The Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

In Greek, the word translated ‘Word’ in John 1:1 is logos (λόγος – G3056). It comes from a verb (λέγω – G3004) meaning ‘to lay forth’; that is, to speak, or communicate. So logos means to ‘say, speak, or communicate’, but it includes the contents of the message being spoken, so it is translated in a great variety of ways. It occurs 317 times in the New Testament:

Luk 4:[32] and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word (logos) was with authority.

Joh 15:[3] You are already pruned clean because of the word (logos) which I have spoken to you.

Rom 9:[9] For this is a word (logos) of promise, “At the appointed time I will come, and Sarah will have a son.”

Gal 5:[14] For the whole law is fulfilled in one word (logos), in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Heb 6:[1] Therefore leaving the teaching (logos) of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection—not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God,

1Pe 1:[23] having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word (logos) of God, which lives and remains forever.

So logos means more than just a single ‘word’, as the English translation of it might imply. It can represent a full sentence, or an even longer message.

But in the first verse of the Gospel of John, the ‘message’ or ‘teaching’ is personified, and presented as being ‘with’ God. How is this possible?

First let’s look at an interpretation that is not possible. Famously, John 1:1 is translated very differently in the New World Translation of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. (Joh 1:1, NWT)

Note the addition of the second to last word: ‘a’; as if the Word was only one god among many others. But as I have written elsewhere:

That translation rests principally on the fact that the Greek word for god (theos) does not have a definite article. Therefore, it has been given an indefinite article in English. But there are several problems with this translation.

First, the verse itself: The word ‘theos’ comes first in the sentence and receives the emphasis. Therefore, another way to translate this verse is “the Word was fully God.”

Second, a basic rule of translation: any controversial translation must allow for the author to have expressed the opposing meaning. In other words, you cannot insist on a translation that inherently prevents the author from expressing the opposite meaning. The question in this case is, how could John have said that Jesus was fully God? That is, if John 1:1 is rendered “the Word was a god,” how could John have written “the Word was God”? If John had written “the Word was the God” he would not have been teaching the deity of Christ but Modalism (the view that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all the same person, acting in different modes or manifestations). Using the definite article in this verse would not have strengthened the teaching that Jesus Christ is fully God; it would have been teaching that he was a mere manifestation of the Father.

Third, the context: The first clause of the verse tells us that the Word was “in the beginning” and that he was “with God.” The next verse repeats these facts, and the third verse adds that all things without exception were made by him. What is the point of emphasizing these facts if not to establish the full deity of the Word?

Fourth, the principle of Monotheism: In Deuteronomy 32:39, God says that “there is no god with me,” and in Isaiah 43:10, he says that there is no god before him and no god after him. How can Jesus be merely “a god” when Jehovah himself says that there are no other gods?

So if John 1:1 isn’t teaching that the Word is one god among many, then what is it teaching?

First, since the word logos implies a message that is logical, it shows that God himself is logical:

God is a logical being, and the knowledge that He imparts to His people is logical and noncontradictory. God is not paradoxical or illogical, for God cannot be against Himself. [Num 23:19; 1Sa 15:29; Psa 61:7; Psa 117:2; Isa 65:16; Mal 3:6; Joh 1:1; 1Co 14:7-9; 2Co 1:18-20]

Christian Confession of Faith, II.A.7

Besides John 1:1, here are some of the other verses this section of the Confession refers to:

Num 23:[19] God is not a man, that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?

Mal 3:[6] “For I, Yahweh, don’t change; therefore you, sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

1Co 14:[7] Even things without life, giving a voice, whether pipe or harp, if they didn’t give a distinction in the sounds, how would it be known what is piped or harped? [8] For if the trumpet gave an uncertain sound, who would prepare himself for war? [9] So also you, unless you uttered by the tongue words easy to understand, how would it be known what is spoken? For you would be speaking into the air.

2Co 1:[18] But as God is faithful, our word toward you was not “Yes and no.” [19] For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not “Yes and no,” but in him is “Yes.” [20] For however many are the promises of God, in him is the “Yes.” Therefore also through him is the “Amen”, to the glory of God through us.

