Thursday, November 24, 2016

John 1:1 - In the Beginning

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Genesis 1:1

"In the beginning was the LOGOS, and the LOGOS was with TON THEON, and the LOGOS was theos." -- John 1:1; transliterations obtained from Westcott & Hort Interlinear
Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from the Holy Bible are from the World English bible translation.
We will, in this study, examine what is the "beginning" spoken of in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, as well as what is included in the "panta" [all things] spoken of in John 1:3. One claims: "By saying that the Word was in the beginning, John implies that the Logos already existed before the beginning talked about in Gen 1:1, namely, the beginning of created reality. This means that the Logos must be uncreated and eternal." This is usually the concept that most apply to the word "beginning" in John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1, and then, from this it is assumed the the Logos had no beginning.
One might say that the word "beginning" refers to the beginning of creation, which is true, but then we need to ask: What creation? One might say the creation of the "heavens and the earth", as spoken of in Genesis 1:1. But then, we need to ask, What is included in the heavens and earth that is spoken of there? Does it include the heavens where the angels are who always see the face of God? (Matthew 18:10) Doesn't Job 38:4-7 speak the angels as "sons of God", and thus show that they were already in existence before the beginning of the heavens and the earth of Genesis 1:1? Was the heaven wherein God's throne exists ever created? -- Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:34.
Some, claiming that the "beginning" refers to absolutely all creation, view the beginning in John 1:1 as referring to the beginning of the firstborn creature. Others seem to think that the Logos in John 1:1 is not a creature at all, but simply the word or thought of God. These usually hold that the beginning of John 1:1 is before absolutely all creation, whether living or non-living, even including the creation of the material universe. One claims that the verb transliterated as "en" (Strong's #1511) means "come into being", and thus that John 1:1 should be rendered as: "In the beginning, the Word came into being, and the Word existed at the God, and the Word occurred to God." This latter view seems to deny that personal prehuman existence of Jesus.
The verb form transliterated as "en" or "een" (Strong's #1511), however, is an imperfect form of the verb which simply denotes existence, in the sense of having been in existed, or having existence. It is almost always rendered into English as "was" (however, the English form "was" does not always correspond in meaning to the Greek word "een".) The idea that it means "come into being" has to be assumed beyond its actual meaning. A study of the usage of this word, however, shows that its best translation is "was".
See our study:
Regarding "Was" in John 1:1
Getting to back to the word "beginning", we ask: What was the general thought of the New Testament writers when they spoke of the "beginning" of creation, or of the world? We need to examine some scriptures to see, and thereby compare spiritual with spiritual. -- 1 Corinthians 2:13.
The first scripture we will examine is Matthew 19:4:
He answered, "Haven't you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, ..."
We can learn from this that Jesus associated "the beginning" with the time of the creation of Adam and Eve. This agrees with Exodus 20:11: "In six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them." This shows that the "beginning" spoken of in Genesis 1:1 is the six days that are described in Genesis 1:3 through Genesis 2:1. Adam and Eve's creation was on the last of the six days of creation in which God created the heavens and the earth. Thus, the "beginning" spoken of in Genesis 1:1 is regarding the six days of creation.
However, do these six days include the creation of the planet earth, the sun, the moon, the stars and the angels? No. Let us see why this is so.
Before getting into the creation of the heavens and the earth -- the six days -- we read: "the earth was formless and empty." (Genesis 1:2) It should be apparent here that "earth" is referring to the planet. That which is later called "earth", the land masses", had not yet come into being. Thus, the planet earth already "was" before the first day of creation, thus before the beginning spoken of in Genesis 1:1, as verified by Exodus 20:11. Thus, "earth" in verse 1, which refers to the six days of creation, must mean something different than the planet earth.
So what was the "earth" that is spoken of that was created in the "beginning"? Genesis 1:9,10 tells us:
God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear," and it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas. God saw that it was good.
