Probing the Prologue in the Gospel According to John: John 1:3-5

[See Introduction; John 1:1-2; John 1:6-8]

The earliest New Testament Greek manuscripts were written with no spaces between words and no punctuation. This could pose challenges for readers and interpreters, especially in places where it may be difficult to determine if a given word or words were meant to close one thought or, alternatively, to open another. One such issue presents itself in vv. 3-4. Does “that has been made/that which had come to be” remain with v. 3, or does it begin the thought in v. 4? While most modern English versions adopt the former, evidence from earliest church writings illustrates most preferred the latter.14 Which is correct? My opinion is that John was being purposely ambiguous, thereby allowing both to be correct.15 With this in mind, I will exegete both ways, beginning with the punctuation used in most English translations.

All Things Came into Being through the Word

In 1:3 John uses the same verb (γίνομαι, ginomai) three different times. This verb has various nuances, most under the same basic meaning of come-to-be or become. The Gospel writer will use this verb quite often, playing on its nuances as a way to self-reference previous and future uses of this same verb, and juxtaposing one nuance with another:

πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν ὃ γέγονεν
panta di’ autou egeneto, kai chōris autou egeneto oude hen ho gegonen
all through him came-to-be, and without him came-to-be not even one that/which has come-to-be
Through Him all things came to be, and without him not even one thing came to be that has come to be

The first clause states it positively, the second negatively to emphasize the point. The pronoun “Him” must refer to the logos, “the Word”. All things came into existence through the Word, and not one thing has come into existence apart from the Word. Panta (without the article) means all things individually in a distributive sense—animate, inanimate, the invisible realm—rather than all things collectively (which would be ta panta, itself akin to ho kosmos [see v. 10], the universe/world).16  The verb in both the first and the second clause is in the same tense-form (aorist), conveying the same meaning. The final ho gegonen is in the perfect form.  The primary meaning of the perfect here is resultative: all things that had come into being are as a result of the mediating work of the Word.

Taken together, 1:1-3 illustrates the Word’s precreation existence. The Word was, while all things (creation) came to be through the Word, thus creation ex nihilo is being described. As the mediate Agent of the creation event (not an intermediary between God and creation),17 logically, the Word’s “beginning” (1:1-2) predates creation. Also, since all things came into existence through the Word, this clearly establishes His pre-temporality, His eternality. Furthermore, that He was “in the beginning with God” establishes that the Word is co-eternal with God.

While “Wisdom” is undoubtedly a backdrop here, the description of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-30 indicates that it is not an exact parallel. In other words, “the Word” is not just another name for “Wisdom”. Proverbs 8:22 specifies that Wisdom is a created ‘being’18—the first of created things (cf. Prov. 3:19), but created nonetheless. Since the Word is uncreated, and is Agent of creation, Wisdom apparently was the Word’s first creation. However, one must keep in mind that the associated Wisdom literature in general is metaphorical, and even allegorical, so it would be precarious to take it too literally. Should we be just as cautious with “the Word” here? In other words, have we been taking an intended metaphor or allegory too far, in asserting a literal, personal “Word” alongside God (the Father)? The answer will come as we progress.

Jesus Christ, the Son also Agent of Creation?

There are other NT Scriptures which speak of an agent in creation. Since most scholars are of the opinion that John’s Gospel was written late in the first century (I agree with this assessment), it would seem reasonable to assume that the Gospel writer was aware of at least some of these texts. Moreover, if The Gospel According to John is part of sacred Scripture—and it is, of course—then we should take it as Holy Spirit inspired, “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). That is, the Holy Spirit would have superintended John’s writing and likely have led him to associated Scripture to allude or refer to.

With this in mind, in First Corinthians 8:6 we find God the Father and Jesus Christ in a context about creation: “for us there is but one God, the Father, from Whom are all things [ta panta] and for Whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things [ta panta] and through Whom we exist.” Similarly, in Colossians 1:16 we find of Jesus Christ, the Son: “For in Him all things [ta panta] were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible—whether thrones or dominions, rulers or authorities—through Him and for Him all things have been created and stand created.”19 Finally, in Hebrews 1:2 it is said of the Father that “through” the Son He “made the ages”.  Obviously, there is some sort of overlap between “the Word” and Jesus Christ, the Son, for both cannot be the sole agent of creation.

But there are even more Scriptures in this vein. In John 17:5 Jesus is recorded making a request to the Father to return to the glory they shared “before the world existed”, and in 17:24 Jesus states that the Father loved Him “before the world’s foundation”.  In Revelation 3:14, John records the glorified Jesus referring to Himself as ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ, hē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou, the Beginning of the creation of God, or, in better English, the Beginning of God’s creation. It could even be understood the Originator,20 or, the Ruler of God’s creation. Since Jesus of Nazareth, Christ Jesus, is verifiably a historical person, we are assured that these Scriptures just referenced are not mere allegory. Moreover, “the Word” and Jesus Christ seem in some way to be the same person; and, given this, apparently “the Word” is not allegorical.  But does this indicate Jesus Christ was and is a precreation Being? That answer will become evident a bit later in the prologue.

In Him was Life, the Light of Humanity

Continuing to v. 4:

ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων
en autō̧ zōē ēn, kai hē zōē ēn to phōs tōn anthrōpōn
in Him/it life was, and the life was the light of (the) men
In Him was life, and that life was the light of humanity

This is fairly straightforward. Like 1:1a, the initial clause places the predicate en autō̧ (dative case, indirect object) first, which means that “life” is the subject here. Thus, we could rearrange it Life was in Him.

But there are two different ways of interpreting v. 4. First, it could be understood In the Word was life, and that life, which came to exist as a result of His mediatorial work in the creation event, was the light of humankind—an allusion to Genesis 2:7. The second way it could be construed is In the Word was life, and that life was the light of humankind—light to those who come to renewed life as a result of believing in Him/His name (1:7, 12; 20:31). The verb used throughout 1:3 (γίνομαι, ginomai) is also found in 1:12, yet in the latter it means not come-to-be, as in from nothing to something, but become, as in from ‘this’ to ‘that’ (cf. 5:24—from death to life).

If one had to choose between the first or second interpretation, perhaps the latter would be a better fit, given the larger context. However, I submit that the Gospel writer fully intended both meanings. A newcomer to John’s Gospel—though one well-versed in the Tanakh (OT)—on first reading would see Genesis 1-2 here, the initial creation event, and nothing more. But a subsequent reading would reveal the deeper meaning.

Given the presence of the article before each of the nominatives (hē and to, respectively) in the second part of this statement—kai hē zōē ēn to phōs tōn anthrōpōn—it is fully convertible, in which the subject “the life” and the predicate “the light of humanity” are interchangeable (A = B / B = A). Accordingly, in the Word is “the life”, and in the Word is “the light of humanity”. As we noted earlier, Word is masculine in gender, however, life is feminine, while light is neuter. These gender distinctions will prove to be important.

While “life” is mentioned only here in the prologue—and only in 1:4 and 8:12 in conjunction with “light”—this term is a central aspect of John’s Gospel. The referent in the prologue is the Word, yet in the rest of The Gospel According to John it is most often in relation to Jesus Christ, and the majority of these instances are in regard to eternal life. Somewhat ironically and somewhat paradoxically, the One who lays down His ‘life’ (psychē) (10:11-18; 15:13) is the One who provides eternal life (zōē aiōnios)—as the Son of Man (3:14-15), the Son of God (3:16; 5:21, 24, 29, 39-40; 10:28; 12:25, 50), or as both (6:27-68)—to those who believe in His name (1:12; cf. 20:31). This eternal life is also known as “living water” (4:10-14), provided by Jesus Christ, the Messiah (4:25-26). Thus, we have another direct connection between the eternal Word and the temporal Jesus.

Somewhat similar to the way in which First (Ethiopic) Enoch is directly referenced in Jude (Jude 1:14-15 > 1 Enoch 1:9) or alluded to (Jude 1:6 > 1 Enoch 10:4, 12),21 “life” finds points of contact with extra-Biblical Wisdom literature here.22 In some of these works both Wisdom (cf. Prov. 3:18; 13:14) and Torah (cf. Deut. 4:1; 8:1) provide or personify life.23 An example of the former is in Sirach 4:12: Whoever loves [Wisdom] loves life, and those who arise early for her will be filled with joy. An example of the latter is in Sirach 17:11: [The Lord] grants them knowledge and the Law of life is distributed to them.

Baruch (aka 1 Baruch) has a self-contained Wisdom poem in 3:9—4:424 (3:12: fountain of Wisdom), in which Wisdom is to be found in the Torah, the Law that exists forever (ὁ νόμος ὁ ὑπάρχων εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ho nomos ho hyparchōn eis ton aiōna), and those embracing it will receive life (4:1). Conversely, those who forsake the Wisdom found in the Torah will die (4:1).

But are these exact parallels, or do they function as background? Or do they provide the means by which to a make a qal vachomer argument—an argument from the lesser to the greater? This will be revealed later in the prologue.

That Which Had Come to Be in Him was Life

As mentioned earlier, the grammar is ambiguous in 1:3-4 to the extent that it is possible to pair ho gegonen at the end of v. 3 with the first clause of v. 4. This is the way it was interpreted in the writings of the ante-Nicene age (before the Council of Nicea in 325 AD) and in the earliest punctuated Greek manuscripts25 (which include C and D—the earlier P66, P75, ℵ, A, and B do not contain any punctuation; the image of P75 in the Introduction is an illustration of this). An example of this interpretation is found in Hilary of Poitiers (c. 310 – c. 367):

“That which was made in him was life.” That which was in him was certainly not made without him, for that which was made in him was also made through him. All things were created in him and through him . . . None of the things that were created in him was made without him, for he is the life that made their creation possible.26

Hilary seems to be emphasizing that not only were all things made through the Word, but all was made in Him (cf. first clause of Col. 1:16 [en autō̧], and last clause of Col. 1:16 [di’ autou]); that is, the Word was not an intermediary, not a mere conduit of God (cf. Col 1:16 [eis auton]).

Some specifics in the grammar of 1:3-4 need to be explained in order to engage with other possible interpretations. The relative pronoun (ho) governing gegonen is a neuter singular nominative. The pronoun in en autō̧ is a 3rd person singular masculine/neuter; in other words, the dative (indirect object) form of the personal pronoun is the same for masculine or neuter referents. Also, all finite verbs encode number and person (but not gender)—in the case of ēn (“was”) here, it is 3rd person singular. This means that in finite verbs the subject is automatically implied, though the reader must look to the context, since gender is not expressed in the verb.27 Thus, the grammar yields two additional possibilities, though the meaning is essentially the same:

That which had come to be, in Him [the Logos as dative of cause] was the life (for it).
That which had come to be, in it He [the Logos as implied subject for the verb ēn] was the life.28

Rearranging the twisted syntax into perhaps better English:

That which had come to be, (its) life was in Him.
That which had come to be, He [the Logos] was the life in it.

This interpretation understands logos as life source. Also, implied in the above, the Word is the ever-continuing cohering and sustaining power of all that exists—a parallel to Colossians 1:17 and Hebrews 1:3. Keener cites one writer who begins with kai in v. 3, taking that in conjunction with the first clause of v. 4, making this into one sentence: [and] nothing came into being without him that exists in him; he was life.29

Another variation in this vein is to understand ho gegonen is a reference to the new creation “in Him”—a narrowing down of all creation to include only those who believe in His name—such that That which had come-to-be-in-Him was life.30

One of the reasons for conjoining ho gegonen with en autō̧ zōē ēn is based, in part, on ‘staircase parallelism’. In this literary device, the predicate of the first line becomes the subject of the next, and so forth. The Gospel writer does seem to employ this device in the first five verses, thus providing evidence for taking ho gegonen with what follows it.

Early Non-Christian Interpretations

But it appears that at least some fourth and fifth century (and later) interpreters who changed to (or preferred) the punctuation which is now found in most modern translations were responding to heretics claiming it was the Holy Spirit described as “that which had been created”.31 This is possible grammatically, given the neuter singular relative pronoun preceding gegonen. Thus, one could interpret this sentence as That which had come to be [aka The Spirit], in Him [the Word] was the life (for it).  Assuming the post-Nicene punctuation was to counter this claim, this need not have been, as neither the immediate nor the larger context has the Holy Spirit in view at all, thereby rendering such an interpretation a clear example of eisegesis, and easily refutable on that basis.

However, some fourth century Arians interpreted it yet another way, by understanding that it was the Word’s “life” that had come-to-be, which would indicate that the Word had undergone a change, and thus could not be equal to the Father. But, what about that neuter relative pronoun preceding gegonen?32 This clearly refers to what is described by the verbal action earlier in v. 3 (egeneto, “came-to-be”), all things which had come through the Word. But the Arian interpretation was apparently such that egeneto meant “become” in the sense of from ‘this’ to ‘that’. With this in mind, “all things” must have been in some form prior to the Word’s creative action. Thus, through the Word’s own creative action, all things were transformed, which would include the Word Himself, who was transformed such that the result was “life in Him”. In short, when the Word was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2), the Word existed in one form; and subsequent to that, the Word underwent some sort of metamorphosis when all things came-to-be through Him, such that His form had fundamentally changed.

But just like the above in which the Holy Spirit is interpreted as the referent, one must question whether this interpretation is valid contextually. Although the Word is certainly in the immediate context, construing the Word as undergoing change seems a bit forced. For the moment, for the sake of discussion, we will grant the Arian position that v. 3 is describing a metamorphosis of what could be described as pre-creation matter (rather than creation ex nihilo). According to this view then, all things became transformed through the Word and not even one thing became transformed apart from the Word. But it seems a bit odd to think that the Agent of this metamorphosis of creation would Himself be affected by the transformation He effected. Are we to think the Word is a created entity? Is the Word really Wisdom after all—the first created thing? In 1:1-2 is the beginning referring to a pre-creation period, understood to be the foundation, which would subsequently undergo a metamorphosis in v. 3?

