John 1:1

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John 1:1
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First page of John's Gospel from the Coronation Gospels, c. 10th century.
BookGospel of John
Christian Bible partNew Testament

John 1:1 is the first verse in the opening chapter of the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The traditional and majority translation of this verse reads:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.[1][2][3][4]

"The Word," a translation of the Greek λόγος (logos), is widely interpreted as referring to Jesus, as indicated in other verses later in the same chapter.[5] For example, "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14; cf. 1:15, 17).

John 1:1 from the Ostromir Gospel, with John's Evangelist portrait, 1056 or 1057.

Source text and translations[edit]

Language John 1:1 text
Koine Greek Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.[6][7]
Greek transliteration En arkhêi ên ho lógos, kaì ho lógos ên pròs tòn theón, kaì theòs ên ho lógos.
Syriac Peshitta ܒ݁ܪܺܫܺܝܬ݂ ܐܺܝܬ݂ܰܘܗ݈ܝ ܗ݈ܘܳܐ ܡܶܠܬ݂ܳܐ ܘܗܽܘ ܡܶܠܬ݂ܳܐ ܐܺܝܬ݂ܰܘܗ݈ܝ ܗ݈ܘܳܐ ܠܘܳܬ݂ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ ܘܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ ܐܺܝܬ݂ܰܘܗ݈ܝ ܗ݈ܘܳܐ ܗܽܘ ܡܶܠܬ݂ܳܐ ܀
Syriac transliteration brīšīṯ ʾiṯauhi hwā milṯā, whu milṯā ʾiṯauhi hwā luaṯ ʾalāhā; wʾalāhā iṯauhi hwā hu milṯā
Sahidic Coptic transliteration Hn teHoueite neFSoop nCi pSaJe auw pSaJe neFSoop nnaHrm pnoute auw neunoute pe pSaJe.[8]
Sahidic Coptic to English In the beginning existed the Word, and the Word existed with the God, and a God was the Word.[9][10][11]
Latin Vulgate In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum.
Latin Vetus Latina example in principio erat uerbum et uerbu uel sermo erat ap(ud) dm et ds erat uerbu[12]: man.27 

John 1:1 in English versions[edit]

John 1:1 in the page showing the first chapter of John in the King James Bible.

The traditional rendering in English is:

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

Other variations of rendering, both in translation or paraphrase, John 1:1c also exist:

  • 14th century: "and God was the word" – Wycliffe's Bible (translated from the 4th-century Latin Vulgate)
  • 1808: "and the Word was a god" – Thomas Belsham The New Testament, in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome's New Translation: With a Corrected Text, London.
  • 1822: "and the Word was a god" – The New Testament in Greek and English (A. Kneeland, 1822.)
  • 1829: "and the Word was a god" – The Monotessaron; or, The Gospel History According to the Four Evangelists (J. S. Thompson, 1829)
  • 1863: "and the Word was a god" – A Literal Translation of the New Testament (Herman Heinfetter [Pseudonym of Frederick Parker], 1863)
  • 1864: "the LOGOS was God" – A New Emphatic Version (right hand column)
  • 1864: "and a god was the Word" – The Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson, New York and London (left hand column interlinear reading)
  • 1867: "and the Son was of God" – The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible
  • 1879: "and the Word was a god" – Das Evangelium nach Johannes (J. Becker, 1979)
  • 1885: "and the Word was a god" – Concise Commentary on The Holy Bible (R. Young, 1885)
  • 1911: "and [a] God was the word" – The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, by George William Horner.[13]
  • 1924: "the Logos was divine" – The Bible: James Moffatt Translation, by James Moffatt.[14]
  • 1935: "and the Word was divine" – The Bible: An American Translation, by John M. P. Smith and Edgar J. Goodspeed, Chicago.[15]
  • 1955: "so the Word was divine" – The Authentic New Testament, by Hugh J. Schonfield, Aberdeen.[16]
  • 1956: "And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity" – The Wuest Expanded Translation[17]
  • 1958: "and the Word was a god" – The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Anointed (J. L. Tomanec, 1958);
  • 1962, 1979: "'the word was God.' Or, more literally, 'God was the word.'" – The Four Gospels and the Revelation (R. Lattimore, 1979)
  • 1966, 2001: "and he was the same as God" – The Good News Bible.
  • 1970, 1989: "and what God was, the Word was" – The New English Bible and The Revised English Bible.
  • 1975 "and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word" – Das Evangelium nach Johnnes, by Siegfried Schulz, Göttingen, Germany
  • 1975: "and the Word was a god" – Das Evangelium nach Johannes (S. Schulz, 1975);
  • 1978: "and godlike sort was the Logos" – Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider, Berlin
  • 1985: "So the Word was divine" - The Original New Testament, by Hugh J. Schonfield.[18]
  • 1993: "The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one." — The Message, by Eugene H. Peterson.[19]
  • 1998: "and what God was the Word also was" – This translation follows Professor Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of John, ed. Daniel J. Harrington.[20]
  • 2017: "and the Logos was god" - The New Testament: A Translation, by David Bentley Hart.[21]


