Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Incarnate Word

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

The Greek word for word is logos. In the early church, what we call “Logos Christology” was one of the main subjects of discussion: What did it mean for the Logos, the Word, to become flesh?

The term logos had a long history in Greek philosophy, and among the philosophers, it generally had the meaning of some kind of impersonal principle that held together all the diverse appearances of the world. Throughout church history, this Greek idea of logos has infected theology under the assumption that the apostle John had the Greek idea of logos in mind when he wrote his gospel.

Actually, however, John has to be understood against the background of the Old Testament, not against the background of Greek philosophy. John wrote in Greek, of course, and so he used Greek words; but he used those Greek words to refer to Old Testament ideas, not to the ideas of Greek philosophy.

For instance, in Proverbs 1–9, particularly in chapter 8, we find a presentation of the “wisdom” of God. Some have seen this description of wisdom as pointing to the pre-incarnate Christ. While that may be going too far, it is clear that there is some connection between Christ and Old Testament wisdom, and that John’s use of logos alludes to this.

Most importantly, however, John tells us that the Logos is God Himself, an actual Person of the Godhead. He states that the Word was God, and also that the Word was with God. Notice the order of his presentation. First, he says that the Word existed in the beginning; that this Word was in existence before the universe was created. Next, he tells us that the Word was with God. The Greek term for with here carries the implication “face to face.” The Word was face to face with God. Finally, having told us that the Logos pre-existed the universe and was intimate with God, he climaxes by telling us that the Word is God Himself.

One of the areas of greatest theological controversy within the church continues to surround the person of Christ. Ask God to grant clarity of doctrine and rich worship of Christ.