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What does John mean by "The Word was θεός" at John 1:1? Does this mean he was "God," "god," "a god," or "divine"?

Should we assume that Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 are equated?

In one of the most celebrated passages in the Bible, John is clearly making an allusion to the Old Testament when he writes:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος) ((Jn 1). cf. Genesis 1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (KJV)

(בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ).

Looking at just the words ‘In the beginning’ in the Hebrew (בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית ba re'shiyth) we can derive the words ‘son’ (bar); ‘creating’ (bara). At first glance, this word (containing other words) seems seminal for John’s poetic, if not slightly cryptic prologue.

Of course, John reveals later “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14, KJV)—meaning Jesus.

But my question is basically how does John get to this? Is he just waxing lyrical or is he deriving his profound prologue from a deeper understanding of the Hebrew text of Genesis?

Sources

Aron Dotan et. al., Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2001).

Kurt Alland, et. al. The Greek New Testament, Third Edition (New York: United Bible Societies, 1975).

Holy Bible, King James Version (Camden: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1972).

12 Answers 12

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Just focusing on your question, "What does John mean by 'The Word was God?'” John is making the most categorical and concise statement found anywhere in scripture regarding the deity of Jesus - He is GOD. If you need a more detailed explanation on this I would recommend you read the the answers posted on the following thread.

"Why John 1:1 in (DRB)(Douay-Rheims Bible) is not literal translation from the Latin Vulgate?"

The meaning is revealed by the unusual construction of και θεος ην ο λογος. Here is what I mean.

The following are arguments by a professor of NT Greek given to me years ago whose name I no longer remember. Over the years, I have rewritten most of it to make the arguments more concise and easier to understand, but his arguments remain the same.

First, Koine Greek normally drops the article in a prepositional phrase. The absence of the article in a prepositional phrase is normal and doesn't mean anything. It is the INCLUSION of the article in a prepositional phrase as we see in this verse that is unusual and thus means something.

The prepositional phrase "εν αρχη" for example, does not contain an article, but is still properly translated "in the beginning." The prepositional phrase "προς τον θεον," however, does include the article (τον). Since it would have been grammatically proper not to include it, then the INCLSION of the article here means something. In general, the inclusion of an article in Greek when it is not expected means the writer is being specific. There are three things this could mean, depending on the construction:

a. It could mean that the Word was a LESSER god than the Father who is the τον θεον (the God) in the previous clause.

b. Or, it could mean that the Word was the Father.

c. Or, it could mean that the Word was fully God, but was NOT the same person as Father.

So, the question is this, how do we determine which is meant?

If John had written the clause: και ο λογος ην θεος, it would mean that "the Word was 'A' god." That is, the Word was a LESSER god than the Father. The reason is that since λογος is the subject and appears first, there is no grammatical reason to leave the article off of θεος, thus the absence of the article means something (since even if it was given the article, it would STILL be the predicate). Therefore, the absence of the article would mean "A" god. In other words, since the inclusion of the article would not change the grammatical function of θεος, the exclusion of the article must therefore change the MEANING of θεος.

The absence of the article in a position where the inclusion of the article would NOT change the word's grammatical function would tell us there is a difference in specificity: the λογος is not the same individual as the Father.

Further, if it does not have an article, the position of θεος at the end of the sentence would tell us there is a difference in emphasis (θεος is being “de-emphasized”): In such a construction, λογος would then be less of a god than the Father. Thus, "και ο λογος ην θεος" could ONLY mean "the Word was a god." BUT, John did NOT use this construction.

If John had written the clause: και ο λογος ην ο θεος, it would mean that "the Word was THE God." In other words, the Word was exactly the same person as the Father. This would mean only one person is being represented throughout the text, not two. The Father and the Son would then be nothing more than manifestations of the same person. They would not be separate individuals. It would mean here is one personality who simply appears at times in different forms. This would then lend support to the modalist argument. The inclusion of the article with θεος would make it specific and make θεος the subject: In such a construction, the λογος would be exactly the same individual as the Father (the exact same θεος just mentioned in the previous clause). Since both nouns have the article, θεος is grammatically locked into occurring after λογος. If it were moved in front of λογος, it would change its grammatical function, and become the subject. Thus, in this construction, the position of θεος would not mean anything. It MUST appear there. Thus, the clause "και ο λογος ην ο θεος" can only mean "Jesus was THE God (the exact same individual as the Father)." BUT, John did NOT use this construction.

By writing it as και θεος ην ο λογος, John does two critical and deliberate things. First, he leaves the article off of θεος, thus indicating that Word is NOT the same individual as the father. Second, he places θεος to the front of the clause which places extra emphasis on the Word. By doing that, John makes it clear by the increase in emphasis, that the absence of the article does NOT mean "lesser." Since the absence of the article does not mean "a lesser god," it leaves us with only one choice as to what is meant: The Word is not exactly the same individual as the "τον θεον" of the second clause, but every bit as much GOD as the "τον θεον" of the second clause. Thus, the absence of the article tells us that the θεος of the third clause is NOT the same individual as the τον θεον of the second clause. The position tells us that the absence of the article does NOT mean "lesser." By placing θεος in a position of emphasis, John is doing the equivalent of bolding it, underlining it, and adding an exclamation point: "The Word was God!"

Now we see why John included the article in the prepositional phrase "προς τον θεον." He was being very specific. The Word is WITH a SPECIFIC being called "The God" (τον θεον). In the next clause, John then lets us know that the Word was completely EQUAL with "The God" in divinity, but through the careful use of the articles John has clued us in that the Word is not the same individual as The God of the previous clause.