This all sounds very plausible until we dig a bit further. While John 17:24 records Jesus describing the love the Father had for Him before the world’s foundation, John 17:5 records Jesus’ request to the Father that He regain the glory they shared before the world existed. If this should fail to persuade the reader, Colossians 1:16 specifically uses κτίζω, ktizō—which means create, build—in reference to the Son’s activity in relation to “all things”. Therefore, the Word cannot be understood to be a created entity, and it stands to reason that 1:3 refers to creation ex nihilo. So, once again, if the post-Nicene punctuation arose in response to this Arian interpretation, it seems an unnecessary change.33

Modern Day Interpretations

Despite the fact that the ante-Nicene punctuation is found in the Critical Text (CT, currently the NA28/UBS5)—the Greek text upon which the modern English translations are largely based (see period/full stop after ἕν here)—the newer versions overwhelmingly depart from the CT here, placing the stop after ho gegonen, rather than before it. Below is a page showing John 1:1-5 from the 1961 The Greek New Testament specifically used for the New English Bible (NEB) translation, a version that failed to gain wide acceptance, which preferred the ante-Nicene punctuation.34

NEB John 1

Greek text for John 1:1-5 in NEB 1961

The superscripted cursive a just before ἕν (hen) in v. 3 points to a footnote reference illustrating the option of putting the stop after ἕν (hen) instead—an option the NEB 1961 rejected. Here is the corresponding page in the English version:35

NEB 1961 John (2)

John 1:1-5 in NEB 1961. Photocopy courtesy Tricia Tillin at

Similarly, the New Revised Standard Version uses the ante-Nicene punctuation.

But it may not be necessary to choose one over against the other. As stated above, my position is that John the Gospel writer intended ambiguity such that more than one meaning is to be derived—as opposed to can be derived. Assuming this is correct, this would be an example of intentional amphiboly, in which this section of the prologue is intentionally multi-syntactic, syntactically ambiguous. That is, given the syntax, there is more than one correct way to punctuate, yielding multiple meanings in context. In addition, the writer intended it to be poly-semantic, as in “life” here refers to all creation in a global sense, and, alongside this, “life” refers only to the new creation. Stated another way, ho gegonen is meant both to complete the thought in v. 3 (put a period after ho gegonen, as shown in this 1904 Greek text) and to begin the phrase of the first clause of v. 4 (put a full stop before ho gegonen) such that the reader can and should take it both ways, yielding more than one interpretation.36 And, in a sense, the staircase parallelism remains intact in the Greek—no matter how one reads or punctuates the English.37

This amphiboly provides an apt segue into the latter part of v. 4, in which the light of humanity can be understood broadly (cosmologically), as in sunlight (light for humanity), or as a narrowing down (soteriologically) to include only those who believe in His name. This then sets up the next verse.

The Light Not Mastered by the Darkness

καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.
kai to phōs en tȩ̄ skotia̧ phainei, kai hē skotia auto ou katelaben.
And the light in the darkness shines, and the darkness not overcome/understand
The light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not apprehend it.

Carson calls 1:5 “a masterpiece of planned ambiguity”.38 Once again, a newcomer to John’s Gospel would likely only see the creation event of Genesis 1-2 here. But, of course, the Gospel writer intends much more than that.39

The final verb is a compound word consisting of the preposition kata and the verb lambanō. The former means down, the latter take or receive, but as with many words prefixed with a preposition, the resulting word acquires intensification and an additional nuance. Its basic definition is grasp, as in either hostile (seize) or non-hostile (secure), though, alternatively, it can carry the idea of mental grasping (perceive).40 Danker asserts that the writer in this context intends the combined “sense of grasp as seize and comprehend.”41 The translation “apprehend” above is an attempt to capture this perceived polysemy.

The tense-form of the verb translated “shines” (present active indicative) conveys ongoing activity (imperfective aspect).42 Comparatively, the tense-form of the final verb “apprehend” (aorist active indicative) describes the action as a simple bounded whole, without regard for any ongoing activity (perfective aspect).43 This is also purposed for John’s overall conception, though it becomes more obvious on subsequent readings.

On first reading, one could understand all of 1:1-5 cosmologically, such that the darkness of Genesis 1:2 would not overcome the light of Genesis 1:3. But after having read through John’s Gospel, a subsequent reading of the prologue may prompt the reader to see an allusion to Genesis 3.44 More likely, the light/darkness dichotomy exhibited throughout the Gospel will bring the reader to perceive a connection between v. 5 and vv. 10-11.45 While the Light continued and continues to shine (imperfective aspect) in order to illuminate the darkness (8:12; 9:5), the darkness chose to remain in darkness (3:19-21), failing to comprehend the true nature of the Light (11:9-10; 12:35-36, 46).46 This failure of darkness encompasses the entire temporal sphere—for all time. Those in darkness can be brought to the Light through the continuous shining of the Light, but the darkness itself remains.

In both Jewish and Greek milieus antithesis was a common rhetorical device.47 This fact likely accounts for the Gospel writer’s use of the light/darkness motif (and other dichotomies). While the writer would cease from using life in the prologue, he would continue to use the Light as an apparent substitute for the Word.

[Go to John 1:6-8.]


14 See Westcott, St. John, para 1512-1537 [ADDITIONAL NOTES on Chap. 1:3-4.]; cf. Brown, John I-XII, pp 6-7.

15 While I could not initially find confirmation for this hypothesis in any of the commentaries I consulted, I was delighted to see the following expressed in Comfort, Text and Translation Commentary: “[S]ince the prologue is poetic, it is possible that John intended ambiguity; thus, it is not a question of which reading is correct . . . ancient readers could read it either way and still make sense of it” (p 252). Amen!

16 See Harris, John, EGGNT, p 22.

17 In Revelation 4:11 the ultimate Creator of all things is the One Who sits on the Throne: ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα, καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν, hoti sy ektisas ta panta, kai dia to thelēma sou ēsan kai ektisthēsan, “. . . for You created all things—because of Your Will they came to exist, they were created” (my own translation, as is all Scripture throughout). Cf. Rev. 10:6; Acts 14:15.

18 The Hebrew in Proverbs 8:22 is the verb qānānı̂, which means possess, buy, or create, while the LXX (aka, Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT by Jewish scholars ca. 200BC) uses ktizō, which means create, build, found (as in “foundation”).  The word being here is in quotes because the language appears to be allegorical, not literal, with Wisdom personified (cf. Prov. 3:15-18) though not an actual person. Though some English versions apparently translate from the Hebrew (rather than the LXX), translating the verb as possess, this indicates an interpretative choice that does not necessarily mean God did not ‘acquire’ Wisdom at some point. Yet 8:23 reads (LXX): πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐθεμελίωσέν με ἐν ἀρχῇ, pro tou aiōnos ethemeliōsen me en archȩ̄, “before the ages I was established—in the beginning”. But the verb here means either found or establish, and in either case, the connotation is some sort of generative event (the verb in 8:25 [LXX] is “beget”). Both Keener (Gospel of John, pp 1.367-369) and Brown (John I-XII, p 522) assert that Wisdom here is a creation.

19 In Him I take as locative, rather than instrumental. See Constantine R. Campbell, Colossians and Philemon, BHGNT (Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 2013), p 11; cf. Murray J. Harris, Colossians and Philemon, EGGNT (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2013): “[A] . . . local sense is to be preferred. ‘All things in heaven and on earth’ were created in God’s beloved Son (v. 13), not in the sense that he was the preexistent or ideal archetype of creation but in the sense that creation occurred . . . ‘within the person of’ Christ. In his person resided the creative energy that produced all of creation . . . “(p 40). This, I think, is to be compared and contrasted with dia and eis used at the end of this verse, which clearly refer to the Son as both agent of creation and the one for whom all things were created, respectively. That is, though a human person as part of creation could not possibly have been agent of creation (thus, in Him), in some sense the Son was the agent of creation. Within the Son resided the creative power used in the creation event, yet all things have been created and stand created through Him, though also for the Son (see Harris, Colossians and Philemon, p 41). A paradox.

20 Keener, Gospel of John, specifically calls ἡ ἀρχή here, “a divine title signifying the originator of creation” (p 1.366, nt 14).

21 Thanks to Steve Delamarter’s handy A Scripture Index to Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), p 47, for providing quick reference.

22 See Keener, Gospel of John, pp 1.300-301, 350-363, 367-369, 386; cf. Brown, John I-XII, pp 519-522.

23 Keener, Gospel of John, p 1.386.

24 David A. deSilva, Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002), pp 198-199.

25 Westcott, St. John, paragraph 1516 [notes at end of chapter 1]. Westcott did not have P66 and P75 at the time, for these papyri were not discovered until the 1950s. While Westcott claims that A includes punctuation, both Comfort (Text and Translation Commentary, p 252) and Metzger (Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. [Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft/German Bible Society, 1994], p 167) claim it does not.

26 “On the Trinity 2.20,” in Joel C. Elowsky, ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament, IVa: John 1-10, Thomas Oden, gen. ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006), p 23; emphasis in original.

27 This means that a finite verb can function as a complete sentence by itself.

28 See Bultmann, Gospel of John, pp 38-40. The verb ἦν here should be understood as inceptive.

29 Keener, Gospel of John, 1.382. Here Keener refers to an article by Peter Van Minnen: “The Punctuation of John 1:3—4”, Filologia neotestamentaria 7, no. 13 (1994): 33-41.

30 See Brown, John I-XII, p 7.

31 See Chrysostom, “Homilies on the Gospel of John, 5-1-2”, in Elowsky, p 23; cf. Metzger, Textual Commentary, p 167.

32 On the surface, another possibility emerges in the grammar. Given that the earliest manuscripts did not contain any punctuation, the lone omicron (Ο, transliterated ho) could be construed as a masculine definite article (instead of a neuter relative pronoun), making the Word its antecedent. But this would be a grammatical anomaly, and highly unlikely; see Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), pp 237, 62-64.

33 While Brown, John I-XII, does not offer an opinion on this change in punctuation, both sides are briefly discussed (p 6); cf. Comfort Text and Translation Commentary, p 252. Comfort, Text and Translation Commentary, also notes that P66 does not include the en before autō̧, either by accident (ΟΓΕΓΟΝΕΝΕΝΑΥΤΩ becomes ΟΓΕΓΟΝΕΝΑΥΤΩ through homoeoteleuton—omission because a series of letters are duplicated, causing the less than careful copyist to miss the second set), or on purpose to make the text less likely to be interpreted as per the Arians. In any case, the resultant text would more clearly be understood That which has come to be by Him was life.

34 R. V. G. Tasker, ed., The Greek New Testament: Being the Text Translated in The New English Bible 1961, Edited with Introduction, Textual Notes, and Appendix (Oxford and Cambridge: Oxford UP and  Cambridge UP, 1964), p 140. Importantly, neither P66 nor P75 were available to the translation committee.

35 C. H. Dodd, ed., The New English Bible: New Testament (Oxford and Cambridge: Oxford UP and Cambridge UP, 1961). Though the NEB, in its germination stage, was initially intended to be a revision of the English Revised Version (1885—translation committee included both B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort), the committee instead decided on making a completely new Greek text from the now more widely available Greek manuscripts (and other language versions). In 1970, an update included the Apocrypha: C. H. Dodd, ed., The New English Bible with the Apocrypha (Oxford and Cambridge: Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, 1970). Below is John 1:1-5, including the footnote on the division regarding the syntactical variation of 3-4:

NEB 1970 John (2)

John 1:1-5 in NEB 1970. Photocopy courtesy Tricia Tillin at

36 Along with Comfort’s amenability to this stance (see note 15 above), Köstenberger (John, BECNT, p 30 nt 32) cites T. L. Brodie, The Gospel according to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary (New York: Oxford UP, 1993), as confirming the position adopted here, understanding this text “as inherently ambiguous and as being ‘part of a careful literary strategy’ designed to focus on ‘the continuity between creation and the incarnation, between creation and redemption’” (p 138). I will agree with Brodie here, except his understanding that the Incarnation is part of this context. Note that Köstenberger himself sides with most modern commentaries and most modern versions.

37 Although the majority of the committee in Metzger’s Textual Commentary preferred the ante-Nicene punctuation, Metzger himself strongly opposed it. Those of the committee in favor of the rendering explain: “[It] is in accord with what a majority regarded as the rhythmical balance of the opening verses of the Prologue, where the climactic or ‘staircase’ parallelism seems to demand that the end of one line should match the beginning of the next” (p 167). In his bracketed response, Metzger rejects staircase parallelism here as “present in only a portion of the Prologue, and may not necessarily involve ὃ γέγονεν” (pp 167-168). While Metzger is correct that this particular parallelism is not in use for the entire prologue, it does seem to be a feature of the first five verses. To further support his stance, Metzger notes that the post-Nicene punctuation which results in v. 4 beginning with ἐν αὐτῷ is characteristically Johannine, while, in a footnote, he characterizes exegesis for the ante-Nicene punctuation as exhibiting “valiant attempts . . . to bring sense out of the passage” that are yet still “intolerably clumsy and opaque” (p 168). There is also a multi-witness textual variant replacing the first ἦν (“was”) in v. 4 with ἐστίν (“is”)—universally rejected (and rightly so, I opine) by the committee (p 168)—apparently in an attempt to smooth out a perceived difficulty in the ante-Nicene rendering. However, I think that understanding ἦν as inceptive alongside its inherent imperfective aspect (ongoing activity) would work just fine (while concomitantly construing the perfect ὃ γέγονεν as both conveying entry into the resultant state of what had-come-to-be, and the resultant state itself), thereby rendering unnecessary this change in verb tense. If this verbal interpretation is viable, this would provide a counter to those amenable to Metzger’s position. Nevertheless, if John were employing amphiboly intentionally—as I contend he is—most of these sorts of discussions would be rendered moot. Certainly, it is not unusual for a poem to begin a thought at the end of one line and continue it to the next; therefore, such attempts to try to fit the punctuation (or not) to the staircase parallelism seem unnecessary.

38 Carson, Gospel, p 119.

39 Carson, Gospel, states, “it is quite possible that John, subtle writer that he is, wants his readers to see in the Word both the light of creation and the light of the redemption the Word brings in his incarnation” (p 120).

40 Danker, Concise Lexicon, p 191.

41 Ibid. Emphasis in original. Cf. Keener, Gospel of John, p 1.387. Contra, e.g., Köstenberger, Encountering John, p 55, in which the author opines that “overcome” is the primary meaning, though “understand” may be ‘latent’ (my word) in the verse “in preparation of 1:10-11”.

42 See, e.g., Rodney J. Decker, Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014), pp 224-225. An example: John was writing his Gospel. This indicates a process: John’s (then) ongoing activity of writing.

