While Luke traces the Lord’s human genealogy back to Adam (Luke 3:38), John traces the Lord’s divine genealogy back to “the beginning” (John 1:1). John is purposely recalling the words of Genesis 1:1 here to let us know that the Lord’s origins go back to eternity past. He is “Alpha and Omega” (Rev.1:8; 1:11; 21:6; 22:13), the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In other words, He was there in the beginning, and He’ll be there in the end!
But why does John call Him “the Word”? Well, the Lord has many names in Scripture, and all are needed to express who He is. But “the Word” reminds us that He is the expression of who the Father is, for just as our words express who we are, so Christ expresses who the Father is.
But He does more than express who the Father is. Just as He is the Word of God, He is also “the word of life” (IJohn 1:1), and so expresses what eternal life is. Eternal life is more than living forever, it is holiness, it is serving God, and living for others. The Lord expressed all of those things during His life here on earth, and so was called “the word of life.” Notice that John then follows this statement by saying that he and his fellow witnesses of Christ “shew unto you that eternal life” (1:2), i.e., they too showed what eternal life should be in their holiness, their service for God and how they lived for others. We should too!
The Lord is also called “the Word” in I John 5:7, where we learn He is “one” with the Father and the Spirit. Satan has cast a doubt on the canonicity of this verse, but the truth of the trinity is substantiated in many other verses. After Adam sinned, God said, “the man has become as one of us” (Gen.1:22). At the tower of Babel, God said, “Let us go down, and there confound their language” (Gen.11:6). The seraphim cry “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord” (Isa.6:3). Isaiah then “heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (6:8). Finally, each member of the Trinity is said to have raised Christ from the dead (Acts 4:10; Rom.8:11; John 10:18), and this could only be true if the three are one! The reason Satan challenges I John 5:7 is because he does not want men to believe God is a trinity, for man was made a trinity in His image (Gen.1:26). If he can get men to doubt that God is a trinity, then maybe man is not a trinity. That would mean that when man dies, his soul and spirit do not live on to be judged—and Satan would love for men to believe that!
John declared that they had “seen” and “heard” and “handled” the Word (IJohn1:1); in other words, they knew the Word after the flesh. But our apostle Paul says that “though we have known Christ after the flesh” in the four gospel records of His life, “yet now henceforth know we Him no more” after the flesh (IICor.5:16). If you are thinking it is not as good to know Him this way, think again! Every time the apostles asked the living Word the same question, He gave the same answer, and every time we ask the Word of God the same question, we get the same answer! You could even argue that what we have is better, since they probably wouldn’t dare wake the Lord at 3 a.m. to ask Him a question, but I have learned many things from God’s Word at 3 a.m.!
Next John establishes that the Lord was a separate person from the Father when he declares “the Word was with God” (John 1:1). Some say God created man because He was lonely, but God enjoyed His own fellowship in eternity past, and created man for His own “pleasure” (Rev.4:11).
After establishing that the Lord was “with God” and so separate and distinct from God, John then goes on to insist on His oneness with God when he declares that “the Word was God” (John1:1; cf. 10:30). Once Thomas beheld his resurrected Lord’s wounds, he gasped, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). He was the great Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), which being interpreted means “God with us” (Mt.1:23). How else could Isaiah say that “a child is born” (Isaiah 9:6), and then say that “His name shall be called… The mighty God, the everlasting Father”?
Further proof of the Good Shepherd’s deity is seen in Isaiah 40, where it says of Christ that “the Lord God will come” (v.10) and “feed His flock like a shepherd” (v.11).