Brandon Smith’s most recent book, The Trinity in the Canon: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Proposal (B&H Academic), offers fifteen chapters on a variety of topics related to the Trinity and the Bible written by a gifted group of biblical scholars and theologians. I was delighted to contribute the chapter on the Gospel of John. Below is an excerpt on John’s Prologue, which is posted with permission of the publisher.
The being of the Word (Jn 1:1-2)
1. John’s prologue begins with “three short affirmations” regarding the central subject matter of the Gospel. These affirmations tell us who that central subject matter is, how he is, and what he is: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The threefold repetition of the verb “was” locates the Word on the divine side of the creator-creature distinction, on the side of God’s eternal and unchangeable being as opposed to the creature’s temporal and changeable becoming.
2. In affirming the Word’s eternal existence (“In the beginning was the Word”), John’s prologue echoes Proverbs 8’s speech regarding divine Wisdom in at least one regard. John identifies the Word not merely as a divine attribute, much less a literary personification. John identifies the Word as an eternally and unchangeably existing “someone,” a “who” and not merely a “what.” “This one,” the prologue tells us, “was in the beginning with God” (Jn 1:2).
3. In describing the Word’s eternal relation to God (“the Word was toward God”), the prologue suggests why John has chosen the title “Word” instead of “Wisdom” to identify the second person of the Trinity. The Word’s eternal, Godward repose is what qualifies him to perform the divine works of making, saving, and glorifying all things, especially human beings. According to certain ancient conceptions of human psychology, a word faces two directions and fulfills two functions. As “inward logos,” the word remains within a person and grasps what a person knows. The inward word is the mind in the mode of being understood, what Augustine calls “a word in your heart” (cf. Matt 12:35). As “outward logos,” the word expresses and communicates to others what a person knows, making that knowledge common to, shared by others. The outward word is the mind in the mode of being uttered (cf. Matt 12:34). John 1:1-2 identifies the Word as God’s “inward logos,” who eternally sees, hears, and contemplates God and God’s plan for creatures (Jn 3:11, 32; 6:46; 8:26, 38, 40; 15:15). This, in turn, qualifies the Word both to interpret and execute outwardly God’s plan for creatures (Jn 1:3-5, 14, 18; cf. Rev 5:4, 9), which, in the case of human beings chosen, redeemed, and sanctified by the Trinity, ultimately involves coming to share the Word’s own contemplative repose as friends and fellows of God (Jn 1:18; 13:23; 15:15; 17:3, 24; cf. 1 John 1:3). The Word’s eternal relation to God is what ultimately distinguishes him, not only from John the Baptist (Jn 1:5-9), but also from Moses (Jn 1:17), to whom God spoke “face to face” (Exod 33:11; Deut 34:10). “No one has ever seen God”—except the Word who faces God (Jn 1:1; 3:11, 32; 6:46; 8:38; cf. Exod 33:20). Therefore, the Word alone is fully qualified to make the Father known (Jn 1:18; cf. Heb 1:1-4).
4. John’s prologue not only describes the eternal relation of the Word to God (“the Word was toward God”). It also predicates deity of the Word (“the Word was God”). By itself, such a predication is not necessarily distinctive or unique. Philo of Alexandria calls the Word a “second god.” What distinguishes John’s predication from many Greco-Roman and Jewish descriptions of the Word, is his claim that the Word is uncreated God, and thus divine in the full and supreme sense of the term. Unlike Philo’s Logos or 1 Enoch’s Son of Man, the Johannine Word is not God’s first and supreme creature, through whom God relates to all other creatures. The Johannine Word is one with the uncreated God, existing before and above all other so-called “gods” (Jn 1:15, 30; 3:31; 10:30, 34-36; cf. Pss 8:5; 95:3; 1 Cor 8:4-6). As we will see more fully below, John 1:1’s predication of deity, in the full and supreme sense, to the second person of the Trinity is both comprehensive and structurally significant (Jn 20:28).
5. One final observation regarding the eternal being of the Word is in order. Though John moves away from identifying the second person of the Trinity as the Word after the prologue, he does not move away from the conceptual framework the prologue has established. Throughout his Gospel, John offers a twofold description of the Son that mirrors the prologue’s twofold description of the Word. In conveying the distinctive nature of the Son’s person and work, John speaks in a variety of ways about the Son’s relation to God (that which distinguishes him from the Father, i.e., his mode of being God); and he speaks in a variety of ways about the Son’s oneness with God (that which he holds in common with the Father, i.e., his being God). In John’s testimony, both patterns of speech are essential to identifying who the Son is and how the Son operates. This twofold pattern of speech, in turn, becomes central to the conceptual framework of later trinitarian theology.
