I was an athlete. I played softball, basketball, football and tennis. I used to do those things all of the time, but not anymore. I’ve had three back surgeries, and I’ve got knees that don’t work well anymore. So now I just watch.
Now when I say, “I was an athlete,” that could mean that I did something athletic once (at some time in the past). On the other hand, it could mean that it was a continuous thing (I was continually doing athletic things in my past).
Well, this is the idea behind John’s statement in John 1:1, when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That’s how John begins his gospel of the life and work of Jesus Christ. He says that in the beginning, when there was nothing else – there was the Word (who is Jesus, in John’s Gospel). Now, John was not saying that Jesus was in the beginning, as though He had a beginning; he was saying that Jesus continually existed before there was time.
The word “was,” is used three times in the first verse of John, and is the past tense of the simple Greek verb “to be,” or “to exist”. But the Greeks had different ways of referring to the past. For instance, the aorist tense of the verb would refer to a particular act or event in the past. But the imperfect tense refers to something going on continually in the past.
The word “was” in John 1:1 is in the imperfect tense. That means that “the Word” (or Jesus) was continually existing in ages past, before there was a point in time we call “the beginning”.
John’s Gospel was written to show us that Jesus is God, and so that’s how he begins. As God, Jesus continually existed in eternity past. Jesus (the Word) is the eternal God. “In beginning was the Word.”
Now you know the real meaning of the word.
Hey, that’s how Jesus can be your Savior, you know—because He is the eternal God.