top of page

John 1:1: An Exposition On The Anarthrous Noun And Other Contextual Features Examined

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Written by Steven Blake

JOHN 1:1

- - - - - - - “AND THE WORD WAS GOD” - - -

- - OR - -

- - - - - - - “AND THE WORD WAS A GOD” ? - - -


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- NOTE: This article is by far the longest of any that I will publish. It's purpose is to equip non-trinitarians with evidence and information by which to refute the Trinitarian mistranslation and misinterpretation of John 1:1. Its goal is to deal comprehensively with those arguments - themselves complex, varied, and the beneficiaries of many centuries of development.

It may be that this article is not appropriate to the format of this forum. If so, I will delete it.

Topic headings will be presented in bold type in the hope that this will make the article easier to navigate.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - Introduction


This discussion of John 1:1 addresses one of the more significant misrepresentations of Scripture to be found in the entire lexicon of Trinitarianism.

The KJV translation of John 1:1 (“and the Word was God”) forms the basis for what is probably the strongest single trinitarian argument for the deity of Jesus in existence - despite the fact that the words “Jesus is God” are not found therein; nor anywhere else in the Bible for that matter.

And even though the idea of God-as-trinity is likewise not found in this verse, it comes closer than any other in declaring “the Word” (widely recognized as a title for Jesus) to be God.

Non-trinitarianism holds that the accurate translation of Jn.1:1 (as found in the numerous alternate versions presented below) is “and the word was A god” or “a divine being” - depicting Jesus not as God Himself, but rather as a divine being having in common with Him certain aspects of His nature.


- - - - Definitions


Words have meanings.

Nor are we justified in arbitrarily altering those meanings.

If I ask you to go to the store for a loaf of bread, and you decide to redefine "loaf of bread" to mean "bag of rocks", I wind up going hungry.

This is why we have dictionaries.

If you and I both subscribe to the dictionary definition of "loaf of bread", then I don't miss lunch.

Likewise, if you and I subscribe to the dictionary definitions of everyday words like "in", "beginning", "was" and "with” - as well as theological words and phrases such as "monotheism", "the Word" and "God” - then we can have an intelligent conversation about what the Bible says and means.

And if not... not.


- - - General Observations


At the outset, we need to recognize certain general facts about the Book of John:


- John's Gospel Is Misrepresented By Trinitarianism


Trinitarianism teaches that John’s purpose in writing his gospel was to show that Jesus is God:

- - "The Divine purpose in the Gospel of John is to present the lord Jesus as God" - The Companion Bible

- - "This may be considered the theme of the whole Gospel, every word... having been skillfully chosen... for the purpose of proving the Godhead of Jesus Christ" - Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible


Many trinity-biased commentaries echo this sentiment, but John himself contradicted it - saying that his Gospel was "Written that ye might believe that Jesus Christ is THE SON OF The Living God." - John 20:31

Here was the perfect opportunity for John to state that his purpose was to present Jesus as God, but instead he said that his purpose was to present Jesus as the Son of God - not God Himself (a distinction repeated throughout the New Testament - Lk.1:32, Acts 3:12, Ro.8:3, Gal.4:6, 1Jn.4:10, 5:11, etc.)


- The Authenticity Of John's Prologue Is In Question


The prologue to the Book of John occupies eighteen verses. The difference between its writing style and that of the rest of the book has led some to conclude that it is the work of a second author.

- - "Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the gospel as it now stands was written by one person" - U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Others believe that John adapted the first verse from a Greek religious concept of "logos", popularized in a children's hymn of that day:

- - “There are good grounds for thinking that in the Prologue the evangelist made use of an existing 'hymn' of the Logos, which may not have originally been Christian at all". - A Theological Word Book of the Bible, John Campbell, 1951,P284-5

- - “An independent hymn, subsequently adapted to serve as a preface to the gospel." - The New American Bible, Macmillan Pubs. P178,N.T.


- John 1:1 Does Not Declare God To Be A Trinity


We are asked to accept that the triunity of God is the most important truth of the New Testament, yet even according to the Trinitarian misconstruction of Jn.1:1, John is said to present only TWO entities as God - while neglecting any mention of a third.


- - - "The Big Lie" - - -


Trinitarianism argues that translating Jn.1:1 as “and the Word was A god” violates the rules of Greek grammar, and is intentionally dishonest.

For example:

- - "No recognized translators in the history of Greek exegesis have ever sanctioned such a grammatical travesty... an indication of markedly inferior scholarship... no basis whatsoever in New Testament Greek grammar... the Greek grammatical construction leaves no doubt whatsoever that ('the word was God') is the only possible rendering of the text... 'a god' is both incorrect grammar and poor Greek" - The Kingdom Of The Cults, Walter Martin, Revised And Expanded Edition, 1985, PPS 69,85

- - "It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 'The Word was a god.' ... shocking and grossly misleading" - Dr. Julius Robert Mantey, A.B., Th.D., Ph.D., D.D. Professor of Greek and New Testament, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois

- - “I can assure you that the rendering ... is not held by any reputable Greek scholar." - Dr. Charles L. Feinberg, La Mirada, California

- - “ 'The Word was a god,' (is) a translation (both) grammatically impossible... (and) intellectually dishonest." - Dr. William Barclay


- - - “The Big Lie" Exposed - - -


In fact, many recognized Greek scholars DO sanction such a translation:

