(John 1:1-4) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. ... 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
A little history: From around the 2nd century onwards to this very day, John's prologue has been used to promote a Greek concept that the Logos was a personal being who created the universe; this development began by using Plato's concept of the Greek word Logos. The Greeks' concept of God was that God was both ineffable and unapproachable, therefore He could not have created this material universe. In the time of the Gnostics the Logos was one of many aeons/emanations (these aeons were some kind of divine, intermediary beings according to the Gnostics) sent by the ineffable, unapproachable God; this Logos became the Demiurge who created all things ... that is, the ineffable, unapproachable God had nothing to do with the creation ... it was God the Logos, the Demiurge, who did the actually creating. Irenaeus, the church fathers & other Hellenists who challenged the Gnostics; taught that God the Logos was in fact Jesus Christ the Creator (using John's prologue as their proof text). By the time of the Council of Nicaea, "Jesus, who is now God the Logos" became co-equal to the Father, the Logos was now presented as a pre-existent, co-equal God.
Hence, now in our time, Bible readers just assume that the opening verses especially seeing the word 'him' in our translations, is talking about Jesus the Son of GOD. However, as Colin Brown points out ...
"It is a common but patent misreading of the opening of John's Gospel to read it as if it said: 'In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God and the Son was God' (John 1:1). What has happened here is the substitution of Son for Word (Greek logos), and thereby the Son is made a member of the Godhead which existed from the beginning. But if we follow carefully the thought of John's prologue, it is the Word that pre-existed eternally with God and is God. The same Word that made all things and is the light that enlightens human kind 'became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father' (John 1:14; cf. vv. 3 and 8)." Colin Brown, "Trinity and Incarnation: In search of Contemporary Orthodoxy", Ex Auditu (7), 1991.
This patent misreading continues to this very day. Now a little testimony ...
Years ago, when by the grace of GOD, I came to the understanding of who Jesus truly is ... a human being who is GOD's only-begotten Son; and that he was not (a pre-existing) Almighty God or a member of a triune Godhead ... in praying to GOD I asked "how is it that John reads the way it does??" I was convinced by this time, that Jesus did not pre-exist! He was conceived in the womb of Mary howbeit by the supernatural power of GOD, yet he did not pre-exist his conception just as no human being pre-exists their conception; I was convinced that John was a monotheistic Jew ... I was convinced that GOD alone created all things [Isa 44.24], that He alone was the Creator; I was convinced that John would not contradict Matthew & Luke who have no knowledge of a pre-existing Messiah, but present him being conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of GOD. So why does John read the way it does????
I asked GOD about this apparent inconsistency to pure monotheism. Because the way John's prologue appears in our English Bibles, on first impression, it would appear that the Messiah may have been the Creator!! However, I knew by then, that this could not be. Jesus never said he was the Creator but quite the opposite, e.g. (Mark 10:6) But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. (Mark 13:19) For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
My question was answered!! I discovered shortly afterwards whilst surfing the Net, an article which presented the fact that the majority of the English Bibles before the KJV translation of 1611 beginning with Tyndale all translated John's prologue as follows ...
(John 1:1-4) In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by IT; and without IT was not any thing made that was made. 4 In IT was life; and the life was the light of men.
Did you see that? i.e. All things were made by IT ... that is exactly what 'a word' is! A word is an IT not a him! A word is not a person! A word is a ... a word!
Therefore Tyndale translated the Greek text in the sense of what John meant. GOD created all things by His word. GOD spoke and it was done. Compare: (Psa 33:6) By the word of YAHWEH were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. (Psa 33:9) For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
Anyways I was
stunned. Of course, I did not take the article's word for it. I was Berean about
it. I searched libraries and researched this matter, to see if these
things were so. And sure enough, from what
I could see ...
Tyndale 1525, Tyndale 1534, Matthew's Bible 1537, The Great Bible 1539, The Geneva Bible 1560, the Bishop's Bible (1568) ...
all had 'it' in John 1:3-4
Sadly after the Catholic Rheims NT was printed in 1582 with him in vv. 3-4; it appears that the KJV translators followed that trend ... placed 'him' in vv. 3-4; and thus, the patent misreading continues.
