The Divine Logos – Pt. 3

D. Jesus as the Word

Even though the teaching of the “Word” or “Logos” appears prominently and explicitly in the prologue to John’s Gospel, the theme runs through the whole of the Gospel.[1]

John stresses the words of Jesus as having special significance as words:

Rhemata is used nine times for His words (5:47; 6:63, 68; 8:20;10:21; 12:47, 48; 14:10; 15:7), and three times for the words of God spoken by Jesus (3:34; 8:47; 17:8).

John employs logos three times in the plural for Jesus words (7:40; 10:19; 14:24).

But it is used eighteen times in the singular (2;22; 4:41, 50; 5:24; 6:60; 7:36; 8:31, 37, 43, 51,52; 12:48; 14:23; 15:3, 20; 18:9, 32). Six times for God’s word and twice for the word of God which Jesus speaks (14:24; 17:14).

According to Gundry[2], John goes out of his way to “multiply references to Jesus” words qua words”, using more than twice as many of these terms as all the synoptics put together (nearly three times if one considers that many of the synoptic instances are repetitions). To these words one should also consider the usage of entole in 14:15, 21; 15:10, 12 with the use of logos as a synonym in 8:51, 52; 14:23, 24; 15:20; 17:6.

 

Then also we should look at martureo and maturia which occur sixteen times for the witness of Jesus (3:11, 32, 33; 4:44; 5:31; 7:7; 8:13, 14, 18; 13:21; 18:37. See also Rev. 19:13 and Rev. 1:2, 9; 20:4). Again John “calls attention to the voice (phone) of Jesus 9 times” (3:29; 5:25, 28; 10:3, 4, 16, 27; 11:43; 18:37). John records Jesus as saying “Amen, Amen” twenty-five times before important assertions. Fifty out of the sixty-one occurrences of laleo; lalo; and lalia (speak) have to do with Jesus speaking, compared with only nine occurrences in the synoptics (see esp. 8:43).

 

John refers to believing Jesus’ word or words (2:22; 4:50; 5:47; cf. 3:12; 10:25; 12:38), and abiding in His word (or it abiding in us) in 5:38 and 15:7. In 8:51, 52; 14:15, 21, 23, 24; 15:10, 20 John refers to keeping Jesus’ commands, word or words in a way not duplicated in the synoptics. Finally, (in this study) see 4:26 (cf. 4:10) and Jesus’ emphasis upon Jesus own words.

Jesus, the Logos of God as the Ground of Meaning.

Even a superficial reading of John’s opening verses sets before the reader the absoluteness of his Logos concept.[3] To summarize, the Logos is part of the Godhead (vv1-2); and as a member of the Godhead He is the instrument of creation and providence (v.3). Since all things were made by Him it is scarcely surprising that John tells us that the Logos is the light and life of men (v. 4). He reveals God not through natural revelation alone, or even by the law and the prophets, through whom He spoke – but supremely by means of His own incarnation (vv. 14-18). Furthermore, it is by the Logos, Jesus of Nazareth, that salvation is offered to sinners and hope shines brightly on our horizon. There can be little doubt that what John is doing at the beginning of his Gospel is putting forth a Christian weltanshauung or worldview. MacLeod has nicely summarized our point.

 

Today…a wide variety of worldviews exist, and John’s prologue is an antidote to all of them. The Gospel of John presents a true understanding of who Jesus is, so that readers may have the proper framework with which to interpret life and reality – that they may know God and walk in the light of His truth.[4]

 

As the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14, 18; 1 Jn. 1:1), Jesus Christ is the “Great Explanation”, both of man’s world and of man’s future (Jn.1:10-13; 17-18). As Carl Henry explains, “In a day when modern wisdom considers the cosmos devoid of teleology and derives man from purposeless nature, the reality of the self-revealed Logos towers anew as the only intelligible ground and sustaining source of meaning, value and purpose.”[5] This is what we must insist upon as followers of the risen Lord. We are what we are and this world is what it is because of His grace. Therefore, to pass by the Logos doctrine of John’s Gospel when searching for final explanations is to overlook the source and strength of Reality – a faux-pas which leaves men floundering in metaphysical darkness (Jn. 1:9-10). Rebel man attempts to construct world and life views in this darkness. A darkness that one writer has aptly described as, “[Not] blindness as such, but instead …a darkness that is willed, that is, …a kind of blindness that does not understand itself to be blind, but on the contrary believes that it sees and that it comprehends reality in its entirety.”[6] For all its ingenuity, the world of men and women is without a center. It is this way because of rebellious hearts (Eccles. 7:29; Rom. 1:25). John, the last of the Apostles, points us again to the eternal Logos-Son who, “was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The world has to borrow bits and pieces of the biblical worldview in order to live in this Logos-structured environment.[7] Men forget the very center of their existence by neglecting Jesus Christ. It is as Wells says, “

