When Did the Word Become Flesh in John 1:14?

As noted in the previous article on John 1:14, the Word became flesh—embodied itself—qualitatively within the person of Jesus. Don Hartley[1] stated that all mass terms take a qualitative force, including “flesh” in John 1:14:

“John 1:14, for example, does not teach that the Logos became The Flesh or a flesh, but rather “flesh,” signifying that all the Logos possesses all the qualities or attributes of “flesh””

By indicating that the Word became flesh, it shows that the Word was not always flesh. There was a time before (and perhaps after) that it did not possess all the qualities or attributes of flesh. What is not stated is when the Word took on the qualities of flesh. Was Jesus the Word made flesh at his birth?

John’s Prologue


In John’s Prologue, he tells of a messenger of God, John the Baptist:

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. — John 1:6-9 NIV

John the Baptist came to proclaim the light, but only as witness. That light was coming. John, who was the same age as Jesus, said that the light had not yet come, but was in the process of coming. He told of the coming of the light…

There was the true light coming into the world, which gives light to every person. It was in the world, and the world came into being through it, and the world did not know it. (John 1:9-10 REV)

…the coming of Jesus…

He came to his own, and those who were his own did not receive him. — John 1:11 REV

…and his mission:

But as many as received him—to those who believe in his name—to them he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not from bloods, nor from the will of the flesh, nor from the will of a man, but from God. — John 1:12-13 REV

Here John finally talks of being born, but it is not of Jesus.[9] Rather, it is his followers being born—born of God! It is not a natural birth of man, but one of God.

When he concluded his prologue, John did not begin the narrative account of Jesus with the physical birth of Jesus. He began with John the Baptist, whom he had just discussed. There he told how John baptized Jesus and then the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, like a dove from heaven and remained—or dwelt—in him. Jesus was born in the same way his followers would be, by water and spirit:

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. — John 3:5 NIV

Yet, sandwiched within John the Baptist—as an adult—saying that the light was coming, Jesus being rejected—as an adult—and Jesus being anointed—as an adult—with water and the Holy Spirit, is John 1:14: the Word becoming flesh.

…Was Coming


The prologue and the opening narrative discuss John the Baptist and Jesus. After John the Baptist spoke of the light that was coming, he then witnessed the coming of Jesus. The coming was a baptism in water followed by an anointing of the Holy Spirit (and its remaining presence). If Jesus and the light were both coming after Jesus was already an adult, it is odd to claim that the Word was already flesh at the (unmentioned) birth of Jesus.

Jesus began his ministry upon this anointing, when the light came into the world[2]. From that point forward, for a man to become a child of God, he had to be born, like Jesus, of water (through baptism) and also of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was the firstborn Son of God[3], but those who follow his example also become children of God. And so, the Word—God’s Holy Spirit, the glory of God—did become flesh, embodied—or tabernacled—first in Jesus and later his followers.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? — 1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV

Christians follow the example of their master to become children of God by believing the good news, being baptized by water, and receiving the Holy Spirit: all in the flesh. It does not make sense that “the Word became flesh” refers to Jesus preexisting his birth.

In the Beginning


The opening chapter of John is full of parallels. John 1:1 parallels the creation account in Genesis 1. Reading further, John reminds readers that through God’s Word, the world was created:[4]

All things came into being through it, and apart from it nothing came into being that has come into being. [..] It was in the world, and the world came into being through it, and the world did not know it. — John 1:3,10 REV

Yet, even though the Word of God created the world, the world did not recognize the Word of God. What was to be done about this?

The beginning of the book of John parallels another of John’s writing:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. — 1 John 1:1-3 NIV

The beginning is what was heard, touched, and seen. It is the Word that was proclaimed by Jesus, on behalf of the Father. As Mark 1:1 states, this Word is the Good News (that is, the gospel):

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

So we see two beginnings. The first is the beginning of the world, by the power of God’s Word. The second is a new creation through God’s Word: the coming of the Holy Spirit through first Jesus and then through the right for his followers to become children of God, of which Jesus is the firstborn. John draws a parallel between the very significant creation of the world and very significant creation of new life when men become children of God. What ties it all together? The Word of God.

