The Dabar was Elohim

and the Word was Elohim - John 1:1

The phrase in verse 14, "made his dwelling," can be translated literally as "pitched his tent." "The Word became flesh and 'pitched his tent' among us." If you've ever camped, you've pitched your tent. And when we go camping, we no longer enjoy some of the conveniences of home. Camping is rough, dirty, and often exhausting.

The idea of pitching tent means that Elohim as the Word came to Earth to encamp among us as we camp, "in tents." But as tents were made of skin, he also pitched his tent of the flesh - skin and bone - and dwelt in the same physical form (or tent) as human beings, with all the limitations, weaknesses, and inconveniences that accompany tenting in the flesh.

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John 1:1-5 (NIV) {1} In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. {2} He was with Elohim in the beginning. {3} Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. {4} In him was life, and that life was the light of men. {5} The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.

1) The Evangelist Appeals to Pagans Through the Word

The Word was a well-known concept in the thought world of the pagan Greeks of Yahshua's day. Though the identity of the Word was a matter of speculation among pagans, the function of the Word was to be the intermediary between the supreme god and human beings. The Word was both the messenger of god sent from the heavens to Earth, and that part of god that dwelt within the soul. As speech is the manifestation of thought, the Word goes forth as the manifestation of the will of Elohim to life on earth, indwells life, and brings forth god's will in life. Such was the understanding of the pagans of Yahshua's time concerning the Word.

In his Gospel, the Evangelist is first of all trying to convince pagans that the Word is not a separate entity from the supreme god, but that the Word is an indivisible part of god. The Word is not a mere messenger of Elohim, or a subordinate of Elohim, but the Word "was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim."

Throughout the Gospel, the Evangelist makes the point that Elohim and his Word are a unified being:

Concerning the Identity of the Word: The Word himself has said "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).

Concerning the Mission of the Word: The Word has said "I came from the Father and entered the world" (John 16:28).

Concerning the Work of the Word: The Word has said "My Father is always at his work...and I, too, am working" (John 5:17).

Concerning the Teaching of the Word: The Word has said "The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me" (John 14:10).

So, over and over, the Evangelist appeals to pagans in their own religious language, identifying the Word as Elohim himself, drawing pagans into the mystery of the one who came to save sinners of all stripes, be they Jews or pagans.

2) The Evangelist Appeals to Educated Jews Through the Word

The Word was a concept taught also in some rabbinical schools (seminaries) in Yahshua's time along these lines:

> the Word was the image and likeness of Elohim,

> the universe was created by Elohim through the Word,

> the Word was Elohim's first and oldest creation.

But like the Greeks, the Jewish religious leaders believed that

> the Word was a separate being from Elohim, and

> the Word had not descended to Earth, nor

> had the Word a need for a body of flesh.

The Evangelist tries to correct this conception by pointing out in verse 14 that "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." The Elohim of Heaven by his Word has indeed descended from his throne of timeless glory to the realm of the Earth - Elohim has not spared anything of himself to form a relationship with his creation. Elohim has dwelt with us in the form of the Word-made-flesh.

The phrase in verse 14, "made his dwelling," can be translated literally as "pitched his tent." "The Word became flesh and 'pitched his tent' among us." If you've ever camped, you've pitched your tent. And when we go camping, we no longer enjoy some of the conveniences of home. Camping is rough, dirty, and often exhausting.

The idea of pitching tent means that Elohim as the Word came to Earth to encamp among us as we camp, "in tents." But as tents were made of skin, he also pitched his tent of the flesh - skin and bone - and dwelt in the same physical form (or tent) as human beings, with all the limitations, weaknesses, and inconveniences that accompany tenting in the flesh. Furthermore, the Word of Elohim came to us from a righteous woman's womb as a mere babe, helpless and wordless. As the songwriter has proclaimed,

Once in royal David's city stood a lowly cattle shed,

Where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his bed;

He came down to earth from heaven who is Elohim and Lord of all,

And his shelter was a stable, and his cradle was a stall.

The Word lived the life of a child and grew up to be a man; he looked like a man, worked like a man, suffered like a man. The Word was a man - a man that "was in all points tested as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).

The Evangelist tells us in verses 10 & 11 that

{10} He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. {11} He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

It was the educated, high-placed Jews that had the most to lose by the advent of the Word. For the Word to come as a destitute child absolutely condemned their affluent, godless lifestyles. So they dealt him his greatest rejection. For though the Word was with Abraham and formed Israel, when the Word came to dwell in Israel, the great ones of Israel refused to recognize him, nor does Israel yet recognize him.

