Jesus as the Word of God – Greek ‘Logos’

John 1:1-3

In the beginning was the Word (the Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him (the Logos), and without Him nothing was made that was made.
NKJV

Introduction

Of all the inspired writers of the New Testament, John presented the most comprehensive concept of the Word of God (the Greek Logos) as another title for Jesus Christ. In order to understand John's writings as the first century people did, we need to explore the different aspects of the development of the Logos-idea: 1) the meaning of the Greek word Logos, 2) Greek culture and thought, and 3) God's revelation of Himself in the Bible.

1. The meaning of the Greek word Logos

The word Logos comes from the root leg, which means to pick out, to gather, and therefore to put words together and speak. Logos is first of all a collection of thoughts and of the words used to express them. It is never used as simply the name of a thing, but means a word for the thing referred to, a word embodying a conception or idea.

It also means a saying, a decree of God, eg. the Septuagint refers to the ten commandments as "the ten words." Logos was a familiar theological term at the time when John wrote, and so he used it without explanation.

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2. Greek culture and thought

During the time of the Greek Empire (333 - 63 BC), many Jews settled in Alexandria, Egypt, and absorbed Greek culture and language. They could hardly speak Hebrew any more, and so their Scriptures were translated into Greek between 284 and 247 BC. This Greek translation became known as the Septuagint, and many of its words and concepts were used in the Greek New Testament Scriptures.

Greek philosophers, in attempting to explain the relationship between God and the universe, spoke of an unknown mediator between God and man, the Logos. John here tells them that Jesus Christ is that unknown mediator, and therefore refers to Him as the Logos.

Paul did the same thing in Athens, when he discovered an altar dedicated to "the unknown God." After preaching in the synagogues, the Greeks invited him to explain his new ideas to them. He proclaimed to them the God of heaven and earth as the "unknown" God worshipped by them. [1]

3. God's revelation of Himself in the Bible.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word dābār is often used to express God's revelatory word to man. In the Greek translation, the word logos is used. The essence of the Logos-idea, is that God's nature is hidden and inscrutable, and therefore He reveals Himself through creation and His Word.

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Paul told us that God has in the past spoken to Israel by the prophets, but now He has spoken to us by His Son. [2] Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." [3] Jesus is Deity speaking through the life of a divine Person.

Verse 1a: "In the beginning was the Word"

Gen 1:1 also starts with "In the beginning," and then declares the "beginning" as God's act of creation. However, John's "In the beginning" precedes the word "was," which immediately changes the picture. There are two words in Greek for "was": hēn denoting 'absolute existence', and egéneto meaning 'to come into being.' John uses the first word, thus pointing to eternity preceding time and creation, i.e. the Word had absolute pre-existence. This word for "was" reminds of eimi, the "I am" name claimed by both God the Father [4] and Jesus Christ. [5]

The definite article is used before "Word," indicating that He is THE concept of God, the only true one, not merely one among many. As the Logos of God, Christ is the total concept of God. Therefore the Word is uncreated and eternal in His being, meaning that He shares the attributes of God and is therefore God.

Verse 1b: "The Word was with God"

The Greek word for "with" is pros which means literally "facing," thus indicating not mere company but the most intimate fellowship. He was "facing the God," the definite article again stressing "the one and only," therefore the first Person in the Trinity, i.e. God the Father. The meaning is that the Word enjoyed an intimate relationship with God the Father in eternity preceding the creation.

Verse 1c: "And the Word was God"

Here there is no article before the word "God," therefore the stress is on divine essence, quality or character. The Word is one with God the Father in essence, nature and attributes. Thus the Word is absolute Deity, Very God of Very God.

Verse 2:

The Word is now referred to as "He," to stress personality

Verse 3:

The second Greek word for "was," egéneto, is used here to contrast with hēn of the first sentence. Whereas the Word has 'absolute existence,' the world 'was made' or 'came into being .'

K.S.Wuest suggests the following translation of John1:1-3:

In the beginning was the Word (total concept of God), and the Word was in constant fellowship with God (the Father), and the Word was (as to His essence or nature) God. This Word was in the beginning in fellowship with God (the Father). All things through His intermediate agency came into being, and without Him there came into being not even one thing which has come into existence. [6]

References:

1. Acts 17:23
2. Hebrews 1:1-2
3. John 14:9
4. Exodus 3:14
5. John 8:58
6. Wuest: Word Studies, p.52, and Translation, p.209

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Aland, K (chief ed.) The Greek New Testament, Stuttgard, Germany: Biblia-Druck, 1983

2. Richards, L.O. Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Michigan, U.S.A.: The Zondervan Co., 1985

3. Thayer, J.H. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the N.T., Tennessee, U.S.A.: Broadman Press, 1977

4. Vincent, M.R. Vincent's Word Studies of the N.T. (vol.2), Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Hendrickson Publishers, ?

5. Vine, W.E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words, Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Hendrickson Publishers, ?

6. Wuest, K.S. The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, Michigan, U.S.A.: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1956

7. Wuest, K.S. Word Studies in the Greek N.T. (vol.3) Michigan, U.S.A.: Eerdman's Pub. Co., 1940

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Posted in: Bible by on October 17, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

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