The first verse of the gospel of John has been dissected and discussed for centuries.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Theologians and scholars agree “the Word” is a reference to Jesus Christ. This simple verse reminds us that Christ existed with God, our Heavenly Father, in the pre-mortal life and came to Earth, in part, to reveal the miraculous word of God to all mankind. Our testimonies are strengthened by this knowledge and help teach us more about the nature of Jesus Christ.
However, by looking at different definitions, we can discover new layers to a seemingly simple verse of scripture. So, let us take a closer look at how we can interpret “word” in this verse.
A word is something we use to communicate. We write and speak by using words. When we talk in the Church about “the word of God” we generally mean all those things which God uses to communicate his will to us. The scriptures are the word of God. The talks given at General Conference are the word of God. Patriarchal blessings and other blessings given through the priesthood are viewed as a very personal form of God’s word.
In another context, the “word” can also mean a promise or assurance. We often use the phrase, “I give you my word” or “I’ll take your word for it.”
Think of what this can teach us about Jesus Christ. What does it mean to you if you learn he is the “promise of God.” In the beginning, we were given a promise. A promise of a Savior to redeem us from both physical and spiritual death. This Atonement, as James E. Talmadge describes it, was “love-inspired.”
Many of life’s struggles come when we begin to doubt who Jesus Christ is and how his promises to us will be fulfilled on an intimate level. We can take comfort knowing at the heart of the Plan of Salvation is a promise to redeem us. We can be confident in making and keeping sacred covenants with God. If we hold onto the promises and covenants we make with Heavenly Father, we can arrive safely to our heavenly home.
After all, the popular LDS hymn leaves us with this lasting reminder: “The iron rod is the word of God; twill safely guide us through.”