- - "You could translate [John 1:1], so far as the Greek goes: `the Word was A GOD’” - Dr. William Barclay, Trinitarian scholar, author, and Bible translator, Ever Yours, p.205, Labarum Publ., 1985

(Interestingly, this quote from Dr. Barclay directly contradicts the widely popularized quote from him posted just above it)

- - "A (formal equivalence) translation of the controversial clause would read: 'And the Word was A GOD'. The preponderance of evidence from Greek grammar, literary context, and cultural environment, supports this translation". - Truth in Translation: Accuracy And Bias In English Translations Of The New Testament, Prof. Jason BeDuhn, p132, 2003

- - "(The literal translation is) 'A GOD was the Word' ". - Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E.Vine, p.490, 1983

- - "(A more literal translation is) and A GOD was the Word" - Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Dr. Robert Young, p. 54,

- - "As far as grammar alone is concerned, such a sentence could be (translated)...'The Word is A GOD' " - The Elements of New Testament Greek, J. W. Wenham, 1984, p. 35

- - "As a word-for-word translation ('A GOD') cannot be faulted." - Technical Papers for the Bible Translator, Vol. 28, #1, Jan. 1977, Prof. C.H.Dodd, director of The New English Bible Project

- - "It has to be acknowledged that (it) could be translated 'The Word was A GOD' " - Introduction to New Testament Greek Using John's Gospel, Stan Bruce (lecturer in New Testament Greek, All Nations Christian College, UK), 1999, Lesson 3, p.23


- "Dishonest"?


It is not the Non-Trinitarian translation which is "dishonest", but rather the claim that it is not sanctioned by any recognized New Testament translator.

The following are partial listings of recognized translations which acknowledge the alternate reading (most of whose authors are not Non-Trinitarians):


- - " And the Word was a god " - -


- A Concise Commentary on the Holy Bible, Robert Young, P54, 1885

- Revised Version Of the Bible - Improved and Corrected

- 21st Century Literal Translation, 1998

- Expository Dictionary of the New Testament, W. E.Vine, p.490,

- A Literal Translation of the New Testament, H. Heinfetter, 1863

- The New Testament in Greek and English, Abner Kneeland, 1822

- Archbishop Newcome's New Testament, Improved Version, 1809

- Interlineary Translation - Emphatic Diaglott, B.Wilson, 1863

- Coptic text Translation, Jenott, 2003

- Literally Translated New Testament Bible, 2008

- Sahidic Coptic Text - Interlinear Translation

- Jesus as God, Murray J. Harris, P60, Baker Book House, 1992

- The Coptic Version of the New Testament, George William Horner, 1911

- Das Evangelium nach Johannes, Siegfried Schulz, 1975

- Das Evangelium nach Johannes, Jurgen Becker, 1979

- Latin Form Of German, John Crellius, 1631

- The Final Theology, Volume 1, Leicester Ambrose, 1879

- Unitarianism in the Gospels, Lant Carpenter, LL.D., P156

- Technical Papers for the Bible Translator, C. H. Dodd, Jan., 1977

- George Horner's Sahidic Translation into English, 1910

- An Exposition Of The Historical Writings Of The New Testament, Vol. II, T. Kenrick, London, 1807

- A Familiar Illustration of Certain Passages of Scripture, Joseph Priestley, LL.D., F.R.S. P37, 1794

- A Statement of Reasons For Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians, A. Norton, D.D., 1833, P74

- The Beginnings of Christianity, vol. 1, Paul Wernle, Professor Extraordinary of Modern Church History at the University of Basil (in The Rise of Religion [1903], P16)

- The Montessoran; The Gospel History According to the Four Evangelists, J. S. Thompson, 1829

- The New Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ, translated from the Greek, R.Rooleeuw, M.D., 1694

- The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Anointed, James L. Tomanec, 1958


- " And the Word was a divine being " -

("of a divine kind", "of divine nature", "godlike" etc.)


- Dictionary of the Bible, Trinitarian Jesuit John L. McKenzie, 1965

- Grammatical Analysis of the New Testament, Zerwich/Grosvenor, 1974

- An American Translation, 1939, Smith and Goodspeed

- The Peoples New Testament, Johnson, 1891

- The Bible, A New Translation, 1935, James Moffatt

- International English Bible-Extreme New Testament, 2001

- The Authentic New Testament, 1956, Hugh J. Schonfield

- New Testament A Rendering, 1994, J. Madsen

- La Bible du Centenaire, L'Evangile selon Jean, Maurice Goguel,1928

- Scholar's Version-The Five Gospels, 1993

- A Liberal Translation of the New Testament, E. Harwood 1768

- English Translation of Coptic Text, Warren & Horner

- The Message of Jesus Christ, Dibelius & Grant, 1939

- The Four Gospels in One Story, Crofts, 1949

- The Translator's New Testament, McHardy, 1973

- The Wilton Translation of the NT, 2013, Wilton

- The Literature of the New Testament, 1932, Ernest Findlay Scott

- The New Testament, 1949, Fredrich Pfaefflin

- Readings in St. John's Gospel, 1933, W. Temple, Archbishop of York

- The New Testament (in German), Curt Stage, 1907

- The Historic Jesus in the New Testament, Robert Harvey, D.D., Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Westminster College, Cambridge, London, 1931

- A Paraphrase on the Gospel of St. John, Samuel Clarke, M.A., D.D., rector of St. James, Westminster, London, 1703

- The Gospel, A Translation, Harmony and Annotations, Ervin Edward Stringfellow (Prof. of NT Language and Literature, Drake University, Iowa), 1943


Clearly, the scathing denunciations of Martin and his ilk are false - raising the question: “Why would it be necessary to resort to a lie in order to defend the truth?"


