‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’.
A good friend of mine asked me the other day about the Word referred to above in John 1:1. Christians often go to this text as evidence that Jesus Christ is God. My friend, however, disputed this by connecting the Word described here with the Wisdom of Proverbs 8.
‘The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.’
Below, I have copied my friend’s message in blue, with my responses following. I trust you will find our dialogue helpful.
‘I wrote my opinion for more accurate analysis. I want to see my mistakes. Please read and show me where I am wrong.
John 1:1 is the most famous verse in the Bible for misleading people for believing Jesus is the part of the God or the God himself . This is a misunderstood belief and I will try to explain true meaning by strong evidences from the old and the new testaments.
The problem arises due to assuming the word is the Jesus.’
Christian’s are not assuming anything here, but let’s leave that to the side for now and work through your argument step by step. At the end, I will present the evidence as to why the Word in John1:1 is Jesus.
However according to the proverbs 8,22 the wisdom was created first and then God created all the universe by the wisdom.
The mistake you are making here is to use the word ‘create’. The Hebrew word in the verse is Qanah. The more general word for create, as used in Genesis 1:1 is Bara’. Qanah is better understood as ‘possessed’ as it is translated in the KJV. It is used of a variety of things: heaven & earth, Israel, wisdom … and how each comes into God’s possession is different. Heaven & earth comes into God’s possession through creation (Gen 1:1). Israel comes into God’s possession via redemption (they were bought – Deuteronomy 32:6).
I suggest ‘wisdom’ was always in God’s possession. Was there ever a time that God was without wisdom?
In proverbs 8,35 wisdom gives life. Agreed
In (John 1,4) (The Word gave life to everything that was created, Agreed and his life brought light to everyone). Agreed (1v9), but some, then and now, don’t comprehend the light (1v5)
As the WISDOM gives life in (Proverbs 8,35) the WORD in John 1,4 must be equal to the WISDOM. Agreed
Therefore John 1 1 can be read as below by replacing the WORD with WISDOM. Agreed
‘At the beginning God created the WISDOM and WISDOM was with God and WISDOM was God.’
In this last step you can see clearly the mistake of translating the word in Prov 8:22 as ‘created’. Including ‘created’ in John 1:1 makes the verse illogical. God created wisdom … wisdom was God. Do you see the problem? If wisdom was God, then God created God.
If we see wisdom as that which God always possessed, but which was manifest through the Creation, and we quote the verse as John wrote it only changing Word to Wisdom, then it makes sense.
‘In the beginning was Wisdom, and Wisdom was with God, and Wisdom was God’
Now I will try to explain how the wisdom can be a God.
If you accept the interpretation above and begin from God, you do not need to explain how Wisdom can be God. Instead, let me go back to the question at the beginning, and show clearly, with evidence, why the Word/Wisdom is Jesus.
The first lesson in Biblical interpretation is to read a verse in its immediate context. Each book of the Bible is written as a cohesive whole. The majority of the Bible is written as historical-narrative, and therefore, each verse, each statement of the Bible does not exist in isolation from that which is around it. A narrative is being told, or an argument is being developed. This is what we do to make ourselves understood. It is what you did in the message you sent me. It makes sense that God too, wanting us to understand, would reveal Himself in an ordered and progressive way.
And so, to understand what John was meaning when, inspired by God, he wrote about ‘the Word’, we first read the full passage. There we find in verse 14 a further reference to the Word: ‘and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory’. The Greek is καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο, καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ . It is to be noted that there are no variants of this phrase in any manuscripts and two of the earliest manuscripts (P66 and P75, both conservatively dated to within 150 years of John’s actual writing) contain these very words.
Note that the bold word (σὰρξ) means the physical, material flesh/body (See John 3:6). The word that follows (ἐγένετο) translated ‘became’ signifies a change of condition, state or place (Vine, Unger, White). So John is saying the eternal, spiritual, immaterial Word, that existed with God, that gives life, became, at a certain point in time, a physical, material body.
Who would John be referring to?
Let’s follow the thread through the rest of the Gospel and read of the One who gives life –
John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 4:13,14 Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’
John 5:39-40 ‘Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And you will not come to me, that you might have life.’
John 6:27,47-51 ‘Labour not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you … Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me has everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’
John 7:37-38 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”.’
John 8:12 Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’
John10:10,11 ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.’
John 10:28 ‘And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.’
John 11:25-27 Jesus said unto her, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said unto him, ‘Yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.’
John 17:1-5 These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.’
John 20:30-31 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.
I don’t think John could be any clearer. The subject of his Gospel is the Word/Wisdom who gives life, and all the way through the Gospel, we find that Jesus is the One who is offering to give life, or promising those that believe in Him and follow Him, that they will have life eternal. Therefore, there can only be one conclusion. Jesus is the eternal Word/Wisdom that gives life. Jesus is God!