The text of John 1:1 has a sordid past and a myriad of interpretations. With the Greek alone, we can create empathic, orthodox, creed-like statements, or we can commit pure and unadulterated heresy. From the point of view of early church history, heresy develops when a misunderstanding arises concerning Greek articles, the predicate nominative, and grammatical word order. The early church heresy of Sabellianism understood John 1:1c to read, "and the Word was the God." The early church heresy of Arianism understood it to read, "and the word was a God."

— David A. Reed[22]

There are two issues affecting the translating of the verse, 1) theology and 2) proper application of grammatical rules. The commonly held theology that Jesus is God naturally leads one to believe that the proper way to render the verse is the one which is most popular.[23] The opposing theology that Jesus is subordinate to God as his Chief agent leads to the conclusion that "... a god" or "... divine" is the proper rendering.[24]

The Greek Article[edit]

The Greek article is often translated the, which is the English definite article, but it can have a range of meanings that can be quite different from those found in English, and require context to interpret.[25] Ancient Greek does not have an indefinite article like the English word a, and nominatives without articles also have a range of meanings that require context to interpret.

Colwell's Rule[edit]

In interpreting this verse, Colwell's rule should be taken into consideration, which says that a definite predicate which is before the verb "to be" usually does not have the definite article. Ernest Cadman Colwell writes:

The opening verse of John's Gospel contains one of the many passages where this rule suggests the translation of a predicate as a definite noun. Καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος [Kaì theòs ên ho lógos] looks much more like "And the Word was God" than "And the Word was divine" when viewed with reference to this rule. The absence of the article does not make the predicate indefinite or qualitative when it precedes the verb, it is indefinite in this position only when the context demands it. The context makes no such demand in the Gospel of John, for this statement cannot be regarded as strange in the prologue of the gospel which reaches its climax in the confession of Thomas [Footnote: John 20,28]."[26]

Jason David BeDuhn (Professor of Religious Studies at Northern Arizona University) criticizes Colwell's Rule as methodologically unsound and "not a valid rule of Greek grammar."[27]

The Word was divine[edit]

The main dispute with respect to this verse relates to John 1:1c ("the Word was God"). One minority translation is "the Word was divine." The following support this type of translation:


Tertullian in the early third century wrote:

Now if this one [the Word] is God according to John ("the Word was God"), then you have two: one who speaks that it may be, and another who carries it out. However, how you should accept this as "another" I have explained: as concerning person, not substance, and as distinction, not division. (Against Praxeus 12)[28]

In other words, the Persons are distinct but the substance is undivided. As Tertullian states in Against Praxeus 9 and 26, He is "so far God as He is of the same substance as God Himself ... and as a portion of the Whole ... as He Himself acknowledges: "My Father is greater than I."[28]

At the beginning of chapter 13 of against Praxeus, Tertullian uses various Scriptures to argue for "two Gods," including:[28]

"One God spoke and another created" (cf. John 1:3).

"God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee or made Thee His Christ" (cf. Psm 45).

"'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' There was One 'who was,' and there was another 'with whom'".


In John 1:1c, logos has the article but theos does not. Literally, "god was the word".[29] Origen of Alexandria, a teacher in Greek grammar of the third century, discusses the presence or absence of the article in Commentary on John, Book II, chap, 2.[30] He states:

He (John) uses the article, when the name of God refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Logos is named God. [...] God on the one hand is Very God (Autotheos, God of Himself); and so the Saviour says in His prayer to the Father, "That they may know Thee the only true God;" (cf. John 17:3) but that all beyond the Very God is made God by participation in His divinity, and is not to be called simply God (with the article), but rather God (without article).

Origen then continues to explain that the Son - the first-born of all creation – was the first to be "with God" (cf. John 1:1), attracted to Himself divinity from God, and gave that divinity to the other "gods:"

And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God [...] It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty.

As R.P.C. Hanson stated in discussing the Apologists, "There were many different types and grades of deity in popular thought and religion and even in philosophical thought."[31] Origen concludes that "the Word of God" is not "God ... of Himself" but because of "His being with the Father" (cf. John 1:1):

The true God, then, is "The God," and those who are formed after Him are gods, images, as it were, of Him the prototype.  But the archetypal image, again, of all these images is the Word of God, who was in the beginning, and who by being with God is at all times God, not possessing that of Himself, but by His being with the Father, and not continuing to be God, if we should think of this, except by remaining always in uninterrupted contemplation of the depths of the Father.