In the Word, then, we are met by the personal and eternal God who has joined himself to our flesh. In Jesus, the permanent and final unveiling of God has taken place, and the center of this truth is coincidental with the life of this man. Jesus is the means through which and in conjunction with whom God has made known his character, his will, and his ways (cf. John 14:6).[8]

 

Man’s wisdom fails as an interpreter of life when he misses the significance of the Incarnation of the Divine Logos (Lk. 2:8-15; Rom. 1:22; 1 Cor. 1:20). Therefore, we may repeat Henry’s opinion that, “Taken long-range, the only options are either nihilism or the Nazarene. The Logos of supernatural revelation towers as the only effective barricade against meaninglessness of the world and human life.”[9]

 

A Christo-Doxological Grand Theme

 

Theology is not a subject like math or science. It is, under the Holy Spirit, the grand orchestration of worship to God. But theology is bound to Scripture and Scripture is bound to Christ. This world was made not only through Him but for Him (Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2-3). And though rejected, He is to be the Judge of it (Rev. 19:11f.).[10] Theology stems from revelation, and so its springs are in the revealing Son (Jn. 1:18). “Since God communicated himself to the Logos, the Logos could communicate himself to us. The Logos is the absolute revelation of God, for from all eternity God communicated himself in all his fullness to him.”[11] Although it may not wish to use the term, any theology that neglects to give the Logos concept a major part in its outline must be held up to suspicion.

In ancient times the Logos concept was given varied meanings, but it appears that John’s usage of the term in his Prologue owes something to the OT dabar YHWH or “Word of the Lord.” This gives natural continuity to the active revelation of God while supplying the all-important identification of the Logos in the Person of the Son of God. The ingenious Greeks were wrong about the creative and ordering force/s of the universe. Those who have trod in their steps have wound up in an empty field.

 

Loss of the self-revealed Logos of God as an ontological reality and epistemic presupposition led Western philosophy to an intellectual aporia, a skeptical predicament beyond which it has been unable to find passage. This skepticism has eroded all confident ontological affirmation – whether about God, or about nature or man objectively considered.[12]

 

The universe was fashioned by a personal Logos, and its continued existence and meaningfulness, as well as its eschatological hope, is mediated by that same personal Logos, – a Logos who was incarnated in human form, and has redeemed His fallen creation from its cursed estate. This same personal Logos is in charge of the beginning and destiny of the universe and of every creature within it. So when one considers Him in this way one can see the immense theological import of the Jesus as Divine Word concept. The entire Christian worldview is personally constituted for the glory of God. When it is investigated or taught, man is functioning as he was made to function. When it is lived, as it shall be by the redeemed in eternity, it is the truest theology.

 

Man’s mind is fallen. His willful suppression of the truth about God the Creator has blinded him to the need to be reconciled through God the Redeemer. The Lord Jesus Christ is revealed, not only as the only hope for fallen man, but as the Fulcrum of all that is. We believe that a major part of why John composed his wonderful hymn to the Logos was to make it clear that Jesus Christ really is the all in all (cf. Col. 3:11). The Prologue not only says that “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16 KJV), it makes the

Stupendous claim that all reality is truly Christological![13]

 


[1] Much of what follows is taken from Robert H. Gundry, Jesus the Word According to John the Sectarian, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), especially pages 1 through 50.

[2] Ibid, 7.

[3] Let it be observed that by “concept” we do not mean a hypothesis (i.e. a mere concept). What we have in mind is a doctrine communicated to John by the Holy Spirit.

[4] David J. MacLeod, “The Eternality and Deity of the Word: John 1:1-2,” in Bibliotheca Sacra 160 (January – March 2003), 49. This is the first of six articles on the Prologue by MacLeod.

One should make the observation that many postmoderns reject the notion of worldview (which they associate with metanarrative), claiming that all opinions are products of cultural preconditioning. In this respect the Logos could be employed as part of an effective apologetic against such ultimately nihilistic views.

[5] Carl F.H. Henry, 3.171.

[6] Craig M. Gay, The Way of the (Modern) World, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 7. In the same vein Carl Henry writes, “Since the worldview [the unregenerate man] champions in principle terminates personal worth, he can pursue significant human existence only through a delusion.” – God, Revelation and Authority, I.144.

[7] “The Logos remains the unacknowledged presupposition of all critical judgment; if man is man, he can be so only in relation to the Logos who lights every man.” – ibid, 201.

[8] David F. Wells, The Person of Christ, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1984), 69-70.

[9] Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, 3.192.

[10] Herman Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek, 403-404.

[11] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 2.274.

[12] Henry, ibid. 3.167.

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2 comments

  1. I was just referred to this page. In stating “Part 3”, I am assuming that there is a “part 1” and a “part 2” somewhere, but I am unable to locate the earlier parts, and there does not appear to be any links given for the earlier parts. What are the links to “part 1” and “part 2”?

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