- Analysis -


Earlier we observed that due to its critical importance to the cause of trinitarianism, arguments in support of the popular mistranslation of Jn.1:1 were "well developed, numerous and complex". What follows is a breakdown of the more significant of those arguments.


- "Theos": The Heart Of The Controversy -


In John 1:1, the Greek word translated "God" is "theos”.

- - - STRONG’S GREEK DICTIONARY defines “theos” as: "(#2316) A deity, especially (with #3588 [the definite article 'ho' - translated 'the'] ) THE Supreme Divinity".

Let's be clear on what Strong's is saying here: in the New Testament, theos can either refer to A deity (a god, or godlike being), or - especially when accompanied by the definite article - THE supreme deity (Jehovah).

- - - DR. ROBERT YOUNG, prominent Trinitarian scholar, concurs: “'God' ["theos"]... is applied not only to the true God, but to... magistrates, judges, angels, prophets, etc., (e.g...John 1:1)." - Young's Analytical Concordance, Preface, 1978

- - - J. H. THAYER (past Professor of Sacred Literature at Andover Theological Seminary, past president of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, and author of Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament - considered "one of the greatest achievements in biblical scholarship of the twentieth century" -Wikipedia) agrees as well: "(Theos) is used of whatever can - in any respect - be likened to God, or resembles him in any way" - Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the N.T., p.288


• "Theos" exists in the New Testament as a title both for Jehovah (Mt.4:10, Mk.12:30 etc.), and for lesser created beings who have received a measure of His majesty, dignity, and spirit (Jn.10:34,35, Acts 12:22, 28:6, 1 Cor.8:5, 2 Cor. 4:4 etc).


- "Elohim" -


The practice of using the same word as a title both for God and others began in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word most often translated "God" in the O.T. is "elohim".

Kings, too, are sometimes titled elohim - but:

- - - "To address the king as Elohim was not to deify him... in whatever sense the king was `divine,' it was not an actual or intrinsic divinity... rather, he was `Yahweh's anointed'... exercising a delegated yet sovereign authority." - Jesus As God, pp. 200-201, Murray J. Harris, 1992

- - - "In (Psalm 45:6.7), which praises the king... he was called `god' ['elohim'] as a title of honor." - The NIV Study Bible, footnote for Ps.45:6.


Also, in Psalm 8:5 angels are called "elohim". Some English translations render this as "gods" (ERV, M.V., etc.).


- Jesus Pointed Out That God Had Called Judges "Gods"


- - - “In the language of the Old Testament... judges... could be given the honorific title `god'" - The NIV Study Bible [1985] footnote for Ps.82:1.


Jesus famously used the word "theos" when translating Psalm 82:6 - in which God declared to the anointed Judges of Israel: "I have said, 'you are gods' [‘elohim']". Jehovah called them gods because as His representatives they had received a measure of His dignity, majesty and spirit:

- - - "Because they were God's representatives" - Robertson's Word Pictures Of The New Testament

- - - "Intended to show... a communication of the divine majesty to human nature... their official dignity" - J.F.&B. Commentary

Jesus, in responding to a charge of blasphemy ("thou, being a man, makest thyself God" - John 10:33), said:

"Is it not written... 'I said, Ye are gods [theos]'? If He [God] called them 'gods' [theos], unto whom the word of God [theos] came... say ye... 'Thou blasphemest' because I said, 'I am the son of God'?" - Jn.10:34-36.

These words from the mouth of Jesus are a good example of the Biblical use of "theos" to refer both to Jehovah and to lesser entities endowed with some element of His divine nature.


• The question then becomes: "In calling Jesus 'theos', was John describing him as the supreme being (THE God), or a lessor divine spirit-person (A god)?".


- "The God" - The Definite Article -


When referring to Jehovah as "theos", the New Testament generally uses the definite article (the word "the") - to distinguish Him from lesser entities. The Greek definite article is "ho" - so Jehovah is most often designated "ho theos" (“THE God"), while lesser divine beings are designated simply as "theos" ("god" without the definite article).

• Neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit is ever titled "ho theos" in the New Testament. This title (with the lone exception of 2 Cor.4:4, in which Satan is called "the god [ho theos] of this world" ) is given exclusively to the Father.


- John 1:1 Revisited


Jn.1:1A - In the beginning was the Word [ho logos],

Jn.1:1B - and the Word [ho logos] was with God [ho theos],

Jn.1:1C - and the Word [ho logos] was God ['theos' without the definite article].


Notice that the definite article is used each time "logos" occurs. This is because John is not referring to just any logos (logos in the indefinite sense), but to a specific logos - God's word.

Further, notice that the first usage of theos has the definite article. This is because the person of God is the subject of the phrase. The second theos does not have the definite article because it is the quality of divinity held in common between God and His son which is in focus. In this case theos is used as an adjective describing the nature of the Word, not as a noun identifying his person.