Translations by James Moffatt, Edgar J. Goodspeed and Hugh J. Schonfield render part of the verse as "...the Word [Logos] was divine".

Murray J. Harris writes,

[It] is clear that in the translation "the Word was God", the term God is being used to denote his nature or essence, and not his person. But in normal English usage "God" is a proper noun, referring to the person of the Father or corporately to the three persons of the Godhead. Moreover, "the Word was God" suggests that "the Word" and "God" are convertible terms, that the proposition is reciprocating. But the Word is neither the Father nor the Trinity ... The rendering cannot stand without explanation."[32]

An Eastern/Greek Orthodox Bible commentary notes:

This second theos could also be translated 'divine' as the construction indicates "a qualitative sense for theos". The Word is not God in the sense that he is the same person as the theos mentioned in 1:1a; he is not God the Father (God absolutely as in common NT usage) or the Trinity. The point being made is that the Logos is of the same uncreated nature or essence as God the Father, with whom he eternally exists. This verse is echoed in the Nicene Creed: "God (qualitative or derivative) from God (personal, the Father), Light from Light, True God from True God... homoousion with the Father."[33]

Daniel B. Wallace (Professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary) argues that:

The use of the anarthrous theos (the lack of the definite article before the second theos) is due to its use as a qualitative noun, describing the nature or essence of the Word, sharing the essence of the Father, though they differed in person: he stresses: "The construction the evangelist chose to express this idea was the most precise way he could have stated that the Word was God and yet was distinct from the Father".[34] He questions whether Colwell's rule helps in interpreting John 1:1. It has been said[by whom?] that Colwell's rule has been misapplied as its converse, as though it implied definiteness.[35]

Murray J. Harris (Emeritus Professor of NT Exegesis and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) discusses "grammatical, theological, historical, literary and other issues that affect the interpretation of θεὸς" and conclude that, among other uses, "is a christological title that is primarily ontological in nature" and adds that "the application of θεὸς to Jesus Christ asserts that Jesus is ... God-by-nature.[36][37][38]

John L. McKenzie (Catholic Biblical scholar) wrote that ho Theos is God the Father, and adds that John 1:1 should be translated "the word was with the God [=the Father], and the word was a divine being."[39][40]

In a 1973 Journal of Biblical Literature article, Philip B. Harner, Professor Emeritus of Religion at Heidelberg College, claimed that the traditional translation of John 1:1c ("and the Word was God") is incorrect. He endorses the New English Bible translation of John 1:1c, "and what God was, the Word was."[41] However, Harner's claim has been criticized.[42]

Philip B. Harner (Professor Emeritus of Religion at Heidelberg College) says:

Perhaps the clause could be translated, 'the Word had the same nature as God." This would be one way of representing John's thought, which is, as I understand it, that ho logos, no less than ho theos, had the nature of theos.[43]

B. F. Westcott is quoted by C. F. D. Moule (Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge):

The predicate (God) stands emphatically first, as in 4:24. 'It is necessarily without the article (theós not ho theós) inasmuch as it describes the nature of the Word and does not identify His Person. It would be pure Sabellianism to say "the Word was ho theós". No idea of inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of expression, which simply affirms the true deity of the Word. Compare the converse statement of the true humanity of Christ five 27 (hóti huiòs anthrópou estín . . . ).'[44]

James D. G. Dunn (Emeritus Lightfoot Professor at University of Durham) states:

Philo demonstrates that a distinction between ho theos and theos such as we find in John 1.1b-c, would be deliberate by the author and significant for the Greek reader. Not only so, Philo shows that he could happily call the Logos 'God/god' without infringing his monotheism (or even 'the second God' – Qu.Gen. II.62). Bearing in mind our findings with regard to the Logos in Philo, this cannot but be significant: the Logos for Philo is 'God' not as a being independent of 'the God' but as 'the God' in his knowability – the Logos standing for that limited apprehension of the one God which is all that the rational man, even the mystic may attain to."[45]

In summary, scholars and grammarians indicate that the grammatical structure of the Greek does not identify the Word as the Person of God but indicates a qualitative sense. The point being made is that the Logos is of the same nature or essence as God the Father. In that case, "the Word was God" may be misleading because, in normal English, "God" is a proper noun, referring to the person of the Father or corporately to the three persons of the Godhead.

