02. In The Beginning Was The Word (1:1-5)

The opening of the Gospel of John states that…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. (Greek order of words = “God was the Word”) He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it. (1:1-5)

And from the doctrines for Spiritual Christianity we have the following…

…the Word signifies the Lord as to Divine truth proceeding from His Divine love. Hence it is that they who love the Divine truth which is in the Word, by doing it, are in the love of the Lord… (Apocalypse Explained 433)

When man does good from the Word, that is, because it is commanded by the Lord in the Word, he does not then do it from Himself, but from the Lord, for the Lord is the Word… (Apocalypse Explained 741)

To understand the message of John’s Gospel we need to have a clear understanding of the teaching that is set forth here in its opening verses.The initial verses in the Gospel of John establishes the foundation and reference for comprehending the rest of the Text. Therefore, our interpretation of these verses will significantly influence our understanding of what is to come in the Gospel. Where Matthew and Luke open with the Lord’s birth into the world as an infant and Mark begins with the Lord’s public ministry as an adult, John seeks to lift our vision to behold the true nature of the Lord and so clarify for us the nature of the Divine’s contact with the human race. This he declares in the closing chapters of his Gospel where he writes…

Then truly Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)

while the writer of the Gospel testifies that…

This is the disciple witnessing concerning these things, and writing these things. And we know that his witness is true. And there are also many things, whatever Jesus did, which if they were written singly, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books having been written. Amen. (John 21:24-25)

And so we come with this purpose in mind, to behold the Lord, not as a historical figure limited by time and space but as the living Word ever present and working to regenerate every human mind. In declaring the Lord to be the Word, the Logos, we are being directed towards the eternal truth that He is the Divine Truth Itself and that genuine truth is not something abstract but constitutes what is truly human in its essence. Truth doesn’t exist outside or apart from the human mind, just as love cannot exist apart from a heart able to give it expression.

Truth is the means by which love or goodness comes to be seen. This is why John challenges us to view the Lord as the Word, for in it we behold the Divine Humanity of the Lord, as the Word or Divine Truth and so we are able to see what love in human form is really like. And having seen it, we then have the basis for reflecting on the state of our own lives. And from the insights we gain through doing this we can enter into our spiritual work with the Lord as the Word, a work focused on our spiritual growth and development or regeneration.

But the first principle we must have firmly grasped in our minds is this idea that the Lord is the Word, and that the Word is God. The word translated beginning in the opening verse, is the Greek word arche – which to a natural mode of thinking means a beginning in time but from a spiritual perspective it can be more accurately translated apart from time as origin or source or the first principle, from which all things that exist take their being. From this it is clear that Scripture teaches that the origin of the Word is God, and that God is the Word.

How are we to understand this? Well, when we see that the concept of Word is interchangeable with that of Divine Truth then we can read this as saying that the origin of Divine Truth, that is, the Word, is the Divine Good or Divine Love which is what we are to understand by the term God here. This is clear for in his Epistle John declares that,

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him. (1John 4:16)

And so, from this we see that when he speaks of God he is speaking of his understanding of God as to His essential nature – love (see also True Christian Religion 39). Interestingly the order of the words Word and God in the Greek translated and the Word was God, is actually reversed. It should read, if we are to remain faithful to the Text, and God was the Word. The difference is subtle but the original word order does suggest an important spiritual truth, for in placing the word God before the word Logos or Word we see that God or love is first, and that the Word or Divine Truth is from love.

We see then that all that is truly substantial, as far as human existence is concerned, takes its origin from the Divine Love and is given expression as Divine Truth or the Word. Why? Because we were designed to receive love into our hearts and truth into our understanding and to give this expression through our actions in useful services to others. This is the proper order of life for human beings, it is the essence of what constitutes a spiritual being.

But prior to its regeneration the human mind exists in a state of resistance to the loves of heaven due the dominance of states of self interest. For when self love has dominion with the human mind it lacks any attraction to what is genuinely good. The Lord as the Word constantly seeks to create a mind that can serve to ground the higher spiritual loves of heaven. The disordered state of the natural mind, which sees the loves of self and the world as the dominant loves in which a person’s sense of self is immersed, means that without truths to teach it what heavenly love is it remains a slave to lower desires and is only motivated to pursue what is good out of self interest.

