John 1:1 states

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

and is translated also to:

John 1:1 Goodspeed

“…and the Word was divine.”

John 1:1 Moffatt

“…the Logos was divine.”

Scholars also dubbed this verse as John’s fairly unusual syntax.

For trinitarians and non-trinitarians:

  1. Who is the Word that is stated in this verse? Interpretation varies, some trinitarian argues the Word described here is Jesus Christ Himself, some non-trinitarians argues that is it the Word of God as in like plan of God, and does not specify that Jesus is God in this context.

  2. Is the Goodspeed and Moffatt translation more accurate and what does it mean by "divine" in this context? Non-trinitarians argues that this implies not God in nature. And thus relates to the verse “For no word from God shall be void of power.” (Luke 1:37 ASV) and summarized (as far as I understand) as the Word (which is Jesus Christ) is a (or the) plan of God from the beginning and that Word (as planned) is powerful, therefore argues that Jesus was never called God in John 1:1 which is explained here (from a reference):

2.1 the term theos (God) function not as a noun, but as predicate, and the term o logos (Word) is the subject;

2.2 because the term theos (God) function not as a noun, but as predicate, we can dismiss the use of the simple copula (verb “en”) of the third clause of John 1:1 as “is of identification” and “is of conclusion.” Thus, the Word is not God Himself, and not a part of a larger entity called “God”;

2.3 it shows that the statement ‘the Word was God’ is not convertible position, John thereby denies that “God was the Word.” Thus, with the absence of a definite article, “the Word was God,” but “God is not the Word.”

2.4 Without the definite article, theos (God) is predicative and has the significance of an adjective describing the characteristic of the logos (Word) – the “Word was divine” (John 1:1 Goodspeed).

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    Does this answer your question? What are possible historical interpretations of John 1:1?
    – Dottard
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 22:34
  • 3
    “2.1 the term theos (God) function not as a noun, but as predicate” — Uh, ok...I didn't know that a predicate could not be a noun. Ever heard of a predicate nominative? May want to work on your English grammar before you engage in Greek grammar. Commented May 21, 2020 at 23:44
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    This is scintillating information - whether it has merit or not is largely dependent on what John meant when he wrote to the people of the day - they didn't have a dictionary or complicated words. They knew exactly what he meant and the idea of another 'god' besides the 'One true God' would not have entered their minds!
    – Steve
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 4:51
  • 1
    The absence of the article in Greek indicates a concept that is being identified. Concepts require names so the mind can process them. The noun without article identifies concept. Later in narrative, the article is added and the concept (which has been identified) is then located by the article : "the concept to which I referred earlier, by naming it, is that to which I again refer". The article locates concept. "That concept, the one I mentioned". Your supposition regarding is predicative and has the significance of an adjective describing the characteristic is completely incorrect
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 13:00

8 Answers 8



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


This is an extract from the above book by Jason David BeDuhn, professor of religious studies at Nothern Arizona University

Under chapter eleven-headed: "And the Word was..what?"

Quote: "Grammatically, John1:1c is not a difficult verse to translate. It follows familiar ordinary structures of the Greek expression. A lexical (interlinear) translation of the controversial clause would read: "and a god was the Word." A minimal literal (formal equivalence) translation would rearrange the word order to match proper English expression: "And the Word was a god." The preponderance of the evidence, from Greek grammar, from literary context, and from cultural environment supports this translation, of which "the Word was divine." would be a slightly more polished variant carrying the same meaning. Both of these renderings are superior to the traditional translation which goes against these three key factors that guide accurate translation.

Understanding John 1:1c accurately.

John Harner, in his article, "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1," presents a much more careful, systematic analysis of the same type of sentences studied by Colwell. Harner does not predetermine which predicate nouns are definite. Instead, he investigates all predicate nouns that do not have the definite article and compares those that appear before the verb with those that appear after the verb. based on his investigation, he concludes that, "anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb may function primarily to express the nature or character of the subject, and this qualitative significance may be more important than the question whether the predicate noun itself should be regarded as a definite." (Harner 1973 page 75).

In other words, Greek has a particular way of expressing the nature or character of something that employs predicate nouns before the verb and without the article, just as in John 1:1. The nature or character of ho logos ("the Word") is theos ("divine") The professor examines some sentences structured like John 1:1c and the meaning they convey.

Quote: " The setting is Pilate's exchange with Jesus. In John 18:35, Pilate asks,"Am I a Jew "( ego Uoudaios eimi? )" The predicate noun here appears before the verb and without the article as it does in John 1:1, and clearly is indefinite in meaning, "a Jew," Two verses later, he asks Jesus. "Are you a king?"(basileus ei su?). Here is the exact syntax as John 1:1--the predicate noun precedes the verb, the subject follows it, and the predicate noun lacks the definite article. Yet Pilate is asking if Jesus is "a king," not " the king." Jesus' answer in the same verse uses the same basic construction: "You say that I am a king (su legeis hoti basileus eimi)......."

As the story continues, the opponents of Jesus provide, through John's report, a basic lesson in the distinction between definite and indefinite constructions of Greek. Seeing the placard placed over the crucified Jesus, they tell Pilate: "Do not write"The king of the Jews,' but that this one said, "I am a king of the Jews'" (John 19:21). They try to distance Jesus from the royal title by two moves; first by making it clear that it is merely a claim, and second by changing the title itself from "the king" (basileus without the article, before the be-verb."

