In the beginning of the Fourth Gospel there is no mention of the Father, the Son, or the Spirit:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2) [NKJV]

Obviously Jesus makes mention of the Father when He is on the earth, but in the Prologue only after "the Word" returns as Jesus Christ does John make mention of the Father:

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)

Given the stated preexistence and divinity of the Word, the omission of Father seems purposeful to establish the picture that "the Father" was not addressed as such until after the Word (which was God) was sent from God. In other words, the use of "Word" and "God" in the beginning describes a unity of God in which terms such as "Son" and "Father" are unnecessary. However, after the Word departs from God the terms "Father" and "Son" are needed.

Does John fail to put the Father in the beginning and "wait" until the end of the Prologue to show "Father" is only proper after the Word who was God and would become flesh departed from God?

  • The Son was sent from God. And yet, being sent, Jesus says 'The Son of man - which is in heaven'. The statement 'I and my Father are one' is ever true. And if 'Father' then Father eternally. Your question makes a supposition in the fifth paragraph. And you are trying to imply that 'Father' and 'Son' are irrelevant within deity eternally. And you have established no evidence for that supposition in this question.
    – Nigel J
    May 30, 2020 at 7:58
  • @NigelJ I am simply reading the text. In the beginning was... and now is... Had the Son not come to the earth would we know what we know as a result of His coming? And if not, then did His coming in the flesh cause the conditions revealed to us as "Father" and "Son?" Or maybe, if the Son had not come would we have the same conception of God as we do since He did come? May 30, 2020 at 15:42
  • 'Cause the conditions' ? ? ? The eternal Deity is whom he is. Incarnation does not alter what eternal Deity is within himself.
    – Nigel J
    May 30, 2020 at 16:48
  • @NigelJ How can God who is eternal experience death? May 30, 2020 at 17:00
  • 2
    @Nigel, that's classic gnosticism, and not orthodoxy in any mainline Christian church I know of. Jesus and the father are one (John 10:30), and Jesus died on the cross in flesh and was buried in flesh. And resurrected in flesh so that others could see and touch him and his wounds. God experienced death in and through Jesus.
    – Gus L.
    Jun 2, 2020 at 14:58

2 Answers 2


At John 17:5, Jesus said he was in the presence of the Father (παρά σόι) before the world began.

He did not say in the presence of "God".

Thus "Father" is not speaking of the relationship of "God" to a human Son.

It speaks of the same relationship at John 1:1, where the Word ην προς τον θεον, another text which using a different syntax describes a face-to-face being "with God" before the world came into existence.

Here "God" is used to describe the only other person in existence besides ο λόγος before τα πάντα came into existence through the intermediate agency of ο λόγος.

It may be that the term "Father" is closely related to Jesus' self expression, and the prologue is not quoting Jesus, but is a narrative written by John.


John 5:15-18, The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

Here in this verse after the healing at the pool of Bethesda, the jewish authorities are questioning him and react with violence and seek to execute him for the sin of placing himself in father/son relationship to the father. So here it is clearly perceived as heretical by the Judeans to place yourself in a familial relationship to God.

But as Christ points out in John 10:34, "I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you;" Jesus's own interpretation of Psalm 82 seems to indicate a precedence for this, but he follows up with "an you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?"

And in John 1:12, we have the thesis of the Gospel: "But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God..."

So it seems that for John, he presents a kind of tension. Believing in Jesus' name (Joshua = only Yahweh saves, not man) seems to be indicate a kind of subordination of mind like a submission to God that enables us to become as God in someway, but through no work or worth of our own.

He states this as a new kind of concept that arrives in Jesus, but then he also says that Jesus is the word made flesh (which, among other things includes the Torah). There are then many theological arguments (like in John 10) about how God is the father and how there is already precedence for this concept and support for it in the Torah. In this way, John indicates that Christ adds nothing new to the Torah on this concept, but is merely correcting an interpretation.

I tend to think that the Johannine jews were a group that had a tradition with many orthodox jewish ties and thought of their relationship to god as parent to child and/or shepherd to sheep. This was in opposition to the majority party of Judeans.

I view this similar to liberal christianity today seeking to expand the net of inclusion to multiple gender identities and sexual orientations while conservative christians tend to reject these ideas as disallowed. Both groups seek back to the ancient documents for support of their takes. Neither group is trying to discard the scriptures, but instead to argue for a better interpretation that the original authors may have thought.

John 5:17 (already quoted above) has this interesting claim that "my father is still working [on the sabbath]." This seems to be a criticism of how the Hebrew Torah says, in Genesis 2:1, "on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested". But in the samaritan torah and the greek septuagint, the text says, "God completed in the sixth day the works which he did, and on the seventh day he rested from his works.

Here, the orthodox Hebrew read of the "original language" indicates that "God was still working" (e.g. finished his work on the seventh day and then rested). This seems to be a criticism of the hellenistic (Greek LXX) take on the topic (John 4 has a conversation about samaritan interpretations of where worship should take place with the woman at the well - Mt. Gerezim vs Jerusalem, a major difference in the samaritan vs. Hebrew text).

So to answer your question, it seems like Jesus came to let us all see God as the father, but also to illustrate that this is merely the appropriate interpretation of the Torah (in the original context) and that the majority Jewish opinion had been skewed away from this familial relationship.

So just as with LGBTQ supportive churches and those that ordain women, their arguments are not in spite of the scripture, but because of the scripture. They indicate that this sense of relationship was lost, but was there in the original sense. It really is a doctrinal battle in John. Jesus is the WORD (torah) made into flesh for these kind of doctrinal clarifications. The Johannine community achieved this by saying, "God is on our side," as continues to be done today and through the history of evolving orthodoxy.

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