In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and a divinity was the Word. John 1:1 Universal Arian Bible. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ASV
During conversations with trinitarians the subject invariably comes up John chapter 1 verse 1 is said to be proof trinitarianism in the Bible. Is it really proof trinitarianism? As we examine this argument we will discover that this verse does not prove trinitarianism at all. And it does not actually call Jesus the almighty God.
First we must Define what trinitarianism is. Trinitarianism is the believe that God is three persons and yet one God. Arianism on the other hand believes that God almighty is uncreated and has always existed. And Jesus has come into existence having a time of non-existence to then afterward having a time of existence. We also believe that he is the first of all things to have come into existence. Arianism goes on to say that Jesus experience the transformation from being like God his father to being a human. There are many other things about arianism but these are the important points for this verse to be understood.
The first clause in John chapter 1 verse 1 is " in the beginning was the word" trinitarians assume that these words mean that Jesus has always existed. No such claim exist in this section. The only thing that can be understood is that Jesus existed in the beginning. Does not explain whether or not he came into existence. Only that he was there at the beginning.
The second portion of this verse says "and the Word was with God". Now this verse explained clearly that the word who is Jesus is not God. In the Greek there is a definite article before the word god that is not translated. And what this means is the specific God or it could mean the obvious God. Given the context of the Bible we would all know which God would be the obvious one. Given that in Judaism there is no Trinity God and John was not a trinitarian apostle. John would be thinking according to Jewish theology and not some new doctrine of the church 300 years later. This portion of the verse is explaining that the word who is Jesus was with it obvious God. What's interesting is that Jesus or the word is not being included as the God, but only being with the God. So as far as the trinitarian doctrine goes this portion of the verse is not teaching trinitarianism. But it's teaching that the God and the word are not the same being. If the Trinity Doctrine were true and John where a trinitarian then would you need to point out that the word was with the god if the word was also the god? Why even mention it if it's obvious the trinity would mean they all three were there. The reason why this verse does not accommodate the doctrine of the trinity is because there was no doctrine of the trinity when it was being written. The need was there for the Apostle to clarify that Jesus the word was there with God in the beginning.
Next we see the last clause of the verse which says "and the word was God." At this point trinitarians would be rising for a standing ovation of this verse thinking it proves the doctrine of the trinity. Let us examine the verse closer to see if that is true. The main problem with this clause for trinitarianism is that it uses the past tense word "was". Think with me for a moment when is it proper to say of God the Father that he was God? When is it proper to say of your God that he formerly was God? This section of the verse says that the word who is Jesus used to be God in the past. It's saying that the word who is Jesus only in past time was God. The wording of the last clause shows that there is a problem with this first supporting the notion that Jesus is being called the Almighty God here. To support trinitarianism you would not put "was God" but you would put "is God" because he would still be God if the trinity were true. Trinitarians would write "and the word is God" not "and the Word was God". That a trinitarian would not do.
Naturally the first question that comes to mind is "then what does it mean"? In arianism We Believe that Jesus was born in the form of God. According to Philippians chapter 2 verse 6 which says "who was in the form of God". What we understand from this verse is that when Jesus was brought into existence he was made in the same form that God is. And because he shares his form or species Jesus is like him in appearance and likeness and substance what is not commingled with him. To be the form of something means you are not what your formed after. So when the verse explains that Jesus is in the form of God or when the Bible says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God it's proving that Jesus is not the God that he is resembling. If you are speaking about a certain individual you would not call that individual a copy of himself or a form of himself or the image of himself because that takes away from the fact that you're actually speaking about the actual person. So when this verse talks about Jesus being God formerly in the past, it is speaking about his form that he existed in. When the word God is being used in this clause it's talking about his nature. Let me give you an example. I am a human and if I have a son he would be called human. Now God is not the name of God but a description. The description God can reference his nature or his kind. In this sense of the word the last clause is describing the nature or kind that Jesus is. So as we examine further we understand that the reason why it says was God is because it's speaking about the state of his existence at that time. What kind of being was he at the beginning when he was with God? He was a divinity formed after the nature image species kind that God is. To clarify it is not saying that Jesus is almighty God. It's only speaking of his nature what his first species was. Clearly a human having a child will have a child of like substance. A child similar in-kind himself. This is why Jesus is called the son of God. Because he is literally the son of God made after his father's image and likeness and substance. But we must understand giving the other verses calling him the form of God and the image of the invisible God and the exact representation of his person. These words convey a resemblance toward an original not that he is the original himself. So when we see the last clause of John chapter 1 verse 1 it cannot be talking about him being almighty God because if it is he is only formerly almighty God. And that just won't work for trinitarianism. But if it's talking about his nature as a Divine being coming into existence after his father's kind and only being in that form temporarily because he later on transformed into a human. So given what we understand about the John chapter 1 verse 1 there is no way it is telling us that Jesus is almighty God. What it is telling us is that Jesus existed in a form like his father but was not his father at the beginning. Anything beyond that is not found in the verse.