Harner argues for an English speaking audience, that if "the" is used with the predicate nouns, the qualitative sense will be lost. The use of "a" conveys that the qualitative sense.

For example, in John 4:19 we must translate "You are a prophet,"not "You are the prophet." In John 8:48 it is "You are a Samaritan." not "you are the Samaritan." In John 12:6 it must be "He was a thief," not "he was the thief."In John 9:24 "This man is a sinner" not "this man is the sinner". Notice that this is not a case of how we say things in English dictating the Greek, but a matter of choosing the English that best communicates what the Greek means.


If this verse were interpreted to mean Jesus was himself God Almighty, it would contradict the preceding statement, “the Word was with God.” Someone who is “with” another person cannot be the same as that other person. Many Bible translations thus draw a distinction, making clear that the Word was not God, Three great translators of the Greek scriptures, translate John 1:1c, into English "the Word was divine" (James Moffat, Edgar J Goodspeed, and Westcott )

Over fifty Bible verses in John's writings have a construction similar to that of John 1:1c. For example, when referring to Herod Agrippa I, the crowds shouted: ‘It is a god speaking.’ And when Paul survived a bite by a poisonous snake, the people said: “He is a god.” (Acts 12:22; 28:3-6) It is in harmony with both Greek grammar and Bible teaching to speak of the Word as, not God, but “a god.”​—John 1:1c.

Just a few verses down in the same chapter (Vs 14 ) John tells us the "Word" became "flesh", not God and Vs 18 reads (KJV ):"18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Has any human seen Jesus Christ, the Son? Of course! So, then, was John saying that Jesus was God? Obviously not. Towards the end of his Gospel, John summarized matters, saying: " But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ,[ not God, but] the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." John 20:31 KJV,[ not God, but] words in bracket entered in verse by me.

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    "and a god was the Word." is utterly impossible in the original language. First, the Greek lacked the indefinite article. Second, all words were capitalized. The original audience could not even conceive of "god." All understandings of theos were "GOD." Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 4:50
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    Revelation Lad: The book I made the extract also deals with your objection under the heading "How can there be "a god" in the Bible. It is a four-page analysis on the grammar and why there is a god in the Bible, the book examines, Luke 20:38, 2 Corinthians 1:3 Revelation 21:7, Phil. 2:13. 2 Cor. 4:4, Phil. 3:19 and Acts 14:11. The professor comments. "Despite the failure of English translations to get these passages right, I hope you can see how the expression "a god" finds a home in the New Testament. Pages 125-128. Do strongly recommend that you get a copy of it, Thks. Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 15:00
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    For an examination of BeDuhn's methods: livingwater-spain.com/beduhn.pdf Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 15:42

This article states

Many Greek scholars and Bible translators acknowledge that John 1:1 highlights, not the identity, but a quality of “the Word.” Says Bible translator William Barclay:

Because [the apostle John] has no definite article in front of theos it becomes a description . . . John is not here identifying the Word with God. To put it very simply, he does not say that Jesus was God.”

Scholar Jason David BeDuhn likewise says:

In Greek, if you leave off the article from theos in a sentence like the one in John 1:1c, then your readers will assume you mean ‘a god.’ . . . Its absence makes theos quite different than the definite ho theos, as different as ‘a god’ is from ‘God’ in English.” BeDuhn adds: In John 1:1, the Word is not the one-and-only God, but is a god, or divine being.”

Or to put it in the words of Joseph Henry Thayer, a scholar who worked on the American Standard Version:

The Logos [or, Word] was divine, not the divine Being himself.”

Jesus made a clear distinction between him and his Father

Does the identity of God have to be “a very profound mystery”? It did not seem so to Jesus. In his prayer to his Father, Jesus made a clear distinction between him and his Father when he said:

This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3)

If we believe Jesus and understand the plain teaching of the Bible, we will respect him as the divine Son of God that he is. We will also worship YHWH/the Father as “the only true God.”

Some translations render John 1:1 as saying:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Literally the Greek text reads:

In beginning was the word, and the word was toward the god, and god was the word.”

The translator must supply capitals as needed in the language into which he translates the text. It is clearly proper to capitalize “God” in translating the phrase “the god,” since this must identify the Almighty God with whom the Word was. But the capitalizing of the word “god” in the second case does not have the same justification.

First, it should be noted that the text itself shows that the Word was “with God,hence could not be God, that is, be the Almighty God. (Note also vs 2, which would be unnecessary if vs 1 actually showed the Word to be God.) Additionally, the word for “god” (Gr., the·osʹ) in its second occurrence in the verse is significantly without the definite article “the” (Gr., ho). Regarding this fact, Ernst Haenchen, in a commentary on the Gospel of John (chapters 1-6), stated:

[the·osʹ] and [ho the·osʹ] (‘god, divine’ and ‘the God’) were not the same thing in this period. . . . In fact, for the . . . Evangelist, only the Father was ‘God’ ([ho the·osʹ]; cf. 17:3); ‘the Son’ was subordinate to him (cf. 14:28).