Nevertheless the majority of the English NTs all had 'it' ... thus the readers of Tyndale, Geneva bibles, etc (no doubt, the majority being trinitarian) would not automatically assume that John 1.3-4 was talking about Jesus, but rather, was talking about the word of GOD, which when spoken, all things came into existence. Granted, in Greek grammar, Greek words generally have a gender, logos being male. Thus a translator could indeed use 'him'. However, many words in Greek have genders & when speaking of attributes & genderless things such as ... light, wisdom (feminine in Greek), rock, tree, etc ... the translator ought to supply the appropriate pronoun i.e. IT. However, no doubt, influenced by their trinitarian theology that 'Jesus, God the Son' is the Creator, the translators chose 'him'. But from the beginning it was not so!!!
Personally, this answered my question, I could now see that Tyndale & others were true to the original sense of John. I realized that one could legitimately and being true to the Greek text, translate John 1:3 as All things were made by IT; and without IT; as shown by Tyndale and others. IT is the pronoun which corresponds to what a word is! The monotheist apostle John was not talking about another creator, he was not talking about the Messiah in his opening verses; he was talking about GOD's powerful spoken word through which GOD made all things. In the process of time, the word/logos of GOD was made flesh, resulting in the conception of Jesus the Messiah.
I quote Kuschel (Born Before All Time?, p. 382) ...
From this it may be concluded that he [Jesus] is the Logos in person, the wisdom of God in human form. ... We may therefore follow Leonhard Goppelt in seeing the focus of the content of the prologue as this: 'The logos of the prologue becomes Jesus; Jesus was the logos become flesh, not the logos as such.'
Anyways, here are some examples of the pre-KJV translations that I speak of ...
- Tyndale 1525: http://alleluya.com/TyNT/jn.htm#1:1
The conclusion which seems to emerge from our analysis thus far is that it is only with verse 14 that we can begin to speak of the personal Logos. ... Prior to verse 14 we are in the same realm as pre-Christian talk of Wisdom and Logos [Word], the same language and ideas that we find in the Wisdom tradition and in Philo, where, as we have seen, we are dealing with personifications rather than persons, personified actions of God rather than an individual divine being as such. The point is obscured by the fact that we have to translate the masculine Logos as 'he' throughout the poem. But if we translated logos as God's utterance instead, it would become clearer that the poem did not necessarily intend Logos in vv. 1-13 to be thought of as a personal divine being. In other words, the revolutionary significance of v. 14 may well be that it marks ... the transition from impersonal personification to actual person. This indeed is the astounding nature of the poem's claim. If it had asserted simply that an individual divine being had become man, that would have raised fewer eyebrows. It is the fact that the Logos poet has taken language which any thoughtful Jew would recognize to be the language of personification and has identified it with a particular person, as a particular person, that would be so astonishing: the manifestation of God become a man! God's utterance not merely come through a particular individual, but actually become that one person, Jesus of Nazareth!
I want to talk about the above personification. One
could easily read John 1:1-14 adequately with 'him', that is, if you
read it with John's intent: as personifying GOD's word from
verses 1 through 13; whereby in verse 14 the personification becomes an
actual person, however, not before
It was normal in Jewish writings, etc, to personify
GOD's actions & attributes such as GOD's wisdom, GOD's word, GOD's
Even the writers of the Targums, instead of saying that GOD
appeared or GOD said or GOD did ...
they would rather say the memra
(word) of GOD appeared, the memra of GOD said, the memra of GOD did,
However, no reader of the Targums would understand the
memra to be an actual person but rather GOD's action being
We see examples of this even in the
You are aware of Proverbs
8. Sadly Jehovah Witnesses (as well as other Arians) read it from verse 22 and
suddenly arrive at the very false
assertion that Jesus is being spoken of in
If only they would read from verse 1 (even from 1:20) they
would see that Solomon is simply personifying "GOD's
WISDOM" as a woman! And using this personification to describe how GOD
made all things and therefore, seeing the grand importance of wisdom by which
GOD made all things (Cp. Psa 104.24, Prov 3.19, Jer 10.10-12, 51.15,
etc), all ought to seek after GOD's
(Prov 1:20) Wisdom crieth
without; she uttereth her voice in the
(Prov 8:1) Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth
her voice? Thus, to emphasize the importance of wisdom, seeing
that GOD used wisdom to create the universe; Solomon
personifies wisdom as a woman beckoning all to come to her and learn of her; after all, she was present
alongside the Creator at the creation, so
she must know
what she is
However, this literary device, this personification, that Solomon
is using; is not meant to be taken
literally! No! Solomon is building an image of a
very knowledgeable woman whose wisdom was used to create the heavens and the
earth; and thus anyone who seeks wisdom, esp. the youth, ought to come to her
and learn of her.
