The controversy of the Word, Logos in John 1:1 - 5, 14
His opening statements sent shock waves through the crowd. You could have heard a pin drop in those first few minutes. Then the murmuring began. Glances were exchanged, eyebrows were raised, faces turned red. Some of the more excitable among them had to sit down. The Greek Philosophers and their students got excited. This would provide lots of material for discussion. The Jewish religious leaders were downright mad. How dare this man make such claims. Even his followers shifted uneasily on their feet. The Roman guards, scattered throughout and around the crowd, felt the electricity in the air and went on high alert. They couldn’t allow a riot. The statements were bold, just like the author, John. His words were explosive, revolutionary, and got everyone’s attention.
I don’t know if John ever read his work in public as I just described. It was probably read at the church services of the new Christians that were popping up across the country. I wrote this story to demonstrate the power contained within the opening of his gospel, and demonstrate the effect I believe it would have had in that first century world. I think today we often miss that. Calling Jesus the “Word” doesn’t have the same meaning for us as it did then. The significance of “Logos” is lost on us and many are not familiar with the term that meant so much to John’s audience. We read over it and barely stop to wonder what it means. But a closer look at the word opens up a whole new depth of truth to John’s writings. It further supports John’s claim that the Word, Jesus, is God and not just a god as some would argue
What did John's Statements Mean in that First Century World?
- “In the beginning was the Word.”
That wasn’t so bad. They all knew about the “Word”, in Greek it was Logos. Of course they didn’t agree on meaning, but everyone had some opinion of what John was talking about.
- “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
They could accept that too, with a little rationalization. It meant different things to different people, but with a little thought, most of them could work it into their beliefs. It was a stretch for some of the Greeks, but you could probably convince the Stoics among them to understanding that Logos was god. Many of the Greeks already visualized the Word as divine fire.
- "He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."
As for the Word being at creation, that wasn’t really a problem for anybody. To the Jews, Logos was the Word that God spoke to create the world.
- "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
What John said about life and light was a little confusing but there would be plenty of time to talk about that later. If they ever got around to it. It was what he said later that rocked their worlds.
- “The Logos became flesh and dwelt among us.”
That was a stunning claim. It made the Greek’s heads spin and raised the blood pressure of the Jewish religious leaders. There would be a lot of discussion over that statement. It was outrageous. Of course he was talking about Jesus.
John enjoyed every minute of it. He knew his words would get their attention. It was a new idea to them, but it was the truth. He wanted no one to doubt his intention to proclaim that Jesus is God. The point was loud and clear. It would resound down through the generations; many would believe and find salvation. Their lives changed forever. Many more would cry "impossible!" refusing to believe that Jesus truely is GOD. They would rather claim that he was just another "good" teacher or deny he ever existed, than face the meaning of it all and have their lives changed.
Who is Jesus?
What do you think? Is he just a man, a good teacher who taught love and peace? Or is he God, with the power to forgive all the sins that entangle you and set you free from their influence in your life? What you believe is your choice. It will shape your life.
Please watch for my next hub where I will take a closer look at the term “Word” in these verses, which is translated from the Greek word “Logos”. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would love comments on how I can improve my writing!
click on Controversy of the Word for part 2, thank you!