John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was the Word (logos; λόγος), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word, says John, existed “in the beginning” and, eventually, “became flesh and dwelt among us” in the Messiah (1:14). Yet the Gospel writer also notes that this Word “in the world” (en to kosmo; ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ) prior to Jesus (1:10), and those who “received” the Word before the Incarnation were called “children of God” (1:12). So when did the Word of God come into the world before the advent of the Messiah, and who received this Word according to Israel’s Scriptures?

God’s initial interaction with the prophet Samuel is a good example of the Word in the Hebrew Bible. As the young Samuel serves as an apprentice under Eli the priest at the Temple in Shiloh, the Lord calls to him several times. At first, Samuel thinks that Eli is calling him, but the priest tells him that it’s actually the voice of God (see 1 Sam 3:4-9). After three divine calls, God appeared physically to Samuel when “the Lord came (bo’; בוא), and stood (yatsav; יצב)” before the boy (1 Sam 3:10).

Just a few verses later, we learn that God makes these kinds of physical appearances through the Word: “The Lord continued to appear (l’heraoh; להראה) at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself (niglah; נגלה) to Samuel at Shiloh by the Word (bi’devar; בדבר) of the Lord” (1 Sam 3:21). Thus, the meetings between God and Samuel support John’s claim that the Word came into the world of ancient Israel and that Israelites like Samuel received the Word. For John, it would be this same Word who would one day become flesh in Yeshua the Messiah.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. I am so pleased to see this write-up. The Creator, who is outside of creation, needs to communicate to His creatures, and the interaction comes seemingly exclusively in two ways. 1. By Word (tangible/visible/physical acts and appearances in the physical dimension) 2. By Spirit for we are spirit beings – made in His image (The Spirit came upon/to e.g. Saul when he prophesied, the Spirit brooded upon). Often God will interact by Word and Spirit simultaneously (The Spirit came upon believers at Pentecost-tongues of fire, and upon Jesus – dove). John wrote to Jewish Christians.

  2. Hi to all, mine is a question; if the word come firstly to Samuel, then what about Adam, Cain, Abram “Abraham”, Moses etc..? Not by doubt, but just want to know please.
    Thank you.
    Kind regards.

  3. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given”(Isaiah 9:6). Would this not be a reference to (John 1:14) “The Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us”.

    • Thanks for your question, Ken. Isa 9:6 is tricky, since the New Testament writers never cite the verse with reference to Jesus. John cites Isaiah quite a bit with reference to Jesus and his preexistent glory (e.g., Jn 12:36-41), but doesn’t mention Isa 9:6. Thus, it’s tough to say whether or not the writer of John’s Gospel would have understood Isa 9:6 as the Word dwelling among us.

  4. A strong case for the plurality of God. Could you help me with the meanings of those words ‘by’ and ‘through’ and other such words we see like ‘in’ e.g. ‘in’ the Spirit, ‘in Christ’ etc. Thank You! 🙂

  5. Can we discuss the context?

    “11) He came to His own, and His own DID NOT RECEIVE HIM. 12) But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”

    Samuel recognized and received Him.

    • True, Neville. Is your question, “Why does John say ‘his own did not receive him’ when Samuel did, in fact, receive him”? Is that the context you’re wanting to discuss?

      • Oh, no, I’m sorry for the confusion. It is clear that God presented himself to Samuel via the Word, as you documented. John must not have had multiple prior appearances/incarnations in mind (Samuel, Abram), but could only be talking about Yeshua. Maybe I read more into your parallel than intended.

        • Ok, got it. Thanks for your clarification. When John says that the Word of God “came to his own, but his own did not receive him” (1:11), we need to ascertain what John means by “his own”: many English translations insert “his own people” (i.e., Jews), even though “people” doesn’t appear in the Greek. A better way to understand the verse is by going to the one right before it: “He [i.e., the Word] was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world did not know him” (1:10). More than just Israel, John means that the Word of God came to “the entire world” (cf. Jn 3:16) throughout history, but the vast majority of people in the world did not receive him — though some, like Samuel, did receive him and were called children of God (cf. Jn 1:12).

  6. In the beginnig,does that mean the start of creation? If the word was the beginning and with God and was God, Does that mean Yeshua(Jesus) is God that made everything through Yeshua(Jesus) so Gods first appearance was in The Garden of Eden,or was it Yeshua(Jesus).?
    Thank you and God bless.

  7. About the “beginning?”…. I’ve always been fascinated that the first verse of the Hebrew scripture “bereshet Elohim”… I believe translates to in the beginning God. In Hebrew, the word “Elohim” in describing God is plural? Were God the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit there in the beginning?

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