However, this woman does not literally exist. She is not
for real! This literary device, this figure of speech, is being used, to make a
That is, seeing that GOD did not
create anything without wisdom; therefore, if wisdom was important to the
creation of all things, how much more, ought we to seek wisdom. Hence, Solomon's
point, having Lady Wisdom beckoning the youth to seek after her.
(Prov 1:20) Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: (Prov 8:1) Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
Thus, to emphasize the importance of wisdom, seeing that GOD used wisdom to create the universe; Solomon personifies wisdom as a woman beckoning all to come to her and learn of her; after all, she was present alongside the Creator at the creation, so she must know what she is talking about!! However, this literary device, this personification, that Solomon is using; is not meant to be taken literally! No! Solomon is building an image of a very knowledgeable woman whose wisdom was used to create the heavens and the earth; and thus anyone who seeks wisdom, esp. the youth, ought to come to her and learn of her. However, this woman does not literally exist. She is not for real! This literary device, this figure of speech, is being used, to make a point!! That is, seeing that GOD did not create anything without wisdom; therefore, if wisdom was important to the creation of all things, how much more, ought we to seek wisdom. Hence, Solomon's point, having Lady Wisdom beckoning the youth to seek after her.
- Wisdom of
Solomon (Apocrypha), chapter
1: O God of my fathers, and
Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word,
2: And ordained man through thy wisdom, that he
should have dominion over the creatures which thou hast made,
And order the world according to equity and righteousness, and execute
judgment with an upright heart:
4: Give me wisdom, that
sitteth by thy throne; and reject me not from among thy children:
7: Thou hast chosen me to be a king of thy people, and a
judge of thy sons and daughters:
8: Thou hast commanded me to build
a temple upon thy holy mount, and an altar in the city wherein thou dwellest,
a resemblance of the holy tabernacle, which thou hast prepared from the
9: And wisdom was with thee: which
knoweth thy works, and was present when thou madest the
world, and knew what was acceptable in thy sight, and right in thy
10: O send her out of thy holy
heavens, and from the throne of thy glory, that being present
she may labour with me, that I may know what is pleasing unto
11: For she knoweth and understandeth all
things, and she shall lead me soberly in my doings, and
preserve me in her power.
12: So shall my works be
acceptable, and then shall I judge thy people righteously, and be worthy to
sit in my father's seat.
- I guess you can see the parallel with John 1 how that the word (logos - masculine noun) was with GOD However, just as in the above quotation, GOD's attribute of wisdom is simply being personified as a woman and is not meant to be taken literally; the same is true for John. Solomon is simply asking GOD for wisdom to perform the task given him. (cp. 2 Chr 1:9-12)
- Wisdom of Solomon
Chapter 7:22 - 8:4
7:22: For wisdom, which is
the worker of all things, taught me: for in her is
an understanding spirit holy, one only, manifold, subtil, lively, clear,
undefiled, plain, not subject to hurt, loving the thing that is good quick,
which cannot be letted, ready to do good, ...
she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence
flowing from the glory of the Almighty: therefore can no defiled
thing fall into her.
she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the
unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness.
27: And being but one, she can do all
things: and remaining in herself, she maketh all things new:
and in all ages entering into holy souls, she maketh them
friends of God, and prophets.
28: For God loveth none but him that
8:1: Wisdom reacheth from
one end to another mightily: and sweetly doth she order all
2: I loved her, and sought
her out from my youth, I desired to make her
my spouse, and I was a lover of her beauty.
that she is conversant with God, she
magnifieth her nobility: yea, the Lord of all things himself
4: For she is privy to
the mysteries of the knowledge of God, and a lover of his works.