But that is only hinted at in this passage because here the emphasis is on the proximity of the one to the other . . . . It was quite possible in Jewish and Christian monotheism to speak of divine beings that existed alongside and under God but were not identical with him. Phil 2:6-10 proves that.

In that passage Paul depicts just such a divine being, who later became man in Jesus Christ . . . Thus, in both Philippians and John 1:1 it is not a matter of a dialectical relationship between two-in-one, but of a personal union of two entities.”​—John 1, translated by R. W. Funk, 1984, pp. 109, 110.

After giving as a translation of John 1:1c “and divine (of the category divinity) was the Word,” Haenchen goes on to state:

In this instance, the verb ‘was’ ([en]) simply expresses predication. And the predicate noun must accordingly be more carefully observed: [the·osʹ] is not the same thing as [ho the·osʹ] (‘divine’ is not the same thing as ‘God’).” (pp. 110, 111)

Elaborating on this point, Philip B. Harner brought out that the grammatical construction in John 1:1 involves an anarthrous predicate, that is, a predicate noun without the definite article “the,” preceding the verb, which construction is primarily qualitative in meaning and indicates that “the logos has the nature of theos.” He further stated:

In John 1:1 I think that the qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun [the·osʹ] cannot be regarded as definite.” (Journal of Biblical Literature, 1973, pp. 85, 87)

Other translators, also recognizing that the Greek term has qualitative force and describes the nature of the Word, therefore render the phrase: “the Word was divine.”​—AT; Sd; compare Mo; see NW appendix, p. 1579.

The Hebrew Scriptures are consistently clear in showing that there is but one Almighty God, the Creator of all things and the Most High, whose name is Jehovah. (Ge 17:1; Isa 45:18; Ps 83:18)

For that reason Moses could say to the nation of Israel:

Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. And you must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your vital force.” (De 6:4, 5)

The Christian Greek Scriptures do not contradict this teaching that had been accepted and believed by God’s servants for thousands of years, but instead they support it. (Mr 12:29; Ro 3:29, 30; 1Co 8:6; Eph 4:4-6; 1Ti 2:5)

Jesus Christ himself said,

The Father is greater than I am”

and referred to the Father as his God, “the only true God.” (Joh 14:28; 17:3; 20:17; Mr 15:34; Re 1:1; 3:12)

On numerous occasions Jesus expressed his inferiority and subordination to his Father. (Mt 4:9, 10; 20:23; Lu 22:41, 42; Joh 5:19; 8:42; 13:16)

Even after Jesus’ ascension into heaven his apostles continued to present the same picture.​—1Co 11:3; 15:20, 24-28; 1Pe 1:3; 1Jo 2:1; 4:9, 10.

These facts give solid support to a translation such as “the Word was a god” at John 1:1.

The Word’s preeminent position among God’s creatures as the Firstborn, the one through whom God created all things, and as God’s Spokesman, gives real basis for his being called “a god” or mighty one.

The Messianic prophecy at Isaiah 9:6 foretold that he would be called “Mighty God,” though not the Almighty God, and that he would be the “Eternal Father” of all those privileged to live as his subjects.

The zeal of his own Father, “Jehovah of armies,” would accomplish this. (Isa 9:7) Certainly if God’s Adversary, Satan the Devil, is called a “god” (2Co 4:4) because of his dominance over men and demons (1Jo 5:19; Lu 11:14-18), then with far greater reason and propriety is God’s firstborn Son called “a god,” “the only-begotten god” as the most reliable manuscripts of John 1:18 call him.

  • 1
    That reading makes more sense of the first sentence IMO. Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 19:22
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    The absence of the Greek article does not make a noun into an adjective. It does not turn an identity into a quality. It does not turn a person into a description. The first four lines (quoted from Barclay) are not a proper, grammatical expression of the absence of the Greek article in front of a noun.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 19:01
  • @NigelJ are you saying Barclay is not an esteemed scholar?
    – Kris
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 19:59
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    If you are interested in objectivity, you should apply principles presumed to be accuarate. BeDuhn says if there is no article a reader assumes "a god." So how does he/you understand 1:6: ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ? Was John sent by "a god?" And in verse 1:12: ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ. Did He give the right to become children of "a god?" Based on BeDuhn's understanding of grammar, that is what the reader is to conclude. Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 15:53

In as much as possible, I have tried to stay out of the fray of different opinions for the sake of the answer of @David, who made some great points which my answer is intended to only be supportive and remain in the shadow of. Notwithstanding, comments and accusations against the rationals of some answers and comments compel at least this basic supportive answer to OP's question.

I will use the truths as to the "first Adam" as an example of the plural nature of the ONE TRUE Almighty God. I use this BECAUSE God used this also in Genesis 1:26 KJV to show His own plurality:

And God said, Let us "make" man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (My emphasis)

The plurality of the ONE TRUE God is firmly established here. God has many facets and operational capacities--all embodied within the Spiritual nature of God. God uses names which align with the paniym--facet--disposition--person--to describe Himself.

The ONENESS of God is also firmly established in the next verse (Gen 1:27) while also showing the result of the "creating"--not the "making"--of man:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

God used four work processes to bring about His creation. He "created", He "made", He "formed", and He "established". Verse 27 shows ONLY the creating of man in His own image and after His likeness. So the image and likeness of God must necessarily be revealed in the first man who was created at a certain point in time--on Day-six.

