Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Greek of John 1:1c

If I could give students of Scripture only one instruction, it would be "Look! Look! Look!" We will never find what is in the Bible unless we look for it. Of course, observation is only the first of 3 steps in Bible study (along with interpretation and application), but it's an absolutely critical step. 

There are at least 3 things to look for when we read Scripture: things that are

  • emphasized
  • repeated 
  • related

Often there are things we miss in the English text that are obvious in the Greek. Let's use John 1:1 again as an example, shall we? There's nothing too unusual about the first two clauses in this verse:

  • In the beginning was the Word
  • and the Word was with God

But the third clause ("and the Word was God") is different. Let me show you. 

The unmarked word order is Greek is Verb, then Subject, then Predicate or Object. This is where John 1:1c becomes really interesting. In the chart below, I've listed the unmarked word order first. 

In Greek, it reads like this: "and was the Word God." Now, sometimes in Greek we can place the subject before the verb, as in example 2: "and the Word was God." But in example 3, we notice that John puts the predicate first, which marks it out for emphasis: "and God was the Word." Here the subject is still "the Word," but the emphasis in the clause has shifted to "God." To bring this out in English, we might say, "And it was God that the Word was!" 

Isn't that wonderful?

I believe one of our greatest needs in the church today is to have a fuller, richer, clearer vision of Jesus Christ. I believe that most of our troubles in life are due to our paltry vision of Jesus. Borrowing a phase from James Packer in his book Knowing God, "We are pigmy Christians because we have a pygmy God." Jesus Christ is God. And there is no substitute for first-hand exposure to his word!