- Especially seeing how wisdom is described in 7:26, and seeing that Jesus the Messiah is the wisdom of GOD embodied or made flesh [1 Cor 1.24]; we can now see why the man Jesus is described as (Heb 1:3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, ... because Christ is the wisdom of GOD made flesh ... he is literally the wisdom of GOD in person! ["Wisdom of Solomon" taken from http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/KjvSolo.html]
- Sirach, chapter
1: Wisdom will praise herself,
and will glory in the midst of her people.
the assembly of the Most High she will open
her mouth, and in the presence of his host she
3: I came forth from the mouth of the
Most High, and covered the earth like a
8: Then the Creator of all
things gave me a commandment, and the one who created me assigned a
place for my tent. And he said, 'Make your dwelling
in Jacob, and in Israel receive your inheritance.'
eternity, in the beginning, he created me, and for eternity I shall not cease
10: In the holy tabernacle I ministered before him, and
so I was established in Zion.
11: In the beloved city likewise he
gave me a resting place, and in Jerusalem was my dominion.
19: Come to me, you who
desire me, and eat your fill of my produce.
20: For the remembrance
of me is sweeter than honey, and my inheritance sweeter than the honeycomb.
21: Those who eat me will hunger for more, and those who drink me
will thirst for more.
22: Whoever obeys me will not be put
to shame, and those who work with my help will not
- In John 1:14 Scripture says ... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. Sirach 24:8 speaks of the wisdom of GOD being sent into the world and being assigned a tent! Again, you can see the mindset: i.e. The writer's desire for the wisdom of GOD by which all things were made, to come to its creation. John, tells us, in 1:14, that indeed, GOD's wisdom, GOD's word, was in fact assigned a tent ... the tent being the man Christ Jesus, the only begotten of GOD the Father! Nevertheless, Sirach is simply personifying the wisdom of GOD and not talking of a literal person alongside GOD.
1: All wisdom comes from the
Lord and is with him for ever.
4: Wisdom was
created before all things, and prudent understanding from
- Compare Prov 8:22 [Sirach taken from http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/RsvSira.html]
James Dunn makes the following observations:
It is clear therefore that the tradition of (pre-existent) Wisdom has been influential at many points in NT christology. ... The role that Proverbs, ben Sira [Sirach], etc. ascribe to Wisdom, these earliest Christians ascribe to Jesus. ... Jesus was being identified as Wisdom. Indeed, Paul seems to make the identification explicit in so many words when he proclaims 'Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God' (1 Cor. 1.24; also 1.30). ... [ben Sira] had no intention of giving Wisdom the status of an independent entity, far less a divine personality side by side with Yahweh. ... For ben Sira then, Wisdom is just a way of speaking about God's ordering of creation and design for man in the law. ... Similarly with the Wisdom of Solomon ... Once again the position is clear: for all that the author of the Wisdom of Solomon uses ... the vigour of his imagery, he has not the slightest thought of wisdom as an independent divine being. From start to finish the wisdom of which he speaks is the wisdom of God and signifies God's wise ordering of creation and of those who fear him. ... the Wisdom passages are simply ways of describing Yahweh's wise creation and purpose. ... for a Jew to say that Wisdom 'effects all things', that Wisdom 'delivered Israel from a nation of oppressors', that 'love of Wisdom is the keeping of the laws' (Wisd. 8:5; 10.15; 6.18), was simply to say in a picturesque way that God created all things wisely, that God's wise purpose is clearly evident in the exodus from Egypt and most fully expressed in the law he gave through Moses. ... Wisdom, like the name, the glory, the Spirit of Yahweh, was a way of asserting God's nearness, his involvement with the world, his concern for his people. All these words provided expressions of God's immanence, his active concern in creation, revelation and redemption, while at the same time protecting his holy transcendence and wholly otherness. ... thus we can say with confidence that it is very unlikely that pre-Christian Judaism ever understood Wisdom as a divine being in any sense independent of Yahweh. The language may be the language of the wider speculation of the time, but within Jewish monotheism and Hebraic literary idiom Wisdom never becomes more than a personification ... a personification rather of a function of Yahweh, a way of speaking about God himself, of expressing God's active involvement with his world and his people without compromising his transcendence. - Christology in the Making, p 167,172,173,174, 176.
