- John 1:1
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Before we take a closer look at this passage, If you haven't read the article "I said you are gods" John 10:34, it would be helpful for you to do so now, before reading this article. Some things I'll be mentioning here are assumed to have been understood since they've been talked about previously in the other article. But I'll state again here briefly the reason these individuals that the Messiah was referring to in John 10:34, such as: the judges of Israel, angels, Moses, Samuel the prophet were all called elohim or 'gods' before we examine John 1:1.
The Hebrew word, 'elohim,' which is #430 in the Strong's Concordance, is translated into the English as 'God,' 'god,' 'gods,' 'judges,' and 'angels.' And it is used to describe, as I've mentioned, the Messiah, Yahoshua, Is 9:6, 'angels' in Ps 8:5, Moses, in Ex 7:1, Samuel, the prophet, in 1Sam 28:13, and the 'judges' of Israel, Ps 82:6, Jn 10:34. (all of which is talked about in detail in the article "I said you are god's" John 10:34)
This word 'elohim' can be used in a singular or a plural sense, depending on the verb tense used with it. Similar to our English words fish, sheep, etc, which could be referring to one or many.
As for whether it is translated into English with a capital, 'G' or a small case, 'g' is entirely up to the discretion of the one translating it, for there IS NO such a thing as upper and lower case letters in the Hebrew alphabet, nor was there in the Koine Greek of the 'New' Testament.
The definition of the word, elohim, is 'mighty one' or 'mighty ones', again depending on the verb tense used in the sentence. So in the case of Yahoshua, the Judges, angels, and Moses, and Samuel, all of these being 'representatives' of the Most High God, Yahuweh, they were referred to as 'gods' or 'mighty ones'. Which is the reason the Savior, classified His Father as the 'Only True' God' or 'Only True,' Mighty One, in John 17:3. Because ultimately, it is the Heavenly Father, the Almighty, that designates this authority or power to these other individuals, where by they are referred to as 'gods' or 'mighty ones'.
In Psa 82, because these 'judges' where sitting in the place of Yahuweh, when judging the people of Israel in matters of life and death situations, the Almighty Himself called them elohim or gods when He said in Psa 82:6, "I said you are gods (Heb: elohim)," and all of you are my children."
In a like manner the Messiah, will sit and judge on behalf of the Almighty, in the final judgment. Notice how the Apostle Paul describes it in Act 17:30-31 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, Yahuweh is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He, Yahuweh, will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He (Yahuweh) has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.
So we see that Yahuweh, the Almighty, the Only True God (John 17:3) , will judge the world, How will He do it? Through a man, and of course the man that Paul is referring to is Yahoshua, the Messiah.
So the Messiah, because He will be acting on behalf of Yahuweh in judging the world, rightly deserves the title elohim (g-d) or 'mighty One'. 'NOT' because He is part of a 3 in 1 god, known as a Trinity, but because he has been given all power and authority in heaven and earth by the Only True God, His Father and our, Yahuweh (John 20:17). With that understood let's read John 1:1.
John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (remember there was no such thing as big "G" or little "g" in the Greek of the "New Testament" or the Hebrew of the "Old Testament". Whether it's a big 'G' or little 'g' was totally up to the translator. If the translator happened to believe in a Trinity then almost definitely he or she would use a big G, if the translator did not believe in a Trinity he/she would most likely use a small 'g'. So it's irrelevant as to whether the word "god" is used with a big or little 'g'. But as for me, I'll use a big 'G' in describing the Messiah, Yahoshua, not because he's the Almighty or part of a Trinity, but because he's my Savior, my Lord, and soon coming King, One who I would gladly lay my life down for.)
The word 'Elohim' translated 'God', is not a name, as many people today believe it to be, but rather it's a title, which as we've seen is applied to many individuals. And the fact the Messiah is referred to as 'elohim' is not something that should be hard to understand. But in this passage, John 1:1, I believe the confusion comes in when those that believes the "Word" being talked about in this passage was not only "with God" but was actually the very God he is said to be with. And that my friend is truly a "mystery", but it's not a mystery that is ever talked about in the Bible, nor are are ever told to believe in.
