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John states the word was "with" God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with (πρὸς) God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with (πρὸς) God. (John 1:1-2 ESV)

As used after the Prologue, πρὸς is a preposition of direction [pros]:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward (πρὸς) him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

The preposition μετά also means with:

This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with (μετ’) him.” (John 3:2)

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with (μεθ) us). (Matthew 1:23)

What difference does John's use of with "πρὸς" rather than with "μετά" convey?

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The wording in John 1:1 and in John 1:2 is προς τον θεον, where the words following the preposition are in the accusative case. This is the wording of the TR [Stephens 1550 and Scrivener 1881] and I am not aware that they are disputed by any reputable variant.

I am quoting from Daniel B Wallace in Beyond the Basics, the Greek Grammar written for 'intermediate and advanced' Greek students :

The preposition [pros] occurs only once with genitive and only six times with dative [in the Greek scriptures], but almost 700 times with the accusative.

He then lists six meanings associated with the preposition when followed by the accusative :

  • Purpose - for, for the purpose of
  • Spatial - toward
  • Temporal - toward, for (duration)
  • Result - so that, with the result that
  • Opposition - against
  • Association - with, in company with (with stative verbs)

Wallace has the following listing for μετα :

With Genitive :

  • Association/Accompaniment - with, in company with
  • Spatial - with among
  • Manner - with

With Accusative :

  • Temporal - after, behind
  • Spatial (rare) - after, behind

The question of what should be understood by John's choice of προς rather than μετα is one that would require expert consideration given that Daniel B Wallace himself does not distinguish in the above definitions.

The stated meanings, in this advanced textbook, of the two prepositions (in regard to the specific meaning of association) are identical :

with, in company with

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When the authors of the New Testament refer to God, it's almost exclusively with respect to the Father. As such, when the Prologue of John's Gospel begins by introducing two figures, "The Word," and "God" (ho theos) the correct assumption is that "God" has the referent, "the Father" as it normatively does (with a few exceptions, of course, most of them famous and well known).

From this we can evaluate further statements such as, "and the Word was..."

Namely, the words ho theos, said with respect to the Father, are directly equivalent to our standard English noun "God" (with an upper case G, importantly — since this does change the meaning in English, whereas in Greek, such a distinction is here denoted by the definite article). Yet the word theos in kai theos en o logos denotes the fundamental naturr of "the Word" by the use of an anarthrous (or article-less) construction whereby a noun, denoting the fundamental identity (theos) or essence of the noun, is followed by a 'to be' verb (en), followed by the noun in question (ho logos).

The thrust of John 1:1c (or the third clause of John 1:1) is, then, "and the Word was [himself] God." This is also compounded by the next verse, said as though implying the expectation the reader will think, 'He's God too?:' "the same [Word] was in the beginning with God: all things were made by [or through] Him, and without Him was made nothing made" (John 1:2-3).

An analogy would be if we changed the noun theos ("God/god") for anthropos ("man") — kai anthropos en o logos. This would mean not, "and a man was the Word," but rather, "and the Word was man." — that is, as if we had said in the first clause, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with The Man, and the Word was man."

In both this example, and the real text of John, the fundamental essence of the Word is being denoted in the most secure and direct way possible — by direct equation using an unmistakable construction in Greek (where word order often denotes the importance of the concept or linguistic unit — here, the identity of the Word as specifically God [by nature]).

The question of two persons with the nature of "Theos" is not a question of Greek grammar, but of theology, and whether One who is God can be with another who is God. Traditional Christianity, as well as explicit passages in the New Testament, tell us that the Greek-speaking Apostles thought as much was certainly possible.

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  • Very good answer, +1.
    – Dottard
    Aug 5 at 21:56
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In short, I would say that πρὸς and μετά are nearly synonymous in the contexts of Matthew 1:23 and John 1:1-2, respectively, but that the scope of each word is much wider in general. I try to provide some detail below.


μετά

μετά followed by the genitive case (as in Matthew 1:23) means "with" in the sense of among or in the company of. Matthew 1:23 might have just as well been translated God among us.

μετά followed by the accusative case means "after" with respect to place or time, although the former is not found in the Greek Bible (New Testament plus Septuagint). An example of the latter is Matthew 17:1:

Καὶ μεθʼ ἡμέρας ἓξ παραλαμβάνει ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὸν Πέτρον καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναφέρει αὐτοὺς εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν κατʼ ἰδίαν·

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart.


πρὸς

The meaning of πρὸς also depends on what case follows it.

πρὸς followed by the genitive means something like for the benefit of or to the advantage of. An example would be Acts 27:34:

διὸ παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς μεταλαβεῖν τροφῆς· τοῦτο γὰρ πρὸς τῆς ὑμετέρας σωτηρίας ὑπάρχει· οὐδενὸς γὰρ ὑμῶν θρὶξ ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς πεσεῖται.

Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.

