Part 1: God’s Involvement with Language
One of the backgrounds to John 1:1 is Genesis 1, where God creates the world
by speaking. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).
周e eternal Word in John 1:1 is analogically related to the creational words that
God spoke in calling the world into existence in Genesis 1, and to the words of
Scripture, which are the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). All three of these—eternal
Word, creational words, and the Bible—are forms of the word of God. 周e lat-
ter two both make manifest the wisdom of God that has its source in the eternal
Word (Col. 2:3; 1 Cor. 1:30).
Without going into detail about these diﬀerent forms, let us start with the most
basic form, namely, the eternal Word, the second person of the Trinity. Calling
him “the Word” indicates a relation between the Trinitarian character of God and
language. In this analogical relation, God the Father is the speaker, while God the
Son is the speech, “the Word.” Is there a role for the Holy Spirit? John 1:1–18 does
not directly mention the Spirit, but the background passage in Genesis 1 does
include the presence of the Spirit in Genesis 1:2. 周e Spirit “was hovering over
the face of the waters.” Psalm 104, which reﬂects back on Genesis 1 and praises
God for his works of creation, also includes a role for the Spirit:
When you hide your face, they [animals] are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground (Ps. 104:29–30).
周e Spirit of God gives life to a new generation of animals and plants (“renew
the face of the ground”). 周e Spirit is their empowerer. We can even see a close
relation between the breath of animals, which represents their life, and the power
of the Spirit of God “breathing” life into them. 周e connection is made explicit
in Job 33:4:
周e Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
周e Hebrew word for “spirit” is ruach, which can also mean “breath” or “wind.”
In most contexts it has only one of these three meanings, but the potential is
there to invoke more than one, as happens in Job 33:4 above. In Ezekiel 37 we
meet all three meanings in a passage that relates all three meanings to one an-
other: “spirit” (37:1, 14), “wind” (37:9), and “breath” (37:5, 6, 9, 10; but closely
related to “spirit” coming into dead bodies). 周e third person of the Trinity is
named “Spirit” partly to suggest a close relation between him and the picture of
the “breath” of God.
5. See ibid., 27–50.
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