One of the objections raised to the divinity of Jesus is that λογος means “the mind, wisdom, intelligence, or plan of God” and nothing more. It is argued that λογος is not an individual but simply a way of describing the “mind” or “wisdom” of God (this was a common philosophy of the Gnostics). Thus, the λογος was not an individual, but simply the wisdom of God, not a “God” made flesh, but the wisdom of God or the mind of God made flesh. That means He did not exist prior to His birth (as God). Prior to his physical birth, this theory suggests that he was merely an idea, or a plan in the MIND of God and that IDEA became a man.

John's construction of this verse is so carefully crafted that it is often called the most concise theological statement ever made. In this one short verse, the Holy Spirit wrote through John a sentence that took me all of this time and space to explain. The Holy Spirit's deliberate use of grammar leaves us only ONE possible conclusion: Jesus is completely and totally God in every way that the Father is God, but Jesus is NOT the same individual as the Father.

If you would like to further investigate the arguments I have presented here, you can access the works of the renowned Dr. Jan Van der Watt on the Gospel of John at the following web address.

https://www.bsw.org/biblica/index-by-biblical-books/a-grammatical-analysis-of-john-1-1/525/article-p132.html

or at

http://www.scielo.org.za/pdf/stj/v4n2/15.pdf

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  • 3
    You are free to vote as you please Thomas. The text speaks for its self. – oldhermit May 8 at 19:39
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    There is nothing that needs to be "fixed" Thomas. John is quite adamant that the Word is GOD and no manipulation of the grammatical structure of the text will make it say anything different. Feel free to vote your conscience. Having said this, I think there is something I would like to add. – oldhermit May 8 at 20:52
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    Thank you @oldhermit - excellent material indeed and based entirely upon well-known grammar. There is another way to see the final sentence - as a category statement (without detracting from your excellent material above) +1 – Dottard May 9 at 0:57
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    I cannot find any use in Koine Greek where "ην θεος" means "a god." I'm afraid you used a canned argument without verification. Just because a Phd says something does not make it true or untrue. Blessings – Jesus Saves May 9 at 1:23
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    Gentlemen, I feel I have sufficiently defended this material. As Dottard pointed out, the arguments are "based entirely upon well-known grammar." If you disagree with the material, I would suggest you provide proper argumentation from the rules of Greek grammar to show where I am in error and be very clear about providing documentation for your arguments. – oldhermit May 9 at 1:40
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What does John mean by "the word was God" in John 1:1? You might also look to Proverbs 8 and 9. Here, "wisdom" which is personified as a being is considered the first act of God. This is God's wisdom, like his hand or his breath/spirit.

Proverbs 8:22-23, "The Lord acquired me [wisdom/chokmah/sophia] at the beginning of his work/path/way, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth."

Proverbs 8:29b-30a, "when [God] assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker;"

It is the case that the term for Logos (masculine noun) and Sophia (feminine noun) may be seen as synonymous (it is more complicated than just "synonymous"). John may have been conceiving of the wisdom principle manifested in masculine flesh as Christ.

Consider that John did not use the greek word for just "a word" (ῥῆμα) as in a word in a sentence or these words/concepts you are reading... He used the concept of Logos which can mean "rational principle" or "reason/wisdom." It's where we get the word for "logic" and for the scientific extension "-ology" as in biology and geology. It is far more complex than just "a word."

I recommend a read of Proverbs 8 and 9 together. You'll see that Wisdom's house is built on seven pillars (unnamed), and that John's Gospel is built on sevens (seven signs, seven "I am the..." statements, seven "I am (Ego Eimi)" statements, etc). Also, Proverbs 9:5-6 provides a template for the eucharist: "Come, eat of my [wisdom's] bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside foolishness, and live, and walk in the way of insight."

This feminine association with wisdom may also point back to the beginning where there was spirit/breath/wind (feminine) over the waters preceding creation. In this we could see that Christ is conceived by the wisdom/spirit principle and birthed from the waters since Mary/Miriam's name means "waters" or "water bearer".. It's where we get the latin word mare for "seas/waters." But then Christ's mother is never named in the gospel.

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  • Welcome to BHSE! Make sure you take our tour. Thanks – John Martin May 13 at 0:42
  • Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-45) You will notice He says nothing about Proverbs. – Revelation Lad Jul 1 at 7:06
  • @Gus L-Have often looked at the 8th chapter, at least, of Proverbs, when considering Jesus' importance with regard to the act of creating from the beginning, who seemingly was the personification of wisdom but never saw it the way you have perceived it. Thank you for this. You get my vote. – Olde English Jul 2 at 0:16
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What is at stake?

This is not directed at any anyone’s response in particular, it is just general information regarding the first question I ask “What does John mean by “the Word was God?”

How we read and interpret John’s prologue is influential to our understanding of God. Is he saying Christ IS God, or Christ is A God? (This is very important question, but ultimately my intent was to ask how John was influenced to write his prologue in this poetic fashion—I contend that his inspiration came from God yes of course, but particularly from Genesis 1—clearly “God breathed”). But perhaps this is a discussion for another time.

As for the first questions, I posit that Greek grammatical rules favor the notion that Christ is in fact God.

Daniel B. Wallace reminds us of Colwell’s construction as it applies to John 1:1: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. In the last part of the verse the clause καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, θεὸς is the predicate nominative. (A sentence typically has two parts: subject and predicate. ‘Subject’ is the noun of a sentence; ‘predicate’ is the verb part of a sentenc). θεὸς (God), is anarthrous (used without the article) and comes before the verb, therefore it fits Colwell’s construction, though it might not fit the rule (for the rule states that definiteness is determined or indicated by the context, not by the grammar). Whether it is indefinite, qualitative, or definite is the issue at hand.