If there is a recognition in a spiritual seeker of the struggle to live from a love that has a genuine concern for the spiritual well being of others, there is also the recognition of how far the natural state of mind is from the order of life which makes a human being human. Anyone, through sincere reflection from the Word on the quality of the motivations that are active, can affirm the teaching that the default state that human beings find themselves in is a state of disorder. This state of departure from what is genuinely human is the source of all the evils and false perspectives or beliefs that keep the sense of self bound to what is opposed to the life of heaven. To maintain this disordered sense of self through denial and defensiveness robs human beings of their spiritual inheritance.

It is because of this state of affairs that God reveals Himself as truth and appeals to human reason, or presents the nature of Divine love in a form that is able to be comprehended. In simple terms, His appeal can be summarised as – resist evil, do good, live by the commandments. Through the Word, the human mind is able to grasp that the disordered form of mind can only produce what is evil and false and that living from this is the source of all suffering and unhappiness. This is in contrast to an ordered mind which in its reception of what is good and true, gives rise to a meaningful and fulfilled life.

These are of course generalisations but as general principles they stand as true. So, while we may not want to, or feel like doing what is right, we can certainly understand that living a good life is preferable to living an evil life. This capacity to see the difference between what is good and true on the one hand and what is evil and false on the other, makes what is genuine, where love is concerned, possible. That love manifests in the ability which human beings have to freely choose to live from the truth that is seen, even when there is resistance to doing so.

So in appealing to the understanding faculty by means of truth, the Lord as the Word provides truths which instil within us the ability to discern the quality of the active motivations and affections. In seeing those things that are contrary to the Divine Life within the natural mind it then becomes possible to resist its evils and falsities and choose to live from what is higher.

Regeneration and salvation can only be achieved through the sole means by which our sense of self, which is intricately tied to our sense of freedom, can be kept active in spiritual matters. The opportunity for salvation is ensured by the presence of the Lord as the Word. No one is compelled in any way to approach the Word and gain knowledge from it. The learning of spiritual truths and principles from the doctrines for Spiritual Christianity cannot be imposed upon anyone. Spiritual work is a prerequisite for growth, and it can only be undertaken freely based on our understanding of the Word. Failing to do so poses the risk of persisting in our sins. John conveys that the Word is our God, and if we are to be saved from the destructive evils inherent in a self-centered life, we must approach the Word, acquire knowledge of the Lord, and live by the truths it presents.

Ultimately the Word is the source of everything lasting and eternal; in fact, it is the only source of what is truly lasting and eternal. This is what is meant by verse 3….

All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.

The natural mind reads this and thinks materially. It can’t go beyond a gross material understanding of truth. But a more literal translation of the verse reveals that the material things of the external world are not the focus of the Text here. This is also clear from the wider context of what this chapter is dealing with. For when it speaks of all things coming into being through it, it is speaking not of the material world and its objects but of the coming into being or spiritual rebirth of what is truly human within us. Literally this verse reads as follows…

All came into being through it (the Word or Divine Truth) and apart from it not even one came into being that has come into being…

Notice that the word things has been removed. This word is added to the original text by the translators. In the Greek it is not, All things came into being… but, All came into being…”Similarly it is not, not even one thing came into being that has come into being… but, not even one came into being that has come into being… The very next verse makes it clear that the context has nothing to do with the material creation but is a comment on those principles that govern the spiritual creation or regeneration of the human mind, for it states that,

In it (that is in Divine Truth or the Word) is life (when the Word speaks of life it refers to true life or spiritual life or love), and the life was the light of men,   ( spiritual loves are what enlighten and bring into view what is truly human.)

What this is saying is that all who have true existence, that is spiritual life, have come into being by means of the Word or the Divine Truth; truth that they have freely chosen to live from and make a matter of life. And that no one can come into being, or become spiritual who hasn’t used truth to resist the evils of their selfish attachments in the promotion of spiritual good.

Surely we can all see that the light that shines in the darkness is the light of truth that breaks into the intellect of the natural mind which in and of itself is darkened by its selfish tendencies and lusts…and that when it says that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it…that this refers to the work of Divine Truth or the Word in our minds. For when we take truths and live from them in an effort to deal with those things within us which stand opposed to the spiritual life, then the light that we receive is such that it can’t be extinguished. We are then brought into being for the first time, born anew from above as we awaken to the spiritual life.

In the beginning was the Word.

… the very first principle of spiritual life. The true beginning or arche, for every person becomes human when they see that God is the Divine Truth or the Word. That this is the source of all light for our life and so when lived from is in fact the everlasting life belonging to the spiritual man – what is genuinely human within us all.

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