Logos (as Title of Jesus Christ)

Preaching and Worship Resources about Logos (as Title of Jesus Christ)

In Johannine literature, ho logos, or the Word, is an important title of Jesus Christ, derived from the fact that Jesus speaks for his Father. He's his Father's Word in the world. Moreover, just as in Genesis God speaks the universe into being, so in the gospel of John, God's Word, Jesus Christ, acts as God's agent in creation.

In Scripture

"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, `Let there be light'; and there was light" (Gen. 1:1 - 3).

"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 without him not one thing came into being. . . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. . . . No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known" (John 1:1 - 3, 14, 18).

"He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure" (John 3:34).

"Jesus answered them, `My teaching is not mine but his who sent me'" (John 7:16).

"`I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him'" (John 8:26).

"`I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak'" (John 12:49).

"`Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me'" (John 14:24).

"`The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you'" (John 14:26).

"`[The Spirit of Truth] will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you'" (John 16:14).

"Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, `King of kings and Lord of lords'" (Rev. 19:11 - 16).

Points to Ponder

In John's gospel, the pre-existent Jesus Christ is called "the Word," because he speaks for his Father. Five times Jesus claims that what he says is not really from him, but from the one who sent him. He embodies and reproduces what God the Father wants to say to the world. "The word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me" (14:24).

Here's a crass analogy. In 1946 America's then-most popular singer cut his first album. It was called The Voice of Frank Sinatra. From then on, Sinatra was often called simply The Voice. The Voice sang "Come Fly with Me." The Voice sang "Strangers in the Night." The Voice sang "My Way." To call Jesus "the Word" is like calling Frank Sinatra "The Voice."

When John calls Jesus the Word, he is reaching deep into intertwined Hellenistic and Old Testament traditions. Greeks, particularly Stoics, had identified ho logos as the creative and rational principle of order in the universe. And, of course, Genesis 1 recounts how God spoke the universe into existence. John 1 echoes both traditions when he says of the Word "all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being." He's the creative ordering principle of the universe, and he's the Father's agent of creation.

During his career on earth, the Word brings the word of his Father. John then interprets the Paraclete as the word-bringer who extends Jesus' teaching. The Paraclete teaches the words of the Word. As the Son only speaks what he hears from the Father, so the Paraclete or Spirit only speaks what is the Son's (14:26; 16:14). The Spirit functions eschatologically in declaring what is to come (16:13) and retrospectively in reminding the disciples of all Christ has said. As the Word reveals the Father, the Spirit reveals the Son. Each is the way to another.

A sampling of what the Word had to say: "No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above" (3:3). That is, no one can experience, participate in, belong to the kingdom of God without being supernaturally reborn. Jesus' teaching to Nicodemus centers on the regeneration of a human life by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is a miracle "that is at the same time most powerful and most pleasing, a marvelous, hidden, and inexpressible work, which is not lesser than or inferior in power to that of creation or of raising the dead" (Canons of Dort, Article 12).

"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life" (3:16). This is probably the most famous text in the Christian Bible, and understandably so. Here is the heart of the gospel — God's overflowing love for a sinful world, God's sending of God's one and only Son to save it, and the call to human beings simply to trust this Son and this plan. No familiarity with this text should numb us to its sheer, mighty grace that is as wide as the world.

"I am the bread of life" (6:35). Manna was for the Israelites in the wilderness; Christ is the bread of life for the whole world. The allurements of this world — fame, money, power — cannot finally satisfy our deepest hungers (Frederick Dame Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Eerdmans, 2012), p. 405). We were made to feast on God's love, personified in God's Son. To try for satisfaction from worldly substitutes is like trying to sate our hunger with a couple of sticks of chewing gum.

"It is finished" (19:30). Reported only in John, these words signify that Jesus has completed what his Father sent him to do. He has fulfilled his mission. He has given up his life, as "the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).


Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.