John’s opening words imply Christ’s deity because he, the Word, takes the place that God holds in the Bible’s first verse. Compare “In the beginning was the Word” with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (John 1:1; Gen. 1:1). Then John proclaims, “The Word was God.” It is incorrect to take the absence of the definite article “the” in Greek before “God” as a legitimate reason to translate this as “the Word was a god.” Often in John 1, the word “God” appears without the definite article and is correctly translated “God” (1:6, 12, 13, 18). By affirming the positive and denying the negative, John teaches that the Word created absolutely everything (vv. 3, 10), and since creation is the work of God alone, the Word must be God! Moreover, people do not believe in angels or mere human beings for salvation, but only in God, and John points to Jesus as the object of saving faith (v. 12).
In response, the Word does another work of God—he gives all believers the right to become God’s children (v. 12). Furthermore, Jesus displays the divine qualities of glory, grace, and truth (v. 14). From God’s fullness alone can believers say they receive grace upon grace, and John says this very thing about the incarnate Son (v. 16). He then ends his prologue as he began it, by calling Jesus God (v. 18). Theology for Life—Repeatedly John 1 proclaims that Jesus is God. John wants people to believe in Jesus for eternal life, which only God can give (20:30–31)!