He was also later that same day "formed" flesh and bone" at a certain point in time and then "made" a living soul when God breathed the breath of life into his (by that time) already formed nostrils, as we see in Genesis 2:7:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man "became" (was made per 1 Cor 15:45) a living soul. (My emphasis)

NOTICE in Gen 1:27 that as soon as man was created, before he was formed and made, he was considered as being a PLURALITY within a ONENESS.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (My emphasis)

Notice that man was at this time not yet man and woman when he was given the plurality distinction of being "them". That happened at different times of the day. God created him (not him and her) male and female.

So this likeness is just like God almighty who said "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness. Moreover, this was said to be the case even before Eve was made. That came later, as is declared as an absolute truth in 1 Timothy 2:13:

For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

And to prove that this sequence is the case, Genesis 5:1-2 instructively makes that very clear:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

Yet we also know that Eve was formed from one of the ribs of the man who was--by now--fully created, formed, and made.

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Gen 2:23 then provides a name for the woman. It was Adam--the man--who named the woman "Eve", not God. This proves that there was a series of events that brought about the woman, and that man was already fully made and formed at the time of Eve was made.

Nowhere is Eve said to have been formed of the dust of the ground. That ground was cursed for the (now) man, Adam's sake, NOT Eve's sake. This profound truth paved the way for the amazing promise of the "SEED OF THE WOMAN" who would be made flesh at a certain point in time, to provide the Son of man/Son of God Savior for all mankind, while bypassing the man. This Savior could not have been named Jesus in eternity past, because God Says that the WORD, who was with God in eternity past, and who was God in eternity past, at a certain pointin time was "made" flesh, "made" under the law, "made" of woman to redeem those under the law that brought death to mankind.

So even though Eve was not yet "made" as the woman, she was part--the female part--of the duality of the created spirit of Adam at the very time the spirit of Adam (already male and female) was created. She simply couldn't be named, Eve, at that time because she had not yet been taken from the man's (already named Adam) bones and flesh.

The WORD of God is likewise part of the eternal invisible nature of God, being just one of the many paniym--facets--persons of the plurality of the ONE true God Almighty. The WORD was also singled out and made flesh at a certain point in time following the eternal existence of the plural-yet-one Godhead. That eternal plurality is also emphatically shown to be paniym--facets--persons--of God having different and distinct purposes--operational capacities--as we see in Isaiah 48:16:

Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

This amazing prophetic invitation to mankind reveals the Godhead as being ONE God listing three of His operative capacities. The Lord GOD and His Spirit are the two senders. The speaker is clearly the Word of God—that Sent One—that one called, “me”—who we will find would later be sent, made visible flesh and blood upon this earth, and named Jesus--Savior.

Like Eve, He could not have been named Jesus (Savior) prior to the time that He was made flesh because God's righteous requires the shed blood of the Savior to take away the sin of sinful man. The Spirit WORD had no flesh and blood. Only the seed-of-the-woman as the Son of man/Son of God Savior could possibly handle that job in accordance with the righteousness of God.

John 1:1-3 shows who the WORD of God was, and still is:

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 by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Notice the emphasis by repeating that "the same" paniym--facet--person--who was with God is the same one who was God. This may not make much sense to certain Bible students, but it should nevert be ignored. It is a quality of the Almighty God

THEREFORE, According to the absolute and line-upon-line informative admonition in Philippians 2:5-11:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

At that "name" of this same Jesus, every name shall indeed bow, and at that time in the future when every name will bow to this same Jesus who has more than one name, as we see in Revelation 19:13, He is called "The Word of God":

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. (My emphasis)

He also had a different name that no man knew other than He Himself, as declared in Rev 19:12:

His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. (My emphasis)

And even more so, Rev 19:16 makes it very clear that He had yet another name other than Savior and WORD--one that describes His paniym--facet--person--as the reigning KING and LORD:

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (My emphasis)

What amazing Savior; what amazing LORD; what amazing KING--what amazing TRUTH.

  • Facts and a supported argument emerge but also a deep sense of love and reverence for our King, Saviour, Lord, Word - and might I add Lamb and Lion! All praise be to the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. Can’t wait 😁✝️.
    – user36337
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 20:28

The Word in the Literary Structure of the Prologue
In his article, Chiasmus: An Important Structural Device Commonly Found in Biblical Literature, Brad McCoy defines chiasmus (or chiasm) as the use of inverted parallelism of form and/or content which moves toward and away from a strategic central component.1 He discusses chiasms, their use, and their exegetical significance and shows The Prologue2was arranged using this device:3

A: The Word with God (1-2)  
 B: The Word's role in creation (3)  
  C: God's grace to mankind (4-5)  
   D: Witness of John the Baptist (6-8)  
    E: The Incarnation of the Word (9-11)  
     X: Saving faith in the Incarnate Word (12-13)  
    E': The Incarnation of the Word (14)  
   D': Witness of John the Baptist (15)  
  C': God's grace to mankind (16)  
 B': The Word's role in re-creation (17)  
A': The Word with God the Father (18)

McCoy gives three functions for using this structure:4

  1. Delineates the author's units of thought
  2. Accentuates the main idea an author is concerned to convey to their readers
  3. Compares and contrasts the interplay between textually separated but thematically paired units of thought

