3. In the Beginning, God was the Word

The true text of John 1:1

The Greek text of John 1:1 has not been translated correctly in English. The Greek reads:

“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and God was the Word.”

In Genesis 1:1, ELOHIM was Christ.

But John was not the first one to call Jesus Christ “God.”

God called Jesus Christ “ELOHIM” in Psalms 45:6, Hosea 1:7, and Amos 4:11. And, most notably, He identified the Spirit of Christ as “YHVH ELOHIM” at the burning bush, in Exodus 3:15 and 16.

In the Beginning

In the first verse of John’s Gospel, to copy Genesis 1:1, the Apostle John used the expression “in the beginning.” John even imitated the writing style of Genesis 1, beginning each successive phrase with “and.”

The expression “in the Beginning” in the Bible does not refer to an infinite number of years in the past. It refers to the beginning of human history.

This is the beginning John spoke of, when He said, “in the beginning was the Word.”

We only know that Christ was “before all things” (Colossians 1:17). We cannot really understand when He became “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).

Some Bibles translate מִקֶּ֖דֶם in Micah 5:2 as “from everlasting” to describe Christ’s beginning. But, the Brown–Driver–Briggs Hebrew Lexicon tells us מִקֶּ֖דֶם means “from ancient days,” or “days of old.”

In Jude 1:25, we see that Christ existed “before all ages.” The Greek word here is (æons) αἰῶνος.

“To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”1

When Jude told us the glory of God was “through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages,” he was echoing the words of Jesus: “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world (κόσμον kosmon) was” (John 17:5).

The word αἰών (aión), meaning “age” or “world,” is used 125 times in the New Testament. When meaning “age” it refers to the periods, or “ages,” of human history. The root meaning of αἰών (aión) is life 2. Generally, the Bible refers to the “ages” or “lifetimes” of the prophets, such as in Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; 15:18; and Ephesians 3:9; however, some translations have made the meaning as “world” or “beginning of the world.” There are a few verses where αἰών (aión) clearly does mean world, for example, in Hebrews 1:2, and 11:3: “through whom He also made the worlds,” and “we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God.” Although, even in these verses, some translations use “ages” and not worlds.

Some have been ignoring the biblical meaning of αἰών (aión). They want to recognize an “eternal” meaning of αἰών in order to defend the Trinity doctrine. They want to say that Christ and God both existed “forever” and therefore they are equal.

The 381 A.D. version of the Nicene Creed, which endorsed the Trinity doctrine, has historically been translated in English as “(Christ was) begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), or ‘ages.’” The word aeons (worlds) in the Creed is a Latin transliteration of the Greek word αἰών (aión).

The “Ecumenical Version” of the Nicene Creed, translated in 1975, translated the Latin word aeons to mean “eternally.” The Creed reads, “(Christ was) eternally begotten.” The idea is to support the eternal existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, making them all equal, pretending that Christ had no beginning. The Catholic Church version of 2011 is a more accurate translation, as “before all ages.”

John, in Revelation 3:14, called Christ “the beginning of the creation of God.” Christ did have a beginning. He was the “firstborn.” God existed before Christ.

And the Word was to God (kai ho logos ēn pros ton theon)

Some believe the phrase “and the Word was with God” means that God was “thinking of Christ” in the beginning. But that idea is not supported by the Greek grammar. The Greek grammar implies action and emotion by Christ, not by God.

There are many Greek words that can be translated “with” (such as en, meta, para, and sun). In this sentence, John used the word “pros.” It actually means “to” or “toward.” It is only translated “with,” because that sounds better in English. A quick scan of all the translations of “pros” in the interlinear text will verify that “pros” simply means “to.”

In John 17:24, Jesus told us the Father “loved Me before the foundation of the world.” In this verse, you may try able to argue that God was only “thinking” about the Christ in the beginning, because the action of the Father is toward Christ. But in John 1:1, the action is toward God. John said that Christ was “to the Father” in the beginning.

The grammar of John 1:1 is identical to 1 John 2:1: “we have an advocate with (to – para) the Father.” John 1:1 and 1 John 2:1 both describe the action of Christ toward God.

You are unlikely to find many Greek Unitarians, because they would understand from John 1:1 that Christ was “toward” God in the beginning. There was action, and emotion, on the part of Christ toward God.

And God was the Word (the “God” who appeared to us, was Christ)

The message of John 1:1 is not that Christ was God, but that ELOHIM was Christ. The Trinitarian translators who wrote the English Bible have reversed the word order.

The opening words in the Gospel of John mimic the opening words of Genesis, to tell us Jesus Christ was ELOHIM in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, ELOHIM created the heavens and the earth.”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and God was the Word.

John 1:1

Unfortunately, the English text we read in John 1:1 has been “poetically” altered. The true reading, in the Greek text, contains this most significant truth of the Bible.

In Beginning was the Word
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν Λόγος

 

And the Word was With (the) God
καὶ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν

 

And God was the Word
καὶ Θεὸς ἦν Λόγος

The Word, we know from John 1:2-5, was Jesus Christ.

The phrase “God was the Word” tells us “ELOHIM” in Genesis 1:1 was Jesus Christ. ELOHIM, in the Hebrew language, simply means divine being. In the Bible, ELOHIM for Christ has both a plural and a singular meaning, because when Christ speaks for God, there are two who speak.

This revelation may be new to some, so we are going to spend some time proving it over the rest of this chapter. Christ was the “ELOHIM,” through whom the invisible God created the heavens and the earth.

What is an ELOHIM?

This meaning of the Spirit of Christ as “the ELOHIM” of the Old Testament will become clearer as we go through our study. Christ as the ELOHIM was both the “image of the invisible God” and “the Word,” who appeared as God’s image and spoke for God. He was the “only begotten God.”