Many notable theologians agree - among them:


- - Origen of Alexandria (184-253 AD) -


Recognized as one of the most influential figures of 2d/3rd century Christianity, Origen has been called "The greatest genius the early church ever produced" - The Westminster Handbook To Origen, J.A.McGuckin, 2004, and "One of the most learned teachers and prolific authors of the early Church"- Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, E.Ferguson, 2016.

It would be difficult to imagine that Origen did not posses a mastery of the nuances of New Testament Greek. He had this to say about John 1:1:

- - "John.. does not write without care... nor is he unfamiliar with the Greek tongue. In some cases he uses the article, and in some cases he omits it... He uses the article when the name of God refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Logos is named God... The God who is over all is God with the article, not without it... The true God... is 'The God', and those who are formed after Him are... images... of Him". - "Origin's Commentary On John", Ante-Nicene Fathers, Menzie, Volume 9


- William Barclay (1907-1978) -


Barclay was said by his publisher to be: "The best known expositor of the Bible in Great Britain... in addition to his activities as Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism in the University of Glasgow, Scotland".

Barclay authored more than fifty books. His most famous work, The Daily Study Bible, was translated into over a dozen languages, and sold more than ten million copies around the world.

Barclay made these statements on the meaning of John 1:1:

- - - "John did not say that the Word was 'ho theos'; that would have been to say that the Word was identical with God; he says that the Word was 'theos'- without the definite article". - The Gospel of John, vol.1 [Revised Edition], The Daily Study Bible

- - - "When the definite article is absent... the noun becomes the equivalent of an adjective... that sentence says... the Word was in the same class as God." - Letter to David Burnett, 1974, Ever Yours: A Selection from the Letters of William Barclay

- - - "What the Greek really says is not 'The Word was God,' but "The word is in the same sphere as God; it belongs to the same kind of life and is one with God" - Who Is Jesus?, 1975, pp. 35-6

- - - "JOHN is not here identifying the Word with God. To put it very simply, he DOES NOT SAY THAT JESUS WAS GOD." - Many Witnesses, One Lord, 1973 ed., pp.23, 24


- Other New Testament Scholars On The Use Of The Definite Article In Greek


- - - "The (definite) article was omitted because 'theos' described the nature of the Word and did not identify his person." - Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. II, P35, M.R.Vincent, D.D., 1887

- - - "The lack of the article in Greek frequently emphasizes quality rather than identity... a further subtlety of the Greek language here is not brought out in the traditional rendering memorized by many of us. We learned to recite 'with God' and 'was God" as if the two occurrences of 'God" in this verse were the same. In fact, they are not. The first speaks of 'the God', with the definite article in Greek because the PERSONALITY of God is in focus... the stress, accent or focus shifts in the final clause to the CHARACTER of God rather than His personhood... the fact that 'the Word', who earlier was said to have existed 'with' God, himself shared the character or nature of God". - The Translation Debate, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship Press, P.94-96, 1981, Eugene H. Glassman, TH.M., M.A. in linguistics, M.A. in communications, Translation Advisor to The United Bible Societies from 1974 through 1981

- - - "Whenever an article does not precede a noun in Greek, that noun can be considered as emphasizing the character, nature, essence or quality of a person or thing, as theos does in John 1:1... John affirmed that 'the Word was with God'... indicating his belief that they were distinct and separate personalities." - Julius Robert Mantey, A.B., Th.D., Ph.D., D.D., Professor of Greek and New Testament, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois

- - - "In the Prologue, the Word is said to be God, but... in contrast with the clause, 'the Word was with God,' the definite article is not used (in the final clause). For this reason it... is not regarded as God in the absolute sense of the name." - Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?, Vincent Taylor, The Expository Times, 73, No.4, p.118, 1962


- "A God" - The In-Definite Article


There is no indefinite article ("a") in the Greek. When you see the words "a" or "an" in an English translation of the New Testament, they have been added by the translator.

One argument against the translation "the Word was A god" is that the indefinite article has been added. The objection is that adding words to Scripture is illegitimate.

This is just one more case of a false trinity-proof-argument being dependent upon the ignorance of its victim. What is hidden in this explanation is that EVERY "a" in the English versions of the New Testament has been added by translators.

We can observe an exact parallel in Acts 28:3-6. A venomous spider had bitten Paul's hand. He shook it off into the fire, suffering no ill effects. Those around him expected him to die, and the anonymous author of Acts tells us that when he did not, the onlookers "said that he was a god " (KJV, etc.). The Greek - having no indefinite article - simply states that they said he was "theos".

English Translators - aware that John did not intend to state that the onlookers had said that Paul was Jehovah - added the indefinite article. No one accuses these translators of illegitimacy, for context makes clear that the indefinite article is implied - that they didn't think Paul was the God, but rather a god.

Context is also why the indefinite article is added to John 1:1. The immediate context is that the Word was with God, and so could not have been God. The broader context is that John asserted that Jesus was sent by God, spoke for God, and did the works of God (John 3:16,17; 4:34; 5:23,24,30,36-38; 6:29,38,39,40,44,57; 7:16,18,28,29,33; 8:16,18,26,29,42; 9:4; 10:25,32,36,37; 11:42; 12:44,45,49,50; 13:20; 14:10,24; 15:21; 16:5; 17:3,18,21,23,25; 20:2). These verses - in depicting relationship between Jesus and God - disqualify Jesus from being God.


