The prologue of John is one of the most amazing pieces of literature ever written. Of course, being a part of the Bible it has a distinct advantage over other writings. Still, it is amazing even in the context of written revelation. This prologue is not merely an introduction or a “lead in” to all that is to come in the rest of the Gospel; it presents completed concepts and ideas that will be addressed. We have here a full presentation of the Gospel, albeit in a quite abstract presentation. The rest of the book will flesh out the ideas presented in these first 18 verses.
And in attempting to convey my thoughts on this passage, I am likely making a mess of things. You might just go read them and let them speak for themselves.)
The Gospel begins just as the Old Testament began, “In beginning…” Genesis starts by saying “In beginning, God.” Here John starts with “the Word.” At the start of time and space, the Word already was. God is there too, and the Word is with God. But… the Word is also God.
What? We already have an idea being presented that we are incapable of grasping. The picture of God that the New Testament reveals to us is unique. It is either raving madness or it transcends our reality. (And if your definition of truth only allows for things that a rational, scientific mind can explain, then it could be both.) John tells us that this personality, “The Word” is both God and is in relationship with another personality that is God. This is Trinitarian, and you can’t explain it. You either accept it or you don’t.
However, beyond the Trinitarian teaching, there are a few more things we learn in these first five verses. This personality who is God is also the Word, the creator, the source of life and the source of light.
“Word” is a poor word to translate the Greek being used here. Logos itself is lacking as well, though, but this is a case of human language trying to convey divine truth that transcends reality, so we have to deal with it. Logos is word in action. It is the will of God active in His creation. (But remember, this active will is eternal outside of creation.) The way John writes here harkens the reader back to Old Testament passages that speak of God’s Word as a personality, and others that personify Wisdom.
John tells us that this Word was the creator of all that is. Here John says “all things,” where Genesis says “the heavens and the earth.” Same concept.
The Word is also Life. The text reads “in Him was life,” but that does not simply mean He was alive. He is Life itself. He is the source of life, without Him there would be none. Think about it, can anyone reverse-engineer living matter? It eludes us and always will. The archetypal Frankenstein story is all about this out-of-reach concept. Life is God’s realm. Only the Word can quicken.
And, the Word is not only our Life, He is the Light that illuminates creation. This again takes us back to Genesis. In beginning, God created light. It broke through the darkness—that non-thing that was there before God made light. Here we see that the Word is Light, not in an energy-photon sense in the Universe, (although He too is the creator of that) but He is truth that overcomes the darkness of sin. The Word illuminated us with the realities that we cannot see. He is the source of revelation concerning God, truth about the sin in the world, and the overcoming power of salvation against death.
This Word is the star of the Gospel.