Notice that was not the planet that was created on the third day, but dry land. This is the "earth" that was created in the beginning spoken of in verse one. "Earth" in the Bible, however, also designates the society of people who are living on the dry land. We read that "The earth also was corrupt before God." (Genesis 6:11) Does this mean that the planet itself was corrupt? No, it is speaking of mankind and his society upon the earth: "the earth was filled with violence." And:
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. -- Genesis 6:13.
Here God says he will destroy all flesh with the earth. Did he mean that the planet earth would be no more? No, but he did destroy the order of things that man had made upon the earth. Thus, we should be able to see that the word "earth" can refer to the human society on the planet earth, and not to the planet itself.
Likewise, Abraham called Jehovah the "Judge of all the earth." (Genesis 18:25) Did he mean that the planet itself was to be judged by Yahweh? No, he is speaking of mankind upon the planet. More scriptures could be cited, but these give a basis for showing that the "earth" referred to in Genesis 1:1 is not the planet, but rather the things upon the land.
What about the heavens -- what is included in the statement that in the beginning God created the heavens? Very evidently "heavens" does not include the heavens that is God's throne, and where the angels see the face of God. (Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:34; 18:10) The scriptures seem to indicate that the invisible heavens where God throne is has always been. (Psalm 93:2; 103:19; Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:45) So what heavens is being referred to?
The word "heaven", like the word "earth", is used in different ways in the Bible.
The Hebrew word Shamayim, usually rendered "heavens" in Genesis 1:1, is precisely the same word that used in Genesis 1:8. Often it is rendered by many translations in the singular in Genesis 1:8; however, it is plural in both instances in the Hebrew -- it is exactly the same word used in both instances. This indicates that "heavens" spoken of as being created in Genesis 1:1, is that expanse, or firmament, that is spoken of in Genesis 1:8. However, as the beginning involves the full of the six days, the heavens includes all that is in these heavens -- the hosts of heaven -- as seen from the earth, the flying creatures, and even the sun, moon and stars that were made to appear in the fourth day (Genesis 1:14,15; 2:1; Note: We do not understand Genesis 1:14,15 to mean that the sun, moon and stars, as physical bodies, were created on the fourth day, but that they were made to appear in the heavens as seen from the surface of the earth). We should note further that the word "heavens" can also refer to the spiritual ruling powers that had been set in place by God through Jesus, which heavens -- spiritual ruling powers, having come under the control of wicked spirits - is to pass away. -- Psalm 102:25; Ezekiel 28:12-15; Matthew 4:8,9; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; Hebrews 1:8,10; 1 John 5:19.
See: Why is Jesus Called "Elohim" and "Theos"?
And what about the "beginning" in John 1:1? It is speaking of the beginning of the world of mankind and not the creation of the spirit world or even of the stars and planet systems. (We should take note that there is a single "day" of creation spoken of in Genesis 2:4, which "day" includes the "six days" in which he created the heavens [skies] and the earth [land masses]. -- Exodus 20:13; see also Matthew 19:4,5, which refers to the beginning when Adam and Eve were created.) The angels were already in existence in the spirit world at the creation being spoken of. -- Job 4:11-17; Mark 10:6.
So we conclude that at the "beginning" spoken of in John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1, the angels were already in existence, as well as the LOGOS. Again, by comparing spiritual with spiritual, we find verification for this in the way the word "beginning" is used in the NT, as related to creation.
In Matthew 24:21, Jesus speaks of the "beginning of the world."
For then will be great oppression, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be.
Is he here speaking of the world of the angels? No, he is speaking of the world of mankind.
On this point, we need to note, however, that the one referred to as "the Word" was already in existence at the "beginning of the world", for we read that "the world was made through him." (John 1:10) Since the one called "the Word" is identified in John 1:14-17 as the one was later name "Jesus", then we know that the prehuman Jesus was created before the beginning of the world that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:21. From John 1:10, we also reason that the "beginning" of John 1:1 is referring to the same beginning that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:21.
