Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | January 17, 2008

Was and With

In John 1:1 the scripture says that in the beginning the Word was God and with God. In this use of “was” and “with” we find the simple expression of the profound truth of the Triune God’s nature.

If God were unitarian, a single, solitary being as we are too often prone to imagine him then John 1:1 would simply say the Word was God. The word “with” would not be introduced because there would be no distinction between the Word and God, they would be one and the same.

On the other hand, if God and the Word were two different beings – if, say, they were two gods or the Word was something created by God – then John 1:1 would not say that the Word was God. It would simply say that the Word was with God.

It is this use of “was” and “with” that points us towards God’s nature as distinct persons living in inseparable communion. The Word and the Father do not represent an either/or proposition. They are not either one or two, but they are one and two at the same time. Together with the Holy Spirit, in fact, they are both one and three.

Our culture has trained us to try to collapse this both/and into an either/or. Our natural way of thinking says that the Word must either be God or be with God but he cannot be both.

Here find the witness of the Holy Spirit calling the church to a neo-reformation. In contrast to our unitarian and modalistic heresies (such as the water/ice/steam analogy for God’s nature) the Spirit is calling us to embrace the simple and profound truth that the Word is distinctly himself (“with God”) while at the same time being completely of the same substance and truly God as the Father is (“was God.”)


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