The logos- speech or a Person?
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”(Jn.1:1)
The phrase “In the beginning” is a reference to the beginning of time, when the universe was created, Gen.1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Halley’s Bible Dictionary says it, “Reminds us of the opening words of Genesis.” When did time, space the universe come into being? Gen. 1:1. We are told that the Word was already there in an eternal relationship to the Father. The term “the Word” is used exclusively by John. The Father always calls Jesus his Son. Which is meant to reveal a ETERNAL relationship between them. Throughout the Old and New Testament He is called the Son showing that He previously existed as such. We have John writing this word was both God and with God throughout eternity (Jn.17:4
Some claim that John used the Greek concept of the logos. Logos is from the root of the Greek verb "to speak.” Heraclitus (6 B.C.) was the first philosopher we know of to apply to logos a philosophical or theological interpretation. His writings are preserved in fragments and often quoted in the writings of others. In his fragmented writings the logos was a principle of reason at work in the cosmic order of the universe, this reason acts as a universal ordering principle of the universe through which all things come to pass and in which all things share. He urges us to pay attention to the logos, which "governs all things" and yet it is also something we "encounter every day."
“Heraclitus used it for the principle which controls the universe. The Stoics employed it for the soul of the world (anima mundi) and Marcus Aurelius used spermatikos logos for the generative principle in nature. The Hebrew memra was used in the Targums for the manifestation of God like the Angel of Jehovah and the Wisdom of God in Prov 8:23. … At any rate John’s standpoint is that of the Old Testament and not that of the Stoics nor even of Philo who uses the term Logos, but not John’s conception of personal pre-existence. The term Logos is applied to Christ only in John 1:1, 14; Rev 19:13; 1 John 1:1 “concerning the Word of life” (an incidental argument for identity of authorship). There is a possible personification of “the Word of God” in Heb 4:12. But the personal pre-existence of Christ is taught by Paul (2 Cor 8:9; Phil 2:6f.; Col 1:17) and in Heb 1:2f. and in John 17:5. This term suits John’s purpose better than sophia (wisdom) and is his answer to the Gnostics who either denied the actual humanity of Christ (Docetic Gnostics) or who separated the aeon Christ from the man Jesus (Cerinthian Gnostics). The pre-existent Logos “became flesh” (sarx egeneto, verse 14) and by this phrase John answered both heresies at once” (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament).
The concept of the Logos was further developed by Stoic philosophers over the next few centuries. The Stoics spoke of The Logos as Reason, through which all things came to be, by which all things were ordered, and to which all things returned. The logos philosophy in the minds of later Greek philosophers such as Plato (429-347 B.C.), and Aristotle (384-322) used the word logos in a more complex manner in their writings. In its most philosophical application, the word denoted discourse, or rational explanation, reason.
The proponents of Stoicism borrowed the idea of logos from Heraclitus (neither Plato nor Aristotle gave the term prominence) and used it for the immanent ordering principle of the universe--represented, at the level of language, by humankind's ordered discourse. Nature and logos are often treated as one and the same; but logos is nature's overall rational structure, and not all natural creatures have logos, or reason, within them.
We can outright see that it is not advantageous, nor biblical to understand the logos in this manner.
Philo of Alexandria was a Hellenistic Jew who lived around the time of Christ. Philo wrote allegories of Old Testament books authored by Moses, interpreting them in the light of Greek philosophy. He used the term, logos more than 1300 times in his writings in various ways. To Philo the Logos was the Divine Reason, by participation in which humans are rational; the model of the universe; the superintendent or governor of the universe; and the first-born son of God.
Sometimes Philo is influenced by Jewish tradition and represents the Logos as the creative Word of God (“De Sacrific. Ab. et Cain”; cf. “De Somniis”, I 182; “De Opif. Mundi”, 13)
other times he describes it as the revealer of God, symbolized in Scripture by the angel of Jahveh (“De Somniis”, I, 228-39, “De Cherub.”, 3; “De Fuga”, 5; “Quis rer. divin. haeres sit”, 201-205).
He also employed the language of Hellenism; the Logos is then, after a Platonistic concept, the sum total of ideas and the intelligible world (“De Opif. Mundi”, 24, 25; “Leg. Alleg.”, I, 19; III, 96),
In the New Testament, the Gospel According to JOHN begins by him introducing the logos as God, the Creative Word, who took on flesh as the man Jesus Christ (Jn.1:14). Many believe John's concept is directly from Greek origin— Most claim the word-logos is of the Greeks, the Stoics, or Philo who uses the term Logos. Why would John have the intent of using a Greek concept when it was already a Hebrew one?