The Word of God created the world, but that alone was not sufficient for the world to know the Word. The Word had to come in the flesh as a second creation for men to be reborn as children of God.

The Flesh that was Good News


In Hebrew the word בָּשַׂר (basar) is a verb that means “To bear tidings or good news.”[5] When the word is used in its masculine (Hebrew) or feminine (Aramaic) noun forms, it means “flesh”, “body”, or “meat”.[6][7] While the words are spoken with different vowel sounds, but since the written form has no vowels, the words are written exactly the same.

This type of pun is very common in Hebrew and Aramaic where, unlike English, the same root word can have distinct meanings that differ merely on their part of speech or gender. Much of this is lost in translation, including cases where multiple meanings are intended (e.g. intentional play-on-words).

Just as the ancient Hebrew would literally celebrate good news (such as the birth of a child!) by killing and eating a fat animal, so to is it good news that God’s Spirit has come to dwell within the bodies of men, recreating and rebirthing them. The good news of Jesus was, in very real terms, both his physical presence and the words of God that he proclaimed.

In light of this play-on-words, consider the words of Mark again:

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

Or “We begin with Jesus, in whom the good news [בָּשַׂר] was embodied [בָּשַׂר]”.

John, whose native language was Aramaic, deliberately chose to use a play-on-words. He was not merely (or possibly even) being literal. Why did he say “the word became flesh?” For the same reason that John himself declared the Good News of Jesus in 1 John 1:1-3 and Mark declared the Good News of Jesus.

Conclusion


When did the word become flesh? When Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit came, as a dove, to dwell within him.[8]

When does the word become flesh? Every time a person is reborn and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell among men again.

[1] Robert Hommel states of Hartley: “…a student of Dan Wallace’s and research assistant on Wallace’s grammar, wrote his Master’s of Theology thesis at Dallas Theological Seminary on the topic of Colwell’s Construction and mass / count nouns.  He also published a paper derived from his thesis.”

[2] But even then, not fully, for his death and resurrection were still to come.

[3] Jesus is referred to as the firstborn of creation in Colossians 1:15-21, which uses similar language to that of John’s Prologue.

[4] As shown in the previous article, it is by the Word (not Jesus) that the world was made.

[5] https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1319.htm

[6] https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1320.htm

[7] https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1321.htm

[8] Luke 3:21-12; John 1:51

[9] There is a variant reading where the verb in v13 is singular and refers to Jesus’ birth.

The Trinity and the Protestants

The previous post “Grammatical Analysis of John 1:1c and John 1:14” noted that the doctrine of the Trinity is not supported by the grammar in the opening of the Gospel of John. Since this is widely considered to be the most important and direct scriptural evidence of Jesus’ preexistence and divinity, one would have to look elsewhere to establish such a doctrine. And indeed, this precisely what happened.

The doctrine of the Trinity was first developed at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD, three centuries after Jesus lived. The doctrine would be further refined in later councils of that century[1], but this was its formal beginning. Those determinations have since been fully embraced by Catholic and Orthodox traditions, who see the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity as an inseparable combination of Biblical teaching and church authority (e.g. the Catholic magisterium).

But many Protestants hold to the doctrine of sola scriptura, or the Bible alone.[2] If Protestants reject the primacy of the spiritual authority of the Catholic or Orthodox churches, then it must do so by rejecting the authority of their councils that codified the Trinitarian doctrine. The Protestant is faced with two logical choices:

  1. Accept the authority of the Catholic church and the illegitimacy of the Protestant offshoots.
  2. Reject the Trinity as a 4th century innovation[3].

The doctrine of sola scriptura obligates the latter.

Why is it that Protestants reject nearly every doctrinal innovation made by the Catholic church, but deeply accept the corruption about the very nature of the Father and the Son themselves? If you reject the authority of the Catholic church to establish doctrines, then you should reject the doctrine of the Trinity (which is arguably of greater consequence), because it is not defensible under a sola scriptura framework.

Protestants should either become Unitarian Monotheists[4] or else join the Catholic church.

