And 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. - John 1:14 KJV

The word in question is γίνομαι (ginomai) and Strong's Concordance defines it's usage as:

A prolonged and middle form of a primary verb; to cause to be (“gen” -erate), that is, (reflexively) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literally, figuratively, intensively, etc.): - arise be assembled, be (come, -fall, -have self), be brought (to pass), (be) come (to pass), continue, be divided, be done, draw, be ended, fall, be finished, follow, be found, be fulfilled, + God forbid, grow, happen, have, be kept, be made, be married, be ordained to be, partake, pass, be performed, be published, require, seem, be showed, X soon as it was, sound, be taken, be turned, use, wax, will, would, be wrought.

The verb is most often translated as "became" or "was made" with the occasional "came in" or "took on". In John 1:14 the voice of this verb is middle deponent:

The word εγενετο is the 3rd person single form of the verb marked similar below. Its tense is 2nd aorist (which indicates the mere fact of the action, with deliberate silence about when the action takes place or how long it would last), its voice is middle deponent (which indicates that the subject performs the action, instead of receives it), and its mood is indicative (which describes a situation that actually is — as opposed to a situation that might be, is wished for, or is commanded to be). - https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/g/g-i-n-o-m-a-i.html

An online greek course has this to say about middle voice and deponent verbs:

When the middle voice is used the subject is performing the action, but is also involved in some further way in that action. The subject may both perform and receive the action, or may perform the action on his own behalf, or in some other way be more intimately involved in the action.

Many verbs have middle or passive forms that will often be translated into English using active voice verbs. An example is ἔρχομαι, I come, I go. Traditionally, these have been called deponent verbs. The word deponent is from the Latin deponere = to lay aside. This term suggests that the middle or passive meaning was laid aside for these particular verbs even though the middle or passive form was used. However, for many of these so-called deponent verbs, it may well be that the Greek speaker really had a perspective on the action that made a middle voice appropriate, even though in modern English we would tend to describe the action using an active voice.

Since the Word is the subject of the middle deponent verb (which indicates that the subject performs the action), is it fair to say that the Word performs the enfleshment rather than being enfleshed by another?

Note: Apologies for the creation of the word "enfleshment". Oddly enough, spell-check recognized "enfleshment" but not "enfleshed" :-)

  • 1
    Does the verse say that the Word enfleshed itself? Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 17:14
  • Being verbs do not perform an action.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 17:57
  • 1
    1. 'He took on the seed of Abraham' is a willing and active act. Heb 2:16. 2. 'A body hast thou prepared me' is also an active participation. Psalm 40:6 and Heb 10:5. 3. 'Enfleshment' is not an English word (OED) and does not convey the Greek of the text. 4. The Word became flesh is the precise meaning (see The Englishman's Greek New Testament.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 20:06
  • @AlexBalilo That is exactly the question. Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 11:38
  • #Mike Borden. John 1:14 does not say the word enfleshed itself. How was Jesus begotten.?Was it he that caused his own life, existence and birth?. Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 11:50

5 Answers 5


Let us just take a view outside of the "box" of the grammar and address to a common sense: before the creation of the universe there is only God. Now, when creating, this God necessarily does so with His Word and Spirit: "By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by His Spirit" (Psalm 33:6). Christians interpreted it as the Trinity of the Persons of the Father and the Logos and the Holy Spirit, being inspired by the Latter in this interpretation.

If so, then who could have acted upon the Logos if He is the very principle of action upon everybody, so that even the Father cannot act without Him (and the Spirit for that matter) acting simultaneously, Their divine activity being one activity in fact? This means that He, Logos, Himself acted in His enfleshment, not being acted upon by any higher principle for Himself along with the Father and the Holy Spirit is the Highest Principle.

However, both deponent and medio-passive modes are meet and appropriate, for He made Himself voluntarily and unnecessarily to be subject to human, created nature, appropriating it in such a hypostatic/personal way, as to making a human, created life fully His own, so that henceforth we can freely say: the Logos is in pain; the Logos is in hunger; the Logos suffers death, all of these related to His human nature which has become indispensable and irremovable constituent of His uncreated Hypostasis/Person. Thus, the Logos also suffered or undergone becoming human, but He made Himself to undergo it, therefore in this mysterious happening He is both subject initiating and affecting the action and object suffering or undergoing the same action.

Paradox of Christianity is that the unbegan and uncreated person of Logos, who was nakedly God before the enfleshemnt is now Jesus Christ, and always will remain, for He will never ever discard the human nature which He assumed at the enfleshment or, better, inhumanation.

Rabis and Mullahs (and quasi-Christian heretics for that matter) cannot grasp this mystery: only some two thousand years ago the eternal God became a man and lived among men, and will always remain man in the Hypostasis of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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    – Jesse
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 20:25

Is it fair to say that the "enfleshment" of John 1:14 was caused by the Word?