The Logos that was used by the Greeks was to stand for the creative force, logic, utterance, speech and reason. “The Word” is neither an idea, a thought nor an expression. John is NOT writing about speech but rather about a Person. That Person is the Son of God that preexisted before he became man. John's concept is pointing out and explaining the personal pre-existence of the one who came to earth. He is pointing out that the logos IS the creator himself.
“The “Logos” is portrayed as a pre-existent eternal being. entirely to be distinguished from the use made of it by Philo of Alexandria and his school of philosophy in the second century B.C. With them the logos was a impersonal idea, conveying the thoughts of God” (W.E.Vine The Epistles of John p.11).
“The word” that is being used is not a Greek concept but a Jewish one, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Scripture states the Word was God, who is a personal eternal being (John 1:1). This word of Yahweh was of the supreme importance to the Jewish people because it represented a divine power that went fourth to accomplish His will (Ps. 33:9, Isa. 55:11). This word was active in the creation and ordering of the universe (Ps. 33:6; Gen. 1:3).
John is not writing to the Gentiles, Greeks specifically, but to Jews. This is proven by all the examples he uses of their own Jewish culture and history they would recognize; i.e. using the name I AM 7 times. John who wrote his gospel in Greek was using Greek words for Jewish concepts, not Hellenistic ones. This Word is a title for the Son of God who possesses the very same nature as the Father, as John clearly teaches throughout his epistle. Jn.1:2 John clearly explains, “He was in the beginning (already existing) with God” v.3 “All things were (past tense) made through Him,” (a person). He is using personal pronouns for the word which indicates the word” is a personification of a person.
John's Jewish/Messianic monotheism is found throughout his gospel. He makes use of Old Testament types and concepts starting from his opening statement which replays on the Genesis account John 1:1 In the beginning
V:5 the light shines in the darkness v.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.’ Or when he met an told Nathanael he was an Israelite with no deceit!" Nathanael responds, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"(John 1:47-49)
Halley’s Bible Dictionary says, “Reminds us of the opening words of Genesis.”
John 1:1 The word here points directly to Gen 1, where the act of creation is effected by God speaking (compare Ps 33:6). The idea of God, who is in his own nature hidden, revealing himself in creation, is the root of the Logos-idea, in contrast with all materialistic or pantheistic conceptions of creation. This idea develops itself in the Old Testament on three lines.(1) “The Word, as embodying the divine will, is personified in Hebrew poetry.” Consequently divine attributes are predicated of it as being the continuous revelation of God in law and prophecy (Ps 33:4; Isa 40:8; Ps 119:105). The Word is “a healer” in Ps 107:20; “a messenger” in Ps 147:15; “the agent of the divine decrees” in Isa 55:11.(2) “The personified wisdom” (3) “The Angel of Jehovah.” (Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament).
The Jews used the Aramaic term Memra, for the word. The Rabbis said that God always revealed Himself to the prophets by the word. They considered the Memra as God revealing Himself, as the agent of creation and the means of salvation, a mediator, one who communicates to man the mind and will of God. The word was also a theophany in the Old Testament (the means by which God became visible or contacted man) such as The Angel of The Lord
Logos -the word (dabar in Greek-the memra in Hebrew) is personified as a person. John is actually correcting the Greek understanding of Logos. The Greeks taught God was impassible, He could not come into this world. These same Greek philosophies enhanced Gnosticism. Today Oneness Pentecostals hold to the Greek philosophers view, not the Hebrew view that is biblical. They teach the word is speech, thought or reason, or a plan that existed in the mind of God, which helps them deny the tri-unity of God. They are completely wrong about How John used this term. John is upholding a relationship by explaining the association of the Father and the Son from the beginning of creation.
Personification is attributing personal qualities; to a thing or abstraction as a person or by the human form. 2 : a divinity or imaginary being representing a thing or abstraction3 : embodiment, incarnation (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
metaphor 1 : a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money); broadly : figurative language — compare simile 2 : an object, activity, or idea treated as a metaphor (Merriam-Webster, Dictionary).