The Word as a god[edit]

Some scholars oppose the translation ...a god,[46][47][48][49] while other scholars believe it is possible or even preferable.[50][51][52]

The rendering as "a god" is justified by some non-Trinitarians by comparing it with Acts 28:6 which has a similar grammatical construction'[53]

"The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.".[54]

"Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god (theón)." (KJV)[55]

"But they were expecting that he was going to swell up or suddenly drop dead. So after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god (theón)." (NET)[56]

However, it was noted that the Hebrew words El, HaElohim and Yahweh (all referring to God) were rendered as anarthrous theos in the Septuagint at Nahum 1:2, Isaiah 37:16, 41:4, Jeremiah 23:23 and Ezekiel 45:9 among many other locations. Moreover, in the New Testament anarthrous theos was used to refer to God in locations including John 1:18a, Romans 8:33, 2 Corinthians 5:19, 6:16 and Hebrews 11:16 (although the last two references do have an adjective aspect to them). Therefore, anarthrous or arthrous constructions by themselves, without context, cannot determine how to render it into a target language. In Deuteronomy 31:27 the septuagint text, "supported by all MSS... reads πρὸς τὸν θεόν for the Hebrew עִם־ יְהֹוָ֔ה",[57] but the oldest Greek text in Papyrus Fouad 266 has written πρὸς יהוה τὸν θεόν.[57]

In the October 2011 Journal of Theological Studies, Brian J. Wright and Tim Ricchuiti[58] reason that the indefinite article in the Coptic translation, of John 1:1, has a qualitative meaning. Many such occurrences for qualitative nouns are identified in the Coptic New Testament, including 1 John 1:5 and 1 John 4:8. Moreover, the indefinite article is used to refer to God in Deuteronomy 4:31 and Malachi 2:10.

In the Beginning[edit]

"In the beginning (archē) was the Word (logos)" may be compared with:

"The reference to the opening words of the Old Testament is obvious, and is the more striking when we remember that a Jew would constantly speak of and quote from the book of Genesis as "Berēshîth" ("in the beginning"). It is quite in harmony with the Hebrew tone of this Gospel to do so, and it can hardly be that St. John wrote his Berēshîth without having that of Moses present to his mind, and without being guided by its meaning.[60]

  • Mark 1:1: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."[61]
  • Luke 1:2: "According as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning (archē) were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (logos).[62][63]
  • 1 John 1:1: "That which was from the beginning (archē), which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word (logos) of life".[64][65]

Debate on Article[edit]

The verse has been a source of much debate among Bible scholars and translators.

This verse and other concepts in the Johannine literature set the stage for the Logos-Christology in which the Apologists of the second and third centuries connected the divine Word of John 1:1-5 to the Hebrew Wisdom literature and to the divine Logos of contemporary Greek philosophy.[66]

On the basis of John 1:1, Tertullian, early in the third century, argued for two Persons that are distinct but the substance is undivided, of the same substance.

In John 1:1c, logos has the article but theos does not. Origen of Alexandria, a teacher in Greek grammar of the third century, argued that John uses the article when theos refers to "the uncreated cause of all things." But the Logos is named theos without the article because He participates in the divinity of the Father because of "His being with the Father." Robert J. Wilkinson informs that Origen also "mentions the name Ιαω in his commentary on John 1:1, where in discussing divine names, he glosses ieremias as meteorismos Ιαω (exultation of Ιαω). This appears to be an entry from a list giving the meaning of Hebrew names in LXX".[67]

The main dispute with respect to this verse relates to John 1:1c ("the Word was God"). One minority translation is "the Word was divine." This is based on the argument that the grammatical structure of the Greek does not identify the Word as the Person of God but indicates a qualitative sense. The point being made is that the Logos is of the same uncreated nature or essence as God the Father. In that case, "the Word was God" may be misleading because, in normal English, "God" is a proper noun, referring to the person of the Father or corporately to the three persons of the Godhead.

With respect to John 1:1, Ernest Cadman Colwell writes:

The absence of the article does not make the predicate indefinite or qualitative when it precedes the verb, it is indefinite in this position only when the context demands it.

So, whether the predicate (theos) is definite, indefinite or qualitative depends on the context. Consequently, this article raises the concern that uncertainty with respect to the grammar may result in translations based on the theology of the translator. The commonly held theology that Jesus is God naturally leads to a corresponding translation. But a theology in which Jesus is subordinate to God leads to the conclusion that "... a god" or "... divine" is the proper rendering.

