The opening of the Prologue is much debated:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (ESV)
ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος

In particular, ἐν ἀρχῇ, in the beginning, is often understood as alluding to Genesis 1:1:

In the beginning God made the sky and the earth. (LXX-Genesis 1:1 NETS)
ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν

I notice the next verse in the Prologue, begins much like the the "second" creation narrative begins, except οὗτος is used in place of αὕτη, reflecting the difference between the Word, ὁ λόγος, and the book, ἡ βίβλος:

This is the book of the origin of heaven and earth, when it originated, on the day God made the sky and the earth. (LXX-Genesis 2:4 NETS)
αὕτη ἡ βίβλος γενέσεως οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὅτε ἐγένετο ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν

He (the Word) was in the beginning with God. (1:2)
οὗτος (ὁ λόγος) ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν

It seems John 1:2 also begins with an allusion to creation, this time to Genesis 2:4. Is this a reasonable conclusion? If so, what does the combination of ἐν ἀρχῇ (1:1) and οὗτος (1:2) add to John's description of the nature of the the Word and to the relationship with God?


3 Answers 3


John 1:2 and Gen 2:4 do not share any significant words in common. Thus, they cannot be parallel.

There is a much stronger parallel between John 1:1-5 and Gen 1:1-4 as follows:

John 1:1-5 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Gen 1:1-4 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.

Thus we have the following in common to both passages:

  • in the beginning
  • God
  • light
  • darkness
  • creation of either all things, or, heaven and earth (almost the same idea)
  • [if we extend this a little] Word vs God said.

Such has been observed before and is noted in such Bible versions as the BSB, etc. The effect of this is obvious - John wanted to place Jesus at the center of the creation account in Genesis as also referenced in other places such as John 1:10, Col 1:16, 17, Heb 1:2.

This is done in the clear allusion to other references (Isa 44:24, 45:18) that state that Jehovah God created the world/universe alone or "by Myself".

  • if "John wanted to place Jesus at the center of the creation account " then we would be reading Jesus - we do not. Shame about that bit to an otherwise good answer.
    – Steve
    Jan 6, 2022 at 1:31
  • 2
    @steveowen If Moses had wanted to put YHVH at the center we would be reading that, not elohim in Genesis 1. Do we deny His existence on the basis of the absence of His name in Genesis 1? Jan 6, 2022 at 1:43
  • Not sure I see how John 1:1-5 does not go beyond Genesis 1:1:4. Jan 6, 2022 at 1:45
  • 1
    “John 1:2 and Gen 2:4 do not share any significant words in common. Thus, they cannot be parallel.” — Perhaps a quibble, but perhaps not: identifying literary parallels shouldn't just be a matter of looking for common words.
    – adam.baker
    Jan 6, 2022 at 8:04
  • @adam.baker - then what is verbal parallelism about?
    – Dottard
    Jan 6, 2022 at 8:56

John takes the reader back to Genesis to determine when beginning started. At creation, Genesis chapters 1&2. John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God (Theos), and the Word was God (Theos)." Greek: Logos (Word) is the subject, not Theos. This is because the definite article "the" is before Logos and not Theos".

The references to creation John 1:3 "All things were made through Him", life 1:4, light and darkness are paralleled in Genesis 1 at creation. John clearly had the Genesis account of creation in mind when he wrote this.


Just like Dottard said, John 1:1-5 is an allusion to Genesis 1:4.

“In the beginning” is a mistranslation of breshit. If the text had wanted to say "in the beginning" there would have been bareshit instead of breshit. Be (in) + ha (the) = ba. So instead “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” a better translation would be “when God began to create heaven and earth”. So the very first thing that God did was speaking the light. Some rabbinic traditions call it the hidden light or the light of Messiah. They teach that God did not create the hidden light, but rather revealed it. Which is exactly what John tells us in the first verses of his gospel.

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