In his Prologue to his Gospel, John said that the Word– the logos– was God! Did anybody understand what he meant? Have you ever thought about what it means? Let’s take a quick look at it and consider what it says today…
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NIV). Matthew and Luke provide historical and genealogical context for Jesus’ arrival. John’s gospel explores the theological implications. He starts his gospel by describing the Word in cosmic terms that transcend time and space, terms that offer no equivocation or apology.
Connecting Dots in the Universe
The idea of the logos, or true word, had been floating around philosophical circles for several centuries. (You might stop and consider that it’s still a major concept even in our “modern” world–we currently use logo as the personification of a Brand, or a symbol that fully represents a product or company.) But back then, Heraclitus used the term as a principle for order and knowledge as early as 500 BC. Sophists like Aristotle used it to describe discourse, and Stoics believed it was “the divine animating principle pervading the universe”. Philo (20 BC-AD 50) was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher and contemporary of John’s who adopted it into Jewish philosophy.
It’s hard to adequately describe to 21st century America how dynamic and pervasive this connection really is linguistically, philosophically, or theologically. (I guess a quick and easy reference point is how often we see a company’s logo, and how things like the ubiquitous Nike Swoosh or McDonald’s Golden Arches surround us everywhere.) Logos is such a broad connective concept that it exceeds our definition. Read simply as “the Word” in the English language, all of these uses and definitions fail to capture or describe the full breadth of meaning behind logos. It is a concept which conveyed generative force and dynamic thought to first century users. John takes this word, however and gives it a unique application that changed and challenged everything.
Thinking the Unthinkable
He says in 1:14 that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” This connects Jesus to John’s opening sentence, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” This is one of the most insightful and important sentences ever written. It provides cohesion and context for the Christ’s place in the Bible, and presents Jesus as the incarnate word who connects the Old Testament with the New.
Consider these connections: The Pentateuch opens with, “in the beginning, GOD…” So does John’s Gospel. Moses said, “God created”. So did the Word. In the Genesis account, God created through the word…” John says, “all things were made through” the logos… Moses inferred that God spoke the world into existence. John boldly declared that there was a connection between the Word and creation.
Is it Science, Though?
As an aside, when it comes to creation, I find it fascinating that adherents of a Big Bang theory can leap by assumption to a very complex set of conditions about the creation of life. Those assumptions are based on preexisting elements which were NOT recorded or observable (much like the Bible). These scientists contend that things happened randomly, but also exactly in a certain way at the beginning of all things. The actual science of probability suggests that the odds of such a set of random occurrences resulting in life on earth is practically nil.
I’m not saying scientists are stupid, just that they, too have to rely on faith. They assume that preexistent elements and randomly interacting elements resulted in life. So how can they can turn around and be critical of a hypothesis that rationally assumes a preexistent God? That attributes creation and origin to the one who already existed in the beginning, and who expressed himself creatively? That kind of assumptive science is faith of a sort, at best; but it is scientific hypocrisy, at worst. If it’s ok for science to operate based on a set of assumptions based on random chance, then intellectually it’s ok for Christians to accept a Creator by faith.
No Room for Negotiation
John talks about the Word who was with God and who WAS God. The Greek syntax where John says “the Word was God” is such that the two parts are identical and interchangeable: the Word = God, and God = the Word.
There is no ambiguity about Jesus’ identity in either this statement or in the other Gospels. Matthew connects Jesus’ birth to the Messiah who had long been foretold. Luke connects Jesus to mankind by tracing his genealogy back to Adam, and John? Well, he connects Jesus to God. If those connections are correct, then Jesus wasn’t just a Jewish prophet, and he wasn’t just a good man. He was God. That’s not just a good word, it is THE Word. Always has been. Always will be.
The universe was not a bang or something that just occurred,
But cosmic energy released within the spoken word.
“In the beginning was The Word.” John said this long before
Eternity past created what the future holds, and more…
Eons can be relative, and time may seem to plod,
But the Word transcended time and space because the Word was God.
That Word, John said, became a man, and we beheld his glory,
His execution of the plan to tell redemption’s story.
Of all the things you’ve read and out of everything you’ve heard,
Consider this: the Word was God. And Jesus was the Word.
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