“In the Beginning”

John 1:1


      The other Gospel writers begin with Bethlehem. John begins with “the bosom of the Father.” Luke dates his narrative by Roman emperors and Jewish high-priests. John dates his “in the beginning.” With those words, he carries us into the depths of eternity, before time or creatures were. Both the Book of Genesis and the Gospel of John start from “the beginning.” Genesis starts with “the beginning” and works downward, telling us what followed. John starts with “the beginning” and works upward, telling us what preceded “the beginning.” Before the beginning, Christ the Word, our God and Savior, already was.


The Beginning


John’s Gospel opens with these three simple words that are full of instruction: — “In the beginning.” In 1st John, this same Apostle used similar language to describe our Savior and speaks of him as, “That which was from the beginning” (1 John 1:1). — But what is he talking about? Certainly, he is not talking about the beginning of eternity, for eternity has no beginning. Rather than trying to determine the meaning of these words for ourselves, let’s look at them as they are used in other places by the Spirit of God.


Our Savior asserts, “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was” (Proverbs 8:22-23). — He who alone is God identifies himself as God with these words: “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10). — “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). — Our Lord Jesus Christ is “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). — The Spirit of God declares to you who believe on the Lord Jesus, “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). — We read in Hebrews 1:10, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.” — Our blessed Savior is “the beginning” and “him that is from the beginning” (1 John 2:14).


Beginning before the Beginning


      As these words are used in Holy Scripture, and specifically as John used them, “the beginning” speaks of the beginning of the manifestation or Jehovah’s purpose of grace, the beginning of his great work of saving his elect by the Lord Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior, whose “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). It seems to me that he is telling us that there was a beginning before the beginning of time. Our blessed Savior went forth from the beginning as our covenant Surety to save us from our sins.


In John 1:1 the Holy Spirit teaches us to look upon the Son of God, both as the Essential Word and as the Revealed Word, standing forth in the everlasting councils of the triune God as our Surety, and set up as the Wisdom of God from everlasting. He says of himself…


“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” (Proverbs 8:22-31)


Done in the Beginning


The whole work of our salvation was accomplished “in the beginning.” “In the beginning,” before ever the earth was made, Christ stood forth as the Word in and by whom the Lord God would make himself known in the salvation of chosen sinners. He was not only the Word from the beginning, but “in the beginning


      He stood forth “in the beginning” as our covenant Surety, and assumed all responsibility for our souls before the triune God. The triune God trusted him as the Surety of his elect “in the beginning” (Ephesians 1:12).


      Our Lord Jesus Christ was accepted as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” His blood and sacrifice reached all God’s elect, as John Gill put it, “from the beginning of the world, for the justification of their persons, the atonement of their sins, and cleansing from them, for the remission of sins.”


      Every sinner saved in time in the experience of grace was saved “in the beginning” by the purpose and will of God, chosen, accepted, blessed and redeemed in Christ from “the beginning” (Ephesians 1:3-7). When the Son of God stood forth as our Surety “in the beginning,” the triune Jehovah laid help for our souls upon our Mediator as “One that is mighty” (Psalm 89:19), and finding satisfaction for our souls in him, “the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:3).





Don Fortner



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