International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The natural meaning of the word is with reference to time. The primitive Greek root means "to be long," "to draw out." Thus, it is used to refer to some point of time long drawn out, or long past (Ge 1:1). It is used also to express the inauguration of a particular event (Ex 12:2). The principal interest in the word centers in the use of it in Joh 1:1. It must be interpreted here by that which follows in the statement as to the relation of the Logos to the Eternal God and the use of the word "was." It is true that the word arche cannot be separated from the idea of time, but when time began He already was, and therefore He was from eternity.

See Time; Eternity.

Figurative: in a figurative sense it is used of that which is most excellent, the chief part (Pr 1:7); of the most eminent person (Col 1:18); the author (Re 3:14).

Jacob W. Kapp