Commentary from the Church Fathers[edit]

  • Chrysostom: "While all the other Evangelists begin with the Incarnation, John, passing over the Conception, Nativity, education, and growth, speaks immediately of the Eternal Generation, saying, In the beginning was the Word."[68]
  • Augustine: "The Greek word "logos" signifies both Word and Reason. But in this passage it is better to interpret it [as] Word; as referring not only to the Father, but to the creation of things by the operative power of the Word; whereas Reason, though it produce nothing, is still rightly called Reason."[68]
  • Augustine: "Words by their daily use, sound, and passage out of us, have become common things. But there is a word which remaineth inward, in the very man himself; distinct from the sound which proceedeth out of the mouth. There is a word, which is truly and spiritually that, which you understand by the sound, not being the actual sound. Now whoever can conceive the notion of word, as existing not only before its sound, but even before the idea of its sound is formed, may see enigmatically, and as it were in a glass, some similitude of that Word of Which it is said, In the beginning was the Word. For when we give expression to something which we know, the word used is necessarily derived from the knowledge thus retained in the memory, and must be of the same quality with that knowledge. For a word is a thought formed from a thing which we know; which word is spoken in the heart, being neither Greek nor Latin, nor of any language, though, when we want to communicate it to others, some sign is assumed by which to express it. [...] Wherefore the word which sounds externally, is a sign of the word which lies hid within, to which the name of word more truly appertains. For that which is uttered by the mouth of our flesh, is the voice of the word; and is in fact called word, with reference to that from which it is taken, when it is developed externally."[68]
  • Basil of Caesarea: "This Word is not a human word. For how was there a human word in the beginning, when man received his being last of all? There was not then any word of man in the beginning, nor yet of Angels; for every creature is within the limits of time, having its beginning of existence from the Creator. But what says the Gospel? It calls the Only-Begotten Himself the Word."[68]
  • Chrysostom: "But why omitting the Father, does he proceed at once to speak of the Son? Because the Father was known to all; though not as the Father, yet as God; whereas the Only-Begotten was not known. As was meet then, he endeavours first of all to inculcate the knowledge of the Son on those who knew Him not; though neither in discoursing on Him, is he altogether silent on the Father. And inasmuch as he was about to teach that the Word was the Only-Begotten Son of God, that no one might think this a passible (παθητὴν) generation, he makes mention of the Word in the first place, in order to destroy the dangerous suspicion, and show that the Son was from God impassibly. And a second reason is, that He was to declare unto us the things of the Father. (John. 15:15) But he does not speak of the Word simply, but with the addition of the article, in order to distinguish It from other words. For Scripture calls God's laws and commandments words; but this Word is a certain Substance, or Person, an Essence, coming forth impassibly from the Father Himself."[68]
  • Basil of Caesarea: "Wherefore then Word? Because born impassibly, the Image of Him that begat, manifesting all the Father in Himself; abstracting from Him nothing, but existing perfect in Himself."[68]
  • Basil of Caesarea: "Yet has our outward word some similarity to the Divine Word. For our word declares the whole conception of the mind; since what we conceive in the mind we bring out in word. Indeed our heart is as it were the source, and the uttered word the stream which flows therefrom."[68]
  • Chrysostom: "Observe the spiritual wisdom of the Evangelist. He knew that men honoured most what was most ancient, and that honouring what is before everything else, they conceived of it as God. On this account he mentions first the beginning, saying, In the beginning was the Word."[68]
  • Augustine: "Or, In the beginning, as if it were said, before all things."[68]
  • Basil of Caesarea: "The Holy Ghost foresaw that men would arise, who should envy the glory of the Only-Begotten, subverting their hearers by sophistry; as if because He were begotten, He was not; and before He was begotten, He was not. That none might presume then to babble such things, the Holy Ghost saith, In the beginning was the Word."[68]
  • Hilary of Poitiers: "Years, centuries, ages, are passed over, place what beginning thou wilt in thy imagining, thou graspest it not in time, for He, from Whom it is derived, still was."[68]
  • Chrysostom: "As then when our ship is near shore, cities and port pass in survey before us, which on the open sea vanish, and leave nothing whereon to fix the eye; so the Evangelist here, taking us with him in his flight above the created world, leaves the eye to gaze in vacancy on an illimitable expanse. For the words, was in the beginning, are significative of eternal and infinite essence."[68]
  • Council of Ephesus: "Wherefore in one place divine Scripture calls Him the Son, in another the Word, in another the Brightness of the Father; names severally meant to guard against blasphemy. For, forasmuch as thy son is of the same nature with thyself, the Scripture wishing to show that the Substance of the Father and the Son is one, sets forth the Son of the Father, born of the Father, the Only-Begotten. Next, since the terms birth and son, convey the idea of passibleness, therefore it calls the Son the Word, declaring by that name the impassibility of His Nativity. But inasmuch as a father with us is necessarily older than his son, lest thou shouldest think that this applied to the Divine nature as well, it calls the Only-Begotten the Brightness of the Father; for brightness, though arising from the sun, is not posterior to it. Understand then that Brightness, as revealing the coeternity of the Son with the Father; Word as proving the impassibility of His birth, and Son as conveying His consubstantiality."[68]
