The Bible text is not the Word of God; Jesus Christ is the Word of God. I’m not being provocative here to demote the Bible in your mind; I’m saying this to hopefully elevate your view of Jesus Christ over the Bible text (see John 5:39-40).
A very brief “word” history is probably needed here.
When the Greek philosopher, Heraclites, thought about what brings order out of chaos in the sixth century BC, he concluded that the logos is polemos (war, conflict).
For Heraclitus, logos provided the link between rational discourse and the world’s rational structure. (Wikipedia)
We see how deeply this Greek paradigm still gives meaning (logos), historically speaking. For instance, we’ve delineated American history around war and violent acts: the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, Civil War, two World Wars, Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam…all the way up to 9/11.
The Greek word, logos, is where we get the English word “logic” (the reason or system of principles). As this word was originally used in Greek thought, we could say that the logos is “the structuring reality of all things.”
Moving forward in history, we have the Stoics, like Zeno of Citium (fourth century BC), who saw logos as the active reason pervading the universe.
When the Septuagint was compiled in the third century BC by Greek speaking Jewish scholars, logos was used to describe the creation of heaven and earth, for example, in Psalm 32:6 (Psalm 33:6 in our Bibles)…
By the word [logos] of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the host of them…. (Psalm 32:6 LLX *)
As divinely inspired Jewish ontology developed, the “structuring reality of all things” (logos) became Wisdom (see Prov. 8:22-31). Wisdom and logos become interchangeable terms because of the Greek influence. “Torah” (lit. the writing or instruction) is linked with creation and also seen as the intermediary between God and man.
Just before Christ, Philo (c. 25 BC – c. 50 AD), a Jewish philosopher schooled in Platonic philosophy, combines Hellenistic and Jewish paradigms together. He brings in Plato, where logos means the highest intermediary being (demiurge) between the imperfect matter and perfect Form, and Jewish “Wisdom” as the creator of all things.
“the Logos of the living God is the bond of everything, holding all things together and binding all the parts, and prevents them from being dissolved and separated.” (Philo, De Profugis)
This statement should look familiar to us. Here’s how Paul would say it:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col.1:15-17 NASB)
Then we come further into the first century AD with John’s use of logos in light of Jesus Christ. It should be noted here that this prologue in John’s gospel was an early Christian hymn (Col.1:15-17 was also a hymn). These truths about Jesus were the first century church’s worship songs!
For clarification, I will insert logos where it is translated, “word.”
In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3 NKJV *)
Further down, John says…
14 And the Logos became 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 1:14 NKJV *)
Finally, we see John bringing the upgrade in revelation about who this mediator between God and man really is…
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law [Torah as intermediary] was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17 *)
John boldly declares to His Jewish and Hellenistic audiences that this logos, this intermediary between God and man, is Jesus Christ Himself. And much like Paul’s declaration of the “unknown god” to the Greek philosophers in Athens (see Acts 17:22-31), John declares that Jesus Christ makes this Logos known:
18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:16-18 NKJV *)
The English word “declare” in John 1:18 is the Greek word “exegete” (to interpret or expound on a subject). Jesus Christ exegetes God!
Torah cannot make God known. Books do not make God known. It took an incarnate God, a human mediator, the Logos, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son.
Are you starting to see the trajectory here? John, by bringing human philosophy and Jewish thought together, brilliantly (under divine inspiration) uses it as a trope to reveal Jesus Christ, the incarnated Son of God, as the “structuring reality of all things!”
So, now we can begin to get an understanding of what’s happening in John 1:1. I will insert “structuring reality of all things” where it says logos:
In the beginning was the [Structuring reality of all things], and the [Structuring reality of all things] was with God, and the [Structuring reality of all things] was [God’s own Self]. (John 1:1-3 NKJV *)