When we read that the word was “with” God, the idea is that the word was always before God, in His presence, in His perspective. Applied to an abstract idea like the logos, surely the idea is that God always had this plan for a Son before Him, in His perspective.
Wisdom In Proverbs
The basic idea in John 1 is repeated in Proverbs 8. In the beginning, there was the logos / word / intention with the Father. His ‘idea’ of having a Son was not thought up at the last minute, as some sort of advantage in order to cope with the unexpected problem of human sin, as some of the critics and false teachers of the first century taught. In fact, it wouldn’t be going too far to say that John actually has Proverbs 8 in mind when speaking about the logos being in the beginning with the Father.
The key issue is whether “wisdom” in Proverbs is in fact the Lord Jesus personally. A brief glance at Proverbs surely indicates that wisdom is being personified as a woman. Wisdom in Proverbs stands at the gates and invites men to come listen to her. She dwells with prudence (Prov. 8:12), and in Solomon’s time cried out to men as they entered the city (Prov. 8:1-3). None of these things are intended to be taken literally. “Wisdom” is wisdom- albeit personified. Wisdom was “possessed” by God- and yet the Hebrew word translated “possessed” is defined by Strong as meaning ‘to create’.
When God started His “way” or path with men, He had principles and purpose. He didn’t make up His principles as He went along. And this was what was being said by John’s first century critics. Therefore John alluded to Proverbs 8 in explaining that the essential purpose of the Father was all summarised and embodied in the person of His Son; and that logos was created / conceived by the Father from the very beginning.
Note that Prov. 8:24,25 describes wisdom as being “brought forth” by the Father from the beginning. Again, God as it were hatched a plan. Even if we were to equate wisdom with Jesus personally, He was still created / brought forth from the Father. Somewhat different to the false Trinitarian notion of an ‘uncreate’ Jesus who ‘eternally existed’. Wisdom was the “master workman” (Prov. 8:30), or ‘the one trusted / believed in’ (Heb.)- in the sense that all of God’s natural creation was made according to and reflective of the principles of “wisdom”. John’s allusion to Prov. 8 shows that this “wisdom” was above all to be embodied and epitomized in God’s Son.
From this it follows that the whole of the natural creation was designed with the Lord Jesus in mind. Somehow it speaks of Him; will be used by Him; and will in some sense be liberated and redeemed by Him from “the bondage of corruption” to share the glorious liberty of us God’s children (Rom. 8:21-24).
“Then I was by [Heb. toward] him” (Prov. 8:30) is the idea behind the Greek text of Jn. 1:1: “The word was [toward] God”. It wasn’t Jesus personally who was with God or God-ward; it was the word / wisdom / logos which was, and this was then “made flesh” in the person of the Lord Jesus. And this logos was the “wisdom” in Proverbs.