  • Chrysostom: "But they say that In the beginning does not absolutely express eternity: for that the same is said of the heaven and the earth: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. (Gen. 1:1) But are not made and was, altogether different? For in like manner as the word is, when spoken of man, signifies the present only, but when applied to God, that which always and eternally is; so too was, predicated of our nature, signifies the past, but predicated of God, eternity."[68]
  • Origen: "The verb to be, has a double signification, sometimes expressing the motions which take place in time, as other verbs do; sometimes the substance of that one thing of which it is predicated, without reference to time. Hence it is also called a substantive verb."[68]
  • Hilary of Poitiers: "Consider then the world, understand what is written of it. In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. Whatever therefore is created is made in the beginning, and thou wouldest contain in time, what, as being to be made, is contained in the beginning. But, lo, for me, an illiterate unlearned fisherman is independent of time, unconfined by ages, advanceth beyond all beginnings. For the Word was, what it is, and is not bounded by any time, nor commenced therein, seeing It was not made in the beginning, but was."[68]
  • Alcuin: " To refute those who inferred from Christ's Birth in time, that He had not been from everlasting, the Evangelist begins with the eternity of the Word, saying, In the beginning was the Word."[68]
  • Chrysostom: "Because it is an especial attribute of God, to be eternal and without a beginning, he laid this down first: then, lest any one on hearing in the beginning was the Word, should suppose the Word Unbegotten, he instantly guarded against this; saying, And the Word was with God."[68]
  • Hilary of Poitiers: "From the beginning, He is with God: and though independent of time, is not independent of an Author."[68]
  • Basil of Caesarea: "Again he repeats this, was, because of men blasphemously saying, that there was a time when He was not. Where then was the Word? Illimitable things are not contained in space. Where was He then? With God. For neither is the Father bounded by place, nor the Son by aught circumscribing."[68]
  • Origen: "It is worth while noting, that, whereas the Word is said to come [be made] to some, as to Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, with God it is not made, as though it were not with Him before. But, the Word having been always with Him, it is said, and the Word was with God: for from the beginning it was not separate from the Father."[68]
  • Chrysostom: "He has not said, was in God, but was with God: exhibiting to us that eternity which He had in accordance with His Person."[68]
  • Theophylact of Ohrid: "Sabellius is overthrown by this text. For he asserts that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one Person, Who sometimes appeared as the Father, sometimes as the Son, sometimes as the Holy Ghost. But he is manifestly confounded by this text, and the Word was with God; for here the Evangelist declares that the Son is one Person, God the Father another."[68]
  • Hilary of Poitiers: "But the title is absolute, and free from the offence of an extraneous subject. To Moses it is said, I have given thee for a god to Pharaoh: (Exod. 7:1) but is not the reason for the name added, when it is said, to Pharaoh? Moses is given for a god to Pharaoh, when he is feared, when he is entreated, when he punishes, when he heals. And it is one thing to be given for a God, another thing to be God. I remember too another application of the name in the Psalms, I have said, ye are gods. But there too it is implied that the title was but bestowed; and the introduction of, I said, makes it rather the phrase of the Speaker, than the name of the thing. But when I hear the Word was God, I not only hear the Word said to be, but perceive It proved to be, God."[68]
  • Basil of Caesarea: "Thus cutting off the cavils of blasphemers, and those who ask what the Word is, he replies, and the Word was God."[68]
  • Theophylact of Ohrid: " Or combine it thus. From the Word being with God, it follows plainly that there are two Persons. But these two are of one Nature; and therefore it proceeds, In the Word was God: to show that Father and Son are of One Nature, being of One Godhead."[68]
  • Origen: "We must add too, that the Word illuminates the Prophets with Divine wisdom, in that He cometh to them; but that with God He ever is, because He is God. For which reason he placed and the Word was with God, before and the Word was God."[68]
  • Chrysostom: "Not asserting, as Plato does, one to be intelligence, the other soul; for the Divine Nature is very different from this. [...] But you say, the Father is called God with the addition of the article, the Son without it. What say you then, when the Apostle. writes, The great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Tit. 2:13) and again, Who is over all, God; (Rom. 9:5) and Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father; (Rom. 1:7) without the article? Besides, too, it were superfluous here, to affix what had been affixed just before. So that it does not follow, though the article is not affixed to the Son, that He is therefore an inferior God.[68]