John C. Wright, a well-reasoned writer who became a Christian in dramatic fashion, more-or-less agrees in his Catholic Universal Apologia:

While a Mormon or a Christian Scientist, who espouse theories even further from the mainstream than Arianism and Albigensianism, can say without a blush that all the Ecumenical Councils were wrong, no one who believes the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity can do so. These doctrines have little or no basis in scripture, and no basis whatever in natural reason: they are purely artifacts of the deposit of faith entrusted to the Apostles and their successors, and rest solely on the authority of the [Roman Catholic] Church to define Christian doctrine. (emphasis added)

[1] Directly coinciding with the formation of the magisterial Catholic church.

[2] This is generally simplified to mean accepting only the Bible and not the written works of later Christians outside of the accepted canon. Sola scriptura does not exclude the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, those who hold to the doctrine also accept that Holy Spirit speaks directly to Christians and authoritatively instructs them.

[3] Along with veneration of relics of martyrs, the doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness,  and the real presence of the Eucharist (the Roman mass sacrifice that replaced the tithe offering and consecration).

[4] Not Unitarians, which is a religious group. Unitarian Monotheists are Christians who reject the doctrine of the Trinity as a largely 4th century theological innovation not found in the Bible. They are not a specific religious group.

Grammatical analysis of John 1:1c and John 1:14

While the doctrine of the Trinity is defended in many ways with many verses, it is the book of John that contains the most compelling evidence. John 1:1-14 is one of two primary passages used almost universally (the other is John 20:28). Its importance to Christianity cannot be overstated. Michael F. Bird underscores this point in the opening chapter of the book “How God Became Jesus”:

“I have my own view as to “when” Jesus became God…I think I can articulate the answer by way of a quotation from John the Evangelist: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)”

The Trinitarian interpretation can be summarized with the following logical propositions.

  1. Word was God. (John 1:1c)
  2. Word became flesh. (John 1:14)
  3. Therefore, God became flesh.

If the argument is extended to note that Jesus is the Son of God, it creates an apparent logical contradiction, for it states that Jesus is both the Son of God and God. It is logically incoherent to say that something is both of something and is something. This irrationality is acknowledged as a mystery or paradox that cannot be explained but is true nonetheless.[1] However, let’s put that aside and continue.

All is not as it appears with this argument. But before the analysis can continue, some additional information must be introduced.

Grammar of John 1:1c


John 1:1c uses the copula ‘was’ to join ‘god’ and ‘the word’: “the word was God.” In the Greek this is literally “God was the word”, where ‘the word’ is the subject with the definite article and ‘god’ is the predicate nominative without the definite article. The predicate nominative comes first for emphasis.

There are a range of possible interpretations. Robert Hommel does an excellent job summarizing the grammatical issues (PDF) in The Apologists Bible Commentary on John 1. Kermit Zarley discusses the competing views in more detail, including the pros and cons of the major options. Those options are shown below in (roughly) increasing order of definiteness:

#PhrasePredicate Nominative Use
(1)The Word was a godindefinite
(2)The Word was divine
OR
The Word had the same nature as God
qualitative adjectival
(3)What God was, the Word wasqualitative adjectival
(4)The Word was Goddefinite-qualitative
(5)God was the Worddefinite

The purely definite force leads to a reversible (or convertible) proposition[2] where “The Word was God” is equivalent to its converse “God was the Word.” This leads to Modalism or Sabellianism. Overwhelmingly, the historical orthodox interpretation has been definite-qualitative, though it has occasionally been translated as divine in an qualitative, adjectival sense.[3] The other qualitative interpretation suggests personification rather than divinity.[4] Jehovah’s Witnesses translate it using a purely indefinite force, where Jesus is a god, but not the God.

20th and 21st century scholarship has been moving away from the traditional interpretation towards more qualitative, adjectival interpretations, though the traditional interpretation remains popular.[5]

Regarding Jesus’ divinity, most of the attention has been and continues to be given to John 1:1 rather than 1:14. This may be a mistake.

Grammar of John 1:14


John 1:14 literally reads “And the word flesh became…” This is properly translated as “The word became flesh.” While in 1:1c used the copula “was”, verse 14 uses the semi-copula “became.” For practical purposes, “became” functions in the same semantic way as “was.” This will become important shortly.