It's not an easy thing to understand how someone could be with someone and at the same time actually be the someone with whom He is said to be with. Confusing to say the least. Unless of course someone is a believer in the "Trinity," or a 3 in 1 god, then it's said, "oh no, this makes perfect sense."
One way to explain this confusing situation, on how the Word was 'not only,' "with God" but He was actually "the very God that He was said to be with," is to say it is a 'mystery,' something we can't understand or explain.
But there is an easy explanation for this passage, that when realized, will cause this 'Mystery' to cease to be a 'mystery' any longer.
Before we examine John 1:1 more closely lets look at some of the 'clearer' statements John made concerning the Messiah, Yahoshua. For what better source to go to for an explanation of this passage than the author himself. Let's allow John to give us his understanding on who the 'Elohim' here is and who the Logos, or Word, is.
John tells us that according to the Savior Himself the Father is the 'Only True God'.
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they should know you Father, the only true God, and him whom you did send, even Yahoshua Messiah.
John also tells us that the Only True God, Yahuweh, is not only our God and Father, but He is also the God and Father of our Messiah, Yahoshua.
John 20:17 Yahoshua said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father: but go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.
The Savior tells us that His Father and God is not only greater then all of mankind but that the Father is Greater then the Messiah Yahoshua Himself.
John 10:29 My Father, who has given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
John 14:28 You heard how I said to you, I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father: for the Father is greater than I.
And John ends his gospel; by telling us the reason for his writing it in the first place was "so that we might believe that Yahoshua is part of a "mystery god" made up of 2 or 3 different beings?" NO, of course not. But rather the reason he wrote his gospel was to prove to us that Yahoshua is the Messiah (Christ). Never does anyone in the Bible ever tell us to believe in the "god/man" or "god the son" or a "Trinity". Such terms were only used in pagan mythology.
John 20:30 Many other signs therefore did Yahoshua in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book:
John 20:31 but these are written, that you may believe that Yahoshua is the Messiah, the Son "of God" and that believing you may have life in his name
Not to mention that John goes on to say that no one has ever seen God at any time. (1 John 4:12). Could Yahoshua, who John see before and after his resurrection, be the God that John is referring to? Of course not.
And John begins the Book of Revelation by telling us that the Father, Yahuweh, "revealed" to the Messiah the entire book of Revelation, and in turn the Messiah communicated it to John through his angels (Rev 1:1). Of course John was given this revelation some 60 years after the resurrection, while the Messiah was sitting at the right hand of "the Power on High" (Heb 1:3). as so many like to say, the Messiah gave up his "god powers" when he came to earth, and recieved them back again after his resurrection, why is it that the Father, Yahoshua's God, had to "reveal" the entire book of Revelation to him approx. 60 years "after" the Messiah took his seat at the right hand of the Almighty Yahuweh? Can anyone image someone 'revealing' anything to the Almighty, Yahuweh? It would be blasphemy to even suggest such a thing.
Well, with all that being said let's take a closer look at
John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
That's how the Translators of the KJV and just about all other Christian translations translated John 1:1. Notice I said "just about" all Christian translators.
The names I'm about to mention, Edgar Goodspeed, William Barclay, James Moffatt, and so on, are all highly regarded translators. If you were to ask your minister about any of these men I'm very confident that would feel the same. Don't take my word for it "ask them". I might add that as you read what they have to say keep in mind that most of them, I'm not sure about a couple of them, all believe in a trinity, and yet they do not look at John 1:1 as a 'mystery')
Edgar J. Goodspeed in his translation of "The New Testament" An American Translation (1968) John 1:1 "In the beginning the Word existed, the Word was with God ,and the Word was divine."
William Barclay, the Christian Bible scholar, in his translation of "The New Testament" (1968) John 1:1 When the world began, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God.
