Thursday, December 8, 2016

Creation According to Genesis and John

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The prologue of the gospel of John, which we hear in the gospel reading of the Nativity of the Lord (Sunday, December 25, 2016), sets itself apart from the other three gospels by adopting the opening expression of the first book of the Old Testament, “In the beginning,” or “be-resheeth” in Hebrew, from which the name of the book, “Genesis” which means “origin” in Latin, was derived.

By adopting the opening expression of Genesis, John wishes to communicate to us two “beginnings”. First, the beginning of Jesus in terms of his genealogy. Unlike the Matthean genealogy which goes forward in time from Abraham to Jesus, and the Lucan genealogy which goes backward in time from Jesus to Adam, the Johannine genealogy transcends time and goes “upward”. In fact, it is out of this world in that it traces Jesus’ origin directly to God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Whereas Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies are historical and human, John’s is transcendent and divine. For what is God’s origin but God Himself?

Second, in repeating Genesis’ well-known opening statement, John is harkening back to God’s be-all-and-end-all act of creation in Genesis. In so doing, John wishes to draw our attention to a very different kind of creation account that his gospel endeavors to offer: one whose primary concern is the New Creation that Christ ushered in through redemption, one in which darkness is no more and true life is what the human race will enjoy (cf. John 1:4-5, 10:10).

What causes the theologians to believe creation is the common thread connecting the opening chapters of Genesis and John is more than “imaginative theology”. The scriptural evidences that they came up with to support this position are eye-opening to say the least. Worth mentioning among others are:

• Since everything is created through the Word (John 1:3, Col 1:16, Eph 2:10, Prov 8:22-30), His presence was prominent and indispensable in both creation accounts (in Genesis, God created by what He “said”, i.e. by His word; in John, all things came to be through the Word (John 1:3)).

• Like Genesis, John’s creation account contains a day-by-day narration of events and activities, totaling 7 days (John 1:1, 29, 35, 43 being the first 4 days plus 3 days – “On the third days” - in 2:1).

• Like Genesis whose creation culminates in the Sabbath on the 7th day, the day of holiness (the Lord's day) to which man (made on the 6th day) must strive to belong, John’s creation account also culminates in the 7th day in the wedding in Cana, a mirror image of the heavenly wedding of the Lamb (Rev 19:9), i.e. the eschatological union of God and man in the New Creation that Sabbath points us to.

Beautiful indeed “are the feet of him who brings glad tidings” (Is 52:7, the first reading), first the Lord Himself personally (Heb 1:2, 2nd reading), then the apostles, and now the Church which includes you and me. This Christmas let’s go caroling. Let’s get on top of the mountain and shout at the top of our lungs. Let’s do whatever it takes to bring glad tidings to the world. For Christ our Lord - the Messiah, the Holy Infant who was born through the Virgin Mary in the fullest of time (Gal 4:4) - is come! For us men and for our salvation He comes. To become human He comes. For the Son of God must come down from heaven to become the Son of Man so that the sons of men could be transformed to become the sons of God - the New Creation! That is why John wrote his gospel. That in a nutshell is the real Christmas message we proclaim.


  1. Good read.....and my mind wanders all over the place as follows:

    "In the beginning was the Word" Jn 1:1, this "Word" is a noun in the sentence.
    "Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light." - Gen 1:3, here the "Word" was spoken, and the noun became a verb, an action. The animated Word sprang into action in creation mode, doing the Will of God the Father, and BAM!!! there was example of what happens when the Will of God is carried out.
    "And the Word became flesh" - Jn 1:14, it's sort of like transubstantiation, substance transformed. When the Baby Christ was put in the manger (trough to be eaten out of), it already prefigured the Holy Eucharist (to be consumed).
    I'd imagine that God the Father begets the Son by uttering, not sure what He uttered, but by uttering.....the Word became.......just thinking out loud here, not trying to foist my understanding(meditation) on any one. It's an opinion ONLY.
    Every time we read the Bible, we're also reading the Word. Through our words the Word is again animated. The implication is infinitely serious, and the ramifications immense.

    1. Enjoyed your reflection, Tony.

      The relationship of the Father with the Son is one of begetting, uttering, and glorifying. How? Incomprehensible to the human mind, which is why the Holy Trinity is a mystery.

      Mysteriously, ancient Israel believed in the power of word the way we believe in the power of electricity nowadays. To the people of Israel, word had a life of its own. It's powerful, effectual or "animating", using your word, and irrevocable. Once "uttered", its intended impact must be realized and brought to fruition. This is why the patriarchs' blessings and curses were so significant and consequential (see, for example, Abel's cry to God after suffering injustice in Gen 4:10; Noah's curse on his son, Ham, for his incestuous crime in Gen 9:25; Jacob receiving Isaac's blessing by cheating in Gen 27:30-40; Jacob's blessings for his sons in Gen 49, etc.).

      Don't under-estimate the power of word, especially when it's uttered sacramentally in Church rituals.

    2. Interesting....if, in the Jewish culture, the word is so powerful, effectual, and irrevocable, then their understanding of the LIE (uttered by the ancient serpent) would have been very different from ours (coming from a different culture) in terms of seriousness, evilness, relevance, etc...