The Greek for "Word" is, of course, "logos". As this phrase
occurs in the Gospel records. it doesn't mean the whole Bible. It means clearly
enough and without any dispute the Gospel message (eg Mar 2:2; 4:33; 16:20; Luk
3:2; Joh 12:48; 14:24; Acts 4:4; 11:19). The Gospel was preached to Abraham in
that it comprises the promises to Him and their fulfillment in Jesus (Gal 3:8).
That word of promise was "made flesh" in Jesus; "the word of the oath" of the
new covenant, of the promises made to Abraham, "maketh the son" (Heb 7:28). This
is just another way of saying that the word of the promises, of the Gospel, was
made flesh in Jesus. Note how in Rom 9:6,9 "the word" is called "the word of
promise" -- those made to Abraham. John's Gospel tends to repeat the ideas of
the other gospel records but in more spiritual terms. Matthew and Luke begin
their accounts of the message by giving the genealogies of Jesus, explaining
that His birth was the fulfillment, the making flesh, of the promises to Abraham
and David. And Mark defines his "beginning of the gospel" as the fact that Jesus
was the fulfillment of the OT prophets. John is really doing the same, in
essence. But he is using more spiritual language. "In the beginning" there was
the word -- the word of promise, the word of prophecy, all through the OT. And
that word was "made flesh" in Jesus, and on account of that word, all things in
the new creation had and would come into being. Luke's prologue states that he
was an "eyewitness and minister of the word from the beginning"; he refers to
the word of the Gospel that later became flesh in Jesus. John's prologue is so
similar: "That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, which we
have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld -- the word of life" (1Jo 1:1 RV).
Joh 1:14 matched this with: "The word was made flesh, and we beheld his glory".
"Was made flesh"
"The word" is often put for the preaching of the word (Acts
6:2,4,7; Tit 2:5; Rev 1:9; 6:9; 20:4). The man Christ Jesus was the word of the
Gospel made flesh. He was and is the epitome of what He and others preached.
This is why another title for Jesus was "the Kingdom" -- he thus described
himself when He said that he, the Kingdom, was amongst them in 1st century
Israel (Luk 17:21). "The word of the Kingdom" is paralleled with "the word" (Mat
13:19; cp Mat 13:20-23). The things of the Kingdom and the things of Jesus are
inextricably linked. Likewise John calls Jesus "the eternal life" (1Jo 1:2). The
life that he lived was the quality of life which we will eternally live in the
Kingdom. The personality of Jesus was the living quintessence of all that he
preached -- as it should be with the living witness which our lives make. To
preach "Christ" was and is therefore to preach "the things concerning the
Kingdom of God", because that Kingdom will be all about the manifestation of the
man Christ Jesus (Acts 8:5,12). So Jesus was "the word" in the sense that He
epitomized the Gospel. This is why Jam 1:18 says that we are born again by the
word of the Gospel, and 1Pe 1:23 says that the word who begets is the Lord
"The word was God"
"The word", the "word of the Kingdom", "the Gospel", "the word
of God" are all parallel expressions throughout the Gospels. The records of the
parable of the sower speak of both "the word of God" (Luk 8:11-15) and "the word
of the Kingdom" (Mat 13:19). The word / Gospel of God refers to the message
which is about God, just as the "word of the Kingdom" means the word which is
about the Kingdom, rather than suggesting that the word is one and the same as
the Kingdom. "The gospel of God" means the Gospel which is about God, not the
Gospel which is God Himself in person (Rom 1:1; 15:16; 2Co 11:7; 1Th 2:2,8,9;
1Pe 4:17). So, the word of God, the Gospel of God, was made flesh in Jesus. "The
word of Jesus" and "the word of God" are interchangeable (Acts 19:10,20; 1Th
1:8; 2:13); as is "the word of the Gospel" and "the word of Jesus" (Acts
15:7,35). The word was not directly equivalent to Jesus; rather, he manifested
the word, he showed us by his life and words and personality what the Kingdom
was like, what God is like; for the word which he "became" was about God, and
about the Kingdom. He was the entire Gospel, of God and of His Kingdom, made
flesh. And our witness should be modeled on his pattern -- we should be the
living embodiment of the doctrines we preach.
