John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

The beginning of the Gospel

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

In the beginning was the message, not only was the message in the presence of the the Divine but also a divine was the Message. This prior one was in the beginning in the presence of the Divine.

KJV : 

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is not a verse of Jesus's words, but this analysis is offered because readers have asked about it and because it is an key verse in understanding Jesus as a source of information. It is a good example of a verse where loose translation is used to offer a theological point, when the actual words seem to say something different.

First, of course, the word translated as "word" means "idea" or, even better in many of Jesus's verses, "message." There is a critical different in the two terms. An "idea" is a "putting together" of information in a way that determines a course of action. A message is the communication of an idea or information that could lead to an idea. You can read more about this Greek word and its meaning in this article.

In this verse, the word translated as "with" actually means "before." It can be "before" in either time or place. So, because the verse refers to time, it seems to mean "before" in time, though it could also mean before in the sense of "in the presence of." This fact gives this verse a double meaning.

Notice that God is referred to as "the Divine" in the Greek twice, but when equated with the "idea" or "message," it is simply "divine." In other words, the Greek article ("the") is not used. So the sense is  "a divine idea" or "divine message" or "a divine being" but not that the message is the Divine, that is, God.

Also interesting is the word translated as "the same/he." This is an adjective that means "this one here," but when it is used to compare two things means "the prior one." If God and the Message are being compared, the Message is described as the prior one. However, it may be that the Message and the Beginning are being compared in time. Note that the word "beginning" is repeated in the phrase. which is "this prior one was in the beginning."

NIV : 

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:2 He was with God in the beginning.

Wordplay: 

The double meaning of "before." The play between "a divine" and "the Divine."

My Takeaway: 

The "idea" or "message" defines the purpose of time.

Greek Vocabulary: 

ΕΝ (prep) "In" is en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," "during,"  and "with".With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for."

ΑΡΧΗ (noun sg fem dat) "Beginning" is arche, which means "beginning", "origin", "first principles", "first place of power", "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient

ἦν (verb 3rd sg imperf ind act) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible."

(article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

λόγος, (noun sg masc nom) "Word" is logos, which means "word", "computation", "relation", "explanation", "law", "rule of conduct", "continuous statement", "tradition", "discussion," "reckoning," and "value." -

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

(article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

λόγος, (noun sg masc nom) "Word" is logos, which means "word", "computation", "relation", "explanation", "law", "rule of conduct", "continuous statement", "tradition", "discussion," "reckoning," and "value." -

ἦν (verb 3rd sg imperf ind act) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible."

πρὸς (prep)  "With" is from pros, which means "from (place)", "on the side of", "toward", "before", "in the presence of", "in the eyes of", "before (supplication)", "proceeding from (for effects)", "dependent on", "derivable from", "agreeable,""becoming", "like", "at the point of", "in addition to", "against," and "before."

τὸν (article sg masc acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

θεόν, (noun sg masc acc) "God""God" is theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity." -

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

θεὸς (noun sg masc nom) "God""God" is theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity." -

ἦν (verb 3rd sg imperf ind act) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible."

(article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

λόγος, (noun sg masc nom) "Word" is logos, which means "word", "computation", "relation", "explanation", "law", "rule of conduct", "continuous statement", "tradition", "discussion," "reckoning," and "value." -

Οὗτος (adj sg masc nom) "The same" is houtos, which as an adjective means "this", "that", "the nearer." When, of two things, one precedes and the other follows, ὅδε refers to what follows, οὗτος to what precedes. However, where there are not two things, οὗτος refers to what follows. Οὗτος is used emphatically., generally in contempt, while ἐκεῖνος, the other pronoun meaning "this one, denotes praise. In legal terms, οὗτος is commonly applied to the opponent, whether plaintiff or defendant.

ἦν (verb 3rd sg imperf ind act) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible."

ἐν (prep) "In" is en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," "during,"  and "with".With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for."

ἀρχῇ (noun sg fem dat) "Beginning" is arche, which means "beginning", "origin", "first principles", "first place of power", "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient

πρὸς (prep)  "With" is from pros, which means "from (place)", "on the side of", "toward", "before", "in the presence of", "in the eyes of", "before (supplication)", "proceeding from (for effects)", "dependent on", "derivable from", "agreeable,""becoming", "like", "at the point of", "in addition to", "against," and "before."

τὸν (article sg masc acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

θεόν, (noun sg masc acc) "God""God" is theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity." -

KJV Analysis: 

In -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within", "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here.  With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." When referring to time, it means "during." It can mean "on," "at," or "by" in the sense of "near." 

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

beginning - "Beginning" is a noun that means "beginning", "origin", "first principles", "first place of power", "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history. Here, it seems to refer to the first beginning: the beginning of time.

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The tense is the simple (imperfect) past which indicates that the action is not completed.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

Word, -- (CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means means "calculation," or "reasoning," but which Jesus uses to mean "idea" or "message." It has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. More about this word in this article. I. In English, we would say  "message" to describe it but it also means communication of various types. This is the subject of the sentence. 

