Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Word Became Flesh

The sermon in church this morning was on John 1:1-18. Being a bit greeky-geeky now, I followed along in Greek. One (random) thing I thought was interesting and shocking in the passage was the use of the word εγενετο (egeneto), but it's completely hidden in pretty much every English translation. Let me explain...

εγενετο is quite difficult to translate into English. It means something along the lines of "happened" or "came to exist" or "came to be". And it comes up quite a lot in the passage.

Verse 3:
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (NIV)
All things through him εγενετο; without him εγενετο not one thing (literal).

Verse 6:
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. (NIV)
εγενετο a man, sent from God, his name John. (literal)

Verse 10:
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.(NIV)
In the world he was, and the world through him εγενετο, and the world did not know him.(literal)

Verse 12:
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (NIV)
But to those who received him, he gave the right to become (same word as εγενετο) children of God, to the ones who believe in his name.(literal)

Verse 14:
The Word became flesh (NIV)
The word flesh εγενετο. (literal)

εγενετο in John 1 is clearly used of the act of creation. In verse 3, we see it used of the creative action of the Word in making all things - every single thing that came to exist (εγενετο) was through the Word. That includes John (v6) - one of the key emphases of the beginning of John's gospel is that Jesus is greater than John the Baptist, which has led some people to think that it was written to people who liked John the Baptist. But John was created by the Word, just the same as everything else. It includes the whole world (v10). It even includes the act of re-creation in the life of the Christian (v12) - that is described with εγενετο as well. The Word makes those who believe him into children of God by his creative action.

But then there is v14, and it is a shock. The Word, the one who makes every single person and thing in the entire universe, the Word εγενετο flesh. The one who was with God and was God in the beginning (v1-2), the one who created everything, himself becomes one of the things that he has created. The Word became flesh. If you aren't amazed by that, you haven't understood it. If you think you understand it, you aren't even close to understanding it.

Jesus is amazing - the one who made everything, himself made flesh. The creator of everything is himself created as well as being creator and uncreateable. Wow.

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