The first chapter of John's Gospel refers to Jesus as the Word. In verse 1 we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In verse 14 we find, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." What is the meaning of these references to Jesus as the Word?
What does it mean that Jesus is the Word of God? What are John 1:1, 14 talking about?
In Greek culture and philosophy, the "Word" or Logos (the Greek word translated "word") referred to the bridge between the transcendent and material universe. John used this concept of logos or "word" as a divine reference to introduce Jesus as divine.
The view that Jesus is divine as the Word is explained in many ways in John 1. In the first verse, Jesus is called God with the phrase "and the word was God."
In verse 2, John notes, "He was in the beginning with God." In addition to being God, John calls this Word eternal.
In verse 3, we read, "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." Jesus, the Word, is presented as Creator of all things.
In verse 4, Jesus is noted as the source of life: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men."
After commenting further on Jesus as life and light, verse 14 informs readers that the Word, Jesus, divine God who created all things and life itself, came and lived among people. John personally testified that he had seen the glory of Jesus, called Him the only Son from the Father (also John 3:16), and said Jesus was full of grace and truth. He concludes this section in verses 17-18 with the comment that no one has seen God, but that God was revealed visibly through Jesus.
The overall emphasis of calling Jesus the Word in these verses highlights the roles of Jesus as both divine and human. Throughout the Gospel of John these themes are often noted, emphasizing Jesus as the Son of God, the divine "Word" who also lived on earth.
The use of logos or "word" in reference to Jesus has been confusing to some, but properly understood lays the foundation for John's Gospel. He presents Jesus from the start as God, Creator, giver of Life, who came to earth to live among humanity. In response, readers are called to believe in Jesus as God's Son. John noted this as the purpose of his Gospel, stating, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:30-31).
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