On "The word in question is γίνομαι (ginomai)....."

NT Greek expert Dr. Alfred Marshall tells us:

"[Ginomai] denotes the coming into existence of what did not exist before.... This verb [just like huparchon] is therefore not used of God...."

Marshall further explains that although ginomai is often translated into English as "is," "are," "were," etc. it must nevertheless be remembered that it still retains the additional meaning of having come into existence! - p. 106, New Testament Greek Primer, Zondervan Publishing House, 1978 printing.

If the Word became flesh, which it did not have before, how did it became flesh? Did the Word, who others say is God, but is not the same God that he was with in John 1:1, enfleshed himself? That would then mean that the God the Word became flesh. That sounds like a transformation from spirit to flesh. The bible says God does not change.

Granting that the Word enfleshed himself, does the Bible show how God enfleshed himself?

There is no verse in the bible that shows a God the Word / Creator that enfleshed himself. If the Word enfleshed Himself, did he became a full grown flesh/man or was he born of a woman?

The bible shows that by the power of God, Jesus had a human birth. Luke 1:26-28. This is how the word became flesh.

The word egeneto simply means became in this verse. It does not mean `took on". The Word did not enfleshed himself.

  • 1
    "That sounds like a transformation from spirit to flesh." Yes, this verse is actually problematic for Trinitarians on the standard reading, isn't it? God the Son didn't become flesh, he added a human nature while keeping his divine nature. Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 4:15
  • @OneGodtheFather Why problematic? Does a flesh and blood man not have a spirit component? Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 12:14
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    @MikeBorden Right. Does that spirit become flesh? Doesn't sound right to me. Some believe that John was concerned about certain kinds of Docetism in his Gospel, and that's why he emphasized Jesus' human nature so much (the Word is actually flesh, and Jesus is still really flesh after the resurrection, unlike what the Docetists are claiming). But is 'came to be' really the right verb here? Does ancient Greek have nothing for 'added' or 'took on'? Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 18:13
  • Apart from offering a partial definition of ginomai, this answer completely bypasses the fact that the middle voice of this deponent verb is used. Could you edit in a link to Dr. Marshall's definition so that the entire entry can be seen? Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 12:29
  • 1
    @MikeBorden Ya, but we're talking about natures here. Can a cat become a dog and still remain a cat? No, that sounds like a very strange way of talking to me. Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 18:08

The answer to this question is supplied explicitly by Phil 2:5-8:

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, made [himself] in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross.

In V7 above, we have three actions:

  • Jesus emptied Himself
  • Jesus actively took the form of a servant
  • Lastly, again, the verb γενόμενος is in the middle voice and thus technically could be translated (as I have above) "made [Himself]". That is the "making" of Jesus in the likeness of humanity was (according the the verb itself), an act of Jesus Himself

Let there be no doubt that Jesus was the one who emptied Himself and humbled himself and Himself took humanity. This is confirmed by the middle voice in John 1:14 (as the OP correctly observes) of the verb γίνομαι in the form ἐγένετο = to become by one's own action. Thus, if I were translating this in an extremely pedantic way, it might look something like:

John 1:14 - And the Word became/made Himself flesh and dwelt among us ...

However, as the OP also points out, this is a deponent verb, meaning that the passive or middle voice is used for the active. If we assume the latter that the verb is active, we get exactly the same result - the Word does the action; however, the action here is that creation of "flesh" (= a human body) for the same Word to be human. Thus, the result is exactly the same.

We see further evidence for this in Jesus' famous statement in John 10:17, 18,

The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. ...

Further Notes BTW:

  1. This is not surprising as in John 1:3 we are told that "all things" were made by the Word. and this obviously includes His own "flesh". See also Col 1:16.
  2. The usual term in English for such "enfleshment" is, "incarnation" (from a Latin root).
  • 1
    @AlexBalilo - "egeneto". You cannot read Greek and you presume to know what the Greek in this verse says? Is that not a remarkable admission?
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 1:48
  • 1
    My knowledge of the subject of the Q, I learned by researching. Assuming you know Greek, am I to presume that everything you say about biblical subjects involving Greek is correct and the truth? The Q is in English and I asked in English. If part of your answer say the Word made Himself flesh but that is not what the verse really says, does your knowledge of Greek afford you the right to not honestly translate the verse you cited.? Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 2:11
  • 1
    @AlexBalilo - yes to the first question according to the Scripture I quoted above.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 12:13
  • 2
    @AlexBalilo Do you know that Logos is not only the expression of God but also the rational mind of God as well? There cannot be an ontological difference between God and the mind of God (He is One), therefore the mind of God (God Himself) expressed Himself in the person of Jesus. The middle deponent verb seems to convey this. Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 12:24
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    @Dottard ἐγένετο is from γίνομαι, which means "become". So, for the middle, you could use "became himself", or if you wanted to amplify "intentionally became", but in any situation, it does not have the reflexive pronoun, so "himself" is less preferable. If I were translating it to keep word count, I'd try to use connotation to show the middle voice, which English really doesn't do. So, "became" is probably sufficient because of the nature of what it means to "become", not exactly a transitive action.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 23:47

I see some people calling "the word" of John 1 "God's word." That is not at all what it says, there is no possessive/genitive. It does not say anything about "God's word" or words belonging to God.