  1. ^ John 1:1, Douay-Rheims
  2. ^ John 1:1, KJV
  3. ^ John 1:1, RSV
  4. ^ John 1:1, NIV
  5. ^ See verses 14-17: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'")... For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
  6. ^ The Greek English New Testament. Christianity Today. 1975
  7. ^ Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece Read NA28 online
  8. ^ Sahidica 2.01. J. Warren Wells. 2007.January.28
  9. ^ The Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin/CBL Cpt 813, ff. 147v-148r/ "Sahidic Coptic Translation of John 1:1". Republished by Watchtower. Retrieved 20 October 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ The Coptic version of the New Testament in the southern dialect : otherwise called Sahidic and Thebaic ; with critical apparatus, literal English translation, register of fragments and estimate of the version. 3, The gospel of S. John, register of fragments, etc., facsimiles. Vol. 3. Horner, George, 1849-1930. [Raleigh, NC]: [Lulu Enterprises]. 2014. ISBN 9780557302406. OCLC 881290216.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  11. ^ "Translating Sahidic Coptic John 1:1 | Gospel Of John | Translations". Scribd. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  12. ^ "Vetus Latina Iohannes Synopsis".
  13. ^ Horner, George William (1911). The Coptic version of the New Testament in the Southern dialect : otherwise called Sahidic and Thebaic ; with critical apparatus, literal English translation, register of fragments and estimate of the version. Robarts - University of Toronto. Oxford : The Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0557302406.
  14. ^ The Bible : James Moffatt translation : with concordance. Moffatt, James, 1870-1944. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics. 1994. ISBN 9780825432286. OCLC 149166602.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. ^ "John 1 In the beginning the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was divine". Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  16. ^ Schonfield, Hugh J. (1958). The Authentic New Testament. UK (1955), USA (1958): Panther, Signet. ISBN 9780451602152.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  17. ^ S. Wuest, Kenneth (1956). New Testament: An Expanded Translation. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 209. ISBN 0-8028-1229-5.
  18. ^ Zulfiqar Ali Shah (2012). Anthropomorphic Depictions of God: The Concept of God in Judaic, Christian and Islamic Traditions : Representing the Unrepresentable. International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). p. 300. ISBN 9781565645752.
  19. ^ For a complete list of 70 non traditional translations of John 1:1, see
  20. ^ Mary L. Coloe, ed. (2013). Creation is Groaning: Biblical and Theological Perspectives (Reprinted ed.). Liturgical Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780814680650.
  21. ^ Hart, David (2017). The New Testament: A Translation.
  22. ^ David A. Reed. "How Semitic Was John? Rethinking the Hellenistic Background to John 1:1." Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2003, Vol. 85 Issue 4, p709
  23. ^ William Arnold III, Colwell's Rule and John 1:1 Archived 2007-04-04 at the Wayback Machine at "You could only derive a Trinitarian interpretation from John 1:1 if you come to this passage with an already developed Trinitarian theology. If you approached it with a strict Monotheism (which is what I believe John held to) then this passage would definitely support such a view."
  24. ^ Beduhn in Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament chapter 11 states: "Translators of the KJV, NRSV, NIV, NAB, New American Standard Bible, AB, Good News Bible and LB all approached the text at John 1:1 already believing certain things about the Word...and made sure that the translations came out in accordance with their beliefs.... Ironically, some of these same scholars are quick to charge the NW translation with "doctrinal bias" for translating the verse literally, free of KJV influence, following the sense of the Greek. It may very well be that the NW translators came to the task of translating John 1:1 with as much bias as the other translators did. It just so happens that their bias corresponds in this case to a more accurate translation of the Greek."
  25. ^ "The Article". A section heading in Robert W. Funk, A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek. Volume I. Second Corrected Edition. Scholars Press.
  26. ^ Ernest Cadman Colwell (1933). "A definite rule for the use of the article in the Greek New Testament" (PDF). Journal of Biblical Literature. 52 (1): 12–21. doi:10.2307/3259477. JSTOR 3259477. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 21, 2016.
  27. ^ Jason BeDuhn (2003). Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament. University Press of America. pp. 117–120. ISBN 9780761825562.
  28. ^ a b c "Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III : Against Praxeas". Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  29. ^ "John 1:1 Interlinear: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;". Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  30. ^ "Philip Schaff: ANF09. The Gospel of Peter, The Diatessaron of Tatian, The Apocalypse of Peter, the Vision of Paul, The Apocalypse of the Virgin and Sedrach, The Testament of Abraham, The Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, The Narrative of Zosimus, The Apology of Aristid - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  31. ^ "RPC Hanson - A lecture on the Arian Controversy". From Daniel to Revelation. 2021-11-26. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  32. ^ Harris, Murray J., Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus, 1992, Baker Books, pub. SBN 0801021952, p. 69