"He came unto his own"
The context here speaks of both the word which was "in the
beginning", and of Jesus personally, whom John had witnessed to. Acts 10:36-38
RV puts this in simpler terms: "He sent the word unto the children of Israel,
preaching the gospel of peace by [in] Jesus Christ -- that word, I say, ye know,
which was published throughout all Judaea, beginning from Galilee, after the
baptism which John preached; even Jesus of Nazareth". The sequence and
similarity of thought between this and Joh 1:1-8 is so great that one can only
assume that John is deliberately alluding to Luke's record in Acts, and stating
the same truths in spiritual terms: In the beginning was the word of the Gospel
which was with God. And then John came witnessing to Jesus, and then the word as
it was in Jesus came to the Jews. Paul pleaded with his fellow Jews: "Brethren,
children of the stock of Abraham to us is the word of this salvation sent forth"
(Acts 13:26 RV). Yet he also wrote that in the fullness of time, God "sent forth
His Son, made of a woman" (Gal 4:4). The Son of God was "the word of this
salvation" / Jesus.
"All things were made by him"
By the time John was writing his Gospel [somewhat later than
the others], the idea of believers being a new creation in Christ would have
been developed in the early ecclesia. The Greek translated "made by" occurs
often in John's Gospel. It clearly describes how the Gospel of the Lord Jesus
made new men and women; lives were transformed into something new. The phrase is
used in the immediate context of John 1: "to become [be made] the sons of God"
(Joh 1:12), in that grace and truth came [were made] by Jesus (Joh 1:17). "All
things" therefore refers to the "all things" of the new creation. Note how Jesus
came unto "his own things" (Joh 1:11 RV mg), ie to the Jewish people. "All
things" therefore comfortably refers to the "all things" of the new creation --
which is just how Paul uses the phrase (Eph 1:10,22; 4:10; Col 1:16-20). Quite
simply all of us, in "all things" of our spiritual experience, owe them all to
Gods word of promise and its fulfillment in Christ. This is how totally central
are the promises to Abraham!
Consider other occurrences of "made by" in John's Gospel: (a)
Joh 4:14: The water of the life of Jesus shall be [made] in the believer "a well
of water springing up into everlasting life"; (b) Joh 5:9,14: the lame man "was
made" whole; (c) Joh 10:16: the believers shall be made (RV shall become) one
flock; (d) Joh 12:36: may be [made], RV become, "the children of light"; (e) Joh
15:8: So shall ye be [made] my disciples; (f) Joh 16:20 Your sorrow shall be
turned [made] into joy.
In this sense Jesus can be described as the creator of a "new
creation" (2Co 5:17). But in practice, it is the word of the Gospel, the message
of Jesus, which brings this about in the lives of those who hear and respond to
it. We are born again by the word, the "seed" of the living God (1Pe 1:23 RV
mg). In this arresting, shocking analogy, the "word" of the Gospel, the word
which was made flesh in the person of Jesus, is likened to the seed or sperm of
God. We were begotten again by "the word of truth, that we should be a kind of
firstfruits of his creations" (Jam 1:18). In God's word, in all that is revealed
in it of the person of our Lord Jesus, we come face to face with the imperative:
as we know of him, then we should be like him. In this feature of God's word, as
it is in the Bible record and therefore and thereby as it is in and of His Son,
we have the ultimate creative power, the dynamism so desperately needed by
humanity, to transform lives. (DH)
Paraphrase of John 1
Initially there was a pattern for everything. The pattern was
God's; God was the pattern. The pattern was always God. Everything came from
that pattern. There isn't anything else. The pattern is both the source of life
and the meaning of life. It is a way of being alive in opposition to death, and
death cannot overcome it.
God sent a man named John to tell people about the
possibilities of this way of being alive in opposition to death so everybody
would trust the source of life. John wasn't the source of life; he taught how to
recognize the pattern. The true pattern, the source and meaning of everybody's
life, was coming to people.
To some people, however, life, and what life is all about, is
unrecognizable. Some who could be expected to see the possibilities of this way
of being alive select death instead. Others embrace life. They trust what life
Life offers something more intense than the strongest family
ties: obtaining a new parent, God, the source, the meaning of life itself. The
initial pattern for everything that is became a human being and lived among us.
We experienced how awesome that is: as awesome as a newborn baby is to its
daddy, the gift of life and all its possibilities.