The agency of the Word (Jn 1:3-5)
1. The eternal being of the Word determines the nature of his activity in the production of creatures. As we observed above, John 1:1-2 locate the Word on the divine side of the creator-creature distinction, on the side of God’s eternal and unchangeable being, not on the side of the creature’s temporal and changeable becoming. John 1:3 underlines this point by identifying the eternal Word as the creator of all things, the producer of everything that has come to into being: “All things came into being through him, and without him nothing has come into being that has come into being” (Jn 1:3).
2. In stating that all things came into being “through” him, John identifies the Word who is internal to God’s being as an expression of God’s immediate agency, the divine Word whose utterance brings all things into existence (cf. Jn 5:25; 11:43-44; Rom 4:17; Heb 11:3). To accomplish this identification, John employs the language of “prepositional metaphysics,” which in ancient philosophy was a means of identifying the various “causes” of all things (e.g., efficient, formal, material, final). However, unlike Philo, who identifies the Logos as an “instrumental cause” through which God produces all things, John identifies the Word as a personal mode of God’s immediate agency, in whom God’s own life-and-light-giving power resides (Jn 1:4; 5:26; 6:63). To say that God alone created all things—without any assistants or instruments, by his own agency (Isa 40:12-14; 44:24), and to say that God created all things through his Word (and Spirit) (Gen 1:1-3; Ps 33:6) is, in John’s judgment, to say the same thing. More specifically, it is to say the same thing twice over, according to the twofold pattern of speech noted above, describing the agency of the Word in terms of his divine power (“in him was life” and “light”) and in terms of his personal mode of exercising divine power (“through him”).
3. According to John’s prologue, the eternal Word was able to produce all things that exist because he, as a personal mode of God’s immediate divine agency, possessed the power in himself to do so: “In him was life” (Jn 1:4; cf. 5:26; 6:63). The Word’s intrinsic power to produce all things includes his power to illumine human beings, those creatures endowed with both sensible and intelligible powers of perception: “the life was the light of men” (Jn 1:5). Though “the darkness” opposes the Word’s divine light (Jn 3:19), the darkness “has not overcome it” (Jn 1:5; cf. 12:35, 46; cf. Wisdom 7:29-30).
The witness and (non)reception of the Light (Jn 1:6-13)
1. Having introduced readers to the Word, and having described his eternal being and divine agency as the source of all things that have come into being, the prologue introduces readers to John the Baptist. He is described as “a man sent from God” (Jn 1:6) to bear witness to the light (of the Word) “that all might believe through him” (Jn 1:7). The themes of being sent, bearing witness, and believing will be central in the Fourth Gospel’s portrayal of Jesus Christ and, perhaps for this reason, the prologue is keen to emphasize the distinction between John the Baptist and the light to which he bears witness: “he was not the light” (Jn 1:8), a point emphasized by John the Baptist himself immediately following the conclusion of the prologue (Jn 1:19-27).
2. The Word’s identity as “the true light” is then resumed as the prologue describes his “coming into the world” he had made (Jn 1:9-10), his rejection by his own people (Jn 1:10-11; cf. 1:5), and his reception by those who “believed in his name” (Jn 1:12). In describing the true light’s reception by believers, the prologue picks up a theme already introduced in John 1:3 and elaborated more fully throughout the Gospel, namely, the indivisible operation of the persons of the Trinity. The believing reception of the Word, resulting in the reception from the Word of “the right to become children of God,” is a reception effected by God (through the Spirit: Jn 3:5-6, 8): “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn 1:12-13). Leander Keck explains: “The act of God in begetting and the act of the Logos-Light in giving power to become God’s children are two ways of saying the same thing. The work of the Son and the work of the Father are identical.”
The incarnation of the Word (Jn 1:14-18)
1. The drama of the Word’s shining, rejection, and reception reaches its climax as the prologue announces the nature and effects of the Word’s “coming” into the world (Jn 1:9): “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the monogenēs from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). The Word came into the world by becoming incarnate, causing his glory to be seenby apostolic witnesses (the “we” of Jn 1:14), causing the fullness of his grace to be received by all who believed in him (Jn 1:14, 16).
