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John 1:1-3 (NASB) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

In arguing against the trinity doctrine there is the controversy about the indefinite article (a) in vs 1. If it should say "the Word was a god" in vs 1 would the wording "apart from him" in vs 3 mean that the Word was the only creation formed directly by one other than the Word i.e. Almighty God?

Or is it saying that without the Word nothing at all would have been created?

I am seeking a parsing of the original text to show how the phrase "apart from Him" is to be understood.

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The Greek text of Jοhn 1:3 states,

Γʹ πάντα δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν ὃ γέγονεν

which may be translated into English as,

3 Everything was made by means of him, and without him, not even one thing that was made was made.

First, we note that «πάντα δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο» (1:3a) is parallel to «ὁ κόσμος δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο» (“the world was made by means of him”) (1:10b). Thus, πάντα, being equivalent to ὁ κόσμος, represents absolutely everything created. In the first clause, the author states that absolutely everything (i.e., everything created) came into existence (“was made”) by means of the Word. This precludes the Word from being a creation, for the Word that (hypothetically) did not yet exist could not have created itself.

The second clause emphasizes the first clause and absolutely precludes the possibility that there was something made that was not made (i.e., came into existence, created) by means of the Word.

The preposition χωρίς is commonly followed by a substantive (i.e., pronoun, noun) declined in the genitive and means “absent” in the sense of “in the absence of; without.”1 For example, «χωρὶς ἡμῶν ἐβασιλεύσατε»—“You reigned without us.”2 The preposition χωρίς can also mean “besides” (as in “excluding, except”), but such a translation would be nonsensical in John 1:3:

3 Everything was made by means of him, and besides him, not even one thing that was made was made.

In order for the Arian belief to be derived from John 1:3, we might expect the Greek text to have stated,

Γʹ οὗτος μόνος ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐγένετο καὶ τὰ ἑτέρα διὰ τούτου ἐγένετο.

which may be translated into English as,

3 He alone was made by God, and the other things were made by means of him.

In summary, χωρὶς αὐτοῦ in John 1:3b emphasizes that the Word is not reckoned among the creation. That is, the Word is the Creator. It in no way supports the Arian belief that the Word was the first thing created by which everything else was created.


References

Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry.Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.

Footnotes

1 Thayer, p. 675, χωρὶς, 2
2 1 Cor. 4:8
3 Thayer, p. 675, χωρὶς, 3; cp. Matt. 14:21, 15:38; 2 Cor. 11:28

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As a former JW, I would suggest connecting the passage in John 1 with Colossians 1 - Without Him... The NWT added a word into that text in several places - "other." There is no documentary evidence for such an insert, but it does neatly support the teaching. Apart from that, I would strongly suggest to take a good look at the possible use of the word "divine" at the end of John 1:1 - "And the Word was Divine..." Several scholars have made some good arguments (Wuest, Barclay and others). The reference is to the quality of the Word, rather than the identity of the Word.

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"John 1:1-3 (NASB) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

Think of it this way, when God created the heavens and the earth He did it by speaking Words and it was done. God also "gave" His Word to save mankind, He promised by speaking Words. Christ became God's Word in human flesh to save us.

God's first Word spoken out loud was ALIVE and did as God's mind instructed and created everything with the power of the Holy Spirit. Think of how we are as humans and how we speak words to communicate and to direct actions. For instance if you hold your hand in front of your mouth and say the word "horse" you can feel the breath of that word but you cannot produce a horse from it. If God speaks with the intent of creating His Word produces a horse! And now Christ as the resurrected Son of God still remains His Word.

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  • Indeed, John is pointing out that every creative act in Genesis 1 begins with "Let there be..." - God's utterance. – Ruminator Sep 12 '17 at 13:57

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