“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being.” John 1:1-3
Welcome to some of the most theologically packed verses in one of the most theologically rich books of the Bible. For nearly 2000 years, experts with lots of letters after their names or a direct spiritual lineage to Peter himself (or maybe even John) have discussed all the ramifications and subtleties of these verses. Here is one of the core verses that defines the doctrine of the Trinity. The Word was with (and therefore separate from) God, and the Word was God. Huh? I am not going to get into the doctrine of the Trinity. Extensive reading into the formation and foundation of the doctrine of the Trinity has convinced me that I will never be qualified to do more than just read more about it. Explaining it is out of my pay grade.
Moving on. I am about to use words I am by no means qualified to use. Actually just one word. That word is Logos. Logos means… word. This is getting repetitive. Logos is the Greek word used in this set of verses and it is beautiful. For those of you wondering how it’s said, it’s not said like logo (as in company logo). It isn’t said like Lagos or LOH-gaws either. I had my well-educated pastor brother tell me how to say it and why. Both “O”s are open, as in Law-gaws. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at why this word, or actually just the concept as Jesus as Word is so fascinating to me.
WARNING: POTENTIAL HERESY AHEAD
I welcome and encourage and beg you to explain to me why I’m wrong, if you believe me to be so. I am what you might call a doctrine hobbyist. That means that this is fascinating for me, but not something I am an expert in. And in discussing the nature of even a Person of the Godhead, I am walking on paper-thin ice.
The parallel between the very first words of John and the very first words of the entire Bible is immediately clear. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. John is a very intentional writer, frequently referring back to Old Testament scripture and bringing in deeper doctrine, rather than simply telling a narrative. His book is framed and structured. This parallel is not an accident, especially as John goes on to say repeatedly that Jesus was there in the very beginning with God. He was present at creation and through (not by, so we will come back to this) Him, everything was made. Going back to Genesis one, God speaks earth into being. The world is created by words. I would like to propose that the world is created by the Word. God the Father speaks the Word and it is made.
Somehow, in the same way that the Trinity is an unfathomable mystery, Jesus is the Words that were spoken to create the world. Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.” Hebrews also associates Jesus and words with the sustaining of the universe, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3a).
The power of words in the human language is evident throughout life. We tear each other down and build each other up with words. We use rhetoric to change peoples’ minds, and even when we try to deny words have power, we end up demonstrating that somehow they do. The concept that words themselves have power is a concept common to religions and ideologies everywhere. The concept of Wiccan spell-casting relies on the fact that actual words have power, not just the ideas. The unchanging nature of the Mass speaks to the fact that those words have had power for over a thousand years. Beyond that is the Judaic concept of the unpronounceable Word that is the name of God. The Tetragrammaton, YHWH, is so powerful, that it can never be said by a human tongue and is specifically written as such. There in itself, within the very tradition of Scripture, is the Word somehow being an integral part of God.
The association of words with creation still continues in the way that we as uncreating humans still manage to concoct incredible worlds and people them with rich and believable characters in our writing. We take non-concrete ideas and make them comprehendable through language. If human existence is created by God and in many ways is a dim echo of Himself (we are, after all, made in His image), then the power of human words is another pointer to the great power of the Word Himself.
Edit: I sent this to my brother, Ben Michaels, teaching pastor at Alta Church of Christ, to make sure it wasn’t heretical and he replied with this, which he has allowed me to show you.
Word is a close example of how humanity gets close to creating ex nihilo?(the other is music). No heresy. Or grammar errors. Some might say that the words in Genesis 1 are the first appearance of a pre-incarnate Christ because of the very argument you just made. Also the “logos” to many Greeks was more than just their term for vocabulary. To Greeks and their pantheon of superheroes/gods, the origin and management of the Universe was still a mystery. None of their gods were responsible for that. So to Greeks the Universe was set and held in motion by an unknowable and unnamable “force” that they simply called “the logos”. So to John’s Jewish readers, they’re geeking out over his reference to Genesis and to John’s Greek readers (to whom he has to explain what “rabbi” means), they’re impressed with his reference to the logos.