Therefore, within the author's literary structure, the identity of the Word must be understood from the perspective of the main theme (1:12-13) and be in congruence with its structural partner (1:18):

  • A: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This One was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2) [DLNT]
    • X: But all who did receive Him, He gave them — the ones believing in His name — the right to become children of God, who were born not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a husband, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
  • A': No one has ever seen God; the only-born God, the One being in the bosom of the Father — that One expounded Him. (John 1:18)

In both A and A' one is described as being "with" another. In the beginning this is explicit, the Word was with God. At the end this is implicit, the One being in the bosom of the Father. The author has used structure to make four points. First, the Word is identified as the Only-born God. Second, the final relationship is described in human terms: what was with God in the beginning is now in the bosom.5Third, what began with a condition in the past tense, "was," ends with a condition in the present tense, "is." Finally, the author waited to personalize both the Word and God:

The Word with God -----> The Only-born God in the bosom of the Father

The Father is never explicitly identified as God. Not only is the nature of the divinity of the Word at issue, within the literary structure of the Prologue, the same is true of the Father. In literal terms, if τοῦ πατρὸς, the Father, in verse 18 is τὸν θεόν, God, in verse 1, then ὁ λόγος, the Word is μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν in verse 18. Conversely, if one denies μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν is the Word, one is left trying to understand why the author failed to explicitly connect the Father and God, despite making an explicit statement concerning the Word and God.6

Construction by Envelopment
In 1953, French scholar Marie-Émile Boismard, recognizing the movement of the Word in the Prologue followed the word of the LORD as described in Isaiah 55:10-11, noted:

The Prologue seems thus to describe a parabola, the base of which touches the earth and the two sides of which are lost in God's infinity. In the course of this double movement, descending and ascending, we meet the same symmetrical landmarks, the most noticeable being the mention of the testimony the Baptist bears to Christ (vv.6-8, 15).7

He termed this "construction by envelopment"8and diagrammed it as a parabola.9While both McCoy's linear outline and Boismard's parabola use the same corresponding pairs around a main idea, a parabola depicts the actual movement of the Word:

  The Word With God is Sent     | The Word Returns To The Father         
  (a) The Word  1-2      ●      |      ● 18  The Son in  (a')
      with God.                 |            the Father
  (b) His role of 3       ●     |     ● 17   Role of re- (b')
      creation                  |            creation
  (c) Gift to men  4-5     ●    |    ● 16    Gift to men (c')
  (d) Witness of J-B 6-8    ●   |   ● 15  Witness of J-B (d')
  (e) The coming of the  9-11 ● | ● 14  The Incarnation  (e') 
      Word into the World
     (f) By the Incarnate Word we become children of God

Additional support for Boismard's description is seen by the author's placement of the term ὁ λόγος which occurs only in verses 1 and 14:

  The Word With God is Sent      | The Word Returns To The Father         
↓ 1-2 The Word is with God       | 18  The Son in the bosom of the Father
  9-11 "He" comes into the world | 14 The Word Becomes Flesh ↑

The author has placed "the Word" in the two "directional" points of the structure. The first is at the point of descent; the second at the point of ascent. The effect is to show the Word which was with God is the same Word who became flesh and returned as such to the Father. In addition, the Word is "depersonalized" by the use of pronouns and terms such as "light" after verse 1, and then "personalized" after verse 14 by John's testimony and then specifically as Jesus Christ.

The Word is the one sent who becomes flesh and returns to the bosom of the Father: Jesus Christ (cf. 1:17). The failure to explicitly identify Him as such "in the beginning" is the same treatment the author uses for "the Father," who only appears at the end. The specific identification of all entities has been placed in the hands of the reader, consistent with the purpose for writing:

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20)

Despite the literary structure which identifies Jesus Christ as the Word, it is still a matter of belief for the reader (as is "God" with "Father").

What Type of God?
Those familiar with the concept of a divine Logos might assume that is what is being described. On the other hand, those familiar with the Jewish Scriptures might consider the author has Genesis 1 in mind. In either association a reader would believe the Logos was "God." Neither the author or reader of the period would understand θεὸς to mean "god" as if the term θεὸς could convey the type of distinction found in the English use of God and god. Rather, the question would be what type of θεὸς was the Word? For example, is the divine Logos, the God of wisdom or knowledge or intellect, as in Greek philosophy?

The author immediately squelches any notion the Word has limitations of "a god" with the next statement: "All things came-into-being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being..." All things not only gives the Word authority beyond that of Greek philosophy; it continues the creative work of the Word beyond the seven-days found in the beginning.

As the Prologue progresses, two statements give cause for reflection: he came to his own and the Word became flesh. Neither is consistent with Greek philosophy or God in Genesis 1. Rather, the author's conception of the deity of the Word comes from the history of the Jewish people, whom YHVH made and called His own.

Therefore, once a reader understands the Word was Himself Jewish, then the Prologue states the Word was God who not only made the physical world, but was the one responsible for "making" the nation of Israel, and all other nations as well:

24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us (Acts 17)

The central point of the Prologue is the Word makes children of God. This is an act of creation. The Logos who made all nations, made His own nation, and became flesh to give all who believe in His name the right to become children in His own family.

