In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (1:1-5).
John does not waste his time arguing with the Gnostic and other heretics. Rather, he states certain facts that he knows beyond all shadow of doubt to be true. Let them speculate; he knows.
He begins with:
John makes three sweeping statements that affirm once and for all the deity of the one he had known so well. Although he did not become his disciple until he revealed himself for who he was, John had almost certainly known "Jesus of Nazareth" since he was a small boy. He was the Lord's cousin. His mother, Salome, was sister of the virgin Mary. The mysterious circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus, chronicled by Matthew and Luke, were no secret in the family circle. We can reasonably assume that the Lord Jesus, in his boyhood and early manhood days, along with his brothers and sisters, had normal contact with the relatives who lived by the lake. Nazareth was not that far from the sea of Galilee. Annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the feasts were always social occasions when families and friends joined together in bands to make the trip.
After becoming one of the Lord's disciples, John knew that Jesus of Nazareth was God. He simply tells what he knows. No turn-of-the-first-century liberal or cultist was in a position to deny the sublime statements John makes in his opening sentences. All John has to do is bear witness to the truth. He was not concerned to confront all the vagaries and varieties of error. He knew what the truth was and he contented himself with that.
To equate Jesus with God was a proposition not lightly made. John was a Palestinian Jew, with all the horror such a person would have for blasphemy. He was not a philosopher, not even a theologian. He was a man who had spent three-and-a-half extraordinary years in the company of Jesus. For well over half a century he had thought things over. It was his conviction now, as it had been his conviction then, that Jesus of Nazareth was no ordinary man. He was—and is—God.
John begins with an affirmation, "In the beginning was the Word," that does not refer to a start, but to an infinite state.
The Greek used by John is the word logos. It was a word familiar to Greek philosophers and a word adopted for his own purposes by the Jewish philosopher Philo. To the Greeks, the word had reference to the abstract conception that lies behind everything concrete—to the ideal, to what we could perhaps call wisdom.