By R. W. McAlister
In John 1:1, the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” There are two components to mortal man: spiritual, and physical. Jesus has always existed in spirit form and was therefore present even before He was born as a mortal child of the Virgin Mary.
In John 1:1, the apostle John argues for the eternal existence of the Word. The verb “en” (translated “was” 3 times in Jn. 1:1) is an imperfect tense form which suggests the “continuous timeless existence” of the Second Person in the Godhead, Jesus Christ, but how do we know for sure that “the Word” in John 1:1 is Jesus Christ?
The term “Word” implies communication. Jesus Christ is the revealer of truth to humanity (John 1:18; Heb. 1:1-2), and apart from Him, there is no access to the Father (John 14:6). This is contradictory to the philosophy of deism, which claims that although there may be a Creator out there in the universe somewhere, He has never communicated with humanity. Not so of our Lord.
Notice also, the Word was “with” God. The preposition pros (“with”) literally means, “toward,” or “face to face with God,” and it reveals a distinction between the two Persons who, in the New Testament, are identified as Father and Son, yet both, parts of the Godhead.
Then, the Word is identified as “God,” which simply means deity. Notice the progression of ideas in this short verse: in the first clause, we find eternal existence; in the second, a distinct personality, and in the third clause, we have divine personality – meaning: Jesus is declared to be of the same nature as God. He therefore possesses the nature of a divine being (Phil. 2:6) who has always existed.
Further evidence that the Word is the pre-incarnate Christ is found just a few verses later in John 1:14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Indeed, the Word was made flesh – Jesus came to earth as a man –so that He could die as a man and be a sinless sacrifice to cover the sins of mankind. Heb. 9:22 speaks of the need for a blood sacrifice in order to take away sin, “…without shedding of blood is no remission.”
The Old Testament contains many references to the coming of the Messiah who would shed His blood for the sins of humanity. Isaiah spoke of Jesus as a “lamb” who would be “led to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7). Zechariah foretold of a “fountain” that would be opened for “sin and uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1).
Therefore, Jesus had to come to earth and be born as a human being (Matt. 1:25), live among us, and die as one of us (Luke 23:34-36). The Lord Jesus lived a sinless life and was thus a pure, perfect sacrifice. He was: “…in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).
He has existed in the same form as God for as long as God, but had to put off His divinity for a time in order to live and die as one of us. Phil. 2:7 says Jesus, “…made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” Clearly, He existed before being born to Mary. He lived and died among humanity. His blood was shed to take away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29), and only those who are obedient to God’s Word enjoy the fruit of that great sacrifice.
- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website.