It says "In the beginning The Word was already existing." The Word has self existence here. Then it says, "And the The Word was with God" (article shown for clarity). So The Word is shown to exist in relation to The God contrary to those trying to make this "God's word," but rather quite clearly and without ambiguity something that exists in relation to the God.

Finally, "and The Word was God." So we have learned from John that the Word is self existent, that the Word is eternal, that the Word exists in relation to God, and that Word is in very nature God.

Notice that at Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Both verse start out with the same three words.

The main thought in Genesis 1:1 is on WHAT HAPPENED in the beginning," and in John 1:1 the emphasis is on WHO EXISTED "in the beginning."

This is why John 1:2 states, "He/This one was in the beginning with God. God's spoken words are not in view in John 1 and neither is Gods plan or design.

Look at Hebrews 1:1-2, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, vs2, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, THROUGH WHOM ALSO HE MADE THE WORLD." These are persons of flesh and bones, including the incarnation of the Son, not words.

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    Heb 1 does NOT say 'he made the world'. That is not representative of the Greek for ages as genuine translations will attest.. You make a person out of nothing, ignoring 1John completely, and every other NT use of logos not explicitly referring to Jesus. Certainly the son, Jesus, is the fleshly logos - made through Mary and the HS.
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 0:28
  • @Mr.Bond. What do you you mean when you say incarnation?. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 6:33
  • @AlexBalilo The word incarnation means “the act of being made flesh.” There is plenty of Biblical support verifying this fact. John 1:1-14 is just one example. There is also Biblical support that Jesus Christ pre-existed His incarnation as a man. Also, Jesus Himself referred to Himself on numerous occasions that He was the "Son of God" and the "Son of Man. He was the Son of God on His Father's side which means His nature was "deity. He was the Son of Man on His mother's side which means He was human when He incarnated. It's a universal law that a son shares the same nature as it's father.
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 14:24
  • @Mr.Bond a continuing example of reading in those things one wishes to see. This last comment of yours is based on philosophy and not bible. Adam was a 'son of God' (Luke 3:38), as were many others mentioned - were they all deity too? No. Your logic has failed you in these matters.
    – Steve
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 2:43
  • @steveowen The following explains why Jesus is the one and only Son of God. cslewis.com/jesus-begotten-not-created Also, give me an example of a son that does not share the same nature as its father? If Jesus is created then explain John 1:2-3? "This one was in the beginning with God. It does not say, This "spoken word or words were with God." Vs3, "All things came into being by "HIM/autou. The Him is a person who was Jesus Christ and without "HIM" nothing has come into being that has come into being." Since Jesus existed before creation at Genesis 1:1 how is that He is created?
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 17:27

Is it fair to say that the "enfleshment" of John 1:14 was caused by the Word?

No, it is not.

The word is simply the will, expression, power and outreach of God in His oral decree. The same author John, expressly shows the word as a 'which' or a 'what' and not a person who was 'with' God in the beginning. John recasts the essential core of God's interaction (His word) with creation by enlarging and reinforcing the simple introduction in his Gospel.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life. 2And this is the life that was revealed; we have seen it and testified to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. 1John 1:1-2

  • How is this (it) 'word of life' revealed? In Jesus and in relationship with him.v3
  • What have they gazed upon and touched? The word which is now Jesus.
  • When did he become the word? When conceived (and finally born) in Mary.
  • "And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us". Only in Jesus is dwelt among us possible.
  • Now, Jesus and God dwell within us by the spirit. John 14:23

If John meant 'whom' he would have said so. But no, the 'whom' is Jesus who is that human expression of God's will and intention. He is the one they can now touch and see because he is the word of God embodied. Certainly, the nature of the 'word' or 'logos' is totally representative of God in every respect - what God says will be, will be. This representation is now the human Jesus who also is the source of life, power and decree, being given this authority within God's sovereignty.

The 'word', like Jesus when he was on earth until his resurrection to immortal life, is incapable of doing anything of itself/himself.

John introduces the 'word', the other Gospels explain how it was made flesh through the divine intersection of God with Mary to cause her to conceive a holy child.

The idea of devising doctrine and person on some perceived nuance of Greek grammar, when the text is quite explicit (and supported by itself in other passages), is unsound practise for those seeking the intended meaning of the words God provided.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 20:27

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