1. Brad McCoy, "Chiasmus: An Important Structural Device Commonly Found in Biblical Literature." p 18 Chafer Theological Seminary
2. The term "Prologue" is the Greek πρόλογος prólogos, from πρό pró, "before" and λόγος lógos, "word." Similar to προλέγω, which means spoken beforehand, prólogos is an accurate extra-Biblical designation of John 1:1-18; it is that which is written before the Gospel of the Logos.
3. McCoy, p. 18
4. Ibid., pp.30-31
5. This is a subtle way to reinforce the humanity: the Word became flesh while expressing the divinity.
6. The debate over the nature of the divinity of the Word is a direct result of author's raising the issue and then failing to explicitly resolve it. For example: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was not God. Ironically, the only explicit statement of divinity is that of the Word: the Word was God and it is the reader's assumption the Father is also God; a logical assumption the reader will make if His Son is God.
7. M. E. Boismard, O.P. St. John's Prologue, translated by Carisbrooke Dominicans, Newman Press, 1957 p. 73
8. Ibid., p. 79
9. Ibid., p. 80

  • According to Jesus, God, is the Creator, not himself or the logos. Mark 10:6.
    – user35499
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 4:43
  • Jesus himself was created. John 3:16, Revelation 3:14.
    – user35499
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 1:48
  • another similar question hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/q/55372/33268 Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 8:28

The message of the Holy Bible is consistently clear on this specific passage and specific subject, “the Word was God, ...”. Also, the truth is very plain for those who honestly search only according to the Scripture without philosophizing the plain truth because God wants to speak His truth to the mind of every soul He created, whether the Jew, Greek, or the Gentile.

We human beings are the highest creation made in the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26; Ephesians 4:24). So, the most profound way to understand the God who created us is to understand how wonderfully we are created. According to Strong’s Concordance of the the Bible, the Hebrew verb ‘bara (1254)’ that stands for ‘created’ in Genesis 1:1 is of profound theological significance, since it has only God as its subject in the entire Bible.

As one anonymous writer stated correctly, knowledge of ourselves is the best clue to our knowledge of the only Creator. Only as we penetrate into the secret of our being, can we understand God; and even our philosophizing goes astray as we deeply understand how we are created and what constitutes the inner man which apostle Paul wrote of in his Epistles.

Our inner being constitutes the soul, word, and the living breath. The central element of our inner person is the soul. The word and the living breath pertain to and proceed out of the soul. In a nutshell, this is the secret behind human creation. For example, when we think of a Hubble telescope, the Eiffel tower, the Liberty monument, the Burji Khalifa edifice, ..., or any human invention, we should think of the masterminds behind each of them and therefore the owners of the thought/the idea, that is the souls who designed it. Before the Hubble telescope became a reality, it was a thought/idea in the faculty of the mind of that soul who designed it later. As said above, the understanding of this secret of human creation shades a glamorous light to the understanding of the One who created all alone, God. By using this secret of human creation as a perfect type (typology), we can understand that God who is Spirit, has Word, the “Word OF God”, and life giving Spirit, the “Spirit OF God.” As the word of the created human being is the ultimate manifestation of that particular soul, the Word of God is the ultimate manifestation and persona (2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:2) of the God who IS Spirit and therefore invisible from eternity to eternity (Exodus 19; Luke 24:39; John 4:24; John 6:46; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 4:12). The truth stating that ‘God IS Spirit’ is unchangeable and God will never ever be seen in sight even in the new Kingdom of God (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).

The “Word” was a term used by theologians and philosophers, both Hebrew and Greek, in many different ways. In Hebrew Scripture, the Word was God’s power of creation (Genesis 1: John 1:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-2) and later the right hand or power of God in fulfilling His salvation plan (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53; Isaiah 59; Ephesians 1). To Jewish readers, “the Word was God” was blasphemy and brought the Jews to crucify Jesus, the Son of God. To Greek readers, “the Word was made flesh” was unthinkable. The Greek philosophers argued that behind every thing there must be a thought, that thought they called it “Logos.” The Jews went a step further and said, “It is true that behind every thing there is a thought, but behind every thought there must be a thinker, the MASTER DESIGNER, whom the thought pertains to, belongs to (John 1:1: “... the Word was WITH God, ...”). In John 8:42; 16:27; 17:8, Jesus told us that He proceeded forth and came from God the Father, and therefore is the “Word of God,” and the apostles believed this truth, John 16:30. To John, this new understanding of the Word was Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, through whom God executed His salvation. See 1 Corinthians 15:1-6).

When reading John 1:1, please read the three phrases constituting the sentence first within the context of the full sentence, then do search the truth within the key theme of the gospel of John, John 20:31, and then within the corresponding passages of John 1:14; 1 John 1:2; 1 John 5:7; Revelation19:13), and finally the grand theme of the entire Bible starting from Genesis 3:15. Also, note that the “Word/Logos” is distinct from “Rhema”. May God open the eyes of the hearts of all who are searching the truth with humility and sincerity as apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:15-23.

