"In the Beginning Was the Word"

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MP3 Audio (16.78 MB)


"In the Beginning Was the Word"

MP3 Audio (16.78 MB)

Thus, this "Word"—the Greek term here is Logos—became the flesh-and-blood human being Jesus Christ. And He still bears the name "The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13).

How are we to understand this? God created the universe through this preexistent Word who became Christ. The Word was with God and, at the same time, was Himself God. Many use this to advance a Trinitarian argument, claiming that two divine persons here are said to be one single being. But is that what is meant?

Note that in the original Greek, the Word was with "the God" and was Himself "God" (no "the" in this case). The Word was not the God, as They were not the same entity. But He was still God.

We should understand "God" here as a kind of being—the divine, holy and eternally living God kind—as well as the name for that kind of being. The apostle Paul says the whole divine family is named after the Father, including Christ and others later added to the family (Ephesians 3:14-15).

Thus, in the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with the God (the Father) and the Word was also named God Himself! Of course, the Word would not be named God unless He was like the Father as well. That is to say, God is who He was as well as what He was (and is).

We have here, then, two divine Beings—not a single being of three persons as the Trinity teaches. Yet why was the divine Being who became Christ called "the Word"? Just what does this signify?

The Angel of God's Presence

Of the many Old Testament references to angels of God, there are a few (Genesis 16:10-13; Genesis 22:11-12; Exodus 3:2-6; Judges 13:3-22) where One called "the Angel of the Lord" is also identified as "the Lord." But how can an angel of God be God Himself? This is evidently the same figure referred to as "the Angel of His Presence" in Isaiah 63:9, as well as the "Angel" God sent to lead the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land (Exodus 14:19; Exodus 23:20).

The word "Angel" here can cause confusion, as it is typically used to refer to created spirit beings who are lesser than God. However, the Old Testament Hebrew word from which the word "angel" is translated, malak, simply means "messenger," as does the New Testament Greek equivalent angelos (from which the English word angel is derived).

In Hebrew and Greek, those words can mean either a human or spirit messenger. We must look at the context to determine which is meant. In this case, we have the Messenger of God who is also God. Clearly, there is only one entity fitting this description. It is an exact parallel to the Word of God who is also God.

Consider an Old Testament prophecy declared in the New Testament to refer to John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. God said: "Behold, I send My messenger [malak, here John the Baptist], and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger [malak] of the covenant [that is, Jesus Christ, Mediator of the New Covenant], in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming" (Malachi 3:1; compare Matthew 11:9-11; Mark 1:1-2; Hebrews 12:24).

The "Lord" here is God, for He comes to "His temple." Yet He is also a Messenger—a malak, the term elsewhere rendered angel. Jesus is thus the Lord God. Yet He is also the Messenger of God the Father. And Christ's role as Messenger has great bearing on His distinction as the Word of God.

The Spokesman and the literal meaning of Logos

As God's Messenger, Jesus spoke on God's behalf. He did so when He came to earth as a man. And He did so at the creation of the universe. The declaration of John 1:3, that God made everything through the Word who became Christ, is proclaimed in other Scriptures as well (see Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16-17).

This fits perfectly with earlier biblical passages: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made . . . For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Psalm 33:6-9). Who did the actual speaking? From these references, it is abundantly plain that God the Father did the actual work of creating by, or through, the Word who became Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the One who spoke the universe into existence—but only at the Father's behest. Jesus explained this in John 8:28: "I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things." And John 12:49-50: "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave a command, what I should say and what I should speak . . . Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

Jesus is thus the Father's Spokesman, a role some have equated with the name Logos. This is quite legitimate, but the matter requires some explanation since logos literally refers not to a speaker but to what is spoken.

What does the Greek term logos actually mean? The Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (1992) offers the following meanings among others: "A word, uttered by a living voice . . . what someone has said . . . a continuous speaking discourse . . . doctrine, teaching . . . reason, the mental faculty of thinking."

The HCSB Study Bible notes: "Like the related verb lego [to speak],the noun logos most often refers to either oral or written communication. It means statement or report in some contexts" (2010, p. 1801, "Logos," emphasis in original).

Some first-century Jewish usage of the term may relate to the usage in John 1. But this question remains: How are we to understand Christ as what is spoken, the literal meaning of Logos, when we know He is the One who speaks for God?

Both Messenger and Message

By way of answering, let us ask: Should all of Christ's other titles be understood this way? What about "the Alpha and the Omega" in Revelation 1:8? Is Christ really two letters of the Greek alphabet? What about "the Lamb of God" in John 1:36? Is Christ literally a young sheep? It should be easy to see that titles in the Bible often have figurative meanings.

Consider for a moment that figures of speech must still follow a certain logic. What do you think it would mean if you called someone your "Word"? It would, no doubt, be very similar to what Paul meant when he wrote to the Corinthian congregation, "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men" (2 Corinthians 3:2).

The church members in Corinth were not a literal epistle or written letter. Paul was using abstract language with an underlying concrete meaning. When you write a letter, you communicate your thoughts to others. The Corinthians, Paul was saying, acted in representation of his ideas. They expressed, through their conduct and words, all that he had taught them and stood for. Isn't this exactly what you would mean if you called someone your "Word"?

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary sheds further light on the matter, pointing out: "Words are the vehicle for the revelation of the thoughts and intents of the mind to others. In the Person of the incarnate Logos, God made Himself fully known to man. Nothing knowable by man concerning God is undisclosed by incarnate deity. Christ as the Word constitutes the complete and ultimate divine revelation" (1988, p. 780, "Logos").

Let's consider again Christ's role as God's Messenger. Christ represented the Father exactly. He lived everything the Father commanded and conveyed His Father's thoughts to human beings. He spoke on His Father's behalf as God's Spokesman. But the message Christ brought entailed not only speaking. Rather, His whole life itself conveyed a message.

Indeed, Jesus Himself is both Messenger and Message. The way He lived taught us how to live. His humbling of Himself to come in the flesh and give His life in sacrifice speaks volumes about the unfathomable love of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Everything He said, everything He did, everything He went through is God's Word to us.