Hommel notes that Don Hartley declared that all mass terms take a qualitative force, including “flesh” in John 1:14:

“John 1:14, for example, does not teach that the Logos became The Flesh or a flesh, but rather “flesh,” signifying that all the Logos possesses all the qualities or attributes of “flesh””

John 1:14 combines ‘the Word’ and the mass noun ‘flesh’ with the semi-copulative ‘became’. The word ‘flesh‘ has a qualitative force.

Having briefly examined the grammar, the problems will now become clear.

Grammatical Problems


Let’s quickly revisit the propositions:

  1. Word was God
  2. Word became flesh
  3. Therefore, God became flesh.

In the propositions, #3 does not logically follow because #1 is not a reversible proposition. #3 is only justified if God was the Word, but such a definite grammatical use is largely rejected by scholars. However, this is not the only argument made for divinity of the Son.

Trinitarian theology fully equates the Son with the Word (the preexistent “Logos-Son”). John 1:1c is taken to mean ‘[the Son] was God’ and 1:14 is ‘[the Son] became flesh.’ In the final analysis, the effective exegetical use of God is therefore strictly definitive (identity), not merely qualitative despite the grammar. It’s not good enough that the Son is ‘a god’ or ‘god-like’, for this suggests two gods. Similarly, the use of flesh is also strictly definitive (identity), for how else can the Son (mentioned in v.14 of the flesh) be the Word?

While 1:1c can be interpreted with a definite force, no one interprets 1:14 so that the Son became flesh in the definitive or identity sense. Traditionally, he became flesh in the qualitative sense, that is, the Son fully preexisted humanity (the flesh). For a more detailed proof of this, see the “Copulae Redux” below. How then do we know that the Word was the Son?

While the Word was God (#1) could potentially be a reversible proposition (i.e. “God was the Word”) if definite and not qualitative, The Word became flesh (#2) is not a reversible proposition because it is qualitative. The converse, “Flesh came from the Word” or “Flesh was [previously] the Word”, is not logically necessarily true. When flesh (a mass noun) became Word, this is in the qualitative, not definite (identity), sense. So you can’t conclude that the Son was the Word, because it doesn’t say the Word became the unqualified flesh of Jesus, the Son of God.

Whether ‘the Word’ is God in the definite, qualitative, or indefinite sense, it simply doesn’t matter because the Word is flesh in the qualitative sense. The consequences of this are profound. The full equivalence of ‘the word’ and ‘Son’ (or Jesus) cannot be established on grammatical grounds. This strongly militates against the preexistence of the Son. This precludes theologies based around the incarnation (and possibly angel Christologies as well). It does not, however, imply that Jesus was not divine in some sense. This permits both low and high Christologies[10], but does not settle the question of which one is correct.

Grammatical Illustrations


To help illustrate this conclusion, here are four supporting analogous grammatical examples:

Example #1: Consider the sentences “Lot’s wife became [some] salt” and “When you became a Christian, you became salt [and light].” While the converse might be true (as in the first statement) it is not necessarily (as in the second statement).

Example #2: If I say, “The wooden puppet became flesh”, you don’t say that all flesh is the puppet, you don’t say that a flesh is the puppet, and you don’t say the flesh is a puppet. It is not reversible. Indeed, Pinocchio is no longer a puppet, for he has transformed.

Example #3: I have a briefcase. I decide to put some clothes in it and take it with me on an airplane. The briefcase becomes luggage (another mass noun). While it is true that the briefcase can be called luggage, this is not its essence. It is still a briefcase, even after it loses the luggage attribute when I unpack. But notice again that it is not reversible. I can’t say “look, there is luggage, it must be a briefcase”, for not all luggage are briefcases.

Example #4: The day after “The Word became Flesh”, we could have said that “The word is flesh” (this is why the semi-copula should be treated like a copula).[9] As before, this is not a reversible proposition. Moreover, you can’t say flesh is the Word, because that’s not Trinitarian: his human nature (flesh) is not his divine nature (the word).

