On “with” in John 1:1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
In our study we will concentrate on one word, the word we translate as “with” in “the Word was with God”.
John does not use either of the ordinary Greek words for with. The Spirit inspired him to write a different word, one that very often means something else.
It is the word pros. It has more than one meaning and is used in different ways. A primary meaning is “at, to” and when used as John uses it, has a strong feeling of movement towards. It is right, but not enough, to translate it as “with”. It is more than what our word “with” can convey on its own.
John defines the way that Christ relates to the Father as an attitude of facing him and moving towards him. We are given a ‘movie picture’ of the Son’s relationship to the Father. They relate in a certain way, captured in John’s careful use of Greek.
We might say that the Apostle is describing the love of the Son as ever moving forward into the arms of the Father.
The contemporary theologian Francesca Aran Murphy says that this towardness is the Holy Spirit. Characteristically modest about himself, the Spirit of God is not mentioned explicitly, but revealed in the word pros.
In this grand opening statement, quite Jewish in character, a miracle of meaning, seventeen words arranged into three groups of five, seven, and five, John defines God as Father, Word and Spirit.
He also shows us the relationship of the Word to the Father, which is also how we in Christ relate to God: in the Spirit, moving through his Son, towards our Father; sometimes boldly, sometimes hesitantly, but always towards him, from glory to glory.