Logos

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (vv. 1–14).

- John 1:1–18

One of the most intriguing titles for Jesus is found in a passage that theologians have studied for millennia and have yet barely scratched the surface of its meaning. The title of which we are speaking is “Logos,” and it is found in John 1:1–18.

As is common in English translations, the Greek term logos in today’s passage is translated as “Word.” This is perhaps the simplest meaning of logos, and we find its presence in several English words. For example, we have the disciplines of biology (a word about living things) and theology (a word about God). In ancient Greek, however, logos had far richer connotations than just “word.” Ancient Greek philosophers, in particular, had special uses for the term logos.

Philosophy is concerned with addressing the ultimate questions of reality, and the ancient Greeks who pursued this discipline were always searching for ultimate truth, the final reality that lies behind everything visible and invisible. As the Greek philosophers considered the questions of truth, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and more, they began to use the word logos to describe the ultimate reality they were all pursuing. This logos was an organizing principle, that which gives life and meaning to the universe. Consequently, the ancient Greeks thought of the logos as an impersonal force, as bare rationality that cannot love or interact with the world.

John the Apostle had to speak the language of his day when he wrote his gospel, so it is not surprising that he used the term logos. Yet the Apostle did not simply copy the word as it was used in Greek philosophy, but he transformed it, investing it with biblical content. His logos is personal and can be received or rejected by human beings (vv. 11–12). This was scandalous enough for Greek minds, but what was even worse, from their perspective, was that John said the logos could become incarnate as a human being (v. 14).

The logos is God Himself, more specifically, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who shares fully in the one divine essence. He is the One who was there “in the beginning,” before all things (1:1; see Gen. 1:1). The logos — the organizing entity behind all things — is the personal Creator who loves His people.

Coram Deo

The idea that God is personal is a radical one indeed. Ultimate reality in Hinduism and Buddhism is impersonal. Islam and Judaism know something of a personal God due to the influence of the Bible on Muhammad and the rabbis, but the God presented in these religions is not consistently personal. Our God is personal, and we can have a true relationship with Him because He came to us in the person of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Passages for Further Study

Genesis 1:1
Micah 5:2
Colossians 1:15–17
Revelation 1:8

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