“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1–3)
The first three verses of John’s gospel are beautiful and essential.
These verses are loaded with truths that must be believed about Jesus. John will make that very clear. The opening verses of the Gospel of John give us three foundational truths:
1. Jesus is the Word
Consider why John uses “Word” in these verses. He could have said, “In the beginning was Jesus. Jesus was with God. Jesus was God.” But he doesn’t do that. Why?
The concept of “Word” or logos in the original Greek language was a philosophical and cultural idea that was a vital part of the culture into which John writes. One group of philosophers, called the Stoics, believed that logos or “word” was the essence of the rational human soul and the principle by which everything exists. They believed that everything had its beginning in this “word.” It was god-like to them.
Others viewed logos as connected to a message in general or a word from God. The first chapter of Genesis tells us that when God speaks, the world is created (Gen. 1:3). God’s word is powerful. Further, God delivers through His word – “He sent out his word…and delivered them” (Ps. 107:20). Finally, God reveals Himself through His word. The Old Testament prophets frequently identified a “word from God.” God speaks to people through His word.
Therefore, Jesus is the embodiment of all that “Word” means.
He possesses the power of God. He is the deliverer from God. He is the revelation about God. Jesus is the center of created universe, and he is the focal point of redemptive history. Jesus is the means and the hope of salvation.
Jesus is the ultimate self-disclosure of God. He is the Word.
2. Jesus is God
Next, John moves to demonstrating that Jesus is God. There are three statements concerning the “Word” to note.
In the beginning was the Word – John want us to know that the Word was there at the beginning of all things, including the universe as we know it. John’s goal here is not only echo Genesis 1:1, but also to make it clear that the Son of God possesses the same pre-existence as God because he is God.
The Word was with God. The critical word in this phrase is “with.” John is using the word to highlight not merely a closeness in proximity, but an intimacy of relationship. Jesus (the Word) was in relationship with God. He is the Son.
The Word was God. This is the most definitive statement as John directly affirms that Jesus is God. Jesus of Nazareth was God-in-the-flesh. As we’ll see later in John’s gospel, this is the claim from Jesus that would lead to the cross.
The Gospel of John is written in order to help people believe that Jesus truly was the Son of God. John’s mission is to point people toward belief.
The only way for forgiveness of sins and eternal life to be offered to mankind is through believing in the death and resurrection of the Son of God. In order to become a Christian, you must believe that Jesus is God. John aims to convince you of this fact.
3. Jesus is the Creator
The third foundational truth is found in verse three – a clear and definitive statement about the role of Jesus in creation.
John makes it clear that Jesus (the Word) wasn’t just there; he was involved in the creation of the world as we know it. John wants those who read his gospel to know that Jesus is the agent behind the creation of the world. Everything that we know in this world was made through Jesus. Everything owes its existence and life to Jesus. Without Him was not anything made that was made.
There’s a reason for this focus.
If Jesus is the creator, then He has authority over everything. He rules over that which belongs to Him. He’s the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent (Col. 1:15-18).
If Jesus is the creator, and if He is God, then rejecting Him is eternally dangerous. Failing to submit to Him is not just a mistake; it is treason.
Each of these truths are essential. The aim of John’s gospel is for people to know Jesus, to love Jesus, and believe in Jesus. But that starts with believing that Jesus is the Word, that he is God, and that he is the creator.
These three truths are the staring point for belief.