The word (Greek-Logos) is not something spoken as an impersonal “it.” Could a word spoken exist from the beginning of time? How could a word spoken be God? How can a spoken word become human, as the man, Jesus Christ and be God and man? Is not God more than what he speaks? If the word is something issuing forth as speech and then becoming human then it is not deity, no matter how you color it by human wisdom. It is no more than any other created thing, like a tree or another creature. For the word to be interpreted as something God spoke would mean that God is not an eternal personal being. The Bible says he is more than a thought, a plan in the mind of God. The word is a person, not the person is the word/speech. We find that this word is a title for the Son of God, who has the same nature as the Father. To properly understand John's prologue and the person of Christ in his gospel and in the whole New Testament, one must avoid the Greek philosophy.
He is called the word because he is the active cause of the world. It is He whose word brought all things into existence. If the word is a created thing or another creature (as in Arianism), then He could not be with God before anything was made. Therefore the word is indeed God the creator. The Word that is the Son is called the mighty God in Isa.9:6, and if he is not a person, neither is the Father. In Eph.6:17 “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” Does this mean the sword of the Spirit is a plan, or a thought too?
As the church moved further away from the Hebrew meanings written in the Greek language they lost much of what the apostles wrote and instead chose Greek philosophy as their understanding of Hebrew concepts.
In the Early Christian church “The apologists found the Logos a convenient term in expounding Christianity to pagans. They used its sense of "reason," and some were thus enabled to see philosophy as a preparation for the gospel. The Hebraic overtones of "word" were under-emphasized, though never quite lost. Some theologians distinguished between the Logos endiathetos, or Word latent in the Godhead from all eternity, and the logos prophorikos, uttered and becoming effective at the creation. Origen seems to have used Philo's language of the deuteros theos. In the major Christological controversies, however, the use of the term did not clarify the main issues, and it does not occur in the great creeds” (A F Walls, Elwell Evangelical Dictionary).
In our modern times many believe we should use the Greek Philosophers viewpoint to redeem culture. John did not redeem anything as some claim but instead corrected the Greek view that had some small similarities. The Greeks held to the logos being abstract and impersonal. Bultmann believed that John was more influenced by early oriental Gnostic thinking than by Hellenistic and Jewish traditions; so many take his view.
The various meanings - being reason, thought, the world, spirit or soul hardly holds up when one looks to how it is used in the New Testament. The Gospel of John that it is filled with Hebraisms, language and examples taken from the Hebrew culture to prove the deity of the Messiah John instead gives the Hebrew meaning showing that he is personal. That the Logos became incarnate. Jn.1:1:2 all things were made by him; and he lived among them.
Contrary to these statements that want to Hellenize or rethink John.1:1, there is not a scholar worth his salt that would take these positions. Logos- John is not writing about speech but rather about a Person. That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (William MacDonald; edited with introductions by Arthur Farstad, Believer’s Bible commentary: Old and New Testaments)
“the word of God (logos) The Old Testament spoke of the word of God as the divine agent in the creation of the universe: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps. 33:6). Youngblood, Ronald F., General Editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, Consulting Editors, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
What John was doing was explaining the true meaning of logos from the Hebrew perspective compared to the Greek writers.
“The Word” in the Old Testament
The Old Testament spoke of the word of God as the divine agent in the creation of the universe: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps. 33:6).
To the Jews the term for word is Memra, an Aramaic term that was used by the Rabbis to mean divine wisdom which was sometimes considered distinct from God. They considered the memra as God revealing Himself, as the agent of creation and the means of salvation a mediator, one who communicates to man the mind and will of God. The word was also a Theophany in the Old Testament (the means by which God became visible) such as The Angel of The Lord. The Rabbis said that God always revealed Himself to the prophets by the word. By calling Jesus the Word, it meant he embodied the full revelation of God to man (the fullness of God in bodily form as the Scripture states elsewhere). The Hebrew word- Memra was used in the Targums for the manifestation of God like the Angel of Jehovah and the Wisdom of God. In the Targumim we find the expression of Logos, Memra (word). In the Targum by Onkelos it occurs 179 times, in the Jerusalem Targum 99 times and the psuedo Jonathan 321 times. In the Targum on Deut 26:17-18, it is said, "Ye have appointed THE WORD OF GOD a king over you this day, that he may be your God."
John 1:1 Heraclitus used it for the principle which controls the universe. The Stoics employed it for the soul of the world (anima mundi) and Marcus Aurelius used spermatikos logos for the generative principle in nature. The Hebrew memra was used in the Targums for the manifestation of God like the Angel of Jehovah and the Wisdom of God in Prov 8:23. … At any rate John’s standpoint is that of the Old Testament and not that of the Stoics nor even of Philo who uses the term Logos, but not John’s conception of personal pre-existence. (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament.)
