Re: Romans 3:19-20

Date: Thu Oct 05 1995 - 19:54:41 EDT


There are those who do not see the Word being declared to be God, but rather
they say He is "a god." They say this because there is no article before the
final "theos" (God) in John 1:1. But as you will see, this is all quite
normal in Greek.

I go through John 1:1 in Greek class every year. There, I present seven
exegetical observations from the Greek text that show the Word to be God, not
merely "a god." This is bolstered by the context which declares the Word to
be the creator of all things, etc.

1. The proximity of the previous "theos" (God). The word order in the Greek
is reversed from the normal word order in the final clause, bringing God in
close proximity to the previous God with the article. The latter "theos" is
explained in context to be the same as the previous "theos" (God). If John
had intended to write that the Word was "a god," he would not have put them
right next to each other. In the original manuscripts, there wasn't any
punctuation or spaces between the words (lit., "THEONTHEOS...").

2. The impossibility of putting an article before nouns on both sides of a
copulative phrase. When you put an article before nouns on both sides of a
linking verb in Greek, you are saying that the totality of the one is the
other, and vise-versa. This would make God out to be nothing else besides
the Second Person of the Trinity. But God is more than this, He is also the
Father and the Holy Spirit. For an in-depth discussion of this, see
Robertson's Grammar, pages 767ff. See John 4:24 and 1 John 4:8 where the
article on one side is missing also (cf. Robertson's Word Pictures, Volume
IV, p. 223 on 2 Corinthians 3:17; cf. also his Grammar, p. 767f.)

3. The Word was "pros ton theon" (face to face with God). This is a very
strong phrase showing how the Word was on a level with God, face to face.

4. The "kai" (and) in John 1:1 is an epexegetical kai. Kai can be translated
a number of different ways ("and, also, indeed, even" just to name a few).
 John especially uses kai to continue and further explain the previous
clauses or sentences. This is an epexegetical use. In John 1:1, John is
building on each of the previous thoughts to a climax. "In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." A.T. Robertson
has an excellent section on kai in his Grammar, p. 1179-1183.
5. It is common for Koine Greek writers to reference the first use of a given
person with the article, then often without the article on subsequent uses in
the same passage. So where God has the article in the second clause of John
1:1, it doesn't in the third, but refers to the same God, not "a god" that is

6. John 1:12 references God without the article in Greek. "To as many as
believed in Him, He gave the right to become children of God..." It is
interesting to note how many cults and the like try to interpret the latter
reference in John 1:1 of God to be "a god" because it doesn't have the
article, but then proceed to interpret John 1:12 as "God" unquestionably!
 The point is that both in the passage refer to God the Father Himself.

7. Reversed word order in the Greek. The final clause of John 1:1 is
reversed from the normal word order. One good reason why is to bring the
THEOS into proximity with the previous THEOS to make the identification

Finally, in conclusion here, John meant to write that Jesus, the Word (cf.
John 1:14) was God. He wouldn't have written John 1:1ff. so confusing if he
didn't mean this. There are so many things that make it clear that John was
saying Jesus was God here. If he didn't mean this, then he really made a lot
of mistakes to confuse his readers.

Jim McGuire
Greek Professor at
Logos Bible Institute
13248 Roscoe Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA 91352

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