As Wallace sums up:

"If θεὸς were indefinite, we could translate it “a god” (as done in the New World Translation). If so, the theological implication would be some form of polytheism, perhaps suggesting that the Word was merely a secondary god in a pantheon of deities. The grammatical argument that the predicate nominative [A predicate nominative is a noun that completes a linking verb and renames the subject and it only exists after a linking verb] here is indefinite is weak. Often, those who argue for such a view (such as in the NWT) do so on the sole basis that the term is anarthrous. However, the NWT translators are inconsistent in this application. Whereas if θεὸς were indefinite I John 1:1, it would be the only anathrous pre-verbal predicate nominative in John’s Gospel to be so. The indefinite notion is the most poorly attested for anarthrous pre-verbal predicate nominatives. Thus, grammatically, such a meaning is improbable. Also the context [the rules of hermeneutics remind us that the context of a word governs its meaning] suggests that such is not likely, for the Word already existed in the beginning. Thus, contextually and grammatically, it is highly improbable that the Logos could be “a god” according to John. Finally, the gospel writer’s own theology militates against this view, for there is an exalted Christology in the John’s gospel to the point that Christ is identified as God (cf. 5:23; 8:58; 10:30; 20:28, etc.)."

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  • +1 Good post, but you need to put the quotes from Wallace in quotes. I do not remember all of Wallace's comments on this but I do know that the last paragraph is from Wallace. – oldhermit May 9 at 16:22
  • Thank you... yes, some of it from me, but mostly from Wallace--but I will put the whole paragraph in quotes ... – David Anson May 9 at 16:36
  • Let me show you what I mean. I'll make the edit for you so you can see what it should look like. – oldhermit May 9 at 16:39
  • Excellent... thank you very much! – David Anson May 9 at 16:43
  • All you have to do is highlight the section you want in quotes and then click the quotation marks on your header and it will place that segment in a bar quote. – oldhermit May 9 at 16:52
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There is so much the bible says on this awesome topic, and i am not sure i can do it the justice it deserves in the way God has revealed it to me, but i will try! I wanted to add separate posts here because i am typing with one finger on an iphone, and wanted to save the post before i get timed out or it gets lost somehow, but the site forces me to edit my original post to add to it instead of allowing additions, so i will be adding to it, so check back

There is an expression we use called “giving our word” which means we are saying we promise, we vow to keep or do what we say. Keeping our word shows others we are honest, we can be counted on to do what we say. Our words help others to know our thoughts and intents. God's words are powerful with the ability to create from nothing. He simply speaks and it IS.

Genesis 1 says that God created the heavens and earth which was formless and void until God SPOKE to the formless void and darkness over the surface of the deep waters and created light. He SPOKE means He used WORDS, (or the WORD) which John says is Jesus. Jesus was not created, he was begotten. He often said “i and the Father are One” and John 1:1 echoes that in his gospel when he says the WORD was WITH God and the WORD WAS God. I will use bible references, Genesis 1 is below).

John says clearly in John 1:3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. Keep in mind also that John is referred to as the “disciple Jesus loved” and John often accompanied Jesus with a select few (Peter, James & John) to miracles and manifestations that the other disciples did not witness first hand. John also was given the book of Revelation, in which he says the name of Jesus is the word. Revelation 19:13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His NAME is called The Word of God . . . And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “king of kings, and lord of lords.”

Revelation 13:8 also refers to Jesus as the lamb that was slain BEFORE the foundation of the earth. We see in the bible that God is able to see the future before it happens. The apostle John says God IS Love, and 1Corinthians 13 the Love Chapter says Love never Fails! God is so awesome that it is impossible for Him to fail at anything. So he knew that some of the angels would rebel, and He knew that man would disobey, so even before man fell, even before the earth was created, God had already slain the lamb. How could that be? I am not sure but i know that it is because God’s word says so. Perhaps there was some precreation agreement with Jesus that they already knew all this and that the sacrifice had to be made in advance, perhaps because God is not limited to time as we know time, that He goes before us and sees the future, that He goes before time, and he and Jesus agreed that the Father would “give his WORD” his promise of a savior, and that Jesus would be The personification of that WORD, the WORD itself (since God speaks things into being, so Jesus agreed to be that human savior, and i feel they both saw into the future that Jesus would prevail in that call and be that perfect sacrifice.

I feel that The Father & Son agreed that the Savior needed to be a human being, so that humans would understand that Jesus loved us enough to humble himself to become human, and dependent upon the Father (also the WORD—remember the Father and Jesus are ONE and John says the WORD WAS God). Jesus was the savior and the forerunner the first fruits, the restorer of what Adam lost, Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises of God, the full manifestation of the character of God. When the disciples asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus replied (John 14:8)

8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.

Genesis 1 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was (good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

5/9/20 i will be adding more to this fascinating topic

Again God made all things through Christ (the WORD) Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

The WORD (Jesus) is also our spiritual weapons: The sword of the WORD as most people know, but also the Holy Spirit pointed out to me one day the WORD (Jesus) is also the shield of faith and the HELMET of salvation and the breastplate of Righteousness! I will back that up with scriptures. Ephesians 6:16-17 above all, taking the SHIELD of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God;

Psalm 18:2 He IS my SHIELD and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:30 He is a SHIELD for ALL Who take refuge IN Him

The shield of faith is the WORD: Faith come by hearing, hearing by the WORD Romans 10:17

Isaiah 59:17 For he put on RIGHTEOUSNESS as a BREASTPLATE, and an HELMET of SALVATION upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who BECAME for us wisdom from God—and RIGHTEOUSNESS and sanctification and redemption

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other NAME under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.** His NAME as Revelation 19:13 says IS the WORD!

