John 1:1 is probably the most debated Scripture in the Bible. Some Christians don’t believe Jesus is God (i.e. THE God) and describe him before his human birth as something from divine (including a divine “plan”) to simply “a” god. The controversy seems to arise out of the fact that the final clause in John 1:1 does not have the article before the word “God.” What these groups and other modern critics don’t seem to understand is, if the article were there, it would be a contradiction or an apparent error in the text. Notice:
John 1:1 Moffatt NT THE Logos existed in the very beginning, the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine.
John 1:1 NWT In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
John 1:1 JMNT Within a beginning there was The Word (The Thought; The Collection of Thoughts; The Idea; The Reason; The Discourse; The Communication; The Verbal Expression). And the Word (the thought; the expression) was (and continued being) facing, directed and moving toward (or: with) God. And the Word (the thought; the idea; the reason; the expression) continued being God. [or: Originally the Word was existing and continued to be, and the Word was being projected toward God. And the Word, It was existing being God (idiomatically: And the Word was just what God was; And the Expression was an extension of Deity).]
John 1:1 KJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
If the article were placed before the final clause above, saying “the Word was the God…” it would mean he was beside himself in the second clause, namely, “the Word (the God) was with or beside the God. This is an impossibility. John chose his words well, and they reveal the only way to say the Word is God and mean he is/was the same essence as God; or put another way: “what God was, the Word was.
Often those who disagree will point to Proverbs 8 and the story of the Wisdom personification to support their understanding that the Word was simply a “divine” angel (or plan etc.) or a “god.” Many go on to point to the Greek grammar and how the verse should be translated. The problem is other grammarians could be quoted to contradict the authorities quoted by those who seek to show Jesus is something less than God. Is there an answer for all this? Can a layman, for example, prove that Jesus is God or not, or are we left on our own to stumble through the truth, making choices as to the veracity and expertise of the so-called greats or experts in the fields of theology and Greek grammar?
Let me repeat, the crux of this controversy arises out of the fact that the article does not appear before the final clause of John 1:1. Are we able to draw any conclusions from the word of God itself? Is the Scripture alone able to show us what is true? I believe so, and the answer lies in consistency.
In the next seventeen verses following John 1:1, there are no less than four references to the God with whom the Word existed in the beginning. They are 1:6, 12, 13 and 18. Each one of these references to the God is not only without the article in the Greek manuscript from which the critics derive their argument, but in every case where the word God appears it is unanimously agreed the word refers to the God! The argument of the critics and certain groups of Christians is not consistent. What rule of grammar would be used in these verses to warrant their obvious reference to the God when the article is absent in the original Greek manuscript? Therefore, the presence or absence of the article in the original Greek manuscripts is not a conclusive argument that one may use to prove that Jesus is not THE God. Even the critics of the Deity of Jesus do not follow this rule in every case.
Contrariwise, the article is present in other references to Jesus. Among these are:
1. Matthew 1:23 Jesus’ name is Immanuel. The interpretation given is, “God with us.”
The article is present here and reveals that Jesus is the God with us.
2. John 20:28 After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Thomas. At Jesus’ invitation to touch him, Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and My God.”
The article is present and Thomas refers to Jesus as the God.
3. 1John 1:15 “…God is Light and in him is no darkness.” The article is present. That this represents Jesus is made plain from reading John 1:4-10. It is clearly stated here that the Light gave life to all men. John the Baptist bore witness to the Light; and the Light was about to come into the world (v.9) and is the true Light. Therefore, if the God is Light and Christ is the true Light, there should be no controversy in saying, “Jesus is the God!”
There is no question that the Scriptures teach us that there is only one God. However, does the fact that there is only one God exclude any plurality within that one Deity? I have shown in other studies that there is evidence of plurality within the Deity in the Old Testament. In fact the very physical image which God created of himself is both the male and female—two people dwelling in unity (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:23-24).
To conclude, it is evident that there is no foundation for the argument that the presence of the article in the Greek text is an indication that the God mentioned is worthy of worship, while the absence of the article means that the deity under consideration is not worthy of worship. If this were a valid argument, why is the article omitted in so many New Testament references to our Father God, while many other Scripture references do have the article showing us Jesus is God? The argument, that Jesus is a god or divine (i.e. an angel or a divine plan etc.), but not the God is not consistent and just doesn’t make sense.