Look at example #4 more closely. The Trinitarian wishes to engage in a very subtle equivocation. The alleged proof of the Trinity reads like this: “The Word (that is God) is Jesus” and its converse “Jesus is the Word (that is God).” But that’s not what it says. Consider John 1:14 [NIV]:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

This is the only place where the Son (Jesus) is tied to the Word. But it is “the flesh that was the word”[6] that made his dwelling, not the Son. It is “the flesh that was the word” that had glory. The glory of the Son is “the flesh that was the word”. This is obviously qualitative, as the glory of the Son is not the Son, but the Father.[7] Yet even fully granting that the flesh is Jesus doesn’t work because ‘flesh’ has a non-reversible use.

Copulae Redux


Let’s reevaluate the copula argument using the theological notion that the Prologue of John is moving the narrative forward in time from creation through to Jesus’ life and death. This is the sense used in Trinitarian doctrine when determining that Jesus preexisted the incarnation.

  1. First, the Word was God (divine; with God the Father).
  2. Then, the Word was flesh (human).
  3. Therefore, the Word was both flesh (human) and God (divine).
  4. The Word was flesh in Jesus, the Son of God.
  5. Therefore, Jesus, the Son of God, was both flesh (human) and God (divine).

It is plain from this formulation that the semi-copula in John 1:14 is treated as a copula in this theology. However, as pointed out by the grammatical analysis, the copulae (#1, #2, and #4) are not reversible. To drive this point home, “Son, the divine” could not become (change into) “Son, the flesh” by identity and still be “Son, the divine.” In order for the Son to be both divine and human, the sense must be qualitative. Therefore, the conclusion does not follow. The argument is logically invalid.

Conclusion


While there are many different interpretations for John 1:1c that can be used to support various Christologies, a number of them become implausible in light of John 1:14. In particular, it strongly militates against the preexistence of Jesus or the Son, since the full equivalence of ‘the word‘ and ‘Son‘ cannot be established. It does not, however, imply that Jesus was not divine in some sense. This permits both low and high Christologies.[10] Thus, incarnational theologies are most affected.

The grammar suggests that the Word of God the Father dwells inside of Jesus, the Son of God. This is the traditional Unitarian monotheist position: God dwelt inside of Jesus, but was not him by identity.[11]

For those who remain unconvinced, you can say that “The Father is God” and “Jesus is God” and “Jesus is not the Father”. If you don’t see the contradiction, it is probably because you have mentally replaced “is God” with “is fully God but a distinct person of the Trinity”. Trinitarians often do this automatically without realizing their assumption. But it is an assumption because the text just says “God” and the Bible never explicitly states that “God” means “Trinity”. The grammar does not justify this interpretation on its own. It must be added into the text.

Rebuttal


Don Hartley, in reading John 1:1c as purely qualitative and in light of John 1:14, stated the following:

“Thus, Jesus is God in every sense the Father is”[8]

This represents a typical exegesis for John 1:1c and 1:14.

“In other words, the clear semantic of the mass or plural count noun, is meant to disambiguate the semantics of the singular count noun to which it is related in the discourse.”[8]

That is, the use of the mass noun “flesh” disambiguates the semantics of the singular anarthrous predicate nominative count noun “God” to which it is related. Therefore, disambiguate ‘the word was God’ by interpreting ‘God’ qualitatively according to the meaning of ‘the word became flesh.’ That is, the word is both flesh and God. Sound familiar?

  1. Word was God. (John 1:1c)
  2. Word became flesh. (John 1:14)
  3. Therefore, God became flesh.

Hartley argues that we should interpret #1 in light of ‘flesh’ in #2. To what end? To show #3, of course, but also to say more than that: “Jesus is God in every sense the Father is.” This goes much farther than is justified.

‘God’ and ‘flesh’ are related through ‘the word.’ You can plausibly say that ‘the word’ is a part of (or the nature of) ‘God the Father’ and that ‘the word’ became embodied within Jesus. All of this is justified grammatically as well as being fully compatible with Hartley’s semantic argument. But qualitative embodiment of the Word comes nowhere close to justifying Hartley’s view of Jesus, which contains three errors:

“Jesus is God…

You can’t get full equivalence between flesh/word/God and Jesus for the reasons already discussed. It’s not a logically valid deduction. Being qualitatively related is insufficient.

