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The Scriptorium

The Explanation

The Word is the Reason for and Explanation of everything.

The Gospel of John: John 1.1

Read and meditate on John 1.1.
One of the characteristics of both the Hebrew and Greek languages is the dispensability of forms of the verb, to be. You will notice in your English Bible that such words as am, are, is, were, and was are often put in italics. This is to indicate that these words are not found in the Hebrew or Greek, but are supplied by the translators to accommodate our English speech. The Greeks and Hebrews did not need to use these forms. But when they did, you can believe that they meant to communicate something important.

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. The verb was occurs three times in John 1! Three times! Let’s play language games, shall we? The form of the verb here is the Greek imperfect, a tense which indicates continuing action – in this case, being – in the past. To make the point John is trying to make, we need to add an adverb to was. How about something like already? Or always? What does this tell us about this Wordand what John means by was? Complete this prayer: Lord Jesus, God’s eternal Word, God’s Word to me…

2.  The Word always and already was with God. This suggests separatenessor, at least, a distinction. If God is God, and the Word is the Word, and both of them already or always were, what does this suggest about the relationship between the two of them? What is distinctive about each? How do they complement one another? Why is John making this emphatic point, here in the first verse of His Gospel? God my Father, Lord Jesus the Word, as You love one another and cling to one another, so let me…

3.  The eternal Word was with God, and the Word was God!So the Word of God, Who is distinct from God, nevertheless is God? Not a God, but God. How would you explain this? How can the Word be with God and be God at the same time? Does it matter if you can’t explain this completely? But should you be able to explain it truly? Why? Lord, there are mysteries I can believe, even if I cannot fully understand them. Help me…

4.  One God, two distinct identities, or shall we say, Persons. But in Genesis 1, to which John refers in his opening words, another expression of God is mentioned (v. 2). Who is the Spiritor Breath of God, and (keeping in mind Psalm 33.6-9 and Ps. 104.29, 30) how does the Spirit relate to God and the Word? Why is John deliberately directing our minds to all three of the Persons of God in this first verse of his gospel? O great One God in Three Persons! How I…

5.  Word (in the Greek, logos) means something like word, meaning, reason, rationale, or even explanation. How do our words function in these ways for us? What should we expect of the Word of God, when it comes to our understanding of everything about God, and everything about the world He spoke into being? Can we expect to know God apart from His Word? To know His world apart from the Word? Why or why not? Bring together into one the four prayers you prayed in questions 1-4.

“The same verb, ‘was,’ is predicated of the Word when he was ‘in the beginning’ and when he ‘was with God.’ He is neither separated from the beginning, nor does he depart from the Father. And again, he does not ‘come to be’ ‘in the beginning’ from not being ‘in the beginning,’ nor does he pass from not being ‘with God’ to coming to be ‘with God,’ for before all time and eternity ‘the Word was in the beginning,’ and ‘the Word was with God.’” Origen (ca. 185-254 AD)

The Word of God is the Explanation for everything – for God, for the world God made, the will of God, you, me, the future, life, death, culture, and everything else. Meditate on Ephesians 4.8-10. Why does it make sense that Jesus would be working to fill all things in all things? How is He doing that?

Closing Prayer
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.
He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
Who makes the clouds His chariot,
Who walks on the wings of the wind,
Who makes His angels spirits,
His ministers a flame of fire.
You who laid the foundations of the earth,
So that it should not be moved forever,
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
The waters stood above the mountains.
At Your rebuke they fled;
At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.
They went up over the mountains;
They went down into the valleys,
To the place which You founded for them.
You have set a boundary that they may not pass over,
That they may not return to cover the earth.
He sends the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills.
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
By them the birds of the heavens have their home;
They sing among the branches.
He waters the hills from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

Psalm 104.1-13

Psalm 104.1-5 (Creation: Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim)
Bless God, my soul!  How great are You, Lord,
With majesty and splendor adorned.
The heav’ns You stretch out like a tent,
And lay Your chambers in the firmament.
You ride the wings of winds on high
And make Your messengers flaming fly.
The earth on its foundation stands,
Established forever by Your hands.

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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