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The Eternal Nature of GodMalcolm Webber
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
“In the beginning was the Word…” In the very beginning God simply “was.” John did not write “in the beginning became the Word,” because the Eternal Son of God never “became.” He always “was” – He eternally “was.” God possesses absolute existence, with neither beginning nor end.
But what was God doing “in the beginning” – before anything that we now know existed? What was the nature of this existence of infinite God that it fulfilled, satisfied and delighted Him, not just for a million years, but from eternity, before time itself was even created?
The answer is found in John 1:1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John wrote “the Word was with God.” “The Word” is, of course, the Pre-incarnate Son of God (see verse 14). The Son of God was “with” His Father. This tells us something very precious about the eternal nature of the Godhead.
Here in John’s Gospel, before he mentions the eternal holiness, love, and truth of God, he writes “the Word was with God.” We can learn a simple but life-changing truth here – a truth that gives us profound insight into the nature of Christian leadership.
The meaning of this expression “the Word was with God” is not brought out well in the English translation, where the Greek preposition “pros” is translated as “with.”
“Pros,” in its usage here, actually means “to,” or “toward.” In Greek, this preposition can denote motion in a direction toward a thing (when used with an active verb), but here it expresses a position or state looking toward or facing a thing (when used with the verb “to be,” as here).
The Word was always turned toward God. The Son of God was dwelling “with” His Father; but more than that: He was “turned toward” His Father. In the beginning, before the creation of anything, the Son of God was “with” God, “turned toward” God.
One Greek expositor has written concerning this verse: “Pros implies not merely existence alongside of, but intimate, personal communication.” Or, fellowship.
So here we have some insight into the eternal activity of God: fellowship, communion within the Godhead.
What did God do for eternity? What was it that satisfied Him? Fellowship. Fellowship within the Godhead.
John wrote that Jesus “is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). This means that the Son of God is one with His Father – but more than that. It is more than a theological statement about the essential Deity of Christ, and His equality and oneness of being with His Father. The expression implies love, fellowship, intimacy, mutual communion. Jesus is, and always has been, in the bosom of His Father!
There was fellowship within the Godhead for eternity, before the world; and there will be fellowship within the Godhead for eternity when time is no more.
This is the eternal nature of God. God is fellowship.
You may never have read this in a “systematic theology,” but it is true nevertheless: The Divine nature is fellowship. Fellowship is an eternal attribute of God. Just as much as God is eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and infinite, so God is fellowship. Just as much as God is holy, righteous, truthful, faithful, patient, gracious and merciful, so God’s nature is fellowship.
Just as God is light, so God is fellowship. Just as God is love, so God is fellowship. Just as God is glorious, so God is fellowship.
There was never a time when God was not Triune, and there was never a time when God was not active; so there was never a time when God was not fellowshipping within Himself. Fellowship is the eternal nature, activity and very essence of God. This is what God was doing in eternity!
In the beginning was the Son of God, and the Son of God was with His Father. He was “toward” His Father, looking at Him, communing with Him in loving, joyful, spontaneous, abundant fellowship. (For a detailed study of this awesome truth, please see In Him Was Life by Malcolm Webber.)
Before the creation of the world, the Godhead was highly active. For eternity, there was fellowship within the Godhead, between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This is the eternal nature of God. God’s nature is fellowship. This is who God is. He is a God of fellowship. He is a God of loving, joyful, spontaneous, delighted communion.
When God created man, He made man to experience this life – to experience this fellowship. When man sinned, he lost his relationship with God; he lost the presence of God. But Jesus came to the earth to die on the cross that man might be restored to God: to His fellowship, to His presence.
This is where we find life – in eternity – in Him, in His fellowship. Life, and all that life produces – faith, holiness, righteousness, love, the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, church life and leadership – are only found in Him, in His fellowship.
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
Fellowship is the very life of God. It is the eternal nature and infinite being of God. It is the very essence and heart of the Godhead. Fellowship is not just something God does in His spare time, when He has nothing better to do. It is not something He does once a week on Sunday morning. Fellowship is what He is. Fellowship is the eternal nature of God. It is His being.
In eternity was God, and in Him was fellowship. God did not purpose to keep this life to Himself; and He has invited us to participate in His fellowship – in this same fellowship of the Godhead!
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 1:3)
This is what the Christian life is: participation in the joyful, delighted, spontaneous, eternal fellowship of the Godhead! And this is where Christian leadership comes from – fellowship with God!
In our next Letter, we will study Jesus’ leadership – His continuous inward fellowship with His Father was the source of everything in His life and ministry!