Over the past month I’ve been working my way slowly through the Gospel of John. I can think of no better way to revive my interest in Withering Fig than by walking through my thoughts.
|Hebert Translation||Nestle-Aland 27|
|In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and God was The Word. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and apart from him not one thing came to be. In him was life, and that life was the light of humans. The light appears in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.||Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.|
These first five verses open up a new window through which we can see the world, a lens that was previously unavailable to us. The author makes plain the role of Christ in the foundations of the world: He was there with God; He is God; everything came to being through Him.
Jesus is the active agent in creation. All that exists and continues to exist issues forth from Him. He is the reason and the cause. If you’ve got some beef with the way things are, then I suppose you should take it up with Him.
I feel I’ve jumped the gun a bit here. You may be thinking: “Stephen, I don’t see Jesus anywhere in this passage.”
You’re right, we’ve got three basic players in this text. Let’s look at each:
The Greek word ΛΟΓΟΣ has about a thousand different meanings. Typically we translate it with the English gloss “word.” In concrete terms this is the actual spoken (or unspoken?) word of God. In addition to “word,” ὁ λόγος also means “rational thought.”
It is this term that I am taking to denote Christ. I am doing so for reasons that will become more and more apparent as we continue to look at the Gospel of John. For now, simply cross-reference John 1:14.
The Almighty. Yahweh. El-Shaddai. The God of the Hebrews is the ultimate creator and sustainer of the universe. The one and only God. There is no other God outside of this one. This is it.
All Things / Humans
Not only did God create Humans and Life, but also All Things (πάντα). This refers to all life, all matter, all anti-matter. All of it was created by God Almighty.
So, God created the world. This divine ΛΟΓΟΣ was the agent through which that happened. Nothing beyond or outside God exists. Further, God is the possessor of Life and Light. God brought Life into the world and He also brought Light into the Darkness.
I would like to take a look at the final portion of verse five a little more closely: ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν. “The Darkness it did not overcome.” The verb κατέλαβεν is an aorist form of καταλαμβάνω; hence, my translation: “did not overcome” — past tense.
The Darkness has been overcome and conquered by the Light of God. Personally, I operate as if the agents of Light and Dark are at war within my own body and soul. But, these Dark beings, however you want to think about them, have already been conquered by the Light. This is a transformational, different way of looking at the world.
The opening verses of John provide us a strange picture of a new world order. No blog post or commentary can properly capture exactly what is going on here. I invite you to mull it over on your own. Consider what this passage means. How would it alter your worldview if it were true that God was the ultimate source of all Life? What if His Light really has overcome the Darkness?