  • 1
    As the word of the created human being is the ultimate manifestation of that particular soul, the Word of God is the ultimate manifestation and persona Not so. 'The Word became flesh ....' is the manifestation. Nor is He who is Word, the 'ultimate' persona for God is One : Father and Son in one Holy Spirit. Your words are not careful enough and do not - properly - convey what scripture teaches.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 15:24
  • 2
    @Nigel, I did cite the Scripture passages carefully linked to each other. I know your position and do have respect for our differences, Still I entreat you to read the entire answer thoroughly without taking only a small portion of the full answer and trying to bleed that very small section. The truth is the truth and here is what apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:8:- “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” Commented May 22, 2020 at 15:41
  • 1
    Note on 1 John 5:7. Dr. Edgar J. Goodspeed, the Bible translator, on 1 John 5:7: “This verse has not been found in Greek in any manuscript in or out of the New Testament earlier than the thirteenth century. It occurs in no ancient Greek manuscript or Greek Christian writer or in any of the oriental versions. . . . It is universally discredited by Greek scholars and editors of the Greek text of the New Testament.”* Bruce Metzger wrote: “The passage [at 1 John 5:7] is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic), except the Latin.”
    – user35499
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 9:31
  • Biblical Hermeneutics demands the excellence of a scientific fact-finding approach to understand the Scripture, which is comprised entirely of the Words spoken by God, whether through the prophets, through Jesus, or through His "sent ones". @AlexBalilo adheres to divisive commentaries and fruitless word-twiddling to pursue a hell-bent effort to diminish the WORD of God to just another god--or less. This answer is clearly established upon that very WORD of God declared in the very passage of the OP's question to be God, not some other god. Is Almighty God, Himself, a " VOICELESS MUTE"? Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 17:52
  • @BillPorter. Would you say that the "church's" history of persecution and execution of those that questions its dogmas is a "hell bent" desire to get rid of its opponents? Would you say the enactment of the Blasphemy Act of 1697 in England and the execution British teenager named Thomas Aikenhead because of his refusal to believe in the trinity and John Calvin's execution of Michael Servetus are a result of those "hell bent" on getting rid of those that question the "orthodox's" doctrine?
    – user35499
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 0:22

I’m pretty sure putting these New Testament passages together makes it clear:

  1. ‭‭John‬ ‭1:1‬

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

  1. ‭‭I Timothy‬ ‭6:13-16‬

“I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”

  1. ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭19:11-16‬

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Conclusion: It’s obvious that Jesus is the Word in John 1:1.

  • Sadly, while it might 'seem' obvious - "Jesus is the Word in John 1:1" it is incorrect. How can this be so if Jesus - the word made flesh, only became so 2000 yrs ago? He cannot be 'in the beginning'.
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 3:46
  • @ Steve Owen: The beginning is in reference to time, example Genesis 1:1. God is from everlasting to everlasting, as it says in the Psalms. If you compare Jesus’ statement in John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14, you will see why His Jewish contemporaries wanted to stone Him. In the Greek, in John 8:58, Jesus used the strongest possible words with respect to His assertion of “I AM”. I’ve done research on this, so you’re incorrect in assuming that He is not divine.
    – Cork88
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 22:16
  • You have used two examples with an assumption rather than the clear and consistent scripture which shows clearly otherwise. We must not interpret the clear texts by using the ambiguous ones. John 8:40 - in Jesus' own words - '...a man who has told you the truth - which I heard from God'. He says man, you say God. ok, is he a liar? hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/55803/…
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 22:38
  • 1
    @ Steve Owen, you ignored God’s statement in the Old Testament that I referenced to your own exegetical neglect. Jesus also said “before Abraham was, I AM”. Which is a clear reference of what God said to Moses. On those grounds it’s obvious that you are in error with respect to John 1:1-3. Further the “Word” in John 1:1 is said to be a “He” in John 1:2. Which further confirms that the Word (logos) is a person, and John 1:14 proves that the “Word” became flesh, the only person mentioned to have come in the flesh is Jesus. So again, you are doing an exegetical fallacy in this context.
    – Cork88
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 0:31
  • 1
    @ Steve Owen: Furthermore, you are mistaken with Jesus “not being in the beginning”, Jesus said to His Father, God: “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” ‭‭John‬ ‭17:5‬
    – Cork88
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 0:34

The text speaks exactly of Jesus. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. "The Word was God", clearly shows the meaning of everything, because the Lord Jesus, before being on earth was in his glory. And to come to the human plane, he came down from his glory and became a man. And this all happened so that there would be justification for humanity, because it would be necessary that at least one fulfilled all the precepts and laws so that there would be salvation! So that is why, "the Word was with God and the Word was God", in the past, being in the textual context, as it was necessary that his full divine nature did not manifest. So that He would be subject to the carnal fears, weaknesses, sorrows and anxieties to overcome them all.