In Chapter 8, we will see that God demonstrated the meaning of an ELOHIM to Moses, making him both the speaker and the image of the invisible God to Pharaoh, such that when one speaks, two are really speaking. Hence, the plural word: ELOHIM.

Through Him, and by Him, all things were created

In the beginning, ELOHIM created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

The Apostles taught that all things were spoken into being, through Christ, and by Christ.

To say that that all things were made through Christ means that God was the real creator, who spoke through Christ.

John said that all things were made through Christ: “All things were made through δι’ Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3).

The Book of Hebrews records, “through δι’ whom, He also made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2).

And Paul’s letter to the Colossians says, “all things have been created through διὰ Him . . .” (Colossians 1:16).

The expression “through Christ” also tells us God did not seek counsel from Christ; rather, He simply spoke “through” Christ.

God alone was responsible for the creation of the world. Christ was only the vessel through whom all things were created.

In Colossians 1:16, Paul also said that all things were made by Christ.

Paul echoed the words of Genesis 1:1: “For by ἐν Him, all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth . . .”

Genesis 1:27 proves that Christ was ELOHIM

In Genesis 1:27, we read, “ELOHIM created man in His own image, in the image of ELOHIM He created them male and female.”

The Jerusalem Targum reads: “And the Word of YHVH created man in His likeness, in the likeness of YHVH, YHVH created, male and female created He them.”

The first phrase of this verse refers to the physical creation of man after Christ’s image. The second phrase says that Christ created both male and female in the image of God, which can only mean the spiritual image of the invisible God. James 3:9 tells us that man was made in the similitude of God, the invisible God.

The Hebrew grammar proves that Christ is ELOHIM

The word ELOHIM is grammatically plural because of its IM ending, which is like the letter “S” in the English language. Without a doubt, God intentionally used the plural form “ELOHIM” to describe Christ. The singular form of ELOHIM, “El” אֵ֔ל, appears 248 times in the Old Testament and another singular form, “Eloha” אֱל֙וֹהַּ֙, of ELOHIM is also used 60 times in the Old Testament. But God did not use either of these two singular expressions to describe Christ.

Some question whether ELOHIM is really a plural word, but in the Old Testament, ELOHIM אֱלֹהִ֔ים is most definitely used in the plural when referring to idols and divine beings, which we can see in 235 cases.

When ELOHIM does appear as singular, it always has a plural meaning behind it.

ELOHIM was used in the singular for Christ, because He spoke for the invisible God, such that two are really speaking. ELOHIM was also used to describe other National Gods, as if they were also speakers for the Most High God, the God of all the Nations. And ELOHIM was used to describe Moses, when he spoke for the invisible God. We will prove this more in Chapter 10, where we will show that the early Jewish people really understood the plurality and singularity of ELOHIM, their God.

The Jewish people today do not recognize the plurality behind the word ELOHIM. Nehemia Gordon, a Kariate Jew and renowned Hebrew scholar, in his paper ELOHIM, proved that the Hebrew word ELOHIM is singular when referring to the Hebrew God, YHVH. This singularity actually shows that ELOHIM is Christ only, and the Father is referred to, only by the implication of the plural word.

Nehemia Gordon proved there are only nine cases, out of 2,300, in which ELOHIM, referring to YHVH, has plural verbs or adjectives.3 In six of these nine cases, the plural adjective or verb is contradicted by surrounding singular verbs and adjectives. That leaves three cases in which the plurality cannot be explained by the Hebrew language, and these are the three famous “Us” verses in Genesis.

The first of these occurs in Genesis 1:26: “Let Us make man in Our image.”

Speaking for the invisible God, Christ must refer to Himself, because He is the image of the invisible God, the image in which man will be created both physically and spiritually.

We will discuss the other two “Us” statements, and some similar references, in Chapter 12.

The Trinity doctrine also says the word ELOHIM proves God was plural in the Old Testament and remains plural today. However, the plurality of God suggested by the Trinity is not supported by the three famous “Us” verses in Genesis.

The Trinity doctrine teaches that God is composed of three distinct persons who speak as one individual. Therefore, whenever God says something, Trinitarians believe the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all speaking, and when they speak, they use the expression “I” to refer to the collective individual of God.

If this is true, then the “Us” expression in “Let Us make man in Our image” would logically refer to a “fourth” person, since the three supposedly always speak as one individual.

But the Bible describes Christ and God as two spiritual beings, two Gods: the one True God, and the only begotten God. One who spoke for the other, making us believe there is only one speaker. The only time the plurality comes out is when Christ as the speaker must refer to Himself. 

The Spirit of Christ as ELOHIM
The Spirit of Christ was identified as ELOHIM through: the statement of John, “God was the Word”; the expression of Christ “YHVH your ELOHIM (I), YHVH (the Father), are one”; the example of Moses as “the Word,” an ELOHIM; the use of the plural word ELOHIM in the singular; the “Let us” statements; other instances that show Christ spoke for God; Jesus’ statements that no one has seen God’s form; the “appearance” of ELOHIM to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Apostle’s explanation that all things were created through and by Him; and several passages where God talks about ELOHIM in the third person.

 

In the next chapter, we will see that ELOHIM was the “image,” who Paul called the “image of the invisible God.” Through this image “all things were created.”

Taking on the form of a man, the Spirit of Christ created man after His image and walked in the garden with him. As Justin Martyr wrote, “appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels; but now, by the will of God, having become man for the human race.”

  1.  NIV, NU Text, as appears in nearly all of the oldest manuscripts.
  2. “In Homer it typically refers to life or lifespan.” Wikipedia, “aeon.”
  3. Nehemia Gordon. 2003. Elohim: Plurality and “Attraction,” Part 3.