Revelation says the over-comers prevailed “by the blood of the lamb and the WORD of their testimony” Our testimony is of the WORD of God, the WORD Himself, Jesus Christ.

So reading the word is not just a good idea for Christians, it is a NECESSITY for (1) life, (2) Victory, for (3) wisdom, Righteousness, sanctification and redemption for (4) safety, for (5)sustenance, (6) refreshment,for (7)joy and (8)satisfaction, our (9)forgiveness, our (10) cleansing and so much more!!! He is our all in all. (1)=Matthew 4:4 Man does not LIVE by bread alone but by EVERY WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God. (2)2 corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ (aka the WORD) (3) 1 Corinthians 1:30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who BECAME for us WISDOM from God—and RIGHTEOUSNESS and sanctification and redemption (4) psalm 91:2 He is my refuge (5)=John 6:35 Jesus said He is the BREAD of life (6)He quenches our deepest thirsts. Jesus said let all who thirst come to me -John 7:37 (7) John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my JOY may be in you, and that your joy may be FULL. (8)psalm 36:8 They shall be abundantly SATISFIED with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. (10) Jesus washes the bride with the WATER of the WORD Ephesians 5:26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the WORD

1 Corinthians 15:28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be ALL in ALL.

I feel that it is very possible that Jesus’s death also can also save fallen angels who are convinced of God’s love and repent. It does not mean that they will but possibly that it is offered to them.

Colossians 1:20 and by Him to reconcile ALL things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Ephesians 3:10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

So the salvation of Christ (the WORD) is powerful, hearing the WORD even produces faith! Faith come by hearing, hearing by the WORD Romans 10:17

So i believe our relationship with God is through the WORD and that salvation is more than a sinner’s prayer, it is a relationship with the WORD/Jesus Christ.

When the bible talks about being IN Christ it means being IN the WORD

abiding in the Vine (Jesus said he IS the vine) so it means again abiding in the WORD

Salvation by no other NAME: Revelation 19:13 says his NAME is the WORD!

We need salvation daily from a multitude of things: sickness, emotions & motivation that fluctuate, problems in our relationships, praying etc and there are answers in the WORD for all the help we need because it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to fail us! His love is unfailing! Thank you Jesus! All praise be to you Jesus! Psalm 107:8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Lastly since Jesus Christ IS the WORD, the ANTIChrist would be one OPPOSED to or in disagreement with the WORD. since Jesus said he IS the truth, the antichrist is a lie that does not line up with the word of God. The antiChrist will come as a false savior. A lie, an imposter.

That’s all i will say for now!! Great question and my favorite bible topic as you can see!! God bless!

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  • Welcome to BHSE! Make sure you take our tour. Thanks – John Martin May 13 at 0:45
  • Based on the bible, there is no Jesus creating anything as the 'word' prior to his birth. You basically say, 'in the beginning was Jesus' which is clearly mistaken. Apart from that, good post! – user48152 Jul 1 at 10:35
  • John 1:3: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” It's also echoed in Colossians 1:16 – VZ2020 Jul 2 at 11:29
  • @VZ2020 Seriously? All was made thru the word - NOT Jesus. It's not referring to Jesus UNTIL he is the 'word' made flesh (2000 yrs ago). Col is referring to the new church. You really should spend time understanding context before quoting 'proof-texts' which prove nothing on their own. It doesn't say, 'in he beginning was Jesus', for a reason. Let the text speak TO you instead of making it say what YOU want. All the best. – user48152 Jul 5 at 5:06
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Summary
The phrase "...the Word was God" is the transitional component in a literary structure of five "Word" statements which convey the meaning of, and are patterned after the spelling of יהוה (YHVH), the Hebrew Name of God. This literary device implies the Word was called as such or similar in the beginning. The Prologue then ends by saying He is now ὁ ὢν, the One who is.

"...the Word was God" also connects what was in the beginning with God to the final specific Logos statement, the Word became flesh... as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. Thus the meaning of θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος should not be understood apart from ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο. Which is to say, "the Word was God" by itself, is an incomplete construct.

The Word Which Was
It is unusual for ἦν ("was"), the imperfect indicative of the verb εἰμί "to be" to be used to say the Word was God, as this tense usually means in the past:

With reference to time, the imperfect is almost always past. (Note that since the imperfect only occurs in the indicative mood, this tense always grammaticalizes time.) However, occasionally it portrays time other than the past (e.g., the conative imperfect may have this force to it sometimes; also the imperfect in second class conditions connotes present time - but such is due more to the aspect than the element of the tense).1

When John begins with statements in the past tense like the Word was God and in Him was life he appears to conflict with the present tense Jesus used to describe God:

‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32, similar Mark 12:27, Luke 20:38) [ESV]

The fact the Word becomes flesh and so "is" could explain starting by placing an emphasis in the past. However, "in the beginning" points the reader back to the Old Testament beginning in Genesis (regardless of how this is to be applied to the Word) and evokes the Hebrew Scriptures. Since Hebrew lacks a word for the present tense of the verb "to be," by avoiding the present tense John actually begins by describing the Word as it should be in the Hebrew tongue.2

God in the Old Testament is also called by YHVH, the Tetragrammaton. The Name actually means "Being" or "Will Be" or even just "Is."3All of these are present in how John describes the Word:

  • The Word Is (in the beginning)
  • The Word's Being with God
  • The Word will be flesh

The only description which does not fit this scheme is the Word was God. However, the initial reading is affected by the Word became flesh and when understood as a unit creates the correct Old Testament tense:

...the Word who was God will be flesh

In addition to the proper tense, this summarizes the essential action of the Word: He will be sent and become flesh. This was His purpose and so, identity, from the beginning.

