The Logos, part 2
Aug 23, 2019
John 1:1 tells us,
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Word is logos, a Greek word that had long been used in a philosophical context, but which John adopted to describe the Hebrew concept of davar. The Greek concept separated logos from matter, because their idea was that spirit (and logos) was good but matter was evil. They said also that spirit was uncreated, having no beginning, whereas matter was created by a lesser god called the demiurge. By the first century, this demiurge had become known as an evil god.
The Greek view said that the fall of man occurred when spirit and matter came together, and that the solution was to separate them. The Hebrew view said that a good God created matter and breathed His Spirit into it and that the result was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
When a Greek or Gnostic began reading John’s gospel, he would have been interested in the Logos, and he would have agreed that the Logos was God. By the time he got to verse 3, he would have begun to see that John was teaching something different, something new to him, because John claimed that this Logos—and not the demiurge—was the Creator.
This meant that matter was created by a good God by the orderly and reasonable principle of the Logos. By the time he reached verse 14, where he read, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” he would have realized that this book was heretical and radically different from Greek culture and religion.
Logos as Divine Order and Reason
The word of God is intelligible and reasonable, because God is both intelligent and reasonable. He may be an “unknown God,” but He is not unknowable. We may never know Him completely, but the word of God was given to us for the purpose of revealing who God is, not by human reasoning of the soul but by the revelation of the Holy Spirit indwelling the human spirit. So we read in 1 John 5:20,
20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
The Greeks sought human wisdom; the Jews looked for signs; we seek the word, which is spiritual revelation. Most people seek truth through the soul, because they cannot distinguish between soul and spirit. Therefore, what they perceive as being spiritual is actually soulish. The soul has tremendous power in itself, simply because it is God-created, and some men, through discipline, are able to harness its powers in seemingly supernatural ways. But in the end, it is not the spirit, and therefore it falls short of the glory of God.
Paul speaks of “the logos of the cross” in 1 Corinthians 1:18, contrasting it with soulish reasoning. The logos of the cross contains a higher logic that the unenlightened soul cannot comprehend until it submits to the teaching of one’s spirit, which knows all things. Examples include Moses’ instruction to cast a tree into the bitter waters of Marah to make the waters sweet (Exodus 15:25), and Elisha’s instruction to cast a tree branch into the Jordan River to recover the axe head that had been lost (2 Kings 6:6). Such instructions were nonsense to the soulish mind, but these were very logical to the spiritual mind, which understood that the tree, by the principle of identification, was the cross of Christ, which transforms the bitter heart and recovers the people of the iron kingdom to the Kingdom of God.
Such is the logical word of the cross. It is not unknowable, but one must find the truth through the inner spiritual man that discerns all things (1 Corinthians 2:15). Logos is speech using words that are orderly, logical, and sensible.
Logos is with God and is God
A Greek reader would have found John’s statement to be quite odd, for how could the Logos be both God and with God? There are many different views about this, each according to one’s view of the relationship between the Creator God and Jesus Christ. Those who do not believe that Christ pre-existed and participated in the creation of the world will say that the logos was simply the spoken word of the Creator. To such, the word of God was not a Him but an it.
The Greek language has masculine and feminine nouns, and in this case logos was masculine. Hence, they dispute with translators such as the NASB, which render John 1:2, 3,
2 He [the Logos] was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by [dia, “through”] Him [the Logos], and apart from Him [the Logos] nothing came into being that has come into being.
They insist that it should be rendered:
2 It was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through it, and apart from it nothing came into being that has come into being.
Unfortunately, in John’s day the Greek language was written without upper and lower case letters, so the letters themselves give us no clue how to understand the logos. One’s prior viewpoint determines whether we should personify the Logos as “Him” or limit the logos as a simple word (“it”) that was spoken by the Creator.
I, of course, see the Logos as a blend of both. I see a pre-existent Christ declaring “Amen” to the word of the Father. Because Christ is the perfect Image of God, and because He is always “the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14), the Logos is both with the Creator and is the Creator. In other words, the Father is the Logos, but so is the Son, for Hebrews 1:1, 2 says,
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways; 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
To speak is to use reasonable words (logos). Those words from the Father created the world, but these were repeated as a double witness by “His Son… through whom also He made the world.” The Son, then, was pre-existent, and one cannot separate the Son from the creative process. Furthermore, the fact that God now speaks “in His Son” shows that “to us” the Son is the Logos personified.
Whatever God speaks must immediately come into being, because God is not a liar. If God affirms by His logos that something exists, when, in fact, it does not exist, then it is compelled to come into existence, simply because God’s word is truth. This is the foundation of the law of imputation, where God calls into being that which does not exist. That is spiritual logic, based upon truthful premises:
God is sovereign.
Christ bore witness.
Therefore: it is.
The only One not “made” by the double witness was Christ Himself, for He was taken out of the bosom of the Father and was thus “the only begotten God” (John 1:18). The divine Double Witness had to be begotten first in order to provide a double witness for the creation as a whole.
The Logos is Alive
John 1:4, 5 says,
4 In Him [the Logos] was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Whether we believe in the Logos or the logos, we must affirm that the Logos was and is alive. If it were a dead word, it would have been powerless to create anything meaningful. We today are so used to dead words that we have difficulty comprehending a living, creative word. We have lived in the darkness for too long. Our eyes are used to the darkness, and light tends to blind us. We have difficulty comprehending light. We squint and cannot focus our eyes, and so truth appears as a strange and incomprehensible thing.
The Jewish view that a man like Moses was the embodiment of the living word, a man who was so full of the word that he would be the very image of God, was not far from the truth. They even believed that the Messiah would be like Moses in this way—and perhaps even greater, if some might conceive of Moses as being imperfect without disrespecting him. Their problem was that even as their forefathers had often wanted to stone Moses, so also did they actually stone Jesus on the cross.
Such was the usual manner of judgment, even meted out upon those being crucified. The people passing by on the road were expected to throw stones, trying to hit the face of the convicted criminal. For this reason, Isaiah 52:14 KJV says, “His visage was so marred more than any man.” When His light shined in the darkness, the darkness could not comprehend it.
The living word in John 1:4 is merely an introduction to the rest of John’s gospel, where Christ is presented to us as the Source of life. In John 4:10 Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that He was the source of “living water” and that if she would drink this water, it would make her “a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). Such is the quality of life. Life begets life. She too could become a source of life for others. This was a revelation that an angel gave to Hagar at the well that she named Beer-lahai-roi (Genesis 16:14). It means “the well of living after seeing (God).” To “see” is to drink of the living water.
In John 5:25 Jesus said that those who hear the voice of the Son of God—i.e., those who hear the logos/word—will live. The creative, living word of the Father, spoken through the Son, causes men to live.
In John 6:48 Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” In verse 51 He says, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven.” Anyone who eats of this living bread will receive immortal life in the same manner that drinking His water will impart immortal life. To drink is to see; to eat is to hear the voice/word of the Son of God.
Either way, John presents us with Christ’s teachings which show that He is the Logos, the source of (immortal) life. John’s introduction is a mere statement, which, if taken alone, can be disputed by theologians with differing opinions. But when we see how the truth unfolds throughout the rest of John’s gospel, the meaning becomes clear. The pre-existent Logos was alive, became flesh, and was seen in the Person of Jesus. Those who eat and drink from Him, those who see and hear the Father’s words through the Son’s voice, are given immortal life as well.
This is part 2 of a series titled "The Logos" To view all parts, click the link below.