Is it not amazing how every time you open the Word of God, the Author shows up? As I read John 1:1-18 today for the hundredth time, I was struck by the clarity and comprehensiveness of John’s Theology of Jesus and the foundation that is laid for many of our central Christian doctrines. Then I am reminded that for a long time it has been the practice of Evangelical Christians to recommend the Gospel of John as mandatory first reading for new converts. And oh what a beginning they receive! Let us sail through the passage and stop at the first port to, yes, for the hundredth time, or perhaps the first time, savor one of the greatest Theological truths in the Bible.
“In the beginning”… Those words match with great precision the opening words of Genesis 1:1. But not just the words, so does the subject. Genesis tells us that in the beginning God(s) created the heavens and the earth. I included the (s) because although it is not pronounced in English, the Hebrew text does employ a plural noun – “elohiym” – Strong’s #430. The singular version of the Hebrew word is “elowahh”, and is represented by Strong’s #433.
Though we may capitalize for convenience, and rightly so, there is nothing inherently special in the words as Deuteronomy 32:17 shows – “They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God – gods they have not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear.” [NIV] Worthy of note is that the NIV translates the Hebrew word “shed” as “false gods”, and it is an accurate interpretation, but it is totally unrelated to the standard word for god or God.. Psalm 106:37 is the only other place this word is used, and in both contexts, the sacrifice and worship was directed to idols, which of course are false gods, and which by definition are demons or the Devil. I labor the point here only because the root of the Hebrew word “shed” which is believed to be “shud” and used only in Psalm 91:6, is unrelated to the English word “god”.
In Deuteronomy 32:17, in the string – “which are not God”, the pivotal Hebrew word is “Elowahh”, and is referring to Jehovah. But the word that refers to the “false gods” is “elohiym”. The conclusion can only be that the significance of the difference between the Hebrew plural and singular form of the noun Elohiym is quantitative and not qualitative. Therefore when Genesis 1:1 says. “in the beginning God (Elohiym) created the heavens and the earth, it must have been emphasizing the plurality of God, as we say, in three Persons – Father Son and Holy Spirit. But never quote this fact without quoting Deuteronomy 6:4 – “…The Lord is One.”
In John 1 1-3, The Word, who we later learn is Jesus Christ, was not only there in the beginning, but He was with God, and He was God. We are also told that the Word was the creator of all things made, and then there is a double under – “without him nothing was made that has been made.” Add the John 1:1-3 text with the Genesis 1:1 text and you come up with “Elohiym” equals Jesus Christ. To complete the puzzle you must then remember that Jesus Christ is a coequal member of the indivisible Divine Godhead called the Trinity or Tri-unity. On separate occasions Jesus is described as being identical both with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (John 10:30 & 2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
You may belong to, or may know someone who belongs to the “Oneness” or “Jesus Only” group of Churches, and I have no doubt that they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. But it is important to know that there is a huge difference in our Theological positions as it relates to the Godhead. Beginning with what I have already shared today, plus many more instances in Scripture point to the “Trinity” or “Tri-unity”. The problem is that we have a human difficulty conceptualizing one in three, but have no difficulty with three in one, as is the case with John the Father, John the son and John the husband. There are enough references to each Person of the Godhead as individuals, and enough instances of their interaction as was between God the Son and God the Father, for us to dismiss the reality of each. But this is not intended to be an apologetic on the teachings of my “Oneness” brothers and sisters. However, I will warn new converts to remember that we are born into the family of God and become Children of God the moment you “…confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead… (Romans 10:9) Thank God that, God forbid, if something were to happen to you the minute you satisfy Romans 10:9, and you did not get a chance to be baptized, and you were not through “tarrying” for the Spirit (who has already arrived), you are as truly saved as the dying thief on the cross who repented.
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org