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 *)
This is fantastic, Mel.
If I understand what you are saying, its like we’ve had the theory (written word), or experiment, in written form until Jesus came, and now Jesus becomes the “empirical physical experiment,” if you will.
As an example…up to the point of the New Testament, we’ve known about the theory of gravity only….now Jesus has come along and drops a boulder on our foot….now we move from theory to reality. Viola! We see in physical form what has been spoken about all those years…and more so, because Jesus is the express image of the Father, so we can cut through all the red tape to know “exactly” who the Father is…in every sense of his character.
Thanks Mel….and hopefully I’m not too far off my rocker here.
From the trajectory of meaning standpoint, what you’re saying is what I’m saying. Jesus brought the abstract theory of logos into concrete reality (I loved your “boulder” example!). Yes, Jesus is what logos looks like! Jesus is the reason for everything!
But I personally believe that “word” is not the best translation of logos in John 1. I think “logic” or “reason” is more accurate. It confuses things, making it even nonsensical, to say that the written word was with God and is God. Logos is the logic or reason behind what holds our reality together. This was Paul’s point in Col.1:15-17. He was simply tying this Hellenistic ontology to Jesus Christ Himself.
What makes things confusing is that the Bible does contain the “words” of God (words that God said) and it contains words about God. The Bible is literally a book of books about God (but it’s not God). But Jesus Christ Himself is the Word of God! See how confusing this gets! 🙂 If they would’ve just translated John 1:1 as the “logic” of God, it would be a lot easier to sort out.
Thanks for your comments, Dave. Always appreciated, bro. Blessings.
Dave and Mel,
Here is the “boulder” that God has dropped on our feet. It is a rock that has not been cut by hands but has smashed the feet of past kingdoms and has grown into a mountain and filled the whole earth. Jesus the rock, the cornerstone.
34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.
35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth
44″In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
Awesome connection, Mark. I love it. Yes! Jesus Christ, the Logos, God’s “boulder” to crush every pagan idea of the Cosmos, God, and Who really governs the nations. 🙂
I will be honest. I had to read this post three times before it finally sank in. When it finally did sink in, it was like the V-8 moment. If I’m understanding this correctly, John, beginning in verse 1 of John chapter 1, is literally showing the progression of philosophical thought from an abstract idea to the actual manifestation of the thought which is Jesus. I must read John 1 again…
That is definitely one of the things going on here, Patrick. John’s prologue (hymn) is very rich and multi-layered. It’s absolutely mind-boggling, really. He’s bringing their ontology and cosmology…their view of creator, mediator, the one who brings order out of chaos…into the “light,” if you will (see John 1:4-5). He brings it all into tangible and concrete focus…declaring this Logos-creator God as Jesus Christ Himself. Again, as Paul told the Athenians in Acts 17, THIS is the “Logos” you guys have been talking about for almost a thousand years. He’s not an abstract philosophy or Plato’s demiurge; His name is Jesus! He became human, lived among us, and is now Lord over all.
As some scholars have said, John 1 is really a re-boot, a “new creation” of Gen.1. It’s an upgrade in revelation for the Jews and, at the same time, a deconstruction of the dualistic worldview dominated by the Greek philosophers. Of course, we’ve been trying to understand that for 2,000 years now! We’re only just beginning to see how dualistic our own understanding of Christianity really is. I’m still trying to get my mind around it myself.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this and understand my feeble attempt to describe something that “surpasses knowledge!” Blessings.
No sir…thank you. Your answer shed even more light. I’m excited about the path of study I am about to take.
How amazing for confirmation! Thank you for explaining the ‘logic’ So grateful that The Word is not a letter written on paper or stone but a Savior born in Person, by our Creator Who is the Source of Love! I was reminded of 2 Cor 3 where Paul speaks on the difference of the letter of the written logic and law (a shadow only), as a veil blinding the minds of the religious, leading to death – old covenant….. VERSUS the logic veil being removed for us by Holy Spirit revelation experience of Jesus, the Word of God in Person, the One written about – The Substance, The Son of God as a veil torn for us, by Grace to have access into the Holy Presence of our Heavenly Father, that we can have a living, intimate relationship with our Father, just as Jesus portrayed for us – New Covenant. [Logos to Rhema to Onoma 3686 ónoma – name; (figuratively) the manifestation or revelation of someone’s character, i.e. as distinguishing them from all others. Thus “praying in the name of Christ” means to pray as directed (authorized) by Him, bringing revelation that flows out of being in His presence. “Praying in Jesus’ name” therefore is not a “religious formula” just to end prayers (or get what we want)!]
Another confirmation is how God revealed this to John further in a vision in Rev 19…”Jesus was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God” Praise our Heavenly Father.
Thanks Carol. Well said. I especially liked what you’re saying here…
“Thus “praying in the name of Christ” means to pray as directed (authorized) by Him, bringing revelation that flows out of being in His presence. “Praying in Jesus’ name” therefore is not a “religious formula” just to end prayers (or get what we want)!]”
As my brother-in-law would say, “in the name of Jesus” comes from a place in Him, not the tag-line at the end of a prayer request.
Very logical indeed!
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