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An Advent Greek Lesson

If you find your­self for­tu­nate enough to study bib­li­cal Greek (like our Agape Christi upper­class­men), you will inevitably encounter this foun­da­tion­al verse: John 1:1. It reads, “Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.” Or to put it in the Eng­lish tongue, “In the begin­ning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” This remark­ably pre­cise state­ment is the cor­ner­stone of John’s gospel. It illu­mi­nates all ratio­nal­i­ty and shat­ters the man-made molds of under­stand­ing.

In the cur­rent advent sea­son, we would be remiss to stop at John 1:1 and go no fur­ther. John 1:14 sings at its high­est pitch as we cel­e­brate the Word becom­ing flesh and dwelling among us. But it would be equal­ly dull of us to approach John 1:14 with a lite ren­der­ing of John 1:1 as our frame­work. So here are a few truths to stir your affec­tions for the Word:

1. The Word has no begin­ning. We real­ly don’t have a cat­e­go­ry for this truth. We exist in time and space and are sub­ject to them. The Word cre­at­ed time and space. There was nev­er a moment (as we would call it) where He didn’t exist in His full­ness. It is easy to get slop­py with our think­ing and give cre­dence to God (the Father) being eter­nal, but then treat the Word as com­ing after God in the mys­tery of eter­ni­ty past. Per­ish the thought; the Word has an equal eter­nal­i­ty with God, for He was always with Him. The Alexan­dri­an saint Cyril elab­o­rates, “The gen­er­a­tion of the [Word] did not pre­cede his exis­tence, but he exist­ed eter­nal­ly, and eter­nal­ly exist­ed by gen­er­a­tion.”

2. The Word was with God. The word πρός (with) is much more pow­er­ful than what our Eng­lish under­stand­ing will grant us. The Word is not just in prox­im­i­ty to God, but there is also great inti­ma­cy between the Word and God. The Word is bent towards God and God towards Him. Cer­tain­ly, this Word is not just anoth­er eter­nal being with a sep­a­rate will. He was “in the bosom of the Father” and their fel­low­ship was full and insep­a­ra­ble.

3. The Word was ful­ly God. The Word is not a less­er ver­sion of God the Father. He is a sep­a­rate per­son of the same sub­stance. Every­thing that God the Father is, the Word is. Athana­sius gives a tan­gi­ble anal­o­gy when he writes, “As the stream which is born of the foun­tain, and not sep­a­rat­ed from it, though there are two forms and names… As the foun­tain is not the stream, nor the stream the foun­tain, but the two are one and the same water which flows from the foun­tain into the stream; so the God­head pours itself, with­out divi­sion, from the Father into the Son.” The Word is on equal foot­ing with the Father. The Word is “very God of very God.”

We will not ful­ly grasp the incar­na­tion of the Word of God on this side of eter­ni­ty. But may this One in whom “the whole full­ness of deity dwells bod­i­ly” be wor­shiped accord­ing­ly. And may His infi­nite con­de­scen­sion “to save his peo­ple from their sins” make our hope all the more sure!

Mer­ry Christ­mas,

Brady Erick­son


Mr. Erick­son teach­es Intro­duc­to­ry Greek to 4th-9th graders at Agape Christi Acad­e­my, as well as his­to­ry, Bible, and lit­er­a­ture.

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