• It is entirely proper to add the indefinite article to the English translation of John 1:1 in order to clarify its meaning - just as it was added in order to clarify the meaning of Acts 28:6, and is added in EVERY instance of its appearance in English translations of the New Testament.


- - - "Grammatically ('the Word was a god') is a possible translation since it is legitimate to supply the indefinite article ('a') when no article is present in the Greek text..." - Dr. Constable's Expository Bible Study Notes (Notes on John), 2012 Ed, Dr.Thomas Constable, Th.M; Th.D. (Senior Professor Emeritus of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary)

- - - "The logos is not God in the strict sense...'theos' and 'ho theos' were not the same in this period... it was quite possible in Jewish and Christian monotheism to speak of divine beings that existed alongside and under God but were not identical with him" - Commentary on the Gospel of John, Ernst Haenchen, P108-111


- "Colwell's Rule" -


In 1933 a theologian named E. C. Colwell published an article in The Journal of Biblical Literature explaining why, in cases like John 1:1, a noun could be considered as definite even though not preceded by a definite article . (He was likely motivated by a desire to defend the Trinitarian translation from criticism based upon the absence of the article). For many years following its initial publication, Trinity apologists seized upon "Colwell's Rule" as proof that the Non-Trinitarian translation of the passage was illegitimate. Its defenders fought back, citing many reasons why it did not invalidate their translation. As a result, the resort to this rule has largely fallen by the wayside.


- Context


There is nothing wrong with Colwell's Rule per se'. There certainly are instances meeting Colwell's criteria in which a noun without the article remains definite. The problem comes in the Trinitarian mis-representation of the rule. Colwell made clear that when context dictates, the absence of the definite article can be understood as an indication that a noun is being used in the indefinite sense:

- - - "It is indefinite... when the context demands it." - E. C. Colwell, Journal of Biblical Literature 52, 1933, page 20, "Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament",

The context in John's gospel is that God and His Word are separate entities - one being sent by and doing the will and works of the other, and said in the verse to be "with" each other.


• Don't let the lofty name fool you. "Colwell's Rule" does not undermine the legitimacy of the Non-Trinitarian translation of John 1:1c - it supports it.


- "A Divine Being" -


- - - "(In Jn.1:1C) 'God' is used without the article: the Word, whom (John) has just distinguished from the Person of God, is nevertheless A DIVINE BEING in his own right." - The Four Gospels: An Introduction, Bruce Vawter, C.M., p. 38.

- - - "There in no article... in effect (this) gives an adjectival quality to the second use of theos so the phrase means 'THE WORD WAS DIVINE'." - The Translator's New Testament, footnote, p. 451, 1973

- - - "'DIVINE'... is a better translation, because the Greek definite article is not present" - International English Bible, Extreme New Testament, footnote to Jn.1:1C, 2001


Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1962) defines "divine" as: "Of or relating to God... proceeding from God... like a god".

Trinitarianism sometimes argues that "a divine being" is just another way of saying "God" - but many theologians note a distinction between the two; that “A divine being" applies to lesser entities while “THE divine being" is a description generally reserved for God:

- - - "The logos was divine, NOT THE DIVINE BEING HIMSELF" - J. H. Thayer, author of Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon Of The N.T., (from a hand-written note in his copy of Griesbach's New Testament)

- - - "Christ would not be equated absolutely with God, but only described as A BEING OF DIVINE NATURE" - New International Dictionary of N.T. Theology, vol.2, p.80,

- - - "We must take Theos, without the article, in the indefinite sense of a divine nature or A DIVINE BEING, as distinguished from the definite absolute God, ho Theos" - Dissertation on the Logos, G. Lucke

- - - "Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated . . . 'the word was A DIVINE BEING' ." - Dictionary of the Bible, (Trinitarian) Jesuit John L. McKenzie, 1965


" And The Word Was With God " - John 1:1B


Moving backwards through our study of the three phrases of John 1:1, we come next to Jn.1:1B.


- Jn.1:1c Contradicts Jn.1:1b


- - - “If (the Logos) WAS God, it could stand in no relation TO God." - The Four Gospels Harmonized, Leo Tolstoy.

That the Logos could be with God and also be God is a contradiction. Such an "idea" is found nowhere in the Bible; nor in all of recorded human thought.

Inherent in the very nature of the word "with" is the idea of separation. In order for one entity to be WITH another, it must be distinct and separate FROM the other - it cannot BE the other.

Trinitarianism argues that since both are God, it is reasonable to say that the Logos was with God and at the same time was God. This is merely an attempt to defend one absurdity with another. The Bible recognizes only one God, not two ("I am He, and there is no God with me" - Deut.32:39 ). There is no God "with" God, nor is such an idea expressed anywhere in the Bible - the Trinitarian misconstruction of John 1:1 notwithstanding.

Moreover, in Scripture the title "God" refers to the entirety of His being - not one element of it as contrasted with another. Yes, Scripture speaks of "God the Father" (John 6:27, Gal.1:1, etc.), but never in contrast with "God the Son" nor "God the Spirit" - for neither of these phrases exists in the Bible. "God the Father" is simply another way of saying "God"- a reference to God in His entirety ("Father... you ALONE are the true God" - Jesus, John 17:1&3).


