"In the Beginning Was the Word"

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"In the Beginning Was the Word"

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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 Revelation 19:13And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
American King James Version×
).

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 Ephesians 3:14-15 14 For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
American King James Version×
).

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 16:10-13 10 And the angel of the LORD said to her, I will multiply your seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of the LORD said to her, Behold, you are with child and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael; because the LORD has heard your affliction. 12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brothers. 13 And she called the name of the LORD that spoke to her, You God see me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that sees me?
American King James Version×
; Genesis 22:11-12 Genesis 22:11-12 11 And the angel of the LORD called to him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.
American King James Version×
; Exodus 3:2-6 Exodus 3:2-6 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the middle of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the middle of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look on God.
American King James Version×
; Judges 13:3-22 Judges 13:3-22 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman, and said to her, Behold now, you are barren, and bore not: but you shall conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray you, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5 For, see, you shall conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came to me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not from where he was, neither told he me his name: 7 But he said to me, Behold, you shall conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. 8 Then Manoah entreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which you did send come again to us, and teach us what we shall do to the child that shall be born. 9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and showed her husband, and said to him, Behold, the man has appeared to me, that came to me the other day. 11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said to him, Are you the man that spoke to the woman? And he said, I am. 12 And Manoah said, Now let your words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do to him? 13 And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, Of all that I said to the woman let her beware. 14 She may not eat of any thing that comes of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe. 15 And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, I pray you, let us detain you, until we shall have made ready a kid for you. 16 And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, Though you detain me, I will not eat of your bread: and if you will offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD. 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, What is your name, that when your sayings come to pass we may do you honor? 18 And the angel of the LORD said to him, Why ask you thus after my name, seeing it is secret? 19 So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it on a rock to the LORD: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. 21 But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
American King James Version×
) 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 Isaiah 63:9In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old.
American King James Version×
, as well as the “Angel” God sent to lead the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land (Exodus 14:19 Exodus 14:19And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
American King James Version×
; Exodus 23:20 Exodus 23:20Behold, I send an Angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
American King James Version×
).

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 Malachi 3:1Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×
; compare Matthew 11:9-11 Matthew 11:9-11 9 But what went you out for to see? A prophet? yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you. 11 Truly I say to you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
American King James Version×
; Mark 1:1-2 Mark 1:1-2 1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you.
American King James Version×
; Hebrews 12:24 Hebrews 12:24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things that that of Abel.
American King James Version×
).

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 John 1:3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
American King James Version×
, that God made everything through the Word who became Christ, is proclaimed in other Scriptures as well (see Ephesians 3:9 Ephesians 3:9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×
; Colossians 1:16-17 Colossians 1:16-17 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
American King James Version×
).

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” (Psalms 33:6-9 Psalms 33:6-9 6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as an heap: he lays up the depth in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 9 For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
American King James Version×
). 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 John 8:28Then said Jesus to them, When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.
American King James Version×
: “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.” And John 12:49-50 John 12:49-50 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatever I speak therefore, even as the Father said to me, so I speak.
American King James Version×
: “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 Revelation 1:8I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
American King James Version×
? Is Christ really two letters of the Greek alphabet? What about “the Lamb of God” in John 1:36 John 1:36And looking on Jesus as he walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God!
American King James Version×
? 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 2 Corinthians 3:2You are our letter written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
American King James Version×
).

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.

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