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3) The Evangelist Appeals to Religious Jews Through the Word

The Evangelist portrays the Word to religious Jews as the agent through which Elohim created the heavens and the earth. Compare our text with the creation story in Genesis 1:1-4 {which is the Old Testament reading}.

To lead off the Evangelist's Gospel we also find the words "In the beginning...." In both we find Elohim. We find the tension of light and darkness, and its separation. We find Elohim speaking forth the creative Word. In The Evangelist 1:3 it says, "Through the Word all things were made; without the Word nothing was made that has been made." The word "made" in the Gospel is the same word "created" in Genesis 1:1 (Gr. ginosko: "come to be"), from which the title of the first Bible book, "Genesis," is derived. The Evangelist is linking the creative power of the Word with our most foundational story of faith so that religious Jews might read and believe.

The creative mission of the Word is further explored in the prophets, especially in the oracle of Elohim from Isaiah 55:10-11:

Yahweh says, {10} As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish...{11} so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

The Word goes forth, descending from Heaven to create, and the Word returns, ascending back from whence he came. It was the Word who said in The Evangelist 16:28,

"I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."

The creative Word of Elohim has power to pitch his tent and to take up his tent. The Word has power to create and tear down. The Word, in the thoughts of the writer to the Hebrews, is

{12}...living and active. The Word is sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; the Word judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. {13} Nothing in all creation is hidden from his sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).

For religious Jews, the Evangelist used the concept of the Word as hovering over the waters in creation and coming forth to Earth for salvation in order to convince them to believe in the Word, and receive life and light in his name.

 

4) The Evangelist Appeals to Messiahians Through the Word

In his short epistle of First The Evangelist, the Evangelist claims to have witnessed the Word-made-flesh personally. Notice again how similar the language is in 1 The Evangelist 1:1-3 to that of our text:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. {2} The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

Believers today know the person called the Word through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. But there was a short period in history when the Word-in-flesh dwelt among people just like us, people who testified to seeing him, touching him, and hearing him. Their testimony has stood the test of time, and we read that testimony today.

But it is not the testimony of long dead evangelists and scripture writers that have convinced us to trust the Word. Our belief and trust stem primarily from our own personal witness and fellowship with the Word, who has come to us, and revealed his glory to us. It is this personal experience of the Word tenting within us that drives us to say "amen" to the testimony of the written word.

For the Word has touched us, and recreated us in the image of Elohim, which is the Word's own likeness. He has taken our lives, which were "without form and void," and caused us to spring forth in life - and life more abundantly. The Evangelist insists that "in him is life, and the life is the light of humanity." Such ethereal light has transformed us, for, as it is written in verses 12 - 13:

{12} ...To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of Elohim-- {13} children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of Elohim.

And we can witness to the light and the life it brings in our own lives, for, like the Evangelist,

{14} ...We have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ... {16} From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. {17} For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yahshua Messiah.

And finally the Evangelist reveals who the Word is - Yahshua Messiah, full of grace and truth. But we already knew that, didn't we? And it is through Yahshua from whom we too have also received our blessings, our graces, our truths: the Word of Elohim, united with Elohim, the light of Elohim, the life from Elohim, the only begotten of Elohim - Yahshua Messiah our Savior and Master. The Word has come and has tented with us, and we have seen him, and heard his voice, and have touched his heart.

The pagan philosophers of ancient Greece have left their marks upon us. Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, and Aristotle for 40. We have heard tell a little of the great Jewish luminaries like Sirach and Philo and Maimonides who, in sum, must have taught over 100 years. We have also read about the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the other Jewish theologians whose work has spanned ages of time. Yet the influence of the Word's 3-year ministry on Earth infinitely transcends the combined hundreds of years of teachings of the greatest philosophers of all time.

The Word painted no pictures; yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. The Word wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world's greatest poets were inspired by Him. The Word composed no music, still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise. Righteous and anointed music written to restore the pagan holiday Christmas is everywhere these days!

Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by the Word who descended humbly from his first abode to bring light and life into the world. And the darkness of the world has not dimmed the light nor diminished the life.

And it is this same Word, the Snyder tells us, that is near you, even on your lips and in your heart to keep his commandments. Imagine! Such creative power is now a part of you! You are born of Elohim and children of Elohim!

Now he's walking in our shoes
Singing with our voice,
Reaching out with our hands,
Helping someone make the right choice.
He's smiling with our faces,
Showing us the way.
And I'm so glad that we can be a part -
He's living in our hearts.

What will you now do with the Word living in your heart? Will you make the Word flesh again? In this holy season will you become the Word for others? Will you accept the challenge of allowing the Word to live out his life through you?

If the Word accomplished so much in a mere three years, what incredible feats of love might we accomplish together in our lives today? Think about it.

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