John not only employed the meaning of YHVH, he arranged all of the "Word" statements in a way which mirrored the Hebrew spelling of the Name:

Initial Reading:
Y In the beginning was the Word        י ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος
H The Word was with God                ה ὁ λόγος ἦν          πρὸς τὸν θεόν
V The Word was God                     ו θεὸς    ἦν ὁ λόγος
H This was in the beginning with God   ה οὗτος   ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ  πρὸς τὸν θεόν

Recognizing the repetition of the letter ה in the second and fourth position of the Name; John used the identical phrase πρὸς τὸν θεόν with the God in the second and fourth statements. At a minimum this arrangement implies the identity of the Word is similar to, if not also, YHVH.

Symbolically, the Word was God corresponds to "vav," the sixth letter of the alphabet whose numerical value is the number of man. Thus the initial reading of the Word was God symbolically affirms the next condition of the Word:

Y In the beginning was the Word        י ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος
H The Word was with God                ה ὁ λόγος ἦν          πρὸς τὸν θεόν
V The Word was God                     ו θεὸς    ἦν ὁ λόγος
H The Word became flesh                ה ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο 

Fundamentally the meaning of the Word was God must be subjected to the meaning of the Word became flesh. At a minimum θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος is not about what the Word was... (any more than it would be in what God was). Rather, just as Jesus said God is the God of the living, so the Word was God and will be flesh, ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο.

Many believe John used a chiastic arrangement to structure the Prologue. If so, then verse 18 is the idea corresponding to the first point in verses 1-2:

God no one has ever seen. The only-begotten God, the One who is, has Himself led out into the bosom of the Father4
θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο

The historical ending is in the New Testament where the Word, glorified and the only-begotten God is, the present tense ὢν. Thus the Word was God is a literary "bridge" which connects both the past tense mission of the Word, was sent to become flesh, and His present tense nature, the One Who Is, to that which was "in the beginning."

Final Understanding:
Y In the beginning was the Word        י ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος
H The Word was with God                ה ὁ λόγος ἦν          πρὸς τὸν θεόν
V The Word was God became flesh        ו θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο
H The One who Is                       ה μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν  

The "Vav"
The phrase θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος as symbolic of the letter vav takes on added significance when Hebrew grammar is considered. Vav can be connecting and θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος connects the two statements where ὁ λόγος and οὗτος are with God, in the beginning. It also connects the Word was with God (1:1b) with the Word became flesh (1:14).

A vav may also be conversive which affects an imperfect verb (ἦν) to be understood with the meaning of a perfect verb.5In this case the significance of "the Word was God" would be in understanding the phrase with the force of the perfect tense:

"describes an event that, completed in the past has results existing in the present time (i.e., in relation to the time if the speaker). Or, as Zerwick puts it, the perfect tense is used for "indicating not the past action as such but the present 'state of affairs' resulting from the past actions."6

When understood as "vav conversive" the primary sense is not what the Word was; it is the present state of affairs resulting from "the Word was God." This highlights the most significant aspect of the Word in the Prologue: the Word became flesh. This historical event sets Him apart from all other people, and, independent of the meaning one attaches to "the Word was God," apart even from that which is only Spirit.

Vav also has significant symbolism in the creation narrative. The first vav connects "heavens and earth" as shown here:

Since it occurs as the 22nd letter in the Torah attached to the sixth word את (et), it alludes to the creative connection between all of the letters. Vav is therefore the connecting force of the God, the divine “hook” that binds together heaven and earth.

So the first vav in Genesis functions exactly as the Word who connects heaven and earth by leaving heaven, coming to earth, and returning (cf. John 1:51).

Perhaps the most significant symbolism is with the genealogy or "generations" of the Messiah. Both "generations" and YHVH first appear in the same verse:

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 2:4)

Generations is written as תולדות. After the events in the Garden, generations is always spelled missing one or both "vavs." Only in Ruth is the initial spelling used again:

18 Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron 19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, 20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, 21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David. (Ruth 4 ESV)

Thus, the original "generations" which YHVH made and Adam "lost" is "restored" in the genealogy of David, which the New Testament unquestionably says is fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth: the Word [who] was God, the "vav" in the Prologue.

These added symbolic meanings from the Hebrew Genesis, confirm ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν...καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο was written with full understanding of the meaning and spelling of the Hebrew Name of God and specifically how the Word [who] was God became flesh and is the One who is the restorer of the generations of the heavens and the earth.


Notes:
1 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan, 1996, p. 233
2. There is speculation about "original" Hebrew sources of the Gospels, but the point is regardless of source, John would understand the Old Testament in Hebrew as well as Greek.
3. Dennis Prager, Exodus: God, Slavery, and Freedom, Regnery Faith, 2018, p. 45
4. Robert G Hall, "The Reader as Apocalyptist in the Gospel of John". John's Gospel and Intimations of Apocalyptic, edited by Catrin H Williams and Christopher Rowland, Bloomsbury, 2013, p. 268
5. Vav Conversive
6. Wallace, p. 573

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  • Very interesting indeed. I have never considered this. – David Anson May 9 at 18:10
1

Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 refer to the same event as evident in the divine persons involved in that same beginning.

When there were no human beings yet, God was not alone in the beginning [Let us make human being in our image, after our likeness, Genesis 1:26-27]. The New Testament revealed that God was with another divine person called ο λογος (The Word) in that same αρχξ (beginning).

