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Jesus … Word

By Antony D. Palma

The designation of Jesus Christ as the Word (Greek Logos) is found in Scripture only in the writings of the apostle John (John 1:1,14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13). In spite of its infrequent occurrence, it is a most meaningful term.

The emphasis in the use of this Christological title is on the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. When John says, “In the beginning was the Word” (1:1), he calls attention to the eternality of the Son of God. He did not come into existence at some point in the eternal past (in which case the writer would have used the verb ginomai [to come into existence], as he did in 1:6 with reference to John the Baptist). Rather, the Logos was already in existence (en) in the beginning.

The statement is also made that the Logos was “with God” (pros ton theon — 1:1). There was available to John a choice of several prepositions to convey the basic meaning of “with” (such as meta, sun, and para). But pros suggests the idea of equality between the logos and God. It is used to indicate a close “face-to-face” relationship and calls attention to the distinction of personalities in the Godhead.

“And the Word was God” (kai theos en ho logos — 1:1). This is an unequivocal assertion of the deity of the Logos. The syntax of the clause (theos without the article and logos with the article ho) dictates that the subject of the sentence is the Word and the predicate nominative is God. The Logos is of the same divine nature as God the Father.

The statement that “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14) cannot be fully understood apart from its relation to verse 1. He who was eternally coexistent with the Father was made (egeneto) or became flesh. He entered into our time-space existence by emptying Himself (Philippians 2:7). The omnipotent Logos who created all things (John 1:3) chose to become a creature — man — and dwell among men.

The purpose of His becoming man is also bound up in this title Logos, for the term word conveys the idea of a means of communication. Jesus the Logos is God’s ultimate revelation of Himself to man (Hebrews 1:1), for as John further tells us, Jesus “hath declared [exegeseto — explained, interpreted] him” (John 1:1). Therefore, in response to Philip’s request to “show us the Father,” (14:9). The divine Logos is therefore the Way, the only means by which one can understand the Father and come to Him (14:6).

The assignment of this title to Jesus was designed to arrest the attention of both Jewish and Gentile readers. To the Jew, it would recall passages such as Psalm 33:6, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.”

Philo, noted Alexandrian Jew of New Testament times, also spoke in terms of the Logos participating in the creation of the world and designated the Logos as ho deuteros theos — the second God. Even though his Jewish monotheism would not permit him to think of God as having an equal or as existing in two persons, Philo at least ranked the Logos as second in importance in the universe.

The Hellenistic mind was also acquainted with this term. As far back as the fifth century B.C., Greek philosophy spoke of an impersonal, cosmic force which controlled the physical world and which was called the Logos.

The Jewish and Greek minds understood these things in only a limited fashion. In the New Testament we have the Logos clearly depicted as a Person and as a member of the Godhead.

Anthony D. Palma, Th.D., longtime Assemblies of God educator, Springfield, Missouri

 

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