God is the Source of all creative power and wisdom. All things came into being by His word. But the Word is also a Person; God’s only begotten Son. The Bible consistently draws a distinction God and the Son, but also describes the Son as The Beginning, through whom God brought all things into being, and who upholds all things by the word of His power.
This is the third article in a series about who the Son of God is and what His relationship is with His Father, God Almighty.
The first article explains the three views of the Son. Some people propose that the Son of God is a created being. Others say that He was derived from the Father. A third view is that He always existed; co-equal with the Father.
The second article shows that God is One, that the Bible contrast His Son with God, and that the Father is greater than the Son.
This third article discusses the Son as Creator and Upholder of the universe.
The Word in John 1
God’s word of creation
The dramatic first verses of John 1 do not refer to “the Son” or to the “Son of God”, but to “the Word”. Some therefore propose that “the Word” does not refer to the Son, but to the word which God spoke when He created all things. Modern translations render “the Word” with a capital “W”, but all original documents have been written in capitals only. Capitals and lower case therefore are only interpretations.
It is possible that “the Word” in John 1:1-2 refers to God’s word, for “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). The whole of Genesis 1 is about what God spoke, and it came to be. The phrase “God said” appears 10 times in that chapter.
But the Word is also the Son
The Word is described as a Person.
What would be the logic of saying that “the word” which God spoke “was with God … was God … was in the beginning with God”? (John 1:1-2) These descriptions imply that “the word” is a Person.
God created through the Word, but God also created through His Son.
According to John 1:3 “all things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”. “Him” in this verse is also an interpretation. The original word means “the same”. What 1:3 is saying is that all things came into being through the Word.
However, both Hebrews 1 and Colossians 1 say that all things came into being through the Son (Col. 1:13; Heb. 1:2). This implies that “the Word” is “the Son”. Note the word “through” in John 1, in Colossians 1 and in Hebrews 1 (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).
Since God created through His Son, it remains God that created.
“The Word” is “the Light”, and “the Light” is the Son of God.
John 1:4 continues to explain “the Word” but changes the symbolism from “the Word” to “the Light of men”. The subsequent verses continue to describe “the Light”, and do it in a way that refers to the Son:
John 1:6-8 says that John the Baptist “came as a witness, to testify about the Light”. John was the forerunner for the Son of God in human form. John witnessed, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make straight the way of the Lord … among you stands One whom you do not know …” (John 1:23-26). “The Light”, and therefore “the Word”, refers to Jesus, who is the Son of God in human form.
John 1:9-10 refers to “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him”. These verses confirm that the One through whom “all things came into being” (1:3) is also “the light of men” (1:4), and this One came into the world (1:9). How could this be anybody other than the Son?
The Word became flesh.
John 1:14 again refers to “the Word”, and says “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”. This can only be the Son of God. He “descended from heaven” (John 3:13; 6:38, 62). “I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23). “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
But how can the Word be the Son?
There is therefore sufficient proof that “the Word” in John 1:1-2 refers to the Son. But how must this be understood? God did not create another Creator; He spoke the word. All things came into being by the word of God. But the Word is also a Person; “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). That Person later became flesh (John 1:14). Not only was He “in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2), He Himself Is “the Beginning“ (Col. 1:18; cf. 2 Peter 3:4; Rev. 3:14). He is “the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). This is both a truth and a mystery. Let us be content to accept that the God is beyond human understanding.
Comparing Three Key Creation Passages
Consider the following three quotations:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
Colossians 1:13 His beloved Son … 15 … is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 … He is the beginning
Hebrews 1:1 God … 2 has spoken to us in His Son … through whom also He made the world 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
This is what theologians call high Christology; explanations with a high view of Christ. Various conclusions will now be drawn from the three passages:
God brought all things into being through the Son.
All three quotations claim that God made “all things” “through Him”:
John 1:3 “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”.
Col. 1:16 “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him”.
Heb. 1:1-2 “His Son … through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:2).
The presentation of the Creator as consisting of more than one Person is not unique to the New Testament. On the first page of the Jewish Scriptures, describing the creation of this world (Gen. 1:1), God refers to Himself as “Us”, saying “Let Us make man in Our image”, which, with the knowledge we have from the New Testament, includes His Son.
We therefore conclude as follows:
A. God is the Source of all creative power and wisdom.
B. The Father is greater than the Son (John 14:29).
There was no time when the Son did not exist.
“He is before all things” (Col. 1:17). He is “from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2), “before the world was” (John 17:5). Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
John 1:1 begins with the words “in the beginning”. “The Word … was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2). This phrase probably comes from the first verse in the Bible, which reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
John 1:1-3 links “the beginning” to the creation event. The beginning is therefore when all things were brought into being. Colossians also relate “the beginning” (1:18) to the creation of all things (1:15-16). Before “the beginning” nothing existed. There was no time before that, so to talk about the Son existing with the Father before that time is an anachronism; time did exist.
While the universe had a “beginning”, God has no beginning, for He is eternal (Rom. 16:26). God exists beyond time.
We can therefore conclude that there was no time when the Son did not exist, for God also created time through the Son. But to make any statement that He always existed co-equal with God is treading into an area which is beyond human comprehension.
“All things” include the universe and everything in it.
All three quotations claim that the Son made “all things”. Hebrews 1:1 says He made “the world”, but then verse 3 says He upholds all things, which implies that “the world” is a synonym for “all things”. Colossians 1:16 defines “all things” as “in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities”. The ancient people had no idea how large the universe is. (Neither do we.) We therefore can conclude that the Son created the universe and everything in it.
God continues to uphold all things through the Word.
The title “the Word” also indicates the Son’s permanent role as the One through whom God continues to speak to uphold all things.
Col. 1:17 “In Him all things hold together”.
Heb. 1:2-3 “His Son … upholds all things by the word of His power”.
He became a human being as part of His work to uphold all things. He became a human being to redeem this world.
Col. 1:13 God, through the Son, “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son”.
1 Tim. 1:16 “Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself”.
The Son contrasted with God
As a child I was taught to think about God the Father and God the Son, but that is not exactly how the Bible presents the Son. As shown in the previous article, the Bible consistently draws a distinction God and the Son, as if the Son is not God. The three creation passages quoted above do the same:
“The Word was with God” (John 1:1-2).
“His beloved Son … is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:13-15).
“God … has spoken to us in His Son … through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:1-2)
Consider some of Paul’s statements, randomly selected:
“Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father” (2Th 2:16)
“God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:1)
“Our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thess. 3:13; cf. v11)
But between such statements we find statements such as “the Word was God” (John 1:1). And it is said that God made all things through Him and that the Son “upholds all things by the word of His power“. This series of articles is evaluating three option, as mentioned above. The last article will bring the evidence together into a conclusion.
This is the third in a series of seven:
(1) The three views of the Son of God.
(2) God is One, the Son contrasted with God and the Father is greater than the Son.
(3) What the Son does: He made and still upholds all things by the word of His power.
(4) What the Son is: Fullness of Deity
(5) The Son is worshiped.
(6) The Son is Yahweh of the Old Testament.
(7) Conclusion: Is He created, derived or eternally co-equal?