Jn.1:1B - Conclusion:


The ideas of being with God, and being God, are mutually exclusive. By definition, if the Logos was WITH God then it could not have BEEN God. And while the Trinitarian translations of John 1:1B & C contradict one another, the Non-Trinitarian translations do not. A being who is NOT God, but rather a divine being LIKE God, can certainly be said to be WITH God. John 1:1b provides evidence that Jesus is not God, for the simple reason that it states that he was "with" God.


- “In The Beginning Was The Word " - John 1:1a


- - Section Overview -


Trinitarianism seldom relies upon merely a single pretense in the presentation its major proof-texts; there are almost always several interlocking fallacies at play.

So it is in the case of John 1:1. In addition to its argument for Jn.1:1c, Trinitarianism manages to find in Jn.1:1a an elaborate, esoteric, two-pronged pretext for its claim that this passage supports the deity of Jesus - the idea being that the text identifies "the Word" as having already been in existence before the earliest act of Creation. This would mean that the Word was not itself a created being but rather an eternal one. And since only God is eternal, this in turn would mean that Jn.1:1a declares the preincarnate Son to be God.

To the ear of someone not yet victimized by this misteaching, "In the beginning was the word" (alternate translation: "at the beginning" - as the same Greek phrase, "en arche", is rendered in Acts 11:15 of the KJV, etc.) suggests that the Word came into being at the beginning of Creation- not that it eternally pre-existed it.

This last section of our study of John 1:1 will deconstruct the "reasoning" behind the Trinitarian misrepresentation of this passage.


- "The Beginning" - Genesis 1:1 -


It is widely recognized that John's "beginning" is the same as that invoked in the first three words of the Old Testament: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" - Gen.1:1

- - "'In the beginning...' carries our thoughts at once to the... opening of the Book of Genesis... (which) the Evangelist [John] certainly had present to his mind" - Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

- - " 'In the beginning', referring to Genesis 1:1" - Wesley's Explanatory Notes

- - "The reference to the opening words of the Old Testament is obvious... it is quite in harmony with the Hebrew tone of this Gospel to do so, and it can hardly be that St. John wrote (it) without having (Genesis 1) present to his mind, and without being guided by its meaning". - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


What, then, is the "meaning" of Gen.1:1 to which Bishop Ellicott refers?


- - - Hebrew: The Hebrew word translated "beginning" at Gen.1:1 is "reshith" (רֵאשִׁית), which Strong's Hebrew Dictionary defines as: "(#7225) The first in place, time, order, or rank".

- - - English: defines "begin" as "To do the first part of an action: go into the first part of a process"; and the idiom "in the beginning" as "at the start".

So "in the beginning" simply means "at the start" - that time at which a process is initiated.


- The Beginning Of The Material Universe


God's creation of the heavens and the earth is not the absolute beginning of creation, but only the beginning of the material universe. We know this because:

1 - The Creation Of Angels - In Job 38:7, God says:"When I laid the foundations of the earth... all the sons of God shouted for joy". "The sons of God" is widely acknowledged to be a title for angels in both Job (1:6, 2:1) and Genesis (6:2,&4).


• The creation of angels is not a part of the Genesis narrative because it had already happened.


2 - The Creation Of The Heavens - In Gen.1:1, "the heavens" created by God were not the spirit-realm occupied by Him and His angels, but the sky surrounding the earth.

The Hebrew word is "shamayim" (הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם), which Strong's defines as "(#8064) the sky", adding that it "alludes to the visible arch in which the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies [the stars] revolve" (the phrase is alternatly translated: "The sky and the earth" - ERV, EXB, ICB, NCV, etc.).

Confirmation is seen in Genesis 1:26, 28 & 30, which speak of the "birds of the air" (alternately translated: "birds of the sky" - CSB, CEB, EHV, EXB, GW, ICB, NOB, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT, TLV, VOICE, WEB,etc.). Here, "shamayim" is translated "air", not "heavens".

Clearly, birds do not occupy the heavenly realm of God and His angels, but the physical atmosphere surrounding the earth.


• And so we see that in Genesis 1:1 the meaning of "the beginning" spoken of by Bishop Ellicott is the beginning of the material universe, not the beginning of creation.


Keep this in mind as you consider the Trinitarian arguments regarding Jn.1:1a.


- "In The Beginning" - John 1:1a


Despite acknowledgement by Trinitarian scholars that the beginning cited in Jn.1:1 is the same as that of Gen.1:1 (that of the creation of the material universe), Trinitarian apologists insist that "the beginning" at Jn.1:1a refers to the absolute beginning of all creation:

- - "John elevates the phrase... to the time... before any creation... this beginning had no beginning."- Vincent's Word Studies

The Greek word translated "beginning" is "archē" (ἀρχῇ), which Strong's Greek Dictionary defines in part as "(#746) a commencement"; and which Helps Word-Studies (Helps Ministries, Inc.) defines as "the initial starting point".

Vincent's Word Studies (above) asks us to believe that the "initial starting point" spoken of by John had no initial starting point.

(Can someone please look up the word "nonsense"?)

- - "The Word... was before the beginning of all things." - Geneva Study Bible

The Greek word translated "before" is "prin" ("πρίν" - Strong's Greek Dictionary #4250). Had John wished to tell us that the Word existed before the beginning (as claimed by the Geneva Study Bible) he would have said "prin arche" ("before beginning"), not "en arche" ("in [at] beginning").