There was no human being who existed in John 1:1-3, only “God” was there, (a) in the beginning, (b) with the Word, (c) through whom all things came into being. Viola, the passage speaks of the Genesis creation in a nutshell.

The Word himself was non-human in John 1:1. John calls him "God" [θεος]. He only became human [σαρκος] in verse 14.

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  • There were no humans (apparently), but there was an angelic multitude. Genesis does not speak of the creation, but a recreation, a new beginning. There is no support for the logos being a person - not until it became flesh as Jesus. – user48152 Sep 10 at 7:33
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What does John mean by “The Word was God?” (John 1:1)

That the Word was "godlike" or "divine" or "a god"

James Moffatt New Testament. John 1:1

1 THE Logos existed in the very beginning, the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine

Goodspeed New Testament John 1:1

In the beginning the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was divine.

ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 1:1 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)

1 εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος

1 εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς (τον-the) θεον και θεος ην ο λογος

The definite article (the) appears before the first occurrence of the·osʹ (God) but not before the second. The articular (when the article appears) construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous (without the article) predicate noun before the verb (as the sentence is constructed in Greek) points to a quality about someone. So the text is not saying that the Word (Jesus) was the same as the God with whom he was but, rather, that the Word was godlike, divine, a god.

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  • Jehovah Witnessism is polytheistic? – Walter S May 11 at 2:53
0

There is no reason to assume that John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 refer to the same event.

Building on this leads to additional exegetical fallacies.

Daniel Wallace [a], in his exegetical grammar makes an argument for a sense of θεός at John 1:1c that is 100% qualitative. It will shown that he commits a logical fallacy in order to reach that conclusion.

Here is an outline from Wallace's exegetical syntax at ExSyn 266–70

  1. Argue that θεός is not indefinite. (a. Is θεός in John 1:1c Indefinite,ExSyn)

  2. Give reasons that θεός is not definite (b. Is θεός in John 1:1c Definite?, ExSyn)

  3. Then defaults to θεός as 100% qualitative. (c. Is θεός in John 1:1c Qualitative?, ExSyn, )

However there is another alternative, that of a mix of Indefinite and qualitative.

At Wallace’s exegetical syntax (ExSyn 278-86) he provides chart 27, the semantic range of Anarthrous Predicate Nominatives. This is the same construction as found at John 1:1c.

chart 27

Because Wallace never acknowledges this semantic[b] and excludes it from his fallacious argument, he commits the fallacy of the excluded middle and the “either-or” fallacy.

Also see that BDAG uses the term "a god" for Christ.


[a] Quoted as a hostile witness.

[b] At John 4:19 a preverbal anarthrous predicate nominative, the same syntax as John 1:1c ("I perceive you are a prophet" is both indefinite and qualitative.

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  • He stipulates "unless there are contextual or other considerations suggesting that it is definite, or less likely, indefinite"(see Greek Grammar, Beyond the Basics, 1996 pg. 263). – David Anson May 9 at 18:17
  • The real "fallacy" in Wallace's argument is the presumption the concept of "indefinite" was present in Greek thought at that time. As the language clearly reflects there was only "the God" and "God." Conceptually, the notion of "a" did not exist at that time...if it had, the Greeks would have developed an indefinite article. The deception in "a god" is not "a" but "god" as capitalization did not exist. IOW absent a text which states the negative (i.e. the Word was not God), if an indefinite article is added, it must be the Word was a God. – Revelation Lad May 9 at 18:29
  • If one is looking for secondary evidence to determine if “god” or “God” is intended, it cannot come from θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. It must be found elsewhere. Either the preceding text ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, which supports “God” or the following narrative which culminates with the Jewish believer who sees the Resurrected Word saying ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου, which likewise supports “God.” – Revelation Lad May 9 at 18:29
  • How does a legitimate Greek linguist rationalize "god" and not "God" when the article is not present? – Revelation Lad May 9 at 18:43
  • The concept certainly exists today. There is zero linguistic or grammatical evidence of the Greek concept of "god" versus "God" when the article is not present. The entire argument is anachronistic. – Revelation Lad May 9 at 18:49
0

I am addressing this part of your question: "But my question is basically how does John get to this? " We will see that what John means by "The Word was God" is that he was the creator.

The practice of deriving meaning from the combinations of letters within words may be more than ancient word-play, as discussed here: How does Hebrew wordplay in the Bible inform our theology?

but actually be the foundation of the Hebrew language (see refs in article above).

As such we can observe what appears to be the practice of such word-play. So lets make some observations in the first three words:.

Ge 1:1 בראשית ברא אלהים

בראשית - 'In the beginning'

ב-ראשית : in ב – the beginning ראשית

ב-ראש-י-ת : in ב - the authority of (heads of) ראש - the creator י – (makes it an object) ת

בר(אש)ית : a covenant ברית with man אש at the center

ברא-שית : created ברא an appointment/six שית

בר-אשי-ת : the son בר – offered total devotion (fire offerings) אשי – (makes it an object) ת


ברא bara - create, cut down

בר-א the son בר created א, the son בר was cut down א

ב-ר-א a revelation to man ב the revelation (Torah/Word/Water) ר created א


אלהים 'elohim' God, judge

א-ל-ה-י-ם He created א and then taught ל, they did not understand ה, his creation י was completed by the son of man ם.

אל(ה)ים God אל separated () from man ים by ignorance ה.