The works of God may be high above human understanding, but they are not illogical, or self-contradictory.

Second, the fact that the personified logos, both is God, and is with God, shows that God is comprised of more than one person; that he is, in fact, a Trinity:

God has revealed in His Scriptures that He is a triune being: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each member of the Godhead is eternal and coequal. [Exo 3:14; Psa 110:1; Joh 1:1; Joh 5:18; Joh 8:58; Joh 10:30-33; Act 20:28; 1Co 10:9; 1Co 15:47; 2Co 3:17-18; 1Ti 3:16; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:3; 1Pe 1:2; Jud 1:4,20-21]

Christian Confession of Faith, II.B.1

Here are some of the verses this section of the Confession refers to:

Psa 110:[1] Yahweh says to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool for your feet.”

Joh 5:[18] For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Heb 1:[3] His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purified us of our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

1Pe 1:[2] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

Third, not only does John 1:1 show that God is a Trinity, but that Jesus himself is a member of that Trinity:

Jesus of Nazareth is really and truly God as well as really and truly human. He is the only descendant of Adam with two natures, human and divine. These two natures are continually without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation. Scripture rejects the lie that Jesus Christ was merely human and not fully divine. It likewise rejects the lie that Jesus Christ was a supernatural being but not fully human. [Deu 18:15; Psa 2:7; Psa 110:1; Isa 9:6; Luk 2:7; Joh 1:1,14,18; Joh 3:16,18; Joh 5:18; Joh 8:58; Joh 10:30-33; Act 20:28; Rom 1:3; 1Co 15:47; Gal 4:4; Phi 2:6-8; Col 1:15; 1Ti 3:16; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:1-5; Heb 5:5; 1Jo 4:9,15; Rev 1:17-18]

Christian Confession of Faith, IV.A.2

Here are some of the verses the Confession refers to in this section:

Psa 2:[7] I will tell of the decree. Yahweh said to me, “You are my son. Today I have become your father.

Joh 1:[14] The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Joh 10:[30] I and the Father are one.” [31] Therefore Jews took up stones again to stone him. [32] Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?” [33] The Jews answered him, “We don’t stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

Act 20:[28] Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood.

Gal 4:[4] But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law,

1Ti 3:[16] Without controversy, the mystery of godliness is great: God was revealed in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, and received up in glory.

Rev 1:[17] When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me, saying, “Don’t be afraid. I am the first and the last,

Finally, we must ask, “What are the contents of the message, the logos, in John 1:1? What is its meaning?”

Simply put, the message of God is the Gospel. It is a message about who Jesus Christ is, and what he has accomplished on behalf of his people:

The gospel is God’s promise to save His people, giving them all the blessings of salvation from regeneration to final glory, conditioned exclusively on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, totally apart from the sinner’s works and efforts. It reveals the righteousness of God – how God is just to justify the ungodly based on the work of Jesus Christ alone. The gospel is not merely the fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, considered apart from the purpose of these truths, which were accomplished to establish a righteousness for all whom Jesus represented. [Gen 15:5-6; Psa 103:2-12; Psa 130:3-4; Isa 1:18; Isa 45:21-25; Jer 33:14-16; Mat 1:21; Joh 3:16; Act 13:32-39; Rom 1:16-17; Rom 3:21-26; Rom 4:5-8,13-25; Rom 10:4,15; 1Co 15:1-8; 2Co 1:20; 2Co 5:21; Eph 1:3-2:22; Eph 3:6; Col 1:5; 2Ti 1:1,9-10; Heb 10:4-17]

Christian Confession of Faith, V.B.1

This is the great message, word, or communication, that God has revealed to the world. It is a message of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It is a message about the mighty works of the triune God, and what he has accomplished on behalf of his beloved people. And it is a message of the person and work of Jesus Christ; who he is, and what he has done to secure the salvation of all whom he represented.

Joh 1:[14] The Word (logos) became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Heb 4:[2] For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word (logos) they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard.

Rev 19:[13] He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood. His name is called “The Word (logos) of God.”

See also:


An Open Letter to a Jehovah’s Witness

What Did the Work of Christ Accomplish?