πρὸς with the dative can convey proximity to something (e.g. "near", "by", "at", "around") as well as "in addition to". The latter usage appears only in the Septuagint; for example:

2 Maccabees 4:9

πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ὑπισχνεῖτο καὶ ἕτερα διαγράφειν πεντήκοντα πρὸς τοῖς ἑκατόν, ἐὰν ἐπιχωρηθῇ διὰ τῆς ἐξουσίας αὐτοῦ γυμνάσιον καὶ ἐφηβεῖον αὐτῷ συστήσασθαι καὶ τοὺς ἐν Ιεροσολύμοις Ἀντιοχεῖς ἀναγράψαι.

In addition to this he promised to pay one hundred and fifty more if permission were given to establish by his authority a gymnasium and a body of youth for it, and to enrol the men of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch.

An example of the former usage would be Mark 5:11:

ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ ἀγέλη χοίρων μεγάλη βοσκομένη πρὸς τῷ ὄρει·

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains.

πρὸς with the accusative is much more complex. John 1:1-2 is an example of a usage that is (to your point) nearly synonymous with μετά followed by the accusative, but perhaps denoting a higher level of connection. Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature enumerates five other usages of πρὸς with the accusative that occur in the New Testament:

  • towards something; e.g. Mark 1:33:

καὶ ἐπιγνοὺς ὅτι ἐκ τῆς ἐξουσίας Ἡρώδου ἐστὶν, ἀνέπεμψεν αὐτὸν πρὸς Ἡρώδην, ὄντα καὶ αὐτὸν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐν ταύταις ταῖς ἡμέραις.

And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

  • relating to time; e.g. Luke 8:13:

οἱ δὲ ἐπὶ τῆς πέτρας οἳ, ὅταν ἀκούσωσι, μετὰ χαρᾶς δέχονται τὸν λόγον, καὶ οὗτοι ῥίζαν οὐκ ἔχουσιν, οἳ πρὸς καιρὸν πιστεύουσι, καὶ ἐν καιρῷ πειρασμοῦ ἀφίστανται.

But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.

  • relating to purpose or goal; e.g. Acts 3:10:

ἐπεγίνωσκόν τε αὐτὸν ὅτι οὗτος ἦν ὁ πρὸς τὴν ἐλεημοσύνην καθήμενος ἐπὶ τῇ Ὡραίᾳ πύλῃ τοῦ ἱεροῦ· καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν θάμβους καὶ ἐκστάσεως ἐπὶ τῷ συμβεβηκότι αὐτῷ.

Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

  • denoting a hostile or friendly relationship; e.g Ephesians 6:12:

ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς ἀρχάς, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας, πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

  • to indicate a connection; e.g. 2 Corinthians 4:2:

ἀλλʼ ἀπειπάμεθα τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης, μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας συνιστώντες ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ.

But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

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  • Well researched--thank you! Seems like this word in Greek is as flexible as the English word "up," as in "up a river," put up with," free up," "upstart," and an "upright citizen who's downright honest."
    – Dieter
    Jan 30 '18 at 4:11
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There is a common argument for taking the Greek λόγος at John 1:1 as referring to a quality of God and not a personal being “with” God.

Anthony Buzzard popularized one such argument in his translation of the NT. He appeals to the phrase “ta pros ton theon”

The same Greek word pros (with) occurs in the phrase “the things concerning God,” ta pros ton theon.”[a]

Well, the word “ta” (τα) does mean “things” which is exactly what is missing from John 1:1!

BDAG points out that the when προς τον θεον is used with εἶναι (to be) it means “in company with.” [b] At John 1:1 ην, a form of the same verb precedes the phrase.

Some, including Buzzard, also attempt to look for English words rendered “with” in OT passages that are not even rendered as προς in the LXX.

When actual Greek syntax is considered, J 1:1 is secure as referring to another being with God.


[a] The same Greek word pros (with) occurs in the phrase “the things concerning God,” ta pros ton theon. Thus “the word” reflects the heart of God’s thinking, His concern. The Aramaic word memra (word) was used by Jews as expressing likewise the activity and wisdom of God. John naturally reflects his Jewish background, as does the whole NT. BBE has “This Word was from the first in relation with God.” Note Thayer’s Lexicon: “things respecting, pertaining to God” (Rom. 15:17; Heb. 2:17, 5:1). Philo speaks of three kinds of life, one of which is “pros theon,” related to God, characteristic of God (Quis rer. div. haer. 9, International Critical Commentary, John, Vol. 1, p. cxli).