John presents the Logos as a pre-existent eternal being. By calling Jesus the Word, it meant he embodied the full revelation of God to man, by becoming man. The Word is used in a metaphorical sense of accomplishing God’s will in much the same way as the phrase the “arm of the Lord” is used to represent the Messiah or Gods power in intervening in the affairs of man. John also uses the phrases “Word of Life,” and "the Life was manifested" (1 John 1:1-2).
Jn.1:1 speaks of this relationship with God that was ongoing before the moment of creation (1:2). The word was there before the beginning, and the word had been with, toward God (Pros theos) face to face in relationship, And God is the word. Jn.1:1 He “was with God (face to face) and was God.” John's use of the imperfect tense in Greek shows continuous duration of existence in the past and continuing into the future. The phrase “in the beginning” is a reference to the beginning of time. “Was (eôn), “Three times in this sentence John uses this imperfect of eimi to be which conveys no idea of origin for God or for the Logos, simply continuous existence.”… “With God (pros ton theon). Though existing eternally with God the Logos was in perfect fellowship with God. Pros with the accusative presents a plane of equality and intimacy, face to face with each other” (A.T. Robertson Word Pictures of the New Testament).
The entire work of creation was carried out through (dia, vs. 3) the Logos, “all things were made by Him” (Col.1:15-17 tells what things). The Logos is the source of life (1:4) In Jn.1:3 it states This shows He preceded creation. Notice it says He is person. v.3 “All things were (past tense) made through Him, (a person) Without Him nothing (which means nothing) was made that was made.” God the Father did not create things directly but through the means of his Son. Heb.1:2. The Son is “the Word” (Jn.1:18) and was with another who is called the Father. John reveals to us in Scripture that this one called the word is a divine person and has come into the world to reveal another person, the Father. John 1:18 “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
John then moves from his work as an agent of creation to his incarnation, he explains in v.18 that this word who is with God from the beginning is the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father (Gr. Kolpos). Meaning the place of dearest affection and greatest place of intimacy in a relationship. The Father is a personal being who is God and so is the Son. No angel or creature could enjoy this place of affection that existed in all eternity before anything was made. This relationship was before Jesus was on earth and continued while he was on earth. The Father said “this is My beloved Son” several times even though he was in flesh. . John 17:5
Jesus speaks- and now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.With thine own self para seautoo "By the side of thyself” (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)
“John 1:1 The apostle does not borrow this mode of speech from the writings of Plato, as some have imagined he took it from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and from the subsequent style of the ancient Jews.-(Adam Clarke's Commentary)
A theological phrase which expresses the absolute, eternal, and ultimate being of Jesus Christ <John 1:1-14; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13>. The Old Testament spoke of the word of God as the divine agent in the creation of the universe: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” <Ps. 33:6>. (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
H.E Dana and Julius Mantey, renown Greek scholars write,…the Apostle John wrote, “and the word was God.” He did not write, and the word was the God, because that would mean that the word was God the Father. John wrote the word God without “the” for a purpose. Her wanted to signify that although Jesus as the word was a distinct person from God the Father, he was of the same divine essence or nature as God”(A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, pp.139-140)
John 1:1-5 The Chaldee paraphrase very frequently calls the Messiah Memra-the Word of Jehovah, and speaks of many things in the Old Testament, said to be done by the Lord, as done by that Word of the Lord. from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible.)
A theological phrase which expresses the absolute, eternal, and ultimate being of Jesus Christ <ohn 1:1-14; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13. The Old Testament spoke of the word of God as the divine agent in the creation of the universe: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made" <Ps. 33:6>. In the New Testament, the Gospel of John declared, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" <John 1:14>. Through the incarnation of Christ, God has come to dwell in our midst. Through the life and ministry of Jesus, a unique and final revelation of God has been given-- one superior to the revelation given through the law and the prophets. In Christ, the word of God, God's plan and purpose for mankind is clearly revealed 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:1-3. (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
3. This term was in use before the time of John
(a) It was used in the Aramaic translation of the Old Testament, as, “e.g.,” Isa 45:12: “I have made the earth, and created man upon it.” In the Aramaic it is, “I, `by my word,' have made,” etc. Isa 48:13: “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth.” In the Aramaic, “`By my word' I have founded the earth.” And so in many other places.