  • hi, so basically you're saying, 'in the beginning was Jesus' ? Which is not what John is telling us.
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 3:46
  • @USER48152 Under the law, the Spirit WORD of God had no flesh and blood, THEREFORE could not have been the Savior, named Jesus. (Mat. 1:21): And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. The eternal WORD of God, who WAS WITH God, and, in fact, who WAS GOD, became the Savior, ONLY after all His saving works. REMEMBER, when God rules and judges in righteousness, it will be by THE WORD OF GOD who had been made flesh, and had already become the Savior. He will rule and divide the spoil BECAUSE He became Savior. (Isaiah 53:12). Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 17:17
  • @Bill Can you explain/show support for the 'Spirit word of God'?
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 10:47
  • @user48152 Reciprocally in each other, the Father and Jesus--The WORD of God made flesh. John 14-11 proves their Oneness. John 6:62-64 enlightens:What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not.... That unbeliever was JUDAS. If The words that the Son of God speaks are spirit, not just "expressions", why is it so hard for you to "BELIEVE" that the WORD of God is spirit? Judas didn't believe either. Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 12:32
  • @Bill it's all very rubbery. You connect the 'eternal "spirit" word' (so no support) with Jesus the word (become flesh) as if they are the same! Not from scripture they're not. Jesus was a man who died and ceased to live - the son of God - ceased to live! He became spirit after resurrection - with incorruptible life ONLY AFTER His Father raised him from the dead. Rom 6:9 (Don't go over that soul nonsense again either.)
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 13:17

WHO is the word? Why does it have to be a 'who'?

1John 1:1-2 explain very clearly that the logos is not a person at all.

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was revealed to us. (revealed in Jesus)

It's a 'which' or a 'what'. This isn't the language used to describe God!

As explained here, the logos in the beginning is not yet Jesus. Jesus is not 'in the beginning' because John has not put him 'in the beginning'. Being the 'logos made flesh', we know when Jesus began from the gospels.

The 'word' or Gr. logos is used over 300 times in NT. Only in this first few verses of John have the translators granted it the emphasis of capitals. Personification alone, does not a person, make.

'logos' is variably translated in context as; word, statement, story, message, reason, to say, report, speech, news, account, utterance, assertion, instruction, command, and others. No other passages reveal the logos as a 'person' with some kind of separate 'life' from God (the Father) until Jesus is born (the 'logos' became flesh) and given the title, the Word of God.

Here's some examples of 'logos'; (there's plenty more)

Luke 7:17 And the news about Jesus spread

John 6:60 This is a difficult statement

Phil 2:16 holding fast the word of life

John 15:3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you

Matt 5:37 But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes

Acts 8:21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter

Heb 4 :12 The word of God is living and active…

Even in this last proclamation, 'logos' is not granted any special treatment with capitals or personification.

John is explaining what the word was in relation to God, not who, as the examples show clearly.

Jesus IS the logos made flesh,

NOW we have a 'who' in Jesus. Rev 19:13

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

We can say that Jesus as the Word is not an exclusive expression of God. There are other aspects or expressions of God's word apart from Jesus. As God grants Jesus the words in Revelation (1:1) we effectively have God's word, given to Jesus, the Word.

To add another aspect to this 'logos', the Jews of the day who heard John speak/write of the 'logos of God' would NEVER have considered there was another 'person' to God - He was and is ONE solitary God. They knew of the 'one to come' and of the passages in OT that spoke of a Messiah, a 'holy one' etc. So we cannot arbitrarily add this aspect to the text that was never there to begin with - or even intended by the author.

Making perfect sense when we are freed from the 'person construct' of the word prior to Jesus' birth. He is the word, the plan, the wisdom, the message of God made flesh, becoming a holy human person (a second Adam) who could die - and through such a holy death, defeat evil forever.

  • 2
    The translators (I am referring to the KJV) only capitalised 'Word'. They did not 'personify' it. It is the Greek text written by John the apostle which conveys the meaning of person (in this particular place) to 'word' and makes 'Word' justifiable. Deity was the Word is a translation well worth considering, bearing in mind the usage of Theos in Greek and the usage of Deity in English, if one is prepared to view them both as collective nouns.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 13:14
  • The use of personification (by John) is fine, wisdom had the same treatment, as does sin, but it doesn't need to enforce personhood. Prov 1:20, and wisdom has children Luke 7:35, sin crouching at the door Gen 4:7, a foot speaks 1Cor 12:15. I wonder where the 'WORD' went all this time, not mentioned anywhere else except as noted above. As some 'part' of God, he doesn't do much. Picking one verse here and there does not a (good) doctrine make.
    – Steve
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 6:46
  • 1
    @user48152, The question is, "just how did God get by without being able to say anything, if the WORD could not be a facet (panyim--person) of God Almighty? Was Genesis 1:3 simply a HICCUP that Moses totally misstated? Almighty God has MANY paniym and He declares them all by personal names. That is the beauty of the Scripture. (Ex. 6:3): And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. (2 Sa. 22:47): The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation. Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 19:17
  • 1
    @user48152, they are much more than just forms of expression. They are paniym--facets--faces--"operational capacities"--of the One true God Almighty. For example, God requires two, or more witness to establish the TRUTH of every matter (Deu 17:6 and 19:15; 2 Cor. 13:1). 1 John 5:7 identifies three qualifying record bearers in Heaven (now that the Son has ascended to be with the Father) as,the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And 5:8 identifies the three that bear witness in earth (since Pentecost), the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 2:17
  • 2
    @user48152, For the sake of the OP's question, and any who are interested in the truth as to that question, as to your claim that the WORD of God has no name, You know, as well as I know, that Revelation 19:13 totally disagrees with you: "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God." So we have an issue as to whether your view of Biblical Hermeneutics being really, and truly, a pursuit to decipher Biblical passages. You ask for names. The Bible gives you names and you call the Bible nonsense. Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 23:44

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