2. According to John 1:14, the “coming” of the Word into the world by means of incarnation has two poles: the Word who becomes incarnate comes “from the Father” to dwell “among us.” These two poles represent two sides of the Son’s “mission,” which is further elaborated throughout John’s Gospel (see below). The incarnate mission of the Word thus signifies a new mode of the Word’s presence in the world (cf. 1:10), thereby crowning the prologue’s introduction of the Gospel’s central subject matter by telling us whom the Gospel is about, i.e., the incarnate Word, and by indicating how it will speak about him henceforth, i.e., as one to whom not only divine predicates (Jn 1:1: “God”) but also creaturely predicates apply (Jn 1:14: “flesh”). The prologue thereby also identifies the Word incarnate as a peculiar type of mediator vis-à-vis other options in the ancient world. The Word incarnate is a divine person who is simultaneously one with God and, as a consequence of the incarnation, one with human beings.
3. Two comparisons, along with the introduction of a third title, round out the prologue’s introduction to the person and work of Jesus Christ. According to the first comparison, the Word incarnate surpasses John the Baptist in rank because he eternally precedes John the Baptist in being (Jn 1:15; cf. 1:1-2). According to the second comparison, the Word incarnate surpasses Moses, the greatest Old Testament prophet and mediator of the law (Jn 1:17; cf. Deut 34:10), insofar as the Lord who speaks surpasses the one who mediates the Lord’s speech (cf. Heb 3:3). According to John 1:14-18, the Lord who revealed his glory to Moses by proclaiming his name has come, in the person of the Word incarnate, to reveal his glory to his apostolic eyewitnesses by proclaiming the name of the unseen God (Jn 1:14, 18; cf. 1:23). The Word incarnate is God’s own inward Word uttered usward.
4. Speaking of the Word incarnate’s distinctive “glory” thus requires John to introduce a third title beyond that of “the Word” and “the true light.” The glory that the Word manifests by means of his incarnate presence is the glory of the Father’s monogenēs (Jn 1:14, 18). On the one hand, this filial title indicates why the Word is qualified to grant the gift of adoption to those who believe in his name (Jn 1:12; cf. Gal 4:4-7). On the other hand, this title distinguishes the Word from all other “children” of God, indicating his status as the Father’s natural-born Son (cf. Jn 5:17-18) and the supreme object of the Father’s love (cf. Jn 3:16, 35; 5:20; 10:17; 17:24). “The monogenēs God” is the one “who is” (a possible allusion to Exod 3:14; cf. Rev 1:8); and he is the one “who is” in the personal mode of reclining at his Father’s side (Jn 1:1, 18; cf. 13:23).
5. John’s prologue begins by identifying the second person of the Trinity as the Word (Jn 1:1) and concludes by identifying the second person of the Trinity as the monogenēs (Jn 1:18). These two titles, in turn, suggest two analogies for thinking about the person and work of the second person of the Trinity, a psychological analogy and a filial analogy. The first (psychological) analogy highlights the fact that the second person of the Trinity is not a “second god.” He is God’s own Word, internal to God’s own being and agency. This analogy also helps us appreciate why, when the second person of the Trinity is “sent” into the world, he does not depart from God’s presence. He remains in and with God and God remains in and with him (Jn 8:16, 29; 16:32). The second (filial) analogy highlights the fact that the second person of the Trinity, though internal to God’s own being and agency, is nevertheless truly distinct from the first person of the Trinity as his natural offspring who eternally reposes at his Father’s side. This analogy also helps us appreciate why the Son’s mission may be understood as a mission in a proper, not merely a metaphorical, sense. The Father’s sending of the Son expresses a real and irreversible distinction of persons: the Father sends the Son, not vice-versa. This analogy, finally, helps us appreciate why, for example, the utterance of one divine testimony by the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, can nevertheless be the utterance of three distinct witnesses: the witness of one who utters, the witness of one who is uttered, and the witness of one who receives/causes to be received the utterance both inside and outside God (Jn 8:17-18; 15:26; 16:12-15; cf. 1 Cor 2:10-12). By well-chosen words and analogies such as these, John thus helps us grasp, in some feeble way, the ineffable glory of the blessed Trinity.
 John Behr, John the Theologian and his Paschal Gospel: A Prologue to Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 259-60.
