His Existence
Verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word.” The words “in the beginning” are identical in Greek to the first two words in the Greek Old Testament: “In the beginning YHWH created the heavens and the earth.” That’s not an accident, because the first thing John is going to tell us about what Yahushua did is that He created the universe. That’s what he says in verse 3. So the words “in the beginning” mean: Before there was any created matter, there was the Word, the Son of YHWH.
Remember: “These are written so that you may believe that Yahushua is the Messiah, the Son of YHWH” (John 20:31). John begins his Gospel by locating Yahushua , the Messiah, the Son of YHWH, in relation to time, namely, before time. Jude exults in this truth with his great doxology: “To the only Elohim, our Savior, through Yahushua our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:25). Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:9 that YHWH gave us grace in Messiah Yahushua “before the times of the ages.” So before there was any time or any matter, there was the Word, Yahushua , the Son of YHWH. That is who we will meet in this Gospel.
2) The Essence of His Identity
Verse 1, at the end: “The Word was YHWH.” One of the marks of this Gospel is that the weightiest doctrines are often delivered in the simplest words. This could not get simpler…and it could not get weightier. The Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us, Yahushua , was and is YHWH.
Let this be known loud and clear that at Bethlehem—indeed, at all true Christian churches—we worship Yahushua as YHWH. We fall down with Thomas before Yahushua in John 20:28 and confess with joy and wonder, “My Adonai and my Elohim!”
When we hear the Jewish leaders say in John 10:33, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself YHWH,” we cry out, “No, this is not blasphemy. This is He who is our Savior, our Adonai, our Elohim.”
Do you see what this means when you study the Gospel of John? It means that you are going to spend week after week getting to know YHWH, as you get to know Yahushua. Do you want to know YHWH? Invite others, to “come and meet YHWH as we meet Yahushua”.
If a Jehovah’s Witness or a Muslim or anyone who believes in the false doctrine of men ever says to you: “This is mistranslated…it should not read, ‘The Word was God.’ It should read, ‘The Word was a god.’”
There is a way right here from the context that you can know that’s wrong even if you don’t know Greek. I’ll show it to you in just a moment in the last point. But first, let’s look at His relationship to YHWH.
3) His Relationship to YHWH
Verse 1, the middle of the verse: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the heart of the great historic doctrine of the “oneness” of YHWH (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Let this straightforward statement stand in your mind and sink into your heart: The Word, Yahushua was with YHWH, and He was YHWH. He is YHWH, and the Word has a special relationship with YHWH.
He/It is YHWH, and He/It is the image of YHWH.
YHWH’s heart, mind, will, and emotions…was all perfectly reflected as that which YHWH is and standing forth from all eternity as the fullness of deity in the flesh of a man.
Since we see in a mirror dimly and we know only in partial ways (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12), do not be surprised that this remains to us a mystery. But don’t throw it away. If Yahushua is not YHWH, He could not accomplish your salvation (Hebrews 2:14–15). And His glory would not be sufficient to satisfy your everlasting longing for new discoveries of beauty. If you throw away the deity of Yahushua, you throw away your soul and with it all your joy in the age to come.
So we have seen 1) the time of His existence (before all time), 2) the essence of His identity (“the Word was God”), and 3) His relationship to YHWH (“the Word was with YHWH”). And now to close with His relationship to the world.
4) His Relationship to the World
Verses 2–3: “He was in the beginning with YHWH. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14, Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23), taught us, healed us, rebuked us, protected us, loved us, and died for us is He who created the universe. Remember to retain the mystery of the “oneness” of YHWH from verse 1. Don’t leave it as soon as you get to verse 3. “All things were made through him.” Yes, YHWH works through His Word. But the Word is God. Therefore, don’t let yourself diminish the majesty of the work of Yahushua as Creator. The Word was and is the Father’s manifestation (the expression of the mind, will and emotion of YHWH) in the creation of all things. In creating it, He was God. Your Savior, your Adonai, your King, your Friend—Messiah Yahushua, is your Maker.
Yahushua Was Not Made
Now, suppose a Muslim or a Jehovah’s Witness or someone from any brand of Arianism (the ancient heresy from the fourth century) says, “Yahushua was not YHWH, was not eternal but rather Yahushua was created. He was the first of creation. The highest of the high angels.” Or as the Arians said it, “There was when he was not.” John has written verse 3 precisely in a way that makes that impossible.
He did not just say, “All things were made through him.” You might think that is enough to settle it. He is not a creature; He created creatures. But someone could conceivably say, “Yes, but ‘all things’ does not include Himself.” It includes everything but Himself. So He was created by the Father, but then with the Father created all other things.
But John did not leave it at that. He said, in addition (the last part of verse 3), “. . .Without him, nothing was made that has been made.” What do the final words “that has been made” add to the meaning of “without him nothing was made”? They add this: They make explicit and emphatic and crystal clear that anything in the category of made, Yahushua made it. Therefore, Yahushua was not made. Because before you exist, you can’t bring yourself into being.
Yahushua was not made. That is what it means to be YHWH.
And the Word was YHWH.
May YHWH help us to see His glory. And worship Him. Amen, and Shalom.