אלהים--אלחים 'alo khoom' - not אל dark חום, the light

אלהים--לחם 'lechem' - bread לחם

אלהים--אלחיים God's אל life הים

From the first three words we can see John's doctrine contained in John 1:1-4

1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was Godץ 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

When God created, he spoke creation into existence, so the rabbis interpret ברא as 'created by the word' and from it we see that the Son בר spoke and created the heavens and the earth א. (An astute observer will want to ask: how is the aleph ' the Spirit' as mentioned elsewhere and 'God spoke and created the heavens and the earth' as used here? This is a topic in itself concerning the primary and secondary metaphors for aleph. see https://sensusplenior.net/wiki/Pneumnemonic_Hebrew_for_Beginners)

As a metaphor, 'bara, ברא is 'created by speaking' or 'created by Word' as a verb, or 'the Word which created' as a noun. John uses the latter.

1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, In בראשית was ברא .

and the Word was with God ברא אלהים bara is with Elohim. The Son בר who created א was next to Elohim.

and the Word was God. and 'bara' ברא was God because he (the Son) created א.

2 The same was in the beginning with God. Both the son 'bar' בר and the Word 'bara' ברא were in בראשית

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. The son 'bar' בר made all things in heaven and earth א

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. Elohim has the puns 'not dark' and 'God's life' as noted above.

"John reveals later “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14, KJV)—meaning Jesus. "

The rest of Genesis 1 speaks of Christ in each day 'yom' יום as creation י clarified or explained ו as finished by the Son ם.

On the sixth day it says that God would make man in his 'image and likeness' but then only says that he made him in his image. The likeness part was left out. It is a prophetic riddle that Christ would be the 'express image of God. The next few chapters (to Gen 5.2) show in types and shadows, how Christ obtained his bride and made her 'like' him. Christ is the image of God, and his bride is like him. Together they are the image and likeness.

John 1:14 is a reference to Christ being the express image of God, not that his flesh was particularly handsome, since we are told he wasn't very good looking.

When we recognize word-play and the formation of words as part of the warp and woof of the Hebrew language, it becomes easier to see how John got there.

*formation of words is called: Notarikon - Interpretation by dividing a word into two or more parts in the 32 rules of Rabbi Eliezer ben Jose de Galili

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  • I'm not sure why that one line is bold... sorry – Bob Jones May 9 at 6:02
0

I have touched on aspects of "John's Prologue" a number of times already of late and hesitated to do so again, until I read and subsequently set about to digest and try and understand where the author of the top answer, to this John 1:1 question, was coming from and whether the learned gentleman had legitimately theorized. I am nothing if not discreet, but joking aside.... If you are a Trinitarian, which I am not, then the answer, I'm sure, comes across as being quite credible, if not down right plausible. But I, respectfully, have to differ and I apologize to the other learned gentlemen in advance. It's just that I'm so passionate about this verse and it's probable, if not truly mysterious, meaning. This does not mean that I could be right in my assessment, it just means that I have an opinion that I feel is not entirely uneducated.

First of all, it is apparently true that Koine Greek drops the article in a prepositional phrase. It's normal and doesn't necessarily mean anything. It is the INCLUSION, as the... right honorable gentleman... says (it's an English expression, not meant to be derogatory), of the article in a prepositional phrase, as we see in this verse, that is unusual and thus means something specific.

......In (the) beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward the God, and (a) god was the Word....

This is the literal word ordering in English of John 1:1, a,b & c, the bracketing, however, is mine. The first (definite) article is in brackets because it is implied in the prepositional phrase and not actually in the Greek, as allowed. The (indefinite) article - the one that all the controversy is about - is also in brackets, and while there, admittedly, is no indefinite article in Koine Greek, (unlike the definite article), it can also be implied, particularly when one takes into account the whole context of the prologue...see the NWT and the Emphatic Diaglott, or even Dan Evangelium, among other translations, all being fans of the indefinite.

The subject of the whole prologue is "the Word", being in the nominative, whereas " the God" is in the objective position and in the accusative. The Word is therefore more specific to the whole narrative. The "quality" of his nature, of his essence, becomes very apparent. John the Baptist is in no doubt about his qualities, or his divinity and is his ultimate witness. The "only begotten" son of the Father, the "firstborn of all creation", toward/with the Father at the beginning of the creation of all other things, beside himself, forsook his heavenly abode, albeit temporarily, becoming "flesh" and the "Son of Man" to boot, and later still the "firstborn from the dead".

Our learned gentleman throws in another two paragraphs to talk about the: what if John had said things this way or that way and what that would ultimately mean, resulting in a lot of unnecessary word play, trying to defend the undefendable, it would seem.

Then we have a paragraph on why John wrote, John 1:1c the way he did. The fact of the matter is that John saw this second theos...as an anarthrous pre-verbal predicate nominative, to describe the class, or category, to which the subject (the Word) belongs, NOT what he supposedly was.

We can now see that:

a) The Word, being the "only begotten" of the Father and therefore "a" legitimate son, and consequently steeped in divinity, is, by all accounts and by extension "a" legitimate "god" of the heavenly realm, just like Satan is "a" legitimate "god", of this World of ours..(see 2 Corinthians 4:4). AND, just like Satan, the Word is indeed "a" LESSER god, than the Father.

b) The Word cannot, logically, therefore be the Father.

c) The Word, while "a" god, cannot be "fully" God, and therefore is NOT the same person as the Father.

....also, according to our... right honorable gentleman...the clause, after the third theos, speaks to EQUALITY with "The God" in divinity. I do not see this, in fact this clause reminds us of the Word being the "only begotten"...."and apart from him (the Word) came to be not-but one...." and so on...

Before we go any further, let's refute the Gnostic's idea of the mind thing, that would be carrying mysticism too far.