Mark 10:6 makes this even clearer:
But from the beginning of the creation, 'God made them male and female.'
So the beginning of creation here is not the beginning of the creation of the spirit world; the angels -- the spirit sons of God -- were already in existence at the creation that Jesus spoke of. -- Job 38:4-7; see Job 1:6; 2:1.
Let us also notice some usages of the word "creation" (Hebrew, ktisis; Strong's #2937) that show that it usually (although not always) was used in the NT times to refer to human creation, and not angels, sun, moon, stars, etc.
Mark 16:15 - He said to them, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation."
The whole creation here does not include the angels, nor the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. The "creation" being spoken of is the human creation. The word translated "whole" in the Greek is transliterated as "pasee", a variation of the word transliterated as "pas". (Strong's #3956 -- This word is discussed in the latter part of this study.) The usage here further illustrates that "pas" in all its variations does not necessarily refer to absolutely everything in the universe. Here it is limited to the human creation, as it is also in John 1:3. It is speaking of the world of mankind into which Jesus came, the world that God made through Jesus. -- John 1:10.
Romans 1:20 - For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.
It should be obvious here that the "world" being spoken of is the visible world -- the world of mankind here on earth, and not the invisible world of the angels, etc.
Romans 8:19 - For the creation waits with eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
Romans 8:20 - For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope...
Similarly, it should be apparent that the spirit world is not subjected to the vanity spoken of here, but it is the world of mankind.
Now getting back to the "beginning" spoken of in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, by a comparison of spriritual revealment with spiritual revealment we can see that this beginning is not speaking of everything in the entire universe, but it can be seen to be limited especially to the world of mankind, into which Jesus came. It is of the world of mankind that John speaks of John 1:3 as "panta" -- all. TON THEON made the all of the world of mankind, through Jesus, and without him none of this world was made.
However, many read in John 1:3 that not one thing was made without the Logos and thus conclude that the "beginning" in John 1:1 refers to the absolute beginning of everything that was created.
John 1:3 - All things [Greek, panta, Strong's #3956] were made through [Greek, di, Strong's #1223] him. Without him was not anything [oude hen, Strong's #3761, 1520] made that has been made.
The word translated "all things" in the Greek is "panta". Literally, it means "all." The word "things" is supplied by translators. The word panta is a variation of the word "pas". This word always looks to context and common evidence for what should be included and what should not be included. It rarely, if ever, means absolutely everything that exists.
If one were to do a search through the NT occurences of variations of the Greek word "pas", and try to replace it with "absolutely everything in the universe", one could see it just does not fit. One can do this by using a Greek transliterated text that can be searched. However, it is easier if one searches for Strong's #3956. The Westcott & Hort text is available online by which one can do such a search.
Let us look at a few scriptures to demonstrate this principle of evident inclusion and exclusion.
"There went out to him all the country of Judea, and all those [Strong's 3956] of Jerusalem. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins." (Mark 1:5) Pantes [a variation of "pas"] is here rendered "all those". Does this mean that absolutely every person who lived in the country of Judea and in Jerusalem came to John and was baptized by him? Absolutely not.
Mark 1:5
kai exeporeueto pros auton pasa hee ioudaia
2532 1607 4314 0846_7 3956 3588 2449
chwra kai hoi ierosolumeitai pantes kai
5561 2532 3588 2415 3956 2532
ebaptizonto hup autou en tw iordanee potamw
0907 5259 0846_3 1722 3588 2446 4215
exomologoumenoi tas hamartias autwn
1843 3588 0266 0846_92
Westcott & Hort Interlinear, as obtained from the Bible Students Library DVD
To make greater sense in English, this would be better rendered: "And there went to him those of all the land of Judea, and Jerusalemites. All these were baptized by him in the Jordan River, openly confessing their sins." The Good News Translation, although it is paraphrased, captures the sense by expressing it: "Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem went out to hear John. They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River."
