Sunday, December 11, 2016

John 1:1 Regarding "Was" and Eternity

The following is an excerpt from James White’s dissertation on “Germans, JW’s and John 1:1”. While we are not associated with the JWs, we have had this quote presented to us:
Quote from: James White
Some refer the “beginning” here to that of Genesis 1.1, and this may be so, but the verb “was” (Gr: en, imperfect of eimi) takes us before whatever “beginning” we may wish to choose. The continuous action in the past of the imperfect tense of the verb indicates to us that whenever the “beginning” was, the Word was already in existence. In other words, the Word is eternal – timeless – without a “beginning.”
James White claims the Greek word transliterated as *een*, in effect, would mean eternity, at least in John 1:1. It is evidently being assumed that “beginning” refers to absolutely everything in the created universe, and thus, since the Word “was” before such, then the Word was never created, and thus, has always been. We believe that the “all” of John 1:3 refers to, not the whole created universes, but rather to the world of mankind that was created through the Word. Jesus “was”, indeed, in existence before the world of mankind was made through him. — John 1:10; 17:5.

See: Jesus and Creation
On the other hand, White places a lot of emphasis on the word “was”. If the word itself designates eternity, then in John 1:10 where we find the same word used, Jesus is eternally in the world of mankind which did not recognize him. In actuality, there is no reason to add to the scriptures that only in John 1:1 should the word *een* be understood to denote eternity, except that one has a preconceived idea of such an eternity. In other words, the argument becomes circular, in effect, saying: “Since we believe that Jesus is uncreated, then *een* in John 1:1,2 means that Jesus always existed in all eternity past, and thus this gives proof that Jesus has always existed.” The word *een* can, of course, in all the realms of possibilities, be used of one who has had no beginning, even as our English word “was” can, in all the realms of possibilities, be also used in such a way. This is not, however, an inherent meaning of either word. Comparing spiritual revealing with spiritual revealing, the usage of *een* all through the NT provides an abundance of testimony that such an idea is not inherent in the word.
Nevertheless, we believe that it would a mistake to assume that Jesus was created exactly at the beginning of the world of mankind. We do believe that Jesus was already existing with his God and Father before the beginning of world of mankind. (John 1:10, 17:1,3,5) The idea that Jesus was eternally existing before the world of mankind was made, however, has to be added to and read into the scriptures.

However, there is nothing at all in John 1:1 that states that Jesus had always existed from all eternity past; that idea has to read into what is actually stated.

See: Studies Related to John 1:1

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