In Greek the word for “Word” as in John 1:1, is logos. It appears in many places, but of special interest is how Logos ties to Jesus. In John 1:1 it says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word is divine and the word “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In other words, Jesus is the Word of God who represents God to us and us to God. The term is also used to describe the Scriptures (Rom. 9:6; Heb. 4:12), Christ’s teaching (Luke 5:1), and the gospel message (Acts 4:31). In today’s blog, we begin a series on the Gospel of John by first looking at the concept of Jesus as the Logos of God.
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Jesus as Logos is understood as God’s ultimate communication of truth about Himself.
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The Prologue in John’s Gospel
- The first eighteen verses of John’s gospel are known among theologians as The Prologue which means an introduction to a story.
- In this case, the story is about our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The first eighteen verses introduce Him as the gospel’s main character.
- Right from the get-go, John gives us some deep insight into the person of Jesus.
John 1:1–18 (KJV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
In the Beginning
- John’s gospel opens up the same way as the book of Genesis does with the words, ‘In the beginning’.
Genesis 1:1 (KJV) — 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
- In the beginning God, in the beginning, the Word.
- Notice the scripture did not say, ‘In the beginning was Jesus’.
- No, it says, ‘In the beginning, was the Word.’
- It’s not until later in this chapter do we understand that the Word is Jesus.
John 1:14 (KJV) — 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 1:17 (KJV) — 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
- Why goes John, in his gospel, introduceJesus as the Word?
- The Greek gives us a clue.
- The Greek for Word is ‘Logos’.
- In the beginning was Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God.
Jesus, the Logos of God Unleashed
- The Greek defines WORD or ‘logos’ as thought, reason, spoken word, discourse, message, speech, declaration, logic, revelation, reckoning, or expression of thought.
- John’s uses this word as a title for Jesus.
- Because of this, Jesus as Logos is God’s ultimate communication of truth about Himself.
- Logos in the ancient world had a wide range of meanings and no English equivalent.
The New Testament Message of ‘Logos’ in the Church
- In the New Testament, God’s message is the Word.
- It was common to call it such.
Acts 8:4 (KJV) — 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Acts 11:19 (KJV) — 19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
Acts 8:25 (KJV) — 25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
- A look at the Bible timeline helps our understanding.
- John’s penned his gospel near the end of the 1st century, approximately 90–95 AD by most scholars.
- We know that the first 15 chapters of Acts cover approximately the first 15 years of the church; approximately 29–44 AD.
- The scriptures above show many references to God’s messageas‘the Word’ already existed before John penned his gospel.
- So, we can conclude that the Word, the message of Jesus, took root well before the gospel of John was written.
- So, when John uses the word ‘logos’ to describe Jesus, that analogy made an immediate connection with the recipients of this gospel.
- But the Holy Spirit, through John, wasn’t only trying to reach believers with this idea.
Logos Among the Gentiles
John 20:30–31 (KJV) — 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
- So, God’s Word shows us that three classes of people exist on planet earth, Jew, Gentile and the church of God.
1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV) — 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
Three Classes of People
- Besides the church, the other two classes, Jew and Gentile, would also feel the influence of these opening words in John’s gospel, ‘In the beginning was the Word’.
- John was no doubt aware that among the Greeks, extensive philosophical usage of ‘logos’ existed.
- This usage traces back to Heraclitus, an Ephesian born (Ephesus being the birthplace of philosophy) Greek philosopher of the 6th century B.C.
- Heraclitus argued that everything in the universe constantly changes, but a ‘rational principle’ or ‘reasoning’ exists which orders the universe.
- To this world governing force, likened unto fire, he attached the term ‘logos’.
- Today, the writings of Heraclitus are non-extant.
- What remains are fragmentary pieces quoted by other authors.
The Core Idea of Stoicism
- So, the word ‘logos’ and its associated context continued to evolve throughout the classical Greek period right up through Roman times.
- The core idea of Stoicism, the most influential philosophy in the Roman period before Christianity, was the concept of ‘logos’.
- Stoics took and further developed that concept.
- They held that ‘logos’ was responsible for everything that came into being, and through which everything revolved and through which everything returned.
- The Stoic concept of logos’, mirrored an impersonal pantheism.
- Pantheism is the belief or philosophical theory that God and the universe are identical (implying a denial of the personality and transcendence of God); the identification of God with the forces of nature and natural substances.
- Stoics, along with the other rival philosophy held by the Epicureans find a place in scripture.
- Paul quotes one of the Stoic writers, Aratus, in the Phaenomena, in his own sermon on Mars Hill.
Acts 17:22–23 (KJV) — 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
How God Used the Gentiles Own Concept of ‘Logos’ to Reach Them
- So, the Greeks conquest of most of the known world turned out to be the launching pad for the explosive sweep of the gospel after Jesus went back to heaven.
- Because of this conquest, a common language existed, ‘koine’, which quickly aided the spread of the gospel throughout the Gentile world.
- Not only does a common language exist but now also, a common philosophy, ‘logos.’
- The Lord uses these pervading rudiments to present Jesus to a thinking people.
- In conclusion, these, and other elements, together become part of the divine equation known scripturally as ‘the fullness of times.’
Ephesians 1:10 (KJV) — 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
- John, in effect, uses a device known in modern times as piggybacking – taking a concept or idea and tying it to a well known and commonly accepted vehicle in order to make it easy to swallow.
- In this case, John by the Holy Spirit used a worldly established idea ‘logos’ to show a new spiritual truth – that Jesus possesses the divine attribute of deity in identity and eternalness.
- John swiftly identifies Jesus as the real ‘Logos’.
- So, no longer is ‘logos’ just an ‘ordering fire’ like principle.
- It’s no longer an impersonal deity containing parts from the material world.
- No the ‘Logos’ ‘was in the beginning.’
- The Logos was with God.
- And, the Logos was God.
- Simply, Logos is Jesus.
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