43 Ibid. Example: John wrote his Gospel. While this is past time, perfective aspect can be used for present or future—any temporal sphere. A good illustration for a long period of time is Romans 5:14: Death reigned from Adam to Moses. The example in our text can be interpreted a number of ways, to include what is called gnomic, in which the time period covers all of temporal existence.

44 See Brown, John I-XII, p 8. This understanding would indicate the aorist κατέλαβεν is reflecting a one-time past event.

45 See Barrett, St. John, p 158.

46 See Keener, Gospel of John, pp 1.382-387 for fuller discussion of light, including light as Wisdom and Torah; cf. Brown, John I-XII, pp 519-522.

47 Keener, Gospel of John, pp 1.386-387.


125 Responses to Probing the Prologue in the Gospel According to John: John 1:3-5

  1. Craig says:

    Regarding amphiboly, this is commonly used in news headlines. I saw one recently: “Cattle Raisers Face Tick Woes”. It’s about the parasites wreaking havoc with the cattle, and the cattle raisers’ woe in response. If it were me writing the headline, it would have been the much more amphibolous “Cattle Raising Tick Woes”. Thus, it could be that the raising of cattle brings forth concerns about ticks. Or, it could be that the cattle themselves were mourning due to the parasites. Or, it could be that cattle raising in and of itself is woeful and is adding an uptick in woes in general. Or, it could be all three…


  2. Jim says:

    Coincidentally, a friend’s dog is currently recovering from a tick! So, canine and bovine tick woes!


  3. Jim says:

    His owner is a retired vet who specialises in parasites, so you’d hope he’s in good hands!

    I’ve been thinking how to comment, and whether it would be useful to do so at all. I have two perspectives that deeply affect how the prologue (as well as scripture in general really) can be filtered. I don’t know to what extent you will concur, which means that dialogue about this portion could be non-convergent. One is that despite all scripture being ‘God-breathed’, I don’t believe the writers necessarily had the wide angle view of God’s overall plan of salvation. They knew in part and it’s only with our canonical rear view mirror that we can see the complete picture in some degree of fidelity. They applied and harnessed perspectives of their day, not ours.

    The second is that I don’t subscribe to the view that just because the Word was with God from the ‘foundation of the world’ or half a dozen other similar phrases this means he was with God before the primordial watery mass existed. I think that the creation attributed to the Logos can be justifiably seen as the creation of ordered stuff, as well as human and spiritual hierarchical ‘principalities and powers’ within the seen and unseen realms. There is absolutely nothing, that I can see, that prevents such a view of the Word and his role in bringing about the universe as we see it. So the Logos doesn’t have to have existed from pre-time eternally with God.

    If those perspectives are ones that cannot be at least explored here Craig, then we will probably not use our time effectively. I’ll leave it to your discretion whether you’d like me to post.


    • Craig says:


      Your very first perspective, regarding Scripture, is concerning. If God loved the world to the extent that His plan of salvation included sending His own Son to die, one must wonder why He would not find this fact important enough to adequately impart it to those through whom He wrote. Perhaps for you it comes down to not understanding the purpose for the individual NT books? The Synoptic Gospels were more about providing historical biographies–an ‘as-it-happened’ perspective. John’s Gospel was told more from a post-Easter perspective. In Paul’s writings (including the disputed letters) it’s clear he understand the plan of salvation. Same with the writer of Hebrews. Same with James, Peter and Jude, as well as the remaining Johannine writings. What is it specifically (pick any book) that indicates to you that the given author/book did not understand God’s salvific plan?

      As for your second point, it seems that ktizo in Colossians 1:16 (stated twice–first as an aorist, second as a perfect) indicates that “the Son” was Creator ex nihilo, rather than ‘Transformer’ of “primordial water mass”.

      Having stated the above, I’m interested in how you counter these counterpoints.


  4. Jim says:

    I should have been clearer regarding what the writers understood regarding salvation. I was thinking more about the limited awareness of OT authors who would have had glimpses of God’s overarching plan to bring back humanity from its lost state through Jesus. Clearly, NT gospel and letter writers had a good grasp of that plan, especially since some were given specific teaching on how the OT pointed to Christ (road to Emmaus and Paul’s instructive visions for example).

    I’m not sure how ktizo provides you with conclusive evidence of the Word creating ex nihilo , thereby implying original creation of the formless mass in Gen 1:1. This from Strong’s G2936:

    ”STRONGS NT 2936: κτίζω
    κτίζω: 1 aorist ἔκτισα; perfect passive ἐκτισμαι; 1 aorist passive ἐκτίσθην; the Sept. chiefly for בָּרָא; properly, to make habitable, to people, a place, region, island (Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Diodorus, others); hence to found, a city, colony, state, etc. (Pindar and following; 1 Esdr. 4:53). In the Bible, to create: of God creating the world, man, etc., Mark 13:19; 1 Corinthians 11:9; Colossians 1:16 (cf. Winer’s Grammar, 272 (255)); Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:3; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 10:6 (Deuteronomy 4:32; Ecclesiastes 12:1; often in O. T. Apocrypha, as Judith 13:18; Wis. 2:23 Wis. 11:18 (Wisdom 11:17); 3Macc. 2:9; (Josephus, Antiquities 1, 1, 1; Philo de decal. § 20)); absolutely, ὁ κτίσας, the creator, Romans 1:25; (Matthew 19:4 Tr WH); equivalent to to form, shape, i. e. (for substance) completely to change, to transform (of the moral or new creation of the soul)”.

    Of the 12 verses which use ktizo, a fair proportion reference the creation of the new man in Christ (Eph 2:10, 15, 4:24, Col 3:10). The rest don’t infer original creation, but actually they do describe the act of transformation. The Strong’s ‘Outline of Biblical Usage’ has this:

    ”to make habitable, to people, a place, region, island

        to found a city, colony, state
    to create
        of God creating the worlds
        to form, shape, i.e. to completely change or transform''  

    I would argue this plays directly into the Hebrew tohu wa bohu – the earth was formless and empty – from Gen 1:2 in that God (the Father) did create ex nihilo. At the risk of repeating myself, he then brought forth, or begat, his Son, to take this formless mass and transform it into a habitable environment. Indeed, the emphasis in Col 1:16 is not creation ex nihilo but the powers and principalities of human and deity entities that he, Jesus, had total supremacy over.

    That’s why Jesus could say to his Father that he was with him from the founding of the world ie before the commencement of order from chaos since the world is the orderly result of the Logos’s actions. I have no doubt that some of his works were ex nihilo – stars, animals – but that doesn’t imply a pre-Gen 1:1 existence from the statements about all things being created through and for him.


    • Craig says:


      Taking just one example of ktizō used in a context of ‘new creation’, 2 Cor 5:17 is clearly speaking of a metaphorical new creation, rather that an actual physical ‘new creation’. While we rightly infer that Paul is talking about transformation in Christ, this is not what the verb itself is conveying in a literal sense. In contrast, clearly John 1:3 is not a metaphorical usage of this verb.


    • Craig says:


      I forgot to address two things. First, thanks for clarifying your view first point. With your clarification, I don’t disagree with you there.

      The second thing was what you wrote here: At the risk of repeating myself, he then brought forth, or begat, his Son, to take this formless mass and transform it into a habitable environment. Indeed, the emphasis in Col 1:16 is not creation ex nihilo but the powers and principalities of human and deity entities that he, Jesus, had total supremacy over.

      I’ve already addressed the content in the first sentence earlier, but I wanted to keep it intact to provide more context for the second sentence, which I wish to make comment on.

      I would agree that the book of Colossians’ emphasis is on Christ’s supremacy over powers and principalities, but 1:16 does so by indicating that not only is He over these things, but he created all things. If he created all things, then he most certainly has supremacy over powers and principalities. And, he not only made them (as Agent of creation), he continually sustains all things (Col 1:17; cf. Heb 1:3).

      And, going back to the idea of transformation, look at Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 11:13, 14, 15. In Romans passage metamorphosis is used, and it has to do with transforming one’s mind as we are sanctified (2 Cor 5:7 has to do with justification). In the Corinthians passage the word metaschēmatizō, which, at root, means “transformation”, is used of Satan disguising himself. When meta is prefixed to a verb it usually connotes a transformation.


  5. Jim says:

    I would argue that footnote 18 leads to a false conclusion in that Keener regards Wisdom, who is personified and seemingly aligned with the Logos, at least in temporal and creative terms, as a created thing, therefore it can’t be used as evidence for the Logos coming into being at a point inside time. My NIV doesn’t say created in Prov 8:23, but formed or begat.

    Clearly, God wasn’t without his own wisdom before that moment of bringing forth Wisdom personified. The point of the scripture, which was clear to Paul from 1 Cor 1:24, 30, is that God chose to present his life, light, and wisdom through his Logos Son, incarnated eventually in Jesus, There was a begetting of the divine Logos and an earthly begetting of the Word made flesh. To conclude (not saying you have Craig) that wisdom was created therefore not applicable to this broad picture of how God began his interaction with the universe is dismissive of an important component.


    • Craig says:


      To respond to your 2:40 pm comment, I’ll focus on this statement: There was a begetting of the divine Logos and an earthly begetting of the Word made flesh. It is unfortunate that in English the word ‘begotten’ is used for the eternal generation of the Son. While the Word made flesh was clearly begotten of Mary (and the Holy Spirit)–in a sense the Creator became the created–in the Creeds the Son is said to be monogenē. And, unfortunately, the Creeds also use the verb for ‘begotten’ in conjunction with monogenē, which isn’t helpful, as I see it. The claim of being homoousian with the Father, as the Creeds do decree, along with monogenē would have sufficed.

      Wisdom is most certainly applicable, as it’s a near parallel. However, importantly, this is figurative language which the NT sometimes converts into literal. This is what Paul is doing in 1 Cor 24,30. Quite obviously, YHWH always had His own ‘wisdom’, i.e., His omniscience; that is, Proverbs 8 (and 3) isn’t speaking of a point at which YHWH acquired the ‘Wisdom’ necessary for creation.


  6. Craig says:


    When citing a source, please reference the url from which it came (or the full citation of the work). I have the Strongest Strong’s, so I was able to look up the Strong’s number. Neither 2936 nor its associated numbers 2937, 2938, and 2939 have even a hint of transformation in their definitions. In short, your source is incorrect. Yes, some of those contexts have to do with ‘new creation’, but each and every time ktizō is used in those contexts it is in reference to either creation generally or to the Creator (Col 3:10, e.g.). It may be helpful to use an online interlinear to check your sources (such as here).

    I had been working on a more comprehensive reply, but got distracted with other things. I will do so now.

    First of all, we agree that the Son is uncreated. But we disagree on ‘when’ the Son was generated as an ‘uncreated’ Being. You believe in a pre-created “primordial watery mass” (PMW), and you believe the Son was generated at some point after (during?) this PMW was created.

    In Genesis 1:2, the Hebrew words in question are wāḇōhû ṯōhû (formless, empty and chaos, void). The HALOT (Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament) defines the usage here as an example of hendiadys, it signifies the terrible, eerie, deserted wilderness, and this is a primary idea that functions in creation. The LXX Greek renders this aoratos kai akataskeuastos, which is defined in BDAG and LEH [J. LUST, E. EYNIKEL, and K. HAUSPIE] Septuagint Lexicon as unseen, invisible and unwrought, unformed, unorganized. It seems as though the LXX also employs hendiadys. (With this in mind, I’d discount chaos as part of the definition.)

    It is common in Scripture to use a foundation/building metaphor. Assuming, for the moment, that your interpretation of Genesis 1 is correct, wouldn’t it seem logical that the PMW would be the foundation upon/with which the rest is built/created? If not, why not?

    Let’s accept the position that the PMW is the foundation. In John 17:24—which should be harmonized with 17:5—Jesus describes a time “before the foundation of the world/universe” (πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, pro katabolēs kosmou), a time at which the Father loved the Son. Wouldn’t this indicate that the Son was with the Father before the existence of the PMW? If not, why not?

    In John 1:1,2 the writer uses the word archȩ̄ (beginning, first principle). John the Revelator records the glorified Jesus as referring to Himself in 3:14 as hē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou, “the Originator of God’s creation”. I think it reasonable to understand archȩ̄ in John 1:1,2 as referring to a point immediately pre- the events of John 1:3. This position is bolstered by the Revelator’s quotation of the glorified Jesus in 3:14.

    In other words, in view of the immediately preceding paragraph, En archȩ̄ in John 1:1 should be seen as a direct parallel with Genesis 1:1, since the glorified Jesus refers to Himself as hē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou, and the earthly Jesus referred to a point at which He enjoyed fellowship with the Father before the foundation of the kosmos.


  7. Jim says:

    Craig re your 4:54pm post, I would disagree that Paul is being metaphorical. I believe he knew that a believer in Christ was a new creation inasmuch as prior to Jesus’s ascension, no human had ever been indwelt by the person of God. Prophets and kings had been anointed for periods of their lives or for specific tasks, but the indwelling Holy Spirit brought into effect a new creation that had never existed previously. We still await the finished work of that initial transformation, which is our whole beings remade to live forever.


    • Craig says:


      I didn’t express this exactly as I intended. Yes, there’s a transformation taking place, but the verb ktizō itself is not conveying a literal, physical transformation. It’s not as if a physical form is being transformed into another physical form in the “new creation”. It’s a metaphysical transformation.

      Thanks for providing the link.


  8. Jim says:

    I should have added, the website accessed for the Strong’s definitions is and tags Strong’s references to words in the KJV NT.


  9. Jim says:

    Craig, your logic to say the Logos pre-existed the initial unformed uninhabitable mass could work, but is not without other interpretation and therefore inconclusive. I can reach equally logical conclusions from a perspective of the Logos being given what was tohu wa bohu and making the kosmos, or ordered world. This would harmonise with John 1 and Rev 3. Before the foundation of the world is simply phraseology to describe the beginning of order from the initial disorderly waste. It’s not necessarily a framework for the Son’s existence in timeless pre-creation.

    This correlates with Paul’s understanding of the close of this portion of history in 1 Cor 15:24-28 which is a reversal of its opening. Having been given authority to create all things in the world, once death is defeated with the return of Christ, Jesus hands back to the Father what he was first given to create.


    • Craig says:


      It seems I was incorrect in my assessment of your stance, for you are positing that the Son was ‘generated’ in time, over against “timeless pre-creation”–at least as I understand you. This would make the Son a part of creation in some sense.

