Divine Titles and their Significance

Part Eight 

By A. J. Pollack

The Word
This is a title of our blessed Lord. In the majestic opening of John’s Gospel we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (Jn. 1:1-2 NKJV).

Why should “the Word” [Greek: Logos] be used to indicate a divine Person? an illustration will help here. I have often been in foreign lands whose languages were unfamiliar to me, sometimes sitting in a room alone with another Christian for considerable time. The two of us were intelligent and mannered, yet there we sat looking at each other, unable to know each other’s minds all for the lack of a spoken word which was understandable by us both – all for the lack of a medium of conveying our thoughts one to the other. How amazing that when the God of infinite love wished to make His mind known to His creature for his eternal blessing, He should give to man a living Word – a Person, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.

As we closely examine John 1:1-2, it becomes more and more wonderful. Note the following.

  • The Word was in the beginning – from all eternity. 
  • The Word was with God – a distinct personality.
  • The Word was God – deity is claimed for the Word. 
  • The Word was with God in the beginning – eternally a distinct personality.

As we study these claims of Scripture we begin to see who the Lord is from all eternity.

For the sake of clarity writers sometimes speak of “God absolute” and “God relative.” What is meant by these terms? When we think of God as Father and Son and Spirit, one God, God in all His fullness, we mean God absolute [unqualified, complete]. When we read of the Word’s being with God we think of God relative [in respect to the absolute]. We learn that the Word is relative to God. When we speak of the Father and the Son, then we have God the Father relative to the Son; and the Son (or Word), who is God, relative to the Father. This is a great mystery, and we only gather these thoughts as revealed in God’s Holy Word.

We are told in Scripture that God absolute dwells in unapproachable light, that no one has seen Him nor can see Him – and that will be true for all eternity (1 Tim. 6:16). Yet, thank God, He has been pleased to reveal Himself in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself God as the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God. We gladly sing:

The higher mysteries of Thy fame 
The creature’s grasp transcend; 
The Father only, Thy blest name 
Of Son can comprehend. —Josiah Conder (1789-1855)

There has been an attempt by a certain religious group to belittle the person of our Lord on this point. They claim that the literal Greek of John 1:1 says that the Lord Jesus was only a god, an inferior god, created as the head of the God’s creation – a creature with power to create all else. They deceive the uninformed. In the Greek language, from which the new Testament was translated, there is a definite article [the], but there is no indefinite article [a/an]. So it is not right to speak of the Word as “a god.” Furthermore, the passage goes on to say, “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (Jn. 1:3). This completely refutes the idea that our Lord was created, while it asserts that He is the Creator of everything without a single exception.

When John 1:1 says that “The Word was with God,” it means God absolute: Father, Son and Spirit, one God, the fullness of the Trinity. If it had gone on to say that the Word was “the God,” it would have indicated that our Lord was Father, Son and Spirit, which would not have been true. But when it says, “The Word was God,” without putting in the definite article, we see deity claimed for the Word – God relative. Thus carefully did the inspired Word of God put the definite article where it is needed, and left it out when its insertion would not have conveyed the truth of the relative position of our Lord in the Godhead.

Then further we read: “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). Is it not wonderful that the Son, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Word, chosen of the Father to reveal God to man, should stoop to man’s estate [rank] and dwell among men?

The Eternal Life 
Our Lord came into this world to manifest a life which was with the Father from all eternity. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:1-3).

The two words “eternal life” taken at their face value in this connection indicate nothing less than deity. Eternal life means life without a beginning or ending. no one has inherent life but God alone, and no one has eternal life inherently except God. So we read: “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:20). So here we have the true God coupled with the title, Eternal Life – a description only attributable to a divine Person.

Was it not wonderful that this life which was with the Father was seen when our Lord was here on earth, a life perfectly pleasing to the Father? And is it not blessed beyond words that the life that was inherent in our Lord is conferred by God as a gift (Rom. 6:23) upon all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him as Savior? This does not raise man to the level of deity, but a divine life is conferred and in receiving it believers become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). They share the moral features of the life of God. This is purchased for them by the atoning sufferings of the Son of God (1 Jn. 4:9).

Look for the continuation of this Series next month.