…in every sense…

Based on what? Even if ‘God’ is purely qualitative, there are a variety of possible explanations besides “in every sense.” Moreover, he doesn’t mean “in every sense”, he means “in every sense, including essence, but not person-hood.” This is circular reasoning because it presumes Trinitarianism.

…the Father is.”

‘God [the Father]’ is subtly equivocated with ‘[the full divinity of] God [the Trinity]’. This is an equivocation fallacy and circular reasoning. It is also another mistaken example of the definite (by identity) Jesus/flesh relationship (John 1:14) and the non-definite word/God relationship (John 1:1c). This reasoning is invalid.

Afterword


This argument was developed after doing some grammatical research on John 1. The result was unexpected. I desired confirmation or a rebuttal, so I posted an early version of this argument on another forum. No feedback was forthcoming. It is undeniably possible that a critical logical mistake has been made here. It is also possible that no such mistake has been made. The goal of this academic and intellectual exercise is to see if the argument can hold up to scrutiny.

In my experience, Trinitarians will generally refuse to discuss alternatives to incarnational Christology. Historically, I would have been literally burned at the stake (along with my writings) for even making such arguments. As such, biblical unitarian monotheist authors like Kermit Zarley and Anthony Buzzard are rarely the subject of rebuttals. Rather, such arguments are likely to be dismissed with derision and scorn. This is especially frustrating for those searching for truth. Perhaps one day we will have greater dialogue.

John C. Wright, who denied that the doctrine of the Trinity could be established on the basis of natural reason or scripture alone[1], once stated:

“Ninth tenths of the enmity between Protestant and Catholic is concerned in non-serious but very bitter arguments of exactly this type, where the Protestant is uttering some slander against Catholicism that can with equal justice be turned against the Protestants.”

It is my intent to avoid bitter, unnecessary arguments. I believe that even if God is not a Trinity of equal persons, that He still wants his body to be united. I worship in fellowship with many Trinitarians, whom I call Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

[1] See CCC#237: (emphasis added) “But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.” Catholic John C. Wright notes that both  doctrines of Trinitarianism and the Incarnation have “no basis whatever in natural reason.”

[2] A reversible or convertible proposition is one in which the proposition and its converse are both true. Formally A→B and B→A are both true.

[3] The distinction between divine and God’s nature is fairly subtle and can also be stated as divine nature. Roman Catholic grammarian Max Zerwick has argued for each at different times (in 1963 and 1988). The reasoning behind each differs slightly. (Zarley, p.328, 335)

[4] Unlike the other options, #3 cannot be mistaken for a second God or identity with God. It must mean that the Word is a reflection or representation of God, not God himself (e.g. Hebrews 1:3). (Zarley, p.334,336)

[5] Prior to and after E.C. Colwell developed his rule regarding anarthrous predicate nominatives, the traditional explanation held sway. The scholarly change away from this explanation is largely a consequence of the work of Phillip B. Harner. He stated “In John 1:1 I think that the qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun cannot be regarded as definite” (Phillip B. Harner, “Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns”. p.87).

[6] “The flesh that was the word” is awkward, obscure phrasing, but does not presume theology. Using embodiment would be clearer, as in “the flesh that embodied the word” or “the word that was embodied in the flesh.”

[7] As in John 15:8 [NIV]: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

[8] Don Hartley. 1998. “Revisiting the Colwell Construction in Light of Mass/Count Nouns.” [link] [PDF].

[9] Since John 1:1 is written as history (what was), it implies that the truth value of “The Word was God” and “The Word is God” are equivalent, just as the truth value of “The Word became flesh” and “The Word is Flesh” are equivalent. Context allows us to treat the semi-copula as a copula.

[10] Jesus, a man, could have attained divinity—if at all—at conception, birth, baptism, transfiguration, resurrection, or ascension. This argument can be used in support of any of these. It only precludes arguing that Jesus, the Son of God, preexisted—as God, a god, or an angel.

[11] This is directly analogous to the Protestant evangelical “letting Jesus into my heart.” It is not clear why a Protestant evangelical tradition would embrace Trinitarianism, since the evangelical tradition explicitly maintains that God dwells inside a Christian. Having God dwell within both Jesus and his followers is in keeping with this primary theme of John’s gospel.