      In any case, as regards the rest, while on the surface your stance could work, it is not without difficulties–and I deem them insurmountable. You’ve had to explain away a lot of Scripture in order to keep it intact. Given the verb used in John 1:3, if we only that verse in isolation, your stance could work. But that’s not the case. Even within John’s Gospel there are Scriptures that are implicitly against it (17:5, 17:24), as I’ve explained. But, outside John’s Gospel, there are more Scriptures that militate against your position (1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2). Taking Hebrews 1:2, e.g.–which I mentioned but didn’t go into any detail in this part of the series–if the Father “made the ages” (epoiēsen tous aiōnas) through the Son, then the case becomes stronger for my position. The verb here, poieō (also used in Gen 1:1 LXX), is a synonym for ktizō, and “ages” (aiōn) in this context most naturally connotes time. If the Father made time through the Son, then the Son logically sits outside time.


  10. Jim says:

    Simply because the Son was brought forth from within the Father at a point in time doesn’t equate him with a created being. Unique and of the Father’s divine person means a co-YHWH through whom he presents himself to mankind. Not like anything created.

    John 17:5 and 24 do not have to imply an existence before the PWM (to use your abbreviation), but the writer does recognise that the Logos had to have existed before the ordering of the formless waste. Before the foundation of the resultant orderly habitable world.

    I have explained how Col 1:16 is more about Jesus’s supremacy than a proof text for the Logos existing prior to the PWM. The same applies to Heb 1:2. Aion is often translated world, which is how the KJV renders this verse. Whilst there is a time connotation, it is too far a stretch to say that this verse implies the Father made time through the Son, so the Son is outside time. The verse, at best with respect to time, simply states that the Son created the world that is part of the current age within which we exist.

    I don’t think there are any scriptures that require being explained away, simply aligned coherently.


    • Craig says:


      As soon as “time” is brought up into the conversation as regards the generation of the Son, implied is that He’s not co-eternal with the Father and thus a part of time-space (the two are inseparable), i.e., creation. Once you claim, as Arius apparently had, ‘there was a time when the Son was not’, you’ve placed the Son into the created realm, since eternity does not include a temporal element.

      You’ve not interacted with 1 Cor 8:6: “there is but one God, the Father, from Whom are all things and for Whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things and through Whom we exist”. So, does “all things” here exclude the PMW; or is the PMW included in the part about the Father but not as regards the Son? Does “all things” only include Jesus’ supremacy over ‘thrones or powers or rulers or authorities’ (NIV 1984); or does “all things” include all but the PMW?

      Just because the KJV and other translations render “ages” (aiōn) in Heb 1:2 as “world”, does not mean we just divorce the time element central to this word. The KJV is merely trying to convey the word in a way that was more intelligible to its intended readership. But, as noted in my words beginning this comment, with space necessarily is time and vice versa. The writer of Hebrews apparently wished to convey that the Son made “all things” in a somewhat different way–which I find quite helpful in defining “all things”. The Father made “all things”, aka “the ages”, through the Son. The Son is hē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou, “the Originator of God’s creation”, while the One Who sits on the Throne (the Father) is described by the 24 elders in Rev 4:11, is openly praised and given glory hoti sy ektisas ta panta, “for You created all things”.


  11. Jim says:

    Craig, do you consider the LXX divinely inspired?


  12. Jim says:

    The central concept here, particularly with respect to when the begetting or generation of the Son/Logos occurred, is a trinitarian predisposition. I don’t think any of the verses cited, nor the Prologue, would lead a first century Jew to conceive of God any differently than his ancestors had. In other words an invisible, Most High YHWH and his equally divine Logos, through whom he presented himself or made himself visible.

    The OT testament was deliberately cryptic regarding God’s plan to bring the Logos into the world as a man, in flesh and blood, with his innate divinity veiled. All the more obscure was plan for Jesus to die and rise again so that the powers of this dark world could be vanquished for ever. If those powers had known of such a plan they wouldn’t have crucified the author of this new life.

    If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, then he was the Angel of the Lord, the leader of the Israelites from Egypt, the man who wrestled with Jacob, the deity in the burning bush, the captain of the Lord’s armies, the Son of Man approaching the Ancient of Days. Inextricably linked to YHWH, having been formed from him, uniquely, the one in whom God had given all authority to create, to rule, then to receive back from Christ what had been given him after the initial ex nihilo creation of space, time and matter.

    All that was missing in the mindset of the apostles and earliest believers was an understanding that the YHWH-but not YHWH was Jesus Christ. Still apart from the Father, ruling alongside him back in heaven from where he’d come; their separateness but sameness declared throughout the bible.

    A trinitarian perspective is not required to make sense of the scriptures called on here, certainly 1 Cor 8 is included. All things have indeed been made by Jesus, but those things are what has been given to him by the Father.


    • Craig says:

      But you are the one who is positing a specific ‘time’ for the Son’s “begetting”. Historic Christianity eschews the idea of ‘time’ with respect to the Son’s “begetting”. This is in recognition that eternity does not consist of time–a ‘before’ or ‘after’ or any sequence of temporality.

      Your If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, then… does not necessarily follow in the manner in which you say it does. In fact, I’d be willing to concede that this verse may actually be referencing the incarnation, which means “yesterday” only dates back to the Virginal Conception. If this is not the intention of the author of Hebrews, then I think this text is another indicator of the co-Deity of the Son, given that this was a paraphrase of something spoken of YHWH (Ps 102:27).

      You are basing much of your theology/christology on a particular interpretation of Genesis 1:1-3, which may or may not be correct. Even if it is, the rest of your schema encounters much difficulty in the NT texts, as I’ve continued to illustrate.

      You wrote (in part): All things have indeed been made by Jesus, but those things are what has been given to him by the Father. Using a very crude analogy to restate your view (not intending the analogy to be condescending, just a simple analogy): The Father made the Play-Doh, and the Son fashioned it. This means the Son did not create/make “all things”; he transformed it. It’s like the joke I heard: A man was talking to YHWH and claimed he could make man, and perhaps even do a better job at it, to which YHWH granted him this request. When the man picked up some organic material to fashion his ‘man’, YHWH said, “Get your own dirt.”


  13. Jim says:

    We’ve been round the time buoy before Craig and arrived at different concepts, so I won’t distract you with more on that topic.

    How one reads the Genesis account is very important with respect to references to the ‘beginning’ and ‘all things’. It takes you down very different paths when viewed, for example, through the lens of the Logos being a person rather than simply representing the Ideas of God, as Greeks would recognise in philosophical thought. The trinitarian lens is powerful too and, I believe, has to be read back in to validate associated concepts that aren’t unambiguously apparent.

    To take your analogous joke onwards, the dirt was given to the Son, so it was his dirt to fashion. The Son was doing far more that just transforming his ‘play doh’. I would argue that the play doh doesn’t count as a ‘thing’ since ‘all things’ are the subsequent result of the Son’s actions. Creating and transforming in a real sense was going on during the 6 days, but our understanding of how it was actually taking shape in the physical (and spirit) realm is obviously very limited. We don’t know the interaction between the Father and Son during the transformation and creation of the universe and world in which we live.

    I honestly can’t see the same difficulties in my schema that you do Craig, and I’m looking beyond the NT verses, although I appreciate you are focusing on John 1 here. I think on-going dialogue will simply serve to push back your completion of the next study, so I’ll shut up.

    It would be interesting to get other views (Arwen4CJ are you tracking this?) rather than just me pestering you continually!


    • Craig says:

      …I would argue that the play doh doesn’t count as a ‘thing’ since ‘all things’ are the subsequent result of the Son’s actions…

      Ya took the bait!

      In Genesis 1:1 the Hebrew is šāmayim (heavens) and ʾāreṣ (earth). While “heavens” is not referred to at all in 1:2, “earth” (ʾāreṣ) is, with the latter described as ‘formless’, ‘empty’ and ‘void’. This is mirrored in the LXX (see my comment on 11/24, 3:57 pm), with gē (earth) used in both verses, and a similar description of it in v. 2. We both agree that YHWH is the Creator in v. 1, but we differ on just who YHWH is.

      In Col 1:16 “all things” are said to be created (ktizō) in[/by], through, and for the Son. “All things” are specifically defined as “en tois ouranois kai epi tēs gēs, ta horata kai ta aorata”, “in the heavens and the earth” (“earth” is in the genitive, not plural!), as well as “visible and invisible”—the latter very similar to the description in Gen 1:2.

      Now, if Moses in Genesis or Paul in Colossians wanted to make a distinction, then another word could have been used. In Hebrew it would have been ʿāp̱ār, “dust”, which is used in Gen 2:7. The term in the LXX is chous. The latter word is rare in the NT, only used in Mark 6:11 and Rev 18:19, but it is used.

      Yet, Paul does not make any distinction, instead making an all-encompassing statement regarding the Son’s role in creation. ‘The Father created all things through the Son’ is the overarching theme in the NT with regard to creation.

      And to prevent us from going down a rabbit trail, eite (used four times after the clause above in Col 1:16) is a subordinator, indicating that that which follows is subordinate to the preceding. In other words, “thrones”, “dominions”, “rulers”, and “authorities” are all part of “all things” in heaven and earth.


      • Craig says:

        I should add: In Colossians 1:16 the phrase “visible and invisible” is in apposition to “all things”, which means they are the same thing. That is, this is akin to saying “Craig, in San Antonio, the blog writer“, in which the bolded portion indicates the two nominatives in apposition, and the prepositional phrase as an analogous substitute for “in the heavens and the earth” in Colossians 1:16.


  14. Jim says:

    Well the best bait is never seen as such by the prey, so well done; however I’m struggling to see the trap.

    If you’re trying to make a case that Moses (in Gen), and Paul (Col) use the same broad terminology for the creator of the Gen 1:1 heavens and the earth, therefore it’s the Logos, I’m missing something.

    Referring to Col 1:16, the two prepositions en (heaven) and epi (earth) indicate to me at least that the ‘all things’ created or formed by the Logos weren’t the Gen 1:1 heavens an earth, but all the things in or on them. En is defined as denoting position (of heavenly bodies or entities) and epi as a relation of distribution, in the genitive case, which you say iit is with respect to earth. So the things are what populate the heavens and earth, not the original elements of Gen 1:1 first creation.

    These things are then further qualified as visible or invisible thrones etc. In other words human and spirit rulers over which Jesus has supremacy having brought them into existence. That’s the key point here, not whether the Logos was the God who created the very first ‘stuff’. That he didn’t is quite clear to Paul, and so you’d have to conclude his understanding would align with John’s.


    • Craig says:


      You wrote: These things are then further qualified as visible or invisible thrones etc.

      It seems you are failing to see that those things subordinated–thrones, etc.–are a subset of “all things”, aka “the visible and the invisible” (see comment @ 3:37 pm). In other words, through the Son came all things which includes thrones, etc. It’s not that thrones, etc. define or delimit “all things”. Moreover, in Gen 1:2 the earth is described as ‘formless’ / ’empty’ and ‘void’ (Hebrew), & unseen / invisible and unwrought / unformed / unorganized (LXX). This seems to me to be described by Paul in his usage of ‘invisible’.

      While epi means “upon”, you’re reading too much into it in this context. It’s not as if Paul were purposely excluding the ‘inside’ of the earth, or the earth’s makeup/surface. Both en and epi are strictly locative. From Paul’s vantage point standing on the earth, he says “all things” includes everything “in the heavens” [and what is exactly is ‘the form of the heavens’, anyway?] and everything “on the earth”. The genitive must be used here because a dative would instead mean “on the basis of”, while the accusative would mean “against”; that is, Paul didn’t have much of a choice, so one can’t read too much into the genitive here.

      Genesis 1:1 specifies that God made both the heavens and the earth. Given that, why would only the earth itself be pre-creation instead of both the heavens and earth? Also, since it’s not until Gen 1:3 that God ‘speaks’ light into existence, would that mean that the earth’s Sun was created, or the final touches put onto it, at that time? Yet, 1:2 does not speak of the heavens being in any way unfinished—only the earth–according to your view, that is.

      Take another look at footnote 17 and note the words ektisas ta panta (created all things) and ektisthēsan (were created). The same verb and the same nominative are used of “the One Who sits on the Throne”, i.e. YHWH (the Father) in Revelation 4:11 as is used here in Col 1:16.

      And, once again, you must consider 1 Cor 8:6 (also uses ta panta) and Hebrews 1:2 in your analysis—not separately, but in concert with these other verses.


  15. Jim says:

    On further consideration of ‘all things’ and how that phrase relates to the Logos Son, I have revised my position slightly given what appears to be the key aspect the writers are driving at. I’ll supply verses later, including 1 Cor 8:6 and Heb 1:2. It’s not wildly different but is more focused. More later Craig.


  16. Jim says:

    Craig from my limited reading about eite it isn’t so much a subordinator as the introduction of what constitutes the previous use of panta, often with a list of examples such as in Col 3:8.

    So, all things isn’t necessarily every possible item or action but bounded by the context. When I get more time I’ll provide some verses that speak to that such that one can conclude the ‘all things’ that the Logos made is not every single atom in the universe. I see the writers pointing to him as the author of life, therefore all things are those spiritual and human creations that receive his life and ‘live and move and have their being’ in and through him.

    Verses to come soon.


    • Craig says:

      The word means “if” or “whether”. The term is not used in Col 3:8; ta panta in that context IS, however, being delimited by the list that follows. It’s no different than if it were said, “Fred is guilty of all these things: lying, cheating, forgery, and embezzlement.


  17. Jim says:

    In researching your assertion, Craig, that Col 1:16 thrones etc are a sub-set of ‘all things’, these verses show something different. All things can often be bounded by the context, and it appears clear that when that context is the creative span of the Logos, ‘all things’ is with reference to all human and spirit beings. I don’t discount the Logos created cows, salmon and toucans, but the writers aren’t concerned with that possibility. The singular point being that everything that has sentient life exists, and is sustained in that life by the Logos/Son/Christ.