 Gregory E. Sterling, “‘Day One’: Platonizing Exegetical Traditions of Genesis 1:1-5 in John and Jewish Authors,” The Studia Philonica Annual 17 (2005): 124-25.
 On which, see Don C. Collett, Figural Reading and the Old Testament: Theology and Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2020), 86-103. Note also significant parallels between Wisdom of Solomon 7 and John’s prologue in this regard.
 Cf. Robert Spaemann, Persons: The Difference Between “Someone” and “Something”, trans. Oliver O’Donovan(Oxford: Oxford University, Press, 1996).
 There are significant Old Testament precedents for John’s choice of the title “Word,” which pertain to God’s work in creation (Gen 1:3; Ps 33:6) and to his eschatological sending of his Word to accomplish its work, resulting in a fruitful new creation (Isa 55:10-11). These precedents are important for John’s presentation of Jesus’ work in the prologue and beyond. John 1:1-2, however, is concerned with establishing what it is about the Word’s being that qualifies him for the work he performs.
 For further discussion of the conceptual background to the Word’s Godward repose in John 1:1, see Christopher S. Atkins, “Rethinking John 1:1: The Word was Godward,” Novum Testamentum 63 (2021): 44-62.
 Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of John: Chapters 1-5, trans. Fabian Larcher and James A. Weisheipf (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2010), 13.
 Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John: 1-40, trans. Edmund Hill (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2009), 46.
 Philo, Det. 40; with Atkins, “Rethinking John 1:1,” 60. Compare the way Paul employs this psychological analogy with reference to the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 2:10-12.
 Philo, QG 2.62; cf. Somn. 1.228-230.
 Gabriele Boccaccini, “From Jewish Prophet to Jewish God: How John Made the Divine Jesus Uncreated,” in Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism: Royal, Prophetic, and Divine Messiahs, ed., Benjamin Reynolds and Gabriele Boccaccini (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 338-39.
 1 En. 48:1-51:5; Philo, Cher. 125-27; Fug. 101; Her. 205-206; Leg. 3.96; Migr. 4-6.
 On “reduplication,” see R. B. Jamieson and Tyler R. Wittman, Biblical Reasoning: Christological and Trinitarian Rules for Exegesis (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2022), chap. 5.
 On the distinction between “immediate” and “mediate” divine agency, see Scott R. Swain, The Trinity and the Bible: On Theological Interpretation (Bellingham: Lexham Academic, 2021), 86-88.
 Sterling, “Day One,” 126-29.
 Philo, Cher. 125-27.
 Philo can also use the preposition “through” to refer to God’s own immediate agency. See, for example, Philo, Agr. 128-19; with Orrey McFarland, “Divine Causation and Prepositional Metaphysics in Philo of Alexandria and the Apostle Paul,” Paul and the Greco-Roman Philosophical Tradition, ed., Joseph R. Dodson and Andrew W. Pitts (London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2017), 122-23.
 Keck, “Derivation as Destiny,” 275-76.
 This is one of the fundamental NT foundations for the practice of “partitive exegesis,” the predication of both divine and human qualities to one divine person. See Jamieson and Wittman, Biblical Reasoning, chap. 8.
 Sterling, “Day One,” 139-40; Atkins, “Rethinking John 1:1,” 60-62.
 The Fourth Gospel does not characterize Jesus merely as “die Erde schreitenden Gott,” the earth-striding God (Käsemann, Jesu Letzter Wille Nach Johannes 17 [Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1967], 22). On the humanity of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel, see Marianne Meye Thompson, The Humanity of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988); and Frey, Glory of the Crucified One, chap. 6.
 “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness’” (Exod 34:6).
 “Full of grace and truth” is a clear allusion to Exodus 34:6, “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
 On the theme of “glory” in John’s Gospel, see Richard Bauckham, Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015), chap. 3.
 For further discussion of these two Johannine analogies, as elaborated by Thomas Aquinas, see Thomas Joseph White, The Trinity: On the Nature and Mystery of the One God (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2022), 438-41.
 See the discussion below regarding the closely related language of the Father and the Son’s “mutual indwelling.”
 On this distinction, see Matthias Joseph Scheeben, Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics: Book Two: Doctrine about God, or Theology in the Narrower Sense, trans. Michael J. Miller(Steubenville: Emmaus Academic, 2021), 622-23.
 Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John: Volume 1, Ancient Christian Texts, trans. David R. Maxwell (Downers Grove, IVP Academic, 2013), 5.