In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:1-5 (ESV)
Leon Morris writes:
The high point is recorded in the third affirmation [of verse 2]: “the Word was God.” Nothing higher could be said: all that may be said about God may fitly be said about the Word. This statement should not be watered down. Moffat renders, “the [Word] was divine.” While the English probably means much the same as does that of the NIV, the emphasis is different, and such translations are no improvement. John is not merely saying that there is something divine about Jesus. He is affirming that he is God, and doing so emphatically as we see the word order in Greek.
If that is a staggering affirmation to us, there is no reason for thinking that it was any less so to the Jewish author of this Gospel. To the Jews of the day monotheism was more than a belief commonly held. It was a conviction to be clung to with fierce tenacity. The Jews might be ground down under the heel of the Roman conquerors, but they could do more than hate their military superiors. They could despise them. The Romans were no more than ignorant idolaters, and, crass folly, believed in many gods! The Jews knew with an unshakeable certainty that there was, there could be, only one God. When John says, “the Word was God,” his words must be understood in the light of Jewish pride in monotheism. Even though this writer regarded monotheism as a central tenet in his religion he yet could not withhold from the Word the designation “God.”
He says “the Word was God,” not “God was the Word.” The latter would have meant that God and the Word were the same; it would have pointed to an identity. But John is leaving open the possibility that there may be more to “God” than the “Word” (clearly, he thought of the Father as God, and his later references indicate a similar status for the Spirit). But he lays down unequivocally that nothing less than “God” will do for our understanding of the Word.
We should perhaps notice that John refers to Jesus as God again in verse 18 and in 20:28. If the present passage refers to Jesus in his pre-incarnate state as God, verse 18 takes up the thought for the incarnate Word and 20:28 for the risen Christ. John thus asserts the deity of his Lord at three very important places in his narrative.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 89
Q. 89. How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.