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Who Is the One God in John 1 ?

Anthony Buzzard

John and all the Apostles were outstanding exponents of unitary monotheism (i.e., God is a single Person). John recorded Jesus as defining the Father as “the one who alone is truly God” (John 17:3; 5:44). It follows then that the Apostles and Jesus would have difficulty with some current mainstream religious authorities. Those authorities would express horror at the fact that the Apostles and the Lord Jesus were not Trinitarian and were not in harmony with the church creeds of the 4th and 5th centuries!

Some try to defend post-biblical creeds by appealing to John 1:1. But they read this passage with their minds already made up that the Son of God was an uncreated eternal Second Person in the Godhead. They then make the huge assumption that the “word” means the Son before his birth. But the text tells us that “God’s word,” not His Son, existed from the beginning. Anyone familiar with Jewish ways of thinking recognizes here a strong parallel with Wisdom which is figuratively presented as being “with God” from the beginning (Prov. 8). There, wisdom is personified (i.e., “She” speaks as though she was a person). She says “I was always with Him [God].” Thus the word or wisdom of God was “with God” (John 1:1) and was itself God, that is to say fully expressive of God. Wisdom says in Proverbs, “I am understanding.” She is the fullest expression of the mind of God. The word “is” God, not as a one-to-one identity, because the word is also “with God,” but as fully expressive of God. The word is God in His self-revelation.

It is not until vs. 14 that the son is introduced for the first time.

But note carefully that there is only one “Person” in John 1:1, 2. It is the Father who by His word/wisdom created everything. Then, amazingly, in verse 14 the Son is introduced for the first time, and we learn of the only begotten Son who reveals the Father. John’s intention is to tell us that the very word-expression-wisdom of God was manifested in history in a human Person, the Son of God. Jesus is therefore what the word/wisdom of God became. Just as the car on the drawing board takes “flesh” as a real, functioning automobile, so the wisdom/word of God was fully expressed in Jesus. Jesus is the most perfect demonstration of God in a human being, but he is not himself God, that is to say the Son is not an uncreated eternal Person.

There is only One such uncreated Person in the universe and that is the Father. No wonder the Father is called “the [one] God” (ho theos, in Greek) over 1300 times in the New Testament. The term “God” is very occasionally applied to Jesus as reflecting God. Remember that Moses was to be “God” to Pharaoh (Exod. 7:1). This does not mean that Moses was actually God, but that he was His spokesman. In a parallel way Jesus is the ultimate speaker for God, the supreme prophet and the chosen King of David’s royal line.

Over and over again the New Testament informs us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, a title applicable also to the converted Israel of the future (Hosea 1:10). Jesus founded his church on the firm belief that he was the “Messiah, Son of the living God,” and remember what Professor Brown of Fuller Seminary tells us, along with many other expert biblical scholars: “To be called Son of God in the Bible means that you are not God.” This is an obvious truth which can be searched out and confirmed by anyone. Simply note that Adam, Israel and men especially close to God are called “Sons of God.” Christians are said to be “Sons of God.” Jesus, God’s only begotten human son, is the pioneer Christian, the perfect model of what it means to be “Son of God.”

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