    The point being, that the Logos could very well have been generated from the Father at some time after the universe came to be at the atomic, or particle level. There is little if nothing that unequivocally states he created every single material object. But, I can have my cake and eat it, since you could say that the Logos was responsible for the habitable environment and not lose meaning. In other words, scripture is easily paraphrased (somewhat tritely) with respect to creation like this:

    God the Father – I’m going to create time and space and an initial start point for earth. okay, I’m now going speak in existence a being from my very own self of Spirit/Light. My Son looks good. He’s pushing back the darkness. OK Son, over to you to make other spirit beings. Whilst your doing that let’s make this watery mass liveable and add some stuff into the space. Looking good, okay, finally let’s make a non-spirit human to begin to populate and enjoy this material earth and all that’s in it, and we’ll model him on us, with our character and a special connection to us no other creature has. Son, You can do the work of bringing him to life. His job, along with those beings that are spirit, is to display our image at all times, to re-present us in this universe, and we’ll stay close to him.

    You could argue that it was the Logos who said ‘let’s make man in our image’, but the point is the same.

    Taking these verses, and applying that overview, they make sense:

    ‘yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we exist. And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we exist.’ 1 Cor 8:6 Berean Study Bible

    ‘16 For [a]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 [b]is before all things, and in Him all things [c]hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For [d]it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the [e]fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in [f]heaven.’ NASB Comment – the things visible and invisible are rulers, thrones etc ie entities, and he is above them. The rest of this section reinforces Christ’s rule over all beings (spirit and human). Reconciliation is about people, not the material universe per se, and that is the consistent theme regarding ‘all things’ in the context of the Son and creation – living beings, not every atom.
    ‘And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.’ Heb 1:2 New Living Translation Kosmos = universe/world = people, not objects.

    ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.’ Ps 2:8 New American Standard Bible

    ‘All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.’ John 1:3 Berean Literal Bible

    ‘He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.’John 1:10 New International Version Comment – So the theme in the prologue of John is that the things made through the Word were living beings, the human types of which chose to ignore him and stay in the dark when he was incarnated. Or even before since he was the generic light of men (source of life), yet man chose to follow other gods.

    ‘as a plan for the fullness of time, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ.’ Eph 1:10 Berean Study Bible Comment – People and spirit beings.

    ‘far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22And God put everything under His feet and made Him head over everything for the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.…’ Eph 1:21-23 New International Version Comment – again, this ‘allness’ is about entities.

    ‘You, even you, are LORD alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and you preserve them all; and the host of heaven worships you.’ Neh 9:6 King James 2000 Bible. Coment – it’s the occupants of heaven and earth that are the creative result of the Logos, notwithstanding he may well have co-created material stuff too.

    Lastly, just with reference to ‘reading too much in to’ ‘en’ and ‘epi’, I would suggest they get translated accurately in the verses here, and should be regarded as correctly describing where the life of the host ‘in’ heaven and those ‘upon/on’ the earth exists. The writers aren’t concerned with the material substance under the earth’s surface or who (the Father or Logos) is credited with it existing.


    • Craig says:

      …and it appears clear that when that context is the creative span of the Logos, ‘all things’ is with reference to all human and spirit beings…

      Though you laid out your argument admirably, I fail to see this to be so. You would have to read your position into each of these contexts to make it so. In 1 Cor 8:6 “all things” come from the Father and through the Son. Why would we think this excludes anything? More damaging to your stance, in Hebrews 1:2 the word is aiōn, not kosmos: through the Son the Father “made the ages”.

      John 1:10 does not delimit 1:3 in the manner in which you state. There’s something in particular in the grammar in the surrounding context that belies your claim, but we’ll have to wait until I get to that section.

      Your position makes the Son a temporal being. He’s only eternal in that His eternality is unbounded once created, which is no different than any believer in that respect. By denying the Son’s eternality, you’ve made Him a creature.


  18. Jim says:

    I disagree that I am ‘reading in’ my side. I tried to make clear that the verses and surrounding scripture when it comes to Heb 1:2, 1 Cor 8:6, John 1, and others of a similar ilk, all speak of things that are entities and are not supposed to infer the entire gamut of inanimate matter.

    Claiming a begetting of the Son from the Father the way I have described means the Son is a mere creation and therefore the argument I am positing is invalid is not reasonable. I could claim that an eternality of the Son means that the Son was never begotten from the Father, therefore he can’t be the Son, and the Father can’t be the Father, or we have two eternal beings (which trinitarianism can’t accommodate), or we have two modes of one being to be fair to the logic path. And so we get back on the merry-go-round.

    The Logos/Son can be of the Father’s divine substance and still have been generated from and by the Father without being ‘created’. After all, the creed says ‘begotten not made’ to cover off on that exact circumsatnce. All I’m trying to suggest is a sensible piecing together of the available scriptures, placed together with as little force as possible.


    • Craig says:

      So, do I suppose that “all things” in Rev 4:11 is “not supposed to infer the entire gamut of inanimate matter” also? If not, why not? As I noted earlier, it uses the same verb as Col 1:16: ektisas ta panta (created all things) and ektisthēsan (were created). Also, as regards Col 1:16 “all things” is used twice, and one would think that if your position is correct it would say “these things” instead of “all things” the second time.

      You’ve not addressed how ‘the Father “made the ages” through the Son’ fits into your schema.

      You wrote: Claiming a begetting of the Son from the Father the way I have described means the Son is a mere creation and therefore the argument I am positing is invalid is not reasonable. How can a mere creation be in any way “God” as per the position you’ve been espousing since the beginning of this year? Backing up a bit, your claim, as I understand it, is that God Elohim ‘spoke’ light, which is the Logos, into existence in Gen 1:3. Yet God Elohim ‘spoke’ again in Gen 1:6, and we’re supposed to believe here there’s been a switch from the Father (Elohim) to the Light/Logos (Elohim)? Why doesn’t the text just state, ‘the Light said…’ from that point forward? Moreover, Gen 1:4 specifies that God Elohim called “the light” merely “good”. Is the Logos merely “good”?

      The standard NT interpretation doesn’t have to go through any hoops. It’s quite simply ‘all things were created by the Father through the Son’. All contexts work just fine using that schema. And this poses no difficulty in Gen 1 either, when one considers that Elohim is a plural noun.


    • Craig says:

      As soon as you put a ‘time’ on the begetting of the Son, you place the begetting itself within the temporal realm, which makes the Son a created being. Orthodox Christianity never states anything to the effect that the Son follows the Father in any sort of succession. That distorts the whole idea of eternality.


      • Craig says:

        Let me state this a different way. Your schema posits a pre-creation ‘mass’ of some sort. This pre-creation was created by the Father. Thus, it’s not eternal; it had a beginning point. In addition, it must be in the temporal realm, as mass cannot exist without time. Your schema states that the Son was brought forth at some point after the Father made pre-creation. Thus the Son was brought forth in time, and the Son post-dates pre-creation. Hence, the Son is a created thing. ADDED: I understand you’ll take exception to this, but one cannot superimpose temporality upon eternity; this conflation will only amount to a temporal starting point of the thing.


  19. Jim says:

    Re 10:08pm Craig, there should be no problem with any ambiguity as to who is speaking (the Father or the Son/Logos) since there are multiple examples in the OT where an encounter with YHWH is blurred between the Father and the ‘visible YHWH’ (Angel of the Lord, one like a Son of Man etc). The text doesn’t have to say ‘the Light’ and more than it has to say ‘the Logos’, which of course it doesn’t.

    I addressed the ‘ages’ from Heb 1 earlier, in that the Greek word can easily refer to ‘those in the world who are in the period/age currently created by God’.

    Because Rev 4:11 uses the same verb as Col 1:16 why do we arrive at the exact same interpretation? If the ‘all things’ used initially in Col 1 means entities who rule or have dominion, why would Paul change tack later in the same section?

    Re the next posts and eternality, you seem to be firm on that quality being outside of, or unconstrained by time. I’m not sure why, when the Son is our first fruit, the exemplar of who man will become, and we will have eternality bestowed upon us from within time. What’s the problem with the Son having been formed from the substance of and with the divinity of the Father from a particular juncture? You could still argue that, similar to Heb 7:10, the Son was always ‘in’ the Father in a unique monogenes fashion.


    • Craig says:

      But why was the plural form—Elohim—used when God was only a singular ‘Father’ in Gen 1:1, according to your position? And, again, I don’t see how the contexts naturally delineate Father in 1:1, Father begetting Son in 1:3, then Son finishing up creation in the rest. That’s a LOT of reading into the texts to make them ‘work’.

      Yet the word for ‘ages’ never means what you claim it means here. In Heb 1:2, the Son is appointed heir of “all things”. Nowhere in this text does it provide any hint that this is in any way delimited. The same applies to “all things” in Heb 1:3.

      You wrote: If the ‘all things’ used initially in Col 1 means entities who rule or have dominion, why would Paul change tack later in the same section? He doesn’t change tack so much as explains that not only does the Son rule over them, He created all things, to include them. That this is correct is borne out by the remainder of Col 1:16 in that Paul uses “all things” yet again rather than a more qualified “these things”, when the sentence is closed out.

      I’ve already made my position clear as regards your stance that the Son was brought forth at a point in ‘time’, makes Him a part of creation. We have eternity bestowed upon us ‘in time’ by necessity as we are creatures, and hence a part of time. We can only enter in that realm with an entirely different ‘body’, not one of flesh.


  20. Jim says:

    Craig, I’m sure you know as well as any that elohim, whilst a plural noun, can be used in the singular. Ps 82:1 is one of many examples: ‘God (elohim) stands in the divine assembly; he administers judgement in the midst of the gods (elohim). NT revelation back casts understanding to the OT such that we can discriminate better who is the focus of the verse.

    I don’t understand how you say, ‘Yet the word for ‘ages’ never means what you claim in means here.’ Thirty-eight times in the KJV, ‘aion’ is translated ‘world’, with the same inference, meaning the people of the world, rather than all the matter in the geological earth or universe. It is synonymous with ‘kosmos’ in that the focus is on the fallen state of the inhabitants of this current time period.

    Interestingly, Biblegateway’s verse of the day today is Heb 1:1-2, but let’s look at 1-4:

    ‘God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, 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. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they’. NASB

    What is the Son heir of? What is his inheritance? Ps 2:7-8, as a Messianic psalm declares that the nations are the inheritance of the Son ie the peoples. NASB closes verse 2 with ‘world’ not ‘ages’ (see above comment). In verse 3, ‘all things’ have to be viewed through the lens of the previous ‘all things’ (nations) and subsequently those who had been purified of their sins (again, people). In line with Col 1:16 that espouses a Jesus higher than all rulers and dominions (visible and invisible ie spirit and human); these are brought back into focus by verse 4 when the writer states Christ is higher than the angels (invisible powers).

    This chimes perfectly with what I have been saying about Col 1:16 and John 1 – ‘all things’ are those that he has given life to: spirit and human beings. The ‘all things’ aren’t supposed to be read as including dominions and powers, they ARE them. The latter ‘all things’ of Col 1:16 qualifies and is a reinforcement of the first ‘all things’, not a further expansion of them.

    So, presumably you don’t have a problem with eternity bestowed on believers come the resurrection, nor angels, who are created beings. But the writer of Hebrews goes to some lengths to elevate Jesus above angels, as if his audience may have their divine status confused. I see no biblical problems with the Son being generated into the Father’s newly created space/time uniquely from within himself, unlike angels who were created by the Logos. After all, that doesn’t constitute a created being as angels and humans are considered created, but does provide a point of connection that the Son can identify with those creatures that he made. Heb 1:3 declares the Logos/Christ to be the radiance of the Father’s glory in a way that relates to and can be seen by his created beings.


    • Craig says:

      As regards Elohim, my point, which I didn’t make very well, was that God YHWH is considered a plurality, and, hence, the plural is used; however, in Gen 1:1, according your stance, the referent is merely the Father. In any case, the more important part of my comment with regard to Elohim was that, in your schema, Elohim ‘speaks’ “light” (creates “light”), yet even though “Elohim” remains the Actor the referent changes to “Light” (Logos) as the creation narrative continues—that is, no transition in the verbiage/text takes place to illustrate this. Eholim (Father) creates/brings forth light (which is actually the Logos), then Elohim (Light/Logos) creates the rest. One must read all this into the text.

      You wrote: Thirty-eight times in the KJV, ‘aion’ is translated ‘world’, with the same inference, meaning the people of the world, rather than all the matter in the geological earth or universe. I laboriously cross-referenced aiōn and ‘world’ in the KJV (I didn’t find 38, but I may have missed some), and I don’t agree with your assertion regarding what it means. Matthew 12:32 is a good example: “…neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” The best translation is simply “age” (neither in this age nor the one to come), and it doesn’t refer to people OR geology; the second ‘world’ is not in the text as aiōn, but the KJV’s translation of a participle for ‘to be.’ Same applies to Matt 13:40, 49, etc. BDAG provides the following as one of its definitions: the world as a spatial concept, the world. As usual, it lists a few verses that fall within this definition, to include Heb 1:2; however, at the end of this definition it is stated that these may well fall under another definition: a segment of time as a particular unit of history, age. Danker thinks it means ‘spatial entity’ in Heb 1:2.

      Craig Koester’s Anchor Bible Commentary (Hebrews, The Anchor Yale Bible; [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974], p 178)—which requires the authors to translate the text themselves—writes:

      through whom he also created the universe. The term “universe” is the plural form of aiōn, which can be used temporally for “ages” and spatially for “worlds.” Temporally (1:8; 6:20; 9:26) Hebrews distinguishes two ages: “the present time” (9:9) and the “age to come” (6:5). Some detect only the spatial sense of higher and lower “worlds” in 1:2 (Spicq; Attridge; Ellingworth), but the interplay between the temporal and spatial aspects elsewhere in Hebrews suggests that both should be included (Vanhoye, Situation, 65–66; Isaacs, Sacred, 193).

      F. F. Bruce (The Epistle to the Hebrews, NICNT [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964] p 4) also renders it ‘universe’.

      At least the KJV uses the plural ‘worlds’, rather than NASB’s singular ‘world’.

      To try to impose the meaning of an OT quote onto an NT text (Heb 1:2) that precedes the quoted portion (Heb 1:5) is wrong-headed. But, that’s only the first problem. Secondly, you cannot just import “nations” into this text. While kosmos does sometimes refer to humans in general, aiōn never does. You are making a string of syllogisms—in an attempt to support your imposed view—which removes you further and further from the text itself.

      This syllogistic approach leads you to write: Heb 1:3 declares the Logos/Christ to be the radiance of the Father’s glory in a way that relates to and can be seen by his created beings. But that’s not what this text says. The text describes Him in relation to the Father. The Son (the subject of this verse) is the radiance of the Father’s glory kai charaktēr tēs hypostaseōs autou. This is a bit difficult to translate exactly (“the express representation of His very Being”), but my point is that the text claims it of something intrinsic to the Son, not something about the Son’s creation.