James Moffatt, a well respected bible scholar of the Hebrew and Greek, translated John 1:1 in his translation "The Bible" (1954)
John 1:1 "the Logos existed in the very beginning, the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine"
"The Authentic New Testament" by Hugh J. Schonfield (1955) "In the beginning was the Word the Word was with God; so the Word was divine" (Hugh J. Schonfield 'use' to believe in a Trinity, not to long ago he decided it wasn't biblical)
"The Four Gospel," A New Translation by Prof. Charles Cutler Torrey (1947)
"...the Word was god" (small 'g')
"The Bible," An American Translation by J.M.P. Smith and E.J. Goodspeed
"...and the Word was divine"
The Gospel History, according to the Four Evangelist, by John S. Thompson (1829)
"...and the Logos was a god"
I could go on with other translations of this passage but as you can see in the translations that are noted, by prominent Bible scholars, that Logos or Word in John 1:1 is defined as 'God,' 'divine,' 'a god,' 'god,' 'the nature of God.'
Why did these translators choose to use words such as 'god,' 'a god,' 'divine? Well, I believe the Christian Bible Scholar William Barclay explains it best.
Quote: "Now normally, except for special reasons, Greek nouns always have the definite article in front of them, and we can see at once that the 'theos' the noun for God (used in John 1:1, that is "was god") has not the definite article in front on it, it becomes rather a description than an identification, and has the character of an adjective rather than of a noun...If John had said 'ho theos en ho logos,' using a definite article in front of both nouns, then he would definitely have identified the logos with God, but because he has no definite article in front of 'theos' it becomes a description, and more of an adjective then a noun. The translation then becomes, to put it rather clumsily, "The Word was in the same class as God, belonging to the same order of being as God'... John is not here identifying the Word with God. To put it very simply, he does not say Jesus was God," --Many Witnesses, One Lord (Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1973 reprint), pp. 23, 24.
You see when a noun in the Greek does not have the definite article in front of it, it becomes more of an adjective then a noun, as Mr. Barclay, who is a Trinitarian, just pointed out.
Which explains why such Biblical scholars such as James Moffatt, Edgar J. Goodspeed, Prof. Charles Cutler Torrey and others defined the 'Logos' as 'divine' meaning 'heavenly' or 'of God.' Or as 'a god,' recognizing the Logos as a 'mighty one' which is how the word god is defined but also recognizing this 'god' as subordinate or inferior to "The" God. Which is a fact stated in the passages above and all through the Scriptures.
We have dozens of examples of nouns in the Greek without the definite article in front of them. A couple of examples which I believe will help in explaining John 1:1 are found in Act 12:22 and Act 28:6.
Act 12:22 "...and the people shouted saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man"
Notice the 'a' in front of the word 'theos', the Greek word translated "god" here, this is of course because there is not a definite article in front of the noun 'theos' (or god), just as there isn't a definite article in front of the word "theos" in John 1:1. So the translators of the King James Version, and I would imagine all other Christian translators, chose to translate the word "theos" used here as 'a god.'
Question: why didn't the KJV translators put an "a" in front of the word 'theos' in John 1:1, since in the Greek it's structured exactly the same way? The simply truth is, because King James and all the Christians of his day believed in a Trinity.
Another example: Act 28:6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
Again we see the word 'theos,' without the definite article, and the King James translators once again chose to translate this word 'theos', without the definite article, as 'a god'.
Just as Act 12:22 this passage in the Greek is structured the same way as John 1:1 is. Only in John 1:1 although there is no definite article in front of the world 'theos' as there is not in the two examples above, the KJV translators left out the "a" in front of 'theos'.
Why the inconsistency among the translators of the King James Bible and other Trinitarian translations? Why translate this word 'theos' (without the definite article) as 'a god' in every case, except John 1:1, in which the word 'theos' is also without the definite article. Could it be the preconceived idea of the Trinity that the translators believed in that led them to alter their thinking in John 1:1, and call the 'logos' (Word) 'God' rather then 'a god?'
So you can see that when we believe the words of the Savior and realize that His Father is the 'Only True God' (Jn 17:3; John 20:17) this "mystery" of the Word or Logos being with God and yet being the same God he is said to be with, clears up. Yahoshua, who was with the Father in the beginning, is 'a god' or 'divine' not part of a Trinity.
It's my prayer that this article will help the honest and sincere heart to come understand why it is that the Messiah tells us his Father, who's name is Yahuweh, is the Only True Elohim or God. (John 17:3l John 20:12)