- - "It clearly means before creation... when as yet there was nothing..." - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Trinitarianism needs for the beginning spoken of in Jn.1:1a to be the absolute beginning of Creation so that it can represent the passage as saying that the pre-incarnate Christ was eternally pre-existent - i.e. that he existed before (anterior to) time, and is therefor the eternal God.

Many mainstream (Trinitarian) Christian commentaries, however, disagree with this construction:

- - "The idea of eternal pre-existence... is not to be found in the meaning of 'beginning' (in Jn.1:1)... In Genesis 1:1 we are told that God 'in the beginning created' - an act done in time" - Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

- - "We have in the earlier words (of Gen.1:1) a law of interpretation for the later (Jn.1:1), and this... excludes... from these words the idea of 'anteriority to time', which is not expressed in them." - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


- Eternity: "Time Without Beginning"


The Random House Unabridged Dictionary tells us that "eternity" means (in part) "time without beginning", while Strong's Greek Dictionary tells us that in the phrase "in the beginning", the Greek word translated "in" ("en" - ἐν - #1722), "denotes a fixed position in place, time, or state".


• "In (at) the beginning" denotes a moment in time, not the unoriginated, perdurable past. Both Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 speak of the birth of the material universe, not the eternity (nor the creation of the realm of heaven and of divine spirit beings) which preceded it.


- "Was The Word" -


“The Truth, Half The Truth, And Nothing But A Lie”


In a courtroom, when someone is sworn-in they promise to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". This is because it is recognized that only telling part of the truth, or mixing truth and lies, are forms of deception. There is even a word for it: "paltering", which in contemporary parlance means "using truthful facts to deceive".

"Satan will feed you a pound of truth to get you to swallow an ounce of lies". So it is in the case of Trinitarianism's last-ditch attempt to represent John 1:1a as saying that Jesus is God. It will first present a truth, then add a half-truth, and finally arrive at a conclusion which is - in essence - a lie.


- The Trinitarian Argument Regarding “Was” In Jn.1:1


The Trinitarian argument begins with the truth that in Jn.1:1a, the Greek word translated "was" ("hn" - Greek:"ἦν" - pronounced "en") is the imperfect tense of the verb "to be" - indicating an ongoing state of existence.

- - "A verb in 'the imperfect tense' expresses the continuing nature of an action or event which took place in the past." - Modern Greek Grammar 12.3.3 -"The Imperfect Tense"(

The "imperfect" tense indicates a form of ongoing action occurring in the past - as opposed to the "aorist" tense, which indicates a completed action occurring in the past.

Think of it like this: "he ran" is aorist because the action was completed - he ran, and then stopped running. "He was running" is imperfect because the action had not stopped at the time referred to.

• Jn.1:1a only means to tell us that the Word was in an ongoing state of existence when the creation of the material universe began, as opposed to having been in a completed state of existence - which would have meant that his existence had ended.

Now watch closely as the magician slips the pea under a different shell.

Most people, being unfamiliar with the indefinite tense, are ill-equipped to question the next claim of Trinitarianism - which is that the imperfect "hn" indicates that the existence of the Word was eternal and without beginning.

- - " 'Was'... existing before time began, i.e. from all eternity." - Cambridge Bible For Schools And Colleges

- - " 'Was'.... before time, eternal" - The Expositor's Greek Testament, edited by W.R.Nicoll

- - "When it is said the Logos 'was' in this beginning, his eternal... position in the Godhead (is) indicated". - Vincent's Word Studies

The truth - as many (Trinitarian) Greek grammarians point out - is that the imperfect form of a verb can have just the opposite meaning:

- - "The force of the imperfect... may denote THE BEGINNING OF AN ACTION, or (an action) which is upon the point of occurring... it is not identical with the continuous past by quite a wide margin." - A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. H.E.Dana, TH.D.J.R.Mantey, TH.D., D.D.

- - "The imperfect may denote THE BEGINNING OF AN ACTION or of a series of actions" - A Greek Grammar for Colleges, Smyth, p.426

- - "The imperfect is often used to stress THE BEGINNING OF AN ACTION... the difference is that the imperfect stresses beginning, but implies that the action continues, while the aorist stresses beginning, but does not imply that action continues." - Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel B. Wallace, 1996, p.544. (Professor Wallace here confirms what we have said above: that John uses the imperfect tense rather than the aorist tense because the Logos' existence had not begun and ended, but had begun and was ongoing).




The following is an example of a Trinitarian "bait 'n switch" - in which a truth is used to get you to drop your guard and accept the lie which follows it.

James White (at the time of this writing a prominent and highly intelligent Trinity-apologist) says regarding John's usage of "was":

- - “The continuous action in the past of the imperfect tense of the verb [ἦν] indicates to us that whenever the 'beginning' was, the Word was already in existence. In other words, the Word is eternal - timeless - without a "beginning." - "Germans, JW's and John 1:1", James White, Alpha and Omega Ministries.

Mr. White first presents a statement which has the ring of truth. It is certainly possible that "was" here denotes the existence of the preincarnate Son prior to the beginning spoken of by John - widely recognized to be the beginning of the creation of the material universe. But remember that other created spirit beings (angels) were also in existence prior to that beginning.