Finally, John may well have been guided by a hidden entity, a hidden (spiritual) force, but let's not bring a THIRD (nameless) personage into the narrative. John was being guided, in his writing, to talk about TWO different spiritual personages, both with divinity. One being the Father, the ALMIGHTY God, the other being the SON of God. To then suggest EQUALITY here, is leading toward FANTASY. The conciseness of John's theological statement does not lend itself to fantasy; to suggest such a thing, is to undermine this absolute gem of a prologue right at the outset and belittle the unfolding SPECIFIC QUALITY of the Son.....

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  • thx for your comments - on what basis is the 'word; a person at all? It doesn't say, 'in the beginning was Jesus'. I have a chat room if you want to follow through... (I am not either) – user48152 Jul 1 at 6:45
  • @user48152-The Word is most definitely a person. I don't know why anyone should/would deem to imply otherwise. To my mind the narrative is unmistakable on this score. I wouldn't even know where to start to explain the basis for that reasoning. But, the Word is assuredly not God. A lessor god for sure, with the voice of an archangel even, but that's a long story. Am I to assume your (I am not either) comment means that you also are not a Trinitarian?? Not sure about the chat room but thanks for commenting and if it was you who voted for me, thanks again. – Olde English Jul 2 at 4:14
  • Further to this post; "The Word, being the "only begotten" of the Father " I don't think you can say that. It's analogous to, 'an apple is a pie'. – user48152 Sep 10 at 8:27
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Addressing this to the statement that the WORD was not human at the time creation was spoken into being: I disagree because God CREATED Time! therefore He is Lord over it. Genesis says The day and night were the FIRST DAY! Since God is creator and Lord over time He knows the end from the beginning and AS God, who IS Love, Before creation He knew Creation would need a Savior and had already planned to Transform the word into flesh (the lamb that was slain BEFORE the foundation of the earth) and that verse indicates in fact He saw it as already done because it WAS already done because He always is and was Lord over all, there were no surprises, time as it exists for us was created by God, He tells the end from The beginning, he is Lord over it and his reality as a human being/God Savior was already reality BEFORE the foundation of the earth.

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-2

There is a lot of misinformation on the non scholarly apologetics community that is characterized as “preacher Greek” in John 1:1.

This includes the assumption that beginning in John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 are the same event. To assume this is a fallacy.

It has already been seen that the Lutheran BDAG gives convincing evidence that the Son is “a god” in a different sense than the Father who is God in the monotheistic sense.

Here are some more fallacies.


Fallacies for the lack of article at John 1:1c

Ignoring syntax

One argument states that nouns in prepositional phrases frequently lack the article when they are definite (true) and then attempt to use this to assert that the lack of the definite article for θεός at John 1:1c is explained this way. That is specious reasoning. John 1:1c is a predicate nominative, not a prepositional phrase. Preposition phrases use oblique cases (e.g Genitive and Dative.). Nominative is the “naming” case and is not comparable.

That the article makes a noun definite

Another fallacy is that the definite article has a primary force of making a noun definite.[a] That is not even remotely true. Some who take introductory Greek tend to think that way because of elementary translation exercises.

Word order at John 1:1c

Wallace on “HOW TO DISTINGUISH SUBJECT FROM PREDICATE NOMINATIVE” gives this:

The general principle for distinguishing S from PN is that the S is the known entity (ExSyn 31)

In John 1:1c, the Word has already been identified as the subject. At John 1:1b, the Word was with God. John 1:1c is a continuation of this.

The argument that θεός does not “need” the article because of word order is completely fallacious. That does not stop apologists from using “preacher” Greek.

A legitimate reason is based on the real genius of the article, that of identification.” [a]

Simply put, if θεός had the article at John 1:1c it would identify the Word as the God in John 1:1b, who Wallace correctly identifies as the Father. [b]

Also see: Daniel Wallace commits a logical fallacy at John 1:1 in his grammar and that BDAG uses the term "a god" with respect to Christ.


[a] Wallace, ExSyn 209–10 The article - Function - 1. What it IS NOT The function of the article is not primarily to make something definite that would otherwise be indefinite. It does not primarily “definitize.” There are at least ten ways in which a noun in Greek can be definite without the article. Further, its use with words other than nouns is not to make something definite that would otherwise be indefinite, but to nominalize something that would otherwise not be considered as a concept (Wallace, ExSyn 209–10, quoted as a hostile witness.)

[b] Further, calling θεος in 1:1c definite is the same as saying that if it had followed the verb, it would have had the article. Thus it would be a convertible proposition with λόγος v (i.e., “the Word” = “God” and “God” = “the Word”). The problem with this argument is that the θεος in 1:1b is the Father. Thus to say that the θεος in 1:1c is the same person is to say that “the Word was the Father.” This, as the older grammarians and exegetes pointed out, is embryonic Sabellianism or modalism.(ibid, 119)

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  • Just for sake of clarity for those who don’t know: ‘Sabellianism’ is a term derived from a third century teacher and writer named Sabellius who advanced the notion of one God with three designations Father, Son, or Spirit and these designations are applicable at different times. This constitutes a departure from the orthodox notion of trinity. – David Anson May 9 at 18:04
  • And ‘Modalism’ is the notion that we have one person with three different names, roles, or activities. This notion is maybe a more subtle departure from Christian orthodoxy. The problem with modalism arises when we see snapshots of all three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) together on the biblical stage, such as at the Baptism of Jesus (see Lk 9:35). – David Anson May 9 at 18:05
  • Yeah... as you know we are limited in the comment section... not the best place for a thorough treatment of either idea (Sabellianism or Modalism). Thank you. – David Anson May 9 at 19:09
  • @33125-You have my vote at least. Your logic is spot on. – Olde English Jul 2 at 3:15

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