[b] BDAG προς. g. by, at, near πρός τινα εἶναι be (in company) with someone Mt 13:56; Mk 6:3; 9:19a; 14:49; Lk 9:41; J 1:1f; 1 Th 3:4; 2 Th 2:5; 3:10; 1J 1:2. διαμένειν Ac 10:48 D; Gal 2:5b. ἐπιμένειν 1:18; 1 Cor 16:7. παραμένειν 16:6 (v.l. κατα-). μένειν Ac 18:3 D. παρεῖναι 12:20; 2 Cor 11:9; Gal 4:18, 20; cp. παρουσία πρὸς ὑμᾶς Phil 1:26. παρεπιδημεῖν 1 Cl 1:2. ἐποίησεν τρεῖς μῆνας πρὸς τὴν Ἐλισάβεδ GJs 12:3. πρὸς σὲ ποιῶ τὸ πάσχα Mt 26:18b. Cp. also 2 Cor 1:12; 7:12; 12:21; 2 Th 3:1; Phlm 13; 1J 2:1; Hm 11:9b v.l.—πρὸς ἑαυτούς among or to themselves Mk 9:10 (in case πρὸς ἑ. belongs w. τὸν λόγον ἐκράτησαν; B-D-F §239, 1). πρὸς ἑαυτὸν προσηύχετο he uttered a prayer to himself Lk 18:11. Cp. 24:12. —δεδεμένον πρὸς θύραν tied at a door Mk 11:4. τὴν πᾶσαν σάρκα ἀνθρώπων πρὸς ἡδονὴν ἐδέσμευεν (Satan) bound all humankind to self-gratification AcPlCor 2:11. πρὸς τ. θάλασσαν by the seaside Mk 4:1b. On πρὸς τὸ φῶς at the fire Mk 14:54; Lk 22:56 s. B-D-F §239, 3; Rob. 625 (perh. w. the idea of turning toward the fire; s. also 4 Km 23:3). πρὸς ἓν τῶν ὀρέων at one of the mountains 1 Cl 10:7. τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν the place near the door Mk 2:2. πρὸς γράμμα letter by letter Hv 2, 1, 4.—On πρός τι terms s. PWouters, The Treatment of Relational Nouns in Ancient Grammar: Orbis 38, ’95, 149-78 (lit.). M-M. EDNT. TW. Sv.

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 The word is # 4314 (pros)

Strong's Concordance pros: advantageous for, at (denotes local proximity), toward (denotes motion toward a place) Original Word: πρός Part of Speech: Preposition Transliteration: pros Phonetic Spelling: (pros) Definition: advantageous for, at (denotes local proximity), toward (denotes motion toward a place) Usage: to, towards, with. HELPS Word-studies 4314 prós (a preposition) – properly, motion towards to "interface with" (literally, moving toward a goal or destination).

Toward is a better translation. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was toward God, and the Word was God Toward: In the direction of, along a course leading to.

That means the Word is toward God is heading in that direction towards His Goal. GOD

God declares the end from the beginning. God’s word that He has spoken going out and returning back towards Him.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. Romans 11:36

Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. 10I declare the end from the beginning, and ancient times from what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and all My good pleasure I will accomplish.

The Word took on a new form when it became flesh.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

This word was now called Christ where God is reconciling the world back to Himself in Christ.

God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ 2 Corinthians 5:19

Remember this is the Word that started at the beginning of creation and is still heading back toward God from where it originally started out of Him. It is still active accomplishing all it was sent out to do.

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 0and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:20

The end is stated in 1 Corinthians 15:24 -28

Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. 25For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For “God has put everything under His feet.” Now when it says that everything has been put under Him, this clearly does not include the One who put everything under Him. 28And when all things have been subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will be made subject to Him who put all things under Him, so that God may be all in all.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was toward God, and the Word was God

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  • With stative verbs, association is the concept of pros thus 'with' or 'in company with' is the meaning, See Daniel B Wallace Beyond the Basics p 380. (Not 'toward' which is a spatial concept, exclusively.)
    – Nigel J
    Aug 5 at 20:52
  • Nigel, I do not understand the Greek language like you do. I just rely on what I can see from sources like Bible hub and others that translate the Greek and Hebrew. I have seen other Bibles use the word towards and did not understand why until I did my own research.
    – Sherrie
    Aug 6 at 18:15
  • Thank you, Sherrie. I recommend Daniel Wallace's book because it really does go beyond the basics. Many people (and some of them publish books and websites) rely on elementary school-type knowledge of Greek which is quite sufficient to pass school exams but which is not adequate to accurately translate the apostolic writings inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. True, the vocabulary is remarkably unvaried, there is no literary excess, but the language is very concisely accurate, conveying spiritual concepts, and attention to the finer details of Koine Greek is most necessary. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 7 at 7:23
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Jesus brought the idea of the relationship between the words of a person and the heart of a person in the book of Luke 6:45. The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. The very words you speak are a part of you, they dwell in your heart (with you) and reveal what's in your heart (are you).

A person is not deemed righteous by their physical appearance in the eyes of God, but by their heart. The heart is the main part of a person, the rest work together to bring forth its content/substance.

If you want to know what is in the heart of God, look no further than Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, it's God's heart revealed to men.

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  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Aug 5 at 17:21
  • The above question relates to John 1:1 and the content of that specific text.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 5 at 21:06

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