      You wrote: I see no biblical problems with the Son being generated into the Father’s newly created space/time uniquely from within himself, unlike angels who were created by the Logos. I don’t understand why you fail to comprehend that this makes the Son a created being—and with that attends all sorts of Biblical problems. Let me quote Lewis Sperry Chafer (Systematic Theology, 1948, 1976 Dallas Theological Seminary [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1993) Vol. VII, pp 141-42.), to see if this helps you:

      …Whatever time may be and whatever its relation to eternity, it must be maintained that no cessation of eternity has occurred or will. God’s mode of existence remains unchanged. Time might be thought of as something superimposed upon eternity were it not that there is ground for question whether eternity consists of a succession of events, as is true of time. The consciousness of God is best conceived as being an all-inclusive comprehension at once, covering all that has been or will be. The attempt to bring time with its successions into a parallel with eternity is to misconceive the most essential characteristic of eternal things. [emphases added]

      Your claim, which is apparently one of Arius’, that, essentially, ‘there was a time when the Son was not’ was specifically considered anathema at Nicea 325. Your position implies the Son is not in any way God, for God is eternal (“I AM THAT/WHO I AM”).

      The Son identifies with the humans He had made because He became one of us.


    • Craig says:

      And here’s a Greek teacher who renders Heb 1:2 “universe” (see Sunday, December 3, 8:02 PM):


  21. Jim says:

    Dave Black seems like a nice guy.

    Have you considered the possibility that some of what Arius wrote was correct and some of what Athanasius wrote was wrong?

    Time, as conceived of by God, may well cause us to revert to eternal terminology. I’m sure there’s an argument out there that says: where there’s God, there’s time (of some description). The author sounds very sure of his understanding of ‘eternal things’, which from a created mortal thing is not without problems.

    I fail to see any wrong-headedness in approaching Heb 1:1-5 with some OT scripture in view. It would have been the knowledge base of the Jewish audience and therefore familiarity with Ps 2 is very plausible from verse 2.

    I’m taking the 38 figure from the Strong’s website I cited earlier. I didn’t count them myself.

    I think you’re trying to script Gen1 rather too closely in terms of who does and says what. It’s not a time in history where precision is easy to articulate.


    • Craig says:

      Jim, you wrote: I’m sure there’s an argument out there that says: where there’s God, there’s time (of some description). Does God have a beginning? Does time have no beginning? If both are true, what else predates God? Or does the beginning of time coincide with God coming into existence? If the latter is true does God = time? If not, what accounts for them being coincident?

      Chafer reached his conclusions because we assume God has no creator, and, hence, no beginning. In addition, God apparently doesn’t live in some sort of three-dimensional place, because then this place would predate God–and then we must ponder who created that place and who/what else predates God, and/or how can this place ‘predate’ God (which would mean God didn’t created everything). And with any three-dimensional place comes the element of time.

      Should we suppose that when Paul quotes portions from Greek poetry that he intends to import the surrounding context of the poem into the rest of what he states? Do we assume the same when Jude quotes from 1 Enoch and the Assumption of Moses? If so, how much should we import? Where does it begin and end?

      Does Strong’s claim that aiōn means “nations”? If not, then why make the claim that this is what the KJV intends when it renders aiōn “world(s)” when the KJV could have just translated it as “nations” instead?

      These questions are all rhetorical, I hope you can see.

      It’s OK to investigate other theories, but there reaches a point where one must concede that the given theory does not have the requisite foundation to be viable.


  22. Jim says:

    You are correct Craig that this dialogue has allowed a certain ‘test and adjust’ to some aspects of what I’m piecing together.

    As to the viability of any ‘theory’, I would probably categorise the trinity as a theory, albeit in the same way that evolution is still a theory that has equivalent weight and subsequent acceptance amongst its majority proponents.

    I’m using evolution as an example of something set up as truth but riddled with flaws and open to challenge which is how I see the trinity explanation of God.


    • Craig says:

      I’ve yet to find a better explanation for what is revealed in the whole of Scripture.

      Evolution, on the other hand, is only applicable on a micro-level, not the macro.


      • Craig says:

        Now, for something totally unrelated, check out this excellent home made video to Fleetwood Mac’s song “Hypnotized”. This is before the Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham era, with Bob Welch singing instead (1973). Mick Fleetwood always comes up with some interesting drum beats, which seem difficult to sustain (though he speeds it up just a bit as it goes). The electric guitar is jazz-ish, and Christine McVie’s Pianet provides an almost other-wordly lower end sound to complement the bass, by providing additional foundation.


  23. Jim says:

    That definitely falls into the monty python phrase ‘and now for something completely different.’

    By the way Craig my son is waiting on his audition results for a jazz piano degree at berklee in Boston. He’s quietly confident but we’ll have to wait until next year.


  24. Jim says:

    Thanks for the link to Hurtado. I had a read and enjoyed the balanced approach. I see quite a good deal of overlap between him and Heiser but I’m not aware if they reference each other.

    The FM song went down well with my muso boys and the non-muso me!


    • Craig says:

      If you haven’t already, you should read Hurtado’s Lord Jesus Christ.

      What kind of jazz piano does your son like? Coming at it from a different angle, who are some of his influences? The more melodic/romantic sounds of Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett, the economical Paul Bley, the staunch individualism of Andrew Hill, the percussive Cecil Taylor? Herbie Hancock? Chick Corea? Mal Waldron? Craig Taborn?

      And here’s a trick for better sound coming out of your speakers—works for computer speakers or a home setup: put three pennies (or other coin) under your speakers (assuming they’re on a flat surface). Even better is to cut up small pieces of cardboard (preferably non-corrugated), placing one under each penny and one between it and the bottom of the speaker. For example, under my small computer speakers I have a sandwich consisting of business card/three pennies/business card. It makes a vast improvement on overall clarity, delineation between instruments, ‘cleaner’ bass, lyrics are more easily understood, etc.


  25. Jim says:

    I will dig in to Hurtado’s stuff more so thanks for the links and tips.

    His jazz influences right now are probably Snarkey Puppy, Chick Corea and Hiromi Uehara primarily.


    • Craig says:

      I’d never heard of the latter, but having just checked snippets of a few pieces on YouTube, I’m impressed! On two separate videos she’s playing with veteran session men Anthony Jackson and Simon Philips. Her style owes a bit to Corea, but yet is uniquely her own. On one piece with a quartet of younger players, she easily navigates alternating time signatures. There aren’t very many top-level Japanese jazz talents (Toshiko Akiyoshi immediately comes to mind), but she’s excellent from what little I’ve heard so far. This piece is quite good (and I usually prefer acoustic piano):


    • Craig says:

      If your son has not heard (or heard of) JoAnne Brackeen, he should check her out:

      Unfortunately, this one’s not transferred well to YT, but the performance is top-notch. She also has hints of Corea in her playing:


    • Craig says:


      There’s an interesting discussion on Hurtado’s blog centering on a Jesus mythicist—that Jesus was not really a historical person—and Philo is brought up because in this mythcist’s writings his claim is that Philo called the Logos an archangel. Hurtado asserted this is not the case, eliciting the following from responder Don Gakusei:

      Thanks for the interesting post, Dr Hurtado. You write that for Philo, the Logos is ‘not really an “archangel.”’ However, Philo does indeed call the Logos an “archangel”. Philo writes:

      “And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the ****eldest of his angels****, as the great ****archangel***** of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel.”

      Can you explain what you mean by Philo not really calling the Logos an archangel?

      This seems to support such an idea, however Hurtado’s response clears it up:

      Don: Yes, in another of his writings (NB: contra Carrier, not in the De Confusione passage), Philo can refer to the Logos by the labels you cite. Indeed, he can even refer to the Logos as “a second god” (deuteros theos), but then quickly qualifies this with “so to speak.” The Logos is an “archangel” (remembering that for ancient Greek speakers the word “angelos” = messenger, or spokesman), for the Logos is the expression of the ineffable biblical deity toward the world/creation. One has to study carefully the multitude of Philo’s references to the Logos to put it all together, for he was a complex writer. But the Logos isn’t really a separate ontological being, like we imagine an “angel/archangel”. And, contra Carrier, nowhere does Philo refer to an archangel named “Jesus”.

      According to Hurtado, Philo specialists—which include Sandmel whom I quote at the beginning of the John 1:1-2 section of this series—claim that Philo of Alexandria never deviates from strict monotheism [I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, so I think it best to delete this], for the Logos is instead “the expression of the ineffable biblical deity toward the world/creation”. In other words, assuming this is correct, if Heiser bases any of his ‘two powers’ theory on Philo, he may want to read Sandmel, then more carefully re-read Philo.

      The comments above are from this post; since comments on Hurtado’s blog are not time-stamped, I cannot directly reference them. For more on Philo, see his post here:


  26. Jim says:

    This is an interesting line from one of Hurtado’s answers in the comments section of his ‘Origin of Divine Christology’ blog post:

    “I posit that Jesus acted and spoke as God’s unique emissary and agent, and that the experiences of Jesus’ resurrection/exaltation convinced Jesus’ followers that he had been catapulted into a new status “at God’s right hand” etc., and made “Lord”.”

    As to his interaction with Carrier, I don’t understand why he would expend such energy and time refuting a person who refuses to listen, indeed bristles at any challenge, on a subject that is up there with flat earth theories. I am aware that there are passionate flat earthers who use alleged ‘science’ to promote their cause! Seriously, the only reason Hurtado gets stuck in must be some form of amusement, I suspect.


    • Craig says:


      As a historian and a Christian, Hurtado was impressed that an atheist blogger (Tim O’Neill) would set out to refute atheist anti-theists, who rewrite history for their own agenda (in this case, anti-Christian). This prompted his promotion of this site, which has been taking Carrier to task for his ‘mythical Jesus’ position.

      Following that, he wrote this blog post, followed by this one, which (the latter) succinctly laid out three points refuting Carrier’s position. After this, Carrier did what he apparently does to all those who dismiss his work: he calls them ‘liars’. They’re not mistaken, they ‘lie’. The rest is what ensued.

      But, at this point, I agree with you: Hurtado is certainly amused!


  27. Jim says:

    Here’s another from the same section:

    “But there are two different historical views. One (my own [Hurtado speaking]) is that Jesus didn’t claim divinity and the right to be worshiped, and the resurrection events communicated to Jesus’ followers the new conviction that he had been exalted to divine glory and should be worshiped. The other view is that Jesus did make explicit claims to be “truly divine” and so worthy of worship, but his followers didn’t grasp or accept them until the resurrection events, which then changed their minds.”

    So, in a nutshell Craig, where do you think Hurtado sits on the spectrum of the nature of the Logos/Son/Jesus? Apologies for being lazy and simply asking you.


    • Craig says:

      Before I answer your question I wanted to state that, my current position is that Jesus made implicit claims to be “truly divine” (in the Synoptics), though his followers didn’t grasp them until post-resurrection.

      Hurtado used to use “binitarian” to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son, but now he prefers to refer to their relationship as “dyadic”. The Logos language in John 1 indicates that He “was a divine being existing with God from eternity and as one who…’remembers events which occurred in his pre-existent state'” (Lord Jesus Christ [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003], p 365, citing another’s work).


  28. Jim says:

    That’s useful Craig. Thanks.

    Incidentally, above you say that Jesus made implicit claims to be ‘truly divine’. Some of your previous material, though, would indicate you believe he made explicit claims to that end.


    • Craig says:

      Ι qualified that statement with the parenthetical “in the Synoptics”. He’s explicit in John.


      • Craig says:

        For various reasons I’ve not had occasion to work on the next part as much as I’d like (hopefully, this weekend will provide opportunity). Today, while winding down for the night, I picked up again F. F. Bruce’s The New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes, finding material that parallels, yet expands upon, my thoughts here on this part. Since the footnotes are important, I’ll include them (as asterisks):

        [Jesus’] agency in creation, for example, asserted in John 1:3 f.; Col. 1:15-18 and Heb. 1:2 f.,* has Old Testament precedent in those passages which speak of the world as made by the word or wisdom of God,** and still more so when Wisdom personified speaks in first person as the eldest daughter of God who was His close associate when creation’s work began and rejoiced in all that He did.*** This last passage is not a prophetic utterance of Christ, as so many of the Fathers thought—to the considerable embarrassment of their orthodoxy, since this interpretation represented the Uncreated Son as saying (in the Septuagint), “The Lord created me…”.**** But when once the identification of Christ with the Wisdom of God was established, the passage lent itself admirably (provided they could get round this embarrassment) to Christological speculation (p 17).

        *Cf. Rev. 3:14, where the title “the beginning of God’s creation” is probably drawn from Prov. 8:22.
        **E.g. Ps. 33:6; Prov. 3:19.
        ***Prov. 8:22-31.
        ****κύριος ἔκτισέν με [kyrios ektisen me] (Prov. 8:22 LXX; cf. Sira 1:4, “Wisdom has been created [LXX ἔκτισται] before all things”). The Hebrew verb qānāh in Prov. 8:22 may have this sense (cf. RSV), as in Gen 14:19, 22 (RSV “maker of heaven and earth”); but the Greek Fathers were not concerned with the Hebrew text, Athanasius counters the Arian appeal to Prov. 8:22 with the not very happy argument that it refers to the body in which Eternal Wisdom became incarnate (Discourse against the Arians, II.18-82).


  29. Jim says:

    I’m not entirely sure what Bruce is saying here. On the one hand there appears to be disagreement with what ‘so many of the Fathers thought’ regarding the Christological links with Prov 8, but then he concludes by saying the passage lends itself admirably to such links, providing any ’embarrassment’ is overcome. Could you clarify please, Craig.

    I have been doing some study around the supposed eternal generation of the Son recently. To erase the oxymoronic nature of this term, sonship has to occur at a point of begatting. Prov 8 states the clear theme of God’s Wisdom having a pre-incarnate form, which Paul recognises and carries forward in 1 Cor 1 (v24). The translation of the word that results variously in created, formed, begat etc in Prov 8 mustn’t detract from the nature of that begatting from God the Father. As I have been at pains to spell out, the Logos/Son came from the Father and took a unique, divine form which was, to all intents, the way the Father would interact with physical creation.