  33. ^ Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bible, New Testament, 2009, p231.
  34. ^ Daniel B. Wallace (1997). Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. Harper Collins. p. 269. ISBN 9780310218951.
  35. ^ Wallace, ibid., p. 257
  36. ^ Panayotis Coutsoumpos. Book Reviews Murray J. Harris. Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books House, 1992. Berrier Springs. MI 49103
  37. ^ Murray J. Harris. (1992). Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books House.
  38. ^ Murray J. Harris (2008). Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus (Reprinted ed.). Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781606081082.
  39. ^ McKenzie, John L. (1965). Dictionary of the Bible. Milwaukee, WI: Bruce.
  40. ^ John L. Mckenzie (1995). The Dictionary Of The Bible (reprinted ed.). Touchstone, New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 317. ISBN 9780684819136.
  41. ^ Philip B. Harner, "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1," Journal of Biblical Literature 92, 1 (March 1973),
  42. ^ Hartley, Donald. "Revisiting the Colwell Construction in Light of Mass/Count Nouns". Retrieved November 1, 2022.
  43. ^ Philip B. Harner (March 1973). "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1". Journal of Biblical Literature. 92 (1). The Society of Biblical Literature: 75–87. doi:10.2307/3262756. JSTOR 3262756.
  44. ^ C. F. D. Moule (1953). An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek. Cambridge: University Press. p. 116. ISBN 9780521057745.
  45. ^ James D. G. Dunn (1989). Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry Into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation (Second ed.). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  46. ^ Dr. J. R. Mantey: "It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 'The Word was a god.'"
  47. ^ Dr. Bruce M. Metzger of Princeton (Professor of New Testament Language and Literature): "As a matter of solid fact, however, such a rendering is a frightful mistranslation. It overlooks entirely an established rule of Greek grammar which necessitates the rendering "...and the Word was God."—see chapter IV point 1.
  48. ^ Dr. Samuel J. Mikolaski of Zurich, Switzerland: "It is monstrous to translate the phrase 'the Word was a god.'"
  49. ^ Witherington, Ben (2007). The Living Word of God: Rethinking the Theology of the Bible. Baylor University Press. pp. 211–213. ISBN 978-1-60258-017-6.
  50. ^ Dr. Jason BeDuhn (of Northern Arizona University) in regard to the Kingdom Interlinear's appendix that gives the reason why the NWT favoured a translation of John 1:1 as saying the Word was not "God" but "a god" said: "In fact the KIT [Appendix 2A, p.1139] explanation is perfectly correct according to the best scholarship done on this subject.."
  51. ^ Murray J. Harris has written: "Accordingly, from the point of view of grammar alone, [QEOS HN hO LOGOS] could be rendered "the Word was a god,...." -Jesus As God, 1992, p. 60.
  52. ^ C. H. Dodd says: "If a translation were a matter of substituting words, a possible translation of [QEOS EN hO LOGOS]; would be, "The Word was a god". As a word-for-word translation it cannot be faulted."
  53. ^ David Barron (an anti-Trinitarian Seventh-day Adventist) (2011). John 1:1 Non-Trinitarian - The Nature and Deity of Christ. Archived from the original on 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
  54. ^ Ac. 28:6 NIV
  55. ^ Acts 28:6
  56. ^ Acts 28:6
  57. ^ a b Albert Pietersma (1984). Albert Pietersma and Claude Cox (ed.). KYRIOS OR TETRAGRAM: A RENEWED QUEST FOR THE ORIGINAL LXX (PDF). Mississauga: Benben Publications. p. 90. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  58. ^ Wright, B. J.; Ricchuiti, T. (2011-10-01). "From 'God' (θεός) to 'God' (Noute): A New Discussion and Proposal Regarding John 1:1C and the Sahidic Coptic Version of the New Testament". The Journal of Theological Studies. 62 (2): 494–512. doi:10.1093/jts/flr080. ISSN 0022-5185.
  59. ^ Genesis 1:1
  60. ^ Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers on John 1, accessed 22 January 2016
  61. ^ Mark 1:1
  62. ^ Luke 1:2
  63. ^ David L. Jeffrey A Dictionary of biblical tradition in English literature 1992 Page 460 " his reference to 'eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word' (Luke 1:2) he is certainly speaking of the person as well as the words and actions of Jesus"
  64. ^ 1 John 1:1
  65. ^ Dwight Moody Smith First, Second, and Third John 1991 Page 48 "Of course, were it not for the Gospel, it would not be so obvious to us that "the word of life" in 1 John 1:1 is Jesus Christ. Strikingly, only in the prologue of each is the logos to be identified with Jesus."
  66. ^ Kennerson, Robert (2012-03-12). "Logos Christology - Philosophical Theology". Wilmington For Christ. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  67. ^ Wilkinson 2015, pp. 65.
  68. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "Catena aurea: commentary on the four Gospels, collected out of the works of the Fathers: Volume 6, St. John. Oxford: Parker, 1874. Thomas Aquinas". 1874. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.


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