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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; John 1:1 (YLT)

Brethren, a new command I write not to you, but an old command, that ye had from the beginning -- the old command is the word that ye heard from the beginning 1 John 2:7 (YLT)

What is the meaning of the word "word" in John 1:1 and 1 John 2:7? Is the beginning mentioned in John 1:1 the same beginning in 1 John 2:7?

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  • I see two questions.
    – sara
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 8:25
  • @sara - I agree - that is why I provided two answers.
    – Dottard
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 9:08

3 Answers 3

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Yes and No - you have asked two separate questions which should be treated separately.

Words

The two Greek words translated "beginning" and "word" in 1 John 2:7 and John 1:1 are as follows:

  • ἀρχή = "beginning" in both 1 John 2:7 and John 1:1
  • λόγος = "word" in both 1 John 2:7 and John 1:1

Meanings

The fact that the same word is used in two different settings does not mean that it has the same meaning in both cases. To illustrate this, let me quote some specific case for the word ἀρχή = "beginning" -

  • Matt 19:4 - Jesus answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ In this, "beginning" means the beginning of the creation of this world. The same holds true in Matt 19:8, 24:21
  • Matt 24:8 - And all these are the beginning of birth pains. In this case "beginning" is the start of the wars, famine and earthquakes during the Christian era.
  • Mark 1:1 - This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In this case, "beginning" is the start of Mark's story of the gospel about Jesus.
  • Luke 1:2 - just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, In this case, "beginning" is the start of Jesus' earthly ministry when the disciples who were eye-witnesses later testified about Jesus.
  • John 2:11 - This was the beginning of the signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and He revealed His glory. And His disciples believed in Him. In this case, "beginning" is the start of Jesus' miracles.

Thus, ἀρχή = "beginning" is used to refer to a variety of "starts" as defined by the context.

In the case of John 1:1, the "beginning" refers to an ancient eternity past; by contrast, "beginning" in 1 John 2:7 denotes the start of what the John's recipients had heard about the Gospel; that is, the primary teaching about God's love (V5) was the first and most important thing that they were taught.

Similarly, the meaning or "referent" of λόγος = "word" depends upon context, for example (according to BDAG):

  1. a communication whereby the mind finds expression, eg, Luke 24:19, Acts 7:22, Rom 15:18, 2 Cor 10:11, Col 3:17, 2 Thess 2:17, Heb 13:21, 1 John 3:18, and, 1 John 2:7 (= teaching about God's love), etc, etc
  2. Computation, reckoning, eg, Rom 14:12, Heb 13:17, Luke 16:2, 1 Peter 4:5, Matt 12:36, Acts 19:40, etc, etc.
  3. the independent personified expression of God, the Logos, eg, John 1:1, 14, 1 John 1:1, Rev 19:13, etc. This last text clearly refers to Jesus.

CONCLUSION

Thus, while the words, "beginning" and "word" are the same in 1 John 2:7 and John 1, they have quite different meanings as documented above and attested by the reputable BDAG.

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    So, what is ὁ λόγος ὃν ἠκούσατε (1 John 2:7)? If it is not the same λόγος of John 1:1,14 and of 1 John 1:1, what is it? Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 9:42
  • 1
    P.S. No IMHO, please … Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 9:43
  • 2
    As I suspected, you’ got only your “opinions” … Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 22:44
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    So they are the same words, but they have different contexts of usage?
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 12 at 23:41
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    @Jason_ - "Context is King!"
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 13 at 0:54
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The word ὁ λόγος and beginning ἀρχῆς are the same. The preposition phrase has a different preposition Ἐν ἀρχῇ (John 1:1) and ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς (1 John 2:7). They refer to different events.

John 1:1 refers to:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1, ESV)

While 1 John 2:7 refers to:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35, ESV)

Thus, the words have different meanings.

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In terms of the Greek text, the word for "Word," "Logos," is identical. Both verses have it as "λόγος" in the nominative masculine singular form.

The word for "beginning," "archē," differs only in its declension. In John 1:1 it appears as "ἀρχῇ" in the dative feminine singular form of the noun, whereas in 1 John 2:7 it takes the form "ἀρχῆς" which is the genitive feminine singular noun. This difference is purely a matter of grammatical usage, and does not change the word meaning.

The dative case indicates that the word is used as an indirect object. The genitive indicates possession or close association, e.g. "of the beginning."

The word "λόγος" (Logos) means simply "Word." The usage can apply broadly, indicating concepts such as a word, a saying, a message, a voice, or a speech. It can be used to encompass an idea or concept, a prophecy that is given, a commandment of God, a doctrine, a precept, or perhaps even "truth" in general (though it is not translated as "truth" anywhere in the New Testament).

According to BlueLetterBible, the KJV translates it as follows: AV — word 218, saying 50, account 8, speech 8, Word (Christ) 7, thing 5, not tr 2, misc 32.

There are over a hundred verses in the New Testament where this word is NOT translated as "word." Its meaning is broad and with broad application. Understanding the context is always important.

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