Is John 1 Talking About a Person or an Idea?

In the Gospel of John, we are told that the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1-2). We are also told that the Word became a human being and lived with us (John 1:14.) This same “Word” was with God from the beginning and all things were made through him; in fact, nothing had any being without him.

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Spoiler alert!! Today’s message may be hard to understand so please try to stay with me.

The traditional understanding of this is that it is all about the Messiah, whose name is Yeshua (please don’t argue over the “real” name of the Messiah- it is not relevant to this discussion) and who was sent by God to bring the path to salvation to the world.

I don’t disagree with this at all; in fact, the entire Gospel of John tells us about the Messiah God sent, his life and his teachings.

What I want to talk about is the confusion over whether or not Yeshua was with God since the beginning. Because the entire Gospel of John is one long, on-going use of metaphor, I wonder if he was really referring to Yeshua the person or to the plan of God regarding a Messiah to come.

Here is what I am thinking: God knew his plan of salvation would involve a Messiah from the very start. He told Abraham this, in not so many words, when he said his descendants would be a blessing to the world. He told David, absolutely, that one of his descendants would have an everlasting kingdom. There are some 135 or more Messianic passages in the Tanakh, and everything we read in the Tanakh points to the coming of a Messiah to bring the Jewish people back into communion with God, who promises (through the Prophets) to regather his people, change our hearts and forgive us our sins.

Everything in the Tanakh is about the Messiah and God’s promise to “save” us from our sins.  The New Covenant (B’rit Chadashah) is the narrative about the Messiah who God promised to send. We are given the narrative of his life in the 4 Gospels, and the rest is about the influence his Disciples had in the world. The main thing about the writings in the New Covenant is that the salvation provided for by the Messiah has been expanded to the rest of the world, i.e. the Gentiles.

I do not know if Yeshua was a spiritual being from the beginning, which would then (by definition) equate him with God, or if his future existence was just part of the original plan God had for saving the human race from our own sinfulness.  If we take what John wrote, literally, then the Messiah either is God, or God is not unique, which he couldn’t be if another spiritual being was with him all the time.

I believe God has no beginning and no end, as he is described to us in the Torah, and that the Messiah had to have come later. As a person, the Messiah did not come until when we are told, in the New Covenant. As an idea, though, I believe the Messiah existed- in God’s mind- since the very first time God decided he would create the world and humans.

Therefore, what I believe John meant when he said the Word was with God and all things were made through him, is that God’s plan for humanity has always included the need for a Messiah, and as such everything that was created was done so with the Messiah in mind. Not the person of a Messiah, but the need of a Messiah, and when God knew the time for this Messiah to stop being a promise and become a living, flesh-and-blood entity, he created him through a virgin, in accordance with the prophecy he gave us through Isaiah.

This may seem somewhat radical to many, and I guess it is. I don’t believe Messiah is God, and I don’t believe he pre-existed himself. However, I don’t believe I am absolutely certain about that, either. Frankly, I don’t think it matters one iota if Yeshua pre-existed his human form or not.

We are not saved by belief in whether or not the Messiah had some form of pre-existence, or whether or not he, God and the Holy Spirit are one and the same entity, but only through faith in him as the Messiah who was born in the flesh, who walked the earth, died on an execution stake and was resurrected. If you can keep your focus on that, the other things become less important.

I will end with this other radical thought: personally, I think when people have to know absolutely everything about God, the Messiah and every single thing in the Bible, it will not result in holiness or be useful to save others, but it will feed one’s pridefulness. Being full of knowledge that has no practical use in saving people is just a form of Gnosticism which doesn’t feed the soul, it only enlarges the ego.

Here’s what you can do: write a long list of everything you want to know the answer to, and when you are in the presence of God and the Messiah you can ask them for the answers. I guarantee you that when you are there, in their presence, you will fold up your list and throw it away because you will realize the answers are important at all anymore.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Comments

  1. Steven R. Bruck
    Paul Muinde April 17, 2019 at 13:37

    I believe John meant a person when he mentions the Word was with God and so on. The Greek word used is Logos which represents the “essence” behind everything that exists, and also supports everything that exists and maintains order.

    • Steven R. Bruck
      Steven R. Bruck April 18, 2019 at 07:55

      Thank you for your comment. I would add that if, as you say, “Logos” means everything that exists, then we could still consider that to be the existence of an idea, couldn’t we?
      In any event, as I say in this message, I am not positive about it, myself.

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