The habitual misreading of John 1 and the ‘Word being God’ #1

 On our article from the ecclesia “Worship and worshipping” there have been coming in some very good reactions from readers who believe Jesus is God. They clearly show how many are carried away in the trap of human doctrine of the Trinity.

When we look at the original text, literally translated in English this would give

Yah Chanan (#Jo 1:1-3): In the beginning the Word having been and the Word having been unto God and God having been the Word he having been, in the beginning, unto God all through his hand became: and without him not even one being whatever became. (Aramaic New Covenant;  ANCJ Released: 1996 Contents: New Testament Source Used: Exegeses Bibles (1996)Location: Tyndale House, Cambridge, United Kingdom)

Which could be put in contemporary English as follows

1 In [the] beginning+ the Word*+ was, and the Word was with God,*+ and the Word was a god.*+ 2 This one was in [the] beginning+ with God.+ 3 All things came into existence through him,+ and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.

What has come into existence 4 by means of him was life,+ and the life was the light+ of men.* 5 And the light is shining in the darkness,+ but the darkness has not overpowered it. (Ref.B)

Too often is forgotten that in this opening is been spoken about a “Word” which is the result of speaking or uttering sounds forming words.

This opening of John’s gospel is undoubtedly one of the Trinitarians most favourite proof-texts, which explains their habitual misreading of it.  Often they do not look at the original text nor do not see how the apostle John wanted to create his gospel as a parallel to the Bereshith or Genesis Book of Moses. In that first book of the Pentateuch Moses tells us about a sound sounding through the void and by the Word of God things coming into being. Every time God spoke, His Word sounded and something else came into existence. As such the world was created before man was created. John looks at that world in which the first man was created from dust, as the old world, because for the apostle the world now had come into a new stadium after Christ Jesus had given his life for mankind. For John it was clear that his master was the promised Messiah, the solution against the curse of death. He was convinced that Jesus was that long awaited person, who could bring salvation to all mankind. For him it was clear that Jesus was the sent one from God.

His Only-begotten Son and the Word of God 1885...

His Only-begotten Son and the Word of God 1885-1896 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Baptism of Christ

Baptism of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“And behold a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 KJBPNV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJBPNV)

“30 And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. 31 And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name YAHSHUA. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary to the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:30-35 KJBPNV)

“21  Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Yahshua also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased. 23 And Yahshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was \@the son\@ of Heli,” (Luke 3:21-23 KJBPNV)

“3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Therefore you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through the Messiah.” (Galatians 4:3-7 KJBPNV)

But the man of flesh and blood John came to see and love, was more than just a sent one or prophet from God. He also became convinced that the prophet Jeshua or Jesus was the Way to God = not the way to himself (which it would be when Jesus is God).

“Yahshua said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 KJBPNV)

“I am the door: by me if any man enters in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9 KJBPNV)

“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2 KJBPNV)

“For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18 KJBPNV)

“By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;” (Hebrews 10:20 KJBPNV)

A lot of Christians do not seem to get what it means to be the way to something or some one. A lot also do not seem to see the difference between ‘The God’ and ‘a god‘ and ignore to see that ‘a’ or ‘the’ word is something which is spoken and do want to read ‘the Word was God’ as ‘Jesus was God’, even though it says ‘Word’.

‘But “Word” is just another name for Jesus’,

responds the Trinitarian,

‘John is just being enigmatic’.

But if this were the case, why call Jesus ‘Word’ here and call him ‘Jesus’ throughout the rest of the gospel. No, something more subtle is going on here.

wonders brother .

He further writes:

It is important to point out from the start that the idea that the Word is a person is entirely the assumption of the interpreter. In Greek pronouns (e.g. he, she, it) are used rarely, they are usually implied by the verb, and the gender of the follows the gender of the subject of the clause. In Greek ‘Word’ (logos) is a masculine noun and therefore the verbs in that follow logos are also masculine. However, this tells us nothing about whether the Word is a ‘he’ or ‘it’, because whichever is the case the verbs would be masculine. So we cannot start considering John 1 by looking at pronouns. Instead we need to look at what the Word would have meant to first century readers of John’s gospel.

In between the testaments there was an important concept in Jewish literature: Wisdom. This was based upon the book of Proverbs, which personifies wisdom as a woman. This concept was developed in two (non-canonical) books: Wisdom of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) and Wisdom of Solomon. These two books are not scripture, but they are important because they tell us about the concepts that would have been familiar to the early Christians. In these books Wisdom is described as being spoken by God (Sirach 24:3) and is called ‘Word’ (logos; Wisdom 9:1-2).