Hence, my earlier points that John had to stress that God was the word, because the Greeks/Gnostics put a great distance between GOD and His creation, they never saw GOD as literally involved in His creation; Gnostics believed that intermediaries such as a Logos-being did it instead. A Gnostic Christian believed that the ineffable, unapproachable GOD, who was remote and distant from His creation, was mediated to His creation by lesser divine figures - "aeons" or a single lesser divine figure, the Logos (the various Gnostic systems differed on this point). John a typical monotheistic Jew is refuting this position. John was stating that it was indeed GOD involved in His creation; it was GOD's word, GOD's self-expression, GOD expressing Himself and not another, when all things came into existence. Dunn continues ... p.176-177, 178, 195
The obvious starting place is 1 Cor. Chs. 1-2 ... 1.22-24, 30. What is the meaning of this phrase 'Christ is the wisdom of God'? ... Paul probably takes up wisdom language because it was already being used by the Corinthians. ... In face of the Greeks seeking for wisdom Paul preached Christ, Christ crucified. ... Paul asserts that Christ is God's wisdom - Christ crucified. Divine wisdom is manifested in the cross and its proclamation. That is to say, Paul here emphatically sets forth Christ crucified as the measure of divine wisdom. The cross is the act of divine wisdom, and demonstrates and defines God's wisdom in a final way for the Christian. To be sure Paul talks of what might be called a 'pre-existent wisdom' (2.7); but it is a wisdom in the sense of 'God's predetermined plan of salvation'. Christ is God's wisdom, then, not as a pre-existent being, but as the one who fulfilled God's predetermined plan of salvation, as the one predetermined by God to be the means of man's salvation through his death and resurrection ... In short, in 1 Cor. Chs. 1-2 Christ is the fulfilment or embodiment of God's wise intention 'to bring us to glory' (2.7). Rather, when we set Paul against the background of pre-Christian Jewish talk of divine Wisdom, what he seems to be saying is this. The same divine wisdom which was active in creation we believe to have been active in Jesus; that is, the creator God was himself acting in and through Christ. ... We must grasp the fact that Paul was not seeking to win men to belief in a pre-existent being ... Nor was he arguing that Jesus is a particular pre-existent being; ... What he was saying is that Wisdom ... is now most fully expressed in Jesus - Jesus is the exhaustive embodiment of divine wisdom; all the divine wisdom dwelt in him.
- Wisdom of Solomon
18:14-16, concerning a
description of the last of the ten plagues in
14: For while all things
were in quiet silence, and that night was in the midst of her swift course,
15: Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven out of thy
royal throne, as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of
16: And brought thine unfeigned
commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with
death; and it touched the heaven, but it stood upon the earth.
Then suddenly visions of horrible dreams troubled them sore, and terrors came
upon them unlooked for.
18: And one thrown here, and another there,
half dead, shewed the cause of his death.
- Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-2,17 1: O God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word, 2: And ordained man through thy wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which thou hast made, 17: And thy counsel who hath known, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy Spirit from above?
examples of intertestamental
This time concerning the word of GOD, GOD's
Dunn makes the following observations: p.218,219,244 ...
Both Psalmist [i.e. Ps. 33.6, 107.20, 147.15,18], prophet
[Isaiah - Isa 9.8, 55.10f.] and teacher of Wisdom [Wisdom 18.14-16]
are thinking of the word of Yahweh as Yahweh himself acting, acting
decisively in creation, in judgment, in salvation. When a sovereign
speaks his subjects obey; when he commands it is done. So the
utterance and command of Yahweh are simply ways of saying that Yahweh brought
his will to effect, that Yahweh achieved his purpose; when Yahweh speaks
... In short, I see no reason to dissent from G.F.
Moore's judgment on Wisdom 18.15f.: 'It is an error to see in such
personifications an approach to personalisation. Nowhere either in the
Bible or in the extra-canonical literature of the Jews is the word of God a
personal agent or on the way to become such'.
here is borne out by what we learned above concerning the Spirit of
God and the Wisdom of God in pre-Christian Judaism. As they were
ways of speaking about Yahweh acting toward and in his creation, so
too with the word of God. As they enabled the Jewish writers
to speak of the immanence of God without threatening his
transcendence, so with the Word.
9:1-2,17 [see above] ... In short, all three expressions are simply alternative ways
of speaking about the effective power of God in his active relationship with
his world and its inhabitants.
... used Wisdom and Logos language of Christ, identifying Christ as Wisdom,
as the man that the Logos became, but did not seem to think
of pre-existent Wisdom-Logos as a personal being or of Christ as one
who had been pre-existent as