1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
This study will be a little more technical, but I will try to make it as simple as possible.
The high point of verse 1 is in this third affirmation about the Word.
and the Word was God [shows the nature of the Word, who is the subject].
This phrase is a stark statement of the deity of Christ. The Word was in His essence God; He had the proper essentials of deity. He in every sense had the qualities of God Himself. The Word was God’s own Self.
The word “God” is not preceded by a definite article (in English, “the”). There is no such thing as an indefinite article (“a” or “an”) in the Greek. If a Greek noun does not have a definite article (that is, the noun anarthrous), the idea expressed is a qualitative one. In other words, Jesus was God in quality. The indefiniteness of the word “God” attributes quality to the idea; that is, the Word held the quality of being God Himself.
Verses 1, 6, 12, 13, and (twice in verse) 18 do not have the definite article before the word “God.” Because these verses do not say “the God,” do they mean that God is “a” god?
In the English we place the predicate last: “The dog went home.” However, the Greek can place the predicate at the beginning: “Home the dog went.” This places emphasis on the word “home.” In John 1:1 the emphasis is on the word “God”— “God the Word was.” This is an emphatic statement of the deity of the Word. The Word was God without diminish. Nothing modifies His essence as God Himself. Nothing subtracts or limits His deity.
The position of the word “God” as first in the sentence makes it a predicate stressing description rather than individualization. The Word was coexistent with God and in unity with Him. The lack of the definite article “the” in the predicate (“God”) is to show that the subject (the Word) can be distinguished from the Father.
The definite article before “Word”—that is, “the Word”—shows that the Word is the subject. The fact that the word “God” is a predicate demonstrates that it describes the nature of the Word. The “Word” and “God” are the same in nature and essence. The ultimate effect of ordering the words this way is to emphasize the word “God”—the Word was God Himself.
The word “God” is first in the sentence, giving it emphasis: “God was the Word.” However, the Greek makes “the Word” the subject of the sentence. Placing the word “God” first in the sentence makes it emphatic. The Word is emphatically God Himself. Grammatically, to make the word “God” as indefinite as “a god” is sheer folly (2 Co 1:21; 5:19; Ga 6:7; 2 Th 2:4). Although the Word was not the same as God the Father in person, they were the same in essence. Both are God Himself. Everything said about the Father can be said about the Son because they are the same essence.
To imply, as do Jehovah Witnesses and others, that the absence of the definite article “the” before God speaks of “a god” indicates a lack of knowledge of Greek grammar.
If John would have put a definite article before both the Word and God, then it would mean that they were the same person, which is the heresy of Sabellianism. This would have contradicted the previous statement making them distinct.
No Greek lexicon translates the word “God” in this verse as divine. The Word was not divine but deity.
What God was, the Word was.
We cannot take Christianity very seriously unless we recognize Christ as God Almighty. There can be no true worship without acknowledging the Word as God. Christ as God as infinite value.
The Christian finds in Jesus the very life of God. We find in Christ what we anticipate God to be. The Word was not “a god,” not “the God,” but “The Word was God.” The Word or Christ possessed deity.
The first clause of John 1:1 (“in the beginning was the Word”) gives the eternality of the Son or the Word. The second clause (“and the Word was with God”) expresses the Word’s communion with the Father in eternity past. The third clause (“and the Word was God”) sets forth His deity.
John as a monotheistic Jew would have never referred to the Word as “a god.” He could not have put the definite article “the” before the word “God” because this would have equated the Father and the Son. It is common for the Greek structure in our verse to use God without the definite article to refer to God Almighty (definite nominative predicate noun preceding a finite verse without the article). If John simply wanted to refer to the Word as divine as over against deity, he could have used an entirely different word (theios, not theos).
There are people who say, “I can accept Jesus as a moral teacher but not as God.” Any man who said what Jesus said about Himself and not be God would not be truthful or moral. He would be a lunatic or deluded. The Bible does not leave the option that Jesus was a mere man.