Who or What is the Logos?

Heraclitus of Ephesus (530-480 BC) was among the first of the Greek philosophers who considered the fundamental question of what it was that governed the essential nature of the universe. He reasoned that the multiplicity of opposites still formed a unified whole, which he called the logos.

Zeno of Citium (336-264 BC) promoted the idea of the universe functioning according to a preordained cyclic pattern of occurrences. Nothing that happens is new, and it all happens for a reason. The Divine Reason is the cause of natural law indicating the morality and wisdom of God's design. Zeno said to "grasp" them in their entirety is the path of knowledge.

The Logos concept was further developed by Philo of Alexandria (20 BC- 50 A.D) a Jewish Hellenistic philosopher who wrote also of the Logos as the wisdom of God, both in the mind of man, and manifest in nature. Philo saw the Logos as the source of eternal order. In Philo's thought, Logos plays multiple roles. It is the divine "template" of which the visible world is a copy; it is the divine power of manifestation, process, and unfolding in that world; and it is the agent of creation.

When God gave revelation to John the Evangelist He used the word Logos to convey His thoughts to man. The usage was current and there was no doubt what God was talking about.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (According to and by means of his master plan of a divinely ordered universe - the Logos)

Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith Jahweh that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am Jahweh; and there is none else.

Psalm 33:6 By the word (dabar Heb, Logos LXX))of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

John 1:1b … and the Logos was with God …kai ho logos en pros ton theon

There are four prepositions in Greek that convey the meaning of "with"; the first being "meta" which indicates that the thing is "in the midst" or sharing attributes; an example using these prepositions as English prefixes would be physics and metaphysics. The second is "para" which indicates that the thing is beside, near or parallel to, as in paratrooper, paramedic. The third is "sun" (Eng. syn, sym) which indicated that the thing is along with or together with; as in sympathy (to feel together with another) or synchronize (to have one thing correspond with another). Then we come to the fourth which is used above; the word "pros". God could have chosen any of the four but only one (pros) would be precise. In his work "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, In the Light of Historical Research", noted biblical scholar A. T. Robertson gives the definition of "pros" as "facing one another" and paraphrases the above as "face to face with God". He further makes the distinction that the Logos was with God as in fellowship, but distinct from Him. This is exactly the sense used by Paul:

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with (pros - face to face with) the Lord.

John 1:1c … and the Logos was God, kai theos en ho logos

The modern bible translator and commentator William Barclay, in his work, Many Witneses, One Lord relates: "If John had said ho theos en ho logos, using a definite article (ho) in front of both nouns, then he would definitely have identified the logos with God, but because he has no definite article in front of theos it becomes a description, and more of an adjective than a noun. The translation then becomes, to put it rather clumsily, 'The Word was in the same class as God, belonged to the same order of being as God.'...John is not here identifying the Word with God. To put it very simply, he does not say that Jesus was God."

James Allen Hewett, in his work, New Testament Greek: A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar, uses this example."One can always say of God He is characterized by light; one cannot always say of light that it is God." To illustrate he uses 1John 1:5 which says God is light. In Greek - ho theos phos estin, ho being the definite article used only with God; phos has no article. Another example is given in John 4:24 …God is a spirit, pneuma ho theos, again indicating the non-interchangeability of subject and predicate; God is always spirit but spirit is not always God.

A.T. Robertson writes "As a rule the predicate is without the article even when the subject uses it. This is in strict accord with the ancient idiom. The word with the article is then the subject, whatever the order may be. So in John 1:1 theos en ho logos, the subject is perfectly clear. See John 1:14 …the word became flesh ho logos sarx egeneto, and 1John 4:16 …God is love, ho theos agape estin. "God" and "love" are not convertible terms any more than "God" and "Logos" or "Logos" and "flesh."

Origen, who was an early Christian scholar, theologian, and one of the most distinguished of the early fathers of the Christian Church, wrote: "We next notice John's use of the article in these sentences. He does not write without care in this respect, nor is he unfamiliar with the niceties of the Greek tongue....He uses the article when the name of God refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Logos is named God....The true God, then, is "The God," and those who are formed after Him are gods, images, as it were of Him the prototype." Of the divinity of the Word, Origen says that he is "not possessing that of Himself, but by His being with the Father." (Origen's Commentary on John, in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume 9, page 323)

The Greek text has the word order changed for emphasis; it reads: "And God the Logos was." This is the figure of speech hyperbaton, the placing of a word out of its usual order in a sentence. In Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, E. W. Bullinger writes concerning the displaced word: "When it is put out of its place, and stands out at the beginning, it thrusts itself upon our notice, and compels us to give all our attention, and see what it is that is going to be said about it." The emphasis then is: "Of, from or like God is the plan, the Logos. God is the reason behind everything, God is the solution." Then for added emphasis He repeats the core concept in verse two.

John 1:2 The same was in the beginning with (pros - with but distinct from) God.

In light of this distinction, verse fourteen becomes plain.

John 1:14 And the Logos was made flesh, . . .

God's plan for restoring order was made or became flesh in the person of His son, Jesus Christ. God did not become flesh; His plan did.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie . . .

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time . . .

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

How can God be a mediator between Himself and another party? Further, years after Jesus Christ's ascension and his installation at his Father's right hand - his Father still calls him a man; he was not God and did not become God. Jesus Christ is the first fruit of the dead with a new spiritual body, the same that the saved are promised.

Shortly before his crucifixion Jesus Christ prayed:

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

But it was not to be. Jesus' death was part of the Father's logos, and Jesus Christ, as the living Logos, was the means by which God redeemed mankind.

All Writings © Phillip Varady Sr.