John 1:1-5 (ESV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1 is often referred to as ‘the Prologue to the Gospel’. It talks about Christ as the Word Incarnate.
Kruse* explained it as,
The opening paragraph of The Prologue describes the person and work of the Word, in a number of brief but highly significant statements.
- “In the beginning was the Word”, echoes the opening words of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Genesis 1:1
As God was in the beginning prior to the creation of the world, so too was the Word.
The Prologue shows a relationship between the Word and God, a relationship implies different persons, which moves us away from Unitarianism (one God-one person) towards Trinitarianism (one God-three persons) -[Father, Son (the Word) and Spirit].
Jesus, the Word Incarnate, claims to be one with God, but that involves being in a relationship with God. So when the Prologue says, ‘the Word was God’, it is not saying that the Word and God constitute an undifferentiated unity, but rather it is saying, in words aptly spoken by Maloney**, “What God was, the Word was also”.
- Incarnate – having a body of human form (from in – meaning ‘in’ and a Latin word carnis meaning ‘of flesh’)
- Incarnation – the process of taking a human form. The Incarnation – God’s taking a human form as Christ.
In the Old Testament, God regularly acts by means of his ‘Word’ – what He says happens, Psalm 33:6 – “by the Word of the Lord, the heavens were made”.
God’s Word is the one thing that will last even though people and plants will die (Isaiah 40:6-8). God’s Word will go out of His mouth and bring life, healing and hope to Israel and the whole of creation (Isaiah 55:10-11).
That is part of what lies behind John’s choice of ‘Word’ here, as a way of telling us who Jesus really is.
“Word isn’t an abstract principle, it’s a person and I’m going to introduce you to Him.” – N T Wright
*C.G Kruse, Tyndall New Testament Commentaries: John
**Francis J. Maloney, The Gospel of John