Mr. White follows this ostensibly true statement with a false one - for the existence of the Word prior to the beginning of the material universe in no way suggests that it was "eternal, timeless", or "without a beginning", any more than the prior existence of created angels suggests that they were eternal, timeless, or without beginning.

• The imperfect tense here simply denotes that the Word was already in existence at the time that the creation of the universe began.


- Tertullian (ca.200 A.D.) -


I find it difficult to imagine that a scholar of Mr. White's caliber is not aware of the words of one of the most recognized early champions of the Trinity Doctrine - Tertullian.

Regarding "ἦν" as found at Gen.1:1,2 in The Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament), Tertullian states:

- - " 'Was' [ἦν] may be (said) of... a thing which has been created, which was born, which once was not" - "Against Hermogenes", Ch. xxvii, (as translated on P492 of The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, 1993, edited by A.Roberts and J.Donaldson)


- An Exception To The Rule


Remarkably, the imperfect tense need not necessarily indicate continual action in the past at all:

- - "The idea of continual action in the past does not apply when the verb 'to be' is in the imperfect tense”. - Greek Verb Tenses, Intermediate Discussion, (New Testament Greek .Org)

Nor do we need a Greek grammarian to tell us this. We have only to consider John's usage of the imperfect "was" ('ἦν') elsewhere in his gospel. (The following citations are taken from The Greek Interlinear Bible [], a literal word-for-word translation of the Greek texts upon which the Authorized [KJV] Version of the New Testament is based):

- - "It was ["ἦν"] about the tenth hour" - Jn 1:39 - not the continual passage of time, but only sixty minutes.

- - "After this there was ["ἦν"] a feast" - Jn 5:1 - occurring during a limited period of time - not a continual span of it.

- - "On the same day was ["ἦν"] the sabbath" - Jn 5:9 - the Sabbath does not exist continually, but only for a day.

Other examples include John 1:10, 2:23, 3:26, 4:6, 6:4, 7:42, 9:8, 10:22, 12:6, 18:1, 19:14, etc.

• Clearly, in the case of the verb "to be", there is an exception to the rule that the imperfect tense in Greek indicates continual existence. Accordingly, there is nothing in Jn.1:1a which compels the understanding that the Word abode in a state of continual (much less eternal) existence when God began to create the universe. Hence, there is nothing in the phrase "In the beginning was the Word" which proves Jesus to be God.


- Jesus: The True "Beginning" Of God's Creation


Jesus identified himself as "The firstborn of all Creation" (Colo.1:15), and "The beginning of the Creation of God" (Rev. 3:14):

"The firstborn of all creation" (ASV, AMP, DARBY, DLNT, ESV, GW, NOG, NABRE, NASB, RSV, NTE, TLV, WEB, YLT, etc.) means just what it appears to mean: "The first (or most important) member of the created order".

The term "firstborn" is never used in the Bible about an entity which is not a member of the group.

"The firstborn of cattle” (Ex.12:29) is a bull or cow, "the firstborn son" (Dt.21:15) is a son, "the firstborn of the poor" (Is.14:30) is poor. Jesus, as "the firstborn of all creation", is a MEMBER of creation - unlike God, who is not.

- "The beginning of the Creation of God" also means just what it appears to mean: "The first of God's creations".

Trinitarianism attempts to redefine "beginn-ing" ("arche") to mean "beginn-er"- as though Jesus were merely identifying himself as the one who started creation. But ask yourself: if Jesus only started creation, who finished it?

In the 55 occurrences of "arche" in the New Testament, not once does it connote the initiator (beginner) of a process. Further, if Jesus were God, why would he not simply call himself “the Creator" - as God is elsewhere referred to in the Bible (Is.40:28, Ro.1:25, etc.)?


• In Rev.3:14 Jesus declares himself to be the first entity made by God, not the initiator of God's Creation; a created being, not God Himself.


- - John 1:1 : Summary -


Trinitarianism points to John 1:1 as proof that Jesus is God, but there is not a single element of this "proof" which survives the cold light of critical analysis.


We have seen that:


- - The purpose of John's gospel is to establish that Jesus is the Son of God, not God Himself.

- - The very authenticity of John's prologue is in question.

- - John 1:1 fails to declare God to be a Trinity, but - even as misinterpreted by Trinitarianism - only declares two of its members to be God.

- - Despite the supposed illegitimacy of the translation of Jn.1:1c as "and the Word was A god", this chapter's listing of widely received translations and commentaries which support such a translation numbers well over sixty. Jesus himself reminded his accusers that God had called human judges "gods" (elohim/theos), and Scripture also applies the term to angels. There is a clear distinction in Scripture between lesser created beings titled "gods" and Jehovah Himself - with Whom they share this title.

- - John 1:1b - "And the Word was with God" - makes clear that Jesus is not himself God.

- - Despite attempts by Trinitarianism to misrepresent the meaning of John 1:1a, it does not prove Jesus to be God but is simply a declaration that he (as the first of God's creations) was already in existence when God authored the creation of the material universe.


- John 1:1 : Conclusion -


• There is nothing in the authentic translation and interpretation of John 1:1 - as attested to by a broad consensus of translators and commentators - which offers proof that Jesus is God. The entirety of the Trinitarian argument regarding such an idea is without foundation.


- - - - - - - 30 - - - - - - -

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page