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

Word, -- (CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means means "calculation," or "reasoning," but which Jesus uses to mean "idea" or "message." It has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. More about this word in this article. I. In English, we would say  "message" to describe it but it also means communication of various types. This is the subject of the sentence. 

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The tense is the simple (imperfect) past which indicates that the action is not completed.

with -- (CW) The word translated as "with" means "towards", "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before." Here, the sense is "before" in the sense of "in the presence of" or, if we think of the word as an "idea," that the timeless idea of God came before the God that exists in time.  It could also mean that the "idea" or "message" was part of creation before the God entered it.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God," "divine," and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus uses it this way to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

Word, ----(CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means means "calculation," or "reasoning," but which Jesus uses to mean "idea" or "message." It has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. More about this word in this article. I. In English, we would say  "message" to describe it but it also means communication of various types.This is equated with the subject of the sentences which is "divine."  The word "divine" comes before "word" here, making it more important, but the two are equated.

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The tense is the simple (imperfect) past which indicates that the action is not completed.

God. -- (WP)  The word translated as "God" means "God." "divine," and "deity." In this case, the word does NOT have the article before it.  This is the primary subject of the clause, coming before the "word" and the verb. The meaning is either "a divine" or "divine" as an adjective.

The same  - --(WW)  "The same" is translated from a Greek word that means "this", "that", "the nearer." However a special use of this word is that when, of two things, this word precedes and the other follows. When not of two things, this word is what follows. So the sense here could be "the prior one." This is also the term for legal "opponent."

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The tense is the simple (imperfect) past which indicates that the action is not completed.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within", "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here.  With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." When referring to time, it means "during." It can mean "on," "at," or "by" in the sense of "near." 

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

beginning - "Beginning" is a noun that means "beginning", "origin", "first principles", "first place of power", "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history.

with -- (CW) The word translated as "with" means "towards", "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before." With verbs of seeing it specifically means "towards."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" means "idea" or "concept" and is not Greek for a "word."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" means "idea" or "concept" and is not Greek for a "word."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "with" means "before" or "in the presence of" and is not Greek for a "with."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" means "idea" or "concept" and is not Greek for a "word."
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "God" appears before the verb and "the word" after.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "he" should be "this one here" or "the prior one."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "with" means "before" or "in the presence of" and is not Greek for a "with."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

In -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within", "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here.  With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." When referring to time, it means "during." It can mean "on," "at," or "by" in the sense of "near." 

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

beginning - "Beginning" is a noun that means "beginning", "origin", "first principles", "first place of power", "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history. Here, it seems to refer to the first beginning: the beginning of time.

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The tense is the simple (imperfect) past which indicates that the action is not completed.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

Word, -- (CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means means "calculation," or "reasoning," but which Jesus uses to mean "idea" or "message." It has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. More about this word in this article. In English, we would say  "message" to describe it but it also means communication of various types.  This is the subject of the sentence. 

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

Word, --(CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means means "calculation," or "reasoning," but it has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. More about this word in this article. In English, we would say "idea" to describe it but it also means communication of various types.  This describes the subject of the sentences, which is "God."

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The tense is the simple (imperfect) past which indicates that the action is not completed.

with -- (CW) The word translated as "with" means "towards", "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before." Here, the sense is "before" in the sense of "in the presence of" or, if we think of the word as an "idea," that the timeless idea of God came before the God that exists in time.  It could also mean that the "idea" or "message" was part of creation before the God entered it.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

Word, -- (CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means means "calculation," or "reasoning," but it has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. More about this word in this article. In English, we would say "idea" to describe it but it also means communication of various types.  This is the subject of the sentence. 

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The tense is the simple (imperfect) past which indicates that the action is not completed.

God. -- (WP)  The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." In this case, the word does NOT have the article before it.  This is the primary subject of the clause, coming before the "word." The meaning is either "a divine" or "divine" as an adjective.

He - --(WW)  "He is translated from a Greek word that means "this", "that", "the nearer." However a special use of this word is that when, of two things, this word precedes and the other follows. When not of two things, this word is what follows. So the sense here could be "the prior one." This is also the term for legal "opponent."

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.  The tense is the simple (imperfect) past which indicates that the action is not completed.

with -- (CW) The word translated as "with" means "towards", "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before." With verbs of seeing it specifically means "towards."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within", "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here.  With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." When referring to time, it means "during." It can mean "on," "at," or "by" in the sense of "near." 

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

beginning - "Beginning" is a noun that means "beginning", "origin", "first principles", "first place of power", "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history.

  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" means "idea" or "concept" and is not Greek for a "word."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" means "idea" or "concept" and is not Greek for a "word."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "with" means "before" or "in the presence of" and is not Greek for a "with."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" means "idea" or "concept" and is not Greek for a "word."
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "God" appears before the verb and "the word" after.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "he" should be "this one here" or "the prior one."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "with" means "before" or "in the presence of" and is not Greek for a "with."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.

Front Page Date: 

Oct 2 2020