    As the Most High God, the pinnacle, the giver of divine authority and agency to the Logos, God presides over the spirit world without recourse to the agency conferred on the Son, who had, and has that specific role. God is supreme and rules over all other spiritual authorities; however, the Logos, now Christ, is the intermediary between God and man, as delegated to him from the foundation of the world (which took place during day one of the Genesis account).


    • Craig says:

      The ’embarrassment’ was in their speaking of Wisdom as a direct parallel–something Bruce implicitly denies here, and I explicitly deny in this article. In doing this, the Fathers affirmed a ‘created’ Uncreated–an obvious contradiction–in Proverbs 8:22, the very verse I cite that refutes the notion of a direct parallel between Logos and Wisdom. This is not to mention that the personification in Proverbs is as a “she”, not a “he”.

      The term “eternal generation” is used instead of “begetting” because God is not a creature, and, hence, does not ‘beget’. “Eternal generation” means the Uncreated Son of God was generated in eternity, in which there is no ‘before’ or ‘after’, i.e. no time. Comparatively, your position places the Son IN time and AS as creature.


  30. Jim says:

    I should add that Col 1 is clear that Christ also has authority over these spiritual principalities and powers since he was the creator of them. However, if one subscribes to the idea that, primarily in the OT, YHWH is the ruler of a divine council, then he possesses ultimate rulership.


  31. Jim says:

    I read an interesting perspective on this which basically said that time began the moment the Logos was begotten. That he was the instigator of time if you will.

    The only problem with that as I see it from Gen 1 is that this means the heavens, primordial earth and Logos all came into existence simultaneously. This conflicts with passages, not least in John 17, which state the Son was before the founding of the universe.

    This leaves two alternatives: a Logos begotten prior to time, which has impassable logical inconsistencies with respect to all the verses that describe a Logos who came into being from the Father. Or, a Logos who was truly begotten prior to the incarnation of the Christ, who was begotten in time before the universe was fit for purpose, not created, but of the Father’s divinity. This aligns with the scriptural record in a way that is almost free from tension.

    Your reluctance to concede this is entirely plausible based on your reading of Prov 8, is overly dismissive of the more than allegorical interpretation many scholars attribute to those verses as being about the Logos, regardless of the gender used.


    • Craig says:

      How does creation all at once conflict with John 17? It seems you are understanding a difference between “founding” and completing, but that does not have to be.

      You wrote: This leaves two alternatives: a Logos begotten prior to time, which has impassable logical inconsistencies with respect to all the verses that describe a Logos who came into being from the Father.

      You are still not understanding “eternal generation”. There is no ‘before’ or ‘after’ in eternity, no succession of events.


  32. Jim says:

    You wrote, ‘You are still not understanding “eternal generation”. There is no ‘before’ or ‘after’ in eternity, no succession of events.’

    If there is no before, after or succession of events ‘pre-time’ then generation cannot take place. It’s that simple.


  33. Jim says:

    That line of pursuit is pretty meaningless. No temporal creature can answer any question ‘from God’s perspective’. From the perspective of an uncreated being who sits either beyond time, outside of time, or according to a concept of ‘time’ and dimensionality that we cannot conceive.

    If time as a concept that we know it is denoted as the sequence of events, surely if God existed without some time-like framework, then it’s difficult to conceive of him, say, having one thought followed by another thought. Following would imply ‘after’ therefore time. So did God exist in a pre-time state of suspended animation? (Almost rhetorical question)


    • Craig says:

      God Himself described his state of existence in reference to time: “I AM THAT I AM.” Within that framework, it is best to conceive that God has an omniscience that is all-encompassing such that He has no original thought, as if He just discovered something for the first time. If we try to place Him within a time-like framework, then we can see that we would be limiting Him as not knowing what will happen in the future. Should we think that God is surprised by anything that anyone does?


  34. Jim says:

    Craig, you know only well enough how many theories exist about the nature of time, space and the core features of God. From Calvinism to all manner of open theism stripes, nothing is conclusive. I AM THAT I AM, or I AM THE ONE WHO EXISTS etc is not a clincher as to how God exists, or whether that existence is tied to a framework, or whose essence is omniscience that results in no original thought.

    God may choose some limitations. We know his mind can be changed and a pre-determined course of action altered. The OT is replete with examples of such events. Surely the essence of being, or existing is to have original thought. When he expresses that thought it becomes something.


    • Craig says:

      Does God really ‘change his mind’ or does He provide the means by which to alter the course of events through these specific interactions?

      You wrote: Surely the essence of being, or existing is to have original thought.

      Open theism is something relatively new, and it definitely has its issues. Historically, God is understood to be omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. It’s this last attribute that concerns us here. Being omniscient, by definition, means not ever learning something. I don’t think it difficult to conceive that the God of all creation has full knowledge of what He created and all the possible ramifications of this creation.

      Of course, created beings have original thought, but should we think to impose this characteristic upon the Uncreated One Who created all?


  35. Jim says:

    Could not ‘original thought’ be an aspect of God imparted to the only creation uniquely made in his image? Moreover, knowing ‘good and evil’ is fundamental definition of what it is to be God. Once man acquired that attribute his fall was inevitable because he could not choose good every single time. God can and does, but that means he too has choice, which implies original thought.


    • Craig says:

      I think you’re reading way too much into the tree of good and evil. Surely you don’t think God chooses to do evil!

      That God knows the future is evidenced by already fulfilled prophecy.


  36. Jim says:

    I don’t know what there is to over-read. Regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, I made no suggestion that this implies God could do evil. He is aware of it and always chooses to do good.

    As far as fulfilled prophecy proving God’s foreknowledge, what’s the difference between that and me stating I will drive a red car in two days time and doing exactly that? Albeit as an omnipotent being his statements are more impressive, but the principle remains the same.


    • Craig says:

      You’ve just exemplified what I meant by overthinking the tree of good and evil. It isn’t analogous. Do you think that Eve’s and Adam’s eating from this tree gave them all the same knowledge, or potential for the same knowledge that God has? I don’t think that’s what you mean. More to the point, Numbers 23:19, e.g., indicates God cannot lie, that He is not capable of lying.

      Do you believe we have free will? If you do, then you should see that fulfilled prophecy is more than just saying “I’m going to…”; it’s knowing the outcome of the confluence of choices humanity collectively will make, and stating this outcome in advance. Therefore, ‘I will drive a red car in two days’ is hardly analogous.


  37. Jim says:

    It’s clear that the tree didn’t give Adam and Eve all knowledge. Simply the ability to discriminate between good actions and evil ones. In Gen 3:22 God states that is a feature of being divine.

    Micah 5:2. Who’s ‘origins are from old, from ancient times’?


    • Craig says:

      I had to look up Micah 5:2 in both Greek and Hebrew. This particularly clause is totally absent in both the Biblia Hebraica and Rahlf’s LXX, though it is present in the Hebrew at Bible Hub and in Swete’s LXX. Below is Swete’s:

      kai exodoi autou ap’ archēs ex hēmerōn aiōnos
      and departures his from beginning out of days of aeons
      And his departures from origin of days of ages
      And his goings forth from origin from days from aeons

      First, the clause is verbless, which makes it a bit difficult to precisely determine its meaning. Second, the nominative is “his goings forth” (plural, not singular), which is followed by two genitival phrases, meaning that these two either describe or delimit the nominative in some way. See here for the different translations.

      I interpret this to mean that the Messiah’s activities were known/prophesied from eternity. But, if you want this to mean the Messiah’s “origin” (which is singular, not plural), then we should compare with Daniel 7:9, 7:13’s “Ancient of Days”:

      palaios hēmerōn
      old of days
      Ancient of Days

      In any case, I think we’re going far afield from the blog post on this.


  38. Jim says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones Craig.


    • Craig says:

      Same to you and yours.

      While certainly not the same thing, I was reminded of the Looney Tunes cartoons in which Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf are at odds during their work shift, but friends otherwise:


  39. Jim says:

    Better luck next time 😃


  40. Jim says:

    Craig, in your writing and study, have you considered that the meaning behind what we translate as ‘God’ or ‘god’ into English should be purely viewed in relational terms? In the same way we regard ‘king’ or ‘brother’ or ‘ruler’ as having a bounded context, shouldn’t we perceive ‘god’ relationally as the one who has supreme authority within a certain sphere, or boundary?


  41. Jim says:

    If defined relationally, ‘God’ is only different’ to ‘god’ in terms of the bounds of their sovereignty. I’m not suggesting there’s any connectedness ontologically, or in terms of consistency; that is a separate issue and when we capitalise ‘God’ to indicate the Most High God, clearly it is because he is made of uncreated, or unbegotten spirit ‘matter’.

    I think this concept is pretty central to all that’s being said in your last year’s discussion topics, but not really addressed up front.


    • Craig says:

      I’m not really sure what you’re driving at here. Please just come out and express what you mean.

      ‘God’ is different than ‘god’ in many more ways than “the bounds of sovereignty”.


  42. Jim says:

    What I am driving at Craig is that in all we’ve discussed in this thread and the Jesus able to judge because he is human Part 6 we haven’t confirmed a clear understanding of the terms elohim, theos and god. This has huge bearing on how we perceive passages like the prologue of John’s gospel.

    There is actually very little separation between God and gods. Both have dominions to rule. The Most High’s is beyond the physical universe. The Logos was given the physical universe and the life in it to rule over, and be God over as the Fathers agent. These two are uniquely the same in their essence and consistency (God the Father is uncreated; the Logos Son is begotten from the Father).

    Thereafter there are other spiritual entities, or gods, given control over parts of the physical uinverse and unseen realm. These gods simply have a smaller scope of rule to that of the Father and Son.

    Would you concur with that summary?


    • Craig says:

      Just to be clear, in that other 6-part series my thesis was that Jesus was given authority by the Father to judge because He was both Divine/Deity and man. The Father ‘deferred’ judgment to the Son because of His humanity being ‘coupled’ to His Deity.

      The chasm between ‘God’ and ‘god’ is quite large. I’m assuming you’re speaking of ‘gods’ as those who acted as YHWH’s agents. The differences between ‘gods’ and ‘God’ is that the latter is uncreated, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, etc.

      I’m not sure I’d concur with your second paragraph. Perhaps as a function of what is called the ‘Economic Trinity’, but not necessarily the ‘Ontological Trinity’. But, I don’t want to commit myself to this without further reflection, as that might be too limiting.


  43. Jim says:

    Craig, a belated happy new year and best everything in 2018. I’ve been off on another forum trying to argue the case for a divine Jesus rather than the only a regular man view. It all seemed rather christadelphian but they did recognise the pre-existing Logos at least. It was hard work but no change in their view.


  44. Craig says:


    Hopefully you’ll see this. Larry Hurtado recently wrote a short blog post promoting a book: Historical Roots of “Trinitarian” Theology. The book ain’t cheap, but, helpfully, Hurtado uploaded a pre-publication version of his own contribution to the volume, which I think you’ll enjoy: Observations on the “Monotheism” Affirmed in the New Testament. In it, he mentions Heiser.

    See also his subsequent post: Paul, Stephen Fowl, and Trinitarian Doctrine. Also, it’s always good to read the accompanying comments to his blog posts, and his responses to them.


  45. Jim says:

    Thanks Craig. I’ll take a look.


  46. IWTT says:

    “Craig, a belated happy new year and best everything in 2018. I’ve been off on another forum trying to argue the case for a divine Jesus rather than the only a regular man view. It all seemed rather christadelphian but they did recognize the pre-existing Logos at least. It was hard work but no change in their view.”

    This is why I think prayer is the utmost 1st thing we must do to make some kind of head way and then a proper understanding of the Word of God in context. All we can do is present the evidence per the actual manual God has given us and then pray that the seed will flourish in their heart.

    My personal feeling is that once the apple is bit, it may be too late without divine intervention. This whole move, imho, is separating the “wheat from the chaff”, the remnant if you will. It is sad, but it seems that God is turning them over to their own devices and the deeper they get, the harder the fall, the more it will take a miracle to get out of.


  47. Jim says:

    I read the links Craig and his blog post with the comments, one of which got roundly smacked down!

    I find it interesting that there are probably many who see themselves as doctrinally different to others because of the terms, labels and definitions they have to use. The reality is that they may well be much more closely aligned than at first blush. Hurtado mentioned this in his paper. He had to counter how people saw him as binitarian because they couldn’t understand duality or diarchy being his more suitable word. He doesn’t come over as a post-Nicene trinitarian, and I gravitate towards that expression of God.

    What did you think of his 21 page piece?


    • Craig says:

      I’ll have to reread it. I agree that many get tripped up on terminology. It’s sometimes very hard to put your thoughts into words with an eye towards fending off the possibility of others misconstruing meaning.


  48. Craig says:

    As I was reading something else, I came across a specific text from the Dead Sea Scrolls that exemplifies Jewish darkness/light dichotomy (Keener references it at the reference in footnote 47 above in one of his footnotes), for it compares “sons of light” with “sons of darkness”. It’s in The War Scroll, 1QM, an eschatological text:

    …[The sons of righteous]ness shall shine over all the ends of the earth; they shall go on shining until all the seasons of darkness are consumed and, at the season appointed by God, His exalted greatness shall shine eternally to the peace, blessing, glory, joy, and long life of all the sons of light.

    On the day when the Kittim fall, there shall be battle and terrible carnage before the God of Israel, for that shall be the day appointed from ancient times for the battle of destruction of the sons of darkness…(Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Rev. Ed. [New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2004], pp 165-66).


  49. Jim says:

    Matt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

    I was considering Gen 1 just last Sunday, and the light and darkness. Given the light motif in the prologue and the text you quoted above, Craig, it is not beyond possibility that the daylight that was made as the opening act of God was the Logos. Matt 6:22-23 exemplifies this notion of light as a good moral characteristic, which is why God knew the light was good. It would be since it came from him after all.

    There was no rising or setting sun to properly delineate ‘day’ and ‘night’ in the physical sense until day 4, but the creation account still references morning and evening. To a Jew, a day began as the first stars appeared in the night sky, but no stars had been created initially, so these 24 hour demarcations weren’t from the physical universe. If the first three days weren’t calibrated from the earth moving round the sun, God still chose to use the same terminology. That doesn’t take away the good nature of the light.

