Today we begin reading the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God”. This is a most challenging gospel to understand. But the Bible would lose our continuing interest if its meaning was immediately plain. Often we have to think carefully about what we have read, and compare other passages, before we grasp its full meaning. God is wise in causing it to be written in this way.

The translators had a fixed idea in their minds about Church doctrine – formulated centuries after Jesus – which they tried to support. Note the word “word”. “In the beginning was the word” (Greek Logos). It is sometimes translated as saying (e.g., John 4:47,49) when Jesus was “saying” this and that to the people. The lexicon says it primarily means ‘spoken word’. Our thoughts go back to the Bible’s first chapter, Genesis 1. This is all about what God said to create life. God spoke and creation followed as the hosts of angels did His bidding (see Psalm 103:20,21). When the Children of Israel gathered at Sinai all they heard was God speaking from the mountain. God was known by His word; no one saw God – He was known by His voice. The translators confuse us in John 1 when they start to use the word “Him” as the pronoun for word. The earliest translations (Tyndale for example) use the word “it”. The best way is to use the noun instead of the pronoun, and then it would read, “All things were made through a word, and without a word was not anything made that was made” (verse 3).

But there is a greater meaning here, a spiritual meaning. The words of Jesus had the power to bring eternal life to those that accepted them. The Jews (John 1:11) did not accept his words “But to all who did receive him, who believed his name, he gave the right to become ‘children of God’” (verse 12). Let’s all aim to become children of God.