Tag Archives: Logos

The Right Word

The reason things seem so divisive these days, and it seems to be so difficult to accomplish common understanding, has to do with words.  if a Democrat talks about “helping the middle class” it usually means something very different from what a Republican means by those same words.  It is very difficult to draw people together from very different ways of seeing the world when the words used are “heard” in such different ways.

That’s what makes the first line of the Gospel of John so masterful.  John wrote:

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 (NIV84))

John was setting out to tell two very different kinds of people, with distinctly different views of the world, about Jesus.  So he called Him “the Word.”

  • When the Jewish people read that word (the Greek word, logos), they immediately associated it with God.  Jews believed it was sacrilegious to pronounce or write the Name of God.  In those days, sometimes they substituted the word, Logos, or Word.  The first line of their scripture read, “In the beginning, G-d….”   So when they read John’s opening phrase they naturally thought, “God.”
  • The people in the Greek culture who read John’s letter, however, interpreted logos in a very different way.  Following the ideas of some of their famous philosophers, they used logos, or word, to refer to the divine active principle that governed all of reality.  Kind of like how the “operating system” in a computer controls how all the programs work, people in the Greek culture thought of the logos as the overarching “operating system” for the universe.  In short, the mind of God.

So, with one word, logos, John drew those two, very different, groups together in understanding the identity of Jesus.  Next, he used a strong word to say Jesus was “with” God, not just nearby, but in close, intimate association and correspondence with God.  Lest anyone miss the point, John followed up with, “He was God.”  Jesus existed as God “in the beginning,” before time and space were created.

Today, when someone says, “Jesus,” he might be expressing disgust or frustration.  Someone else might be talking about a “good man” or a “prophet.”  But John?  He was talking about a Man he knew as a friend, Who had revealed Himself to be Almighty God.

Powerful Word

What’s the big deal with the “F word?”  Used to be that people would use adjectives to help us understand what they meant.  They would talk about a melodious bird or a twisted relic, a cantankerous geezer or a dog-eared book.  Their descriptive words would jumpstart our imaginations.  Now, they say, “F’n geezer,” or “F’n bird” and my imagination shrivels. My interest sags.  My daughter says I’m old fashioned and that I have allowed the “F word” to have too much power over me.  Power?  I think not. It’s not powerful, it’s lazy.

Let me tell you about a Word with astonishing power, so much so, there’s no word in English that completely conveys it’s meaning.  The Greek word, Logos, is translated in English as “Word.”  But, as it is commonly used in the New Testament, it’s much more than a combination of letters.  Logos means the mindset and understanding of God, the way God thinks and interacts with the reality He created.  Logos is the Greek root for the word, “logic.”   The apostle, John, called Jesus “The Word,” the “Logos.”   He meant that Jesus was the full essence of God’s Mind.  By this he equates Jesus, “The Word,” with God:

” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Logos” is a word with power.  God’s plan to restore humans to their full potential and life, as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments, is to plant His “Logos” in their soul, like a seed that will grow.

““… “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33b)

“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27)

When God’s Logos is planted in us it grows and changes us with power.  His law is put into our minds, His Spirit lives in our soul.  This planting of God’s Logos is made possible as we accept God’s gift of forgiveness and cleansing, paid for by Jesus on the cross.  In Jesus’ words,

“…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16b-17)

Now, there’s a “Word” with real power, living, growing, transforming power.  Compared to “Logos,” the “F word” has all the power of flattened roadkill.

Now, consider this from Jesus’ brother, James:

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (James 1:21)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.