The word Logos in the Greek mind (we study its usage in the Greek mind because the book of John was written in Greek and the concept of logos is Greek) has a significance that heightens its meaning for us. Here we distinguish between significance and meaning because concepts do not grow in meaning, but they often grow in weight or significance. For example, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6-7 (written around the 8th century before Christ) that a virgin will give birth. It is likely that the people in Isaiah’s day thought one thing about Isaiah’s prophecy that people much later in Paul’s day after the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ saw much more clearly. If this is true, then, the concept of the Logos, used in the Old Testament (cf. 2 Sam 7:4) but was also prevalent in Greek thought gains in weight and significance when understood in terms of how God revealed Christ through the apostle John. Merrill Tenney said, “To the Hebrew ‘the word of God’ was the self-assertion of the divine personality; to the Greek, the formula denoted the rational mind that ruled the universe.” Neither usage quite captures the concept of Logos as John used it.

How did John use the concept? In the book of John, John uses Word [Gr. ὁ λόγος] to mean “the Word.” The word ‘the’ used before the noun points to a specific identity that John wants to make known to his readers that Jesus is the Word—God’s final revelation of Himself. In his prologue (John 1:1—5), Jesus is the Word: the Word which existed before the creation of all things. He is the Word that exists in a coequal relationship with God from eternity past. He is the Word that brought all things that exist into being. All things include knowledge, wisdom, life, light, beauty, and love meaning He is their source and possesses them in a univocal and superlative way in which no being except the triune God can possess them. He is the Word who became human and lived among us. He is the Word that is the source of life. He possesses life in such a way as to say He owns it and that life which He possesses was the Light of mankind. That light continues to shine and the darkness can neither dampen it, bring it under its control, nor understand it. My friends, this should give us great hope and encouragement as the days grow colder and the light seems dimmer.

As Eugene Peterson puts it: Jesus is the Word who became flesh and moved into our neighborhood.

Leroy Hill

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