1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Note: the studies in the first verse are more technical than usual for Verse-by-Verse Commentary because of their importance in indicating the deity of Christ. However, I have attempted to make the concepts as simple as possible. God purposed that the entire book of John should be read in the light of this verse. Verse 1 is the basis for the entire gospel. This verse is exceedingly important to understand the nature of Christianity.
Verses 1-18 are the prologue to the gospel of John. The prologue is a preview of the entire gospel and sets forth the deity of Christ and the entire theme of the gospel. The deity of Christ sounds the keynote of the gospel. The Son is co-equal with the Father and Holy Spirit.
John states the purpose of the gospel in 20:31. It is to believe in Christ as the Son of God.
There are three statements in verse 1 that bring out the nature of the “Word.” All three declarations use the absolute state-of-being verb “was.”
His existence is beyond time—“In the beginning was the Word.”
His personal communion with the Father—“The Word was with God.”
His nature is God in essence—“The Word was God.”
Verse 1 argues that the Word (the Son) superseded creation in both time and space. He was part of the unity of God. He was God Himself.
In the beginning [origin]
The “beginning” here was not at the act of creation; it refers to the existence of the Word when creation came into being. It was at the unbegun beginning. God is not a time Being; He stands outside time in eternity. The Word was in existence at the origin of all things
The Word preexisted all beginning or eternity past. There can be no incarnation (Christ becoming human) without His preexistence. The Word created the world (1:3); He had to exist before the world to do that. His existence as the Creator makes Him superior to all created beings. This puts the pagan concept of deities in proper place.
Note other passages that indicate the preexistence of Christ: Jn 1:15, 18, 30; 3:13, 16, 17, 31; 6:38; 8:58; 17:5, 24; Eph 1:3-5; 1 Pet 1:18-20. Jesus existed in timeless eternity prior to all beginning. He eternally transcends all time. He was involved in the act of creation itself (Jn 1:3; Co 1:16-17). If He created the world, He obviously is superior to creation. This is far different from the pagan deities of the first century that were enmeshed in creation itself.
The Word (the Son) existed from all eternity.
Jesus was in existence prior to the creation of the universe. The Word did not begin at creation for He was not a created being. Only God Himself is eternal.
Since the Word existed before creation of the universe, He existed in eternity. He was never created as heretics claim. He existed from all eternity. He predated time and creation.
Before Jesus became man He was God Himself, the second person of the Trinity. He was equal with the Father (Php 2:6). This was His preexistent state in eternity. Since He was preexistent to creation, He created the universe. He is therefore superior to all creation.
There can be no incarnation (Christ becoming man) unless there is preexistence. If people try to build Christianity on the humanity of Christ, they will fail.