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The Scriptorium

Before All Things

The Word of God is eternal.

The Gospel of John: John 1.1

Read and meditate on John 1.1 and Genesis 1.
In the prologue to his gospel (Jn. 1.1-18), John introduces the major themes that will feature throughout his story. The first part of the prologue ends at verse 13, with John declaring that the true Light has come to bring life to all who believe. The second part of the prologue (vv. 14-18) identifies the true Light by Name, a historical Person Who lived at a particular time. John 1.1-13 moves from eternity past to the contemporary present, and from the unseen spiritual realm to everyday events, from temporal creation to spiritual creation. John wants us to hold these tensions in mind – past/present, seen/unseen, temporal/spiritual – because we live in them at all times. The true Light bridges the gaps between these, and leads us to fullness of life in God. John’s gospel begins where he intends for it ultimately to take us, into the presence and pleasure of the eternal God through His Word.

1Before the world and everything began –
all space and time, the galaxies that span
the heavens, all creatures, particles, and powers,
all things on earth, all lands and seas, all flowers
and beasts, and even man – before these came
to be, He was, Whom we know by the Name,
The Word.

John 1.1

1.  John will make a conscious attempt to root the story of Jesus in the eternal being and counsel of God, and His infallible Word. What alone existed before “the beginning”? What would it have been like to be there “in the beginning” with God our only companion? God existed before the beginning. Does He exist in time, or apart and over it? Does He require time to be God? Before “the beginning,” what was existence like in the eternal Godhead? Complete this brief prayer: Lord, in the beginning You were all there was, and You…

2.  Did God need for there to be a beginning? How would Paul answer that (cf. Acts 17.24, 25)? Why doesn’t God need anything? Since He does not need anything, what does it tell us about God that He created a beginning of time and all things? Complete this prayer: You don’t need me or anything, Lord – yet here I am, and You…

3.  Meditate on Genesis 1. Before the beginning, God the Father, God the Word, and God the Holy Spirit existed as one God in three divine Persons. Together, they decided to create a beginning of all things. In Genesis 1, how many times does the word good appear? What does God mean by good? What does John intend by linking his gospel to the good beginning of all things? How does he want us to read this story? Should we expect his story to be Good News? Complete this prayer: Lord, You are good, and You do only good work! The Good News for me today is…

4.  Meditate on Genesis 1. How many times does “God said” appear? God’s speaking – God’s Word – had a very active part in the beginning of all things. How would you explain that part? What does this suggest about the ability of this Word, and the scope of His interests? Lord, Your Word is…

5. God existed eternally in the past, complete in Himself, without need of anything outside Himself to add to the joy, pleasure, and fullness He experiences in Himself alone. He did not need to make a beginning of anything, and yet He did. Why? What does this tell us about this God, Who makes good things by the power of His Word, without needing any of the things He made? Pray together the prayers you constructed from questions 1-4.

“The word beginning fixes the moment of creation; you can assign its date to an event that is definitely stated to have happened ‘in the beginning.’ But this fisherman of mine, unlettered and unread, is untrammeled by time, undaunted by its immensity; he pierces beyond the beginning. For his ‘was’ has no limit of time and no commencement; the uncreated Word ‘was in the beginning.’” Hilary of Poitiers (315-367 AD).

John’s gospel is about the Word of God. That Word, Who became flesh and dwelled among us, was eternally present with God before the universe began. He is the Word by Whom God created all things out of nothing! How wise, how strong, how amazing, and how completely unfathomable must this Word be, Who can bring things into being out of nothing (cf. Heb. 11.3)? Who is this Person we are about to journey with in the gospel of John? Pray or sing to Him these words of adoring love:

Closing Prayer
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.

Psalm 33.6-9

Psalm 33.6-9 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns!)
You spoke and heaven came to be, and all its hosts Your Spirit wrought.
You heaps the waters of the sea; the deeps their dwelling place are taught.
Let all below now fear You, Lord; let all in awe of You abide!
The worlds exist by Jesus’ Word; let all on earth in You confide!

T. M. Moore

Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, can show you how Jesus is central to all aspects of life in the world – and beyond! Our course is free, and you can study at your own pace, watching videos and using the free materials provided.

We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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