Jesus as Logos

The writer of the book of John opens his gospel with some very well-known words. These words have been used by theologians as evidence that Jesus has existed eternally, alongside God the Father and God the Holy Spirit:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
(John 1:1-5 NKJV)

I have found this to be a difficult passage to fully comprehend, and I think many Christians would agree that it’s somewhat mysterious. When I think about Jesus, I picture in my mind a human form, and I’m not easily able to equate that human form with the ‘Word’ of John’s Gospel. What exactly is this ‘Word’ that was with God in the beginning, and how can that Word possibly be the same thing as the embodied Christ who lived in human form?

I came across an interesting passage today in a book I’m reading which has helped me to understand this mystery a little more clearly. I will quote the passage below, and then make a few brief comments to round off the post. Please note that the word ‘Logos’ is the original Greek term that has been translated into our Bibles as ‘Word’ in John 1.

A little history will help explain why John chose to call Jesus the Logos. This concept had particular meaning in Ephesus, where John was writing. Six hundred years before there lived in Ephesus a man called Heraclitus, acknowledged as the founder of science. He believed in the necessity of scientific enquiry, probing the natural world, asking how and why things were the way they were. Was it merely chance? Were we in a chaotic universe or was there an order?

He looked for patterns or ‘laws’ to see if he could deduce some logic behind the operations of the natural world. He used the word logos to stand for ‘the reason why’, the purpose behind what took place. When he looked at life (bios) he looked for the logos; when he studied the weather (meteor) he sought the logos. This concept now appears in our words for the study of different areas of science: biology, meteorology, geology, psychology, sociology, etc.

So Heraclitus said that the logos is ‘the reason why’. Every branch of science is looking for the logos, the reason why things are as they are. John, realizing that Jesus is the ultimate reason ‘why’ everything happened, took up this idea and called Jesus the logos, ‘the Word’. The whole universe was made for him. He was the Logos before there was anyone else to communicate with. That is the reason why we are here. It is all going to be summed up with him. He is the ‘Reason Why’.

‘Unlocking the Bible’ by David Pawson (William Collins 2015, p902)

It may be the case that it’s impossible for human beings to envisage what an eternal Jesus looks like, but this passage certainly provides an explanation which makes the concept a little easier to understand. Pawson takes the focus off Jesus’ embodied form, and onto what could be described as an abstract concept.

If you found Pawson’s elucidations helpful, I will be continuing with this theme in my next blog post, so please consider subscribing if you’d like to follow the discussion.

You can read the follow-up blog post here.

19 comments

  1. Hi Steven. The quote by Mr. Pawson is extremely helpful, and makes great sense. As you say, the concept of Jesus as “the Word” is a difficult one to grasp, and this gives a nice degree of clarity. What hit me is that the word “logos” refers to “the reason why.” This is an absolutely brilliant way to describe the true essence of who Jesus truly is far beyond His physical appearance. Great post!

    Looking forward to further posts on this subject.

    1. Hi David! Thanks so much for reading, and I’m glad you found Pawson’s insights helpful, as I did. Will probably write a follow-up post on the subject tomorrow. Blessings and talk soon! πŸ™πŸ»

  2. Could it be possible the reference to “The word” is actually referring to the LIVE Speaking Voice of God the father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit himself?

    Just something to ponder.

    1. Hi David! That’s an interesting thought, and it’s something I’ve considered too. But I think it’s even more helpful to look at the original Greek word (logos), as Pawson does in the passage quoted, and then try to discern why the author of John used that word. Bless you and thank you for your comment 😊

  3. Hi Stephen,
    I offer you an understanding that might address issues you raise with thoughts that I provide at pages 186-214 of my Study at: http://www.jwstudies.com/Revolutions_in_Salvation__Draft_.pdf
    I include the chiasms which are employed in that early part of the Gospel.
    I have serious conceptual problems with the idea of Incarnation and its consequences, ranging from the moment of Jesus’ conception to his “human” life and to his death.
    Doug

    1. Hello Doug! Thank you for sharing your study. To be honest, I’m rather concerned that you might be a Jehovah’s Witness (because of the ‘jwstudies’ url) and that is making me reluctant to read your paper. I have spent some time researching what the Witnesses believe, and it is not at all in line with my thinking. I say this respectfully, and I’m grateful for your visits to my blog and for the comments you have left. Perhaps you could clarify for me? Best wishes, Steven (spelt with a ‘v’!)

      1. Hi Steven.
        Firstly, please accept my apologies for misspelling your name.
        Since the mid-1960s I have been exposing the errors and dangers of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I mainly focused on their erroneous neo-Babylonian chronology and on their untenable positions on blood. During that time, I focused on providing leading edge information. There is no value in repeating the outcomes of existing research.
        Today, the scene is completely different. The advent of the www and the proliferation of voices tell me there is little more I can now contribute in that arena.
        I want to see if I can outline the history of Judaeo/Christian soteriology. I write so that I can understand. For me, writing is a strict disciplinarian, forcing me to organise my reasoning.
        In preparing this latest Study, I was determined that I would not use resources who are deemed by many to be controversial, such as Bart Ehrman or Spong. Given the fact that no two scholars are in complete agreement, I can rightly be accused of making selective citations. Every researcher does that.
        Frequently I upload an updated Draft with the hope that I will receive criticisms, corrections and advice.
        I hope you read those pages from my Study that deal with the Johannine community. As I noted, I include chiasms, which are an invaluable tool. I cite serious, reputable Bible scholars.
        Regards,
        Doug

        1. Hi Doug!

          Thank you for explaining. Very interesting to hear about your background and areas of interest. I will take a look at your study, and if I feel I have any useful comments to make I’ll let you know.

          Best wishes,

          Steven

          1. Hi Steven,
            You will find that the Study is fully searchable.
            The contents listings at the front and at the rear are hyperlinks.
            As I previously commented, you will find areas that I have addressed include the Reformation period (Luther, Calvin, etc.) and the Johannine community.
            I am currently learning about Ephesians, which followed Colossians, which I have already considered. Following my foray into Ephesians, I plan to study the Pastorals, which followed on. Then the Renaissance and the Enlightenment beckon me.
            An Orthodox priest read my chapter on their soteriology and he told me that it fully accords with what he was taught.
            I forgot to mention that while researching the Watchtower Society, I was also interested in their use of “Jehovah” in their NT. At the time, the mid 1970s, Randy Watters published my research in USA. I have also researched their history, among other aspects.
            Regardcs,
            Doug

  4. F.F. Bruce in his book “The Gospel & Epistles of John” cites ideas from different sources, including the Old Testament, concerning the concept of Jesus as the Word of God.These include the ideas of action, wisdom, revelation and several more. Thanks for your post. It deepened my knowledge about something I’d not spent much time thinking about.

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