John’s account of the Word parallels these earlier discourses about Wisdom. For instance, Wisdom is said to have been active at Creation (Proverbs 8:22, 30; 3:19-20; Sirach 42:21; Wisdom 9:1-2, 9). However, Wisdom is consistently personified as a female, i.e. ‘she’ (Proverbs 7:4; Sirach 4:11, 6:22; Wisdom 6:12-21). To the first century Jew there would have been no problem in saying that ‘the Word was God’, because Wisdom was not seen as a separate person or a second God but as an expression of God. So when John says ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God’, he was not saying anything that anything first century Jewish monotheist could not say ‘amen’ to, because they knew what he was talking about.

The radical part of John’s introduction is to say that this Word became flesh (John 1:14), that Jesus was this embodiment of this Word/Wisdom. It may seem very weird to modern readers to talk about concepts like wisdom as though they were people and then having it made into a human baby, but as we have seen this kind of talk would have been familiar to John’s original readers. And though John is making profound claims about Jesus, he is not saying that Jesus existed as a person before his birth and he is not saying that Jesus is God.


Preceding articles

The true light in recorded words

Who Is Jesus? God, or unique Man?

The saviour Jesus his godly side

The saviour Jesus his human side

Jesus the “God-Man”: Really?

To be continued: The habitual misreading of John 1 and the ‘Word being God’ #2


Additional reading

  1. The very very beginning 2 The Word and words
  2. Genesis – Story of creation 6 Genesis 3:13-24 Enmity and curse
  3. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #3 With his partner
  4. Also remember that God demanded not to have other Gods before Him
  5. Looking for answers on the question Is there a God #2 Pantheon of gods and celebrations
  6. Have no other gods besides Me
  7. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  8. Blindness in the Christian world
  9. Word-Verbum-Logos-Ereyga
  10. The Word being a quality or aspect of God Himself
  11. Finding and Understanding Words and Meanings
  12. Missional hermeneutics 1/5
  13. Missional hermeneutics 2/5
  14. Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus Declared God’s Son at His Baptism
  15. Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data
  16. Making time for God is crucial
  17. Around pre-existence of Christ
  18. Jesus begotten Son of God #9 Two millennia ago conceived or begotten


Further reading

  1. Day 1 – John 1 – John’s Introduction
  2. The Week of Christmas 2016 – John 1:1, 14a
  3. Daily Gospel Reading – John 1:1-18
  4. Sermon Manuscript: Who is Jesus? John 1:1-18
  5. Second Sunday of Christmas 2016 – John 1:10-11
  6. Second Sunday of Christmas 2016 – John 1:14
  7. The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us
  8. Poetry Mondays: John 1
  9. John 1:4
  10. John 1:7
  11. John 1:10
  12. John 1:11
  13. John 1:12
  14. Foundations
  15. An Islamic View Of The Trinity
  16. Sermon: Loving Creation
  17. The Word Became
  18. A Benediction: The Word Became Flesh
  19. Deity Downsized
  20. Sublime Paradox
  21. Embodied Theology
  22. The Man Who Made the World
  23. The Word Became Flesh: A Short Series of Meditations on the Incarnation from John Chapter One
  24. The Word Became Flesh, Part One
  25. The Word Became Flesh, Part Two
  26. The Word Became Flesh, Part Three
  27. Not Content to Be God
  28. Give Me A Minute – Who Is Jesus?
  29. Who Is Jesus?
  30. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man (John 1)
  31. Jesus the son of God, Jesus the son of man – Part 1
  32. Jesus the son of God, Jesus the son of man – Part 2
  33. The Names of Jesus: Son of God
  34. Yeshua Jesus Christ claimed He was God, well was He?
  35. If Jesus is not God…
  36. Talking About Jesus
  37. Only Begotten
  38. To see and know God: The revelation of Jesus
  39. The Claims of Christ: What Makes Jesus Unique?
  40. My God and Your God
  41. O Ye of Little Faith
  42. In the Presence of the Glory of God
  43. The Gift Of No Condemnation
  44. Light 12-25-16
  45. You are a Light
  46. Light in the Darkness
  47. Darkness and Light
  48. Love Life: You may have eternal life!
  49. when the Son became man
  50. “The Lamb is the answer” (John 1:29-42)
  51. Unspeakable grief – when our words fail: The Word.
  52. Had I Only Known It Was You!
  53. About Religion…
  54. The State of the Church Changed When the Word was Made Flesh
  55. R.C. Sproul quote
  56. False fantasies
  57. Telling the Truth Gracefully



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Free Christadelphians or Brothers and sisters in Christ, living in Belgium, European Union. - Vrijë Christadelphians of Broeders en zusters in Christus wonende in België in de Europese Unie.
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13 reacties op The habitual misreading of John 1 and the ‘Word being God’ #1

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