(b) This term was used by the Jews as applicable to the Messiah. In their writings he was commonly known by the term “Mimra”-that is, “Word;” and no small part of the interpositions of God in defense of the Jewish nation were declared to be by “the Word of God.” Thus, in their Targum on Deut 26:17-18, it is said, “Ye have appointed THE WORD OF GOD a king over you this day, that he may be your God.”
(c) The term was used by the Jews who were scattered among the Gentiles, and especially those who were conversant with the Greek philosophy.
(d) The term was used by the followers of Plato among the Greeks, to denote the Second Person of the Trinity. The Greek term nous (NT:3518) or “mind,” was commonly given to this second person, but it was said that this [nous] was “the word” or “reason” of the First Person of the Trinity. The term was therefore extensively in use among the Jews and Gentiles before John wrote his Gospel, and it was certain that it would be applied to the Second Person of the Trinity by Christians. whether converted from Judaism or Paganism. It was important, therefore, that the meaning of the term should be settled by an inspired man, and accordingly John, in the commencement of his Gospel, is at much pains to state clearly what is the true doctrine respecting the Logos (NT:3015), or Word. It is possible, also, that the doctrines of the Gnostics had begun to spread in the time of John. They were an Oriental sect, and held that the Logos (NT:3015) or “Word” was one of the “Aeones” that had been created, and that this one had been united to the man Jesus. If that doctrine had begun then to prevail, it was of the more importance for John to settle the truth in regard to the rank of the Logos or Word. This he has done in such a way that there need be no doubt about its meaning. (from Barnes' Notes)
John 1:1 John's standpoint is that of the Old Testament and not that of the Stoics nor even of Philo who uses the term Logos (NT:3015), but not John's conception of personal pre-existence. The term [Logos] is applied to Christ only in John 1:1,14 and Rev 19:13 and 1 John 1:1 "concerning the Word of life" (an incidental argument for identity of authorship). There is a possible personification of "the Word of God" in Heb 4:12. But the personal pre-existence of Christ is taught by Paul (2 Cor 8:9; Phil 2:6 f; Col 1:17) and in Heb 1:2 f and in John 17:5. This term suits John's purpose better than sophia (NT:4624) (wisdom) and is his answer to the Gnostics who either denied the actual humanity of Christ (Docetic Gnostics) or who separated the aeon Christ from the man Jesus (Cerinthian Gnostics). The pre-existent Logos (NT:3015) "became flesh" sarx (NT:4508) egeneto (NT:1086), John 1:14) and by this phrase John answered both heresies at once” (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)
The Greek word “logos” is exclusively used in the writings of John. The term Logos is applied to Christ only in John 1:1, 14; Rev 19:13; John 1:1 and a possible personification of “the Word of God” in Heb.4:12. In Rev 19:13: Jesus is called the Word of God. His name is called the word of God but He himself is not a word. He is the eternal Son of God that was WITH the Father before anything was made. The Bible calls the word a He, a Him, not a thought, not a speech pattern, attributing identity to him. He is a person who existed at the same time as the Father. Jesus IS the Word of God in the fullest, truest, and proper sense. He is the eternal Logos. The first meaning of the 'Word of God' is Christ himself. To submit to the word written is the same as submitting to Jesus.
The word of God is represented as food: (Job 23:12). as bread Jesus in Matthew 4:4 is quoting Deut.8:3 “It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God “
The word is likened to a lamp or light (Ps. 119:105,130); The word of God is to man morally what a lamp is physically. This world is in a state of moral darkness; but God’s word is a light shining in a dark place, “The entrance of Thy words giveth light” (Ps. 119:130).
The word of God is compared to a fire or hammer to break stony hearts: “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29).
The word is called the sword of the Spirit: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (Eph 6:17). It is a perfect weapon with which to resist Satan. And the Holy Spirit uses it to cut into the sinners heart.” For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The word is likened to seed: “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). Like in natural farming the seed in spiritual must be sown. We are commissioned to sow the word of God. Psalms 126:6-127:1: “He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6)
So the word of God in John’s gospel is used in
this manner to represent the Son of God- the word was God. To be
God one must have the nature and attributes that make one God the creator
and ruler over all things.
Logos- John is not writing about speech but rather about a Person. That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. William MacDonald; edited with introductions by Arthur Farstad, Believer’s Bible commentary: Old and New Testaments)