We should also consider the related concept of “Wisdom.” In Job we find this: “The deep says ‘It [Wisdom] is not in me.’ And the sea says, ‘It is not with me’” (Job 28:14). To have wisdom or word “with” one is to have them in one’s mind and heart. “With him is wisdom and strength. To him belong counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13). And of course Wisdom, that is Lady Wisdom, was with (Hebrew, etzel; LXX, para) God at the beginning (Prov. 8:22, 30).

In Genesis 40:14 we read “Keep me in mind when it goes well with you,” and the text reads literally “Remember me with yourself . . . ” From all these examples it is clear that if something is “with” a person, it is lodged in the mind, often as a decreed purpose or plan. Paul remarked in Galatians 2:5 that the Gospel might continue “with [pros] them,” in their thinking.

Thus also in John 1:1, “In the beginning God had a plan and that plan was within God’s heart and was itself ‘God.’ ” — that is, God in His selfrevelation. The plan was the very expression of God’s will. It was a divine Plan, reflective of His inner being, close to the heart of God. John is fond of the word “is.” But it is not always an “is” of strict identity. Jesus “is” the resurrection (“I am the resurrection”), “God ‘is’ spirit.” “God ‘is’ love and light.” (cp. “All flesh ‘is’ grass”) In fact, God is not actually one-toone identical with light and love, and Jesus is not literally the resurrection. “The word was God” means that the word was fully expressive of God’s mind. A person “is” his mind, metaphorically speaking. Jesus is the one who can bring about our resurrection. God communicates through His spirit (John 4:24). The word is the index of God’s intention and purpose. It was in His heart, expressive of His very being. As the Translator’s Translation senses the meaning, “the Word was with God and shared his nature,” “the Word was divine.”[4] The word, then, is the divine expression, the divine Plan, the very self of God revealed. The Greek phrase “theos een o logos”[5] (“the word was God”) can be rendered in different ways. The subject is “word” (logos) but the emphasis falls on what the word was: “God” (theos, with no definite article), which stands at the head of the sentence. “God” here is the predicate. It has a slightly adjectival sense which it is very hard to put exactly into English. John can say that God is love or light. This is not an exact equivalence. God is full of light and love, characterized by light and love. The word is similarly a perfect expression of God and His mind. The word, we might say, is the mind and heart of God Himself. John therefore wrote: “In the beginning God expressed Himself.” Not “In the beginning God begat a Son.” That imposition of later creeds on the text has been responsible for all sorts of confusion and even mischief — when some actually killed others over the issue of the so-called “eternal Son.”

A Disturbance of Monotheism

The great difficulty which faces those who say that there was a “God the Father” in heaven while “God the Son” was on earth is that this implies two Gods! There was, on that theory, a God who did not become the Son and a God who became the Son. This dissolves the unity of God. It undermines and compromises the first commandment: “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One Lord ” (Mark 12:29). It also flies in the face of the great statement of Isaiah that God was unaccompanied as the Creator. “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth by myself — Who was with me?’ ” (Isa. 44:24).

Of course, if one has taken a first false step by assuming that the “word” in the beginning was “the Son,” then the phrase “the word was God” can only confirm the impression that there are two members of the Godhead, both of whom are somehow One God. However problematic and illogical this leap into a duality in God may be, Bible-readers have been conditioned to make that leap painlessly. They have made that leap despite the impossibility of understanding John 1:1c to mean “and the Son was the Father.” No Trinitarian believes that, but to avoid it he must assign a different meaning to the word God in John 1:1c than he has given it in 1b, where he instinctively hears “and the Son was with God [= the Father].” But the whole idea of a duality of persons in John’s prologue contradicts Isaiah’s statement that no one was with the LORD in the beginning.[6] That fact in itself should have prevented translators from thinking that “word” was another person alongside the Lord God. Moreover, any introduction of a second divine being into John’s prologue is at the cost of contradicting what Jesus later said. Jesus elsewhere proves himself to be a staunch believer in the unitary monotheism (God is one person) of the great Jewish heritage. Addressing the Father, Jesus says unequivocally, “You, Father, are the only one who is truly God,” “the only true God,” “the one who alone is truly God” (17:3).

Unitary Monotheism is Not Abandoned by John or Jesus

We really do not need an army of experts to help us understand that simple sentence. Jesus refers again to the Father as “the one who alone is God” (5:44). These are echoes of the pure, strict monotheism of the Hebrew Bible and thus of the Jews for centuries. God remains in the New Testament “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31; Eph. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rev. 1:6). Jesus had, and has, a God, and Jesus’ God is the Father, the one and only God of John 17:3. How exactly like the O.T.: “Have we not all One Father? Has not one God created us?” (Mal. 2:5). “You are great. You alone are God” (Ps. 86:10). “You alone whose name is the LORD are the Most High over all the earth” (Ps. 83:18). How beautifully this harmonizes with Paul’s great creedal declaration: “For us Christians there is one God, the Father, and none other than he” (see 1 Cor. 8:4, 6). That too is an unambiguous statement about how many persons there are in the Godhead: only one.

Jesus is Lord

Theology has tragically tried to disturb this simple Truth. It has been argued that Jesus in 1 Corinthians 8:6 is called “one Lord.” Certainly he is, but if the Father is “the only one who is truly God” (John17:3),[7] logically it is impossible for Jesus also to be that one God. Jesus is indeed the unique lord, but in what sense? “Lord” in what sense? This is where the celebrated Psalm 110:1 comes in to reveal precious truth to us. That verse wins the prize for being the most frequently mentioned O.T. verse in the N.T. It is referred to some 23 times and by implication many times more. In that psalm the one God, Yahweh, speaks to David’s lord, in the Hebrew “adonee.” Now “adonee” appears 195 times in the O.T. and never refers to the one God. The custodians of the text carefully distinguish between the “God-Lord” and all other superiors. The Lord God is called adonai 449 times (all of its occurrences) while human (and very occasionally angelic) superiors are called lord (adonee). Once again the translators took liberties and put a capital letter in English for “lord” in Psalm 110:1 — and only in that verse did they capitalize “lord” when translated from adonee. The RV, RSV, NRSV, NAB corrected the mistake and wrote correctly “lord.” Jesus is the one Lord Messiah (Luke 2:11). To give him his full title he is “the Lord Jesus Messiah,” “the Lord Messiah, Jesus.” But he is not the Lord God since there is only one in that category (John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:4-6). How fearfully complex and illogical it is to have one God the Father in heaven while supposedly another, who is equally the one God, walks on earth. Would that not be two Gods? How impossibly difficult it would be to imagine that the Lord Messiah who expressly said that he did not know certain things was actually at the same moment the Almighty, omniscient, omnipresent God of the Universe. On that amazing theory, the speechless baby in the manger was also at the same time upholding the universe with his unlimited powers. To that sort of imaginative fantasy the church has been committed for too long.


[4] British and Foreign Bible Society, 1973, emphasis added.

[5] The transliteration reflects modern Greek pronunciation.

[6] LORD is the personal name for the Father. Trinitarianism includes two others in the title and thus has the Son of God communicating in O.T. times, contrary to the plain statement of Hebrews 1:1-2.

[7] Note that Jesus said “You, Father, are the only one who is truly God.” He did not say “your Godhead is the only Godhead.” In other words the One God is a single person, not an abstract Godhead or essence.