    I think this idea chimes well with Prov 8:22 where Wisdom is ‘brought forth’ (begotten) from YHWH as the first of his acts (after creation ex nihilo). Paul picks up on this and describes Jesus as the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:30). Ps 119:105 similarly – ‘Your word (the Logos) is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’.

    If so, this does produce problems for the ‘eternal generation’ of the Son concept.


    • Craig says:

      Hey Jim, good to hear from you.

      The issue with the interpretation you propose is that it was through the logos that all things were made (1:3a). This must include “the light”. In verse four it states “In Him was life, and that life was the light of/for men”.

      As regards Wisdom, see the last paragraph under the All Things Came into Being through the Word section.


  50. Jim says:

    Thanks Craig. I kept dropping in here from time to time, but thought I’d just press in here again. I know we’ve been round the panta/ta panta buoy a few times. What I’d like to respectfully challenge though is that the Johannine ‘things’, and certainly the Pauline ‘things’ from Col 1 don’t have to include the Gen 1:1 act. It is seems perfectly acceptable to contextualise those ‘things’ as living entities from Paul, since he lists what the things were that the Logos created (Col 1:16).

    Even John 1:10 re-emphasises that the world (its people) was made through him, as if John was restating what the ‘all things’ were in v3. Consequently, we can easily see that being with God at the beginning is the same as Prov 8:22-31, especially v31. The Logos was brought forth specifically to bring into being order from chaos, a liveable environment from an inhospitable one, life from formless incohesion. I suspect that it was the Logos speaking with Job in ch 38 who asks Job about the specifics of the days of creation, not the Gen 1:1 event. I can see the writers very much aligned that the pre-incarnate Logos was the author of life but there is no necessity from ‘panta’ to be the creator ex nihilo of the primordial empty, watery globe.

    In fact, it sets God the Father as the ultimate source of ‘all things’ if he created the Gen 1:1 universe before giving all authority to his agent, the Logos, to make ‘all things’ that existed and exist in the ordered universe. He still created ex nihilo, but it was the powers, principalities, animals and humanity that is in view in the bible. That agent was brought forth from before the foundations of the orderly world were formed, but that doesn’t have to mean before the very first creative act of bringing about space, matter and time.

    Trinitarianism aside, is there any reason grammatically or contextually why that line of reason is invalid?


    • Craig says:


      I’ve been working on the next part (6-8), so hopefully I’ll have it posted soon.

      Yes, we’ve been round the ‘panta’/’ta panta’, and I’ll forgo any comment on Colossians. But, in John 1:3 it’s not just ta panta mentioned, John stress that ‘not one thing was made without him’. Not one thing. I’d think for your position to be valid some sort of disclaimer would need to be placed there: ‘except the preexisting primordial ooze already created by God’.


    • Craig says:

      Forgot to add: “the world” is used thrice in John 1:10–in typical Johannine fashion the writer juxtaposes one meaning with another. Though the entire cosmos was made through Him, the ‘world’ (cosmos), the people of the darkness–the ‘world’ within the larger ‘world’–did not recognize Him.

      If I can ever get truly motivated to continue in this series, I’ll get to verse 10…


  51. Jim says:

    Eternal generation of the son also relies completely on our limited understanding and translations of phrases like ‘unto the ages’, or ‘from everlasting to everlasting’, and also assumptions as to the ontological nature of God and the Logos. If the Logos is called YHWH and God in the OT, and the NT Jesus Christ is also regarded as deity from first-hand accounts, then are we concluding that God and Logos are co-substantial, and therefore have all the same properties?

    If the Logos is unique in coming from the essence of the Father, begotten not created, and that event took place in time and space, we have God begetting after his own ‘kind’, but that doesn’t then mean a timeless past for the Logos. Eve was brought forth from Adam, and while of the same flesh substance was not a man.

    We are quick to impose terms like ‘eternality’ on the Logos and read in our human comprehension of that term to God and his son. Just as science can’t tell us what is beyond a quark, or what comprises a gravity wave, or the universe prior to the big bang, so our understanding of the full nature of God is actually limited to English translations of original languages and the largely philosophical conclusions we draw.

    All this is to say that eternal generation, whilst being fairly oxymoronic a term, is a logical inconsistency and not actually necessary from the available scriptures. However, trinitarianism demands it ultimately.


    • Craig says:

      ‘Unto the ages’ and ‘from everlasting to everlasting’ are, in the Greek, comprised of the words aiōn and aiōnios. Christians have zōēn aiōnion = eternal life. The beast and the false prophet will be burning in the lake of fire and sulphur hēmeras kai nyktos eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn = day and night into the ages of the ages = day and night forever and ever. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (and etc.)–just like God (the Father).

      But the real crux is John 1:1-2. This “logos” was ‘with God’ “in the beginning”, which is some point prior to the events described in 1:3. And, if 1:3 includes “all things” and ‘not one thing was made without the logos’, then I’m just not sure how your position can be substantiated.


  52. Jim says:

    I look forward to your next instalment, Craig. Your depth of analysis, cross-referencing and research takes a great deal of commitment, and life can certainly do its best to knock us off course or distract. But I hope you get there.

    In this discussion, I get that ‘all things’ and ‘in the beginning’ can be taken as all = every single atom, and beginning = Gen 1:1. However, those absolute conclusions are tempered by numerous verses that reference creation with respect to the role of the Logos, and they read more about him being from the foundations of the world, for example, not from inky, black nothingness.

    If John and Paul both understood the Logos and pre-incarnate Christ the same way, and I believe they did, then they both regard ‘all things’ and the ‘beginning’ in the context of the agent being given something formless and chaotic (the foundations) to make some life (in the beginning), and a habitable environment for that life (both animals and human and spirit principalities and powers). The ‘all things’ being held together by Christ may mean a perpetual reliance on the life-giving properties of Christ at the basic breath level for each new life-form, as well as eternal life; or, it could be that all things in the universe are subject to physical laws and properties that the Logos put in place during the creation period to hold them together in an orderly way.

    It makes little sense for an agent to actually be the originator. An agent cares for, stewards and nurtures something they are given by the owner. The Logos was brought forth specifically to take the ex nihilo universe, shape it and then breath life into it.


    • Craig says:

      Let me give you an analogy. My brother helped build a house. He laid some of the very first cinder blocks. He was there ‘from the foundations’ of the house, but he most certainly preceded it. The building of the house required ‘builders’. He was a ‘builder’.


    • Craig says:

      John 17:5 and 17:24 disproves your thesis:

      πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί.
      pro tou ton kosmon einai para soi.
      before the the kosmos was with you
      …the glory I had with you before the kosmos existed.

      That “kosmos” means more than just the world of people in 17:5 is made clear by its juxtaposition with “the earth” (τῆς γῆς, tēs gēs) in 17:4. This also helps identify “kosmos” in 17:24, which forms a bookend to the thought:

      …ὅτι ἠγάπησάς με πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου.
      hoti ēgapēsas me pro katabolēs kosmou.
      …because you-loved me before foundation kosmos.
      …because you loved me before the foundation of the kosmos.


    • Craig says:

      Miles’ Kind of Blue is a requirement for any serious jazz collection. I think everyone, no matter what flavor of music they prefer, should give this a careful listen.

      Now, here’s a piece I listened to this evening, one of my favorites. It’s too bad the bass doesn’t come through adequately over computer speakers:


  53. Jim says:

    Unfortunately the video won’t upload where I am. Update on my son, who was accepted into Berklee but without a scholarship. At $70,000 per year, he’s wisely applying for a jazz and film score degree in this country, with aspirations for a Masters in Boston. Gigging and teaching.

    Personally, I can’t see your house building story as analogous to scripture. This is because John 17 is about the key words ‘glory’, ‘foundation’ and ‘world’ all being contextually linked to living beings who Jesus lived amongst on ‘earth’ (cf John 17:4) in order that they might become believers in him and qualify for eternal life. The term katabole always appears to speak of humanity. John 17 is about people (and day 6), not Gen 1:1.

    Even if you took katabole and kosmos as the Gen 1:1 act, there are problem verses such as Luke 11:50 in that the blood of the prophets was shed from the foundation of the world, or Matt 25:34 where kingdoms have been prepared from the foundation of the world., or Heb 4:3 and God’s works ceasing from the foundation of the world. If this was Gen 1:1 creation, God certainly didn’t stop work then.

    There is simply no way of reading ‘foundation of the world’ other than the creation of order from chaos in support of living creatures, primarily humans who could inherit eternal life from the One who set up physical, temporal life.

    The Father did love the Logos/Jesus before the orderly formation of the formless Gen 1:1 lump because he was the first of his ‘works’ (Prov 8:22) begotten before any semblance of life and ordered had occurred. Before the kosmos was sown, to use katabole in its original Greek meaning.

    Your analogy, then, has limitations, Craig. More accurate, I suggest, would be a man created a building site from nothing, with all the materials piled up in a heap. He wanted a helper to make a house from the chaotic mess, one who had his heart and vision. So he brought about a representative of himself from himself and authorised him to go build. He would empower his agent with his supreme power to create anything not on the original site. Once the house was complete he made inhabitants for it and sent his agent to live with the inhabitants.

    That’s about as close as I can get, and humans in the analogy skew it. Moreover, if God the Father is outside of time, then begetting the Logos in timelessness would create time because we now have an event and a reference point. So eternal generation becomes moot..


    • Craig says:

      In 17:4-5, the 2nd “glory” has to do with the Father and Jesus before the kosmos existed, and the Father to Son “love” in 17:24 uses the same preposition (see comment @ 2018/10/15 12:33 pm); whereas, in Luke 11:50 and Matthew 25:34, the preposition used is from (ἀπὸ, apo).

      You wrote:

      The Father did love the Logos/Jesus before the orderly formation of the formless Gen 1:1 lump because he was the first of his ‘works’ (Prov 8:22) begotten before any semblance of life and ordered had occurred. Before the kosmos was sown, to use katabole in its original Greek meaning.

      I don’t think you can read the Wisdom motif as equivalent to the logos, for reasons I’d identified in the first section.


    • Craig says:

      Unfortunately, school has become so ridiculously expensive. And, it seems, increasingly, the love of real music–beyond the pop world (for folks with short attention spans, which includes most folks)–has been decreasing. But those who really love music, I’d think, are a relatively tight-knit group. That is, when he finds like-minded people, they are likely to help him as much as they can (assuming they don’t see him as competition!). I wish your son the best.


    • Craig says:

      Here’s Irenaeus on Col 1:16, according to Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon:

      “All things were made through him and without him was made not a thing.” From this “all” nothing was exempt. Now, it is the Father who made all things through him, whether visible or invisible, whether sensible or intelligible, whether temporal for the sake of some dispensation or eternal. These he did not make through angels or some powers that were separated from his thought (Against Heresies 1.22.1 [ACW 55:80-81]).


  54. Craig says:

    In the Daily Dose of Greek came the following on Revelation 3:14. Here Plummer focuses on archē and the various interpretations for it in this context. A commentary to Thomas Schreiner is quoted from, with that author opining that in the Revelation passage authorial intent was Jesus as ‘the beginning of creation’, like the “firstborn” of Colossians 1:18. While I agree on his analysis of the Colossians verse, I disagree on his interprettion of Revelation 3:14, though I usually like what Schreiner says:


  55. Jim says:

    I would say that, again, John and Paul are in harmony in that the witness, or message of Christ, leads to our hope of resurrection because of his resurrection. My NIV of those Rev verses points to him being the ruler of earthly rulers and people (creation in the case of Rev 3:14). I’d say that was reinforced at 4:11 where the ‘all things’ of 11a are clearly ‘beings’ in 11b ie creatures.

    The more I read these verses about the Logos/Christ in respect of creation, the more I see an early church worldview that is that the Most High God gave his begotten Logos the ‘tohu wa bohu’ universe to make an environment and then populate it with creatures over which he would be Lord. The Alpha and Omega in Rev 1:8 strongly implies a left and right of arc for the pre-incarnate Christ, not eternality past.


    • Craig says:

      My NIV 1984 shows “ruler of God’s creation” in Rev 3:14, as well. This could be seen as a reference back to Rev 1:5, in which archē is specifically used in a context of ‘firstborn from the dead’ and ‘ruler of the king’s of the earth’.

      Liked by 1 person

  56. Pingback: An Eternal Christological Conundrum | CrossWise

  57. Jim says:

    You wrote: ‘if the Word were ‘begotten’ on Day 1, then the Word is created being. That is, the Word would have been ‘begotten’ in time, and since time is a necessary aspect of creation, then the Word would be a created being. Thus, your position here doesn’t work.’

    So when the bible (and creeds) speaks of other begettings such as the incarnation and the resurrection (‘the one on the throne’ – see 7:06am June 7 Not Declining the Divine Name), it’s obvious these are time-bounded events. Do you regard them differently to the first begetting? Was the incarnate Jesus or the resurrected Christ a created being?

    Or could we accept that whenever the Logos came from the Father, that event took place, and therefore it happened, and if it happened it wasn’t without beginning or end. Therefore the concept of the eternal begetting of the Logos is redundant. Existence may stretch back into a period before the division of solar-based time, but being begotten is an event with a beginning and an end, hence it is within a version of time, just maybe not ours.

    All that presupposes that the Logos came in to being before Gen 1:1 which is contestable. I think there are good grounds for the Father delivering the initial framework in Gen 1:2 to the Logos who was the light in Gen 1:3 and the subsequent ordering from that chaos was Jesus’s role in creating ‘all things’.

    But the alternate could be that John appropriated that Light and day imagery to describe the incarnate Jesus without thinking of the Day 1 event as the same (John 1 and John 9:4-5 cf Gen 1:5). Either work I suppose.


    • Craig says:

      To put this as pithily as possible, as I’m presently time-pressed: The Agent of creation became creation while not ceasing to be the Creator’s Agent of creation. The Infinite became the finite without losing infinitude.

      The Eternal Word became flesh and ‘tabernacled’ with us. The Eternal Word took human nature to Himself. From the point of the Incarnation and forevermore, the Eternal Word is hypostatically united to human flesh: The God-man, the Divine-human. Our Savior.


  58. Jim says:

    As one time compressed Craig, you might want to simply read the second half of page 7.

    Click to access Begotten.pdf


  59. Jim says:

    This was a darn fine conversation. So glad these are still available to re-read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Craig says:

      Thanks, Jim. My plan is to keep all the conversations here–warts and all. Unadulterated. But I sure could have worded some things differently!


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