"And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables." (Mark 4:11, King James Version) Here in the KJV, the phrase "ta panta" [literally, 'the all'] is shown as "all these things". This is a good example of how qualifiers added by translators may help the reader understand the usage of the word "all". Not only did the KJV translators add the word "things", but they also added the word "these".
"With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all [Strong's 3956] things which are done here." (Colossians 4:9) Here it is evident from the context that "all" is limited the things "which are done here." The word "things" in English is added by the KJV translators.
And then we have the example of the usage of "ta panta" in Hebrews 2:8, where Paul quotes Psalm 8 regarding mankind: "'You have put all things in subjection under his feet.' For in that he subjected all things to him [man], he left nothing that is not subject to him [man]. But now we don't see all things subjected to him, yet." What are the "all things" -- ta panta: the all -- that was subjected to mankind? Psalm 8:7 answers: "All sheep and oxen, Yes, and the animals of the field, The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, And whatever passes through the paths of the seas." (See Genesis 1:26,28) It is evident that ta panta here does not mean absolutely everything in the universe, but that it includes all the things being spoken of that was subjected to man.
In Colossians 1:20 we read that through Jesus, God is reconciling "all things" [ta panta] to himself, "whether things on earth or things in heaven." Does this mean that absolutely everything in the universe is out of harmony with God, and thus through Jesus absolutely everything in the universe needs to be reconciled to God? Does this mean that the obedient angels need to be reconciled with God? Does this mean that Satan himself will be reconciled with God? The things that come to peace with God directly through the blood of Jesus is man, first of all the seed of Abraham, and then those take of the waters of life in the millennium. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) However, Jesus and his joint-heirs especially, will not only rule over mankind, but also over the angels -- over all dominions, so that eventually all must either repent and come into harmony with God, or else be destroyed. The end result is that all creation then remaining both in heaven and earth that had been out of harmony with God will be reconciled to God, but the point is that the term "all things" does not totally refer to absolutely everything in the universe, since not all things in the universe are out of harmony with God so that they would need to be reconciled.
See also:
Therefore, The word panta (as well as all the variations of the Greek pas -- Strong's Greek #3956) is used in connection with what is spoken of, thus all the things of which we are speaking. It does not necessarily mean absolutely everything that exists, else God himself would have to be included.
So we conclude that the word panta (usually translated in John 1:3 as "all things") and the words "oude hen" (usually translated as "not one thing") need to be viewed relative to what is being spoken of, that is, the world of mankind into which the Logos came and was not recognized by. (John 1:10; 17:5) The words "things" and "thing" are supplied by the translators. Without adding the supplied word "things" and "thing", the verse would read: "All through him came to be, and without him not one came to be."
Now, regarding the phrase "not one thing". A similar usage may be found in Hebrews 2:8 (already discussed above), in connection with his quotation from Psalm 8:5,6. Paul is referring to the subjection of "all things" to mankind. And then he says "For in that he [God] subjected all things to him [man], he left nothing that is not subject to him." In saying that God left nothing that is not subject to man, did Paul mean that there is nothing in the whole universe that was not made subject to man? Absolutely, not! Paul is speaking concerning realm of the earth. And this is what can be seen from Psalm 8:6-8:
Psalm 8:6 You make him ruler over the works of your hands. You have put all things under his feet: Psalm 8:7 All sheep and oxen, Yes, and the animals of the field, Psalm 8:8 The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, And whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
Likewise, by context, and from the rest of the scriptures, we can determine that "not one thing" in John 1:3 refers the creation of the world of mankind, not to everything in the universe.
Having all this evidence from what is revealed through the holy spirit in the scriptures, it is our conclusion that the "beginning" spoken of in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 is not pertaining to the angels, nor even to the physical earth, stars and planets; that these were already in existence at the "beginning" spoken of both in John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1, and that this beginning refers to the beginning of the world of mankind, as spoken of in John 1:10; 17:5.
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